Yoda and Darth Vader were two of the strongest Force-sensitives in the galaxy both shortly before the fall of the Republic and after the rise of the Galactic Empire. Yoda defeated Count Dooku and forced Darth Sidious to abandon his lightsaber.
But did he get around to beating Vader?
Yoda and Darth Vader never fought, although they could have met on Mustafar in Episode III. Yoda also could have confronted Vader following the rise of the Galactic Empire, but left the inevitable confrontation in Luke Skywalker’s hands.
Table of Contents
- Did Yoda Ever Fight Darth Vader?
- Comparison Between Their Power
- Can Yoda Beat Darth Vader?
- Why Did Yoda Not Kill Darth Vader?
Did Yoda Ever Fight Darth Vader?
Yoda and Darth Vader have a history, having first met in 32 BBY when Vader was still known as Anakin Skywalker. Yoda and the Jedi Council did not want Jedi Master Qui-Gon Jinn to train Anakin, citing fear, an emotion that could lead to the dark side.
Yoda was right, and in 19 BBY, Anakin’s fear at losing his wife, Padamè, caused him to pledge allegiance to the Sith.
Darth Vader committed horrendous crimes, like leading the 501st Legion to slaughter Jedi Younglings in the Jedi Temple. When the Republic fell and became the Galactic Empire, Vader and the Inquisitors scoured the galaxy for surviving Jedi.
Fortunately, he never found Yoda. And while he fought and “defeated” Obi-Wan Kenobi in A New Hope, Yoda concealed himself from Vader worlds away in Dagobah.
Yoda also died before confronting Vader. So he left the task up to his final apprentice, Luke Skywalker.
Why Didn’t Yoda Fight Darth Vader?
In Revenge of the Sith, Obi-Wan Kenobi reluctantly agreed to confront Darth Vader, which led him to Mustafar. Yoda traveled to the Senate building to battle Darth Sidious.
The wise Jedi Master he was, Yoda knew he did not have the same advantages over Darth Vader that Obi-Wan had. Having spent more time around Vader, Obi-Wan knew him better. He could assess Vader’s strengths and weaknesses in ways Yoda couldn’t.
Given the twelve years Obi-Wan spent both training and fighting alongside Vader, Yoda also believed this personal relationship would at least cause Vader to second-guess his newfound allegiance.
Yoda also considered fighting style differences. While he mastered the all-out offensive Ataru, or Form IV, Obi-Wan mastered Form III, or Soresu. A defensive fighting style, Form III countered Vader’s fighting style, which was also Form IV.
This further gave Obi-Wan an advantage Yoda wouldn’t have.
Yoda also knew Obi-Wan would fare better in a duel against Vader. Yoda, approaching 900, sensed he could not hang with Vader’s youth.
While Yoda defeated Count Dooku and forced Darth Sidious to abdicate his lightsaber, both were 83 and 65 years old, respectively. Yoda’s species aged slower, putting him just a few years older than Dooku in human years.
Comparison Between Their Power
Yoda served as the Jedi Grand Master for centuries and honed his Force-wielding capabilities for over 800 years. Contrast this to Darth Vader, who, even during the Original Trilogy, only spent 36 years formally honing his powers.
However, Vader, given his midi-chlorian count, had more natural Force-sensitivity than Yoda. This allowed Vader to wield the Force faster.
Yoda also spent most of his time meditating, indicating his powers were not all a product of his midi-chlorian count.
Despite Vader’s advantage in Force-sensitivity, Yoda’s midi-chlorian count still served as a standard when the Jedi Order measured Anakin Skywalker’s. Although Yoda’s count was not as high as Anakin’s, it was still higher than most other Jedi.
Yoda also tapped deeper into the light side more than arguably any other Jedi given his power early in Revenge of the Sith, Vader also honed his light side ability.
Later, he became the most powerful wielder in the dark side of the Force following the rise of the Empire besides Darth Sidious.
Per Screen Rant, by the Original Trilogy, Vader’s and Yoda’s powers were so vast at opposite ends of the spectrum that they were foils for one another.
Yoda was also one of few Jedi able to absorb Force lightning with his bare hands. His telekinetic ability also never ceased, evidenced when he levitated Luke Skywalker’s X-Wing in The Empire Strikes Back.
Vader’s reliance on the Force kept him alive long enough for Darth Sidious to transfer what remained of his charred body into a high-tech suit.
Following the Republic’s collapse, Vader also used telekinesis, broke into peoples’ minds, and showed a high aptitude for Force awareness.
Can Yoda Beat Darth Vader?
While Yoda was one of the galaxy’s most powerful Force-wielders, Star Wars creator George Lucas initially did not intend for Yoda to reach such a level. He also initially stated Vader would have defeated Yoda in a fight.
Before we get too far ahead of ourselves, the keyword here is ‘initially,’ which means Lucas felt Yoda would have lost to Vader before revising the storyline.
George Lucas’ Original Concept of Yoda
Popular YouTube channel Star Wars Theory got a hold of the transcripts between George Lucas and screenwriter Lawrence Kasdan when they discussed the original storylines.
Originally, Lucas made it so everyone could tap into the Force. The Jedi just took things a step further and concentrated on mastering it. Much in the same way one master’s meditation in the real world, even if everyone has the potential to master the ability.
Lucas further stated Yoda was originally a guru. Not someone who engaged in the Jedi lifestyle, but instead just taught it.
Like an NFL head coach who had no experience playing in the NFL. In today’s world, Yoda would have compared to Bill Belichick, who could coach the greatest NFL player of all-time, but never had it in him to play a single down at football’s highest level.
“You mean he wouldn’t be any good in a fight?” Kasdan said, via the transcripts.
“Not with Darth Vader, he wouldn’t,” Lucas replied.
Knowing what we know from The Prequel Trilogy, Yoda’s status as a teacher, and not a Jedi Master incapable of engaging in lightsaber duels, didn’t stick.
Come Attack of the Clones, Yoda wielded the Force to perform front flips and other acrobatic maneuvers to defeat Dooku. In Revenge of the Sith, he showed off his lethal side (in self-defense) when he beheaded two clone troopers with his lightsaber.
Would Yoda as We Know Him Beat Darth Vader?
It’s safe to say Yoda would have defeated Darth Vader in The Prequel Trilogy, given his performances against Count Dooku and Darth Sidious.
Darth Sidious was a shade better than Yoda from a Force-wielding standpoint and Yoda still dueled him to a stalemate using Force powers. Yoda only retreated because he sensed clone trooper reinforcements.
In the Original Trilogy, Yoda had not wielded a lightsaber, nor had he practiced Ataru during his exile. This may have led to diminished skills.
Also, Vader’s ability to tap into the Force increased. Yoda maintained his Force capabilities, but it may have taken more to defeat Darth Vader at his peak.
Why Did Yoda Not Kill Darth Vader?
Even if Yoda did not confront and duel Darth Vader during Revenge of the Sith, why didn’t he seek him out after the Republic fell before he discarded his lightsaber?
Especially since Yoda mastered the Force stealth that prevented Vader and the Inquisitors from sensing his Force-sensitivity?
Add Vader’s suit to the equation, which increased his physical strength and endurance, even if he lost a step in agility.
Then there was the defense that Vader’s armored suit provided. While Luke Skywalker severed one of Vader’s hands, it would have posed a challenge to kill Vader with a lightsaber. Ultimately, Force lightning, not a lightsaber, ended Vader, who briefly reverted back to the light side.
A staunch light-sider, Yoda would have never used Force lightning, even if it meant ending a dangerous Sith Lord like Vader.
So unless Yoda had something unforeseen planned, he could not have dealt with Vader’s newfound physical strength. Even the Force would not have helped since at which point, Vader rivaled Yoda’s ability to wield it.
Yoda’s Wisdom Further Kept Him From Killing Vader
One of the wisest Jedi Masters in Star Wars franchise history, Yoda offered Luke Skywalker words of wisdom when he told his final apprentice that Jedi used the Force for “defense and knowledge.”
Had Yoda tried to kill Darth Vader, he could have done so out of vengeance, something that contradicted the Jedi way. This would have veered Yoda closer to the dark side, something he needed to avoid during his exile on Dagobah since he was one of few surviving Jedi.
Vader also had brigades of stormtroopers and Inquisitors at his disposal. So if Yoda were to try and kill Vader, he would have dealt with a horde of imperials to confront him.
Yoda ended up taking the long view, the right view in the end, given Vader’s return to the light side in Episode VI: Return of the Jedi. Yoda’s long view also proved that Vader, or Anakin Skywalker, was the prophesied Chosen One when he brought balance to the Force.
Had Yoda killed Vader, it’s unclear whether the act would have brought balance, or if it would have plunged the galaxy further into darkness.
Can Anakin Beat Yoda?
Before answering this question, it’s important to establish the difference between Anakin Skywalker and Darth Vader.
While they are the same guy, Anakin fought to wield the light side of the Force while Vader tapped into the dark side.
We saw Anakin duel Count Dooku twice, once in Attack of the Clones and once in Revenge of the Sith. Anakin’s power grew substantially in the three years between the films’ events when he reached the rank of Jedi Knight by Revenge of the Sith.
Anakin, with his power on the light side having increased, could have beaten Yoda on Mustafar. Or at least posed a challenge.
And it makes sense. Anakin, as the Chosen One, rose quickly through the ranks in the Jedi Order, becoming a Jedi Knight by age 22. By comparison, Obi-Wan was 25 and he only reached Knighthood given his heroics in The Phantom Menace.
It’s also likely Anakin would have defeated most Force-sensitives in the galaxy given his natural Force-sensitivity, with Jedi training on top of it.
While Yoda would pose as the greatest challenge, it’s not far-fetched to believe Anakin could have won the duel.
Yoda never fought Darth Vader and the two never crossed paths for several reasons.
During The Prequel Trilogy, Yoda knew Obi-Wan was better suited to confront Vader. Come the Original Trilogy, a 900-year-old Yoda had not wielded a lightsaber in two decades. He would have also faced dealing with Vader’s high-tech suit and stormtrooper entourage.
Yoda also took the long view regarding Darth Vader. Had he killed the former Jedi Knight, it would not have given Vader a chance to fulfill his prophecy as the Chosen One.
Instead of killing him and leaving the balance to the Force in limbo, Yoda instead sent Luke Skywalker to confront and redeem Darth Vader.
Sion Fawkes has been covering Star Wars since January 2022, expanding his expertise in both Star Wars Canon and Legends. When not writing, you can find Sion in the gym or running trails. He also likes watching sports and listening to audiobooks.