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How Does The Force Work In 'Star Wars'

Updated May 4, 2021 14.9k views14 items

What is the Force in Star Wars? Is it based in magic and spirituality like the original trilogy seems to imply? Or is it based in science like the prequels state? Is the Force even real? Without the help of the Extended Universe, and only the movies as one's guide, the average viewer most likely left the theater after any given Star Wars movie wondering, "How does the Force work in Star Wars?" or, "Who discovered the Force in Star Wars?" or even, "What the heck is a Midi-chlorian?" 

The Extended Universe goes to great lengths to answer these questions. Instead of a vague description of a magical energy field or bringing up Midi-chlorians without digging into what they are, the Extended Universe provides so much context and information that even the most dedicated fans don't have time to scope it all out on their own. That doesn't mean everything about the Force is fully explained, though; there is still plenty of room for fan theories about how it truly works. With that said, any questions about how it generally works, or what its connection to life and death is, or where it started, have been answered. 

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  • Photo: Star Wars Rebels / Disney XD

    The Force Should Be Able To Perceive And Interact With The Past And Future

    On rare occasions, Force users in Star Wars are able to travel through time. This is through the use of the World Between Worlds, which is basically an alternate dimension with doors and pathways leading out to different moments in time. Most notably, Kanan uses the World Between Worlds to rescue Ahsoka Tano from being slain by Darth Vader. 

    The author of The Physics of Star Wars asserts that it is "impossible to distinguish between normal matter going forward in time from antimatter going backward in time in a mirror." He says that it is quite possible that antimatter is just normal matter going backward in time, and that "Perhaps the Force allows certain particles to travel through additional dimensions that connect different points in time." 

  • Photo: Star Wars: The Last Jedi / Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures

    You Don't Have To Be A Jedi Or Sith To Use The Force

    A common misconception of the Star Wars universe is that only Jedi and Sith have access to the Force and the abilities it grants, but that isn't the case at all

    The use of the Force simply requires a high-enough Midi-chlorian count in a given being's blood. This means they are "Force-sensitive" and can learn to harness the Force around them. 

    This is shown in Star Wars countless times, like when a soldier in Rogue One taps into the Force to help himself in a skirmish, or when a young boy uses it at the end of The Last Jedi to Force-pull a broom to himself. 

    The Force is a scientific constant in the Star Wars universe, and the Jedi and Sith are simply religions and ideologies aiming to teach users how to wield it in specific ways. 

  • Photo: Star Wars: Return of the Jedi / 20th Century Fox

    The Force Pulls Energy From Both Life And Death

    As Qui-Gon explains to Yoda in an episode of The Clone Wars, the Living Force is the energy that binds all life together, but the Cosmic Force is the energy that binds all things together.

    This Cosmic Force is the ability that a Jedi can tap into to become one with the Force and preserve their identity after their passing. It is the true unifying force of the cosmos that the Midi-chlorians can interact with, binding a being's Living Force to it. 

  • Photo: Star Wars: The Phantom Menace / 20th Century Fox

    The Force Has A Will Of Its Own And Can Exert Its Will On Living Creatures

    Just as the Midi-chlorians - microscopic organisms inside of every cell - are sentient, so is the Force itself. The Midi-chlorians help Force users hear the will of the Force, naturally implying that the Force is sentient enough to have a will of its own. 

    A great example of the Force exerting its will is the conception of Anakin Skywalker. The Force chose to create him, proving that it has a will that those on the light side choose to follow, and those on the dark side choose to inflict their own upon.