32

In Star Wars movies, Jedi often kill their opponent (for example, Obi-Wan kills Darth Maul in the first movie and again Obi-Wan, at the end of the third movie, leaves Anakin dismembered and on fire, thinking he is going to die), but when the Chancellor orders Anakin to kill Dooku, he says:

I shouldn't. This is not the Jedi way.

So I wonder, can Jedi kill?

Or is it a mere plot device to make the fall and the internal struggle of Anakin more romantic.

  • 16
    Well, I think Anakin said that because it's a slightly different situation when you kill someone during a fight to the death and when your opponent is defenseless and doesn't even have hands anymore. – Walt Dec 14 '15 at 10:54
  • 2
    A) This question has been discussed over at scifi.stackexchange.com, although not necessarily as directly as this. B) The best answer depends on whether you consider all of the Disney canon to be relevant, or only episodes IV, V, and VI. If you take only the latter, there's a good case to be made for "No" as the answer. If you take everything into account, it seems the only possible answer is "Yes". – Todd Wilcox Dec 14 '15 at 14:00
  • Some discussion here on the subject of whether Jedi should kill: scifi.stackexchange.com/questions/96638/… – Todd Wilcox Dec 14 '15 at 14:04
  • 3
    @ArturoTorresSánchez He wasn't a Jedi at that time. I would ague he wasn't really a Jedi until he decided not to kill his father, which was exactly why he had to face Vader again before he was really a Jedi (according to Yoda). He actually says "I am a Jedi, like my father before me" right after deciding not to kill. But again, once you go beyond episodes IV, V, and VI it's all different and Jedi are killing people left and right. – Todd Wilcox Dec 14 '15 at 17:46
  • 1
    Can, but not when other alternatives are available? – PoloHoleSet Jul 20 '17 at 15:40
59

As we see in Star Wars: Episode I - The Phantom Menace (during the climactic fight between Darth Maul, Qui-Gon Jinn and Obi-Wan Kenobi) and Star Wars: Episode II - Attack of the Clones (when dozens of Jedi storm the arena where Obi-Wan Kenobi, Anakin Skywalker and Padmé Amidala have been sentenced to death), Jedi have no qualms about killing those that are trying to kill them.

In fact, we see that Obi-Wan Kenobi is referred to as General Kenobi in Star Wars films set after the events of the Clone Wars, so we can be reasonably sure that there is nothing prohibiting Jedi killing people in battle.

However, at the point you are asking about in Star Wars: Episode III - Revenge of the Sith, Count Dooku is an unarmed opponent and poses little to no further threat. The Jedi way would have been to arrest him, not murder him, as Anakin himself correctly says in the quote in the question.

  • 61
    "unarmed" Literally. :P – Walt Dec 14 '15 at 11:03
  • 2
    One could argue that Mace, Kit, Saesee, and Agen launching an offensive on Palpatine demonstrates that the Jedi have no real qualms with killing, and that fact is one of the primary flaws in the Jedi Order's dogma that leads them to their eventual demise. – user2989297 Dec 14 '15 at 18:05
  • 1
    @user2989297 Those Jedi went to arrest Palpatine, who attacked rather than go quietly, so they were just defending themselves, per usual. With that being said, however, having no real qualms with killing is hardly one of the flaws that leads them to their eventual demise. Darth Sidious' ability to hide his presence, his plans, and his actions, not to mention his ability to cloud the Jedi's connection the Force, is what lead to their eventual demise. – TylerH Dec 14 '15 at 21:15
  • @TylerH This is a much more expanded debate. I have a hard time believing that Mace truly believed that he was going to arrest a Sith and that it wouldn't turn into a deathmatch. That said, the Jedi misinterpreted a lot of things (such as the chosen one myth), and strayed from the light side in far more ways than a free willingness to kill. That is just one of the many examples. I think you give Palpatine FAR too much credit for the downfall of the Jedi. He simply waited them out, and found the right moment to strike. – user2989297 Dec 14 '15 at 21:35
27

"Execute" is a subset of "kill". If it were a venn diagram, the "execute" bubble would be a tiny circle within the much larger circle of "kill".

The specific act of killing Dooku (who was, at that point, defenseless and could have easily have been taken into custody with minimal risk) was not just a killing, it was an execution. That is what was being referred to as not being the "Jedi way".

To grasp it there are modern day equivalents. A soldier on the ground in a war zone might be given a medal for killing in combat under many circumstances. That very same soldier would be tried for war crimes for walking up to a defenseless enemy that had been bested and subdued and was no longer a threat and executing him after the battle. So even to a modern soldier, the phrase "That's not the soldierly way." would absolutely apply to that situation. Yet, would you describe that as meaning it's not the soldier's way to kill? Absolutely not. It's definitely the soldier's way to kill when it's called for. Same for the Jedi.

  • 6
    I gave you a +1 too but I would like to point out that the size of a set in an Venn diagram has nothing to do with the number of elements in it. – DRF Dec 15 '15 at 7:34
  • @DRF - Yeah, and they were originally just for representing math sets too. The term "venn diagram" really has grown to mean a pretty wide set of concepts nowadays.They may not generally contain such information, but that doesn't mean it's impossible to represent it with one. Even half the "venn diagrams" on standardized tests wouldn't strictly be "venn diagrams" as the strict definition goes. Look at this and tell me don't understand that the size of the sets, and even the overlaps, is being visually represented: fouryears.eu/wp-content/uploads/2012/10/pyplot.png – Jimbo Jonny Dec 15 '15 at 16:53
  • 2
    @mattiav27 - Here's a venn diagram that gives an idea of the sizes of those particular sets: s4.postimg.org/zdbwc6sot/parties.png – Jimbo Jonny Dec 15 '15 at 20:52
3

Just an additional note from someone who read every Expanded Universe book there is before Disney's version and even Episode 1-3 came out.

Jedi are ultimately pacifists. If during a fight a sith surrenders a Jedi will stop fighting and arrest them and even better rehabilitate them back into a Jedi especially if they were a Jedi to begin with.

Jedi don't use certain force powers because of the powers destructive nature. This is the case with force lightening. Palpatine is not the only one who can channel the force to produce electric current. Some Jedi can't do force lightening because they access the force in a different way. For example some Jedi don't have telekinetic abilities. Some Jedi can only do force lightening because their species can actually manipulate energy better or actually produce electrical current on their own, such was the case with Jedi Master Arca Jeth. In general though Jedi stray away from powers that cause suffering and destruction (remember suffering leads to the dark side).

So Jedi are pacifists, and they don't use destructive powers. And now it all comes down to why. Jedi get their powers from the force. The force is literally the life energy of the universe. When Alderaan was destroyed the Jedi were weakened (as were the sith) because of all the loss of life. To kill only goes against the force and weakens one's own powers. This is why the sith are perverted. Every time the sith kill on the scale of planets they actually weaken themselves and this is why the Jedi will always be stronger - in part because jedi are accustomed to fighting without abusing the power of the force, they channel what they need (sort of like superman) they do not give into anger and they do not let the force flow erratically through them like a dam breaking. Hence, Jedi know self control - and sith do not.

Sith are temporarily stronger because the dark side allows them to channel more force at once but they are dependent on the force after, and if put in a situation were their power was drained, or alternatively where they channeled more power than they could handle at once, they wouldn't be able to compensate or adapt as well as a Jedi would. Because Sith are so dependent on the force they also burn out and shrivel up like a prune like Palpatine.

Palpatine wasn't that way from being old, he was that way from using extensive power to hide himself among other things. Which is why he started cloning himself to compensate for his failing body. More importantly Sith usually number in the one or two's and Jedi are often in the ten's to hundreds. Just a handful of Jedi together can amplify their power to throw star destroyers across the galaxy (something 1 or 2 sith could never do), or they could even maintain a temporary force barrier that protects a whole planet from an armada in space.

This is why its borderline ridiculous in the prequels that jedi council members could not maintain a force barrier against a droid army. Unless their powers were somehow being dampened by a powerful Sith Lord, then a handful of Jedi together like that is nearly unstoppable.

  • 1
    So, in answer to the original question, are you saying Jedi can kill, but don't? – Longshanks Jul 20 '17 at 16:46
  • Pretty much yeah, for example in the book I JEDI, Nejaa Halcyon was a Jedi who couldn't access the force to move objects. Instead he sort of had an obscure Jedi Power which didn't come in handy in most situations. It was the ability to absorb energy. In a battle with three Sith Masters, Nejaa gets stabbed by one in the chest, a fatal wound, and he realizes if he dies, the three sith will outnumber and overwhelm his two other allies. If the sith survive the battle the consequences of the actions they do would be horrendous, so he has no choice but to end the siths life. – Michael Paul Jul 22 '17 at 17:15
  • He absorbs all the power of the Lightsaber until it begins to flicker once, twice, and then it goes out, and Nejaa Halcyon uses all that energy to crush the bones of sith master who slayed him before he draws his final breath. – Michael Paul Jul 22 '17 at 17:16
2

The Jedi philosophy during the the prequel era was about the Jedi failing because they were being manipulated by the dark side AND because they couldn't live up to their own standards...

Padmé Amidala: Are you allowed to love? I thought that was forbidden for a Jedi.

Anakin Skywalker: Attachment is forbidden. Possession is forbidden. Compassion, which I would define as unconditional love... is central to a Jedi's life. So you might say that we are encouraged to love.

It's not a matter of "if" a Jedi can kill (anyone can), but what state of mind a Jedi is in when he does.

Mace Windu

Initially in this era, the Jedi were meant to be negotiators and keepers of the peace, but because the rise of the separatist and the reveal of a clone army, the Jedi became the Republic's soldiers working side by side with the clones, allowing characters like Obi-Wan Kenobi to be elevated to "General" status and in which they are more heavily engaged in battle and conflict.

But also, as seen in Revenge of the Sith, a Jedi is not to kill an opponent in either rage, hate, or to feel a sense of gaining power by doing so, because that is seen as a violation and corruption in moving towards the dark side, which is why Palpatine encourages Anakin to finish a disarmed Count Dooku and not bring him to justice.


As a side note, The Jedi Philosophy or applied methodology surely had some flaws, including some Jedi not owing up to their own fears about fear, and the original trilogy never really addresses the need for Force philosophy evolution only Darth Vader's redemption back into Anakin Sywalker and the alleged destruction of the Sith, but the sequel trilogy, especially the The Last Jedi, called attention back to that. And it might be possible that, like the former EU that came before, the future of Star Wars in the era post The Rise of Skywalker may be an era that evolves the Jedi philosophy forward in some way.

0

Jedi can and do kill, but they must do it in self-defence and or in the defence of others especially the helpless and the weak. This was allowed and encouraged by the jedi code especially when dealing with sith and dark jedi, it was accepted that killing their enemies was sometimes the only course of action to take.

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .