The latest Star Wars movie and this week’s Star Wars: Rebels finale have given us looks at Force abilities and techniques so different from what we’ve come to expect from the series that some fans have been left confused, if not concerned, at just what the Force can do. God knows why, though, because the old Expanded Universe gave us many Force abilities that were much, much weirder.
9) Deadly Sight
On the grand scale of things, especially on this list, this dark side ability introduced in the classic Jedi Knight games might seem like metaphysical chump change. But here’s the deal: It’s literally a force power where you’re so mad you can disintegrate someone by looking at them. At mild levels it can just cause pain, but at its most intense, anyone you look at could be reduced to a smoking pile of dead bits. Can you imagine someone with the sullen mood swings of Kylo Ren using a power like this? Half the First Order would be reduced to a smoky pile of cinders every time he forgot his morning Caf.
8) Memory Walk
You know how the minute you’re about to fall asleep, your brain decides that right now is the perfect time to remind you about every time you’ve ever embarrassed yourself in public in your entire life? Well, Memory Walking — also known by the far more poetic name of “Torture by Chagrin” — was a dark side power that was basically that, but weaponised to the point of inflicting excruciating mental anguish.
Weirdly enough, there was a strange positive side effect to mentally forcing your subject to relive every painful and embarrassing memory they have ever had on a constant loop (that is, if you didn’t straight up kill them in the process). Survivors of the technique showcased heightened intelligence and reaction times after recovering from the pain. The dark side user who created it, Rokur Gepta, would use it on the crew of his ship to make them more efficient, which is about as crazy as the power itself. For the record, the power was first used in the 1983 Star Wars novel Lando Calrissian and the Flamewind of Oseon — back when there was virtually no precedent for what the Force or couldn’t do, so no one was there to say no to “magically embarrass people to death.”
Mace Windu examines a literal manifestation of a Shatterpoint in The Clone Wars. Screenshot: Star Wars: The Clone Wars (Lucasfilm)
Shatterpoints are a heady concept, as they could either be a sense of a very important moment, centered around a person’s potential decisions, or the ability to detect the weakness in someone or something, and influence them to a degree. They have appeared in current canon as a more passive ability, although sensing them is an exceptionally rare talent among Force users. For instance, Mace Windu saw Count Dooku’s role at Geonosis as a shatterpoint that eventually escalated into the outbreak of the Clone War.
In some Expanded Universe tales, though, a Shatterpoint could be exploited to the point of being turned into an offensive weapon, with the user filling the Shatterpoint with Force energy and basically exploding it, fracturing it into reality with deadly and destructive consequences. Often this was used to destroy objects like armour and weapons and so forth, but in the Legacy comics, Luke’s descendant Cade Skywalker could reopen old wounds he sensed in his opponents as Shatterpoints, literally re-causing near-fatal injuries in his opponents when he breached them with the Force.
6) Art of the Small
Despite what you may think at first, this power isn’t “Force Ant-Man,” which would be weird enough. It’s even weirder: By intensely focusing his or her mind, a user of this technique couldn’t shrink their own body, but instead shrink their spiritual presence in the Force itself to a molecular level, and then rearrange things at that scope.
After shrinking your Force-self, the technique could be used for a variety of things, ranging from genetic manipulating (Vegere, the Force user who named the practice in the New Jedi Order books, used it to alter her own body, granting her tears that could heal wounds) to an act of Force-stealth — shrinking your presence in the Force to such an infinitesimal size that you essentially blended into the wider presence of itself, hiding yourself from someone trying to detect you through the Force. Handy!
Bastila Shan uses Battle Meditation during the climax of Knights of the Old Republic.Screenshot: Knights of the Old Republic (Bioware/EA)
5) Battle Meditation
Star Wars game fans will be more than familiar with this one: Bastila Shan, one of the major characters in Bioware’s beloved Knights of the Old Republic RPG, was exceptionally talented in this ability. It makes sense then that a video game popularised the power – although it existed in an unnamed, rarely explored capacity as early as Heir to the Empire, with Thrawn speculating that its misuse by the Emperor was the cause for his defeat at Endor – because it’s essentially a combat buff, but on an unprecedented scale.
Either projected under great stress by a single powerful Force user or a group meditating in unison, Battle Meditation could turn the tide of huge battles, strengthening the morale and willpower of your own army while sapping and demoralising your foes in tandem. Given how outnumbered the Resistance is by the end of The Last Jedi, they could probably do with a few sessions of it.
4) Force Travel
If Luke’s interplanetary astral projection in The Last Jedi already had you irked about just what the Force could do, then Force Travel will make your head spin right off. Despite such a benign name, the ability — first mentioned in West End’s old role-playing game — actually required tapping into the dark side, because you essentially used the Force to tear a hole in reality, and then used that hole to defy physics and teleport yourself to a new location. Think Star Trek transporters, but if the universe’s own lifeblood practically screamed every time you wanted to beam up.
Rebels recently introduced us to a secret hidden within the Lothal Jedi Temple, a “world between worlds” that acted as a nexus of Force energy a visitor could use to view and even alter past and future events. Time travel, even in the old Expanded Universe, was a rarely-touched trope in Star Wars, but it did have something similar in the form of Flow-Walking, thanks to 2005’s Dark Nest trilogy. But it didn’t require a physical gap between realities, it was an actual ability that was taught.
Mastered by the Aing-Tii monks, an alien sect of Force users who eschewed the Light/Dark dichotomy of the Jedi and Sith, and eventually learned by Jacen Solo, Flow-Walking was a way to travel back or forward in time and witness — but not directly interfere — with events. Although typically a Flow-Walker was a silent spectator of whatever time they visited, they could also leave an “imprint” of themselves as a sign, indirectly acknowledging their travel across the timelines in the Force.
Luke Skywalker witnesses the destructive power of a Force Storm in action in Dark Empire.Image: Cam Kennedy (Dark Horse/Marvel Comics)
2) Force Storm
With a name like that, this might seem like it’s just an upgraded version of Force Lightning. In fact, mega-Force Lightning was a power in the EU, and it was also called Force Storm, so that’s sort of confusing. But the Force Storm we’re talking about here is another wild power employed by the Emperor – or rather, one of his clones (look, it’s the EU, this happened all the time) – in the Dark Empire comic series, allowing him to literally open giant wormholes into hyperspace, sucking in anything caught with in its radius into obliteration. It was so powerful it could even tear planets apart.
Sure, it takes an unfathomable amount of hatred and dark side power to conjure one, and there’s the slight chance you’d consume yourself in the storm in the process, but who needs the hassle of building a Death Star when you can destroy planets on your own?
1) Thought Bomb
Star Wars loves itself a planet-killer, whether it’s the Death Star, Starkiller base, or the myriad superweapons that have appeared across decades of tie-in fiction. The Thought Bomb is essentially the dark side of the Force’s answer to that, but in an extremely metal manner. A Thought Bomb didn’t just incinerate your body like your garden-variety superweapon. No, it literally destroyed your soul.
First seen in the Dark Forces video game, but fleshed out and made much crazier in the Darth Bane: Path of Destruction novel, the Thought Bomb was generated by a group of dark side Force users through an ancient ritual stoking pure will and hate. A primed Thought Bomb could wipe out all Force-sensitive life on a planet. The effects were nasty not just on a physical level, where anyone caught in the blast had all the matter stripped from their bones — it was so purely evil that it also obliterated your soul into billions of itty bitty pieces too, ensuring that, say, a Force user who’d mastered the ability to project themselves in the living Force as a ghost, couldn’t do so.
To add insult to injury, the Thought Bomb then captured the bits of your soul alongside the billions of bits of other souls it destroyed and gathered them into a shiny silver orb for eternity, a glitzy reminder of the havoc its activation had unleashed. Seems like a bit much, if you ask me.