A long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away, there were two kinds of people that used the Force: Jedi (who were good) and Sith (who were bad). And for the first three movies this concept was pretty simple. But then people started writing novels and comics about Star Wars, and then three more movies and an animated TV series came along – and stuff got complicated. Now there were non-aligned Force-users in the universe, and folks who switched sides, and eventually a concept was introduced called “Grey Jedi“.
Then Disney bought Lucasfilm, turned all the novels and comics into something non-canon called Legends, and made five more movies and another bunch of TV series. So it can be hard to remember what’s canon and what isn’t, especially since Disney has no problem adapting concepts from Legends and bringing them back, somewhat altered, into canon.
What was once a very black and white concept about Force-users has, shall we say, drifted into some serious shades of grey. But are Grey Jedi still part of the story?
Grey versus Gray
Quick note – there are two spellings of the main color we’re talking about today. Instead of taking sides, I’m going to annoy everyone and switch between grey and gray at random.
What is a Grey Jedi?
There are several theories about what defines a Gray Jedi and each one brings with it some intriguing ideas.
The first theory sticks closest to the term “Jedi” and says that a Gray Jedi is someone who remains firmly within the Jedi Order but who doesn’t always follow the Jedi Code. Perhaps they let their emotions rule them a bit more than is proper, or perhaps they reach toward a certain Dark Side power without being consumed by it. There are a few canon examples of people who could fall into this category.
The second theory describes a non-aligned Force-user – someone who is neither Jedi nor Sith and who can straddle the divide between the Light Side and the Dark. This concept treats the Jedi and Sith more as organized religions with their own established dogma, leaving the landscape open for Force users who adhere to neither philosophy. This theory describes a few canon characters, although the use of the word “Jedi” to describe some of them is a bit of a stretch.
The third theory is more strict, stating that it’s impossible for anyone to use both the Light Side and the Dark Side without consequences. Anyone who tries would risk falling into darkness, and in this theory the term “Gray Jedi” would describe a member of the Jedi Order who has fallen from the purest faith and risks being destroyed. There are a few characters who might fit this description.
Are the Grey Jedi part of Star Wars canon?
The Gray Jedi were an invention of the Star Wars Expanded Universe (now Legends) and to date, as of 2021, neither the term nor any specific attempt to revive the concept has made its way into canon.
So, the short answer is: no, Gray Jedi are not part of Star Wars canon.
But… that doesn’t mean Star Wars fans have forgotten the idea. Nor does it mean that the Disney-approved universe is lacking characters who might fit the bill.
Who might be a Grey Jedi?
Depending on which image of Gray Jedi you prefer, there are several different characters who offer intriguing possibilities.
Qui Gon Jinn
Jedi Master Qui Gon Jinn was introduced in The Phantom Menace and was the Jedi who discovered Anakin Skywalker and took him to the Jedi Temple. The Council initially refused to train young Anakin but Qui Gon defied them, intending to keep Anakin at his side as an informal Padawan. His maverick actions and independent attitude (as well as Obi-Wan’s sighed words, “Don’t defy the Council – not again…”) make it clear that Qui Gon was more interested in exploring the nature of the Force than adhering to the strict Jedi Code. He may be an example of the first theory.
Another maverick Jedi was Quinlan Vos, first seen in the new canon in Star Wars: The Clone Wars and featured in the novel Dark Disciple. Possessing unique Force powers and considered a rogue by most members of the Jedi Order, Quinlan eventually partners with (and becomes the lover of) Asajj Ventress and moves into dangerous territory as he explores Dark Side powers. Nearly destroyed by his efforts, Quinlan seems to be the best example we have of the third theory.
Raised in the Jedi Temple and trained by Anakin Skywalker, Ahsoka was a promising Jedi who was cast out of the Order after being wrongfully accused of bombing the Temple. Even when she was found innocent and invited back, she chose to leave the Order behind as she sensed its deep flaws. Spending years on her own she never strayed far from the Jedi Code, but we’ve seen tantalizing hints that Ahsoka has moved beyond the teachings she learned in the Jedi Temple and has walked a unique path. Neither Jedi nor Sith, she could be an example of the second theory.
Barely surviving Order 66 as a Padawan, Kanan wandered for years in the post-Republic galaxy as a rudderless, half-trained Jedi with no support. He did his best to apply the teachings of his master but he clearly abandoned some aspects of the Jedi Code, such as the command to form no attachments. He always considered himself loyal to the Jedi, though, and tried to uphold the spirit of what he’d learned, even if his means weren’t always driven by the purest faith. He might be an example of the first theory, as he tried to find his way in the galaxy using the old Jedi way, even though he often wasn’t sure how to do it.
The first in a generation of new Jedi, Ezra was trained primarily by Kanan but was deeply influenced by two other powerful, non-aligned Force-wielders: Ahsoka Tano and Darth Maul. Ezra realized quickly that he’d never be a Jedi like the masters of old, and he even delved into Sith teachings as he explored both the Light and Dark sides of the Force. Refusing to follow in the exact footsteps of Kanan, Ahsoka or Maul, Ezra had to search out his own path. We still don’t know where it ultimately leads.
Can a Grey Jedi come from the Dark Side?
The term “Gray Jedi” implies that the character being described has significant connections to the Jedi Order, but the second theory in particular suggests that this may be a misnomer. In the second theory, a Gray Jedi could arise from either the Light or the Dark, so long as they’ve left behind the teachings of Jedi or Sith, or never adhered to either.
Darth Maul is a non-aligned Force-user, but there isn’t much doubt that he’s still a Sith at heart. At the very end of his life, though, in his final moments with Kenobi, he does ask about the Chosen One. This suggests that even Maul has gained a sense of balance and may have moved much closer to a Gray Jedi than we thought.
The strongest possibility of a Gray Jedi coming from the Dark Side, though, is Asajj Ventress. Raised in the Jedi Temple she was lost to the Dark Side as she trained under Sith Lord Darth Tyrannus, but his betrayal cast her out of either organization and left her wandering for years in the gray area between Light and Dark. Her actions both in Star Wars: The Clone Wars and Dark Disciple reveal a complex character who is strong, independent and yet vulnerable. Her Force power is unquestioned and many feel that if only she’d been able to find balance – perhaps with a wise master like Qui Gon – she would have thrived and, possibly, met a different end.
Are Rey and Kylo Ren Grey Jedi?
Many years after the fall of the Republic, the destruction of the Empire and the collapse of Luke Skywalker’s attempt to build up a new generation of Jedi, there came a dyad in the Force. Rey and Kylo Ren are linked in the Force, powerful Light and powerful Dark, but neither represents balance the way Luke tried to teach them. Together they might have achieved balance, but even as they destroyed the Sith Eternal Kylo sacrificed himself to save Rey, leaving her on her own.
Rey’s future, as of 2021, is wide open, but many comments from Star Wars observers suggest that she might be a Gray Jedi. Having tasted both the Dark Side and the Light, she’s still growing in her Force power and time alone will tell how she uses that power. Luke was only her master for a short time, but the image he painted of the decadent Jedi Order may inspire Rey to take a new path in the Force. Just like Ahsoka, Rey is now free. And if one Skywalker-trained Force-user can become great outside the Order, I’m sure another one can.
Star Wars has options for the Grey Jedi
Rey would be a great place for Star Wars to explore the idea of the Grey Jedi, but there are currently no plans to continue her story.
Another strong possibility would be in Star Wars: Ahsoka, where one of the most popular characters in the franchise is getting her own show. Although a child of the Republic, we know that Ahsoka likely shed few tears when the Jedi Council was destroyed. One has to wonder how her powers have grown over the years and I’d like to think that she and Luke Skywalker actually meet at some point.
No matter which theory is used to finally define “Grey Jedi,” many fans would like to see Ahsoka be part of it.