A good-looking bad boy who plays fast and loose with the rules. A scoundrel who cuts his own path across the galaxy. A smuggler or bounty hunter? Nope. Of all the Jedi we meet in Star Wars, Quinlan Vos is perhaps the most curious – and definitely one of the most interesting.
Like many Jedi, Quinlan Vos has adventures in the Star Wars literary universe, most notably in the epic Dark Disciple. I normally restrict my commentary to what we see on the screen, but I might make an exception in this case.
The Paradox: A Rogue Jedi Knight Still Welcomed by the Jedi Order
So what’s the big deal about Quinlan Vos? If you’ve only seen the Star Wars movies, you won’t have a clue who he is. If you’ve watched The Clone Wars then you’ll remember him from Season Three’s The Hunt for Ziro. It isn’t much to go on, but there’s actually a lot to unpack.
Quinlan’s Early Days
We know some of Quinlan’s backstory via the various official Star Wars databases. Hailing from the planet Kiffu, he apprenticed under Master Tholme, and knew Obi Wan Kenobi when they were padawans. That would have an interesting match-up, with the free-wheeling Vos and by-the-book Kenobi, but in time they became friends.
Despite his unorthodox ways, Quinlan’s powers were recognized by the Jedi Temple and he achieved the rank of Jedi Knight. But he never took well to the restrictive nature of the Jedi Order, and whenever he could take back some of his former freedom while still adhering to a mostly Jedi life, he took it.
Vos looked more badass than the Dark Side
His appearance gave the first indication that he wasn’t a typical Jedi, with his dreadlocks, sleeveless vest and unique face tattoo. If not for his lightsaber I doubt any casual observer would even think he was a Jedi. Never one to blindly accept the “follow us” mentality of the Jedi Order, Vos took a new path to find his way in the galaxy.
Was Quinlan Vos in The Phantom Menace?
Let’s look at a bit of fun created by the non-chronological way Star Wars works. There’s an extra in a Phantom Menace scene, just sitting quietly in the background on Tatooine, who looks an awful lot like Quinlan Vos. Was this mysterious Jedi actually there?
Well, the character of Quinlan Vos was created after Phantom Menace, but his design was based pretty much exactly on that cool-looking extra. One might argue that it wasn’t Quinlan Vos, because the intention wasn’t there in the making of the movie. But such negativity goes against everything we know about the way The Clone Wars pulls random tidbits out of the movies and makes them real. Just like Plo Koon the Pilot or Kit Fisto the Grinner, based on the rules of Star Wars RetCon Quinlan Vos was totally in Phantom Menace, no doubt doing some super-cool Jedi thing that was so undercover he couldn’t help Qui Gon and Obi Wan.
Coming alive in Star Wars: The Clone Wars
Our first real look at Quinlan Vos on screen is in Clone Wars, when he joins Obi Wan Kenobi in a hunt for Ziro the Hutt. It’s obvious from the first moment that Kenobi doesn’t like Vos very much, as Quinlan leaps dramatically from his shuttle and totally sticks the landing. Watching their opening exchange looks like Quinlan the Surfer Jock and Obi Wan the Chess Club Nerd trying to figure out how to do a school project together.
Funny how Obi Wan Kenobi never introduced Vos to Satine…
When I was in the Navy, I had a pilot friend who was great. We all liked him, but boy, did the ladies like him more. One of my friends even said, knowing that the pilot was coming to his wedding, that his fiancee was not allowed to meet the pilot until after the wedding ceremony. I bet Quinlan Vos had the same sort of effect on the members of the Jedi Council.
Yoda: Coming to Coruscant, Quinlan Vos is.
Mace Windu: That dude is MF’ing crazy.
Shaak Ti (raising her hand quickly): I volunteer to chaperone him – make sure he stays clear of impressionable padawan like Ahsoka and Barriss.
Obi Wan Kenobi: And how exactly will you “chaperone” him…?
Shaak Ti: Private dining, maybe a personal one-on-one workout, we’ll see where the evening goes…
Yoda: Forbidden this is. A nerd we must pair Quinlan Vos with. Obi Wan, go you will.
Quinlan’s Hunt for Ziro the Hutt
Sophomoric quips behind them, Quinlan and Obi Wan set out on their mission. Bounty hunter Cad Bane has busted Ziro the Hutt from Coruscant prison and the two Jedi track their quarry to the swamps of Nal Hutta. Quinlan Vos displays very un-Jedi qualities by threatening the gathered Hutts, but then quietly reveals his most unique Force quality: retrocognition, the ability to learn about a person who has touched the object he’s holding.
With new information, Vos and Kenobi track Ziro’s path across Nal Hutta and beyond, later coming face to face with Cad Bane. The bounty hunter puts up a good fight, even forcing Vos to fight without his lightsaber. The episode ultimately ends in failure, though, with Ziro killed by his lover and Cad Bane escaping. Vos and Kenobi find themselves clinging for dear life on a cliff edge, later heading back to the Jedi Council with little information that can help the Republic.
Beyond Star Wars: The Clone Wars
Aside from a brief appearance in in Yoda’s Force vision in Season Six’s Destiny, Quinlan Vos doesn’t appear in any more episodes of Star Wars: The Clone Wars. We might read this as the end of his story, but there’s a novel out there that’s just so cool I can’t let it go unmentioned.
Star Wars: Dark Disciple tells the story of Quinlan Vos being assigned by the Jedi Council to do a most un-Jedi thing: assassinate Sith lord Darth Tyrannus, otherwise known as Count Dooku. To better understand his target, Vos seeks out former Sith apprentice Asajj Ventress, who has own reasons for wanting revenge against Dooku. Despite their tragic past – Vos learns that Ventress murdered Jedi Master Tholme years before – they work together to plan Dooku’s demise.
How far can you go from the light before you embrace the dark side?
But Vos doesn’t seem to have read the Jedi rules, because he and Ventress develop a romantic relationship and he even drifts to the Dark Side of the Force. His strength of character allows him to get back to the Light Side, but this entire episode shows just how fine a line Quinlan Vos walks between the two aspects of the Force. His mission to end Dooku’s life would have served the Republic, but would it take too much? Is killing Dooku worth losing Vos later?
(As an aside, there’s a certain satisfaction in this storyline. If there was anyone who could successfully seduce Asajj Ventress, it had to be be Quinlan Vos. Oh, Dooku is charismatic enough, and Obi Wan gets some flirtatious moments over light sabers with Ventress in one or two episodes, but if ever we needed a final judgement on who the hunkiest Jedi is, I think Star Wars: Dark Disciple settles it.)
Is Quinlan Vos a GREY Jedi?
Some Star Wars novels explore an idea of the “Grey Jedi” – Jedi who stand somewhere between the Dark Side and the Light. Now, we have plenty of Force-wielders in Star Wars who are neither Sith nor Jedi, but this concept describes someone who identifies as a Jedi, has Force powers, and who is accepted by the Jedi Order (so no Darth need apply), but who doesn’t follow the Jedi code all the time. If ever there was a character who fit the bill for a Grey Jedi it would be Quinlan Vos of the planet Kiffu.
Quinlan Vos didn’t assassinate Count Dooku, nor did he bring Ziro the Hutt to justice, but he still became a great Jedi Knight. He was master to Aayla Secura, a respected Jedi in the last days of the Republic who spent time with Ahsoka on the planet Maridun and later fought many battles on the planet Felucia.
The Dark Side can’t touch this sense of style
Knowing that Vos was Jedi Master to Aayla Secura helps to explain her rather skimpy outfits, which have caused some discussion in Star Wars fandom. Aayla looks like the sunbathing cheerleader to Luminara Unduli’s library assistant – but if she took her wardrobe cue from her master it all makes sense. Jedi are forbidden to form attachments, but don’t tell me Vos and Secura didn’t turn a few heads as they strolled down the hallowed halls as master and padawan.
Did Quinlan Vos survived Order 66?
We don’t learn the exact fate of Quinlan Vos, but there is information suggesting that he survived Order 66. The Darth Vader comic series shows a list of Jedi who escaped the Sith purge, and too many Star Wars fans can read the Aurebesh script, which clearly lists Quinlan Vos. There’s not much debate about whether the comics are canon or not, so we can cheer the fact that Vos survived at least initially.
Will we see Quinlan Vos again?
Possibilities abound, but one intriguing opportunity for Quinlan Vos to return comes from the final season of Star Wars: The Clone Wars. Jedi and clones work well together (except during Order 66) and I can’t think of a better match for Vos than the rogue clone group the Bad Batch. We might see Quinlan and these curious clones on a mission after Order 66. Depending on how much canon weight the books carry, we might even see Ventress again, alongside Vos and the Bad Batch. Talk about an ass-kicking combo.
Of all the Jedi we’ve met, Quinlan Vos has the most potential for epic adventures in the future. Here’s hoping we see them.