There are many reasons to love Star Wars – the exciting space battles, the lovable characters, the epic storylines – but one of the most uniquely awesome things about Star Wars is the Force. Right from the outset, the existence of the Force made Star Wars special, and different from other science fiction franchises of the day. The Force gives Star Wars a mystical element that draws far more heavily on fantasy than science fiction. And, best of all, it gives us some of the most fascinating characters in the entire saga.
But who is the strongest Force user? Who makes the Top Ten list for raw power?
How do we define “Force users” these days?
Once upon a time, it would have been pretty simple to answer this question, because in the Original Trilogy our only options were the wise Jedi Master or powerful Sith Lord. But as Star Wars has expanded over the decades, we’ve learned that Force energy can be used in many different ways, and that simple designations such as Light Side and Dark Side don’t always apply. In addition to Jedi and Sith, there are Force priestesses, temple guardians, inquisitors, cosmic beings and an entire galaxy of other Force users in Star Wars canon.
How to define the Star Wars Universe?
And that’s not even including the many characters introduced in the novels and comics of the Star Wars EU (nowadays known as Star Wars Legends) who were once canon but are now just stories.
To keep it simple, I’m going to limit my list to Force wielders who’ve appeared on screen – with one exception from the new High Republic books. So apologies to fans of Legends greats like Mara Jade, Darth Bane, Darth Revan and Abeloth. Perhaps their time will come again.
“Strongest Force user” doesn’t mean “coolest Force user”
Also, this isn’t just a list of who I think the coolest Jedi are – I specifically want to highlight individuals who really stood out with examples of raw, blatant Force power. For fans of Clone Wars favorites like Plo Koon, Kit Fisto, Shaak-Ti, Quinlan Vos and Barriss Offee, please don’t be offended – I think they’re all great. Just not the most powerful Force users in Star Wars.
Most overpowered Force users
Finally, I’m not including the Father, Daughter and Son from the Mortis arc of Clone Wars, nor the Force priestesses whom Yoda meets at the end of Season 6. These characters are more Force gods than Force users – embodiments of the Force rather than practitioners of it. They kinda operate on a different scale from our regular characters, and while the ability to manipulate black holes is pretty awesome, that’s not where we’re going today.
So here we go: the Top Ten Strongest Force Users (plus a few honorable mentions).
#10 – Count Dooku / Darth Tyranus
A Jedi Master turned Sith Lord, Count Dooku stands out in galactic history as the person who started the Clone Wars that brought an end to the Republic. His Force powers were impressive, with Force lightning at his command and a lightsaber duelist mighty enough to best Obi-Wan Kenobi and Anakin Skywalker together.
But most of Dooku’s menace comes from his titanic presence and his control of millions of battle droids. He was undoubtedly a powerful Sith Lord, which by itself is enough to get him on this list, but so far in canon we’ve never seen him really, truly unleash that power.
Honorable mentions – Mace Windu & Luminara Unduli
Two of the last members of the Order, Mace Windu and Luminara Unduli are often considered some of the most powerful Jedi.
Mace Windu was the youngest Jedi ever elected to the Council and he created his own form of lightsaber combat, Vaapad. He held his own in personal combat against Darth Sidious himself, and would have triumphed had Anakin Skywalker not chosen that moment to turn to the Dark Side.
Luminara Unduli was one of the very few Jedi who initially survived Order 66, and even after her death the Force lingered in her remains so powerfully that it was strong enough to call to other Jedi.
#9 – Kanan Jarrus
Kanan Jarrus did what both Mace and Luminara failed to do – survive Order 66 and continue to serve the galaxy during the rise of the Empire. This alone makes him remarkable, but even more so because he was only a Padawan at the time – and with no-one in the Order left, he had to teach himself to be a Jedi. His quiet determination and strength of spirit is remarkable, and he lived a life much truer to the Jedi Code than many of the knights in the final days of the Republic.
Kanan’s power emerged many times, such as his lightsaber victory over the Grand Inquisitor and that time he redirected a shoulder-launched missile away from the Ghost on Hera’s front doorstep (good way to impress the future father-in-law) but it was in his final moments that he truly tapped into raw Force power. Standing atop a gigantic fuel tank as it exploded, he held back the rushing flames long enough for his beloved Hera and their friends to escape.
Honorable mentions – Ahsoka Tano & Ezra Bridger
Ahsoka Tano was an influence on Kanan Jarrus and is one of the most popular characters in Star Wars. She’s remarkable for surviving Order 66 and for making her way in the galaxy outside the Jedi Order while still remaining true to its values. But for all the time we’ve spent with her, her Force powers have been limited to “standard” Jedi amazingness.
Ezra Bridger was Kanan’s apprentice and was still growing in his power when we last saw him at the end of Star Wars: Rebels. But he was the first to unlock the secrets of the Mortis trio and explore the World Beyond Worlds, so I expect to see great things when we catch up with him.
#8 – Rey
The Force potential coursing through Rey’s veins was hinted at in The Force Awakens when she managed to defeat Dark Side user Kylo Ren in a duel – even though she’d never before wielded a lightsaber. Her power began to grow in The Last Jedi, and she managed feats of power – dueling Snoke’s bodyguards, lifting many, many rocks – that Luke Skywalker could never have achieved at the same point in his training.
But Rey’s power was truly revealed in The Rise of Skywalker, where she called on both the Dark and Light sides of the Force. She Force healed a creature in the desert, but also unleashed Force lightning on a First Order transport. Rey drew on the complete energy of the Force, evoking Master Skywalker’s teachings, and promises to be a more balanced Force user.
#7 – Anakin Skywalker / Darth Vader
The first six Star Wars movies and the entire Clone Wars animated series are centered on Jedi Knight Anakin Skywalker / Sith Lord Darth Vader, so you might be surprised to see him so far down this list. But while there’s no doubt that Anakin Skywalker was one of the greatest Jedi of his day and Darth Vader was devastating as Dark Lord of the Sith, most of his canon Force abilities are pretty standard.
He was a savagely effective combatant, an unbeatable pilot and a champion Force choker, but scouring canon for moments of sheer power, both Anakin and Darth Vader are remarkably restrained. Oh, they’re both terrifying to their opponents and I’d never want to get in the way of either of them, but I’d challenge the notion that the father of Luke Skywalker was either the most powerful Jedi or the most powerful Sith Lord.
That said, he was still a total badass – and he did defeat Dooku in their re-match, which automatically puts Darth Vader above Darth Tyranus when ranking Sith Lords.
#6 – Supreme Leader Snoke
I like to forget about The Rise of Skywalker for a lot of reasons, but one of the biggest is the way Supreme Leader Snoke was retconned. So I’m going to focus on the Snoke we knew and feared in The Last Jedi.
Snoke was unquestionably the most powerful Force user in his time, running rings around Kylo Ren and Rey, and ready to destroy Luke Skywalker once he knew where he was hiding. But Snoke was neither a Jedi nor a Sith – he was something different. His unique powers include his ability to paralyze Rey and to read minds, but his most extraordinary Force feat was when he connected Rey and Kylo telepathically – to the point where they could see each other and speak in real time across light years, even when Snoke didn’t know where Rey was.
This Force ability was unprecedented in the Star Wars franchise, and such was its power that it created a permanent bond between Rey and Kylo that continued to grow until they could physically teleport things to each other at a distance.
#5 – Emperor Palpatine / Darth Sidious
The man behind the Clone Wars, the Galactic Civil War, the last of the Mandalorian wars, blowing up the entire planet of Alderaan and even the rise of the First Order, Darth Sidious was certainly the most powerful Sith Lord in canon and one of the most powerful Force users in galactic history.
His greatest victories came not through blasting everyone with the Force, but through years of cunning, patience and manipulation. Perhaps his greatest ability was to use the Dark Side of the Force to cloud the vision of the Jedi Order, leaving even the most powerful Jedi blind to his schemes. To establish a Sith Emperor who ruled the known galaxy was the culmination of a thousand years of Dark Side plotting.
That said, Darth Sidious was no slouch in wielding the Force. He was the first person we saw to use Force lightning in Return of the Jedi, and in Revenge of the Sith he hurled multi-ton Senate pods at Yoda like they were frisbees.
But it was in The Rise of Skywalker where we saw the greatest display of Palpatine’s power, when he unleashed a Force storm against the hundreds of ships attacking his Final Order fleet. If there’s one thing I’ll thank Star Wars Episode IX for, it’s showing once and for all that Darth Sidious was a master of the Dark Side.
Honorable mentions – Qui-Gon Jinn & Leia Organa
There was, however, one thing that Darth Sidious forever sought and never attained: immortality. He killed his own master to try and learn the secrets of eternal life, and he used clone technology to try and build a scientific path to his goal. He failed.
But there was one Jedi who succeeded: Qui-Gon Jinn. A maverick Jedi who spent years meditating upon the Living Force and the Cosmic Force, Qui-Gon was the very first person we know of who unlocked the secret of life beyond death.
This incredible knowledge was passed on through Luke Skywalker to his sister Leia, who might have been one of the strongest Force users in the galaxy had she not willingly turned away from her path. But for sheer spectacle, her “Mary Poppins moment” of keeping herself alive in the vacuum of space long enough to fly herself back to the ship was pretty epic.
#4 – Mother Talzin
A powerful Force user who was neither Jedi nor Sith was the mysterious Mother Talzin, leader of the Nightsisters of Dathomir. The creepiness of her magic might lead us to think that she drew solely on the Dark Side, but the way she used her power was completely different from what we’d seen before.
Talzin drew on what might be called life Force, able to heal and restore broken bodies as well as mutate healthy bodies into monstrosities. Her creation of Savage Opress, one of the most tragic figures in Star Wars, was terrifying but her most powerful Force magic was her creation of Force bubbles and projectiles that lashed out against General Grievous and his army. The fact that another Nightsister elder could reanimate the undead was a pretty chilling hint as to the power of Dathomirian Force magic.
Talzin was ultimately defeated by Grievous, but through her awesome power she too may have achieved some form of immortality. She reappeared as some kind of Force ghost multiple times, and her spirit clearly lived on.
Honorable mentions – Darth Maul & Asajj Ventress
Both products of Mother Talzin’s machinations, Darth Maul and Asajj Ventress served as Sith apprentices before being cast aside by their masters. Maul is notable for his sheer will to live, using the Force to survive being literally cut in half. His body was aided by Mother Talzin’s Force magic, but it was his own ferocity and rage that allowed the Dark Side to thrive within him.
Ventress began her walk on the Light Side as a Jedi Padawan, but after tragedy struck she turned to darkness for many years before finally returning to Dathomir. Her story is sad, but her Force abilities were unparalleled. She was extremely skilled in combat and could beat many of the strongest Jedi in duels. A daughter of both the Light and Dark side of the Force, Ventress could have been much more than what fate handed her.
#3 – Yoda
In the last days of the Republic, most members of the Order would probably have agreed that Master Yoda was the most powerful Jedi. And there was some merit in this belief. Yoda trained Jedi for eight hundred years, and if the old adage is true that we learn best by teaching, it’s safe to assume that Yoda was one of the strongest Force users ever. His personal quest at the end of Clone Wars Season 6 certainly supports this.
But as to raw Force power, what did we see Yoda do on screen? His levitating Luke’s X-Wing out of the swamp in The Empire Strikes Back is the most iconic moment, but it pales next to his battle against Darth Sidious in the Senate during Revenge of the Sith. Besting Dooku in combat proved that Yoda was no slouch with a blade, but his power was displayed more often in “soft skills” like being able to commune with Ezra Bridger in a sort of Force projection. And finally, Yoda achieved immortality.
Honorable mention – Avar Kriss
Although we’re still getting to know the Force users of the High Republic era, and so far they’ve only appeared in books, I just want to do a shout out to Avar Kriss, one of the strongest Force users in Star Wars.
In the epic opening act of Light of the Jedi, Avar directs a system-wide effort to counter a hyperspace disaster that threatens billions of people. She perceives the Force almost like music, able to listen to its subtle notes and reveal truths no-one else can see. She’s the most powerful Force user of her day and I look forward to learning more about her.
#2 – Obi-Wan Kenobi
I realize that Obi-Wan Kenobi also tops my list of Worst Jedi, but that doesn’t take away from the fact that he was the strongest Jedi Force user of his time. Sure, his rigidity to the Jedi Code made him the wrong master for Anakin, and Obi-Wan’s failure contributed to the rise of Darth Vader, but none of that takes away from his sheer badassery.
For starters, Obi-Wan defeated Darth Maul in single combat, while still a Padawan, and mere moments after Maul had bested Obi-Wan’s master Qui-Gon. Then, years later, he defeated Darth Vader on Mustafar. And let’s not forget that Kenobi achieved something almost no other Jedi did: he survived Order 66. And although he hid away for a decade, he eventually returned to fight for justice in a big way. And finally, Obi-Wan achieved immortality.
#1 – Luke Skywalker
But when we look at awesome displays of the Force, no-one can top Luke Skywalker. Some might question my choice at first, because we all remember Luke as that punk kid on Tatooine. “I was going to Tosche Station to pick up some power converters” doesn’t hold quite as much gravitas as “Do, or do not – there is no try.”
But Luke defeated Darth Vader in combat – no small feat. He also learned how to draw on both Light and Dark, Force choking Jabba’s guards even as he controlled his anger. Luke was the first Jedi in generations to understand the need for balance, and like only a handful before him, he ascended to immortality at his death.
But the single greatest example of raw power in the Force was Luke’s efforts in The Last Jedi, where he Force projected himself half-way across the galaxy not just as a ghostly image, but as a figure who could talk, touch and even duel with the people on Crait. Yes, the effort killed him, but in so doing he saved the Rebellion and proved once and for all why the Skywalker Saga is named after him.
Bennett R. Coles is an award-winning, best-selling author and ghostwriter of science fiction and space fantasy series. His newest novel is coming in Spring 2024.