Unless you’re an evil, power-hungry, red-lightsaber twirling Sith, you probably consider the Jedi Order in Star Wars to be an important force for good in the galaxy. They defend democracy, freedom, and generally seek enlightenment through the study of the Force. However, the Jedi do some downright shady things in between the whole trying to preserve freedom/learn about the Force stuff. In fact upon a closer inspection — or just any amount of thought at all — the Jedi are actually pretty evil. Like, very evil. Like: “Emperor Palpatine and the Sith have a point” evil.
Remember that spirited argument about the nature of the Jedi back in Revenge of the Sith between Anakin and Obi-Wan? Y’know, when they’re floating on those lava platforms and Obi-Wan goes: “Chancellor Palpatine is evil!” And Anakin shoots back this witty retort: “In my opinion the Jedi are evil!” Wow. Who would have thought that such a short and awkward line of dialogue could actually have so much truth behind it? Rian Johnson’s The Last Jedi arrives in theaters this year and from the looks of the trailers, even Luke Skywalker seems to be suffering from some pretty heavy doubts regarding the Jedi. There are countless examples out there in the Star Wars canon and expanded “Legends” universe that demonstrate just how evil the Jedi Order is.
15. THE CHOSEN ONE
An ancient Jedi prophesy tells of a being who will “bring balance to the Force.” In The Phantom Menace, Qui-Gon Jinn, believes the young Anakin to be the Chosen One and brings him before the Jedi Council. In their infinite wisdom they decide not to train the boy. Then, after Qui-Gon dies, they all of a sudden reverse their position and allow Anakin to be trained by Obi-Wan — who literally just watched his Master die and has been a Jedi Knight for a total of five minutes.
Why is this evil? Because sticking Anakin with an untested mentor and then spending over a decade telling him that he’s going to be the most powerful Jedi ever and destroy the Sith really helped screw the kid up. The Jedi made Anakin so concerned with becoming more powerful that it’s no wonder he slaughtered a bunch of Tusken Raiders, embraced the Dark Side, and destroyed the Jedi Order.
14. ALL WARRIORS
Although the Jedi philosophy revolves around non-violence and peaceful co-existence, they sure do train a lot of soldiers and warriors. Even Jocasta Nu the Chief Librarian of the Jedi Archives carries a lightsaber! All Jedi receive years of combat training, which makes sense due to their role as peacekeepers within the Old Republic, but how can they claim to practice peace when everybody’s always swinging their laser swords around? The prequel trilogy can’t go a minute without a Jedi carving someone up with a lightsaber.
Where are all the Jedi philosophers and clerics? Where are the painters, musicians, and authors? There aren’t any because the Jedi’s pursuit has been martial training for the last several thousand years. So, the Clone Wars were the perfect trap to force the Jedi to become soldiers, which fully corrupted their sentiments, consumed them with battle, and allowed the dark side to grow in strength.
13. THEY ABDUCT CHILDREN
How does one become a Jedi? Well, it’s easy — just get abducted. Seriously, the Jedi run around the galaxy until they find force-sensitive children, tell their parents that they need to be trained as Padawan, and then just straight up kidnap them. Once recruits leave their home, they can never return, severing all attachment to their previous life in order to fully commit themselves to the Jedi. Hence, Anakin’s emotional farewell to his mother Shmi on Tatooine.
Even in the Star Wars universe, five year olds aren’t the best advocates for their own future. Given the choice, what kid would turn down the chance to run around the galaxy waving a lightsaber in everybody’s face? Except that’s not exactly the whole story. If a Padawan scrubs out and fails to be selected by a Knight for training, they get the glory of becoming…a civil servant for the Republic.
A huge part of training at the Jedi Temple for initiates involves an education that stresses utter devotion to the ideals of the Republic. Conformity in dress and appearance is strictly enforced as well as uniformity of thought. The Jedi are all about discipline, which means there is little room for alternate viewpoints. Yet training thousands of the most powerful beings in the galaxy to become living weapons for the Republic is not without its risks. If more than a handful of Jedi fall to the dark side, the Jedi Order would tear itself apart. So, by forcing strict rules of decorum, behavior, and philosophy, the Jedi minimize the risk of their own self-destruction.
11. THEY CAN’T LOVE?!
Using themes like love and the fear of loss as a driving force behind Anakin Skywalker’s fall to the dark side makes sense on a personal character level, but as an official policy forcibly imposed upon every single Jedi it might be one of the most evil tenants behind the Jedi Order itself. And no, Anakin, you lied in Attack of the Clones — Jedi are not encouraged to love.
The whole idea is naive and hypocritical. By making love forbidden, the Jedi Order is igniting a lightsaber to impale itself on. Taking both the films and other media into account, the Jedi aren’t portrayed as priests or eunuchs. The Jedi are warriors, like samurai. So, give them a personalized reason to fight – like family. Turn a love for the Republic into something tangible and expressible. They ignored Anakin and Padme’s marriage, making them even more complicit in his downfall.
10. THE JEDI COUNCIL
The pyramidal hierarchy of the Jedi Order is topped with the extremely powerful Jedi High Council. The very nature of the council was extremely dangerous to the overall well-being of the Order and the Republic as well. Consisting of 12 Masters, five of whom were appointed for life and another four serving for as long as they wished until choosing to step down (the remaining three have limited terms). So, with long-lived members like Yoda and Plo Koon, the Order could potentially be ruled by the same individuals for centuries, greatly limiting the diversity and natural evolution of Jedi leadership with the times.
Led by the 800 year-old Yoda, the Council bungled the training of the Chosen One in the prequel trilogy, failed to understand that the Sith themselves had evolved, and refused to confront their own complicity in the corruption of the Republic.
9. THE CLONE WARS
Officially, the Jedi fought the Clone Wars to safeguard the Republic from the droid armies of the Separatists. However in Attack of the Clones, the Jedi were the aggressors who fired the first volley of the war by invading Geonosis. Yoda, who had absolutely no qualms with mustering the clone army before even figuring out how the heck it was created, rushed to Separatist sovereign land and just started shooting at politicians, royalty, and galactic business owners to free three citizens of the Republic. No negotiations. No nothing.
Did the Senate even authorize the use of military force or did Yoda just take things into his own green little hands? Sure, Count Dooku was going to execute Obi-Wan, Anakin, and Padme without a trial, but the ends do not justify the means when dealing with the delicate issue of a galaxy-wide conflict.
8. CONTEMPT FOR DEMOCRACY
The Jedi claim to respect the rule of law above all other things, but in reality, or at least in the reality of Star Wars, they act more like space-truckin’ gunslingers than galactic peacekeepers. In Attack of the Clones, Obi-Wan and Anakin pursue bounty hunter Zam Wesell through the streets of Coruscant resulting in the near deaths of countless civilians and a ton of property damage. Oh, and Obi-Wan lures Zam into a crowded bar full of innocent beings and chops her dang arm off.
Being a Jedi apparently means you can operate with impunity above federal and local governmental and police jurisdiction. “Jedi business.” Anakin says to the crowd of panicked onlookers in the bar. How about, “Somebody please call an ambulance now!” Not once in the films or related Star Wars media does Obi-Wan spend a late night at the temple filling out paperwork.
7. TOTALLY OK WITH ASSASSINATIONS
Going along with the whole “complete lack of respect for the rule of law and checks and balances” thing, the Jedi leadership is totally OK with sentencing someone to death without a trial by jury. Habeas corpus doesn’t mean bantha poodoo in Star Wars.
After Anakin does the right thing and informs Mace Windu that Palpatine is a Sith Lord, what does Mace do? He simply marches into the Chancellor’s office without evidence or an arrest warrant and assumes the authority to subdue him by force. Even after Palpatine is disarmed and all but captured, Mace decides that he’s “too dangerous to be left alive” and promptly tries to murder him then and there. Thanks for giving Palpatine all the evidence he needs to convince the galaxy that the Jedi tried to stage a coup, Mace!
6. NARROW-MINDED DOGMATIC VIEWS
As the Jedi Order grew in size and strength, they used their position to impress their own orthodoxy and beliefs regarding the Force upon the galaxy. Disagreements with those of alternate or opposing beliefs have led over and over again to destructive wars in the galaxy. The Jedi have fought the Sith not just during the Clone Wars, but also during the Great Hyperspace War, Great Sith War, and the Jedi Civil War to name but a few.
The ideological battle for the Force between the Sith and the Jedi has essentially always shaped galactic politics. After the Ruusan Reformation, the Jedi collected and eradicated any and all Sith artifacts and teachings they could find in order to stamp out the culture of their ancient enemy. It’s not just the Sith, either; the Jedi refuse to acknowledge and actively thwart the propagation of any heretical views of the Force as well.
5. AHSOKA TANO’S TRIAL
The Jedi are way to quick in distrusting and turning against their own. In the Star Wars Clone Wars season 5 episode, “The Wrong Jedi,” after Ashoka Tano is blamed for a terrorist bombing, most of the Jedi High Council decide to expel her from the Jedi Order before she is convicted of the crime which results in Ashoka having to be tried in a Republic military tribunal. Although thanks to Anakin, Ashoka is acquitted but leaves the Order anyway after having lost faith in their ideals.
Not to mention the fact that after spending years telling Anakin that he’s supposed to be the greatest Jedi ever, he is denied a spot on the High Council. They distrust Anakin because of his power yet are completely responsible for making him so powerful.
4. THE JEDI MIND TRICK
Why is it OK that Jedi Knights can use their connection to the Force to manipulate the minds of other beings? “Don’t worry, it only works on dumb people,” is not exactly the most morally airtight excuse. Sure, this ability seems OK in some circumstances, like when Obi-Wan mind tricked to get them through the checkpoint on Tatooine. He was just trying to avoid detection from the evil empire. In The Phantom Menace on the other hand, Qui-Gon just got lazy when trying to buy parts off of Watto and tried to force the junker to sell him an entire hyperdrive for free. He also forced Boss Nass to loan him a transport when the Gungan simply wanted to follow the political status quo with the Naboo.
3. THE SITH HOLOCAUST
After the Great Hyperspace War which took place roughly 5,000 before the events of A New Hope, the Jedi made a bold policy decision. Fearful that their enemies, the Sith people, who harbored slightly different views regarding the Force than they did, the Jedi decided that the best way to deal with them was to simply kill them all.
Yes the Jedi Order, guardians of peace and justice in the galaxy, waged a genocidal war of extermination — a Sith Holocaust — against the Sith and nearly drove the species to extinction. Not exactly the Jedi’s finest hour. Destroying a whole civilization based on fear seems like an awfully evil and dark side of the Force-type course of action to take. Kill or be killed — that’s the Jedi way!
2. ENSURED THE REPUBLIC’S DESTRUCTION
Despite endlessly fighting wars dedicated to the preservation of the Republic (as well as their own self-preservation), the Jedi actually ensured their own demise during the events of the Clone Wars and the prequel film trilogy. First, they botched the training of the Chosen One and allowed him to be turned to the dark side. They also threw themselves into a war they didn’t fully understand beyond a black and white mentality: the Republic is “good” and the Separatists are “bad.”
As the Jedi Order grew more corrupt, the ideas of power, security, and tradition became more important. By refusing to look inward at their organization’s own decadent way of life, they failed to take a stand for peace and understand the Separatist’s complaints through negotiation. The Jedi’s failure to comprehend that the Sith had evolved certainly didn’t help. Much of Sidious’ work had been done for him in the years since the Sith’s defeat.
1. INDIRECTLY CREATED SUPER-WEAPONS
Kyber crystals or “living crystals” are predominantly used by the Jedi Order to power their lightsabers. As they are Force-attuned and strong enough to be used directly within the laser sword’s power grid, kyber is the primary component needed to focus a lightsaber’s deadly plasma blade.
The Jedi closely guarded their knowledge of the Force-attuned kyber crystals, a policy which helped exactly no one at all due to the fact that the Empire would go on to raid all of the kyber crystal caves around the galaxy after the Jedi Purge and mine the precious crystals in order to power the Death Star’s planet-killing super laser. Darth Sidious may have gotten the idea from legends which told of ancient Sith weapons powered by kyber. Perhaps if the nature of kyber was better understood, the threat of the Death Star could have been neutralized before the loss of so many lives.
Rian Johnson’s Star Wars: The Last Jedi opens in theaters on December 15th. Let us know in the comments if you plan on seeing it or not!