In "The Empire Strikes Back", Luke asks Yoda:

Luke: Vader... Is the dark side stronger?

Yoda: No, no, no. Quicker, easier, more seductive.

However, (note this thread for more in-depth explanation Is the Dark Side of the Force more powerful?) some people may consider the Dark Side to be stronger, such as Mace Windu's fighting style, where he often uses dark side techniques (drawing his energy from his emotions rather than from outside himself)... and Mace is considered to be one of the strongest of the Jedi.

Was it simply the fact that Yoda couldn't risk adding to the temptation for Luke to turn to the dark side, thus he lied to him to deter him from it?

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    is mace using the dark side of the force? or is he simply using the force in a way that the dark side users also employee.
    – Himarm
    Sep 11, 2015 at 18:12
  • @Himarm I think Yoda himself determined that the difference between the dark and light side of the force was the way that its users employed it, e.g if you used the force from within it made you a Sith, from outside; a Jedi.
    – Mikasa
    Sep 11, 2015 at 18:14
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    @Himarm - depends on your point of view </OB1> :) Vaapad didn't strictly speaking use Dark Side, but was dangerously on the edge of it. Sep 11, 2015 at 18:36
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    Makes fighting easier =/= More powerful
    – Rogue Jedi
    Sep 11, 2015 at 19:57
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    Out-of-universe, keep in mind that the thread you reference deals with material that was written much much later than ESB, and by many different authors not all of whom seemed particularly concerned with maintaining the original mythos. IOW, the Sith's increasingly ridiculously overpowered abilities amount to a retcon, so it isn't surprising if it conflicts with ESB canon. Sep 12, 2015 at 2:31

6 Answers 6


Here's how I see it. There are two things going on in Yoda's answer: Luke's fixation on the Force as a means to defeat Vader, and Yoda and Obi Wan's failure to protect Anakin from the Dark Side.

Luke is so new to the Force he's looking at it merely as a weapon. He's fixated on defeating Vader. Luke sees the Force as a tool and Yoda answers Luke at that level.

Luke asks the classic newbie question "which tool is better"? Yoda, being wise, knows that is a foolish question. A tool has good and bad sides. A foolish tool user will look for "the best" tool. A wise tool user will know their strengths and weaknesses and when to employ it. Yoda's quick "no" is dismissing the question. He answers the proper question, "what are the qualities of the Dark Side?".

Yoda: [The Dark Side is] quicker, easier, more seductive... easily they flow, quick to join you in a fight. If once you start down the dark path forever will it dominate your destiny. Consume you it will as it did Obi-Wan's apprentice.

Yoda gives Luke a simple answer because he does not feel Luke is ready to face all the complexities of the Force. Luke is old for a Padawan, emotional, and fixated on battling Vader. A Jedi Master like Mace Windu, with great training and control, can skirt the edges of the Dark Side. Yoda feels Luke cannot. Ben does, too. This plays out in the later scene where they warn him from facing Vader too soon.

Yoda: If you end your training now, if you choose the quick and easy path, as Vader did, you will become an agent of evil.

Simple answer. "Do this and these are the consequences". Luke's acceptance of those consequences to himself to save his friends surprises Yoda and Ben.

Ben: Patience.

Luke: And sacrifice Han and Leia?

Yoda: If you honor what they fight for... yes.

Ben: If you choose to face Vader you will do it alone. I cannot interfere.

Luke: I understand.

Luke's decision is still foolish and headstrong and risks the rebellion, but he is unwilling to sacrifice his friends for The Greater Good.

Yoda and Ben's training of Luke is colored by their failure with Anakin. Luke is Anakin's son. They were both considered too old for the training. They left Anakin under a corrupting influence (Palpatine), and have no intention of doing the same with Luke. This leads to some... creative protective truthiness. They mother Luke like a second child. Ok, they straight up lie to him about some things they don't think he's ready for.

Ultimately, in Return Of The Jedi, Luke does use the Dark Side to defeat Vader... but only just pulls himself back from being turned like his father. That glimpse of the Dark Side likely haunted him for the rest of his life.


Yoda genuinely believes the Light Side to be stronger. Strength does not only mean "ability to kill or overpower others", and don't forget that using the Dark Side comes with dangers that are not present in the Light Side, including deterioration of organic bodies and minds.

If you think of strength as the solidity of one's inner self, then the Light Side is clearly stronger, to the point where even death cannot truly destroy it. Great masters of the Light Side can exist beyond death, because their connection with the Force allows them to exist beyond their physical bodies. The Dark Side does not offer this kind of power. Dark Side users can cheat death, yes, but not by their unity with the Force, but by corrupting another body - which, of course, is only a temporary solution.

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    And yet somehow, at the end of Return of the Jedi, a monstrous, mass-murdering Sith Lord somehow managed to make his way back and look all cheerful at the celebration. I really don't buy the idea that preventing a man slightly more evil than himself from murdering his son somehow gains him instant redemption for all the blood and horror he's loosed upon the galaxy throughout his life. (Especially when, canonically, his all-consuming love for his family was what caused him to fall to the Dark Side in the first place!) Any way you look at it, something's very wrong with that scene. Sep 11, 2015 at 21:21
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    @MasonWheeler, I don't think that's an issue here. Whether or not Vadar gained forgiveness from God or man, it is still plausible that it was his recent (yes, very, very recent) turn to the Light Side of the Force that allowed him to appear as he did. Sep 12, 2015 at 2:27
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    @MasonWheeler, though that event is unrelated to original question, FYI, to look at it from another perspective, that is not too far from some Christian concepts of grace. I'm not saying to you have to agree with that idea, or that plot point; I'm just saying that you don't have to leave this galaxy to find a lot of people who believe that rapid redemption is possible. Sep 12, 2015 at 4:08
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    I'm not sure it has anything to do with redemption. There are a lot of good vs evil concepts in the Force, but ultimately the way Force wielders interact with it is mechanistic, following specific rules. Vader had a moment of clarity in the battle with Luke and Palpatine that allowed him to disengage with the Dark Side and remember his old training.
    – kojiro
    Sep 12, 2015 at 13:19
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    Well, I was a little harsh. But that said, being a science fiction writer does not make him right. He may have noted a democratic vein in a number of sci-fi works, and I would not dispute him. But science fiction, at its heart, is characterized--not defined, but characterized--by the presence of elements related to real-world science. And real-world science has no political philosophy. Genetic advantages and disadvantages, whether or not helpful for political office, are a fact of real-life science. Real-world science is responsible for all political structures, autocratic or democratic.
    – Adamant
    Sep 16, 2015 at 2:35

Did Yoda lie to Luke?

NO. Definitely not.

Yoda clearly intended Luke to be able to defeat the Emperor with proper training (the whole "Anakin awakens to his bloody prophetic destiny and brings the balance to the Force" was entirely off of his radar) so he clearly anticipated that Light-side using Luke could match Emperor and Vader.

Was Yoda's statement to Luke incorrect/mistaken?

OK, so may be he didn't intentionally lie but what he himself believed was wrong, and evil will always win... because Good Is Dumb?

That question really has no objective answer. Why? Because two contestants would always differ in strength anyway, and it's impossible to attribute their relative strength to just the Dark/Light side, as opposed to skills, experience and training and conditioning.

The Emperor was stronger than Yoda (as per Yoda's own admission in Episode III novelization which I quoted in a prior answer). Yet, as Yoda noted, it was mostly because the Sith prepared for the new upgraded conflict, and Jedi stagnated.

Mace Windu - who was NOT Dark Side user, despite Vaapad being close to the edge of dark side - clearly could have defeated Darth Sidious if not for Anakin's betrayal - but that says more about Mace's unique Shatterpoint abilities than about relative strengths of Dark vs Light side overall.


This was answered pretty well in the question you linked.

As with many questions about the Force, the answer depends on a certain point of view.

Yoda is unlikely to think of strength solely in terms of winning fights or destroying enemies. He is probably referring to the ability to influence events, in addition to what could be called "strength of character". Looking at events from this point of view, they seem to support his statement.

Luke's real victory was not attacking in anger and cutting off Vader's hand; it was refusing to give in and kill him. This was a "light-side" act. It let not only to the defeat of the Emperor, but also to Anakin's redemption -- something that the dark side never could have achieved.


Hate (in one way or another) created an atom bomb. Hate "produced a hyperspace wormhole that could destroy entire planets." The OP is asking, "Hey look at all these totally powerful things hate/anger/the Dark side has done. The light side's got nothing that powerful." Well, speaking in megatons, true. [But] Yoda isn't thinking in megatons. He's thinking bigger.

Or, in the words of Obi-wan

You can't win, Vader. If you strike me down (with the Dark Side), I shall become more powerful (with the Light Side) than you can possibly imagine.

Whether this is true or not is a different -- probably even a religious -- matter. But in any case, there is no reason to doubt that Yoda believed every word.


What Yoda said was true... from a certain point of view. According to George Lucas:

We're cementing his determination to become the most powerful Jedi. The only way you can really do that is to go to the dark side because the dark side is more powerful. If you want the ultimate power you really have to go to the stronger side which is the dark side, but ultimately it would be your undoing. (AOTC commentary)

According to Yoda in TESB:

If once you start down the dark path, forever will it dominate your destiny. Consume you it will.

The weakness of the dark side is that it is inherently corruptive and will ultimately lead to the user's undoing. So while it may be considered stronger in one way:

Unlimited power!!! (Palpatine, ROTS)

...this is balanced by other factors. We may consider the defeats of Maul in TPM and Anakin in ROTS as examples of the tragic overconfidence often displayed by darksiders. Also, with Palpatine as the example presented in the films, heavy long-term use of the dark side may cause significant physical degradation.

Unfortunately, when the balance of the Force plotline as introduced in the prequel trilogy is taken into account, it is arguable that the dark side would be stronger during the time of the imbalance, and this includes the OT. After all:

I think it is time to inform the Senate that our ability to use the Force has been diminished. (Mace, AOTC)

But of course the balance of the Force, as a concept, had not yet been invented at the time TESB was made. In-universe, we could make the argument that Yoda presented a general philosophical treatment and simply avoided the issue of the ascendant dark side because he did not want to make Luke feel the situation was hopeless.

We could arguably observe Yoda's Force combat in AOTC and ROTS as evidence - on the micro level - that the dark side is "not stronger" than the light, in that a sufficiently skilled lightsider can apparently use Force Absorb/Deflection to counter anything thrown at them by a darksider:

Yoda absorbing Force lightning
GIF of Yoda absorbing the lightning


Yoda lied for the first time ever!

Luke attacked Vader with his anger so this is technically exactly what the Emporor wanted. At the last minute he realises his mistake but it is now too late. Remember: fear leads to anger, anger leads to hate, and hate leads to suffering (death).

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    This doesn't seem to answer the question, and seems only to reiterate what happened in the film. Perhaps you can expand on 'Yoda lied for the first time ever' - is that true for all canon?
    – Longshanks
    Feb 26, 2017 at 9:58

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