He is only the most potent Force user ever.
He is a dark side practitioner.
The Emperor and others use it.

Why didn't Darth Vader ever use Force Lightning?

  • 33
    Because it'd short circuit his armor.
    – user931
    Commented Dec 28, 2015 at 16:45
  • 2
    Are Legends sources acceptable or do you require a canon source?
    – Null
    Commented Dec 28, 2015 at 16:50
  • 1
    @AthenaWidget I've added the star-wars-legends tag, then. In the future, please use this tag to indicate that Legends sources are acceptable.
    – Null
    Commented Dec 28, 2015 at 16:56
  • 1
    I don't have any source of that (and hence no answer), but I read somewhere that high electrical current of force lightning would short-circuit many systems inside his armor, leaving him highly vulnerable or even killing him in process. He was strong with the Force enough to conjure lightning, but he decided not to. Commented Dec 28, 2015 at 19:00
  • Related: scifi.stackexchange.com/questions/110648/…
    – Wad Cheber
    Commented Dec 28, 2015 at 20:55

4 Answers 4


In the Legends continuity, he doesn't because he can't.

According to Rise of Darth Vader:

his arms and legs were mechanical, and he could never cast Force Lightning

According to the Revenge of the Sith Visual Dictionary, under Darth Vader:

As a result of having artificial arms, Darth Vader will never be able to conjure Sith lightning-nor be invulnerable to it.

The Book of Sith states that

The second school, or focus, Body, encompasses those abilities that draw from the living Force. They emanate from your own cells and affect the physical structures of others. For this reason, any cyborg limb or enhancement will hinder your ability to conjur the effects of Body.

It goes on to name Lightning as an example of a "Body" ability.

  • How about casting through the body or head?
    – user931
    Commented Dec 29, 2015 at 14:36
  • See this: scifi.stackexchange.com/a/110323/931
    – user931
    Commented Dec 29, 2015 at 14:38
  • I believe not having limbs isn't a good reason.
    – user931
    Commented Dec 29, 2015 at 14:39
  • Agreed with @SS-3. Apparently he never actually force chokes via his extended arm if this is the case. Commented Dec 29, 2015 at 15:02
  • @ss-3 I didn't make up the reason. I only recorded what was given.
    – Rogue Jedi
    Commented Dec 29, 2015 at 15:06

Disney Canon - No he couldn't.

But it was. His promising new apprentice, who was to be the greatest Sith who’d ever lived — maimed and burned, perhaps dead. Darth Sidious ground his teeth in frustrated anger. Part of him wanted to turn on his heel and leave what was left of Darth Vader to burn to ashes in the rising lava. Even if he was alive, even if he could be saved, Vader would be crippled.

And not just with his mechanical limbs. The Force — dark side as well as light — was generated by living beings, and it took living flesh to manipulate it. Darth Vader would never be able to cast blue Force lightning; that required living hands, not metal ones. And with so much of his body replaced by machinery, he would never come close to the potential he’d had.

It was a great pity, Darth Sidious thought, controlling his anger, but perhaps not irreparable. Even diminished, Darth Vader would still be very strong, and there were no Jedi left to challenge him. Darth Sidious had seen to that himself. So he kept walking until he could bend over the body. And to his surprise, his apprentice was still alive.

Star Wars: Revenge of the Sith - Junior Novelisation

This is backed up by the new (and fully canon) factbook "Star Wars in 100 Scenes"

Vader is skilled with a lightsaber, though his mechanical arms prevent him from creating Force lightning

  • 3
    The Junior Novelization is still Legends.
    – Rogue Jedi
    Commented Dec 28, 2015 at 17:32
  • 2
    @RogueJedi - technically it's mixed canon. Since this scene appears in the film and doesn't disagree with the existing continuity, it can be considered Disney Canon unless contradicted by a higher level source.
    – Valorum
    Commented Dec 28, 2015 at 17:34
  • 3
    @KyleStrand - They only say that because Doctor Who is such an awful mess that trying to pin down a real canon basis for the show would be like trying to nail a Gelth to the wall.
    – Valorum
    Commented Dec 28, 2015 at 20:38
  • 3
    @KyleStrand - I heartily disagree. Having a common set of agreed rules is the most important part of any game, Would chess be any fun if you could make up the rules as you go? Well, yes, for some people that would be enjoyable but for others, damnably frustrating. The same is true of series canon. If people agree what is (and more importantly isn't) part of the agreed worldbuilding, it creates a common framework for people to discuss the show without others bringing in weird crap that only a very small number of people know.
    – Valorum
    Commented Dec 28, 2015 at 21:18
  • 2
    How can Vader use Force Choke, then? I do remember seeing his hand gripping the air and the other guy being choked in the process. If he can use Force Choke with his metal hands, why not Force Lightning?
    – T. Sar
    Commented Dec 29, 2015 at 11:35

Somebody mentioned short circuiting the armor suit.

  • Biomass amount is independent of force use as in Yoda raises the X-wing. The implication is that any amount of biomass is enough to connect to the force. Loss of a limb should not diminish force connection.
  • Vader's force choking is accompanied by the air choke, indicating force use requires a physical action and also that he can safely use the force through that arm.
  • Vader killed by force lightning.

We can assume he could have used force lightning, evidence shows he would have died in the process due to design flaws. This website mentions a variant Vader used in a video game.

  • 2
    You call it "design flaws", Palpatine called it safety switch for case that Vader ever decide to go all Sith over him ;) . Commented Dec 28, 2015 at 22:20
  • 2
    Do you have a reference for force choke needing the hand gesture? I believe Vader didn't move a finger when he force-choked Admiral Ozzel. Commented Dec 29, 2015 at 8:34
  • 1
    @Angew You believe wrong. You can do an image search for various things and find screenshots from ANH of Vadar using a hand gesture: "vader force choke" "I find your lack of faith disturbing". Though, when Tarkin asks Vader to release him, you see Vader walking away without the gesture and the Ozzel is still being choked.
    – nanny
    Commented Dec 29, 2015 at 15:24
  • @nanny I actually watched the scene on Youtube before I commented. And I was talking about Admiral Ozzel (choked to death in ESB), not Admiral Motti (choked & released in Tarkin's presence in ANH). Commented Dec 29, 2015 at 15:44
  • 1
    @Angew Ah, my mistake.
    – nanny
    Commented Dec 29, 2015 at 15:47

Many people are saying that he couldn't because of his suit, but this is never confirmed in canon. It's like saying that Sidious couldn't use Force choke because he never did it in the movies (he did it in the clone wars).

There is no definitive canon answer yet in the movies, the Clone Wars, rebels (tv show), nor the Marvel comics (Vader, Vader down, Star Wars...) or new books. These are the only canon stories until now. They might explain it later though. Just because we haven't seen it, doesn't mean he can't.

Before the Clone Wars Sith magic was never mentioned (in canon) either, and yet Dooku and Sidious used it. The reasoning that X can't use power Y because we haven't seen it is wrong.

  • 1
    This question is tagged with the star-wars-legends tag, so Legends sources are acceptable -- and the other answers have sources which say that he can't because of his suit.
    – Null
    Commented Dec 28, 2015 at 19:28
  • Yeah, didn't see the legends tag. I changed the answer a bit because of that. I could delete the answer, but I'll leave it because maybe some people are seeking a canon explanation.
    – Aaron
    Commented Dec 28, 2015 at 19:36
  • 1
    Okay, better now. Your point is correct, although the fact that Vader never used it in all the many canon works is highly suggestive that he can't use it -- otherwise he would have used it at least once.
    – Null
    Commented Dec 28, 2015 at 19:43
  • 4
    @Null None of the characters went to the bathroom in any of the movies… is this highly suggestive that they can't/don't? Otherwise they would have, at least once.
    – Daniel
    Commented Dec 28, 2015 at 20:56
  • @Daniel luckily Robot Chicken cleared that up for us
    – rjdown
    Commented Dec 29, 2015 at 12:07

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