Many Force users channel their powers (pull, push, lightning) through their hands. But in the case of Darth Vader, this does not seem to make sense. Because there is nothing there. His limbs are prosthetic and contains no midichlorians. Could there be a reason other than writer oversight?

Triggered by: Why does Darth Vader need to use a targeting grid?

  • 12
    Because it looks more badass that way.
    – hairboat
    Feb 17, 2012 at 14:52
  • 2
    Hey, you're right. But... But that means... There are no such things as midichlorians!
    – Beta
    Nov 10, 2015 at 1:08
  • 5
    Perhaps it has become a Force of habit?
    – Rogue Jedi
    Nov 10, 2015 at 1:39
  • 2
    Maybe he learned to do it when he was in Jedi school, in the sith grade.
    – Valorum
    Nov 27, 2015 at 18:39

7 Answers 7


I know of no canon answer, but I would guess that it has more to do with mental focus; for example, when force choking someone, he's basically using Telekinesis crush the target's throat. For the purposes of focusing it, it's probably easiest to visualize a hand doing the task. Then, as it crushes, it's not simply compressing, but rather simulating the action of fingers bending inward; using his own hand, both being controlled (albeit by servo-moters) and visible in front of him helps him properly visualize what he's doing.

The same idea applies to shoving motions when doing a Force Push, and grasping motions to summon a light saber; in each case, what he is doing with the force is a mimicry of what his body is doing. Given that, even via prosthetic, the ability to do the tasks physically is something long since learned, I think he's doing it physically and using the force to extend the reach via what amounts to simply a remote, invisible, force based hand.

Could he do it with no gesture? Sure; but using a physical gesture as a template removes the need for extra thought to makes sure he's doing it properly. (If he's going to choke someone by imagining a loop around their neck and tightening it, he has to consider where the cord comes together, is it simply constricting, or being pulled tight, etc. But imagining his hand doing it requires no thought.. he's done it physically many times.)

Another aspect may be the intentional limitation of force use. Much like the question Why does Q click his fingers, I think Jedi develop personal gestures or use mimicry to focus their powers to limit themselves; without some 'trigger' for the powers, what accidents could be caused by stray thoughts, for a strong force user? (A passing women inspires a dirty thought? The passing lady gets goosed. Feel a sudden urge to shove someone out the window? It happens.) A minor version of an action to be performed on a larger scale WOULD tend to give your actions away slightly, but would make it much harder to accidentally perform a force based action.

  • 9
    Force feedback. Me likey.
    – HNL
    Feb 17, 2012 at 5:28
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    +1 - one comment I would add is, if you ever talk to someone who has lost an arm, leg, finger, etc. they'll all tell you about how they can feel the "ghost" of the appendage. When you get used to having an arm there, even when it's gone you still feel it. Some people even report significant pain coming from the missing limb. So to Vadar it still might have felt as if his hand was there.
    – Justin C
    Feb 17, 2012 at 16:04
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    @JustinC - Very good point.. And there's some kind of pun in there.. that's usually referred to as 'Phantom Pain'.... [insert prequel pun here.]
    – K-H-W
    Feb 17, 2012 at 16:19
  • Somewhat related; this would explain why force users never seem to channel the force while they are light saber fighting - I always imagined that a force user who could use the saber with both hands and at the same time control a second saber using force telekinesis would have a great advantage, for example in attacking from front and behind at the same instant when only one could be blocked.
    – user11521
    Jul 29, 2015 at 4:18
  • @Michael -- it's a good idea (and supports my answer), but it's not supported by the EU; there are actually a number of force users who control sabres using the force, from a mere spinning blade (force barrier) to Darth Traya who used three at the same time, each operating independently. See Telekinetic Combat and Fighting Forms for more info. Personally, I think of them visualizing 'imaginary friends' to wield them :)
    – K-H-W
    Jul 29, 2015 at 11:38

It should be noted that Vader does not NEED to make any specific gesture when force-choking anyone. In Episode V he takes out Ozzel while he is just sitting quite motionless in his meditation chamber, watching his victim on a screen.

So the gesture, where it occurs, is likely simply habitual -- an aid to visualising a Force hand crushing the throat of another. The gesture is not necessary or vital, and it makes no difference that Vader's hand is actually a prosthetic. It is not the hand that is producing the effect, it is Vader's mind.

  • 12
    The gesture lets the bystanders knows that the victim is not simply having a normal heart attack.
    – Beta
    Nov 10, 2015 at 1:02

This answer is largely inspired by this question:


which is marked as duplicate.

The hand-waving or choking motion is definitely not necessary.

In The Empire Strikes Back there are two relevant scenes:

enter image description here

Here we have Luke Skywalker, doing a handstand, with both hands occupied and yet he still can use the Force to levitate crates.

Second, during the duel between Skywalker and Darth Vader in the Cloud City on Bespin, Vader flings large pieces of equipment at Skywalker while both hands are occupied. This is how the glass gets broken and Luke needs to hold on to avoid being sucked out.

Thirdly, in Return of the Jedi, we have Luke levitating C3PO after the Ewoks have bound his hands to the spit:

So, to answer this OP: It's not needed to channel the Force. So it must be for effect. You can't inspire fear of it's not clear to all present that you are the source of the injury.

  • One minor issue. The second scene you're refering to is on Bespin. So Luke's not going to be sucked into space but into the inner part of this flying city thingy which however is in the atmosphere.
    – Ghanima
    Nov 27, 2015 at 18:17
  • 1
    @Ghanima, thanks. Nov 27, 2015 at 18:33
  • More upvotes! Could I give any more clear examples of the hand motion not being needed? Even I myself am impressed with how explicit these examples are. Dec 2, 2015 at 19:25

Apart from the possibility that using the Force could be a completely mental ability, thus requiring gestures only for increased focus, there are some indications that the glove used on that hand was of Sith decent. I would not dare to presume about the powers imbued into the wearer by such an artifact...


Follow up answer. It would not be a great series of movies if the Force users just held tight while battling each other. haha. "Seeing Dark Vader crushes his opponents while just looking at them seems more bad proper than the rule of midichlorians.


Another possible answer is that the gesture is a side effect of the suit's cybernetic system. It's clearly controlled by his brain functions, which let him walk and fight. He did most of his force training before he became confined to the suit, so he may not be consciously choosing to move his limbs - it may be that the mental signals to perform the gestures are linked to his focus while using the force, and the suit is just executing those commands.


If I recall correctly, in Rogue One when Vader raised his fist, he began force choking one of the rebel soldiers, I read in Book of Sith that the force choke requires a free hand to form the control fist. As far as I can remember

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