Does the subject of a Jedi mind trick need to be sentient? Or does he only have to understand the words maybe? Or is that also not necessary?

For example, take a dog. Assuming it's just an animal and therefore not sentient (right?). This particular dog knows some typical commands like "sit" but is known to not always be obedient. Can a Jedi make him sit using the Jedi mind trick?

Or for example a rancor. They are listed on Wookieepedia as semi-sentient. Could Luke actually have tried to Jedi mind trick it in Return of the Jedi?

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    Dogs are sentient.
    – user14111
    Feb 15, 2016 at 10:56
  • @randal'thor that second question actually made me come up with this question :). I thought, maybe they practice on animals, therefore I asked this.
    – Ivo
    Feb 15, 2016 at 10:56
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    I believe the trick can work on unintelligent beings in general, but cannot work on vermin, undead, constructs, plants and oozes, regardless of intelligence.
    – b_jonas
    Feb 15, 2016 at 11:18
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    The most commonly used definition of sentience—really a very wishy-washy notion—connects it to the ability to suffer, which pretty much all animals possess, even your common garden fly. If there were some race or species in the Star Wars universe (even a humanoid one otherwise essentially identical to us), however, who did not possess pain receptors and therefore were unable to suffer pain, they would by the most common definition possibly be categorised as non-sentient, despite being of equal (or even superior) intelligence to humans. Feb 15, 2016 at 18:07

2 Answers 2



If the question is referring to influencing animals or other such beings with the Force, we have many canon examples of it. Indeed, according to Quinlan Vos, using the Force to control animals (or presumably other non-intelligent creatures; there may be animal-like fungi in the Star Wars universe) is in fact easier than trying to influence humans:

“What’s the catch? Simply controlling an animal, even a strong-willed one, is fairly easy for a Jedi.”

Dark Disciple

It’s worth noting that speech does not usually seem to be required to give orders to animals, contrary to the usual Jedi mind trick. Perhaps this is because their minds are easier to control. On the other hand, using speech when influencing a sentient (in the Star Wars usage) does not seem to be strictly necessary either, as demonstrated by the knowledge Ezra acquired from the Sith holocron). Presumably it requires more effort, more innate skill with mind tricks, or perhaps some arcane knowledge (or perhaps all three) to influence someone without speaking.

At one time or another, various individuals possessed of Force powers have influenced or controlled animals.

  • Ezra Bridger was particularly skilled in this regard. He showed the ability to influence fyrnocks, purrgills, and tibidee.

  • Asajj Ventress was able to use this power.

    A black snake about half a meter long twined lazily about it, flicking out its forked tongue to smell her. Unafraid, she touched its mind and called it to her. It obeyed, climbing up her left arm to her neck. Its tongue tickled as it touched below her ear.

    Dark Disciple

    As was Quinlan Vos:

    Good,” Ventress said. “Now draw him in. Lower his guard…”

    Vos’s hands moved in a flowing motion. In his mind, he saw the snake willingly approach, and a heartbeat later the creature moved over rock and soil, its powerful muscles squeezing and releasing as it propelled itself toward Vos.

    Dark Disciple

  • Anakin Skywalker was able to influence a reek in the arena on Geonosis:

    Anakin evades a charge from the rampaging reek, than uses the Force to calm the enraged animal, turning it into his mount.

    Star Wars in 100 Scenes

  • Obi-Wan Kenobi was able to control some vicious gutkurrs:

    enter image description here

  • Perhaps most notably, Darth Vader controlled one of Cylo’s abominations:

    enter image description here

    While it could be sentient, Cylo describes it as a machine, so I think not:

    In particular, this is more in line with the standard Jedi (or Sith) mind trick: wave one’s hand, speak orders.

These individuals span a wide range of skill levels, power, and Force specialties, so (even aside form Quinlan’s statement) we can probably conclude that influencing the mind of an animal is not very difficult.


The Jedi have demonstrated an ability to control certain animals using the Force. Perhaps the best canon example is when Obi-Wan Kenobi used the Force to stop a pack of gutkurrs from attacking clone troopers in Star Wars: The Clone Wars S1E20 "Innocents of Ryloth". Kenobi can be seen doing it in this Youtube video (start at about 15:25):

Presumably, a Jedi could also control a rancor using a similar technique.

In Legends, there are a number of instances in which Force users can and do control rancors and other animals. For example, Maris Brood had a pet bull rancor which she used to attack Galen Marek in the video game Star Wars: The Force Unleashed. Similarly, the Nightsisters had pet rancors and can be seen controlling the beasts in, for example, the Star Wars: Empire at War: Forces of Corruption game expansion. These rancors were controlled by users of the dark side and were thus not controlled by a Jedi Mind Trick proper, but presumably the Jedi can control animals in the same way. (The "Jedi Mind Trick" should really just be called a "Mind Trick" as the Sith can use mind tricks, too).

The ability to control animals' minds is a Force power that can be learned in the Legends video game Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic II: The Sith Lords, and that power is named "Beast Control".

  • This ability to commune with and even control animals appear to be of a different difficulty level altogether, however. For example, Kanan considers it to be something Ezra can achieve very early in his Jedi training, while Ahsoka demonstrated the ability to make mistakes with Mind Tricks even as a Padawan. Sure, it could be because animals have "simpler, unguarded" minds, but I'm still trying to grapple with this question: Can we really consider animal communion through the Force to be in the same category as Mind Tricks used on sentients? Feb 15, 2016 at 17:53
  • If the two can be considered to be one and the same, then yeah, your answer is legit. But if the two are to be considered as separate Force powers, then the examples of usage we've seen on animals so far cannot be used as indications of the Mind Trick being used on non-sentients. Feb 15, 2016 at 17:55
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    @thegreatjedi The point of the Mind Trick (used on humans, etc.) is to trick that person into doing something you want them to do by influencing his/her mind. These examples show the Jedi controlling animals by influencing their minds. The outcome is the same. Does it really matter if they are "in the same category"? I think it makes total sense that controlling animals is relatively easy, since their minds are weaker. If controlling animals as I've shown does not constitute a "Mind Trick", then what would you expect to see as an example of such a "Mind Trick"?
    – Null
    Feb 15, 2016 at 18:07
  • I'm not sure, tbh. It's just that for animals I've seen it called Animal Friendship/Beast Control/Beast Trick as opposed to the typical Jedi Mind Trick, so I'm not sure if and how they may be different. It easily leads one to wonder: Why the different names? It implies the Mind Trick cannot be used on animals/non-sentients, that Animal Communion is a specific variant, at best. Is it? Feb 15, 2016 at 18:13
  • @Null - It's also worth noting that Anakin uses a similar technique in Episode II to subdue an attacking creature on Geonosis. Feb 16, 2016 at 17:31

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