At the very beginning of The Force Awakens, we see Kylo Ren whip up some fairly standard—and some not so standard—Force tricks, like stopping blaster fire and doing a bit of mind-reading.

Apart from the blaster-fire stopping being a new trick we hadn’t seen before, this all seems fairly bog-standard in the Star Wars universe. At this point, we don’t yet know who Kylo Ren is, but we tacitly assume that he’s some kind of Force user, probably a Sith.

We later find out that he is in fact Han and Leia’s son, and that he was trained in the ways of the Force by Luke Skywalker until he did a 180, decided to kill off all Luke’s other trainees and turned to the Dark Side, prompting Luke to do a Yoda and go into exile on a remote planet, albeit a slightly less unappealing one than Dagobah.

Throughout the film, we find that Kylo Ren is seemingly more or less the only Force user left, except perhaps for Snoke: the Jedi and the Sith appear to be no more, at least, and no one else uses the Force, apart from Rey (and she’s new). I always assumed that this was what got him his rather nice gig with the First Order to begin with, which presumes that he has been an active Force user the whole time since, well, let’s say Luke’s disappearance.

But then I just now saw this answer by DVK on what exactly it is that ‘awakens’ in The Force Awakens, and that basically just royally buggered up that notion… as well as a fair bit of the movie itself. From the Visual Dictionary, which I don’t have access to, DVK quotes:

Since the disappearance of Luke Skywalker and the shattering of his fledgling Jedi following, the cosmic Force has lain dormant, seemingly quieted to those able to sense its presence.

The adventures of Rey and Finn on Jakku coincide with a turbulence in the cosmic Force, a sudden ripple indicating the awakening of newfound ability. With the Jedi and their records vanished, few—other than Kylo Ren and his mysterious master—are able to appreciate this occurrence.


So, for whatever (unexplained and frankly quite unfathomable) reason, Luke going into exile made the very Force itself go into hibernation and lie dormant for a good decade or so, something that I don’t recall ever having seen any mention of ever occurring before. Clearly no prequel Midichlorians or the-Force-holds-all-life-together spiel here, or that would have made pretty much the entire universe drop dead (or into a coma).

But even if the prequels are negated here, surely the Force is still the source that ‘drives’ all those supernatural things that Force-sensitives can do. That much has never changed. No Force (or a dormant, inactive Force), no Jedi/Sith tricks and whizzes.

So given that the Force itself was apparently somehow dormant right up until some (unspecified) time during The Force Awakens, what Force was Kylo Ren using to ‘drive’ his Force-activity all those years, and in the beginning of the movie? Or to put it more plainly:

How did Kylo Ren use the Force when there was no Force to use?

  • In the quote it says "new-found ability" perhaps meaning existing ways-of-the-force were not effected. Also, dormant =/= dead.
    – Skooba
    Commented Apr 22, 2016 at 16:18
  • 1
    @Skooba But the previous sentence is quite clear, though: “the cosmic Force has lain dormant”. True, dormant isn’t dead (the Force wouldn’t have been able to awaken if it were); but if you could still draw on it to ‘use the Force’, then how was it dormant at all? As I understand that quote, once the events of TFA get underway, the Force (perhaps with some ‘newfound ability’ addition) is basically up and running again, but before that time, there would have been a period that, for all practical purposes, was essentially Force-less. Commented Apr 22, 2016 at 16:27
  • So another question might be it the "cosmic" Force something different than the Force that being are able to control. Its seem the Force can act as almost a meta-being at times, thus the ability to "sense a disturbance" in it. The answer you seek is probably POB or Future Work, IMO.
    – Skooba
    Commented Apr 22, 2016 at 16:35
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    Look, I am going to have to ask you to stop with all these questions. I feel it is my business as to what force was driving me all these years. I just want to emphasize that I am a private person with real needs and hopes, I don't need to be second guessed at every corner and no, it is not a Grandfather complex when I want to wear a helmet with voice synthesizer in it, I am just very fond of helmets.
    – KyloRen
    Commented Feb 23, 2017 at 0:36

3 Answers 3


I think, it is not that the Force was not there, it is that it was being used very little. Force users can feel other Force users. When there were 1000s of Jedi it was probably background noise. But when there are only a few it must seem very obvious.

It also is worth bearing in mind that the Force seems to have two aspects.

There is a passive Force that exists in all things and which Force users use for their powers. As Kylo Ren seems to have no problem using the Force, I don't think this has changed.

There is also 'the will of the Force' in which it seems to be a 'guiding force' which explains away many huge coincidences tries to bring balance to the Force. This may have started to do things.

If you think of the coincidences that happened in The Force Awakens (remember planets are pretty big):

  • Finn deciding to escape at that moment.
  • Finn bumping into a Force user.
  • BB8 bumping into the same Force user.
  • The Millennium Falcon just being there
  • Han and Chewie being close enough to them to get to them once they launch it.
  • Luke's lightsaber being in the bar
  • Bumping into Rey again on Starkiller base

It would seem that the Force has been working overtime to try and get all of this lined up. (Or someone fired up an infinite improbability drive)

I would say this aspect of the Force may be the one that awakened.

  • 1
    Nice "Hitchhiker's" reference, that drive was probably one of my favourite things in that book. Commented Apr 22, 2016 at 17:55
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    Season 6 of The Clones Wars says the Force is split into the "Cosmic Force" and the "Living Force". But I think your first paragraph answers the question well enough. Commented Apr 22, 2016 at 18:57

It's not that the Force was not there, the Force is always there, in all living things. Quote from Obi-Wan in Episode IV:

It's an energy field created by all living things. It surrounds us and penetrates us; it binds the galaxy together.

There are some people that are more sensitive to it than others. The awakening that happens in VII is the force awakening within Rey, which happened when she touched Anakin and Luke's lightsaber and received a force vision. The Force always strives to achieve balance between light and dark. Since the darkside was dominating in VII, the Force needed someone to restore balance back to the light. Rey's awakening was the awakening of the Light side of the force, which was dormant due to Luke's inactivity.

As far as what drives Kylo's force power, it's the same things that drive the darkside. Passion, anger, thirst for power. The more anger and hatred he channels, the stronger his power with the darkside grows. Also, remember that

Vader is Kylo's grandfather, so Kylo naturally inherited some of his force abilities.


The reference could be a nod to the two different aspects of the Force: the Cosmic Force and the Living Force

The Cosmic Force was an aspect of the Force that bound everything together from energy fed into it through the Living Force.

The Living Force was fed from the energy of living things and was distinct from the Cosmic Force.

So it is possible that the Cosmic Force was dormant because there are not enough Force users contributing to it through the Living Force.

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