In Return of the Jedi, Vader throws his lightsaber at Luke causing the catwalk come crashing down. Luke uses this in his advantage and hides from him under the throne room platform. Unable to locate his son, Vader tried to lure Luke out of hiding.

But how could Luke conceal himself from Vader in the first place? Did he use a Force power of some kind to blur Vader's sensors? I mean, the underneath of the platform was pretty much an open space with very little possibilities for hiding. The only places I see in the movie are the openings on the both sides of the floor (pointed by the yellow arrows):

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The background of a close-up to Luke doesn't give much of a clue (although there is a round shape which could be the bottom of a window frame):

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But as Luke reveals himself, he appears to be beneath of the staircase to the dais, right in the middle of it:

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There's no way he could have hidden there all the time, because just a couple of seconds before, Vader walked towards and stared at the very same spot:

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My first ideas were that Luke used the Force to make himself invisible, or to teleport him to the position. But after taking a look at one of the cross sections of the Emperor's throne room, I assume Luke could have slid almost straight under the floor of the lower level (yellow arrow) and then later Force Dashed back to the staircase (although we don't see it in the movie, and I'm not sure if Luke knew the ability):

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Does someone know better?

  • 2
    You can't use the force to teleport yourself in the main canon, nor to make yourself invisible. That's EU only.
    – Valorum
    Jan 2, 2017 at 14:38
  • 4
    @Valorum - W.r.t. invisibility, Talzin was able to turn some Nightsisters invisible to assassinate Dooku. But teleportation still seems out.
    – Adamant
    Jan 2, 2017 at 17:57
  • 7
    I never got the impression that Vader was really looking for him in earnest. He was pacing, talking, and posturing. It seems very jedi/sith-like, to me, to be ready for the disadvantage of the individual who has to charge out from a hidden place -- "like a cat," as the official novel described him. He also had the advantage of probing Luke's mind and intimidating him; time was on his side ("you cannot hide forever"). It's not like Vader was opening doors and looking under or behind objects.
    – Xodarap777
    Jan 3, 2017 at 1:14
  • 2
    @Valorum "That's not how the force works!" Jan 3, 2017 at 6:48
  • @Xodarap777 That should be an answer, and if this were my question I'd accept it as the best answer.
    – Null
    Jan 3, 2017 at 14:39

6 Answers 6


Luke was in the darkness under the staircase. Note that he was in an alcove, hence why Vader couldn't see him directly.

Luke ducked the lightsaber, but its blade cut through the supports that held the catwalk. Luke felt the catwalk drop, and sparks showered around him as the metal supports tore from the ceiling and he tumbled to the floor below. Uninjured, he rolled under the Emperor’s elevated platform and ducked into a dark alcove.

Return of the Jedi: Junior Novelisation


Vader threw his scintillating blade—it sliced through the supports holding up the gantry on which Luke was perched, then swept around and flew back into Vader’s hand. Luke tumbled to the ground, then rolled down another level, under the tilting platform. In the shadow of the darkened overhang, he was out of sight. Vader paced the area like a cat, seeking the boy; but he wouldn’t enter the shadows of the overhang.
“You cannot hide forever, Luke.”

Star Wars: Return of the Jedi - Official Novelisation

enter image description here

  • Vader can see infrared, so a shadow won't impair his ability to see Luke in any way. The darkness is a red herring, but the alcove is key - Luke needs to be out of Vader's line of sight and behind an infrared-blocking object to be able to hide. Hiding in the shadows won't help at all. Oct 16, 2020 at 14:47
  • @NuclearWang - Unless the air is body temperature under there.
    – Valorum
    Oct 16, 2020 at 15:25

1) How could he hide from Vader?

We should consider:

  1. "Sensorial Perception" - See, touch, hear, smell etc. Valorum's answer cover this.

  2. "Extra-Sensorial Perception" - Feel through the force.

    This is not, covered by the other answer, and here I'll try to make my point.

From the movie script:


Vader stalks the low-ceilinged area on the level below the throne, searching for Luke in the semi-darkness, his lightsaber held ready.

VADER You cannot hide forever, Luke.

LUKE I will not fight you.

VADER Give yourself to the dark side. It is the only way you can save your friends. Yes, your thoughts betray you. Your feelings for them are strong. Especially for...

Vader stops and senses something. Luke shuts his eyes tightly, in anguish.

VADER Sister! So...you have a twin sister. Your feelings have now betrayed her, too. Obi-Wan was wise to hide her from me. Now his failure is complete. If you will not turn to the dark side, then perhaps she will."

Fight Scene from Episode VI

Given the answer to 1 and 2, we can safely assume that he could hide his body, and his feelings for a time, until his fear for his sister revealed him.

  • Do we even know whether Vader's Force sense could locate someone down to the centimeter? Maybe he could fee Luke was around, not a specific direction. Jan 2, 2017 at 16:58
  • Idk particularly about Vader's capabilities but I'll quote Force Sense on Wookipedia: starwars.wikia.com/wiki/Force_sense This enables them to feel their environment, detect danger and the location of hidden beings or enemies even through barriers, as well as see in complete darkness. And given Vader is among the strongest force users, we could safely assume that this ability is enhaced beyond the description.
    – Jcheves
    Jan 2, 2017 at 17:26
  • 3
    Might want to note that this Wookipedia excerpt seems to be sourced from a Legends book that had continuity problems to begin with. Not sure what proper Canon sources are for "detect location of hidden creatures". Jan 2, 2017 at 19:06
  • @Jcheves Vader is among the strongest of Force users now because there aren't that many left. His ability to wield the Force is greatly diminished due to being over half robot.
    – TylerH
    Jan 3, 2017 at 14:17
  • Meanwhile is truth that his ability to wield the force is greatly diminished, and he cannot cast force lightning, as mentioned; do not forget that he was "conceived" by the force, unlike any other force user. Therefore, even being half-robot his midichlorian count would be very very high. I don't know how we could messure the "He's stronger than X, but weaker than Y" issue, but he is indeed strong. starwars.wikia.com/wiki/Anakin_Skywalker
    – Jcheves
    Jan 3, 2017 at 19:26

As powerful as Vader is with the force, he does have his limitations. He can't use force lightning as he has no real hands, and what he can "feel" through the force and otherwise are hindered by his armor and suit, "more machine than man." He can feel the darkside, fear, anger, hate, so he probes at Luke to stir those emotions.

  • Welcome to SFF:SE, your answer seems to be based on facts but provides no real sources. By providing sources you'll generate greater interest in your answer as it is supported by quotes. Feel free to edit your post to include quotes from Canon sources. Finally, take a look at the tour page to see how things work around SFF:SE and earn your first badge!
    – Edlothiad
    Jan 2, 2017 at 18:42

I never got the impression that Vader was looking for Luke. Not in earnest, at least. In the film, there was no visual indication of Vader actively searching for Luke's whereabouts. He paced and talked, and it seems to me as though he was positioning and posturing, both in enhancing his readiness and diminishing Luke's through intimidation and his apparent relative confidence. Like a cat with a mouse.

Using the same quote from the official novelization that Valorum identified, with different emphases:

Vader threw his scintillating blade—it sliced through the supports holding up the gantry on which Luke was perched, then swept around and flew back into Vader’s hand. Luke tumbled to the ground, then rolled down another level, under the tilting platform. In the shadow of the darkened overhang, he was out of sight. Vader paced the area like a cat, seeking the boy; but he wouldn’t enter the shadows of the overhang.

“You cannot hide forever, Luke.”

Star Wars: Return of the Jedi - Official Novelisation

("Seeking" is certainly vague enough to allow for this.)

This fits with the actions of previous Sith and Jedi in the movies when they have the upper hand, such as Darth Maul pacing intimidatingly. It seems particularly Sith, to me, that Vader would taunt Luke as he does, while also taking the time to probe his mind for additional information and weaknesses. Time was on Vader's side: Luke cannot hide forever. From a purely tactical standpoint, waiting for Luke to "charge out" of hiding to attack Vader is clearly preferable to finding Luke and therefore giving him the first strike.

As I had pointed out in the comments - Vader paced the area, which isn't what you do when you're actively looking for, say, your keys. He wasn't opening doors and looking under or around objects; he was just confidently taunting and actively waiting. To further the conjecture, it appears that Vader may even have known exactly where Luke was hiding, judging by where and how he chose to pace.


Vader did not have to look

If Vader can read Luke's mind to extract knowledge of a twin sister, he can also extract knowledge of Luke's hiding place from Luke's mind. He really wasn't searching for Luke so much as manipulating Luke's emotions to make Luke give into anger and fear, and therefore to the Dark Side.


Luke drew in on himself making his presence in the Force invisible.

  • 2
    Can you offer any evidence for this or is it just your opinion that that's what happened?
    – Valorum
    Jan 3, 2017 at 23:34
  • 3
    While this is certainly possible, good answers tend to be supported by references and reasoning. Can you think of any source that indicates this?
    – Adamant
    Jan 3, 2017 at 23:36
  • This also contradicts Vader's ability to sense Luke's feelings through the Force and find out about Anakin's daughter, which most certainly is canon as it's right there in the film.
    – DBPriGuy
    Jan 4, 2017 at 0:36

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