When Yoda is attacked by Sidious his expression is that of utter surprise. This, in turn, surprises me since he was the one who approached the confrontation, had already seen the use of lightning by Dooku and sees the Emperor very slowly raise his hands with the same gesture.

Not only was he unable to control the lightning like with Dooku before (and after with Sidious himself) which can possibly be explained by the attack from a more experienced user, but his expressions show he was not expecting such a move. How can that be? Is it just a poorly executed scene or is there an explanation behind it?

I'm searching for any canon answer or, if it can be found, Word of God or Word of Saint Paul.

  • CGI Yoda is wrong! Make it stop. Make it stop! sobs
    – Tim
    Jul 24, 2017 at 2:54
  • 1
    Everything in the Star Wars prequels is perfectly thought out, has a logical reason behind it and is executed perfectly. This is why they are now synonym with "utter failure". I mean "work of genius". If he had walked in there prepared, the New Hope would've never happened and Yoda wouldn't be able to retire and ultimately die in a swamp but instead serve on the Jedi council for the rest of his life.
    – Raditz_35
    Jul 24, 2017 at 11:39
  • Are you sure that is surprise on Yoda's face? When humans prepare theirs bodies for fighting (though fear or anger, mostly, but it can also be conscious), they start breathing deeper to increase oxygen intake, which benefits physical movement. His open mouth could be due to physically increasing his oxygen intake.
    – Flater
    Jul 25, 2017 at 13:21
  • @Flater Wel may be no surprise, may be he was ... shocked.... sorry I'll let my-self out.
    – Ram
    Jul 25, 2017 at 16:30

2 Answers 2


Just prior to blasting Yoda, Sidious says

DARTH SlDIOUS: Your arrogance blinds you, Master Yoda. Now you will experience the full power of the dark side.

Star Wars: Episode III - Revenge of the Sith

While I find it unlikely that Yoda would succumb to something as simple as arrogance, especially in the face of a powerful enemy, this seems to be the explanation George Lucas has given us.

Also, Yoda has to lose in order to maintain continuity, so he can't be on his very best form during that particular fight.

  • I've always taken the scene to imply Yoda was so blinded by the dark side he had no idea the power the emperor had obtained, hence his surprise. The line you quote, is an off the wall way to reference that.
    – Mayshar
    Jul 24, 2017 at 16:18
  • That certainly makes a lot more sense than Yoda actually being arrogant and running in there like "Come at me Sidious--OH CRAP!" Jul 24, 2017 at 16:25
  • "While I find it unlikely that Yoda would succumb to something as simple as arrogance" I disagree with that statement. Refusing Anakin in Phantom seems to be a mistake of arrogance. QGJ and OWK are very much painted as the sensible men who have to deal with a somewhat old and rigid Jedi Council; therefore suggesting that the Council is not perfect. Yoda argued that he sees Anakin's future, and therefore refuses to have him trained; yet he does not see that this decison caused Anakin to resent the Council which made him more open to Palpatine's suggestions that the Council is faulty.
    – Flater
    Jul 25, 2017 at 13:25
  • (Sorry to spam; wanted to close my thoughts) When refusing Anakin, Yoda only looked at the dangers of teaching Anakin, and completely disregarded the dangers of refusing Anakin. Refusing to guide him put Anakin out on the market for other people with less noble agendas. Yoda's claim to see his future (and justify every decision he makes based on that ability) should also make him responsible for being wrong in his decisions.
    – Flater
    Jul 25, 2017 at 13:27

    Most likely, Yoda was surprised not by Force lightning itself, but by power of it. Yoda did deflect Dooku's lightning relatively easy. Sidious's lightning must be on whole new level, something that Yoda never experienced in his entire life, especially if Sidious did really use full power of the Dark Side.

    Force lightning is sometimes described as rendering fabric of the universe itself, rather then simple electric bolt. Both in case of Doooku and Palpatine, Yoda was able to sense Dark Side energy before actual jolt stroke him. But, in case of Palpatine, gathering power was so strong it surprised and frightened him. This is that part of blindness by arrogance. Yoda never expected that Sith could be so powerful.

  • I tried to rationalize it this way, but he didn't take an stance to control the force lightning he was incredibly unprepared for any kind of attack.
    – Ram
    Jul 24, 2017 at 23:34
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    @Ram Yes, he does have this "deer in headlights" look, so it does appear silly for a Jedi Master. He also moves right hand just slightly, although I'm not sure are those hand moves essential for controlling Force. Out-of-universe, they probably tried to show how powerful Palpatine is, and they overdone it .
    – rs.29
    Jul 25, 2017 at 5:02

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