In Return of the Jedi Obi-wan, as a Force ghost, sits down on a rock while talking to Luke, which implies that even though Force ghost are translucent, that they can interact with the physical world. Or was he just projecting the appearance of sitting, to seem more lifelike to Luke?

Just how much can a Force ghost interact with the physical environment? Can they pick up objects? Can they use the Force to manipulate objects or do the other things they could do with the Force when alive? Are those that see and hear them actually experiencing a physical presence by hearing sound and seeing reflected light, or is it all in their minds?

How much can a Force ghost interact with the physical world?

Added after a couple answers: Is there any evidence in the EU that Force ghosts interact with the physical world or anything to prove they cannot?


Wookieepedia on Force Ghosts says "interact with the living, albeit not physically", referencing The Complete Star Wars Encyclopedia.

To be honest, I'm slightly skeptical - in order to be seen and heard by Luke in Ep4/Ep6, the ghosts must have SOMEHOW transmitted the images/sounds to Luke's brain, by interacting with the senses or brain directly.

  • Do you mean Ep4/Ep6 or Ep5/Ep6? – Tango Jan 21 '12 at 5:01
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    "the ghosts must have SOMEHOW transmitted the images/sounds to Luke's brain, by interacting with the senses or brain directly." -- Nah... He's a force sensitive.. they are manifestations of the force... We're shown him 'seeing' them, but his perception is probably not thru visual media as we would think. – K-H-W Jan 21 '12 at 6:42
  • @Keith - how exactly does that work? Surely, by interacting with purrely physical midichlorians? – DVK-on-Ahch-To Jan 21 '12 at 15:07
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    @Tango - "Let go, Luke". "Use the Force, Luke". Ep4, surely. – DVK-on-Ahch-To Jan 21 '12 at 15:07
  • @DVK: Okay, I was thinking Ep5 because that's when Ben first appeared to him visually. I figured the speech alone, in Ep4 could be in his head even more than Obi-Wan's appearance could be. – Tango Jan 21 '12 at 17:03

Disney now says Yes they can.

warning: mild spoilers for Last Jedi

Yoda as a force ghost in The Last Jedi is able to summon a bolt of lightning from the sky strong enough to set an entire tree ablaze.

This is quite a destructive act, although not performed in a dark side manner, is quite a scary prospect that a ghost can cause such a significant damage to the real world.

It's pretty safe to assume a light side force user wouldn't actually use this power to affect anything significant in the living world. Force ghosts seem quite enlightened, as if the inner turmoil of living Jedi are no longer an issue, probably due to becoming one with the force. But really right now there is nothing telling me that they couldn't if they had the motivation to do so.

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    This is the first example of real physical interaction I can find. Obi-wan sitting on a log doesn't count any more than other force ghosts standing on the ground (it's not like he broke the log). – LevenTrek Dec 21 '17 at 2:12
  • @LevenTrek I mean, give him some force-cheesburgers and see if that happens. – Möoz Mar 27 '18 at 1:45

Amicable's answer regarding The Last Jedi receives additional support in The Rise of Skywalker. In this new film, Force Ghost

Luke Skywalker

Is able to

Catch a thrown lightsaber and lift his old T-65 X-Wing out of the water.

For the second one, I detected some hint of irony, since doing that is one of those things that

he tried and failed to do while he was alive.

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    In defense of the irony, it was during his training that the failure occurred. Seems reasonable that he put it where it was the same way he got it back. – Zeiss Ikon Feb 4 '20 at 16:55

It is more likely that Force ghosts are visions or voices that manifest entirely in the minds of the living persons they are appearing to, therefore conforming to their expectations (the most important being the ghost's feet being aligned with the same ground level as the living). In the last scene of ROTJ (VI), only Luke sees the Force ghosts (also notice that Yoda is perched on a branch). If a Force ghost appears to more than one person, it would probably be a shared vision.

  • None of the other people present could see them because none of the Rebels were Force-sensative – Matthew Barclay Feb 28 '18 at 2:09

In the EU, in the Jedi Academy series and in I, Jedi, the Force Ghost of Exar Kun was not able to interact physically with anyone. Not seriously. We do see Luke, when he is trapped out of his body by Exar Kun, he is able to produce a very small vibration in R2D2's casing. But that's it.

Exar Kun is able to do a lot of bad things though. He uses his abilities to take over animals and people. He either possesses them directly or uses illusions to convince them they are fighting an enemy when they are actually attacking a friend.

And I cannot come up with a book reference but I believe Force ghosts can interact with electronic equipment: computers and droids and the like. Doesn't one take over a computer in one book or the other? Can't remember.

  • I think that electronics might be the book where Luke falls in love with a force ghost of a dead Jedi – Amicable Feb 4 '20 at 22:22

Yoda also taps Luke on the head with his cane and Luke says ouch and feels the force cane physically. Obviously helped Luke learn this force spirit capability. I feel this is a foreshadowing of things to come in the next Star Wars movie as Luke gains in power as a force spirit Jedi and interacts with the world to continue training the Rae and others as the new enlightened and more balanced New Jedi Order. This is my opinion.

  • The last part, beginning with I feel this is a foreshadowing is irrelevant. Expand on the first part about Yoda tapping Luke and you've got yourself a good answer. – Möoz Mar 27 '18 at 1:41

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