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We all know the famous scene where we first witness Obi-Wan using the Jedi mind trick on the Stormtrooper at Mos Eisley. I'm curious as to what effect (if any) it was having on the Stormtroopers that he wasn't speaking to. Can a Jedi use the same mind trick on several people simultaneously? Or were they all standing there confused? Or did they simply not hear what Obi-Wan was saying as he performed it?

What are the limits of the Jedi mind trick (besides the fact that they only work on the "weak-minded")?

  • Do you care about the level of canon in answers? – phantom42 Aug 7 '15 at 15:11
  • No, any canon level is fine. If you, or anyone else for that matter, want to specify a level of canon for different parts of your answer (just to make it easier to sort through), feel free to do so. Thanks for asking. – Spar10 Leonidas Aug 10 '15 at 7:34
  • @JasonBaker - Just for future reference, what does "VTC" stand for? – Spar10 Leonidas Aug 10 '15 at 8:41
  • "Vote to Close," a power you get at 3k reputation. It (usually) takes 5 votes to close a question; mods (the folks with the diamonds next to their names) can do it in one, and people with gold badges in a tag can close-as-duplicate questions in that tag with one vote – Jason Baker Aug 10 '15 at 8:41
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    Plagueis made a five year old kill himself. It seems limitless to the vulnerable. – Matthew Stevenson Aug 16 '17 at 1:29
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The Jedi Mind Trick can definitely affect multiple targets simultaneously.

In Episode IV: A New Hope, when Ben Kenobi is making his way through the Death Star, he uses the Jedi Mind Trick to make two stormtroopers think they heard something, allowing Ben to sneak past.

INT. DEATH STAR - POWER TRENCH

Suddenly a door behind Ben slides open and a detachment of stormtroopers marches to the power trench. Ben instantly slips into the shadows as an Officer moves to within a few feet of him.

OFFICER: Secure this area until the alert is canceled. Give me regular reports, please.
FIRST TROOPER: All right.

All but two of the stormtroopers leave.

FIRST TROOPER: Do you know what's going on?
SECOND TROOPER: Maybe it's another drill.

Ben moves around the tractor beam, watching the stormtroopers as they turn their backs to him.

FIRST TROOPER: Have you seen that new BT-16? SECOND TROOPER: Yeah, some of the other guys were telling me about it. They say it’s, it’s quite a thing to....

Ben gestures with his hand toward them, [and] the troops think they hear something in the other hallway. With the help of the Force, Ben deftly slips past the troopers and into the main hallway.

SECOND TROOPER: What was that?
FIRST TROOPER: Oh, that’s nothing. Top gassing. Don't worry about it.


What About the Stormtroopers in Mos Eisley?

It is almost certain that both stormtroopers were under the influence of the Mind Trick.

In light of the way the scene plays out, it just wouldn't make sense for Ben's first Mind Trick to affect only one of the two stormtroopers in Mos Eisley. Imagine if that were really what was going on:

Darth Vader sends stormtroopers to Mos Eisley to search for C-3PO and R2-D2. Two of these stormtroopers are standing around when a speeder pulls up with two droids in the back seat. The first stormtrooper thinks "That's gotta be the droids we're supposed to find. We're going to get a promotion for this!"

Before the first stormtrooper can say anything, the second one asks the driver how long he's had the droids. The passenger says they've had them for a long time, and offers to sell them. The second stormtrooper ignores this and demands to see the driver's identification papers. "The jig is up," thinks the first stormtrooper. "We've got them. We're going to be Vader's favorite people ever!"

The passenger says, "You don't need to see his papers."
Stormtrooper number two repeats him: "We don't need to see his papers."

The first stormtrooper thinks this is pretty weird, but figures his buddy simply didn't hear what the passenger had said, and is repeating it for clarification. He is stunned by what happens next.

"These aren't the droids you're looking for", says the passenger.
"These aren't the droids we're looking for", says the first stormtrooper. Stormtrooper number one is flabbergasted, but again, he says nothing.

"He can go about his business", says the passenger.
"You can go about your business", the second stormtrooper parrots back.

The first stormtrooper finally catches on to what is happening. The passenger is clearly using some kind of magic trick to hypnotize the other stormtrooper.

"Move along", the passenger says.
"Move along", chirps the second stormtrooper.

As the speeder pulls away from the checkpoint, the first stormtrooper ponders what he should do. "Vader sent us to find two droids", he thinks. "I'm 99.9% sure that those are the droids in question. I know full well that whenever someone doesn't do what Vader tells them to do, they are immediately Force Choked to death. If I let that speeder get away, I will have failed to do what Vader told me to do. Therefore, unless I stop that speeder and catch those two droids, I will certainly be Force Choked to death a few hours from now."

The first stormtrooper mulls over the possibilities: "Should I stop the speeder, catch the droids, bring them to Vader, and get a promotion, or should I stand here with my thumb up my butt and do nothing, then get murdered by a homicidal half-robotic psychopath who has magical powers?"

A few seconds pass; finally, he makes up his mind. "Eh, whatever. I guess I'll just do nothing and get Force Choked to death."

This hypothetical scenario strongly suggests that one of two things must be true:

  1. Both stormtroopers were affected by the Jedi Mind Trick.

  2. Only one stormtrooper was affected, but the other one didn't mind being killed by Vader for not doing anything while his buddy let the droids get away, so he just stood there and watched.

It seems likely that both stormtroopers were affected by the Jedi Mind Trick.


What, if Any, Are the Limitations of the Jedi Mind Trick?

As to how many people it can affect, I don't know of any information that would give us any real insight into this question. The most we can say is rather obvious: "at least two people".

Regarding the other limitations, I can only vouch for what we see in the movies (particularly the original trilogy). We know that the Mind Trick only works on "the weak minded". Luke tries to use it on Jabba, and utterly fails. In the first prequel, either Obi Wan or Qui-Gon Jinn tries to use it on Watto, the insect-like creature who owns Anakin, and again, he fails in spectacular fashion. This would make the Jedi Mind Trick a very tricky (no pun intended) thing to try.

It seems likely that using the Jedi Mind Trick on multiple targets is dangerous: considering the fact that it only works on "weak minded" people, so if you tried to use it on a group of people, you would run the risk of some of them being unaffected, noticing that the others were behaving oddly, and calling attention to what was happening. This would negate the benefit of using the Trick in the first place: everyone knows you're up to something nefarious, and your cover is blown.

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    I don't think the mind trick only working on weak minded people is entirely true. I quote "Hutts and Toydarians innately repel suggestion through the Force as a result of biological adaptions." It has nothing to do with being particularly strong willed, their brains are just wired differently. – Theik Aug 7 '15 at 6:57
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    Here's a theory: The "weak-minded" thing is a lie, and the Mind Trick in fact works on anybody. This is how Anakin got Padme to fall in love with him, despite all his creepy, obsessive behaviour, whining about how he doesn't like sand, and mass murder of sandpeople children. – Royal Canadian Bandit Aug 7 '15 at 9:21
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    @Theik - I have to disagree. Anakin and Obi Wan both say that the Jedi Mind Trick works on the "weak minded". When Luke uses it on Bib Fortuna, Jabba calls the latter a "weak minded fool". – Wad Cheber stands with Monica Aug 8 '15 at 3:05
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    @Royal Canadian Bandit - alternative theory: Padme is simply weak-minded. – Ras Morthil Aug 16 '15 at 18:08
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    It's not true that Ben Kenobi uses a mind trick to make two stormtroopers think they heard something, allowing Ben to sneak past.. If you watch/listen closely to the moment it happens in the scene, then it becomes obvious that his hand gesture is actually him using the force for telekinesis, not telepathy, because shortly after we, the audience, hear a thud (a sound), meaning he used the force to move something at a distance to cause the sound (unless you want to imply he used a mind trick on the audience too). Downvoted your answer because bogus claim – Ghoti and Chips Jul 22 '17 at 10:38
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Overview

Mind Trick is a Force power that can be used:

  • by any Force user trained in it (it is colloquially referred to as a Jedi mind trick because they are far more common than the Sith since the Rule of Two)
  • against minds of varying strengths as long as they are organic beings
  • over long distances (as some other Force powers can be)
  • against other Force users
  • against multiple targets at once

And it can be also be resisted against in various ways/by various species. It has various manifestations (light and dark side, and depending on the ability of the user), and exists along a spectrum of interrelated Force powers that all have to do with interacting with the minds of others in various ways, all of which are connected to/based on the precursor ability of Force sense. This spectrum includes:

Weak-minds

Whether or not Mind Trick only worked on the weak-minded, depends on how you interpret the canon:

  • In ANH, Kenobi says "The force can have a strong influence on the weak minded."
  • In ATOTC, the following is an exchange between Padme Amidala and Anakin Skywalker. It should be taken with a grain of salt since, at the time, a) Anakin was only a Padawan and thus his understanding of the Force was not advanced, and b) he was flirting with her and thus would want to be complimentary:

Padme: I don’t know.

Anakin: Sure you do, you just don’t want to tell me.

Padme: Are you going to use one of your Jedi mind tricks on me?

Anakin: They only work on the weak-minded.

  • As shown in TCW 2x03, in 21 BBY, three powerful Jedi, Obi-wan Kenobi, Mace Windu and Anakin Skywalker used Mind Trick to interrogate the Duros bounty hunter Cad Bane, as seen here, to reveal the location(s) of the stolen Kyber memory crystal and the kidnapped Force-sensitive children. Cad Bane is not weak-minded and thus they surmise that if they work together they may be able to Force persuade him to tell them what they want to know. The risk though is that the stronger the influence the more dangerous it can be on the mind of the recipient. Plus it indicates that many Jedi can coalesce the Mind Trick ability.

Hutts

Even though the Hutt species were shown to be very resistant to Mind Trick, several Jedi still attempted to use it on them, including:

  • Qui-gon Jinn on Jemba the Hutt, and Luke Skywalker on Jabba the Hutt, failing both times.
  • Qui-gon Jinn succeeded in using a Mind Trick on a Hutt Guard in this book, indicating that Hutts were not totally immune.
  • Revan successfully used Force persuade on Motta the Hutt (to give Nico Senvi a better contract) in KOTOR1.

Interestingly, there are at least two instances of Hutts being Force-sensitive, one of whom became the Jedi Beldorion and the other was Mika Anjiliac Chiera, and both of whom could use the Mind Trick power.

Long-distance

Mind trick can be performed over long distances, such as when Ki-Adi-Mundi persuaded a Trade Federation ship to allow him to land on Tatooine in this comic book, but there are not too many recorded instances of it specifically. This thread is on that subject.

Droids

Mind Trick in general doesn’t seem to work on droids, nor Force illusion in particular.

Other Force-users

Jedi are generally resistant to Mind Trick, and in addition, could use Force sight to counter it by seeing the truth/reality through the Force. They also trained to be resistant to other Force powers as well, but it was not unheard of for a very powerful Force user to use Mind Trick on another Force user, such as when Lord Andeddu and Wyyrlok battled each other with illusions in this book (though there may have been some Sith magic involved), and when Jacen Solo used it somewhat successfully on Ganner Rhysode as described here:

The bait did not draw Jaina; instead, Ganner Rhysode came to Solo’s room in the camp ship over Bothawui following up on the rumor. Solo used the Force to overwhelm Rhysode with fear, attempting to compel him to turn away before entering the Yuuzhan Vong trap. Rhysode would not be deterred, and entered. Solo turned him away and attempted to keep the warriors from acting against Rhysode, but when the Jedi attempted to use the Force to persuade Solo, he was forced to prevent Rhysode’s sensing him in the Force. Solo used a powerful mind trick to compel Rhysode to leave. When Rhysode recovered his will, he shut down his Force presence and returned once more. His surprise attack disabled the four Yuuzhan Vong and allowed him to put his lightsaber to Solo’s throat. Unable to leave the room, Solo was disappointed that Rhysode’s persistence had forced him to capture his friend. To Rhysode’s shock, he revealed his identity to the Jedi before knocking him out with a dose of Vergere’s tears. He did use the event as an excuse to call off the trap, telling his escorts to return to Yuuzhan’tar.

Against multiple targets

Force illusions and various other manifestations of Mind Trick could affect the minds of lots of people simultaneously:

  • Vitiate was able to dominate the minds of thousands of Sith lords as well as create and control the Children of the Emperor.
  • When Naga Sadow projected war beasts onto the battlefields of Koros Major, Coruscant and Kirrek during the Great Hyperspace War.
  • Darth Wyyrlok used illusions against two Dark Jedi at the same time, Gerlun and Demtri, both members of the Malevolence cult, on the planet Prakith, making Gerlun kill Demtri.
  • Palpatine used Force illusion in conjunction with Force drain to attract people to Byss and then keep them there under an idyllic spell, while draining them through the Force.
  • It is surmised here that it is at least possible that Palpatine used Mind Trick on a vast number of the population of Coruscant to trick them into forgetting about the burial of the Lusankya:

Not knowing all of the details surrounding the burial, some New Republic observers later speculated that either all the witnesses to this event had been executed, or that Emperor Palpatine had used the Force on a massive scale to command everyone to forget what they saw.[6] As for the purpose of the burial, it was theorized that the Lusankya was meant to provide Palpatine with a secure means of escape, in case Coruscant was invaded by hostile forces. Only a select few were made aware of its existence, location, and purpose.

  • Another example is when Joruus C’baoth (two U’s), the insane Dark Jedi clone of Jedi Jorus (one U) C’baoth, uses Mind Trick as described here:

However, his preferred ability was that of controlling the minds of others. The C’baoth clone also had the power to take control of other’s minds, and literally reshape them in his own image, an extremely difficult feat. He once took over the minds of the thousands of beings serving on the Chimaera. Later, he used his abilities to control the Imperials left at Mount Tantiss to guard him.

With the specific incident being described here:

C’baoth later left Jomark in a fury, taking control of the minds of those aboard a Lancer-class frigate and ordering them to take him to the Imperial II-class Star Destroyer Chimaera, Thrawn’s flagship. Once there, he confronted Thrawn, asking why he had not yet been given "his" Jedi. Thrawn retorted by asking why Skywalker had been allowed to leave. C’baoth, tired of what he perceived as empty promises from Thrawn, took control of the minds of everyone aboard the Chimaera save for those in the ysalamir Force-bubble, and threatened to make them take the ship to Coruscant. However, powerful as he was, controlling the minds of thousands of individuals for several days was beyond him, and he was forced to drop his control.

Shaping minds

And the referred-to ability to actually shape the minds of others is described here:

Unknown to any of the five heading to Wayland, C’baoth was in Mount Tantiss, imprisoned in the royal chambers by Thrawn due to his realization that the clone was too powerful, power-hungry, and unstable to be safely used any longer. However, C’baoth had out-thought Thrawn. He had realized that if he could take over the minds of the soldiers and crew members used as cloning templates, he could mentally command every clone created from them. This would allow him to personally command a huge section of the Imperial forces. As there were only approximately twenty templates, he believed he could easily shape their minds, and in turn, their clones.

He had first tried this mind control technique on the way to Wayland, where he was in a shuttle along with the Imperial General Freja Covell. C’baoth took control of his mind, altering it. Covell became completely loyal to C’baoth, forgetting his earlier orders from Thrawn. However, when the shuttle entered the Force-free zone caused by the thousands of ysalamiri in the mountain, Covell was shaken by the loss of C’baoth’s presence, and his mind was severely damaged. Without the Force, the Dark Jedi was unable to maintain control of Covell, and the General suffered, his brain critically damaged. Covell was changed, although C’baoth had not finished “shaping” his mind.

Resistance

Various species had various degrees of resistance to Mind Trick, and for various reasons, as discussed interestingly here (non-canon, an opinion thread). The Hutts are discussed above, but other species that were resistant included the Yuuzhan Vong, Ysalamir, Yinchorri, Toydarians, Geonosians, Dashade, Falleen, and possibly the Snivvians.

  • The Yuuzhan Vong were cut off from/outside the Force and thus were immune to almost, though not all, Force powers. While I could not find an example of a Jedi using Mind Trick against them, Onimi, a force-sensitive Shamed Shaper Yuuzhan Vong, was able to use Mind Trick against other Yuuzhan Vong, specifically Shimrra and used this to control him and through him the Yuuzhan Vong.
  • The Ysalamir were immune to Force powers, and they accomplished this by projecting a bubble inside which users were unable to exert any influence over the Force. Thus you could use them to shield yourself against Mind Trick (and other Force powers), as described in the above incident between Joruus C’baoth and Covell.
  • As paraphrased from their Wookieepedia article ---> The Yinchorri had a natural resistance to the mind-controlling uses of the Force, due to an adaptation of their Midi-chlorians—microscopic, symbiotic life forms that resided inside the cells of all living things — which caused the symbionts to generate Force-devoid bubbles around their hosts … However, that resistance did not extend to those Force powers that did not directly affect the will of the target, such as telekinesis. A small percentage of the Yinchorri could also manipulate the Force.
  • The brains of Toydarians, like the Hutts, had an unusual composition which made them (their brains) resistant to influence through the Force.
  • Geonosians, by their own account (in TCW 2x08), were immune to Mind Trick, though it is not explicitly stated why. The Geonosian queen Karina used brain worms to control the minds of Geonosian zombies, but there is nothing to suggest that this or any tangential aspect of it, is related to their resistance to Mind Trick.
  • As mentioned in the codex of SWTOR, and paraphrased from their Wookieepedia article (thanks to @IanAuld) ---> The Dashade were tall, reptilian humanoids notable for their resistance to the powers of the Force … In addition to their partial Force-resistance, they were resistant to radiation. … Thanks to their Force-immunity, Dashade warriors easily found employment as combat instructors for the Jedi and assassins for the Sith.
  • Normal people could be trained to resist Mind Trick, such as the mercenaries who took Vrook Lamar captive on Dantooine, in KOTOR2; they explained that they had been trained to resist Mind Trick during the Jedi Civil War.
  • Having highly organised mental facilities also aided in the resistance to Mind Trick.

Some other sources on the subject can be found here, here, here and here; plus a non-canon discussion thread about the Yuuzhan Vong and various force powers here.

  • The Dashade species is also noted as being resistant to Force techniques in SWTOR. – kylie.a Aug 7 '15 at 15:03
  • I haven't played that one - does it say why they are resistant? I left them out of the explanation part as I didn't know specifically why. – Phyneas Aug 7 '15 at 15:09
  • It doesn't say why but this is part of their wookie page: Thanks to their Force-immunity, Dashade warriors easily found employment as combat instructors for the Jedi and assassins for the Sith. (source) – kylie.a Aug 7 '15 at 15:13
  • I included them in the list under Resistance, but I didn't explain it any further than that as I didn't have any particulars. – Phyneas Aug 7 '15 at 15:25
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    @IanAuld - I included the description of the Dashade, thanks for the suggestion :) – Phyneas Aug 7 '15 at 16:54
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The canon Star Wars In 100 Scenes factbook explicitly confirms that Obi-wan used his mind-fogging abilities on more than just the trooper that he was speaking to.

enter image description here

This is backed up by the (canon) short story Born in the Storm in which we see TD-7556 (the stormtrooper in the middle in the picture) and his boss Commander-110 (the guy with the orange patch) are both affected by Kenobi.

Then the Old Guy’s like, “You don’t need to see his identification,” and the first thing I thought was, whoa—is this geezer an Imperial? He just had that way about him, like he was one of us somehow, but busted and goofy and strung out. Maybe it was the accent. That thought really didn’t last long though, because the next thing that happened was that I was absolutely, 100 percent sure that we did not need to see his identification. I mean, to be fair, it didn’t seem that necessary in the first place, but listen: You would’ve had to hold me down and shove his scan docs in my face (and probably take my helmet off if you really wanted me to see anything) if you wanted me to look at ’em. It was imperative that I not see them, right at that moment. In fact, all I wanted was to get the krizz out of there. And not just to get sizzled on some Jawa juice, either.

Born in the Storm


Note that the film's Official Novelisation suggests that the trick was only pulled on the two troopers closest to the speeder, not the two in the background

Unable to decide whether he should salute, nod, or give thanks to the man, Luke settled for nudging the accelerator. The landspeeder moved forward, drawing away from the circle of troops. As they prepared to round a corner, Luke risked a glance backward. The officer who had inspected them appeared to be arguing with several comrades, though at this distance Luke couldn’t be sure.


Interestingly, the Junior Novelisation contains a slightly different version of events:

The squad leader said, “Let me see your identification.”
“You don’t need to see his identification,” Ben said in a calm, controlled tone.
Looking to his fellow stormtroopers, the squad leader said, “We don’t need to see his identification.”
Ben said, “These aren’t the droids you’re looking for.”
“These aren’t the droids we’re looking for,” the squad leader repeated.
Luke gave another quick glance at Ben. He’s hypnotizing the stormtroopers. But how?
Ben said to the squad leader, “He can go about his business.”
Looking at Luke, the squad leader said, “You can go about your business.”
“Move along,” Ben said.
“Move along,” echoed the squad leader, gesturing with his hand for Luke to proceed. “Move along.”

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