In this article:
- “Gray Jedi” is a term used to describe Force-sensitives who don’t neatly fit into the classifications of Jedi and Sith.
- Much like the official Jedi and Sith code, fanon (a.k.a fandom made canon) has created multiple versions of a Gray Jedi code that all attempt to balance the extremist points of view that both schools of thought hold.
- While not canon yet, there’s a chance that Disney might bring the Gray Jedi into the canon Star Wars universe.
There’s a line from Revenge of the Sith that’s often quoted by Star Wars fans: “Only a Sith deals in absolutes.” But if you took a peek at the Jedi Code, it becomes clear that the Jedi themselves also dealt in absolutes, with mantras like there is no ignorance, only knowledge.
For all their claims of being keepers of the light and guardians of the galaxy, the Jedi Order was far from being the perfect paragon of goodness its followers believed it to be. Even the recruitment process is suspect: whether or not a Force-sensitive child’s parents agreed to give them over to the Jedi Order doesn’t change the fact that the Jedi actively indoctrinate small children.
Add to that all of the questionable moral choices that any council makes within an organized religion that doubles as a military force and there’s no wonder there are Jedi who go rogue or, at least, choose to distance themselves from the Jedi Council.
While some of them go on to become Sith, others straddle the path between the Light and Dark sides of the Force, becoming what many Star Wars fans call “Gray Jedi.”
Gray Jedi History 101
Much of what we know about the history and origins of the Gray Jedi come from Star Wars Legends, formerly the Star Wars Expanded Universe, a collection of Star Wars media that does the heavy lifting of fleshing out the galaxy where the story occurs and expanding its history. Among the many ideas that the Extended Universe introduced was the concept of the Gray Jedi.
The Gray Jedi trace their ideological origins to the days of the Old Republic when the Jedi Order was more decentralized. Many Jedi Knights of the time were trained under independent masters whose respective factions differed in practices and views from the main Jedi Order in Coruscant. Then, the Great Sith War happened, followed by several other conflicts between the Sith and Jedi.
This prolonged wartime left the Jedi Order in pieces and exposed two of their key weaknesses. The first was how increasingly common it became for Jedi to fall from the Light Side and the inability of a decentralized Jedi Order to form a cohesive military force.
Following the trial of Meetra Surik, a Jedi who was once admired by High Council member Atris, the Jedi Order began to consider sweeping reforms. Atris was a staunch advocate for a stricter interpretation of the Jedi Code.
She and her peers at the time were the originators of many of the policies we know the Jedi for today. Most notable of these were the restriction on how many padawans a master could have at a given time, the prohibition on romantic attachments, and putting an age limit on new recruits.
Not all of the Jedi factions were keen on adopting these reforms. While they remained Jedi in the sense that they were still adherents of the Light side of the Force, these Jedi groups rejected the changes made by Atris to the code.
Understandably, many Jedi weren’t too happy with age restrictions and not being able to start their own families. The Jedi who refused to be reined in by the Jedi Council were branded as Gray Jedi by both the Jedi and the Sith.
The Voss Mystics of Voss-Ka also fit the bill for Gray Jedi even though they aren’t involved in the ideological schism within the Jedi Order. The Mystics were Force-users specializing in prophecy who had remained in hiding for centuries before revealing themselves during the Imperial Attack on Voss. Though the Jedi Order tried to bring them into the fold, the Mystics rejected their teachings as well as the Siths, sticking instead to their own philosophy.
What Did It Mean to Be a Gray Jedi?
Under the Expanded Universe, Gray Jedi were depicted as a more chaotic good or chaotic faction of Force-sensitives. Faction is a loose term here since Gray Jedi tended to operate apart from organized factions of Force-sensitives.
In general, Gray Jedi were either Force-sensitives that utilized both the Dark and Light sides of the Force or ones who chaffed under strict regulations of the Jedi Council for one reason or another. Other than those two, there’s little to tie all of the Gray Jedi together under a single monolith ideology.
That said, many Gray Jedi used the Dark and Light sides of the Force freely, believing both sides to be equally part of the Force. While it was possible for Gray Jedi to fall completely into the Dark side, their ability to accept both sides allowed many to remain uncorrupted by it.
Outside of what’s in the lore, the general consensus is that Gray Jedi are less dogmatic versions of their Dark and Light side counterparts. Another common theme is the idea that there are no Dark or Light sides of the Force, only the Force itself. Plenty of other purported Gray Jedi “ideologies” emphasize a balance that favors neither side. That leads us to the Gray Jedi code.
Is There a Gray Jedi Code?
In reality, there’s really no canonical Gray Jedi code which makes sense given that their whole schtick is tied to separating themselves from the more extreme views that the Sith and traditional Jedi take on the Force and the wider galaxy.
Canon or not, that hasn’t stopped Star Wars fans from trying to formulate their own Gray Jedi code. Though the exact wordings differ, the Gray Jedi codes play with the same idea of acting as balance in the Force and an ideological middle ground between the Sith and Jedi.
One of the most popular versions is the one put forward by Star Wars Fanon. Fanon, as in “fanmade canon,” is a way for fan communities to “fill in” gaps they see in the canon Star Wars franchise.
Since fandom communities tend to riff off of each other’s ideas, certain fanon concepts become so entrenched that they become conflated with canon, especially if it’s an older IP. The same thing has happened for the Gray Jedi code.
In fanon, the Gray Jedi code first makes its appearance during the Force Trance of Leor Danal, the first fanon leader of the Gray Jedi. The code is as follows:
“Flowing through all, there is balance.
There is no peace without a passion to create.
There is no passion without peace to guide.
Knowledge fades without the strength to act.
Power blinds without the serenity to see.
There is freedom in life.
There is purpose in death.
The Force is all things and I am the Force.”
In line with the ideals highlighted by the fanon Gray Jedi code, there are a few canon Star Wars characters that some fans believe were actually Gray Jedi at heart. Again, keep in mind that none of this is canon and, for the purists, put your lightsabers away.
There are no claims being made here regarding the canonical validity of everything to do with the Gray Jedi. Some people just thought it would be fun or interesting, it’s not that serious.
Who Were Considered Gray Jedi?
One of the Star Wars characters that fans have considered for Gray Jedis status is Jolee Bindo whose love for a mercenary, Nayama, was used by Atris as an argument for making the Jedi Code more restrictive.
Why did Bindo get in trouble with the Jedi Council? Because he didn’t want to kill Nayama after her fall to the Dark side. His marriage to Nayama led his name to become a euphemism for going Gray (“pulling a Bindo”).
It’s hard to deny that killing Nayama would have been the “for the greater good” choice, but who can really say they’d be able to stomach killing a loved one? Bindo’s case highlights how near impossible it is to be a true adherent of the Jedi Code for pretty much any warm-blooded human being.
Aside from the Voss Mystics, another Gray Jedi faction was the Jenasaarai of the Suarbi system. The Jenasaarai is a kind of a splinter group from the Jedi Order that came about after a former Jedi Knight left the order after becoming disillusioned with it. This is a common theme among many Gray Jedi stories: disillusionment with the dogmas and practices of the Jedi Order.
The Jensaarai were hostile to the Jedi Order at first, believing them to be threats, but would later reconcile their differences with the Jedi and start a student exchange program with Luke Skywalker’s Jedi school. Though they are viewed as Gray Jedi, Jensaarai themselves reject the label.
A more controversial fanon and Legends take is that Qui-Gon Jinn was a Gray Jedi. Sure, Qui-Gon doesn’t leave the Jedi Order and was even offered a spot on the Jedi Council, but his chaotic good antics didn’t always line up with the Jedi Code. Qui-Gon was a believer of the Living Force which was not widely accepted among the Jedi Order in his time.
Another fan favorite Gray Jedi is Ashoka Tano. The dual lightsaber-wielding Togruta is noted for being a prime example of chaotic good. In Star Wars: The Clone Wars, Ashoka refuses to rejoin the Jedi Order. Previously, she had been kicked out of the order after being accused of bombing a Jedi Temple.
After clearing her name, the council told her she was now a true Jedi knight, calling their betrayal of her trust a “trial.” Ashoka, who’s tired of the order, leaves the temple and continues to walk the path of the Light side without the Jedi Council hanging over her head.
Gray Jedi Aren’t Canon (Yet)
The status of the Gray Jedi in the Star Wars franchise is currently in limbo. Notwithstanding the disagreements among fans regarding whether Gray Jedi are even real in the first place, the main source of all the Gray Jedi “lore” you’ve just read has been rendered non-canon.
Following a decision made by Lucasfilm in 2014, the entirety of the Expanded Universe/Legends novels are now no longer officially part of the Star Wars universe.
The decision appears to have been made for a key practical reason: there’s too much Expanded Universe. The Expanded Universe had done its job of filling in the galaxy a little too well, to the point that it would be extremely difficult to create new Star Wars movies that didn’t break canon while still giving filmmakers creative freedom.
When The Force Awakens was released the following year, fans noticed that all three of Han Solo and Leia’s children had been erased from the franchise with the creation of Kylo Ren/Ben Solo.
But is there a chance that the Gray Jedi will become canon in the future?
Judging by how The High Republic books are going, we might get to see a Gray Jedi adjacent group in future shows and movies. The High Republic‘s Jedi Wayseekers are described as independent Jedi who, like the Gray Jedi before them, question the rules of the Jedi Order and go on to find their own path in the Force.
That’s enough on Force philosophy and religion. If you were a Force-sensitive in the Star Wars universe, which path would you take? And how do you feel about the many ideologies within Star Wars? Canon or not, I personally agree with the Gray Jedi code more.
Let us know your thoughts in the comments below!