Force empathy was a Force power related to Force sense, but involved picking up impressions of an individual's feelings and general emotional state. Those Force-sensitives especially adept could pick up motivations, hidden feelings, and even deeply guarded secrets.
In 24 BBY, while on a Jedi mission to Romin, 17-year-old Anakin Skywalker detected within himself for the first time a new power, felt a sense of exultation in a new facet of the Force he'd not experienced before. The Force allowed him to see into the most secret part of the Citizens' Resistance leader's heart: beyond what Joylin wished or didn't care that others saw. Skywalker suddenly discovered that, beyond objects, he could manipulate being' also, use their fears and secrets. This was a side of the Force he had not known before. Anakin abruptly told Joylin what the power-seizing leader already knew—that he had, in truth, let Romin's corrupt dictator Teda go freely. The other Jedi team members, completely surprised, turned to Skywalker. The guards were not taking Teda to Prison, Anakin revealed. In fact, Joylin had orchestrated a ruse of his own and was permitting Teda to escape offworld with the galactic criminal Jenna Zan Arbor in tow. Racing to circumvent the criminals' escape from the landing platform, Master Mace Windu congratulated Anakin on his excellent Force-sensitive work in bringing that new information to light.
Master Windu, shortly thereafter, as he assigned the Jedi a new mission at the Senate Building, recognized again Anakin's powerful Force-connection that had now gone beyond objects to the inner workings of beings. Skywalker's Master, Obi-Wan Kenobi, suddenly realized this truth (had known it, in fact, without acknowledging it), but he wondered at Windu's recognition of it, for Mace had only been on Romin with them a short time at the conclusion of their mission there, when that quality or capacity in his Padawan seemed to have manifested itself for the first time. Windu was on the Jedi High Council for a reason, Obi-Wan concluded—it was why, except for Grand Master Yoda, that Kenobi thought him the most powerful Jedi he'd ever known. Later, when Kenobi's apprentice witnessed first-hand Supreme Chancellor Palpatine's impressive political maneuvering of beings to his will, the Padawan was struck—for he suddenly realized that Palpatine had just done what Anakin himself did back on Romin, when he felt that surge of power and realized that the Force could allow him to see into motivations and consequences: Palpatine was not a Jedi, and yet he seemed to be able to think several steps ahead of his opponents and perceive motivations and outcomes—at the same time, Palpatine had'not gloated over this power that he clearly possessed. He appeared simply to be rather satisfied. Anakin looked at Palpatine, admiring his sure, confident stride through the Senate Halls. The Chancellor did not exaggerate his power, but neither did he diminish it: he accepted it and accepted the ways in which he would have to use it. Shortly before this, after an encounter with Astri Oddo, Kenobi found himself amazed that Anakin, so often now, it seemed, knew what secrets were inside others, what drove them to do the puzzling things they did. It was a capacity in the Force that Kenobi would see surface again and again in his Padawan—such as on a critical mission to the planet Null after the start of the Clone Wars. Anakin's sensitivity to others was growing and surpassing Obi-Wan's in some cases. Even so, Anakin's gift of seeing inside beings, as Ferus Olin had suggested to Kenobi back on Romin, could turn dangerous if Skywalker tried to control the feelings he found instead of just observing them.
Indeed, in 23 BBY, on his very next mission to Korriban, an 18-year-old Skywalker painfully faced the reality (though pride blinded him from truly understanding why) that selfish feelings of jealousy, needing to win, unwarranted suspicion, and hat' could cloud one's heart and mind, effectively not only numbing and even nullifying a neophyte's capacity for Force empathy, but, worse, potentially result—as those passions did—in the destruction of lives (Darra Thel-Tanis, who died, and Ferus Olin, who resigned from the Order, his dream of Knighthood destroyed) and cherished relationships (Tru Veld, whose friendship and comradery Anakin lost forever).
It was Force empathy that allowed Anakin, the following year, to locate his mother Shmi on Tatooine, for he poignantly felt her pain after racing across its desert wastes on a borrowed speeder bike as he scaled the crest of a high-dune ridge and looked down into the Tusken camp where she had been tortured to death.
Master Yoda exhibited Force empathy during the First Battle of Geonosis while sensing the tension between Obi-Wan Kenobi and Anakin Skywalker during their pursuit of Count Dooku. The argument between the two resulted from Padmé Amidala's fall from an LAAT gunship. After experiencing the situation from afar, Master Yoda decided to intervene.
Years later, Luke's infant son, Ben Skywalker, possessed an increasing capacity for Force empathy and, as a result, shied away from the Force.
- Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic
- The Old Republic: Deceived
- Star Wars: Episode I The Phantom Menace
- Star Wars: Republic: Darkness
- Jedi Quest: The Changing of the Guard
- Jedi Quest: The False Peace
- Star Wars: Episode II Attack of the Clones
- The Clone Wars: Wild Space
- Only the Force
- Star Wars: Episode III Revenge of the Sith
- Star Wars: Episode V The Empire Strikes Back (First appearance)
- Star Wars: Episode VI Return of the Jedi
- Star Wars Episode VI: Return of the Jedi novel
- Star Wars Episode VI: Return of the Jedi junior novel
- The New Jedi Order: Star by Star (First identified as Force empathy)