"May the Force be with you" was a phrase used to wish luck or good will, generally when individuals parted ways or the object of the expression was facing some sort of imminent challenge. The phrase implied the speaker's wish that the power of the Force would be working alongside the addressee, in order that the addressee's goals would be more effectively accomplished.
It was first known to be used as a formal "'goodbye' and 'good luck'" among Jedi, and members of the Jedi High Council often recited it after assigning missions to their Jedi Knights. After the Great Jedi Purge it was adopted, even among non-Jedi, as a means of conveying good luck and hope before a battle, as a show of the ongoing struggle against the Galactic Empire and admiration for the Jedi Order after their failed attempt to survive the corrupt Emperor's power struggle.
Jedi Master Obi-Wan Kenobi was known to have used a variation of this phrase, telling Luke Skywalker, "The Force will be with you. Always." shortly after joining with the Force, and shortly after Luke Skywalker successfully shot a pair of proton torpedoes into the exhaust port of the first Death Star, destroying it completely. Another variation was uttered by Luke, when he said "May the Force be with me" before entering the Cavrilhu Pirates' base.
In 3,986 BBY, Zayne Carrick did a practice fight with his friend Jarael. After the duel, Jarael and Camper went in their ship with their droid T1-LB, Jarael said goodbye to Zayne with "May the Force be with you".
Additionally, the phrase was used by Admiral Gial Ackbar just before the mission to destroy the second Death Star. To be precise, as Ackbar was personally leading the mission, he said "May the Force be with us".
Another similar phrase, which Darth Vader used on Bespin to greet Luke Skywalker saying "The Force is with you, young Skywalker," which perhaps expresses recognition and estimation of the foe's value and strength. Similarly, Vader insisted to a skeptical Tarkin that "Obi-Wan is here ... the Force is with him," before engaging in their last duel. On a more negative note, he also states, "May the force.... give you what you deserve" to Leia Organa in Star Wars 48: The Third Law. Uthar Wynn and Yuthura Ban during a mission in the Sith Academy on Korriban state a different version of the saying, namely "May the Force serve you well." Another Sith variation of this saying was stated by Darth Vader to his apprentice shortly after his "death" saying "Remember that the dark side is always with you."
Behind the scenes
- "The Force will be with you. Always."
- ―Obi-Wan Kenobi
The phrase is used by some characters in (and fans of) the films, meaning something like "good luck," although usually only Jedi and other believers in the Force use the expression. Han Solo, who expresses his doubt about the Force in A New Hope, eventually uses this expression to wish Luke good luck. In the expanded universe, it is revealed that the Alliance for the Restoration of the Republic used the phrase to call upon the legendary Jedi order, a symbol of the Old Republic, and also to differentiate themselves from the Empire.
The expression has found its way into popular culture as a result of the popularity of the films. Recently it got the 8th position in the AFI's 100 years....100 movie quotes ranking.
Some might believe that, as the Force exists between all living things in any case, the phrase reflects a misunderstanding of its nature. In fact, the phrase implies a wish that the power of the Force is working alongside you, in order that your goals are more effectively accomplished. Jedi Master Obi-Wan Kenobi once used a different form that expressed a reminder rather than a wish: "The Force will be with you, always", stating that Luke would succeed, as he was working alongside the power of the Force.
Some fans celebrate May 4th as "Star Wars Day" by paraphrasing the phrase as "May the fourth be with you".