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"Without the midi-chlorians, life could not exist, and we would have no knowledge of the Force. They continually speak to us, telling us the will of the Force. When you learn to quiet your mind, you'll hear them speaking to you."
Qui-Gon Jinn, to Anakin Skywalker[src]

Midi-chlorians were microscopic, intelligent life forms that originated from the foundation of life in the center of the galaxy, and ultimately resided within the cells of all living organisms, thereby forming a symbiotic relationship with their hosts. The Force spoke through the midi-chlorians, allowing certain beings to use the Force if they were sensitive enough to its powers. In order to gauge an individual's potential in the Force, blood tests were used to estimate the number of midi-chlorians within the subject's cells. Anakin Skywalker, the Chosen One, possessed the highest known count in galactic history—over 20,000 midi-chlorians—surpassing the potential of all the Jedi including Grand Master Yoda.

BiologyEdit

"Midi-chlorians are a microscopic life form that resides within all living cells."
―Qui-Gon Jinn, to Anakin Skywalker[src]
Anakin at Varykino

Qui-Gon Jinn believed that the Chosen One, Anakin Skywalker, was conceived by the midi-chlorians.

Midi-chlorian was the scientific name[2] for a species of sentient and microscopic organisms that inhabited the cells of every life form.[1] Their existence was integral to the all-encompassing energy field known as the Force, connecting the Living Force to the Cosmic Force.[3] By serving as the link between the living and cosmic aspects of the Force, the midi-chlorians made it possible to preserve an individual's consciousness after death. With sufficient training[4] and total immersion in the light side of the Force,[5] the deceased could preserve their identity in the form of a Force spirit after becoming one with the Force.[4]

In addition to their connection with the Force, midi-chlorians lived in a symbiotic relationship with their organic hosts—a bond that was especially strong with Force-sensitive beings, who possessed a high quantity of midi-chlorians in their cells. This mutually advantageous relationship allowed the midi-chlorians to communicate the will of the Force to their Force-sensitive symbionts, who were capable of utilizing the powers of the Force through the midi-chlorians.[1]

Study and analysisEdit

"I need a midi-chlorian count."
"The readings are off the chart. Over 20,000. Even Master Yoda doesn't have a midi-chlorian count that high."
"No Jedi has."
―Qui-Gon Jinn and Obi-Wan Kenobi[src]
Blood sample

Blood samples were analyzed to estimate the number of midi-chlorians in a person.

Midi-chlorians were detected through a scientific analysis of blood samples taken from a life form. In this case, the purpose of examining blood was to calculate the number of midi-chlorians that resided within the living cells of a subject, and therefore, determine the natural strength of the connection between said subject and the Force. By 32 BBY, thirty-two years before the Battle of Yavin, the highest known concentration of midi-chlorians in a life form was approximately twenty-thousand according to Jedi records. This record was broken following the discovery of Anakin Skywalker in the same year.[1]

HistoryEdit

OriginEdit

"What is this place?"
"All that surround us is the foundation of life, the birthplace of what your science calls midi-chlorians, the foundation of what connects the Living Force and the Cosmic Force."
―Yoda and Serenity[src]
Midi-chlorian homeworld

The Wellspring of Life was the birthplace of the midi-chlorians.

The Wellspring of Life, a mystical world located in the heart of the galaxy, was the birthplace of a microscopic species that served as the link between the Living Force[3] within all life forms and the infinite Cosmic Force.[6] It was also the foundation of life,[3] with all life forms serving a symbiotic host for the living organisms[1] native to the wellspring.[3] In modern science these intelligent microbes became known as "midi-chlorians."[7]

The existence of midi-chlorians was known to both the Jedi[1] and the Sith.[8] The Jedi Order utilized the scientific procedure of blood testing to estimate the number of midi-chlorians within prospective initiates. In addition to their scientific knowledge of midi-chlorians, Jedi philosophy held that the midi-chlorians were the foundation of all life itself, and therefore life could not exist without the midi-chlorians.[1]

The Chosen OneEdit

"His cells have the highest concentration of midi-chlorians I've ever seen in a life form. It's possible he was conceived by the midi-chlorians."
"You refer to the prophecy of the one who will bring balance to the Force. You believe it's this…boy?"
―Qui-Gon Jinn and Mace Windu[src]
Anakinandmom

To her astonishment, Shmi Skywalker conceived a son who had no father.

In 32 BBY, Jedi Master Qui-Gon Jinn encountered Anakin Skywalker, a human child with an exceptionally powerful connection to the Force, but enslaved on the desert world of Tatooine. Intrigued by Anakin's natural strength, Jinn's fascination grew when the boy's mother, Shmi Skywalker, revealed that her son was born without a biological father.[1][9] Later, a blood test confirmed that Anakin possessed a midi-chlorian count that exceeded twenty-thousand—the highest recorded at the time—exceeding those of all Jedi including the powerful Grand Master Yoda. The test results, Anakin's unique conception, and the reemergence of the Sith were all factors that led Jinn to a single conclusion: Anakin Skywalker was the prophesied Chosen One,[1] destined to destroy the Sith[8] and bring balance to the Force.[1]

Anakin Skywalker was ultimately liberated and brought to the Jedi Temple on Coruscant, the capital planet of the Galactic Republic, where he would begin his training with the permission of the Jedi High Council. Jinn disclosed the results of Skywalker's blood test in his report to the Council, as well as his belief that Skywalker may have been conceived by the midi-chlorians. Though initially skeptical of the maverick Jedi Master's claims, the Council ultimately accepted Skywalker into the Order in the aftermath of the Battle of Naboo.[1]

Yoda's journeyEdit

"All energy from the Living Force, from all things that have ever lived, feeds into the Cosmic Force, binding everything and communicating to us through the midi-chlorians."
―Qui-Gon Jinn, to Yoda[src]

By 19 BBY, over a decade after the discovery of Anakin Skywalker, the spirit of the late Qui-Gon Jinn made contact with Yoda. After journeying to the planet Dagobah at Jinn's insistence,[4] Yoda discovered the birthplace of the midi-chlorians where he learned of their role as the link between the Living Force and the Cosmic Force;[2] a connection embodied by five ethereal beings: Anger, Confusion, Joy, Sadness, and Serenity.[6] With their aid the ancient Jedi Master gained greater insight into the nature of the midi-chlorians which, in turn, led to his acquisition of a new ability—the power to preserve his consciousness after becoming one with the Force.[5]

The Tragedy of Darth Plagueis the WiseEdit

"Darth Plagueis was a Dark Lord of the Sith so powerful and so wise, he could use the Force to influence the midi-chlorians to create…life."
―Sheev Palpatine, to Anakin Skywalker[src]
Palpatine and Anakin

Anakin Skywalker learned about Darth Plagueis' knowledge of midi-chlorians from Sheev Palpatine.

In the waning days of the Clone Wars, Skywalker became fearful of losing his secret wife, Senator Padmé Amidala, due to premonitions of her death in childbirth. Darth Sidious, the Dark Lord of the Sith whom Skywalker knew as Supreme Chancellor Sheev Palpatine, sought to lure Skywalker to the dark side of the Force[8] by recounting a so-called "Sith legend"[10] that involved the midi-chlorians. According to Sidious, Darth Plagueis was a wise and powerful Sith Lord who could manipulate midi-chlorians to create new life, an ability that extended to preserving life from death itself. Ultimately, the Chancellor's story served to motivate Skywalker's betrayal of the Jedi Order, resulting in his fall to the dark side as Darth Vader.[8]

Behind the scenesEdit

Concept and developmentEdit

"It is said that certain creatures are born with a higher awareness of the Force than humans. Their brains are different; they have more midi-chlorians in their cells."
―George Lucas, establishing guidelines for the Expanded Universe in 1977[src]

Midi-chlorians were first conceived by George Lucas as early as 1977. However, they were not featured in the original trilogy, as Lucas felt there was insufficient time to introduce the concept of midi-chlorians to Star Wars.[11] As a result, midi-chlorians were not mentioned in any Star Wars product until the 1999 film Star Wars: Episode I The Phantom Menace, where they revealed why some characters possessed an inherent sensitivity to the Force that others lacked, an issue which Lucas had left unresolved since the original film, Star Wars: Episode IV A New Hope. Lucas incorporated the explanation of midi-chlorians into the film as part of Anakin Skywalker's journey towards understanding the Force.[12] Prior to that, however, Lucas implied that the precepts of being a Jedi could be practiced by "anyone" when discussing the story treatment for 1983's Star Wars: Episode VI Return of the Jedi in 1981 (then-titled Revenge of the Jedi), and in particular the backstory for Anakin (who had been revealed to be Darth Vader), comparing it to yoga or karate.[13]

Mitochondrion

The midi-chlorians were inspired by mitochondria.

Midi-chlorians in The Phantom Menace are part of a recurring theme throughout the movie, that of symbiotic relationships.[12] They were loosely based on mitochondria, organelles that provide energy for cells; like midi-chlorians, mitochondria are believed to have once been separate organisms that inhabited living cells and have since become part of them; even now, mitochondria act in some ways as independent lifeforms, with DNA all their own. Lucas established this relation with mitochondria, in particular the necessity of midi-chlorians for life to exist, as a metaphor for society; namely, he says all parts of society must get along in much the same way the midi-chlorians and their symbiont do.[14] In 2006, a newly discovered species of bacteria residing within mitochondria was named Midichloria mitochondrii as a tribute to the midi-chlorians. Nate Lo, its discoverer, wrote to George Lucas requesting permission to use the name and was granted it.[15]

In George Lucas' original outline for the sequel trilogy, it would have been explained that the midi-chlorians served as a conduit between the vessels (who were all the living things) and the Whills, who controlled the Force and were essentially it. When Lucas sold Lucasfilm Ltd. to The Walt Disney Company in 2012, these plans for the sequels were ultimately scrapped. However, Lucas is sure that fans would have hated his idea much like they hated the prequels, though at least the story from the beginning to the end would have been told.[16]

ControversyEdit

As with most material of The Phantom Menace, the midi-chlorians received some negative reception among Star Wars fans, as some see them as adding hard science to the alleged "mysteriousness" or spirituality of the Force and dislike what they see as a new concept. Others, however, believe that having a physical aspect to a mystical Force calls upon real-world religious traditions, feeling that the mythic qualities of the Force have been strengthened by midi-chlorians.[17] Even people associated to the franchise, such as author James Luceno, felt that the concept robbed the Force some of its mystery.[18]

A few people felt that this negated the democratic aspect of the Force, as the story and dialogue of Return of the Jedi had made it clear that the Force was, at least in some ways, hereditary, such as when Luke tells Leia that "The Force is strong in my family".[19]

A misconception exists that rather than being indicators, midi-chlorians actually are the Force or create it; there is no canonical basis for this belief.[20][21][22] Steve Perry, who used midi-chlorians in his 2007 Star Wars Legends novel Death Star, opined that they were "less than inspired."[23] George Lucas, on the other hand, considers the two aspects of the Force separately, treating the midi-chlorians as the practical, biological side, distinct from the spiritual and metaphysical side of the Force.[12]

AppearancesEdit

Non-canon appearancesEdit

SourcesEdit

Notes and referencesEdit

  1. 1.00 1.01 1.02 1.03 1.04 1.05 1.06 1.07 1.08 1.09 1.10 1.11 1.12 1.13 Star Wars: Episode I The Phantom Menace
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 TCW mini logo Star Wars: The Clone Wars – "Destiny"
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 3.3 StarWars-DatabankII Force Planet in the Databank (backup link)
  4. 4.0 4.1 4.2 TCW mini logo Star Wars: The Clone Wars – "Voices"
  5. 5.0 5.1 TCW mini logo Star Wars: The Clone Wars – "Sacrifice"
  6. 6.0 6.1 StarWars-DatabankII Force Priestesses in the Databank (backup link)
  7. Encyclopedia-Logo Force planet in the Encyclopedia (link now obsolete; backup link)
  8. 8.0 8.1 8.2 8.3 Star Wars: Episode III Revenge of the Sith
  9. Encyclopedia-Logo Shmi Skywalker in the Encyclopedia (link now obsolete; backup link)
  10. SWCustom-2011 Palpatine Biography Gallery (Image 23 caption) on StarWars.com
  11. The Making of Star Wars: The Definitive Story Behind the Original Film, hardcover edition
  12. 12.0 12.1 12.2 Star Wars: Episode I The Phantom Menace DVD commentary
  13. The Making of Star Wars: Return of the Jedi, p. 62-69
    REVENGE OF THE JEDI STORY CONFERENCE TRANSCRIPT, JULY 13 to JULY 17, 1981—SUMMARY
    Participants: George Lucas, Richard Marquand, Lawrence Kasdan, and Howard Kazanjian
    Location: Park Way House
    Note: Many of the ideas here are conceptual only and should not be considered as canon in the Star Wars saga.
    [...]
    THE STORY OF ANAKIN
    Lawrence Kasadan: The Force was available to anyone who could hook into it?
    George Lucas: Yes, everyone can do it.
    Kasadan: Not just the Jedi?
    Lucas: It's just the Jedi who take the time to do it.
    Marquand: They use it as a technique.
    Lucas: Like yoga. If you want to take the time to do it, you can do it; but the ones that really want to do it are the ones who are into that kind of thing. Also like karate.
  14. What are Midi-Chlorians? on TheForce.Net
  15. Use the force, bacteria, The Scientist, Volume 20, Issue 12.
  16. James Cameron's Story of Science Fiction
  17. Technophobia!: Science Fiction Visions of Posthuman Technology
  18. Eric Geller (January 10, 2012). Interview: Plagueis Author James Luceno. TheForce.net. Archived from the original on May 6, 2016. Retrieved on February 27, 2017.
  19. SWCustom-2011 So What The Heck Are Midi-Chlorians? on StarWars.com
  20. Midi-Chlorians: Physiology, Physics, and the Force on TheForce.Net
  21. Star Wars and the Midi-Chlorian Menace
  22. Star Wars: The Clone Wars on Metafilter
  23. Steve Perry Interview