Hello there! With May the 4th upon us, let’s get the Star Wars love flowing by distilling some of its most valuable wisdom.
Life is a journey that always has something new to teach us. Sometimes, life’s lessons can come from weird places you might not expect. Well, who’s to say that George Lucas’ beloved space opera can’t be one of those places?
Today, let’s look at a few famous bits of dialogue from the series (and some more obscure ones) and explore some of the profound meaning and wisdom behind them.
One more thing: before you go looking for it, I’ll tell you right now, “Do or do not, there is no try,” is not in here. It’s not. Okay, it might be one of the last ones toward the end. It isn’t, though.
1. “How do we blow it up? There’s always a way to do that.”
Said by: Han Solo
In: Episode VII: The Force Awakens
The Lesson: Learn from Your Mistakes and Move On
Star Wars fans (though unfortunately not Star Wars villains) quickly learn that sometimes a plan doesn’t work out. When that happens, the best path forward is usually to take the lesson and develop a new approach to solve the problem.
Sinking resources into a plan that doesn’t work will rarely get you very far.
If your first giant expensive planet-destroying space laser gets blown up, that’s just the cost of doing business. Brush it off, notify the families of the roughly 1.5 million casualties, and cut your losses. Take the opportunity to learn and do better next time. Whatever you do, don’t just build a second, third, and I can’t believe I have to say fourth, but fourth giant expensive planet-destroying space laser. Who keeps taking the job openings to operate these?!
2. “I have a bad feeling about this.”
Said by: Pretty much every character at some point
In: Most Star Wars media
The Lesson: Take Risks, But Trust Your Gut
It’s a fan-favorite bit of Star Wars trivia that this line appears at least once in every movie in the Skywalker Saga and many other places throughout Star Wars media. And at a lingering glance, this line shows us something about the many heroes who deliver it.
Look what happens every time someone says the line:
- The character acknowledges a warning sign or risk ahead (the “bad feeling”).
- They proceed anyway because they know the importance of their mission.
- The bad feeling proves to have been accurate.
- Our heroes defeat the monster, win the battle, or overcome the bad guys and win the day.
The critical point here is that each of these characters feels fear. They acknowledge their fear and choose to proceed anyway. Doubt kills more dreams than failure ever will, and these heroes do not let fear hold them back.
3. “Always remember, your focus determines your reality.”
Said by: Qui Gon Jinn
In: Episode I: The Phantom Menace
The Lesson: What You Set Your Attention on Matters
For Star Wars life lessons and sage wisdom, look no further than the ultimate warrior monk himself, Qui Gon Jinn. In this line, while comforting a young Anakin Skywalker about the great big world out there, Qui Gon taps into a fundamental piece of personal growth advice.
How you view the world around you has a tremendous impact on your experience. Also, crucially, you have significant influence over that view. One area we see this phenomenon time and time again is positive thinking.
Focusing on positive outcomes and navigating adverse circumstances plays a vital role in your happiness and satisfaction with life.
Those who opt for a positive, open-minded outlook on life reap significant rewards, while those who give in to negativity bias likewise bring that worldview into reality.
4. “We’re clones, sir. We’re meant to be expendable.” “Not to me.”
Said by: Clone sergeant “Sinker” and Jedi Master Plo Koon, respectively
In: The Clone Wars
The Lesson: Every Person Deserves Love and Respect
If you’re a fan of the Clone Wars animated series, you know that one of its glowing strengths is its ability to tell the unique human stories of its titular clones. Although they are genetically identical soldiers bred solely for war, dozens of these characters shine in the series with unique personalities, quirks, wants, desires, and fears.
This line is one of many heartfelt moments the show delivers to remind you that no matter what you look like, what your background is, or what sort of life you have lived, you are as worthy of love and respect as everyone else.
Whatever reasons you hold in your head as to why you are less valuable than someone else, less remarkable, or less deserving of all that is good, those reasons are wrong. You are a unique soul with precious gifts to offer the world, and you matter.
5. “Only a Sith deals in absolutes.”
Said by: Obi-Wan Kenobi
In: Episode III: Revenge of the Sith
The Lesson: Life Isn’t Binary
At a glance, the plot of a Star Wars story isn’t all that complex: good guys beat bad guys (usually by destroying some version of a Death Star, see #1 above), and we all go home for some blue milk.
Underlying this comfortable trope is one of the central themes of the series that it’s not that simple. Indeed, the binary good guys/bad guys dynamic is what causes most of the problems in the first place.
Throughout the Star Wars universe, we see characters struggle with the idea that the Jedi order defines what is good, and if you’re not good, then you are evil. Luke Skywalker and his father, Anakin, Count Dooku, Ahsoka Tano — all of these people could have led vastly different paths in a world where morality had even slightly more nuance to it.
The prequels carry this theme heavily, showing Anakin’s growth from an eager boy to a gallant hero to a nigh-irredeemable Sith lord. Unfortunately, this path to the dark side is paved for him, and not just by Palpatine. A lifetime of moral hard-lining and ultimata make it inevitable.
Mace Windu’s purple lightsaber (which appeared long after fans had come to expect blue for good and red for bad) is also a signal of this fallibility in the good/bad binary. It definitely has nothing to do with the fact that Samuel L Jackson insisted on getting a purple one.
6. “ RUINED the series!”
Said by: Star Wars fans the world over
In: Their living room after seeing any new movie, show, special, book, video game, or Happy Meal promotion in the franchise
The Lesson: You Can’t Please Everybody
When people ask me if I’m a Star Wars fan, I like to joke, “No, I actually like the movies.” Unfortunately, the Star Wars fandom as a unit has a reputation for being a teensy bit extremely hyper-critical of their beloved franchise.
Individually, fans are great. Most of the Star Wars people I know are cool, fun nerds that love the series as much as I do.
The community as a whole, though, can be harsh. Fans have a habit of critiquing every line, plot point, inconsistency, and goofy little space-critter du jour.
Yet, with each new installment and subsequent wave of backlash, Lucasfilm-Disney forges dauntlessly on. They continue to do their best, pour their love and energy into the series, and make buckets of money.
The point is that not everybody will be happy with everything you do, say, or create. So keep doing what you do best and putting your whole self into it.
What you put forth into the world will eventually connect with everyone it needs to. So don’t allow a few people’s negativity to get in the way of all you have to offer the world.
7. “He’s no good to me dead.”
Said by: Boba Fett
In: Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back
The Lesson: Presentation Is Everything
Even though Boba Fett has only four lines in the whole original trilogy, and none of them are all that consequential, Boba is my (and many others’) favorite character in the entire Star Wars Universe. Why, though? Is it because he:
- Always knows just what to say? I think we’ve established that no.
- Contributes meaningfully to the story? Nope, he’s a single-use plot device.
- Has super cool action scenes? Haha, no, the opposite. The first time we see him fight, he dies embarrassingly.
Technically, a 2020s audience will now know he survived his own death and had a great redemption arc, but in 1980, he died embarrassingly to the tune of several Wilhelm screams.
The reason that we all love Boba so much is that the man has swagger. He doesn’t need to speak because his presence in the room announces itself. He wears awesome armor, which tells stories of its own through impressive scarring. He bears enough cool sci-fi gadgets to handle any scenario, and he carries it all with that stern, mysterious grace. Not just anybody can talk back to Darth Vader and live to tell the tale.
The image you present to the world carries weight, and his image is made of solid beskar.
8. “Let the past die. Kill it if you have to.”
Said by: Kylo Ren
In: Episode VIII: The Last Jedi
The Lesson: Sometimes We Need to Let Go
This line is likely a nod to director Rian Johnson’s bold and controversial (see #6 above) effort to take the series in new directions and bury old tropes in the eighth installment. The lesson is pretty straightforward. Adam Driver’s near-universally popular Kylo Ren gives it all the more gravitas.
We all have our share of the past that we carry with us. Some of it is wonderful and still brings light into our lives. Conversely, some of it has outlived its usefulness, or worse, causes harm like a scar that hasn’t healed.
We all need to practice the art of letting go of the things that are no longer serving us in life. Some of these will take more effort than others, but all will create more space for levity, joy, and new experiences as we move forward through our own sagas.
9. “It’s a trap!”
Said by: Admiral Ackbar
In: Episode VI: Return of the Jedi
The Lesson: It Is, in Fact, a Trap.
This one is pretty self explanatory. Their battlestation is fully operational. They knew we were coming. Take evasive action. IT’S A TRAP.
Thanks for hanging out. I hope you had some fun and maybe picked up a bit of sci-fi wisdom for the road. And, I seriously don’t want to say this, but I’m pretty sure it’s required… *deep breath* may the — seriously, I’m doing this, it’s your last chance to get out now — may the force be with you.
This post originally appeared on Smarter and Harder.
Sam is the founder of the personal finance and self-improvement blog Smarter and Harder. His mission is to start exciting new conversations that empower people to improve their work, lives, and money, and hopefully have a fantastic time doing it. In all things, he strives to lead with positivity, understanding, and more than a bit of enthusiasm.