A look at the Essential Guide to the Star Wars Universe can reveal an endless cast of characters as numerous as the stars in the sky themselves. Some appear only in Expanded Universe novels and comic books. Others, like some of 90 % of X-Wing pilots seen in the original movie have no more than five minutes of screen time only to die in a blaze of glory in a battle only to have their story embellished in those same books. Yet no matter how small their role, they can still get a name, an action figure, and a trading card.
At the same time, there are some major characters that appear in just one film for a
significant amount of the story, and yet still make a profound impact on the Star Wars Universe. For example, Grand Moff Tarkin in A New Hope demonstrates in that one film, just hold cold, uncaring, and draconian the Empire has become. Jango Fett only appears in Attack of the Clones but he serves as the template not only for the Republic’s Clone Army, effectively setting the stage for the Stormtroopers of the Empire, but is the father of the notorious bounty hunter Boba Fett. However, among these “one and done” characters no role was more pivotal than that of the renegade Jedi Master, Qui-Gon Jinn. The mentor to Obi-Wan Kenobi, he was also instrumental in finding Anakin Skywalker, an act that would change the fate of the galaxy forever.
As Empire Magazine said of him,
“Whenever people bang on about the Jedi being a bunch of po-faced party poopers, they clearly haven’t considered Qui-Gon Jinn. While it’s true that for much of The Phantom Menace he blithers on about the Jedi code, he also displays more charisma, cojones, and better hair than any other Jedi in the saga…Jinn, played with calm authority by Liam Neeson, constantly bends the Jedi code to his own purpose, cheating during a game of chance with Watto and defying the Jedi Council over Anakin.”
Actor Liam Neeson said of the character in the book Star Wars: The Making of Episode I: The Phantom Menace,
“He’s almost like a monk… an old time-warrior who is wise and quite philosophical, yet skilled in martial arts. He has an incredible confidence, as well as a magical quality that enables him to see into the future. He’s not really a rebel, but he has his own code.”
To the rest of the Jedi he is often called a “Gray Jedi”, because of his tendencies to disagree with the rest of the council over their traditions. It was something that very often led to major disagreements between him and his Padawan Obi-Wan Kenobi. In fact when Obi-Wan pleaded with him to not defy them again, it is clear that the younger man has been through this before. He even reminded his master that if he’d agree them once in awhile, that maybe he’d have a chance on being on the Jedi Council. However, Qui-Gon was not concerned about a seat on the council in their shiny citadel. As he told Obi-Wan in the Jedi Apprentice book The Defenders of the Dead that dealt with Kenobi’s younger days in regards to the Jedi Code,
“I break the rules not because it suits me, but because sometimes during a mission the rules get in the way.”
Yet, despite his maverick tendencies, his motives for disobeying stem from his compassionate heart. Whether it was his ability to be patient with Jar-Jar or the fatherly way he acts towards Anakin, Padmé and Obi-Wan, he generally cares about everyone. He even remained calm and collected when dealing with an unscrupulous junk dealer like Watto. When the Toydarian refused to accept the currency that Qui-Gon has on hand, he never snapped at him or drew his weapon, and only used the Force as a last resort. His words, and his clever mind were his best weapons as he tried to live at peace with everyone he came in contact with.
He was often encouraging Obi-Wan to not center on any far off anxieties but to focus on the here and now, not even the future was worth worrying about to him at the expense of the present. He had full trust in the Living Force and it’s will. He also believed it was important for a Obi-Wan to not only be a great Jedi but a great man. As he told Obi-Wan in the Jedi Apprentice book, The Rising Force,
“I’m not testing you, Obi-Wan. Life tests you! Every day it brings you new chances for triumph or defeat. And if you pass the test, it doesn’t make you a Jedi. It makes you human.”
Paul F. McDonald noted in “Qui-Gon Jinn: Jedi Knight of Infinite Faith” in his series The Star Wars Heresies for Space.com, noted,
“Though driven by a divine will, Qui-Gon remains humble. He wears the guise of a peasant farmer, and walks easily in the real world… (Soren) Kierkegaard presents his champion as a commoner who “delights” and “Interacts” with others, going home every night to eat supper and enjoy a pipe. And indeed, Qui-Gon looks more at home sitting around a dinner table in a Tatooine slave hovel than in the austere of the Jedi Temple on Coruscant…Qui-Gon’s instinctive sense of connection permeates every situation. ”
This is seen in a deleted scene from The Phantom Menace that was featured in the Qui-Gon Jinn One-shot in the Star Wars : Episode I Adventures series. As he returned to pick-up Anakin he sees the young boy beating up on a young Rodian for accusing him of cheating. After pulling the two apart Qui-Gon took him aside, telling him,
“You know, Annie, fighting won’t change his opinion. The opinions of others, whether we agree with them…are something you have to learn to tolerate. Think you can do that?.
When Anakin expressed concern over his reputation that others may think he was a bad person, Qui-Gon told him that he would have to simply learn to lead by setting a good example for others so any rumors wouldn’t stick on him. Later, in that same one-shot comic Anakin saw Qui-Gon actually defended some slaves that are being mistreated by their master. Qui-Gon not only defends hem, but urges their master to act with more kindness towards them, by over powering him. Anakin was confused as it doesn’t seem like an act of tolerance to intervene, and even asked him why he didn’t just free them out right. Qui-Gon explains to him that,
“It was a different situation, Anakin. Unlike you, those slaves weren’t able to defend themselves….(W)hat would become of the slaves then? How far would they get on Tatooine? A Jedi is responsible for the consequences of his actions. I sincerely regret that there isn’t time for me to free every slave on the planet.”
Qui-Gon will act when needed, but he would prefer to let his deeds of kindness speak louder than any actions he could take with a lightsaber. When we first meet Qui-Gon Jinn in The Phantom Menace, he and Obi-Wan were sent to Naboo to help settle a trade dispute that places a stronghold over the planet. The negations were cut short when the Nemodians realize they are Jedi and try to kill them, Obi-Wan and Qui-Gon escape to the planet bellow where they made the acquaintance of the much derided fool, Jar-Jar Binks. Qui-Gon saved the Gungan from the Federation’s battle tanks and the well-intentioned creature owed him a life debt.
After bargaining for the Gungan’s life upon learning he would be punished for bringing them to Otta Gunga for safety, they traveled beneath the sea via a submersible vehicle called a Bongo and arrived at Theed just in time to save the Queen, where he gave her the grim news concerning the Trade Federation,
“The situation here is not what it seems. There is something else behind all this, Your Highness. There is no logic in the Federation’s move here. My feelings tell me they will destroy you.”
Under Qui-Gon’s advice they flee Naboo for Coruscant, boarding her ship. The vessel was heavily damaged and they put down on Tatooine. Leaving Obi-Wan to look after the ship, Qui-Gon took Jar- Jar Binks, R2-D2 and Padmé with him to locate a new hyperdrive generator. On their search for a new generator they stumbled into the shop of the junk dealer Watto where they found the young boy, Anakin Skywalker.
Upon meeting the boy he was impressed not only be how willing the kid was to help them, but his raw skill. He had seen Pod Racing before and knew how fast and dangerous it was, and if a boy like Anakin was able to compete he had to have Jedi potential. As he spoke with Anakin’s mother, he told her,
“You should be proud of your son. He gives without any thought of reward…He has special powers…He can see things before they happen. That’s why he appears to have such quick reflexes. It is a Jedi trait…The Force is unusually strong with him, that much is clear…Had he been born in the Republic, we would have identified him early, and he would have become Jedi, no doubt…”
As he spoke with Shmi he learned that Anakin was apparently conceived through supernatural means, most likely by the Force. Sending in a blood sample to Obi-Wan he discovered that Anakin was indeed strong in the Force. As he would later tell the Jedi Council,
“With your permission, my master, I have encountered a vergance in the Force…A boy. His cells have the highest concentration of midi-chlorians I have seen in a life-form. It was possible he was conceived by the midi-chlorians.”
In many ways, with Anakin’s state as the Chosen One, Qui-Gon functioned almost as a prophet, foretelling the coming of the Chosen One. Qui-Gon was so convinced of this that he places a wager on Anakin to free him from slavery. The late film critic Roger Ebert said in his review of The Phantom Menace,
“Why is Qui-Gon so confident that Anakin can win? Because he senses an unusual concentration of the Force–and perhaps because, like John the Baptist, he instinctively recognizes the one whose way he is destined to prepare.”
Because of this he becomes determined to do anything to free Anakin. Here we see more of Qui-Gon’s maverick tendencies. On a planet like Tatooine there was no law to report Watto’s dealings to, as the planet is controlled by the Hutts. As a crime syndicate Jabba wouldn’t care about Watto’s business practices, and the currency they had on hand was useless. Obi-Wan noted that the Queens wardrobe of fancy elegant gowns wouldn’t get them enough money on a hot, dry, arid planet like Tatooine.
Over dinner Shmi even mentioned that the only weakness Watto, The Hutts, and pretty much any one of importance on Tatooine had was for gambling, specifically on Pod Races. By Anakin’s insistence, Qui-Gon claimed Anakin’s pod was his own, insisted on Anakin as the pilot, with the queens ship acting as their entry fee. Then in an attempt to free Anakin, Qui-Gon used The Force to manipulate the outcome with a chance-cube. While most other Jedi may not resort to such tactics desperate times in a lawless world required some improvisation with the rules.
To that end it is easy to see why not only other Jedi like Obi-Wan, Yoda, and Mace Windu consider him reckless and defiant, but why Padmé is concerned about his actions. As far as they are concerned to take such risks, especially one that puts a boy at risk, is going too far. On top of that, even Yoda would point out that the future is consonantly in motion and there is no way of knowing how a pod race can go. To say nothing of manipulating a chance cube through The Force, is smack of cheating.
Thankfully for Qui-Gon, Anakin won the race and was freed. However, as they were leaving Tatooine more pressing matters rise as they are attacked by Darth Maul. Qui-Gon managed to overcome him, and was rescued in the nick of time. Returning to Coruscant he and Obi-Wan give their full report of the mission to the council, including the attack of the Sith Lord and the finding of Anakin. By his recommendation they tested Anakin and were impressed at his skills, but refused to let him be trained.
Qui-Gon was disgusted by their decision, and adamantly refused to drop the subject, insisting that Anakin be trained. When they raised a point about Obi-Wan and how he was still his Padawan, Qui-Gon admited that Obi-Wan is ready to move on. While Obi-Wan viewed it in a light similar to a father favoring a cuter, younger, and more “special” baby brother, it was more of Qui-Gon’s statement on Obi-Wan’s skills and maturity. Like any father, he was ready for his “son” to move on and become an adult.
Any further debate was not permitted as Qui-Gon, Obi-Wan and Anakin had to accompany the Queen to Naboo to bring an end to the blockade. It was there that Qui-Gon and Obi-Wan dueled against Darth Maul once again. This duel ended fatally for Qui-Gon as he was struck down by the Sith. As he was dying, Qui-Gon made Obi-Wan promise to train Anakin and held onto his belief that Anakin was the Chosen One who would bring balance to the Force. Out of respect for his friend and Mentor Obi-Wan agreed, much to Yoda’s dismay.
Despite his status as a bit of a renegade, the Jedi still deeply respected him, even giving him an honorable funeral. However, no one missed him more than his students Obi-Wan and Anakin. Later, during The Clone Wars micro series, on the day Anakin was knighted, the younger Jedi grew impatient with Obi-Wan having had a private moment with Padmé interrupted by the council’s request. Anakin complained about another scolding to which Obi-Wan reminded him he was not a little boy, but that he would have to heed his wisdom as long as he was under his teaching.
“You’re right, I’m not a little boy. And as far as your wisdom goes, you’re no Qui-Gon Jinn!”
Obi-Wan was hurt by his comment, and Anakin was quick to apologize, but Obi-Wan understood, telling him,
“I know. I miss him too. Not a day goes by that I don’t look to his wisdom for guidance. I’ve done my best to pass his teaching to you. And in our time together you have proven to be capable of all that he thought you would be…”
Like any children, they deeply respected their “father” and all he had taught them and done for them. However, one person who also held Qui-Gon in high esteem, perhaps even higher than his former students, was his former mentor, the fallen Jedi Count Dooku. When he captured Obi-Wan, in Attack of the Clones, Dooku even appealed to Obi-Wan using Qui-Gon’s memory against him telling him,
“It’s a great pity that our paths have never crossed before, Obi-Wan. Qui-Gon always spoke very highly of you. I wish he were still alive. I could use his help right now…”
However, Qui-Gon’s legacy would continue on through more than just his teachings to Anakin and Obi-Wan or even the manipulations of Dooku. Qui-Gon would find a way to become one of the first Force Ghosts. The first hint at this happened in Attack of the Clones while Yoda was meditating in the temple and could sense Anakin was in great emotional pain and suffering as he slaughtered the Tuscan Raiders. Qui-Gon’s voice could be heard calling out in the Force to Anakin shouting no, trying to stop him.
Later, in chapter 21 of The Clone Wars microseries Qui-Gon would appear to Yoda in a Force vision, signaling that it was time for Anakin to face the trials and become a Jedi Knight. In the vision he stood with a child Anakin on Dagobah and urged him to go into the cave. The boy was afraid and asked what was in the cave. Qui-Gon told him in the vision,
“Control your fear. You are the chosen one, and you must be tested…Only what you take with you. You’re final test is at hand. Trust in the force.”
Later, in the “Mortis Trilogy” of episodes from the cartoon series Star Wars: The Clone Wars Anakin and Obi-Wan would have their own strange encounters with the Force. Anakin, Obi-Wan and Ahsoka crash landed on a mysterious world that was strong in the Force. Living on this world were three beings Father, Son and Daughter who were physical personifications of the Force itself. During their time on this world Anakin, Obi-Wan, and Ahsoka would have visions of the Force seeing their possible futures and even in some cases speaking with those who were long gone. Qui-Gon was one of the ghosts they encountered.
First, he appeared to Obi-Wan in the episode “Overlords”, asking him if he had done as he asked and trained the boy. At first Obi-Wan was frightened but in seeing his old master, he lowered his weapon and asked him why he was here and just what this strange world was. Qui-Gon told him,
“I am here because you are here…Unlike any other. A conduit through which the entire Force of the universe flows…This planet is both an amplifier and a magnet. Three are here that seek Skywalker, they like me believe him to be the Chosen One…If he is the Chosen One, he will discover it here.”
However, Qui-Gon also had a warning for Obi-Wan. If in fact, he was wrong and Anakin was not the Chosen One then Mortis would be a very dangerous place as it would destroy him. The world would be force Anakin to confront his own demons and witness the horrors he would commit. He would even be tempted by the Dark Side. In many ways the world was a living embodiment of his struggle with himself.
Qui-Gon would appear to Anakin as well, in the episode “The Ghosts of Mortis”. Already Anakin had seen the ghost of his mother , only for it to be a lie from the Son, who tried to convert him to the darkness. Anakin was naturally skeptical, even wondering how he could be the Chosen One Qui-Gon spoke of. Qui-Gon told him,
“You have grown strong and powerful, just as I imagined…Do you believe you are the chosen one? …I can tell you what I believe: I believe you will bring balance to the Force. That you will face your demons and save the universe.”
At the end of the arc, all three beings Father, Son and Daughter died, and the Jedi heroes left that world, wondering if it was all just a force vision. However, in the season 6 episode, appropriately titled “Voices” as the war progressed Yoda would continue to hear the voice of Qui-Gon leading him, and many other Jedi, to wondering if he was going crazy. While submerged in a chemical tank in an effort to learn the truth, Qui-Gon informed him that was not the way to find the answers and instructed him to go to Dagobah. Upon arriving, Qui-Gon welcomed him and urged him to follow the light. Yoda was surprised by how strong the Force seemed to flow on the swamp filled world, and Qui-Gon reveled it was one of the purest places in the galaxy when it came to the Force.
Yoda was still amazed and asked Qui-Gon how this was possible. The long-dead Jedi revealed,
“I am a manifestation of the Force, a Force that consists of two parts…Living beings generate the Living Force, which in turn powers the wellspring that is the Cosmic Force… I cannot ( show himself). My training was incomplete…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. Because of this I can speak to you now… I exist where there is no future or past.I can only show you a place where the answers will be revealed to you.
Qui-Gon led him to the cave tree where Luke would later receive his vision of Vader.There Yoda saw the whole context of the Clone Wars itself and saw how evil was growing. Ydoa was dismayed but Qui-Gon offered him encouragement, letting him know that there was always hope. Then Qui-Gon revealed exactly why he had been contacting him,
“I have been tasked with guiding you forward. There can be many outcomes, but your path is clear, Yoda. You have been chosen, as I was before you… You will learn to preserve your Life Force, and so, manifest a consciousness which will allow you to commune with the living after death… Dark times are ahead, and forces of light must remain.”
Yoda would speak with him often after his trip. Finally, in Revenge of the Sith after deciding where to send the Skywalker twins to keep them safe, Yoda pulled Obi-Wan aside and told him he had further teaching for Obi-Wan as Qui-Gon wished to pass this teaching to Obi-Wan as well. In the novel Dark Lord: The Rise of Darth Vader Qui-Gon would even encourage Obi-Wan to stay on Tatooine upon learning this truth. Qui-Gon was especially helpful to Obi-Wan from his pit of despair upon learning that Vader was still alive.
Obi-Wan wasn’t sure if this was the Anakin he knew, or another person entirely. He was regretting allowing Anakin to live as it would only bring pain to the galaxy and even wondered if he should take Luke elsewhere to be safe. Qui-Gon not only helped advise him on these matters, but it helped demonstrate just why Obi-Wan and Yoda never told Luke that Vader was his father right away.
Qui-Gon told him,
“Yes. Although the Anakin you and I knew is imprisoned by the dark side…The Force will determine Anakin’s future. Obi-Wan: Luke must not be told that Vader is his father until the time is right…the core of Anakin that resides in Vader grasps that Tatooine is the source of nearly everything that causes him pain. Vader will never set foot on Tatooine, if only out of fear of awakening Anakin.”
It is fitting in many ways that Qui-Gon be not only the one to learn this mystery, but the one to impart this knowledge to Obi-Wan and Yoda. As McDonald notes further in his essay,
“Let’s not forget that Qui-Gon Jinn is derived from the Chinese qi-gong, meaning ‘life force’, and the Arabic jinn, meaning ‘genie’ or ‘tutelary spirit’. His name literally translates as ‘Spirit of the Living Force’.”
Of the Jedi, Qui-Gon was one of the most concerned about his fellow beings in the universe. While the venerable Yoda was more likely to stay up in the silver towers of the Jedi temple, Qui-Gon went out and dwelt among others and helped them. While the other Jedi lived by the letter of their code, Qui-Gon lived by the spirit of the Jedi code and acted in compassion. He knew that the Jedi could not remain stuck in their ways if they were to truly have an impact on the galaxy, hence why he continually clashed with the Jedi Council.
Yoda even admitted as much to him in a conversation with him that was featured in the novelization and the original script for Revenge of the Sith. The contrite diminutive Jedi master is reeling from his failure and told Qui-Gon,
“My failure, this was. Failed the Jedi, I did…Too old I was… too rigid. Too arrogant to see that the old way is not the only way. These Jedi, I trained to become the Jedi who had trained me, long centuries ago—but those ancient Jedi, of a different time they were. Changed, has the galaxy. Changed, the Order did not-because let it change, I did not… An infinite mystery is the Force…much to learn, there still is… A very great Jedi Master you have become, Qui-Gon Jinn. A very great Jedi Master you always were, but too blind was I to see it…Your apprentice, I gratefully become.”
It would be through his tutelage that Yoda and Obi-Wan would learn to “vanish” upon dying. This would allow Obi-Wan to better assist Luke in destroying the Death Star and to better guide him on the path to becoming a Jedi. Qui-Gon’s lessons to them would allow them to discover a secret that Palpatine would tempt Anakin with, one that was not achieved through the seizing of power. The secret of eternal life. As Qui-Gon told Yoda in the novelization of Revenge of the Sith,
“The ultimate goal of the Sith, yet they cannot achieve it; it comes only through the release of self, not the exaltation of self. It comes through compassion, not greed. Love is the answer to darkness.”
Bouzereau, Laurent and Jody Duncan Star Wars: The Making of Episode I: The Phantom Menace pg. 44. 1999 Del Ray Books. New York, NY
Review: Ebert, Roger Star Wars: Episode 1: The Phantom Menace. May 17, 1999. Archived. Last Accessed July 31, 2015.
Hewitt, Chris “Qui-Gon Jinn” The 30 greatest Star Wars Characters. Empire Magazine July 2007. Archived. Last Accessed July 31,2015.Bauer Group. London, England. UK.
TV Series: Keller, Danny (Dir.) “Voices” Star Wars: The Clone Wars. Starring Tom Kane, Liam Neeson, Matt Lanter, T.C. Carson, James Arnold Taylor, Catherine Taber, Brian George, and Tim Curry. Christian Taylor (writer). Original Airdate: March 7, 2014.
TV Series: Lee, Steward (Dir.) “Overlords” Star Wars: The Clone Wars. Starring Matt Lanter, James Arnold Taylor,Ashley Eckstein, Lloyd Sherr, Adrienne Wilkinson, Sam Witwer, Liam Neeson, Pernilla August, Dee Bradley Baker, and Tom Kane. Christian Taylor ( Writer). Original Airdate: January 28, 2011.
TV Series: Lee, Steward (Dir.) “Ghosts of Mortis” Star Wars: The Clone Wars. Starring Matt Lanter, James Arnold Taylor, Ashley Eckstein, Lloyd Sherr, Adrienne Wilkinson, Sam Witwer, Liam Neeson, Dee Bradley Baker, Tom Kane, Ian Abercrombie, and Catherine Taber. Christian Taylor ( Writer). Original Airdate: February 11, 2011.
FILM: Lucas, George(Dir.) Star Wars: Episode I: The Phantom Menace. Starring Liam Neeson, Ewan McGregor, Natalie Portman, Jake Lloyd, Ian McDiaramid, Ray Park, Ahmed Best, Pernilla August, Anthony Daniels, Kenny Baker, Samuel L. Jackson and Frank Oz. 1999. LucasFilm. LTD. Released by 20th Century Fox.
FILM: Lucas, George. (Dir) Star Wars: Episode II: Attack of the Clones. Starring Ewan McGregor, Natalie Portman, Hayden Christensen, Ian McDiaramid, Christopher Lee, Anthony Daniels, Kenny Baker, Samuel L. Jackson and Frank Oz. 2002. LucasFilm. LTD. Released by 20th Century Fox.
FILM: Lucas, George. (Dir) Star Wars: Episode III: Revenge of the Sith. Starring Ewan McGregor, Natalie Portman, Hayden Christensen, Ian McDiaramid, Christopher Lee, Anthony Daniels, Kenny Baker, Samuel L. Jackson, Jimmy Smits, and Frank Oz. 2005. LucasFilm. LTD. Released by 20th Century Fox.
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Stover, Matthew Star Wars: Revenge of the Sith Official Novelization. Pg. 409. 2005. Del Ray Books. New York, NY.
TV SERIES: Tartakovsky, Genndy ( Dir). “Chapter 21” Star Wars: Clone Wars. Voice Cast: Mat Lucas, James Arnold Taylor, TC Carson, Tom Kane, Grey DeLise, Anthony Daniels, Daran Norris, Richard McGonagal, and Fred Tatascorie. Original Airdate. April 2nd, 2004. LucasFilm, LTD.
Watson, Jude. Star Wars: Jedi Apprentice: Defenders of the Dead. 1999. Scholastic Books. New York, NY.
Wolverton, Dave. Star Wars: Jedi Apprentice: The Rising Force. 1999. Scholastic Books. New York, NY.
Windham, Ryder and Robert Teranashi Truman, Timothy and Steve Crespo Star Wars: Episode I: The Phantom Menace Adventures: Qui-Gon Jinn One-shot 1999. Dark Horse Comics.
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1999 LucasFilm LTD./20th Century Fox, 1999 LucasFilm LTD./20th Century Fox.