When it comes to the Force, users tend to fall into the standard Jedi/Sith dichotomy. You’re either a selfless Jedi who sticks to the Order’s strict tenets and limitations or a greedy Sith who aggressively amasses power at all costs.
I guess that very black and white view makes it easier to understand the two extremes in the Force. But much like in real life, everything isn’t always so black and white. So, what happens when a Force user has completed their training but then decides the Jedi Order isn’t really for them?
No, the Jedi Council can’t take away the ability to wield the Force if you don’t want to join them. And no, you don’t automatically become a Sith if you renounce their strict rules, either.
What if I told you that there were Force users that seek balance? There are those that don’t belong to any Force-based organization… and they explore both the light and dark sides of the Force.
Force Users That Don’t Follow the Jedi Code
We’re talking about Grey Jedi, here. These Force-users walk the line between both extremes of the Force, without becoming corrupt or surrendering to the dark side. They have distanced themselves from the Jedi High Council and do not adhere to the tenets of the Jedi Code — but nor do they follow the Sith Code.
When the High Council was established and attempting to consolidate power, some objected to the new, strict rules: no training of any Jedi hopefuls over the age of four, no Jedi could have families and no use of Force abilities associated with the dark side. (Perhaps the Order wouldn’t have lost Anakin to the dark side if they didn’t have all these strict rules against attachment and families, but that’s a conversation for another day…)
Those objections led to what some would consider Grey Jedi. By this definition, we could call Jedi Master Qui-Gon Jinn a Grey Jedi. Although it is never officially said, Qui-Gon Jinn was thought of as a “Grey Jedi” of sorts by some members of the Order, because he frequently opposed their demands.
Qui-Gon was never rewarded with a seat on the Council because he went his own way. He was not in line with the Council’s way of thinking, and his candidacy was rejected for a more traditionalist Jedi a couple of times.
Obi-Wan Kenobi: “If you would just follow the Code, you would be on the Council. They will not go along with you this time.”
Qui-Gon Jinn: “You still have much to learn, my young apprentice.”
Being a member of the Order does mean that he can’t really be a true Grey Jedi, but he is an excellent example from Star Wars canon of someone who embodies what a Grey Jedi represents.
Walking the Line Between Light and Dark
Simply disagreeing with the Council isn’t all of it, though. In non-canon Legends material, the concept of Grey Jedi also includes Force users that walk that line between the light and dark sides of the Force.
Grey Jedi aren’t concerned with galactic conquest, nor are they focused on extinguishing the darkness. Instead, they live by a code of balance. It’s easy to assume they believe that the light and dark sides of the Force cannot be separated without negative consequences. They might see that all aspects of the Force should be studied and respected.
This concept was first introduced in Knights of the Old Republic, which is set some 4,000 years before A New Hope. Specifically, Jolee Bindo is a self-proclaimed Grey Jedi of the Old Republic. Although he does not follow the Jedi Code and passed on the status of Jedi Knight from the Council, he did join the campaign against the Dark Lord Darth Malak. Earlier in his life, he served the Jedi Order until he lost faith in the Council.
What About Mace Windu and Vaapad?
With this definition of what a Grey Jedi is — walking the line between the light and dark sides of the Force — we might be able to label Mace Windu as such.
No, he never veered away from the Jedi Order. However, Windu tapped into the dark side of the force to find balance within himself. Vaapad, a lightsaber style created and used by the Jedi Master himself, includes him tapping into his own inner darkness in a heightened emotional state.
In fact, Vaapad is based on Juyo, which was banned because so many Jedi used it and fell to the dark side — including Darth Maul.
Windu understands and uses the dark side without being seduced by it. Sounds pretty Grey to me.
The High Republic Could Be Opening the Door for Grey Jedi
Will we ever officially see Grey Jedi become Canon? Although they’ve been de-canonized in Legends, it could be a very real possibility… sort of.
Introduced in The High Republic series, the Wayseeker Jedi could be a new official canon equivalent of Grey Jedi. Wayseekers are disillusioned with the Jedi Council’s rules. They “operate independently of the dictates of the Jedi Council,” according to Into the Dark, one of the debut books from the series.
In The High Republic, Wayseekers are still within the Jedi Order — they just aren’t subject to all of the same rules. Although Grey Jedi in fandom usually means they aren’t part of the Jedi Order, Wayseekers do seem to be in an ambiguous position.
This could be opening the door for Jedi to leave the Council behind, creating a pathway to introduce Grey Jedi into the Star Wars universe as it stands today. Am I crossing my fingers? Maybe…