The Jedi are characters in the fictional Star Wars universe and the series' main protagonists. They use a quasi-telekinetic power, known as the Force, weapons known as lightsabers, which emit a controlled energy flow in the shape of a sword, to serve and protect their Republic and the whole galaxy from conflict or government instability. They sometimes moderate peace negotiations between planets and, if necessary, use their formidable fighting skills to quickly end an unrest. The Jedi are led by a Council of 12 members consisting of the most powerful and wise members of the order. The Jedi are bound to a code of morality and justice and are trained in the use of the light side of the force but not the dark.
The Jedi are first introduced in Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope as an order of warrior monks who serve as "the guardians of peace and justice in the galaxy" and embrace the mystical Force. Obi-Wan Kenobi (Alec Guinness) explains that the Galactic Empire had all but exterminated the Jedi some twenty years before the events of the film, and seeks to train Luke Skywalker (Mark Hamill) to be the Order's last hope. Darth Vader (David Prowse/James Earl Jones) is also established as the Jedi's main enemy. By the end of the film, Luke is on the path to becoming a Jedi. In the sequel, The Empire Strikes Back, Luke receives extensive Jedi training from the elderly Jedi Master Yoda (Frank Oz), even as he learns that Vader is in fact his father, former Jedi Anakin Skywalker. The third film in the original trilogy, Return of the Jedi, ends with Luke redeeming Vader and helping to destroy the Empire, thus fulfilling his destiny as a Jedi.
The prequel films depict the Jedi as troubled by the resurgence of the dark side of the Force and determined to fight their mortal enemies, the Sith. In Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace, Jedi Master Qui-Gon Jinn (Liam Neeson) discovers the young Anakin Skywalker (Jake Lloyd), whom he believes to be the "Chosen One" of Jedi prophecy who is destined to bring balance to the Force; the boy is eventually paired with Qui-Gon's apprentice, the young Obi-Wan Kenobi (Ewan McGregor), who promises to train him. The sequel, Attack of the Clones, establishes that the Jedi forswear all emotional attachments, including romantic love, which proves problematic when the now-adult Anakin (Hayden Christensen) falls in love with Padmé Amidala (Natalie Portman). In Revenge of the Sith, Palpatine (Ian McDiarmid), who is really the Sith Lord Darth Sidious, manipulates Anakin's love for Padmé in order to turn him to the dark side and become his apprentice, Darth Vader. Once corrupted, Vader helps Palpatine hunt down and destroy nearly all of the Jedi.
The Jedi's history before and after the time-line of the films is established within several novels, comic books and video games in the Expanded Universe of Star Wars media.
Members of the order progress through four to six tiers of rank, at times referred to as levels:
The Jedi Temple is a massive structure standing one kilometer high above the buildings of Galactic City, Coruscant. Views of it are largely unobstructed because of an open area around it.
The temple is attacked during the events of Revenge of the Sith. Even though the temple was severely damaged and most of the Jedi perished, it was not completely destroyed, and is visible in the celebrations on Coruscant at the end of Return of the Jedi over twenty-five years later. The New Jedi Order indicates that the Jedi Temple on Coruscant is no longer standing but it is rebuilt as a gift to Jedi for their services and achievements during the Yuuzhan Vong invasion. The new temple is in the form of a massive pyramid made from stone and transparisteel that is designed to fit into the new look of Coruscant, though internally it is identical to the design seen in Revenge of the Sith.
Architects' Journal rated the temple third on its top-ten architecture of Star Wars list behind the second Death Star and Jabba the Hutt’s palace on Tatooine, and ahead of Coruscant, capital city of the Old Republic. The temple is described in the article as adapting "the robust typology of Mayan temples, with durasteel cladding specified for the external stone walls for improved defensive strength" and said to be a ziggurat that "is built above a Force-nexus and has ample room for training facilities, accommodation and the Jedi Archive." The temple has five towers, the tallest is Tranquillity Spire, that are stylistically similar to the minarets surrounding the Hagia Sophia in Istanbul. Star Wars Insider listed it as the one hundredth greatest thing about Star Wars in its one hundredth issue special.
Within the Star Wars universe, the Jedi are usually portrayed as dressed in simple robes and carrying specialized field gear for their missions. The most notable instrument wielded by a Jedi is the lightsaber.
Sith and Jedi use lightsabers alike. Jedi commonly wield blue and green lightsabers in the films, while the Sith tend to wield red ones. Mace Windu (Samuel L. Jackson) and Siri Tachi (from Expanded Universe books) wield purple lightsabers. Master Yaddle was known to wield an orange lightsaber. The former Jedi Padawan Ferus Olin, from Expanded Universe books, wielded a red blade, but was not a Sith.
In the Expanded Universe of Star Wars media, there are a larger variety of lightsaber colors. In Knights of the Old Republic video game, the colors signified the Jedi's career path.
One of the enduring influences the Star Wars saga has had in popular culture is the idea of the fictional Jedi values being interpreted in a modern philosophical path or religion. Over half a million people throughout the world declared themselves as Jedi on their census forms, which was considered to be a practical joke and may not reflect the real number of Jedi in the countries concerned.