Who Said ‘May the Force Be With You’ First in Star Wars?

When Star Wars was first released in 1977, no one expected it to be the hit and multimedia phenomenon that it has since become. Since the film was released, many of the lines from it and its sequels have become iconic. From "I am your father" to "I have a bad feeling about this," there's no shortage of perfect lines that fans can turn to at any moment. However, one of the original film's most famous and important lines, "May the Force be with you," has risen above all others as a mantra for the entire series and its fans. While many characters have uttered the line over the years, it may come as a surprise that the first person to say it wasn't even a main character.

In the franchise canon, "May the Force be with you" was a line uttered by the Jedi both before and during the Clone Wars. It was a way to imply that no matter where anyone went or the situations that they'd encounter, the Force would be there to guide and protect them. Therefore, by the time the canon reached the age of the Empire, the phrase gained even more importance, and the rebels used it both to send well-wishes and as a way to show that there was still hope for the galaxy. As a result of this understanding, it does make the most sense that the first person to say the line in the franchise was none other than Rebel General Jan Dodonna.


General Dodonna was often shown with white hair and a long white beard. He spoke softly, but his expertise was nurtured over decades, as he was also a General during the Republic. He was first seen in A New Hope when he briefed the fighter squadrons on the newly acquired Death Star plans. As the audience and the characters got an idea of the inherent dangers of the mission, Dodonna ended the briefing with the now-famous line. Not long after, Han Solo said it to Luke, which was a subtle way to show his character growth, as someone who didn't believe in the Force now had faith in it and Luke. However, Dodonna's delivery gave a sense of commonality, as if this phrase went beyond him, and it was later explored in future projects.

There's a certain stigma surrounding the phrase, as many believed that Obi-Wan Kenobi was the first person to say the line. In actuality, his version was much different when he spoke to Luke through the Force. Kenobi actually stated, "Remember, the Force will be with you... always," and many other variations. But in all instances, he said a similar line but not the one that has lived on. In the end, this also worked out for the best, as Dodonna represented a larger idea that future creators would continue as the foundation for many more Star Wars stories.

Han Solo with Chewbacca, Princess Leia and Luke Skywalker in Star Wars A New Hope

General Dodonna wasn't a Jedi, smuggler or bounty hunter; he was a man who wanted to do something good for a greater cause. In a way, he also represented everyone in the audience because, if the time arose, anyone could be just like him and inspire a group of people to overcome a difficult task. The idea of Dodonna telling others, "May the Force be with you," meant that anyone could be a hero no matter their past or present situation. This was further proven as more and more iconic characters would repeat the line in future films. This made it a testament that Star Wars is a story that should always be about people coming together rather than one person beating the odds alone.

There are many iconic lines and moments in the Star Wars universe. That said, "May the Force be with you" has stood out because of its massive impact, even in its simplicity. Thanks to General Dodonna saying the line before anyone else, it also set a precedent that hasn't changed in decades and has continued to inspire fans new and old with each new adventure.

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