Usually rendered officially by George Lucas and company as "midi-chlorians," they were introduced to us in The Phantom Menace. They were mentioned by Qui-Gon Jinn as a biological cause (or perhaps a side effect?) of the Force. Qui-Gon has an exotic device for measuring the midi-chlorian count in blood cells. (It reminds me of the small device my dad uses to check his cholesterol count each morning.)

They are apparently microscopic entities, found within the cells of "all living things." It is not an unreasonable conjecture that they are organelles, sharing with those small entities the ability to congregate in numbers, and function, within a cell.

Qui-Gon claims that they are symbionts, and that without midi-chlorians, life could not exist. He even claims that midi-chlorians speak to the Jedi, whispering "the will of the Force."

One theory is that there are two schools of thought among the Republic's Jedi. Qui-Gon Jinn's school focuses on the living Force, which involves our microscopic topic. "Without the midichlorians, life could not exist and we would have no knowledge of the Force" says Qui-Gon. Yoda's school, which holds sway in the Jedi Council, stresses the unifying Force - the interconnection between all things. This does not seem to involve midi-chlorians. Perhaps Qui-Gon's odd theory makes him a pariah among the Jedi. Certainly it would explain why we hadn't heard of the little blighters in the 'second trilogy' of films, or even in Attack of the Clones.

I was moved to research midi-chlorians in more detail by a passing thought today. "If I ate a Jedi Master," I mused, "would my midi-chlorian count increase?"

At the time I was thinking that midi-chlorians might accumulate as you move up the food chain, rather like certain toxins. It would be a wonderful basis for a plot twist in the second or third film.

I especially like this idea in combination with a theory I once read on this site, that the infamous Jar Jar Binks was also very strong in the force, and that this accounts for his remarkable good luck where he is saved from certain doom by a series of unlikely accidents. If he was indeed filled with midi-chlorians, Anakin and/or the Emperor might discover this and decide to, well, eat him. This would be a suitably evil turn, and might resolve the burning question as to whether Jar-Jar tastes like chicken.

Sadly, based on the organelle theory, this does not seem likely. In such a scenario, midi-chlorians are likely host-specific, and could not be effectively transferred from one host to another.

A full discussion of biological theories around midi-chlorians as organelles can be found at:
http://www.theforce.net/midichlorians/index.shtml


Roninspoon says: incidentally, the device that Qui-Gon uses as communicator and blood tester is fabricated from a Gillette Lady Sensor razor.

To put it simply, midi-chlorians are an attempt to give a scientific (pseudo-scientific?) basis for The Force in Star Wars: Episode 1: The Phantom Menace. Many fans rejected this idea because it goes against what many felt was the point of Star Wars, i.e. that Star Wars is not science fiction, but rather a fantasy story with the common fantasy elements replaced by futuristic parallels of them, such as the Emperor (the dark sorcerer), the Jedi (knights), Obi-Wan (the wise old master), Princess Leia (the princess/damsel in distress), Han Solo (the rogue), etc. And personally, I wholeheartedly agree. The midi-chlorians are a poor attempt to make Star Wars, a space opera/futuristic fantasy story, into a piece of hardcore science fiction.

Star Wars is not science fiction.

Midi-chlorians are the biggest single mistep George Lucas made in The Phantom Menace (though there are plenty of others that are nearly as large), or for that matter in the entire Star Wars Saga. In one fell swoop, Lucas manages to drop his Star Wars frachise from a magical experience to the run-of-the-mill formulamatic sci-fi that is Star Trek.

An unexplained phenomenon (The Force, or the cause of the crew's consternation in that week's episode of Star Trek) is neatly solved / explained away by a fantasy particle (Midi-Chlorians, tachyons, tetrions, subspace particles, what's left of Picard's hair etc.).

What Lucas evidently failed to realise was that The Force was best left a mystery - it was mystic which was all it needed to be and attempting to explain it or account for it ruined it. Mercifully, Lucas pulled off a major league Jedi Mind Trick by not mentioning this enormous mistake in Attack of the Clones. Having not seen Phantom Menace for three years and with the magic of Clones filling the screen, I managed to forget about the midi-chlorian debacle the entire time I was watching clones. However, looking back on The Phantom Menace, I see that I am not that weak minded, as neither Lucas or his magic digital movie that is Attack ofthe Clones can make me forget what he did.

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