You know how the Force works in Star Wars. There’s a light side and a dark side, and they spend most of their time giving each other serious stink eye across the galaxy while occasionally chopping bits off each other. Hands, mainly. Both really have a thing for hands.
However, that wasn’t always the way and might not be in the future if fan theories about the ‘gray Force’ turn out to be true. It appears that since Disney restarted the franchise and took it away from George ‘taxation of trade routes’ Lucas, it’s been adding mentions to this idea everywhere. The Star Wars Rebels series, Rogue One and numerous supporting books are gently reinforcing the idea that the gray Force is a thing.
Most fans are wondering why Disney would go to all this effort to introduce a new concept so ubiquitously without an end plan. Plus, there are rumours that Luke Skywalker wears gray Jedi robes in Star Wars 8 with a Sith-like shawl. The combination of that, other mentions and a few crucial references in The Force Awakens and Rogue One make many believe that Star Wars 8 and 9 will introduce the idea of a new kind of Force user, balancing both sides.
For example, The Force Awakens’ big bads, Supreme Leader Snoke and Kylo Ren, are clearly dark side Force users but not Sith. Kylo also says at one point “I feel it again… the call from the light,” which is not something you expect from a pure dark sider. Plus, no one currently even knows what a ‘Knight of Ren’ actually is. Was Luke trying to train a new form of Jedi and failed to get the balance quite right?
But let’s backtrack a moment here. This isn’t just Disney making stuff up for a surprise twist in the films. It does tie back into some of George Lucas’ very early ideas for Star Wars. When he was working up the first versions of the story it was originally going to be told by immortal creatures known as the Whills. The concept didn’t stick but the idea of an overseeing universal presence became the Force. This is important because in Rogue One, Chirrut Îmwe is a Guardian of the Whills, at the temple in Jedha, reinstating the concept into film canon (the Whills were also mentioned in the prequels).
The Rogue One Visual Guide (which is also canon) expands on Chirrut, but more importantly the Whills. It explains that the Whills’ teachings did not emphasise a discord between the different sides of the Force and instead focused on encompassing the totality of the Force. Then there’s the official novelisation of The Force Awakens, which starts with a quote from the Journal of the Whills:
“First comes the day
Then comes the night.
After the darkness
Shines through the light.
The difference, they say,
Is only made right
By the resolving of gray
Through refined Jedi sight.”
Journal of the Whills, 7:477