Psychic Strangle
aka: Force Choke
Darth Vader never did it this casually.
Admiral Motti: Don't try to frighten us with your sorcerer's ways, Lord Vader. [Vader turns and slowly walks toward him] Your sad devotion to that ancient religion has not helped you conjure up the stolen data tapes, or given you clairvoyance enough to find the Rebels' hidden fort— [Vader raises his hand, and Motti suddenly starts gasping for air and tugging at his collar]
Darth Vader: I find your lack of faith disturbing.
Star Wars: Episode IV — A New Hope

Also referred to as a "Force Choke".

Sometimes, a villain will demonstrate his (or her) power by having another character's life in their literal hands, via a Neck Lift.

Sometimes, a villain will demonstrate a lot more power by doing this with no visible effort, by doing it with the mind. That's this trope.

Characters are frequently terrified and intimidated (not unduly so) by having a character with psychic powers, a Hair-Trigger Temper, and being the target of that wrath. This trope is a great way to show that the villain could literally end another character's life with a thought, but doesn't.

A sub-trope of Neck Lift. Often accompanied by a Pstandard Psychic Pstance or Magical Gesture. A Death Glare is optional.


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     Anime and Manga 

    Comic Books 

    Fan Works 

  • In The Mummy Returns, after Alex tries to escape the train, the titular Mummy tracks him down with relative ease, and lifts the kid up with his telekinetic powers. He doesn't strangle Alex though, he just gives an utterly hammy finger wag.
  • Occurs in Scott Pilgrim vs. The World when Todd lifts Scott up using his Vegan Powers. Scott even manages to choke out "My neck... Your hair..."
  • Subverted in Spaceballs when one of Dark Helmet's mooks is afraid that he'll be punished this way for pissing him off. Instead, Helmet aims about two feet lower.
  • Star Wars:
    • Darth Vader is the Trope Codifier, having originally done this in A New Hope to Admiral Motti. This wasn't the first time he'd done it, either: In the prequels, when he becomes convinced that Padmé betrayed him, he chokes her. Using it on Adm. Kendal Ozzel in The Empire Strikes Back establishes he doesn't even need to be in the same room to do it. In the expanded universe the Force-choke essentially becomes Vader's Signature Move (see below).
    • Luke nonfatally Force-chokes a pair of Gamorreans to gain entrance to Jabba's palace in Return of the Jedi.
    • In Rogue One, Vader initially spares Director Krennic after learning of Galen Erso's inclusion of a weakness in the Death Star reactor system, ordering him to clean up his mess. Krennic starts to get more confident and begins requesting things of Vader as the Sith Lord walks away, so Vader chokes him briefly to make a point.
  • A variation in X-Men: First Class. When Moira attacks Erik, he deflects the bullets she fires, one of which hits Charles in the back. In a rage, Erik magnetically uses a metal necklace chain to strangle her, but Charles manages to talk him down.

  • Star Wars Legends:
    • Grand Admiral Thrawn had this done to him unsuccessfully on two separate occasions. In chronological order:
      • In Outbound Flight the power-mad Jedi Master Jorus C'baoth tries to murder him this way from another ship. He's only saved by Jorj Car'das hitting a Big Red Button Thrawn set up earlier, which sets off fighter droids carrying radiation bombs that kill C'baoth along with most of the crew of Outbound Flight.
      • In Dark Force Rising, an enraged Mara Jade tries to kill Grand Admiral Thrawn this way. It doesn't work properly due to her lack of Force training: Thrawn is at first confused by it; when he realizes what she's trying to do, he's merely annoyed (since it's clearly not going well for Mara).
    • Vader again: In The Hutt Gambit he executes Adm. Winstel Greelanx this way for accepting a bribe from the Hutts, even though the Hutts' plan and the Empire's coincided to produce the same result.
    • The Short Story 'The Longest Fall' has this done to an Imperial Navy captain by High Inquisitor Tremayne, setting off a Dying Dream in the captain ended abruptly by Tremayne breaking his neck.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Discussed in the Babylon 5 episode "Mind War". Talia's former mentor talks about a gentler form of this as an assassination method that leaves no evidence: simply telekinetically close off the carotid arteries to starve the brain of oxygen, then release the pressure after the target dies. That's if it was possible to get a relatively stable telekinetic that didn't have qualms about that sort of thing...
  • Villains in Once Upon a Time love doing this, from Queen/Mayor Regina, to Rumpelstiltskin himself.
  • In Stargate SG-1 the Priors of the Ori sometimes do this to their enemies. Their Dark Messiah Adria is more direct about it, simply snapping a Jaffa's neck with her mind at one point. Also, a telekinetic created by Nirrti does this to her two Jaffa guards after discovering her duplicity. He then lifts her up and snaps her neck from half a room away.
  • In Supernatural, Sam has been subjected to this multiple times.

  • Older than You Think: In P.D.Q. Bach Live on Air (a radio program parody, released a decade before Star Wars), the host, Professor Peter Schickele, takes numerous pot-shots at Beethoven, including the introductions to "New Horizons in Music Appreciation" and "Schleptet in Bb Major". Near the end, Beethoven's ghost appears (with appropriate Scare Chord) and Force Chokes the Professor, trying to get him to admit that Beethoven was a good composer.

    Tabletop Games 
  • This is a power available to Biomancer Psykers in Dark Heresy: They will the target's trachea to close, and it does so. Notably, it has no controllable off-switch and can't be dismissed by the psyker once started. Psykers hoping to pull a Vader with it had better either intend for their target to die, or hope the GM lets them succeed at a willpower check at a critical moment.
    • Black Crusade gives us the Chaos variant; the Biomancy power adeptly named Last Breath. Instead of using telekinesis to close off the victim's wind pipe the Sorcerer in question causes the target's lungs to flood with a thick liquid that causes them to begin suffocating instantly. Like the above power, the user has no way to reverse the effect; its up to the victim to pass a Toughness test before they pass out and eventually die of oxygen deprivation.

     Video Games 
  • In StarCraft II: Heart of the Swarm, the Anti-Hero Kerrigan pulls this on the Big Bad Arcturus Mengsk's son Valerian in a fit of rage — and while her hand is used in gesture as it is being done, there's no physical contact between the two.
  • In RuneScape, one of the abilities for mages is "Asphyxiate." The Player Character reaches out with his/her magical power, and chokes the life from the target over a few seconds.
  • In The World Ends with You, Neku did this to Shiki after being misled that she is the one who dragged him into the Reapers' Game. Fortunately he didn't go all the way with it.
  • World of Warcraft
    • Baron Ashbury in Shadowfang Keep has the ability Asphyxiate, which holds the entire party off the ground and strangles them nearly to death with a contemptuous, "This is just too easy," but then he heals them so he can keep tormenting them.
    • Death Knights also get a spell named Asphyxiate it's just a 5 second stun with a special animation however.
  • Knights of the Old Republic has this as a dark side Force power, described by its Flavor Text as causing spasms in the subject's lungs.
  • In Super Smash Bros., Rosalina uses these as her grab in a non-villainous variation, since this is coming from someone who is the complete opposite of a villain.
  • Earn enough perks as a Vampire Lord in Skyrim, and you can gain this ability.
  • Tron 2.0: The "Energy Claw" subroutine allows you to do this to enemies. It also fills your energy (ammo) bar. It's technically a Mesh (Datawraith) weapon, so it would be a User-only weapon. Fitting in that universe, as digitized humans are insanely powerful in cyberspace. And yes, the game came out several years prior to Disney getting their hands on Star Wars.

     Web Original 
  • Dis Raps For Hire: In the second episode of season 2, Bryce Wissel is throwing Corn nuts at EpicLLOYD (of ERB fame) while he's reading the youtube comment that inspires the rap of the episode. After reading the comment he gains the ability to Psychic Strangle Bryce out of pure rage, and takes it a step further by slamming him into the walls, and throwing Bryce at a Screaming Woman.
  • The page image comes from an image shared via Twitter, remarking on a meme called "Vadering" that parodies the Trope Codifier.

    Western Animation 
  • The Legend of Korra:
    • This was something that Yakone was able to do with his bloodbending, even using it against Aang. Aang had to use the Avatar State to break out of it.
    • Zaheer uses airbending to pull the air out of the Earth Queen's lungs, suffocating her.
    • Kuvira does a variation of this to Varrick, in which she metalbends his pauldrons around his neck and lifts him. She lets go before it kills him.
  • Subverted in Robot Chicken's parody of Star Wars. It turns out Vader cannot Force Choke, and his minions are all just faking it when he holds his hand out so that Vader doesn't pull out his lightsaber and slice them in half. Those "killed" by the "Force Choke" are later given a new identity so that Vader is none the wiser (usually just consisting of a mustache or hat).
  • Star Wars: The Clone Wars:
    • Anakin, Asajj Ventress and Savage Opress all frequently resort to choking their opponents through the Force. Anakin mainly uses it when his Berserk Button (his loved ones being endangered) is pushed. He also prefers it as a Jack Bauer Interrogation Technique, such as in "Brain Invaders", while questioning Poggle the Lesser, who proved to be immune to his Jedi Mind Trick. For Ventress, it seems more like a finishing and/or desparation attack, used only when she feels either confident with the outcome of the confrontation, or utterly outmatched. As for Savage, it's more-or-less his Signature Move — he killed more people this way than with his lightsaber. He's fine with the "normal" bare-handed Neck Snap as well. Dooku also used the Force to choke his enemies a couple of times.
    • After Bo-Katan insulted him, Maul started to strangle her, while he gave a speech to Vizsla and the rest of the Death Watch, about how beneficial an allance between them would be. Later he also started to choke Satine to torture Obi-Wan.
    • Darth Sidious, upon arriving to Mandalore, off-handedly choked two Death Watch commandos who tried to stop him while walking past them. Later, he strangled another pair before entering a room.
    • Becomes a plot-point in the Season 5 finale, when someone Force-chokes Letta, the woman, who bombed the Jedi Temple, to death while Ahsoka was the only one in her cell. Since the two were alone, and Letta's death was recorded on camera, Ahsoka got framed for the murder, and by extension for masterminding the bombing.
    • In Season 6/The Lost Missions, Darth Sidious does this to Dooku from across the galaxy.
  • Star Wars Rebels: Some of the stronger Inquisitors are capable of this, usually using it to immobilize an opponent while the other one attacks directly. Maul also uses it when he and Ezra fight the Seventh Sister, although he stops short of actually killing her so Ezra can do it. When he refuses, Maul cuts her in half.
  • Parodied (among many other Star Wars tropes) in the Codename: Kids Next Door episode Operation S.N.O.W.I.N.G. After Student Council President McGarfield pulls a Face–Heel Turn and even becomes a Darth Vader Clone, in one instance he clenches his fist in anger at a minion student for misspeaking, apparently causing him to start choking and fall to his knees from the pain, but...
    President McGarfield: What on Earth are you doing?!
    Student: ...I'm sorry, I had a couple of tacos for dinner last night.

Alternative Title(s): Force Choke