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Psychic Strangle
aka: Force Choke

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Vader's assault on the Rebels hits a choke point.

Admiral Motti: Don't try to frighten us with your sorcerer's ways, Lord Vader.
[Vader turns and slowly walks toward him]
Admiral Motti: 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 their 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 and Supernatural Suffocation. Often accompanied by a Pstandard Psychic Pstance or Magical Gesture. A Death Glare is optional.


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    Anime & Manga 

    Comic Books 
  • Rising Stars: 113 children about to be born gain various superpowers due to something that appeared above their town and then exploded in a flash of light. Strangely enough, the only one who goes to work in some form of covert operations isn't one of the superpowerful fliers, or the Invulnerable Man, or even the guy who can talk to the dead, which should be a means of getting all sorts of useful information. It's the woman with the ability to move small objects with telepathy because the carotid artery is a small object.
  • Supergirl storyline The Strange Revenge of Lena Luthor: Subverted. A criminal gang are trying to gaslight Supergirl's friend Lena Colby into madness. After making Lena believe she has gained powerful, uncontrollable telekinesis, a crook posing as Supergirl meets Lena and pretends she is being strangled by Lena's non-existent telekinesis.
    Lena Colby: My power— It's running wild... Stronger than I realized—!
    Fake Supergirl: Telekinesis— Mind over matter—?
    Lena: Yes... And it's strong enough to strip you of your super-powers! Oh, no... No! It's happening again— And I can't control it!
    Fake Supergirl: Lena, please... Try [gasping] I'm... I'm choking—!
  • Superman:
    • The Phantom Zone: Kryptonian criminal Nadira can and does use her psychokinesis to invade her victims' nervous system and cause them to choke.
    • In crossover "Fate Is The Killer": When Mer-man says he would rather not go to the Black Pit because he quite likes living, Skeletor gestures and the sea-dweller feels something invisible choking him.

    Fan Works 

    Films — Animation 
  • The Pilgrim's Progress: While he usually opts to dangle or throw someone around, Apollyon has psychic powers which he uses to beat up anyone who displeases him.
  • Mewtwo in Pokémon: The First Movie does this to the Gyarados trainer after the latter demands that a Pokémon cannot be a Pokémon trainer.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • In The Curse of Sleeping Beauty, the Veiled Demon does this to Linda and Richard. It reaches out both hands and closes them as if grasping a pair of throats and, across the room, Linda and Richard start choking.
  • Lifeforce (1985): The Space Girl, played by an incredibly hot Mathilda May, goes into a Full-Frontal Assault on the Space Center. A trio of hapless security guards attempt to stop her. The first one gets force choked into unconsciousness and the second one, continuing with the Star Wars references, is pretty much force-lighting'd out of the way. The last, older guard is scared out of his wits and does nothing as the Space Girl escapes the center into the night.
  • 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, it being his favorite Force power and his Signature Move.
      • He especially likes to use it against those that have failed him for the last time and those whose lack of faith he finds disturbing, having originally done this in A New Hope to Admiral Motti.
      • This wasn't the first time he'd done it, either: In Revenge of the Sith, when he becomes convinced that Padmé betrayed him, he chokes her, causing injuries that lead to her death (according to a All There in the Manual explanation of her cause of death in the novelization).
      • 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 this case choking out Ozzel on the bridge of the Executor from his personal meditation chamber. In the expanded universe the Force-choke essentially becomes Vader's Signature Move (see below).
    • Rogue One:
      • Vader initially spares Director Krennic after learning that Galen Erso provided information to the Rebels about the existence of the Death Star project, 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.
      • Rogue One also ups the ante from The Empire Strikes Back by establishing that not only does he not need to be in the same room as his target — Vader doesn't even need to look at his target. As long as he knows where you are, he can Force-choke you.
      • As shown in the page image, Rogue One is the first time that Vader Force-chokes an actual enemy (here a Rebel soldier) in a Star Wars movie. Every other instance in the movies where the armored Vader Force-chokes someone, that someone is an Imperial.
    • Luke non-fatally Force-chokes a pair of Gamorreans to gain entrance to Jabba's palace in Return of the Jedi, in a scene meant to make us worry that Luke may be heading toward The Dark Side like his father.
    • General Hux has it done to him twice in The Last Jedi.
      • First, Supreme Leader Snoke's disembodied holographic head grabs Hux by the neck and throws him around the bridge of his Star Destroyer for a little while to humiliate him after Hux fails to destroy the Resistance as it evacuates its base, losing a dreadnought to Resistance bombers in the process.
      • Second, Hux tries to argue with Kylo Ren about Ren assuming the mantle of Supreme Leader after Snoke's death by lightsaber. Ren chokes him in mid-sentence as an Appeal to Force (ha!) and Hux submits.
  • 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.

  • In Android Karenina, Alexei Karenin — egged on by his Face — inflicts this on his wife during their nastiest argument; for good measure, he actively slams her into the ceiling while doing so.
  • Another Fine Myth: Tananda the magik-using assassin starts remotely strangling a target, but gets cut off by a more powerful mage before she can finish the job.
  • In The Haunting of Drearcliff Grange School, protagonist Amy is a trainee superhero with telekinetic powers who starts slipping into an ends-justify-the-means mindset that culminates in her friends having to talk her down when she starts telekinetically choking an adversary to death.
  • Moon: A psychic Serial Killer invades the similarly psychic mind of computer technician Jonathan Childes, and eventually makes a link strong enough to stimulate bodily harm.
  • 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.
  • In Tempest (2011), the merman Sabyn has the ability to strangle people or squeeze their hearts by making a fist.
  • Theirs Not to Reason Why: Ia once kills someone by telekinetically closing off the arteries to her brain.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Babylon 5:
    • Discussed in the 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...
    • Later in the series, in an Establishing Character Moment the new Vorlon ambassador, Ulkesh, introduces himself to his human aide Lyta by psychically choking her while he interrogates her.
  • Villains in Once Upon a Time love doing this, from Queen/Mayor Regina, to Rumpelstiltskin himself. Including Emma Swan upon becoming the Dark One, in her very first manifestation of dark magic, used entirely by reflex on a greedy peasant who demanded money for the location of Camelot.
  • Smallville: "Jinx" has a non-telekinetic example: when Clark confronts Mr. Mxyzptlk, the latter uses his Compelling Voice with the command for Clark to "choke". Clark immediately starts gagging and gasping for air.
  • Stargate SG-1:
    • A telekinetic mutant 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.
    • 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.
  • Star Trek: Voyager: In "Warlord", Kes has her body taken over by the eponymous warlord Tieran, who's planning a coup to regain his throne. However his general isn't happy on discovering The Dreaded Tieran now looks like a cute female alien with Pointed Ears, and says they need to call the whole thing off. Tieran quickly shows he's not to be taken lightly in any body as he uses Kes' psychic powers to make the general collapse on the floor and bleed from every facial orifice.
  • Star Wars, The Mandalorian:
    • In "Chapter 7: The Reckoning", the Child is shown to be capable of doing this, as he mistakes a friendly arm-wrestling match between the tittle character and Cara as a threat on the Mando's life and attempts to Force-choke Cara to protect him. Though Mando is quickly able to talk the Child down before he can seriously hurt her, Cara is understandably disturbed.
    • After the Child is kidnapped in season two we see him doing this to two Stormtroopers at the same time before telekinetically slamming them into each other.
  • In Supernatural, Sam has been subjected to this multiple times.
  • The Twilight Zone: In "The Howling Man", the Devil uses one on David Ellington as soon as he releases him from his confinement.

  • 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 Ludwig van 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.

  • In Dawn of a New Age: Oldport Blues, Zia uses her telepathy to hijack the pulmonary systems of Ivy and Jessica, nearly causing them to asphyxiate. She quickly snaps out of her anger and is horrified at what she's capable of.

    Tabletop Games 
  • Warhammer 40,000:
    • 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.
    • Dark Heresy: This is a power available to Biomancer Psykers. 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.
  • Dungeons & Dragons:
    • The choke spell (from the 3.0 book Tome and Blood: A Guidebook to Wizards and Sorcerers) create a pair of invisible force hands that slowly strangles the target (as long as it's breathing and has a neck).
    • The less powerful stolen breath (from Spell Compendium) just put the target in respiratory distress for a minute or less, although it has No Saving Throw.
    • The spell telekinesis and the psionic power telekinetic maneuver can be used to perform a grapple, and a grapple can inflict damage (by twisting limbs or choking) as well as immobilizing. The damage may not be very high, but can be prolonged for a while and this can safely be done at a great range.
  • In Pathfinder, the "Suffocate" Wild Talent for the Kineticist class works like this when used with the Aether element.
  • Star Wars d20: The "Force Grip" power lets a character inflict this, both dealing damage to the victim and preventing them from taking most actions for as long as the user maintains concentration.
  • Yu-Gi-Oh!: The illustration of Kozmojo depicts this. A given since the Kozmo archetype is a combined Shout-Out to Star Wars and the Oz books.

    Video Games 
  • Cult of the Lamb: If you have the "Murder Follower" doctrine unlocked, you can do this to any follower for any reason. Even though it's over relatively quickly, it isn't pleasant; The Lamb lifts the unfortunate follower into the air as they grasp their neck, their eyes bulging, and then slams them into the ground to finish the job.
  • DUSK-12, in which you're a Super-Soldier with telekinetic powers, have you constantly executing enemies using this method. Affected mooks will glow with a red aura while holding their necks as you turn their trachea two-dimensional; the downside is that you can target only 1 mook at a time and other mooks can shoot at you while you're choking your target.
  • The Elder Scrolls: Earn enough perks as a Vampire Lord in Skyrim, and you can gain this ability.
  • 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 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.
  • Star Trek Online: A duty officer assignment available to Klingon Defense Force characters is titled "Experiment with Feasibility of Assassination Utilizing Telekinesis". Based on the required duty officers, this means experimenting with telekinetically strangling a prisoner.
  • Star Wars games:
  • In Super Smash Bros., Rosalina uses these as her grab. She's not a villain, quite the opposite, but an elegant Mystical Waif can hardly be expected to get her hands dirty with a conventional grab.
  • 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.
  • 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.

  • Darths & Droids: Being as it is a parody of the Star Wars films, naturally it features this. As it turns out, the reason the "Peace Moon" takes over two decades to build is because Vader keeps force-choking people for incompetence. Heck, the scene from Episode IV where Vader chokes Motti is changed to Vader choking Motti for pointing out work would be going better if Vader stopped choking people. Afterward, Vader changes to a warning system. Of choking.
    Clone Trooper 1: Hey, did you hear? We get one warning choke now.
    Clone Trooper 2: I'm gonna use mine to tell a rebel I love him.
  • Parodied in the Punyverse arc of Sluggy Freelance where Lord Grater actually doesn't have Force powers, but everyone pretends to choke when he makes the psychic strangle gesture because he thinks he does and its easier to play along.

    Web Original 

    Web Videos 
  • 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.
  • In Galactic Empire's rock cover of the Star Wars main theme, Darth Vader Force-chokes a technician for having badly tuned his guitar.

    Western Animation 
  • Parodied (among many other Star Wars tropes) in the Codename: Kids Next Door episode "Operation S.N.O.W.I.N.G." When Student Council President McGarfield pulls a Face–Heel Turn and even becomes an Expy of Darth Vader, in one instance he clenches his fist in anger at a minion student for misspeaking, seemingly causing him to start choking and fall to his knees from the pain, but...
    President McGarfield: And what on Earth are you doing?!
    Student: [clears throat] ...I'm sorry, I had a couple of tacos for dinner last night.
  • Invictus of Final Space is fond of doing this to the Lord Commander as a means of letting him know her displeasure over his plans.
  • 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 (usually just consisting of a mustache or hat) so that Vader is none the wiser.
  • 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 loved ones are endangered. He also prefers it as a Jack Bauer Interrogation Technique, such as in "Brain Invaders" while questioning Poggle the Lesser, who proves to be immune to his Jedi Mind Trick. For Ventress, it seems more like a finishing and/or desperation 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 kills more people this way than with his lightsaber. He's fine with the "normal" bare-handed Neck Snap as well. Dooku also uses the Force to choke his enemies a couple of times.
    • "The Gungan General": Dooku kills Turk Falso by choking him with the Force after telekinetically manipulating him into shooting his co-conspirator.
    • "Eminence": After Bo-Katan insults him, Maul starts to strangle her while giving a speech to Vizsla and the rest of the Death Watch about how beneficial an alliance between them would be.
    • "The Lawless":
      • Maul chokes Satine to torture Obi-Wan.
      • Darth Sidious, upon arriving to Mandalore, off-handedly chokes two Death Watch commandos who try to stop him while walking past them. Later, he strangles another pair before entering a room.
    • Becomes a plot-point in "The Jedi Who Knew Too Much", when someone Force-chokes Letta, the woman who bombed the Jedi Temple, to death while Ahsoka is the only one in her cell. Since the two were alone, and Letta's death is recorded on camera, Ahsoka is framed for the murder, and by extension for masterminding the bombing.
    • In "The Lost One", 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.


Video Example(s):

Alternative Title(s): Force Choke


Darth Baras pulls a Vader

Sith Warrior Hoth arc, "Interrogate the Talz". Darth Baras's enemy Jedi Knight Xerender breaks into his holocommunications to annoy him, and Baras gets trolled in stereo by both him and the Warrior PC. In a pretty blatant reference to The Empire Strikes Back, Baras takes it out on his underling Commander Lanklyn for being unable to get Xerender off the line. Bear in mind, Baras does this to a man on the planet Hoth, from his office on the planet Dromund Kaas. (Video by troper StarSword.)

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