So in real life, if you get hit by a bolt of lightning and don't die from it, you just sorta spasm out a lot and fall down in pain whilst the energy of one billion volts of electricity courses through your entire body.

With that in mind, what would happen if you got hit by a similar bolt of lightning, but this time, from the side as opposed to the top (and below to an extent since most lightning bolts often join up with a short, hard to see discharge formed from the ground below). Lets say, hypothetically speaking, you run into an Electrokinetic person that can harmlessly discharge bolts of electricity from their hands that are just as deadly as thunderstorm lightning. Would this bolt electrocute you and push you back kinda like how Palpatine's lightning pushed Yoda back in Revenge of the Sith, or would it not be too much different from getting hit by a traditional, vertical lightning bolt?

  • $\begingroup$ “Miraculously don’t die form it.” weather.gov/safety/lightning-odds. Normally, I wouldn’t consider a succeeding with a 90% chance of success, “Miraculous.” You might want to change that. $\endgroup$ Apr 23, 2021 at 15:44
  • $\begingroup$ You mean like an arc flash? Workers that get hit by those tend to get hit by them in the panel in front of them, not from above. $\endgroup$
    – DKNguyen
    Apr 23, 2021 at 19:30
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    $\begingroup$ Lightning does not push you away. It just goes through you into whatever you might be touching that's grounded. (Usually the actual ground.) If you appear to get knocked back, it's generally due to a muscle spasm, not the lightning itself. Alternatively, there could be an explosion caused by the lightning hitting something, and in that case it's the explosion knocking you back, not the lightning. Ironically, Palpatine's attack on Luke in RotJ was more realistic than that on Yoda in RotS, in that Luke didn't get knocked down, just fell because of his muscles collapsing. $\endgroup$ Apr 23, 2021 at 21:03

2 Answers 2


No appreciable difference, as it can be seen by the many who get electrocuted while with one hand touch a live cable and with the other a conductive surface.

The electric current flowing through one's heart/lungs would mess with its functioning pretty badly, regardless if the current is flowing up to down or right to left.

Incidentally, this is why if one is in the open during a thunder storm, the recommendation is to take a "egg" position, with the head tucked between the knees, so that any current will flow through the limbs and not through lungs/heart.

  • 4
    $\begingroup$ "egg position" mostly helps by reducing your height above the ground, making you a much less attractive target to the lightning. Putting your head between you knees is asking for the current to skip the abdomen, yes, but rather go through the head and brain. For some people, having their brain fried is a bad idea. (for others the brain is not a vital organ so...) $\endgroup$
    – PcMan
    Apr 23, 2021 at 11:44

Electricity does not care about gravity, it only cares about electrical potential difference, and how much current it can shove through the unfortunate who enters between the voltage points.

For normal lightning, the potential is between the charged clouds, and the ground which is, well, a very good electrical ground. Thus the lightning strikes between the sky(clouds) and the ground.

For lightning to go sideways, if needs to just have an electrical potential in the horizontal direction(easy), and a target that is a better ground than, well, the ground. Not so easy, but for example a nice metal fence on the other side of the target would serve well.


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