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In the last battle of Episode 3, Obi-wan tells Anakin not to try jumping at him. Why does he do this? If Anakin surrenders, Obi-wan can't take him into custody and put him on trial, since the Republic has fallen. I wondered if Obi-wan was actually trying to goad Anakin into making that ill-advised jump, but he seems sincere when he says "don't try it". What does Obi-wan want Anakin to do at this point?

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Kenobi tells him not to jump because he can see that if he tries it, it'll give him an opening for a killing strike against Anakin – Valorum Feb 15 at 11:19
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@davidgalbraith - You misunderstand me. Kenobi is begging Anakin not to put him in a position where he's forced to kill him. He'd like Anakin to surrender so that they can both oppose Palatine. – Valorum Feb 15 at 12:12
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@Cherubel I'm sure you mean "Obi-wan loves his pupil". – krillgar Feb 15 at 13:30
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I've always questioned this scene, but for a different reason: I never bought that Anakin's jump was doomed to fail when Obi-wan himself pulled off a similar jump to defeat Darth Maul. Sure, Obi-wan had a shorter jump and (perhaps) the element of surprise, but Anakin had surer footing (standing instead of dangling) and more raw power. Or to look at it another way: if Yoda had been in Anakin's place, he could have made the leap and cut Obi-wan into a dozen pieces before landing and no one would have thought "but Obi-wan had the high ground!" – Josh Feb 15 at 16:18
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@Josh I read a plausible explanation of this once: that Obi-wan developed special techniques for defending the high ground after seeing how it exposed Maul to a jumping attack like that. – davidvgalbraith Feb 15 at 23:23
up vote 50 down vote accepted
  1. He actually likes Anakin and doesn't want to kill him.

  2. A Jedi that is not fueled by hate would not make that jump since it's obviously a bad idea, whereas a Sith lets his rage guide him into making that jump.
    If he would have surrendered I guess Obi-wan would have given him another chance to come to the light side, so with 1. he hopes that that's the outcome.

Hope that's kinda understandable.

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If it's obviously a bad idea, why would a Sith do it? – CHEESE Feb 15 at 12:30
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@CHEESE: Overconfidence. – GreenMatt Feb 15 at 12:40
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And Contempt. While Obi-Wan was warning Anakin to not do it because he didn't want to harm Anakin, Anakin's contempt for the Jedi made it so that Obi-Wan's words made Ani think Obi was trying to save himself, rather than being generous – Oak Feb 15 at 13:03
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@CHEESE Anger clouds one's judgement – user45623 Feb 15 at 18:31
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Interesting! I had always thought Obi-wan had totally given up on Anakin prior to this and was just on Mustafar to kill him like he'd gone to Utapau to kill Grievous. Tough to recover from killing Younglings. But I can see him holding out a small sliver of deluded hope of turning Anakin light again, that he only finally gives up on when Anakin makes this jump. – davidvgalbraith Feb 15 at 23:19

Apart from the in-universe factual explanation, there is also the metaphorical necessity. In that scene, Obi-Wan temporarily got the "high ground", an important tactical advantage for fencing. By showing a reluctance to kill Anakin, and offering him a chance at redemption, Obi-Wan takes the moral high ground as well. Obi-Wan is the last white knight; he must be gallant to the last.

One may argue that being a jedi knight implies such poses. Possibly, Obi-Wan feels compelled by the Force to do so; not offering that last chance to Anakin would constitute a step in the direction of the dark side. But, also, this over-the-top display of chivalry is constitutive to the story as a whole; it makes it worth telling.

In that sense, it is similar to the business between Luke, Vader and the Emperor at the end of Episode VI: while they were sword-fighting, the murder-bears were mincing through the imperial troops, and the second Dark Star would have been destroyed regardless of whether Luke had won or had succumbed to the dark side. But in the Star Wars universe, everything happens both factually and spiritually. This is a fundamental principle of how things work in that far, far away galaxy. Without this mirroring between metaphors and tangible events, Star Wars would be a mere accumulation of peripeties; it would look like a Star Trek episode (with a bigger budget).

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+1 for murder-bears XD – darthbith Feb 16 at 14:13

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