At the end of his Duel with Darth Maul, Obi-Wan is trapped on the edge of a pit. He then jumps up out of it, calls Qui-Gon's lightsaber and chops the Sith Lord. While in the air, Obi-Wan did a Berani flip (a front flip with a half twist) over Darth Maul's head.

This jump from Obi-Wan is just like another jump at the end of Revenge of the Sith, but it's Obi-Wan that got the high ground and Anakin that does the aerial maneuver. This move ends badly for Anakin, Obi-Wan slicing Anakin's limbs.

Why didn't Darth Maul punish Obi-Wan with his blade when he was at his mercy?

  • 6
    Darth Maul just Forgot About His Powers.
    – Xantec
    Feb 8, 2012 at 17:59
  • Did Maul literally have the high ground there? Weren't they on equal ground? I wonder if that matters.
    – Möoz
    Nov 29, 2016 at 21:05
  • You could also say Obi-Wan knew exactly what to do to Vader tried uo jump over him on Mustafar, since he jumped over Maul many years earlier.
    – RichS
    Jun 11, 2017 at 19:08
  • Maul was also shocked.
    – user35971
    Oct 20, 2017 at 22:47

8 Answers 8


Maul was overconfident and unprepared

From the Novelisation of the Phantom Menace:

Darth Maul walked slowly to the edge of the melting pit, tattoed face bathed in sweat, eyes wild and bright with joy. The battle was finished. The last Jei was about to be dispatched. He smiled and shifted the remnant of his shattered lightsaber from one hand to the other, savouring the moment.

Eyes fixed on the Sith Lord, Obi-Wan Kenobi went deep inside himself, connecting with the Force he had worked so hard to understanding. Calming himself, stilling the trembling of his heart, and banishing his anger and fear, he called upon the last of his reserves. With clarity of purpose and strength of heart, he launched himself away from the side of the pit and catapulted back toward its lip. Imbued with the power of the Force, he cleared the rim easily, somersaulting behind the Sith Lord in a single smooth, powerful motion. Even as he landed, he was drawing Qui-Gon Jinn's fallen lightsaber to his outstretched hand.

Darth Maul whirled to confront him, shock and rage twisting his red and black face. But before he could act to save himself, Qui-Gon's lightsaber slashed through his chest, burning him with killing fire. The stricken Sith Lord howled in pain and disbelief.

This gives us a bit more insight into the incident than the film alone.

Essentially, Maul is suffering from the Sith's most common and greatest weakness. As Luke said to the Emperor,

"Your overconfidence is your weakness."

Maul is not in a fighting stance. He's not paying attention. He's not on the alert, he's convinced he's already won and there's just the dying left. At the same time, Obi-Wan is being everything a Jedi is supposed to be - calm, controlled, self-reliant, unemotional. The greatest strengths of a Jedi up against the biggest weakness of a Sith - and the Jedi won.

Let's also remember this line from Mark Twain:

The best swordsman in the world doesn't need to fear the second best swordsman in the world; no, the person for him to be afraid of is some ignorant antagonist who has never had a sword in his hand before; he doesn't do the thing he ought to do, and so the expert isn't prepared for him; he does the thing he ought not to do; and often it catches the expert out and ends him on the spot.

Again, this feeds back into overconfidence. Maul was certain that he outmatched his opponent in every way, so when Obi-Wan did the stupid thing and tried to attack a superior opponent on high ground, Maul wasn't expecting it.

  • 1
    Note this is also something I thought was great about that extended fight scene, the comparison in behavior during the "force field breaks" between how Maul acted (pacing anoutblike a caged tiger) and how Qui-Gon acted (kneeling and Sweeney closing his eyes to wait patiently).
    – Paul
    Dec 20, 2016 at 22:34

This, in a way, calls for speculation. While we can always wimp out and say, "Because that's not what Lucas wanted," there are a number of in-world explanations for that. It really comes down to what was going on inside Darth Maul's mind at the time.

First, as was said in another answer, he was essentially toying with Obi-Wan at the time. As far as he knew, he had won, and rather than just using his lightsaber to slice of Obi-Wan's hand, he was being a good Sith Lord and invoking terror and fright in his victim.

Obi-Wan's move depended on surprise, so when he moved, Maul didn't have enough warning and wasn't expecting such a move. Even though Maul was trying to terrorize him, Obi-Wan, if he acted like a true Jedi, was able to control his fear and think through what he was going to do, so he had a plan and was able to put it into effect before Maul could react. He went from being the trapped animal to vaulting over Maul before Maul realized what was going on.

But, going deeper, when there's any combat situation, assuming we're dealing with strictly in-universe answers, it's really tough to know why one person did or didn't do something because things are going so fast, someone in combat might not see every available option to them. I think this is a good example. With the adrenalin running (or whatever the equivalent was for Maul), it's hard to know just what was going through his mind when the situation suddenly changed from, "I've won and I can take a few minutes to enjoy my victory," to, "Oh, snap! He's armed again and I'm in deep Force-doodoo!"

  • 1
    "Maul didn't have enough warning and wasn't expecting such a move" -- we are clear that we are talking about an apt user of the Force here, right?
    – Raphael
    Aug 30, 2012 at 22:05
  • 3
    Who's fighting an experienced user of the Force. Not the most experienced, but one who has shown a strong ability to improvise.
    – Tango
    Sep 1, 2012 at 3:24
  • Speaking of Lucas's intentions, one could surmise this was planned to further emphasize Obi-Wan's "I've got the high ground" statement to Anakin. Jan 11, 2016 at 15:35

Maul was toying with Obi-Wan at the end, savoring his victory. Maul tossed Obi-Wan's lightsaber into the abyss and apparently forgot about Qui-Gon's saber. Maul had a distinctly surprised look on his face when he died. Darth Maul's sin was the sin of pride.

  • 4
    Your sin is the sin of adding a really cheesey line to the end of an otherwise good answer!
    – Daft
    Dec 23, 2014 at 11:45

I think to Maul there was no reason to fear the student when he'd already defeated his master Qui Gon. He didn't think Obi Wan had the skill or the bravery to make that move. Because he underestimated Obi Wan he didn't see the move coming. Maul was so stunned by it that he didn't swing. The move only worked because it was a surprise. When Anakin was about to attempt a similar jump, Obi Wan saw it coming. He even warned Anakin not to try it. It wasn't a surprise move. Obi Wan was ready for it so he swung.

  • Anakin using the exact same move can also be seen as a deliberate choice: you can't defeat your master with his own moves.
    – Raphael
    Aug 30, 2012 at 22:06

The simple answer is, Darth Maul had to lose the fight. So he did. His death brings about an ending that epitomizes everything wrong with Episode 1. Theres no way a Sith Lord with the combat prowess that he possessed would stand there dumbfounded for all that time. Nor would he merely forget that the guy he just killed had a light saber. It was a convenient ending that just wasnt plausible.

  • 3
    You could give that answer to just about any movie any made. The OP I think was looking for a plausible reason, not just "because the story needed it."
    – Jane S
    Jan 11, 2016 at 7:56
  • 1
    The only truly plausible explanation is that Darth Maul suffered from epilepsy and was having a micro seizure from the sparks he made taunting Obi-wan, at the moment Obi-wan jumped.
    – Minativ7
    Jan 11, 2016 at 9:20
  • 1
    @JaneS Yeah but there was no plausible reason. This is the only correct answer.
    – H.v.M.
    May 14, 2016 at 5:40
  • "I don't find it convincing" =/= "There's no way this could happen". Your overconfidence is your weakness.
    – Werrf
    Nov 29, 2016 at 21:48

Darth Maul is/was a very arrogant fighter and believed he could never be defeated. He always had the belief that he was a supreme force to recon with. His training droids had their safety switch turned off at all times. Maul trained with the droids at full power to kill. I think he toyed with Obi Wan and underestimated him. I read in one of the books, I think it was "Darth Maul, Shadow Hunter", that Dooku had concerns of Mauls arrogance and that it would someday be his downfall.

  • Could you cite any other sources for your conclusions? None of this is in the movie. Jan 12, 2014 at 7:55

Watch the scene and the answer(s) are clearly given by Darth Maul himself through his body language/posture and his facial expression (pretty well-acted, actually, for a guy who was basically a stuntman). When Obi Wan is vaulting over him, you can see Maul's posture and face expressing, "Really, you're gonna jump outta there and land behind me??? HAHAHA...and then wha--UHPP, ACK (what the-- ???), ughhhhh..." (tumbles forever downward...) I don't believe that the leap surprised him. In fact, I believe that Darth Maul was taunting Obi and goading him to do just that- jump or climb out and face his imminent death at Darth Maul's hand. What Darth Maul apparently DIDN'T expect, was that Obi Wan could force-jump out of the hole AND force-grab Qui Gon's lightsaber from way over where simultaneously(and, yes, perhaps in his arrogance, he DID forget all about the 2nd lightsaber altogether). It has been commented already that Darth Maul's understanding of the force was limited, and the fight scene shows he was certainly more of a physical fighter vs a force wielder, such as Darth Sidious in his battle against Yoda. It has also been argued that Darth Maul was trained by Sidious to simply be a blunt instrument used against the Jedi and then tossed aside. To reinforce this point, look at what happened after Anakin's defeat by Obi Wan on Mustifar. Sidious arrived and rescued Anakin from certain death and fit him with a new mechanical body. He did NOT do such for Darth Maul, who was later revealed to have survived being severed in two. Sidious MUST have sensed this, for how did he sense Anakin's fate and know exactly where to find him?? Again, notice Maul's expression as Obi Wan lands on his feet before him: "What are you gonna do now??? You're defense-less!!" SLICE! Goodbye, Darth Maul.


Maybe when he jumped he didn't see the lightsaber and didn't want to chop him. Which means Maul didn't want to chop Obi-Wan without Obi-Wan's lightsaber.

  • Welcome to the site! This seems largely conjectural, do you have anything to back this up with, or otherwise flesh out this answer?
    – Au101
    Nov 29, 2016 at 21:19

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