Qui-Gon has shown that he could easily use the Force to influence a game of chance. Even though Watto is not susceptible to "Jedi mind tricks," he doesn't detect when Qui-Gon influences his chance cubes to create the outcome he wants.

While the original deal was to free only Anakin, why didn't Qui-Gon try to go for double-or-nothing and free Shmi Skywalker as well? (Or try any other tactic to free her?)

  • 8
    As Argyle suggested in a comment below, I think this question could be improved if it were expanded to include why she wasn't freed between Episode I and II. You would think that Queen Amidala would have the financial means to free the mother of the kid that single handedly took out the droid army.
    – spong
    Feb 9, 2012 at 8:26
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    She was an NPC. Rescuing her was not important.
    – Zibbobz
    Jul 15, 2014 at 14:46
  • @Zibbobz: The point is to answer within the framework of the story.
    – Tango
    Jul 17, 2014 at 14:22
  • 3
    I was just kidding. Of course, this is also the script reason. Having Anakin's Mom around would have severely detracted from his 'lonely young Jedi who misses his desert homeworld' image.
    – Zibbobz
    Jul 17, 2014 at 14:27
  • Weren't they out of money? If I remember well that was the whole point of the race: get the money to fix the ship. So how could they have bought Shmi's freedom?
    – algiogia
    Sep 25, 2014 at 12:19

9 Answers 9


I don't thing the answer is spelled out in canon, BUT:

  • He had 2 missions: Ensure the safety of Queen Amidala, and (self-imposed) deliver the possible Chosen One to the Jedi Council.

    Messing with Watto to free Anakin was OK since it was in service of the second mission.

    Messing with Watto to free Shmi was NOT OK, since it could have interfered with both missions. Since Watto was greatly opposed to freeing BOTH, he may have gotten pushed over the line and interfered if Shmi went free as well.

  • He was a follower of the "Living Force". He may have tried to free Shmi out of general decency/goodness as part of the bargain, but if the Force was not pushing him towards it, he wouldn't fight that (and, being how Midichlorians aimed to create Anakin as the "end of Sith" as per the recent question, the sneaky little bastard bacteria wouldn't want Shmi interfering with his life's design)

  • Shouldn't the force have warned him that Shimi's death would help push Anakin over the line and made him take her too?
    – Oldcat
    Jul 20, 2015 at 19:39
  • 3
    @Oldcat No man the force told him that he needs to take Anakin alone so his mom can get brutally murdered so he can become a pyschotic Sith Lord and brutally murder children and torment the galaxy for decades only to throw the emperor down some weird hole in his throne room to complete the prophecy. That's exactly what Lucas was aiming for.
    – Demarini
    Dec 14, 2015 at 17:38

Watto owned both Anakin and Shmi, having won them from one of the Hutts. When Qui-gon did attempt to free both Anakin and Shmi, using the pod racer in a bet, Watto replies that no pod racer is worth two slaves. Qui-gon says just for the boy (Anakin) and Watto then comes back with the chance cube gamble, which Qui-gon neatly cheats. After the race Qui-gon did sell the pod racer for some credits, but Watto still owned Shmi and I doubt he would be apt to sell her to Qui-gon for anything less than a fortune.

QUI-GON : I'll wager my new racing pod against...say...the boy and his mother.
WATTO : A Pod for slaves. I don't think so...well, poerhaps. Just one...the mother, maybe...the boy isn't for sale.
QUI-GON : The boy is small, he can't be worth much.

WATTO shakes his head.

QUI-GON : (Cont'd) For the fastest Pod ever built?!

WATTO shakes his head again.

QUI-GON : (Cont'd) Both, or no bet.
WATTO : No Pod's worth two slaves...not by a long shot...one slave or nothing.
QUI-GON : The boy, then...

WATTO pulls out a small cube from his pocket.

WATTO : We'll let fate decide. Blue it's the boy, red his mother...

WATTO tosses the cube down. QUI-GON lifts his hand slightly; it turns blue.
QUI-GON smiles. WATTO is angry.

WATTO : (Cont'd) You won the small toss, outlander, bou you won't win the race, so...it makes little difference.


  • 1
    That was quite obvious to me too. Watto was simply not going to part with both his slaves.
    – HNL
    Feb 9, 2012 at 1:25
  • 13
    My problem is less that they didn't rescue her at that time, it's that once Padme and company were all situated that they didn't just buy her from Watto with a bit of the Naboo royal petty cash.
    – Argyle
    Feb 9, 2012 at 1:25
  • @Argyle Again it probably comes down to Watto not willing to part with both of his slaves, or at that time his last/only slave.
    – Xantec
    Feb 9, 2012 at 14:16
  • 29
    "Say, Watto. Your tin shack is looking a little run down. How about we give you this giant sack of money in exchange for that kid's mom? He saved our planet from invasion and we'd like to do right by him. You could get five slaves for this much scratch, or a couple nice droids to do the same work and more. What do you say?"
    – Argyle
    Feb 9, 2012 at 18:43
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    @MichaelBecker Are you suggesting that a sovereign government ruling no less than 70% of an entire planet would not be able to come up with a reward suitable for a scrap merchant to release one slave? A star freighter full of water would be a huge win for both sides, given the arid climate. Cheap for Naboo, priceless for Watto. Barring that, they could stage a military strike and rescue mission. It's not like Watto was a member of the Hutt cartel or anything. Nobody would miss one scrap merchant on a planet where life is cheap.
    – Argyle
    Oct 8, 2015 at 20:14

Qui-Gon never wanted to free Shmi Skywalker. He was in a negotiation with Watto, and in a negotiation you never start out asking for what you want, you ask for way more and then haggle until you get at least what you want, hopefully more. So Qui-Gon's opening bid was Shmi and Anakin, with the desired outcome of getting Anakin. If Shmi were freed, she would naturally travel with Anakin and that would interfere with his Jedi training. Qui-Gon did not want this to happen, so he made only perfunctory efforts to free her.

  • 2
    +1 for the interference with Jedi training. Considering Anakin's age Qui-gon would have wanted him to forget about his past live fast and hard, if he was going to be trained. Even if Shmi was on Coruscant she likely still would have been a distraction. Qui-gon had no reason to believe Shmi was soon for the grave, as at the time he visited she had a secure, albeit hard, life.
    – Xantec
    Feb 9, 2012 at 14:19
  • 1
    +1 Jedi are known to use tricks and violence when it suits them, so Shmi could have been freed one way or the other. In this case, Qui-gon just didn't want to free both slaves, because he had no use for the mother.
    – Andres F.
    Feb 9, 2012 at 22:27
  • 1
    +1 for mentioning that he didn't even want to free Shmi. What possible value to Qui-gon the Jedis, or anyone important would Shmi be?
    – Anthony
    Feb 10, 2012 at 2:11
  • -1 - If the jedi cannot apply the same morality on an individual level that they apply on a galaxy wide level, then it really begs the question if they are serving the darkside or the light. Isn't it the perspective of the darkside that the ends justify the means, and the light is the opposite, that killings and enslaving people cannot be justified and must be opposed. Feb 24, 2012 at 20:40
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    @Mark I'm not sure slavery is considered immoral in the Star Wars universe. Nobody in Phantom Menace seemed to have moral objections to it. Rather Shmi and Anakin's predicament was treated as a fact of life, much like being underwater on your mortgage or needing an operation you can't afford. Not a happy situation but no reason to start a crusade, either. And could the Jedi really have a problem with slavery at the same time they are using a clone army to defend the Republic? Did those clones have a choice in their lot?
    – Kyle Jones
    Feb 24, 2012 at 21:45

Here an interesting quote from Chance cube wookieepedia article, which cite Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace (novelization) :

Qui-Gon Jinn used telekinesis to influence the fall of the chance cube to ensure that Anakin's freedom would be at stake. As Watto had weighted the die to land on red, and had five red spaces and one blue, to ensure winning such random tosses, Jinn's trick took him quite by surprise.

Watto was willing to gamble on freeing Anakin because he was cheating on the Chance cube, but his plan failed. After that, he probably felt something gone wrong and there is little chances he jeopardy an asset again against Qui-Gon.

  • The cube in the movie didn't have five red sides.
    – 2540625
    Apr 14, 2018 at 5:49

In the aftermath of the race victory, when young Anakin asked about his mother's status, Qui-Gon told him that he'd tried to persuade Watto to free her. It might not have necessarily been a question of coming up with a reasonable price, Qui-Gon had won the bet and could, if he deemed it necessary, use his Force skills to acquire sufficent funds to free Shmi (much like Data wins at craps in the ST:NG episode "The Royale" in order to assume the role of the casino buyers). It was more likely that Watto was hardened by being beaten by an "Outworlder", and was therefore unwilling to entertain even a generous offer for Shmi; OR, regardless of the price, Watto relied on her mechanical and managerial skills heavily and feared going out of business. It's obvious from the later encounter in Episode II that Watto's attitude had softened (for a Toydarian) towards Shmi. I can well imagine that he'd gotten to know Clegg Lars and saw that there was something between his female slave and the widowed moisture farmer. More than likely Watto didn't haggle way too hard for her freedom.


Anyone on that ship with the queen of naboo could have afforded a few months later to have sent 'Gold" or whatever substance was legal tender to the trader to free the mother. It is just an excuse to not have a mother's influence in the development of who was to become "Darth Vader"

  • 1
    Source? Anything to back up this opinion? I suggest checking out the Tour to get a better idea of how to ask and answer questions. Jun 15, 2014 at 2:24

I always considered Qui-Gon as a person of very high ethics (even for a Jedi). In that particular instance (with the ... "lucky" dice) Watto was the one who suggested to bet on the outcome and it was quite obvious that his dice was rigged. Turning a deceit against the cheater is one thing but encouraging him to bet again, knowing that he had no chance at all to win would be outright cheating on Qui-Gon's side, which is something entirely different.

Needless to note the off-universe explanation that Lucas needed Shmi to stay and die on Tatooine, right?

  • 2
    So it's more ethical to not cheat him again than it is to allow him to continue to keep Shmi as a slave and separate her from her son, perhaps never to see him again?
    – Tango
    Feb 9, 2012 at 6:29
  • 2
    @TangoOversway: I didn't say it was moral. Ethics rely on fixed rules. And given the ethics of a Jedi, as I understand it, yes, this was the ethical thing to do (note that I'm not saying whether it was the right thing to do!).
    – bitmask
    Feb 9, 2012 at 6:37

Qui gon was definitely capable of freeing Shmi. During the first bet, he and Watto both agreed on: [qui gon]"if we win, u can keep all the winnings, minus the cost of the parts we need. And if we lose, u keep my ship." At that instance, he could have planned to include either anakin or Shmi in the bet, and later bet for the other on the Pod Racers


The mother would have been an extra person nobody needed better she stayed behind that's all. the Jedi are the Jedi no place for mothers or vagrants or slaves...

  • I see no evidence here that Qui-Gon chose not to free Shmi because it would be "better she stayed behind".
    – Null
    Dec 14, 2015 at 17:56

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