In Star wars: IV A New Hope, Obi-Wan says to Darth Vader:

You can't win, Darth. If you strike me down, I shall become more powerful than you could possibly imagine.

What did he mean by this? Was he bluffing? Was he alluding to him being able to help Luke as a Force Ghost? Or was he talking on behalf of The Force?

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    Nice! :) Well, answer is NO because Vader failed to strike him down. Before lightsaber hit his cloth, he became force ghost.
    – user931
    Mar 28, 2012 at 20:08
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    This is explained in more detail during Episodes 1, 2, and 3. He's referring to his ascending, which is a power he learned from Qui'gon.
    – user4963
    Mar 28, 2012 at 23:31
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    Force Immortality seems like a bust to me. Obi-Wan could get around the galaxy without a starship, true, but the fine print of the immortality contract restricted him to visiting only a few close friends. Seems like being alive with a good galactic cellphone plan would be an all-around better deal. And of course there were the women...
    – Kyle Jones
    Mar 29, 2012 at 2:52

4 Answers 4


Opinion - I believe his meaning was two-fold:

  1. In being struck down, he was allowed to transcend boundaries that kept physical beings limited. His influence grew (at least where Luke, Yoda and other force sensitives were concerned) even while his physical influence was lost. This proved useful in his wise council to Luke at the Battle of Yavin and, presumably, in preparing Yoda for Luke's arrival (and other behind the scenes discussions they kept).
  2. By allowing himself to be sacrificed while Luke watched, it pushed Luke further into the rebel camp and, perhaps, gave him greater inspiration to train as a Jedi, beyond what he [probably] believed he could do as an old man. In addition, Luke was young and had never stood on his own. Perhaps he believed Luke needed to be free of a direct mentor for a period to rise to adulthood -- with Obi Wan around, many decisions could have been made for him instead of by him.
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    Good answer! I think only point one really shows him getting 'more powerful' though.
    – AncientSwordRage
    Mar 28, 2012 at 20:11
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    Yeah #1. The Thing is, Point #2 makes Luke more powerful, but not Obi-wan.
    – AncientSwordRage
    Mar 28, 2012 at 20:37
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    @Pureferret - true, but associatively, martyrdom has inspired a great many people over time; in some cases, without it, whole religions may never have been borne or had the strength to persevere. But, I digress. :)
    – Josh
    Mar 28, 2012 at 20:44
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    @Pureferret - we are the memes that we leave behind us. Obi-Wan managing to push Luke onto Rebel and Light path (for reasons OTHER than to score a hot bikini clad Princess) surely counts in that. Dec 1, 2013 at 13:56
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    Nonsense. Since Luke became one of the most influential Jedi in centuries, literally the potential to restart the a new Jedi Order, Obi-Wan, by proxy, did become more powerful through Luke than Vader could have even imagined. Oct 26, 2014 at 20:31

Stumbled upon this while looking up something else.

Plagueis was a master of esoteric and unnatural aspects of the Force. With it, he was able to manipulate the essence of life, a power Palpatine believed was directly tied to his inward sight. Plagueis could save others from death and, when his power was applied to the extreme, create new life from the midi-chlorians found in all lifeforms. Plagueis even discovered the ability to retain one's identity in the Force while becoming one with it, but this manner of surviving death did not appeal to him, as he was not concerned with the nonmaterial world.

What I believe is, Obi-Wan was of the opinion that becoming a force ghost would be powerful, because to him, he could train new Jedi, talk to Luke and never be hindered by the Emperor or Vader. However many, including Darth Plagueis, and youself (if I assume correctly), don't believe coming a force ghost makes you uber powerful.

So what you see is true.. from a certain point of view. Obi-Wan did become more powerful, however the same wouldn't be said for Darth Plagueis, had he followed this path to immortality.

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    +1 for "...from a certain point of view" and an overall good answer.
    – ahsteele
    Apr 4, 2012 at 18:06
  • Obi-wan could also work on the Balance of the Force in secret, slowly turning the universe in favor of the Light Side.
    – n611x007
    Jun 27, 2012 at 0:15
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    Do you have an attribution for that quote you say you came across?
    – atk
    Oct 27, 2014 at 3:27
  • @atk - I must have gotten it from wookiepedia here starwars.wikia.com/wiki/Darth_Plagueis#cite_ref-Palpatine_8-1 however I'm not sure where that entire paragraph was sourced from (seems multiple sources).
    – Jared
    Feb 9, 2015 at 0:41
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    I lost interest at the word "midichlorians".
    – o0'.
    Apr 18, 2015 at 8:18

He's referring to becoming a force ghost, which happens at death. It's a technique he learned from Qui-Gon, who was his master. It essentially grants him eternal life, and the ability to interact with the living from his incorporeal state. In extreme cases physical interaction is possible.

There are attempts to shed more light on his conversation with Vader during Episodes 1, 2, and 3.

You can read more detail at the Star Wars wikia entry.

  • But would you call that more powerful?
    – AncientSwordRage
    Mar 29, 2012 at 6:49
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    @Pureferret Yes. I would call an immortal spirit who is one with the force and can interact with the living from beyond the grave, "more powerful." There was nothing philosophical about his statement, he was talking about the power to physically exist after death.
    – user4963
    Mar 29, 2012 at 13:40
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    @AncientSwordRage Given he can't be physically harmed in any way, is truly immortal and can seemingly be anywhere he wants in the galaxy, as well as still physically affect the living (like Qui-Gon did to Yoda in TCW's "Voices" episode)...yeah, that sounds pretty powerful to me.
    – TVann
    Apr 10, 2017 at 15:11

Alternatively, he knew he was incapable either physically or emotionally of defeating Darth Vader before reinforcements showed up or Luke was placed in danger, so he was just trying to buy time with a lie. Obi Wan lies (often subtly) all the time.

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