In ANH, Obi-Wan told Luke that he was "too old for this" when Leia pleaded for him to aid the Rebellion and bring the Death Star plans to Bail Organa in ALderaan.

Obi-Wan always planned to train Luke to become a Jedi. There's in-universe evidence that age does not necessarily impede on one's skill with the Force nor lightsaber.

Is Obi-Wan really too old to do this? Or did he lie just to lure Luke into becoming his Padawan? Or is Obi-Wan actually speaking the truth from a certain point of view?

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    What’s your question, precisely? Whether age affects one’s combat ability? Whether Obi-Wan was incapable of helping the Rebellion due to his age (obviously false)?
    – Adamant
    Commented Jan 7, 2017 at 0:07
  • @Adamant See amended question title Commented Jan 7, 2017 at 0:08
  • It seems not. In the mid-season trailer for Star Wars Rebels Season 3 (which is canon), he is seen preparing to fight Maul. So no, I don't think he's "too old for this," but that's kind of speculative. Commented Jan 7, 2017 at 0:13
  • On the other hand if Obi-Wan had fought in episode 1 the way he fought Vader in episode 4, Darth Maul would have carved him into steaks within ten seconds... and saved everyone a whole lot of trouble all things considered.
    – Kyle Jones
    Commented Jan 7, 2017 at 2:55
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    scifi.stackexchange.com/questions/112540/… The accepted answer here suggest that Obi wan was lying about that line, since Qui-Gon, Dokoo and others were active at the same age or older.
    – Longshanks
    Commented Jan 7, 2017 at 17:48

4 Answers 4


There are a couple of points of view in which that statement makes better sense:

  1. In English, "I'm too old for this" (especially when followed by any phrase referencing excrement) can be an ironic, not-necessarily-literal phrase. It is meant to communicate that "this" is an effort, a pain, and if there were any justice in the universe someone with his level of seniority should not have to be the one dealing with it. It's a way of simultaneously eliciting sympathy and acknowledging that there probably is none to be had and he is able to soldier on despite that. It can also carry a connotation of "If I can handle this at my age, you should certainly be able to step up and carry your end without complaining."
  2. Linear years aside, Obi-Wan has spent nearly two decades in hiding. Unlike the elder Jedi we see in the prequels, he has not been active, practicing, wielding the force habitually in situations that exercise his capabilities. So "too old" might simply mean "too out of practice." In the end, his capstone achievement (surrendering and becoming a force ghost) is probably a reflection of the one practice, meditation, that he's been able to practice regularly.

Unfortunately, these are both subjective interpretations, and lack canon, but your question did express openness to points of view.

  • Now with the Kenobi series, we got a partial canon answer. Even after some years, he was out of practice with the Jedi arts and had to rehearse and "warm up" before getting back to form. Commented Aug 1, 2022 at 7:44

This is a valid question. The best answer I have is that George Lucas intended to show Obi-Wan as a Jedi well past his prime. We are talking about the first movie, before George Lucas probably thought out many aspects of the Force and the Jedi.

When Obi-Wan fights Vader in the original trilogy, Vader taunts him with

Your powers are weak old man.

(Emphasis mine.)

It's at 50 seconds into this video.

When I first saw that scene, I assumed it meant that Jedi abilities degrade as they age. In Return of the Jedi, we saw the Emperor with a cane, and we saw Yoda with a cane. Both signs of being past their best physical age.

It wasn't until the prequel trilogy that we saw old Jedi, an old former Jedi, and an old Sith Lord fight with a ferocity and abilities far exceeding young gymnasts of today. It was quite the show to watch people like Qui-Gon, Count Dooku, and Darth Sidious fight despite being well past middle age.

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    The problem is that Darth Vader, as a Sith, would call ANY Jedi weak, simply because he wields the "superior and invincible" dark side and they do not. He would say the same of Obi-Wan no matter when they meet, after he fell to the darkness. Commented Jan 7, 2017 at 13:41

Much like a sport athlete, or a musician, their abilities and talents decrease and they are no longer able to play as well as they did back in the primes of their careers or when they were younger. Obi-Wan being as old as he was, wasn't as strong as he was 20 years earlier in Revenge Of The Sith, though he was not so weak yet that he could no longer battle, he just couldn't continue for much longer. So yes he was speaking the truth when he said that he was getting too old for this sort of thing.


Obi-Wan was old by 'human standards', not by the standards of many non-human species. By the same token, Palpatine (also a human Force-sensitive) was even older than Obi-Wan, which may explain how Vader was able to lift him up and drop him into the second Death Star's reactor core during the Battle of Endor in Episode VI.

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