So I was looking at this question: Did Obi-Wan need to sacrifice himself to Vader?

And it occurred to me... did Vader actually kill Obi-Wan?

At the end of the fight, Obi-Wan lifts his lightsaber and closes his eyes, clearly preparing himself to become one with the Force. Then Vader swings his lightsaber, and it passes through Obi-Wan's suddenly empty clothing.

Watching closely, it looks very much like Obi-Wan gives himself to the Force just before Vader strikes. Because of this, and with the visuals of Yoda's death, it looks like Vader never actually killed Obi-Wan.

Here's the fight:

Has this been discussed officially? Has Lucas or another source said that Obi-Wan did not die as a direct result of Vader's strike?

Answers from canon, legends, or Lucas preferred please.

2 Answers 2


Ben appears to have ascended into the Force before the fatal blow struck. In short, there simply wasn't time for him to have died (as a result of Vader's stroke) before his body disappeared.

Ben looked over, the troopers’ approach catching his attention. Then he looked past them. To where Luke was standing, dumbstruck. To Han. Han couldn’t be sure—the old man was just too far away—but he thought Ben might have given him a nod just before he turned back to face Darth Vader. Ben drew his blade in and made no effort to stop Vader’s lightsaber from slashing through him.

But instead of his body falling to pieces, an empty cloak fell to the ground. It was like the old man had just…disappeared. One last magic trick.

Star Wars: A New Hope the Princess, the Scoundrel, and the Farm Boy

This is confirmed in the film's "Classic" adaptation.

Just then Obi-Wan Kenobi turned his head. He seemed to be looking straight at Luke. A smile was on his face. This was Vader’s chance. With the speed of light he slashed at Ben. The blow should have cut the old man in half. It sliced right through his robe. But the Jedi was gone. There was nothing left of him. Just two pieces of cloth lying on the floor.

A New Hope (Classic Star Wars)

  • 3
    Hooray! I've finally found a use for the Weinberg adaptation. It's usually pretty useless.
    – Valorum
    Mar 3, 2017 at 13:04
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    This seems the more likely to me. Obi-wan closes his eyes and then just vanishes. It seems clear that he gave himself to the Force and surrendered his physical body at the moment that Vader attacked him, leaving Vader to slice through nothing but an empty Jedi cloak. Vader did not kill Obi-Wan, and Vader knows this. It is clear by his body language immediatedly afterwards that he was very confused by what had just happened. Mar 3, 2017 at 13:31
  • The question should be, how did Vader's saber cut right through Obi-Wan if he was holding it vertically. There should have been some resistance, but nothing. Nov 5, 2021 at 8:54
  • @KalamalkaKid - Vader's blade went through the very top of the lightsaber hilt
    – Valorum
    Nov 5, 2021 at 9:02

Yes he did. Obi-wan knew that he was too old and too weak to win the fight so he decided to sacrifice himself to create a diversion for Luke to flee. As explained in Star Wars - Episode III: Revenge of the Sith, he also learned how to be one with the force and keep his spiritual form visible to force sensitive Jedi. He knew he'd be able to help Luke in critical moments. What you see in Episode IV: A New Hope is the result of the exercise: as soon as the fatal blow was given to him, he vanished and became one with the force.

Now here is the tricky part :

This is the explanation that is widely accepted but it doesn't make sense. The exercise was supposed to be told to Yoda by Qui Gon Jinn, who contacted him as a "ghost" of the Force. Yoda then passed the knowledge to Obi Wan. The thing is that both Qui Gon Jinn and Anakin Skywalker were burned in ceremonial ways after they passed away.

Technically, they haven't been able to do the exercise in order to be one with the Force. So the question is how the hell did Qui Gon contact Yoda then? and where did Anakin learn about this technique?

At any rate, the answer to your question still remains; Yes, Darth Vader (aka Anakin Skywalker) killed his former master.

My last statement raised a memory of mine: Why did Obi Wan called Vader by his Sith title instead of either his given Sith name (Vader) or his real name? That was... weird.. :D

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    In regards of Qui Gon, Yoda does mention that he had been looking into the practice before his death. Remember that Qui Gon never returned as a full Force Ghost - he was little more than a voice on the wind. This shows that he hadn't completely done everything necessary, but had done enough to at least join his consciousness with the Force.
    – Tim
    Mar 3, 2017 at 4:29
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    "Why did Obi Wan called Vader by his Sith title instead of either his given Sith name (Vader) or his real name?" Obviously, at that time "Darth" was a name. (bing goes your idea of canon... sorry) Mar 3, 2017 at 4:57
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    All the stuff about Qui Gon and the Force Ghost thing is mentioned in Clone Wars (as well as elsewhere).
    – Adamant
    Mar 3, 2017 at 5:40
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    See scifi.stackexchange.com/q/36335/4918 about why Obi Wan called him "Darth".
    – b_jonas
    Mar 3, 2017 at 12:50
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    Well-reasoned answer, but I'm convinced it's wrong. By watching Episode 4 frame-by-frame, you can see Obi-Wan's cloak start falling to the floor before Vader's lightsaber hits him.
    – LevenTrek
    Mar 7, 2018 at 1:28

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