After a tractor beam brings the Millennium Falcon aboard the Death Star, Darth Vader senses the presence of his old teacher.

He runs off to tell Grand Moff Tarkin that Kenobi is alive and aboard the Death Star.

Why did he not just walk aboard the Millenium Falcon and kill everyone aboard?

  • 7
    Wasn't the point to have the Falcon lead them to the Rebel base? Jun 1, 2019 at 3:23

3 Answers 3


Darth Vader is not in command of the Death Star; Grand Moff Tarkin is, and the decision of what to do in this kind of situation is Tarkin's not Vader's. The appearance of Kenobi on board the station (in the very same ship that "blasted its way out of Mos Eisley"—which they may already be planning to release and track) is an important and unexpected event, which means the overall commander needs to be notified, which is just what Vader does.

Tarkin appears to have complete confidence in Vader's ability to deal with Kenobi; Jedi matters are obvious within Vader's bailiwick. So Vader informs his superior of what needs to done to deal with the Kenobi situation, knowing that Tarkin will accept his evaluation of what is needed. However, had he not brought the matter to Tarkin's attention at all, that would have been going to far in exerting Vader's decision-making autonomy.

Finally, remember that Darth Vader is confident, when he discusses the situation with Grand Moff Tarkin, that "escape is not [Kenobi's] plan." Presumably, Vader has also inferred this information through his use of the Force. However, if Vader knows this, it means that there is no need to hurry the confrontation with his old master. The two will meet soon enough, when the time is right, and presumably both participants are well aware that the duel is going to happen. Regardless of what happens to the rest of the Millennium Falcon's crew (plus the princess), Vader knows that Kenobi is not getting away.

  • Tarkin isn't Vader's superior. It's really not clear where they stand in terms of rank, but neither are keen to push the other's buttons precisely because of that fact.
    – Valorum
    Nov 6, 2019 at 15:40
  • 5
    Tarkin tells Vader to stop force-choking General Tagge in the conference room, and Vader obeys, letting Tagge go. Admittedly you could argue if that was really an order or just a stern-voiced reasoning. But Tarkin is in command of the Death Star, so at least at that time and location, he technically is Vader's superior, even though he might be equal or even slightly lower in general. Nov 6, 2019 at 15:58
  • I'd wonder why Vader had to leave an go and see Tarkin face to face instead of communicating with him remotely in some fashion, particularly since what we saw of their exchange was basically Vader informing Tarkin of what he was going to do, not really discussing it with him.
    – Phyneas
    Nov 6, 2019 at 18:02

You're forgetting the sequence of events

When Vader first arrives at the Falcon, an officer tells him straight away that the ship is empty. Who is he going to go on board to kill?

There's no one on board, sir. According to the log, the crew abandoned ship right after takeoff. It must be a decoy, sir. Several of the escape pods have been jettisoned.

He doesn't know Kenobi was on the ship yet, but he does strongly suspect. However, Kenobi isn't there anymore, and the Death Star is a big place.

I feel something, a presence I've not felt since....


                               He is here...

                     Obi-Wan Kenobi! What makes you think 

                     A tremor in the Force. The last time 
                     I felt it was in the presence of my 
                     old master.

At that same moment, the guards alert Tarkin that the princess is escaping, which confirms Vader's suspicion:

Obi-Wan IS here. The Force is with him. Escape is not his plan. I must face him alone.

(emphasis mine)

  • Why would Vader take the word of the officer though? He's just sensed Obi-wan Kenobi (who is still hiding under the floor compartments in the ship) for the first time after 19 years, in close proximity to this ship which has just arrived. Does it really make sense for him to then leave the ship without even looking around inside, and start wandering around the Death Star to look for him instead?
    – Phyneas
    Nov 6, 2019 at 17:59
  • @Phyneas- he didn't take the word of the officer though. He did say "Send a scanning crew on board. I want every part of this ship checked." It could be that the presence was so disconcerting that it was distracting
    – NKCampbell
    Nov 6, 2019 at 18:15
  • @NKCampell Part 1 - I'd say the last part is the more likely. I doubt Vader thinks a scanning crew is more effective than the Force is when it comes to finding and dealing with a dangerous, cunning old Jedi Master. If the scanning crew found him are they really likely to capture him? Maybe, but they might also kill him the process. Would Vader really want to risk Obi-wan being killed by Stormtroopers rather than finally getting to face him after all these years? The only reason I can see him leaving rather than overseeing the process is because of the effect it had on him ...
    – Phyneas
    Nov 6, 2019 at 18:23
  • Part 2 - I doubt he had to go and tell Tarkin all of that face-to-face, maybe he was required to, maybe he could have done it remotely, but if he genuinely thought that Obi-wan was still on the ship I don't think he'd leave the area even if he didn't want to go in the ship for whatever reason. So either Vader thought Kenobi wasn't on the ship anymore (he sensed him, but was willing to take the word of the officer and leave the scanning crew unsupervised for some reason), or Obi-wan's presence did get to him in some manner.
    – Phyneas
    Nov 6, 2019 at 18:25

For a couple of reasons.

  1. Vader was told that no one was in the ship, and so he assumed it was empty. This leads to #2

  2. The Force has many abilities, and one of them is sensing someone's location. Another is sensing their general presence.

The Force doesn't just give information. Force users have to USE it. So when one feels tremors in the Force, the force user is actively USING it in order to sense it at all.

Force Users can decide when they want to use the Force and what abilities to use. This is why Vader didn't realize he had kids, because he didn't use the Force to sense them, as he believed they didn't exist due to Padme dying. Jedi can decide WHEN to use the Force, and HOW.

The reason I bring this up is because Vader used the Force not to get the accurate location, but just sense of there was a presence that would catch his attention. To see if it was a legitimate threat or not.

Because he believed the ship to be empty as he was told by one of the crew, he assumed they managed to escape and are somewhere on the ship

  1. Because Tarkin is the commander of the Death Star, Vader thought it best to let him know that a Jedi was in his midst.

  2. Vader is not in a rush to kill Obi-Wan. He's confident, perhaps a little overconfident. He later says how he knows Obi-Wan isn't trying to escape. So there's no hurry, as he knows he'll confront him eventually.

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