Given their fighting skills in the prequels, it seems odd that Yoda and Obi-Wan Kenobi should decide to wait for the Skywalker kids to grow up. Shortly after the Episode III, it seems like they could have dispatched Vader and the Emperor all by themselves.

Obi-Wan had better lightsaber skills than Anakin, so surely he could best Darth Vader. Yoda fought Palpatine to a stalemate previously, perhaps with Obi-Wan's help he could win.

Instead, they waited decades for Luke and Leia to grow up, while millions suffered under the heel of the Empire. Why not attack earlier than that?

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    Just speaking as a simple youngling, but, if they die, and Luke is not fully capable as a Jedi, who will carry on the mumbo-jumbo?
    – user4727
    Feb 14, 2012 at 2:35
  • @Luke I figure at that point, they'd be free to setup shop by restoring the Republic, and creating a new Jedi Academy.
    – user1027
    Feb 14, 2012 at 2:38
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    @Keen there don't be anyone to set up shop, Luke means if Yoda et al. died.
    – AncientSwordRage
    Mar 15, 2012 at 2:25
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    @Pureferret Ah, I see. I guess they'd have to run around as Force ghosts training people.
    – user1027
    Mar 15, 2012 at 14:43
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    It's not usual for dictators to be deposed by a duel. Surely Hitler, Stalin, or Saddam Hussein were not the best wrestlers in the world (they probably were less than mediocre), but this doesn't mean that a wrestling champion could have had any realistic chance to get into a duel with any of them.
    – vsz
    Dec 2, 2014 at 20:50

2 Answers 2


Because by the end of Episode III, the Emperor controlled the entire Republic (shortly to be renamed Empire), whereas the "good guys" were basically just Yoda, Obi-Wan, and the families who raised the Skywalker twins. They really weren't in a position to even get to the Emperor, never mind fight him in a duel, never mind beat him.

When Yoda fought Palpatine in Episode III, it was like a last chance to stop him before he fully gained control of the Republic, and made it the empire. But Yoda failed, and fled, and there was no way to really try again.

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    Right, it's more than just the kids growing up. During those years the rebellion formed and "grew up" as well. One could justifiably say that they needed to wait until popular opinion turned against the empire before making a move. Mar 14, 2011 at 19:41
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    Note that 'hide from other force users' seems to be a dark side power; the Emperor does it but the Jedi can't. That makes it very difficult to get close enough for an assassination attempt; the bad guys have all the space fleets. (Note that the rebellion never do manage to infiltrate a Jedi assassin; the Emperor's final mistake is to knowingly bring Luke close.)
    – Tynam
    Jan 3, 2012 at 13:47
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    At the point in time between the Revenge of the Sith and A New Hope, there are more "good guys" than Obi-Wan, Yoda, and the families that took in Luke and Leia. In fact, Obi-Wan and Yoda fled into hiding during the Great Jedi Purge.If the Jedi made a unified plot to bring down Palpatine and Vader led by Yoda and Obi Wan, how would things have played out?
    – user4896
    Feb 22, 2012 at 16:10
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    @Jersey Oh, they have plenty of orbital bombs and asteroid strikes. But they also have planetary shields capable of stopping the Death Star blast for a split-second (as seen with Alderaan). Even prolonged bombardment by large star destroyer fleets isn't enough to penetrate those, especially the ones on important planets like Alderaan or Coruscant. Remember that even the comparatively puny shield on Hoth would enable the rebels to enact their escape before being broken by bombardment. In fact, that's the whole military purpose of the Death Star - to get around the planetary shields.
    – Luaan
    Feb 19, 2015 at 8:54
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    In the last season of the Clone Wars show, we see Yoda go through some challenges, where he learns: 1) How to communicate with the living beyond death 2) How much he is willing to sacrifice for the greater good, and 3) His destiny to carry on the Jedi legacy beyond the impending doom. Because of these lessons, he understands that at all costs, the Jedi, as a society, must survive. I believe when he was fighting Sidious and realized that they are evenly matched, it became clear that he was gambling the entire future of the Jedi order on a brawl he is unlikely to win.
    – Brandon
    Jan 8, 2016 at 21:41

Of course they did try, and only half-succeeded. Obi-wan was successful in defeating Anakin, but with him sensing the arrival of the Emperor’s shuttle, he knew that he had to get out of there fast. Also, he sensed that he should not kill Anakin either, even though he was thinking about it. He decided to do as Qui-gon always taught and trust in the living force. He also figured that Anakin may not even survive his injuries anyway so that would save him having to cut down his brother, friend and student whom he loved.

Yoda of course tried to take down Palpatine, but when Palpatine tried to hit Yoda again with the force lightning, it took everything Yoda had to be able to deflect those blasts after losing his lightsaber. This was actually a huge shock for Palpatine, for even though he'd been told by Dooku that Yoda was actually able to repulse force lighting, something that no light side user was ever known to do, Palpy still didn’t expect Yoda to be able to deflect someone at his level. That is why Palpatine had a shocked look on his face when Yoda began to push back against the lightning. Then there’s the explosion that sent them both flying. It took everything Yoda had to repulse that lightning. Even though Yoda was in amazing shape even for a top athlete, he was still 900 years old at the time and his energy reserves don’t come back as fast as when he was younger.

So the force explosion, coupled with stopping the lightning in the first place and the fall, took too much out of him. The entire 501st Stormtrooper division was on its way as well to assist Palpatine, which Yoda sensed coming. Yoda was actually preparing to go back up and re-engage the Emperor in a minute once he got some energy back. But with his current weakened state, he knew that even he could not take on someone as strong as the Emperor, plus an entire division of Stormtroopers, and win.

Also, while Yoda was struggling to repulse the force lightning, he had a flash of insight from the force that told him that Anakin’s heir would be the one to defeat Palpatine. So he knew that he had to survive to get this knowledge back to Obi-wan and to plan for the child’s future so that Anakin’s offspring, who would be at least as strong as Anakin if not more so, could defeat the Emperor and Vader and take down the Empire. Of course we know that is exactly what did happen.

Obi-wan actually was not better than Anakin. The only reason that Obi-wan was able to hold his own against Anakin was because of the thousands of hours that they spent training over the years. They knew each other’s moves so well that neither could really get in on the other. But according to Lucas sources, Anakin had attained a force skill level of 9 when he turned to the dark side, while Obi-wan was an 8. So it was only because Obi-wan knew Anakin’s moves so well, coupled with the greater experience that Obi-wan had, that allowed him to eventually be able to defeat Anakin. Anakin’s arrogance and over-estimation of "my power" also contributed to Obi-wan’s victory.

Obi-wan had no chance of ever being able to take out Palpatine. Yoda said in the book of Revenge of the Sith:

Strong enough to face this Lord Sidious you will never be. You will die, horribly and painfully.

Even though Obi-wan had great force potential, he simply didn't have the midi-chlorian count to be able to match someone of Palpatine’s level. With Yoda and Palpatine basically being a dead-even match, and with their one shot at getting the Emperor gone, Yoda knew that the only chance was to have someone else with the Skywalker potential take the Emperor on.

The Skywalker line has twice the potential power of even Palpatine, and thus, possibly twice the potential of Yoda too. Even though Luke did become more powerful than Yoda later on, Luke never — at least as far as we know — considered himself to be equal to Yoda, who is acknowledged as one of the top 5 most powerful Jedi Masters to ever have lived (possibly even in the top 3).

Luke was eventually able to create small black holes with the force, and could create force holograms of himself and project them miles away, even to the point where they have physical substance and can use his force powers on another. He did this against Jacen Solo/Darth Caedus one time. To Jacen, it appeared as though Luke was on the same Star Destroyer with him, but Luke was actually a dozen or more miles away on another ship, and yet even with someone as strong as Jacen Solo/Darth Caedus, Luke was able to casually use the force to pin him down so that he couldn’t move, issue an ultimatum, and then simply make his force hologram vanish.

Jacen was quite unnerved by this as he thought that he knew all that Luke could do and how powerful he was. But Luke had learned the hard way that anyone can turn to the dark side, so the less that they know about his real powers, skills and abilities, the harder he would be to defeat should he ever have to fight his own. Jacen (In the now non-canon Legacy of the Force series) was very shocked at what Luke did and he had to remind himself that:

The galaxy is littered with the corpses of Sith, dictators and aliens who constantly underestimated the skills and powers of Luke Skywalker.

Thus Yoda, in trusting in the living force, knew the best approach was to wait for someone with the same force potential that Anakin had, let the living force train him in a way other than the Jedi had been doing, and let him grow up with a loving family, learning what he needed to learn from life. Then later on when the time was right, the force would bring them all together again, first to Obi-wan, then later to Yoda so that he could continue his training to defeat the Empire.

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    This could use some editing to remove the extraneous information.
    – user1027
    Nov 20, 2013 at 15:54
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    I find nothing extraneous about it, as it's all relevent to the question in one form or another, which is all explaining why Yoda and Obi-wan decided to wait for Luke. I like to give as complete of an answer as possible. Since most people haven't read all the books I have, there is tons of other information, backgrounds and knowledge that fills in all the gaps in the movies. Nov 20, 2013 at 20:28
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    Hmm could you add some references to your statements? Aug 8, 2015 at 2:12
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    Neverendingqs - It's in the book version of the movie "Revenge of the Sith" Aug 9, 2015 at 6:38
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    @JediWitness However, when answering a question, it's good practice on this site to quote source material to back up what you're saying.
    – John Bell
    Dec 22, 2015 at 12:09