When Luke rescues Leia from her cell on the Death Star:

Leia: Aren't you a little short to be a stormtrooper?

Luke: Huh? Oh, the uniform. I'm Luke Skywalker. I'm here to rescue you.

Leia: You're who?

Luke: I'm here to rescue you. I've got your R2 unit, I'm here with Ben Kenobi!

Leia: Ben Kenobi, where is he?!

Luke: Come on!

How does Princess Leia know Obi-Wan Kenobi is "Ben" Kenobi?

Shouldn't her response have been: "Ben Kenobi? You mean the General??"

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    I'm curious too -- it seems to me Leia ought to have known of Kenobi only by "Obi-Wan," unless there's EU material I haven't read. Commented Jun 23, 2014 at 15:49
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    Out-of-universe, I suspect this is just a script goof. In-universe, maybe Kenobi told Bail Organa he planned to live under the name "Ben", and Bail passed this information on to Leia? Commented Jun 23, 2014 at 15:57
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    I never got the impression that "Ben" was really a big secret name or anything. More like a shorter name that Obi-Wan was known by from time to time. If Obi-Wan was really living in hiding, the thing to change would have ben Kenobi.
    – joshbirk
    Commented Jun 23, 2014 at 16:00
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    @joshbirk "the thing to change would have ben Kenobi" +1 for the homophonic pun
    – coburne
    Commented Jun 23, 2014 at 19:56
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    "Ben" is the standard shortening of "Obi-Wan" just as "Dick" is the shortening of "Richard". Royalty are expected to remember names and drop into using casual names immediately to appear to be in touch with 'normal people'. Some guy goes around calling himself "Dick Van Dyke The Jedi Knight" you don't go around getting confused whether its "Richard" or "Dick". She sent a message in her R2 to him asking for help. She wouldn't need a PhD in forensics to make a good guess which Kenobi was in on her prison break. Plus she is a looker so old Kenobi would insisted "Please call me Ben". Its obvious.
    – simbo1905
    Commented Jun 23, 2014 at 20:44

6 Answers 6


The prequels make it clear that Obi-Wan and Bail Organa know each other. Each of them took responsibility for one of the two Skywalker twins. While it isn't overtly stated, it is clear that Bail knew where Obi-Wan was and how to reach him. This information he gave to Leia when he sent her to retrieve Obi-Wan. This would certainly include the name by which he was living under.

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    Interesting addendum that Rogue One ties this together well now.
    – BBlake
    Commented Dec 23, 2016 at 2:07
  • Leia specifically sent R2 with a message for Obi-Wan Kenobi ("You served with my father in clone wars..." and the rest of the holographic message addressing him).

  • Kenobi doesn't appear to be as common a surname as "Smith" is on Earth

  • Ben isn't that far off removed from Obi-Wan.

As such, "I've got your R2 unit, I'm here with Ben Kenobi" doesn't leave a lot of widely varied options as to WHICH Kenobi - connected to Leia's R2 unit - Luke is talking about.

  • Plus her father probably called him "Ben". Commented Jun 24, 2014 at 9:42
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    Why do you say he probably called him "ben"? I don't recall anybody ever calling him Ben in the original trilogy so the idea that somebody would probably call him Ben seems strange to me...
    – Chris
    Commented Jun 24, 2014 at 12:33
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    There. YOU said apparently there were gazillion Kenobis on Tatooine already, it luckily was a common last name. Here, you say "Kenobi doesn't appear to be as common a surname as "Smith" is on Earth"
    – DavRob60
    Commented Sep 20, 2014 at 11:22
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    @DavRob60 - I don't see how it's contradictory. When you're an Emperor searching for Obi-Wan Kenobi in a galaxy of millions of inhabited plantes that have billions-to-millions people, the fact that there's a lot of Kenobis makes OB1 harder to find. When you're Leia Organa, who sent a messenger to a specific planet asking for Obi-Wan Kenobi, and someone comes to rescue her right after with a Ben Kenobi, it's a pretty obvious pattern to notice, unless 50% of Tatooine populaton has that surname. Commented Sep 20, 2014 at 13:30
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    "You served with my father in clone wars" - more true than Leia realised at the time...
    – steenbergh
    Commented Feb 16, 2018 at 12:19

Even Luke was able to figure out that Obi-Wan Kenobi = Ben Kenobi.

From "A New Hope":

C-3PO: "He says that he is the property of Obi-Wan Kenobi, a resident of these parts and it's a private message for him. Quite frankly, sir, I don't know what he's talking about. Our last master was Captain Antilles. But with all we've been through, this little R2 unit has become a bit eccentric."
R2-D2: "(Blips)"
Luke: "Obi-Wan Kenobi, I wonder if he means old Ben Kenobi."

Though Luke questioned it later, it was almost implicit that they were but one.

Also, think about it...

You sent a message for Obi-Wan Kenobi, then you got captured, and moments later two strangers appear to rescue you claiming to be with Ben Kenobi, would it be so hard to see the connection?

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    Meh... Moments later???
    – yrodro
    Commented Nov 27, 2014 at 2:30
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    @yrodro Many many moments later ;)
    – Adeptus
    Commented Jan 12, 2016 at 6:25

Based on the new series "Obi-Wan Kenobi" we learn in episode 2 that

Obi-Wan got to meet Leia Organa personally when she was 10 years old and introduced himself as "Ben", an old friend of her father.

  • Can you provide a script quote?
    – Valorum
    Commented May 27, 2022 at 17:47
  • I found a transcript, but it doesn't have a good quality in terms of formatting - is there a place one would usually find scripts?
    – flq
    Commented May 30, 2022 at 14:42
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    I'm assuming the show has subtitles. Why not just copy down what's said from those?
    – Valorum
    Commented May 30, 2022 at 14:45
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    It may be worth putting some of this in spoiler tags. Commented Jun 2, 2022 at 18:29
  • okay, now I know how to do it :)
    – flq
    Commented Jun 7, 2022 at 13:02

An earlier version of the script makes it pretty clear that a primary part of Leia's mission was to make contact with Obi-Wan Kenobi and return with him to Alderaan.


General Obi-wan Kenobi, I present myself in the name of the royal family of Alderaan, and the Alliance to restore the Republic I break your solitude at the bidding of my father Bail Antillies, Viceroy and Chairman of the Alderaan system. Years ago Commander you served the Republic in the Clone Wars. Now he begs you to aid us again in our most desperate hours. He would have you join him on our home planet Alderaan.

You must go to him! I regret I am unable to present my father's request to you in person ... my mission to return with you has failed, information vital to the survival of the Alliance has been placed in this droid...my father will know how to retrieve it. I plead with you to see this R-2 unit safely delivered to Alderaan. You must help me, you are my last hope.

Since she apparently knows that he's not dead, and since she's in a position to make contact with him on Tatooine, there's no reason to think that she wouldn't know his assumed name as well.

  • I seem to recall that the novelization of Star Wars retains this version of Leia's message. Would someone please check my memory? Commented Jul 29, 2014 at 13:37
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    @CodeswithHammer = Yes, it's almost identical; “General Obi-wan Kenobi,” the mellifluous voice was saying, “I present myself in the name of the world family of Alderaan and of the Alliance to Restore the Republic. I break your solitude at the bidding of my father, Bail Organa, Viceroy and First Chairman of the Alderaan system.” - She refers to him as General Kenobi and Obi-Wan Kenobi but never as Ben
    – Valorum
    Commented Sep 20, 2014 at 14:55

In the novelisation of Return of the Jedi, Obi-Wan comments to Luke

That's what she was doing when her path crossed yours - for her foster parents had always told her to contact me on Tatooine, if her troubles became desperate.

So, it sounds that she didn't know him directly.

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