Did Obi-wan find it important to have Luke see it? Isn't that setting him up to fall to the Dark Side?

  • 3
    Don't know if there is any specific info in novelizations or whatever on Obi-wan's thinking, but if Luke didn't know that Obi-wan had died he might keep waiting too long in hopes that Obi-wan would return, and end up getting captured by Vader rather than escaping.
    – Hypnosifl
    Mar 8, 2015 at 18:24
  • 2
    Slightly off-topic, but Vader doesn't actually kill him; Obi-Wan's body is gone before Vader's lightsaber hits his robes YouTube. This is emphasized by Vader stepping on the empty robes afterward YouTube.
    – adamdc78
    Mar 9, 2015 at 21:31
  • 1
    @adamdc78 many of the truths we cling to depend greatly on our own point of view... ;-)
    – smci
    Mar 10, 2015 at 1:47
  • Isn't there any possibility of someone having to mutate-into-ghost in front of another person to be able to talk to him from the ghost state? Qui-Gon "died" in front of Obi-Wan, and him in front of Luke - maybe Yoda did, too? Jan 24, 2016 at 8:46

7 Answers 7


Obi-Wan knew what was going to happen even before the fight with Vader. When R2 found the locations of the tractor beams, Luke wanted to go with him and Obi-Wan said, "Your destiny lies along a different path than mine." He knew, at the time, that he was going to be facing something where he might not survive. He probably even knew that there was no way he would get off the Death Star without facing Vader.

His goal was not for his own survival, but to allow Luke and Han (and Leia, if he was aware of her presence with them) to escape. As long as he was dueling with Vader, then Vader's focus was on him, not on the ship, the Princess, or anyone else. Obi-Wan may not have planned or choreographed the fight so well as to be right at the hanger, to distract the guards, just as Luke and his group needed to escape, but he was able to keep Vader distracted.

Once he turned and saw all the Stormtroopers, as well as Luke, Han, Leia, and Chewie heading toward the Falcon, he knew he had accomplished what he wanted. Vader had been distracted and Luke and his friends could now escape. But he had Vader in front of him and a large number of Stormtroopers surrounding him. Considering his age and lack of recent combat experience, the odds of escape for him were overwhelming. He knew he could still guide Luke as a Force-Ghost, so he was ready to die rather than to face capture and torture, where he might reveal information that could hurt Luke or the Rebels.

His goal, of aiding Luke's escape, was realized and he was surrounded. There was no need to continue the distraction, so, with his purpose fulfilled, he was ready to face death.

  • 30
    Just to emphasize, Obi-wan's main objective was for the others to escape. As long as he was alive, there was a risk that the others would wait for him and be recaptured. He waited until they were in the Falcon, then let himself be struck down so they wouldn't have any reason not to leave.
    – Kenster
    Mar 8, 2015 at 18:54
  • 4
    Alright, I see. He did say “IF YOU STRIKE ME DOWN, I SHALL BECOME MORE POWERFUL THAN YOU CAN POSSIBLY IMAGINE.” and with that it does imply that he knew of his own death. Keeping Vader at bay is also him just fulfilling his known destiny.
    – Hulten
    Mar 8, 2015 at 19:12
  • 3
    @Kenster: Yes, that's something I should have included or added. If Obi-Wan were captured, Luke would have wanted to rescue him.
    – Tango
    Mar 8, 2015 at 20:43
  • 2
    Addition: I don't know the exact words of the English version of ANH, but Vader is talking to Tarkin about feeling Obi-Wans presence earlier in the movie, and that he (Vader) is aware that Obi-Wan does not intend to escape, but to face him down.
    – DevSolar
    Mar 10, 2015 at 9:51
  • 2
    @trlkly: And Kenobi was a force ghost in A New Hope anyway, remember that he spoke to Luke during the fight to destroy the Death Star. Even watching the original film in the cinema when it came out (yes, I'm that old), I had the sense Kenobi was a ghost who was really talking to him (having become "more powerful"), rather than the voice in Luke's head being just a memory. Sep 29, 2015 at 9:42

Disclaimer: This is pure speculation.

Even though the audience didn't know at the time, Obi-Wan knew that Vader was Luke's father, and was concerned that Luke could be influenced by the dark side of the force.

Obi-Wan wanted to solidify his influence over Luke, and ensure that Luke was allied with the Jedi and the Rebellion. He intentionally manipulated Luke emotionally by telling him that Vader killed his father (which wasn't true), and by making sure that Luke saw Vader kill Obi-Wan.

I think this is what Obi-Wan really meant when he told Vader "If you strike me down, I shall become more powerful than you can possibly imagine." By having Luke witness his death at the hands of Vader, he strengthened Luke's emotional attachments to Obi-Wan, the Jedi, and the Rebellion.

It doesn't make much sense before watching ESB and RotJ. But after watching the entire saga, that scene now makes perfect sense.

  • If this is the case, why did he say it to Vader? It would have just increased the chances of Vader not killing him.
    – vsz
    Mar 9, 2015 at 7:12
  • That's what I got from it: Luke had to witness it. Of course, I was nine years old when I saw it so the duances might have been lost on me, and I didn't know any of the larger story yet.
    – JDługosz
    Mar 9, 2015 at 7:47
  • 5
    @vsz Vader exterminated 99% of the Jedi on his own; he probably wasn't afraid of an empty threat of haunting by an old man. Mar 9, 2015 at 14:29
  • @vsz Plus, if Vader let him live because of that, there would have been another lightsaber-wielding Jedi on the rebels' side, which could have had some tactical advantages anyway. Mar 9, 2015 at 21:20

I've spent a lot of time reading my children some of the novelisations of the stories, and in those it says that before Vader strikes him, Obi-Wan becomes one with the force like Yoda in Return of the Jedi.

So the death seems very much for effect rather than it being a killing blow.


I only saw the movies for the first time several years ago, but it always seemed to me that Obi-Wan did it to get back at Anakin for his betrayal of turning to the Dark Side. It seemed to be something that he never got over and the act of setting that up so it looks like Darth Vader killed him makes it harder for any sort of positive relationship to be salvaged between the younger Skywalkers and Anakin.

I've read the other comments and Idk if they are just missing this idea or if it is not possible based on the extended media of the Star Wars universe, but What if Obi-Wan died on Tatooine between trilogies? As far as I know, it's not clear what Obi-Wan did on Tatooine for the 19 years that he was "keeping an eye on Luke", but I do know that Tatooine is a harsh landscape in the Outer Rim and must be unforgiving and dangerous to those that do not know its secrets.

Just thinking about how much Obi-Wan ages in 19 years if you think of the movies in chronological order, it is entirely possible that he died in his house on Tatooine and somehow figures out how to reduce the blue glow that would initially give him away.

  • Obi-Wan looked to be in his late thirties at the end of the third episode, if you add 19 to that, it's entirely possible that he looks as old as he does in episode 4. Not to mention he's a Jedi, so he'd probably be fine on Tatooine.
    – Areeb
    Aug 6, 2016 at 19:33
  • From Woopkiepedia, Obi-Wan was 57 years old at the time of his death. At the time the movie was filmed in 1976, Sir Alec Guinness was 62, so only a five year difference in age between character and actor. The character was 25 in the first episode, 35 in Episode Two, and 38 in Episode Three (McGregor was 28, 31, and 34, so again, pretty close). Oct 4, 2020 at 3:46

Alec Guinness openly despised the role of Obi-Wan, referring to it as "fairy-tale rubbish" with "banal mumbo-jumbo dialogue, none of which makes the character even bearable". Sir Alec convinced Lucas to kill off the character, ostensibly to make him (Obi-Wan) stronger, but really so he (Sir Alec) could wrap up his part and get off the set, preferably permanently. It's not like he needed the money.

Lucas, being a moderately competent scriptwriter (keep him far, far away from any romantic plotline), decided to put Obi-Wan's death where it is. Falling off one of the non-OHSA-approved walkways that seem to be absolutely everywhere would have been rather anticlimactic, but a swordfight against the Dark Lord? Oh yeah.

And for the whiners who say this is an out-of-universe answer: Reality wrote the plot here. If Sir Alec was a Trekkie his character would not have been offed 2/3 through the film, and the rest of the story would have turned out rather differently. Maybe in that universe there is no Yoda, as the green guy basically takes over OW's role.

  • Do you have a source for this?
    – Hypnosifl
    Mar 10, 2015 at 4:52
  • @Hypnosifl Wikipedia, and the top 5 hits for "Alec Guinness Obi-Wan" produced the quotes, The rest I read in the pre-internet era but I'm sure with a miniscule amount of effort you can find it, hardly an obscure subject.
    – paul
    Mar 10, 2015 at 5:35

Well I have a different take on it - Obi-Wan possessed (or joined with) Luke's body.

If the other movies were never made, it could make a lot of sense.

  • 5
    Except the other movies were made, so it doesn't.
    – phantom42
    Aug 23, 2015 at 14:36

I have a more prosaic answer: plot line. Killing off a beloved character made it a better story. Luke was in desperate need of further education, and arguably Obi-Wan would have better served his cause by teaching rather than dying. That, however, would have been a less emotionally effective plot point and also had the further benefit of simplifying the plot going further. In any case, his death did not enhance their changes of getting off the ship, since that was actively desired by Darth Vader in the first place.

  • The OP was clearly looking for an in-universe answer.
    – Valorum
    Mar 9, 2015 at 22:51

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.