Why Ben Kenobi Let Darth Vader Kill Him In The First Star Wars Movie

Image via Lucasfilm

Before we knew him as the sassy general of the Clone Army in the form of Ewan McGregor, Alec Guinness played the wise old Jedi Master Ben Kenobi in the original Star Wars trilogy.

Not only did Obi-Wan serve as a master to both Anakin and his son Luke, but he also played a key role in the history of that galaxy far, far away as a Master on the Jedi Council and a commander of the Grand Army. After his heroic feats during the Clone Wars, Kenobi chose a life of exile on Tatooine, all the while protecting Luke from the Emperor and his numerous minions. At the beginning of A New Hope, Luke finds an old Ben and asks for his help in delivering the plans of the Death Star to the Rebel Alliance. Their journey takes them to the space station, where the master and the Padawan meet again.

Ben engages Vader in a lightsaber duel as Luke, Han, and Leia make their way to the Millennium Falcon to escape. Seeing Luke on the landing platforms, Ben gives in to his fate and allows the former Chosen One to strike him down. An enraged Luke then makes his way to the ship and the team flies off. But why did Kenobi decide to throw his life away without a fight?

Well, the obvious answer is that he wanted Luke and his companions to escape, and his sacrifice would buy them time. And if not for that, maybe Ben sensed that Luke would come after him to help, but the young Skywalker wasn’t yet ready to face Vader; he was simply much more powerful. Besides, Obi-Wan already told Vader that he’d become “more powerful than you can possibly imagine” if he struck him down. What he meant by that statement may have alluded to the fact that Ben knew how to become one with the Force, thus allowing him to train Luke as a Force Ghost in the sequels.

Whatever the real reason, his sacrifice in the first Star Wars movie helped solidify Obi-Wan as one of the greatest characters in the Skywalker Saga and we can’t wait for him to return in the new Disney Plus live-action series.