Obi-Wan Kenobi (/ˈbˌwɑːn kəˈnb/) is a character in the Star Wars franchise created by George Lucas. In the original film trilogy, he is a Jedi Master who trains Luke Skywalker in the ways of the Force. In the prequel trilogy, he mentors Luke's father, Anakin Skywalker. Obi-Wan is portrayed by Alec Guinness in the original trilogy and by Ewan McGregor in the prequel films. McGregor also plays the character in the television series Obi-Wan Kenobi. Guinness's performance in Star Wars (1977)[c] earned him the Saturn Award for Best Supporting Actor, as well as a nomination for the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor.

Obi-Wan Kenobi
Star Wars character
Alec Guinness as Obi-Wan Kenobi [a]
First appearanceStar Wars (1977)
Created byGeorge Lucas
Portrayed by
Voiced byVarious [b]
In-universe information
AliasBen Kenobi
  • Jedi Apprentice
  • Jedi Knight
  • Jedi General
  • Jedi Master
MastersQui-Gon Jinn

Creation and development

The character is loosely inspired by General Makabe Rokurōta,[citation needed] a character from Akira Kurosawa's film The Hidden Fortress, played by Toshiro Mifune (whom Lucas had originally wanted to cast as Obi-Wan).[1] In his book about the Star Wars franchise, Chris Taylor claims Obi-Wan was inspired by the J.R.R. Tolkien character Gandalf.[2] Lucas originally planned for Obi-Wan to live through the original film, but his wife, Marcia Lucas, pointed out that the character had nothing to do during the culminating battle sequence and thought he should be killed and act as a spiritual mentor to Luke.[3] Lucas later reflected: "It would be much more powerful, satisfying and interesting if Darth Vader were to kill him and he were to go on to a different form."[4]

In outlining The Empire Strikes Back (1980), Lucas wanted to bring back Obi-Wan as a ghost from "another dimension" to continue training Luke, while also considering that (due in part to Guinness's health) he would need to replace him with a new, but similar character. This would take the form of Yoda, based on Lucas's earlier conception of Obi-Wan as a "strange and bizarre ... desert rat" creature (prior to making him a "very noble" human due to casting Guinness).[5]


When casting Star Wars, Lucas decided that he needed an established star to play Obi-Wan. He considered Peter Cushing for the role, but decided the actor's lean features would be better employed as the villainous Grand Moff Tarkin.[6] The film's producer, Gary Kurtz, felt a strong character actor was required to convey the "stability and gravitas" of Obi-Wan.[7] Before Alec Guinness was cast, Japanese actor Toshiro Mifune—who starred in many Akira Kurosawa films—was considered for the role.[8] His daughter, Mika Kitagawa, said her father "had a lot of samurai pride" and turned down the roles of both Obi-Wan and Darth Vader because he thought Star Wars would employ cheap special effects and would "cheapen the image of samurai".[9] Lucas credited Guinness with inspiring the cast and crew to work harder, saying that he contributed significantly to the completion of filming.[10] Harrison Ford, who plays Han Solo in the film, said he admired Guinness's preparation, professionalism and kindness towards the other actors.[7]



Original trilogy (1977–1983)

Obi-Wan Kenobi is introduced in the original Star Wars film living as a 57-year old hermit under the name of Ben Kenobi on the planet Tatooine. When 19 year-old Luke Skywalker (Mark Hamill) and C-3PO (Anthony Daniels) travel the desert in search of the lost R2-D2 (Kenny Baker), Obi-Wan rescues them from a band of Tusken Raiders. At Obi-Wan's home, the now-found R2-D2 plays a recording of Princess Leia (Carrie Fisher) saying that R2-D2 contains the plans for the Galactic Empire's planet-destroying battle station, the Death Star. Leia asks him to deliver R2-D2 and the plans safely to her home planet of Alderaan in order to help the Rebel Alliance. Obi-Wan reveals to Luke his secret identity and explains that he is a Jedi, a member of an ancient group of Force-sensitive warriors. He explains that the Jedi were hunted down and exterminated by the Empire with help from his former apprentice, Darth Vader (portrayed by David Prowse, voiced by James Earl Jones), the apparent killer of Luke's father. He gives Luke his father's lightsaber and asks him to accompany him to Alderaan and take up Jedi training. Luke, at first, declines; but after finding that his aunt Beru (Shelagh Fraser) and uncle Owen (Phil Brown) have been killed by Imperial stormtroopers, he decides to go with Obi-Wan to Alderaan and train as a Jedi.

At the settlement of Mos Eisley, Obi-Wan uses the Force to trick Imperial troops into letting them through a military checkpoint.[11] They enter a local cantina and meet smugglers Han Solo (Harrison Ford) and Chewbacca (Peter Mayhew). Obi-Wan and Luke make a deal to travel to Alderaan aboard Han's ship, the Millennium Falcon. During the mission, Obi-Wan begins instructing Luke in lightsaber combat. He suddenly feels "a great disturbance in the Force", and when the ship comes out of light speed, he and the others find that the Empire has destroyed Alderaan. The Falcon then encounters an Imperial TIE fighter. They chase the TIE fighter to the Death Star, and subsequently get caught in the battle station's tractor beam. On board the Death Star, Obi-Wan ventures through and disables the tractor beam. Moments later, Vader confronts him, and they engage in a lightsaber duel. Obi-Wan uses the duel to distract Vader as Luke, Leia, Han, and Chewbacca escape to the Falcon. Obi-Wan allows Vader to strike him down, and, because through the Force the darkness of space cannot claim a victim, his body mysteriously vanishes the moment he dies.[d] At the climax of the film, during the Rebel attack on the Death Star, Obi-Wan speaks to Luke through the Force to help him destroy the battle station.

In The Empire Strikes Back, Obi-Wan Kenobi appears several times as a spirit through the Force. On the ice planet Hoth, he appears to instruct Luke to go to the planet Dagobah to find the exiled Jedi Master Yoda (Frank Oz). Despite Yoda's skepticism, Obi-Wan convinces his former teacher to continue Luke's training. Obi-Wan appears later to beseech Luke not to leave Dagobah to try to rescue his friends on Cloud City, although Luke ignores this advice.[13]

In Return of the Jedi, Obi-Wan again appears to Luke after Yoda's death on Dagobah. Obi-Wan acknowledges that Darth Vader is indeed Luke's father, revealed by Vader himself in the previous film and confirmed by Yoda on his deathbed, and also reveals that Leia is Luke's twin sister. He urges Luke to confront and defeat Vader. After the Rebels destroy the second Death Star and defeat the Empire, Obi-Wan appears at the celebration on Endor, alongside the Force spirits of Yoda and the redeemed Anakin Skywalker (Sebastian Shaw; in later re-releases, Shaw is replaced by Hayden Christensen).[14]

Prequel trilogy (1999–2005)

In Star Wars: Episode I – The Phantom Menace, set 32 years before A New Hope, a 25-year-old Obi-Wan Kenobi (Ewan McGregor) appears as the Padawan apprentice of Jedi Master Qui-Gon Jinn (Liam Neeson).[15][e] He accompanies his master in negotiations with the corrupt Trade Federation, which is blockading the planet Naboo with a fleet of starships. They fight a swarm of battle droids and stow away on a landing craft en route to Naboo. Once on Naboo, Obi-Wan and Qui-Gon rescue Naboo's 14-year-old Queen Padmé Amidala (Natalie Portman), with help from native Gungan Jar Jar Binks (Ahmed Best), and escape in a spaceship toward the Republic capital of Coruscant. Their ship is damaged in the escape, causing the hyperdrive generator to malfunction, and they land on Tatooine for repairs, where they discover the nine-year-old slave Anakin Skywalker (Jake Lloyd). Qui-Gon believes the boy is the "Chosen One" prophesied to bring balance to the Force. Anakin joins the group as they travel to Coruscant. While leaving Tatooine, they are attacked by Darth Maul (portrayed by Ray Park, voiced by Peter Serafinowicz), a member of the Sith, a cult of the dark side long thought to be extinct.

When Qui-Gon and Obi-Wan return to Naboo to defeat the Trade Federation, they are met again by Maul, who engages them both in lightsaber combat. When Maul mortally wounds Qui-Gon, Obi-Wan storms in to duel the Sith Lord, who nearly kills him. However, Obi-Wan manages to turn the tables and defeat Maul, cutting him in half. He promises to fulfill Qui-Gon's dying wish to train Anakin as a Jedi, with or without the council's blessing. Yoda proclaims Obi-Wan a Jedi Knight and reluctantly allows him to take Anakin on as his own Padawan.[17]

Ewan McGregor as Kenobi in Star Wars: Episode II – Attack of the Clones

In Attack of the Clones, set 10 years later, Obi-Wan is now a respected Jedi Knight and the master of Anakin Skywalker (Hayden Christensen). Over the years, Anakin has grown powerful but arrogant, and believes that Obi-Wan is "holding him back". After they save Padmé, now a senator, from an assassination attempt, Obi-Wan goes on a solo mission to trace the would-be assassins involved to the planet Kamino. He learns of a massive clone army that the planet's inhabitants are building for the Republic. The clones' template is bounty hunter Jango Fett (Temuera Morrison), and he and Obi-Wan battle once the latter deduces Fett must be behind the attempted assassination. Fett escapes to the planet Geonosis with his clone son Boba (Daniel Logan), unaware that Obi-Wan has pursued them.

On Geonosis, Obi-Wan discovers that a conspiracy of star systems bent on revolution from the Republic is led by Jedi-turned-Sith Lord Count Dooku (Christopher Lee), Qui-Gon's old master. After sending a message to Anakin, Obi-Wan is captured, interrogated, and sentenced to death by Dooku. Anakin and Padmé arrive with a cadre of Jedi and the clone army, just in time to prevent the executions. Obi-Wan and Anakin confront Dooku, but the Sith Lord overpowers them both. Yoda intervenes and saves their lives, at the cost of Dooku's escape.[18]

In Revenge of the Sith, set three years later, Obi-Wan is now a Jedi Master and a member of the Jedi Council, as well as a General in the Grand Army of the Republic. Anakin, by now a Jedi Knight, remains Obi-Wan's partner, and the two have become war heroes and best friends. The film opens with the two on a rescue mission to save the kidnapped Supreme Chancellor Palpatine (Ian McDiarmid) from cyborg Separatist commander General Grievous (Matthew Wood) on board his cruiser. Dooku duels the Jedi once again, knocking Obi-Wan unconscious; while Obi-Wan is out cold, Anakin defeats Dooku and kills him in cold blood on Palpatine's orders. Soon after returning to Coruscant, Obi-Wan travels to planet Utapau to track down Grievous.

After finding the Separatist encampment, Obi-Wan fights Grievous and kills him with Grievous' own blaster. When the Sith Lord Darth Sidious, who is revealed to be Supreme Chancellor Palpatine and the mastermind of the war—issues Order 66 to have the clone troopers turn on the Jedi, Obi-Wan survives the attempt on his life and escapes, rendezvousing with Yoda and Senator Bail Organa (Jimmy Smits) of Alderaan aboard Organa's ship, Tantive III. Returning to Coruscant, he and Yoda discover that every Jedi in the Jedi Temple has been murdered. After sending a beacon to all surviving Jedi to scatter across the galaxy and remain in hiding, a heartbroken Obi-Wan watches security footage revealing that it was Anakin—who is now Darth Sidious' Sith apprentice, Darth Vader—who led the chaos. Yoda says that he will confront Sidious, and he charges Obi-Wan with battling Vader. Obi-Wan is loath to fight his best friend, but reluctantly accepts when Yoda says that Anakin Skywalker no longer exists, having been “consumed” by Vader.

Obi-Wan visits Padmé to question of Anakin's whereabouts, and realizes that Anakin is her husband and the father of her unborn child. When Padmé sets out to the volcanic planet Mustafar to confront her husband herself, Obi-Wan secretly stows away aboard her ship. After they arrive on Mustafar, Obi-Wan reveals himself and confronts Vader, who accuses Padmé and Obi-Wan of conspiring against him and uses the dark side to choke Padmé into unconsciousness. A long and ferocious lightsaber duel occurs between Obi-Wan and Vader, ending with Obi-Wan severing Vader's legs and left arm. Obi-Wan watches in horror as Vader slides too close to a lava flow and catches fire; he then takes his former friend's lightsaber and leaves him to die. Unbeknownst to Obi-Wan, Vader is rescued by Sidious moments later and reconstructed into the cyborg as first seen in the original trilogy.

Obi-Wan takes Padmé to the asteroid Polis Massa, where she dies after giving birth to twins Luke and Leia. Afterwards, Obi-Wan assists in hiding Luke and Leia from the Empire. While Leia is adopted by Bail Organa and his wife, Yoda instructs Obi-Wan to deliver Luke to Anakin's stepbrother Owen Lars (Joel Edgerton) and his wife Beru (Bonnie Piesse) on Tatooine. Yoda then reveals that Qui-Gon's spirit will teach them both to become one with the Force after death. On Tatooine, Obi-Wan hands Luke off to his step-family and goes into exile to watch over the boy and wait until the time is right to challenge Sidious and the newly created Galactic Empire.

Sequel trilogy (2015–2019)

In The Rise of Skywalker, Rey hears Obi-Wan's voice along with other Jedi from the past as she battles a resurrected Darth Sidious, revealed to be both her grandfather and the mastermind of the First Order. Obi-Wan says to her, "These are your final steps, Rey. Rise and take them... Rey... Rise." Both the voices of McGregor and Guinness are used, again with recording of Guinness saying "afraid" being repurposed to say "Rey".[19]

Other films

A standalone film centered on Obi-Wan was previously in pre-production before being cancelled in favor of the live-action series Obi-Wan Kenobi. While the project was voted as the most wanted standalone film in a poll by The Hollywood Reporter,[20] it was instead developed as a limited streaming series following the box office disappointment of Solo: A Star Wars Story.[21][22] The film was to be directed and co-written by Stephen Daldry.[23][24] According to TMZ, the movie would take place a few years after Revenge of the Sith, featuring marauding Tusken Raiders and an evil warlord, who bring Obi-Wan out of hiding to protect Luke.[25]


Clone Wars (2003) and The Clone Wars (2008–2014; 2020)

Obi-Wan Kenobi is a main character in the animated micro-series Star Wars: Clone Wars and the CGI animated series Star Wars: The Clone Wars, voiced by James Arnold Taylor. In both series, Obi-Wan is a general in the Clone Wars, and he and Anakin (voiced in each series respectively by Mat Lucas and Matt Lanter) have many adventures fighting the Separatists. During this time Obi-Wan's diplomatic skills earn him the appellation "The Negotiator" due to his reputation of preventing and stopping battles without the use of weapons.[26] The latter series highlights his numerous confrontations with General Grievous, his adversarial relationship with Dark Jedi Asajj Ventress (voiced by Nika Futterman), his romance with Duchess Satine Kryze (voiced by Anna Graves), and the return of his old enemy Darth Maul.[27]

Rebels (2014–2018)

In Star Wars Rebels, set five years before A New Hope, Obi-Wan appears as a hologram in the pilot episode, "Spark of Rebellion". In the Season 3 episode "Visions and Voices", protagonist Ezra Bridger (voiced by Taylor Gray) discovers that Obi-Wan is alive on Tatooine; Obi-Wan's old nemesis Darth Maul finds him as well.[28] In the episode "Twin Suns", Obi-Wan finds Ezra while he is lost in the desert while letting him know Maul was intending to use him. At that moment, Maul attacks them, and Obi-Wan ushers Ezra to retreat. Obi-Wan mortally wounds Maul during a final lightsaber duel; with his dying breath, Maul asks Obi-Wan if he is protecting the "Chosen One", and Obi-Wan replies that he is. After Maul's death, Obi-Wan is seen watching over Luke Skywalker from a distance.[29]

In Rebels, Obi-Wan was voiced by Stephen Stanton, who replaced James Arnold Taylor.[30][31] Rebels creator Dave Filoni, who worked with the character during the full duration of Star Wars: The Clone Wars, said he considered asking McGregor to reprise and voice the role.[32] However, a voice recording of the late Alec Guinness as Obi-Wan Kenobi was used in a 2018 episode.[33]

Obi-Wan Kenobi (2022)

Ewan McGregor reprised his role as a Jedi master in Obi-Wan Kenobi, a live-action series for Disney+ set between the end of the prequel trilogy and the start of the original trilogy.[34][35] It was officially announced on August 23, 2019, at the D23 Expo. McGregor expressed his relief at the project's announcement "because for four years, I've been having to lie to people about it", and stated that the series would consist of six one-hour episodes.[36] Deborah Chow will direct the series and executive produce alongside Hossein Amini, who wrote the series. Other executive producers include McGregor, Kennedy, and Tracey Seaward.[37] During Disney Investor Day 2020, it was announced that Hayden Christensen would return as Darth Vader in the series[38] and that it would be set ten years after the events of Revenge of the Sith.[35][f] In March 2021, it was announced that filming would begin in April, and that the cast would include Joel Edgerton,[g] Bonnie Piesse,[h] Kumail Nanjiani, Indira Varma, Rupert Friend, O'Shea Jackson Jr., Sung Kang, Simone Kessell and Benny Safdie.[40] This series justified the reason Leia named her son after Ben Kenobi.

Novels and comics

Obi-Wan Kenobi appears briefly in the novel Dark Disciple (2015), based on unfinished episodes from The Clone Wars. It fleshes out the friendship between him and Rogue Jedi Quinlan Vos.[41]

The five-issue Marvel Comics mini-series Obi-Wan and Anakin focuses on the title characters between The Phantom Menace and Attack of the Clones.[41] In the 2015 Star Wars comic series, Luke Skywalker goes to Obi-Wan's abandoned house on Tatooine and finds his diary, from which stories of Obi-Wan's past are recounted.[41][42]

Obi-Wan appears as a main character in the novel Master and Apprentice (2019) by Claudia Gray, set before the events of The Phantom Menace. The book details his relationship with his Jedi Master, Qui-Gon Jinn.[43] He is also a main character in the novel Brotherhood (2022) by Mike Chen, set at the beginning of the Clone Wars.[44] Obi-Wan is featured as the protagonist of the novel Star Wars Padawan (2022) by Kiersten White, in which the character's early years as an apprentice are explored.[45]


Obi-Wan appears extensively in the Star Wars Expanded Universe of comic books and novels. In April 2014, all prior works except the episodic films and The Clone Wars animated series were rebranded by Lucasfilm as Legends and declared non-canon to the franchise.[46][47][48]


Obi-Wan's life prior to The Phantom Menace is portrayed mostly in Jude Watson's Jedi Apprentice series, which follows his adventures as Qui-Gon's Padawan. Notable events in the series include battling the Dark Jedi Xanatos and going on his first independent mission. Watson's Jedi Quest series detail his adventures with Anakin in the years leading up to Attack of the Clones.

Obi-Wan's heroism just before and during the Clone Wars is portrayed in novels such as Outbound Flight, The Approaching Storm, and The Cestus Deception.

Obi-Wan's life between Revenge of the Sith and A New Hope is portrayed mostly in Jude Watson's The Last of the Jedi series. Set roughly a year after the fall of the Republic, the series follows Obi-Wan as he seeks out possible survivors of the Great Jedi Purge, most notably Anakin's former rival, Ferus Olin. The books also portray Obi-Wan adjusting to life as a hermit on Tatooine and quietly watching over Luke. He discovers that Vader is still alive after seeing him on the Holonet, the galaxy's official news source.

Obi-Wan appears in the final chapter of Dark Lord: The Rise of Darth Vader, set just after the events in Revenge of the Sith, in which he learns with alarm that Vader survived their duel on Mustafar. Qui-Gon reassures him that Vader would not set foot on Tatooine – out of fear of reawakening Anakin Skywalker. He advises Obi-Wan not to reveal to Luke his true parentage until the time is right.

Obi-Wan appears as a Force ghost in many novels set after Return of the Jedi. In The Truce at Bakura, he appears to Luke to warn him about the threat presented by the Ssi-ruuk; in The Lost City of the Jedi, he guides Luke to the eponymous city on Yavin IV; in Heir to the Empire, meanwhile, he bids farewell to Luke, explaining that he must abandon his spiritual form to "move on" to a new, higher plane of consciousness. Before parting, Luke says that Obi-Wan was like a father to him, and Obi-Wan replies that he loved Luke like a son.

Kenobi is a Star Wars Legends novel that tells the story of Obi-Wan Kenobi's first days of self-exile on the desert planet Tatooine following the events of Revenge of the Sith. It was written by John Jackson Miller and first published by Del Rey in hardcover on August 27, 2013. The first paperback edition was released on July 29, 2014, and includes the short tie-in story "Incognito" by Miller.

Comic books

Issue #24 of Marvel's 1977 Star Wars comic depicts Obi-Wan during the time of the Republic.

Various Dark Horse Comics works utilize Kenobi, including several set during the Clone Wars. In Star Wars: Republic (1998–2006), Obi-Wan fights the Separatists during the Clone Wars. Among other notable storylines, he is kidnapped and tortured by Asajj Ventress before being rescued by Anakin ("Hate & Fear"), and apprehends corrupted Jedi Master Quinlan Vos ("The Dreadnaughts of Rendili"). Throughout the series, he grows increasingly wary of Palpatine's designs on the Republic and his influence on Anakin.

In the non-canon story "Old Wounds", published in Star Wars: Visionaries (2005) and set a few years after the events of Revenge of the Sith, Obi-Wan confronts Darth Maul on Tatooine to protect Luke. The duel ends when Owen Lars shoots and kills Maul; he then warns Obi-Wan to stay away from his nephew. Through the Force, Obi-Wan reassures Luke that he will be there for him when needed.


  1. ^ Star Wars (1977)
  2. ^ In addition to Alec Guinness and Ewan McGregor, voice performers include Bernard Behrens, Scott Cleverdon, David Ian Davies, Michael Donovan, Roy Dotrice, Mark Hamill, Nick Jameson, Jonathan Love, Lewis Macleod, Daran Norris, Timothy Omundson, David Scott, Stephen Stanton, James Arnold Taylor and Sam Vincent.
  3. ^ The film was later retitled Star Wars: Episode IV—A New Hope.
  4. ^ After the release of the prequel trilogy, it was pointed out that Obi-Wan sees the Skywalker twins reunited just before his death.[12]
  5. ^ Some fans have pointed out that Obi-Wan's age in the prequels contradicts his elderly appearance in the original trilogy. According to the new chronology, Obi-Wan is 57 by the time of A New Hope; Guinness was no older than 63 when the film was made, making the discrepancy less than six years.[16]
  6. ^ The series had previously been reported to be set seven or eight years after the events of Revenge of the Sith.[39]
  7. ^ Previously played Owen Lars in the prequel trilogy
  8. ^ Previously played Beru Lars in the prequel trilogy



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Works Cited

External links