In Star Wars, the true identity of the chosen one—the one prophesied to restore balance to the Force—has always been nebulous. In the prequels, all bets are placed on Anakin as the one to save the universe...until he single-handedly obliterates the Jedi and helps create a fascist stronghold over the entire galaxy, that is. In the original trilogy, Anakin’s son Luke becomes the new beacon of hope for the galaxy, and even though he saves the day by trilogy’s end, the curse of the Skywalker line would come back to haunt him in the form of his troubled nephew, Ben Solo. Even in his finest moments, Luke never quite lived up to his reputation as the greatest Jedi of all time. And his Jedi mentor, Obi-Wan Kenobi, was the greater Jedi all along.
Luke Skywalker is the central figure of the entire Star Wars saga; his importance in the story can’t be overstated. That being said, he’s definitely not the greatest Jedi who ever lived. Obi-Wan Kenobi completely embodies everything a Jedi should be. Not only that, he surpasses more powerful Jedi like Yoda and Mace Windu in balancing their ideals with personal strengths. One of the great things about the prequels is that they demystify the Jedi Order and reveal its flaws, and in the process, they also show that Obi-Wan was a greater Jedi than both Skywalkers he trained. Here are 15 Reasons Why Obi-Wan Kenobi Is A WAY Better Jedi Than Luke Skywalker, and quite possibly, the greatest of all time.
15 He sacrificed himself for the greater good
Tough he’s seldom thought of quite this way, Obi-Wan Kenobi is a Christ-like figure in the original trilogy. His self-sacrifice at the hand of Vader in A New Hope made it possible for him to assist Luke as a Force ghost, which in turn paved the way for the defeat of the Empire and a more peaceful galaxy. Talk about a ripple effect.
Of course, Star Wars is full of moments that have far-reaching effects on the whole saga. We don’t yet know the details of Kylo Ren’s fall to the dark side, nor the creation of the First Order, but one thing we can be sure of is that it all began with Luke’s decision to train new Jedi. Perhaps, had Luke sacrificed himself in his showdown with Vader and Palpatine in Return of the Jedi, the galaxy would be in a state of peace 30 years later. Clearly, Obi-Wan knew when to go out like a champ, and Luke didn’t.
14 He can think like the enemy
From the prequels to the Clone Wars, and into the original trilogy, Obi-Wan always knew how to think like, and even stay ahead of, the enemy. Obi-Wan was a valuable general in the Clone Wars because of his unmatched knack for pragmatic strategy among the Jedi. As discussed in the previous entry, Obi-Wan was thinking a few steps ahead of Vader and the Empire when he sacrificed his life for the greater good. He was also one of the first to catch on to Palpatine’s takeover plan in Revenge of the Sith, and it was he who had the foresight to visit Padme and find out what Anakin was up to.
Granted, having Padme tag along with him to find Anakin ended up getting her killed. Nevertheless, Obi-Wan’s ability to stay two steps ahead of the bad guys remains unrivaled by any Jedi, especially Luke.
13 He totally owns the high ground
We’ve all had a good time making fun of Obi-Wan’s infinitely meme-able line near the end of his Episode III lightsaber battle against Anakin, but let's face it: When the floor is actually lava, it really is important to have the high ground. Yeah, the line may have been a bit obvious, but in the end, who’s dumber—the guy who says “I have the high ground” or the guy who doesn’t listen and gets burned?
To be fair, Luke has never really been in a position where the high ground was quite as important as it was at the end of Revenge of the Sith, but if he were, what are the chances he'd claim it as confidently as Obi-Wan and avoid being a noob like his father? Umm, not likely.
12 He didn't abandon the whole galaxy after something terrible happened
Even in his exile, Obi-Wan kept the fate of the galaxy at the forefront of his mind. Yes, he left the larger galaxy behind for many years of imperial tyranny, but he was playing the long game—plotting out the course for his future Padawan to prevail over evil once and for all. Whether he was waiting in the shadows or at the front lines, Obi-Wan was always firmly dedicated to the well being of the galaxy.
We don’t know exactly what’s going on in Luke’s head by the time we meet him in The Force Awakens (heck, we don’t even know what his first words to Rey are), but we can safely assert that Obi-Wan’s temperate approach to adversity is more Jedi-like than Luke’s typical Skywalker rage. Perhaps the supposed chosen one learned from his former master and is playing the long game as well, but from what we know so far, it does seem that Luke’s self-imposed exile was an emotional reaction to his nephew's turn to the dark side, rather than a tactical one.
11 He knew when to follow orders and when to bend the rules
Throughout the prequel era, Obi-Wan was fiercely loyal to the Jedi Council, but he wasn’t blindly obedient. When Qui-Gon reveals his plan to train Anakin despite the Council’s word against it in The Phantom Menace, Obi-Wan advises his master to follow the higher-ups more closely (pretty good advice, in hindsight). At the same time, he is willing to trust the wisdom of his master and carry out Qui-Gon’s wishes after his death. The Clone Wars is also full of moments where Obi-Wan shows equal parts obedience and defiance to his Jedi superiors.
Obi-Wan has a deep reverence for his Jedi leaders and the warrior tradition that binds him to their council, but he’s also never one to suffer a fool’s command gladly. Luke, on the other hand, can’t even bring himself to heed Yoda’s council after mere days of Jedi training. Knowing when to obey leaders and when to ignore them is key to a Jedi’s success in navigating their role in the galaxy, and it’s an area where Obi-Wan is far superior to Luke.
10 Even when he was young, he had wisdom beyond his years
The world was first introduced to Obi-Wan Kenobi as a wise old mentor figure. His wisdom very much appears to be tied to his advancing years. But when we first meet a young Obi-Wan as a Padawan in The Phantom Menace, we see that his rare wisdom is not necessarily tied to his age.
As early as the Star Wars saga’s first chapter, Obi-Wan shows wisdom beyond his years, advising his master on numerous occasions. When you compare Obi-Wan’s relationship with Padawans Luke or Anakin to his relationship with that of his own master, Obi-Wan immediately seems to be a much wiser Jedi-in-training than the Skywalkers ever were, despite their special family lineage. Luke may be the most special guy in the universe, but his Force intuition is no match for Obi-Wan’s ageless wisdom.
9 He was a true diplomat
Obi-Wan wore many hats during the Clone Wars. He was a warrior, a military general, and the most gifted diplomat in the galaxy. He even earned the nickname “The Negotiator” for his uncanny ability to end battles and conflict without raising a lightsaber (though, as we’ll discuss further down the list, Obi-Wan is hardly averse to blade-swinging, limb-chopping combat).
Luke may never have had a shot at stretching his diplomatic muscles in the original trilogy, but it’s hard to imagine the desert farm boy-turned-chosen one handling complex political situations the way Obi-Wan did in his glory days. Plus, Luke has a lot of his father in him, who also earned a nickname during the Clone Wars. Only Anakin’s nickname, “the Hero with No Fear”, was earned by favoring swift force over diplomacy.
8 He was a more skilled strategist
When he wasn't tearing it up on the front lines or exercising expert diplomacy to end a battle, Clone Wars-era Obi-Wan was busy being a brilliant military strategist. Sure, military strategy was also an area where Anakin excelled, but Obi-Wan could definitely hold his own against the likes of separatist war strategists like Count Dooku and Admiral Trench.
His keen wartime strategic mind was also on display in A New Hope, when he pretty much singlehandedly plotted the escape from the Death Star so all the young bucks could escape with their lives. Luke successfully executed a few pretty dope plans of his own throughout the original trilogy—most notably, the escape from the Sarlacc pit in ROTJ—but nothing that equals the countless military plots that Obi-Wan had a hand in.
7 He took more of Vader’s limbs than Luke did
Don't get us wrong, there are certainly areas in which Luke excels over Obi-Wan. Luke is more intuitive and naturally more Force sensitive. He also has a more stylish wardrobe by the time he reaches full Jedi status (let’s face it, Luke’s man-in-black, dark Jedi chic is a far superior fashion statement to Obi-Wan’s tired Jedi robes).
But if we’re judging the two by dismembered limb count, Obi-Wan is the clear winner. Not only did Obi-Wan save Luke’s ass in the Mos Eisley Cantina by chopping a guy’s arm off, he managed to bring Vader down by removing an arm and both of the emerging Sith Lord's legs. All Luke ever did was chop off one of Vader’s robotic hands. Obviously, limb removal alone does not make a great Jedi, but it’s just another area where Obi-Wan excels and Luke unfortunately meanders.
6 He faced a wider variety of challenges
On the surface, this may seem like an unfair one. Of course Obi-Wan faced a wider variety of conflicts and defeated a broader spectrum of enemies. Having more years on Luke alone, including a far more expansive war than the imperial conflict, gave him a lot more time to build up a really impressive rogues gallery.
But the fact remains that a wider variety of villains adds new dimensions to a hero’s journey. Luke’s story arc in the original trilogy is a streamlined, archetypal hero’s journey. With the addition of the prequels and Clone Wars TV show, Obi-Wan’s tale becomes something much more nuanced and multifaceted. Everything from Obi-Wan’s love story in Clone Wars to the way he is forced to train Anakin after Qui-Gon’s death contributes to a character development far deeper and richer than that of Luke Skywalker. But it won’t be that way for long, as it looks like Episode VIII has some interesting things in store for Luke.
5 He learned the flaws of both the sith and the jedi
Over the course of his heroic career, Obi-Wan came to intimately familiarize himself with the flaws in both the Jedi and Sith. He witnessed firsthand the tragic fall of the Jedi after the Clone Wars, which gave him a clear view of the ways in which the the good guys had contributed to their own undoing. He also developed a clear understanding of the flaws in the Sith ideology. His infamous line, “Only Sith deal in absolutes.” is a classic example of iffy prequel-era dialogue, sure, but it’s also full of wisdom that we seldom give it credit for. It shows Obi-Wan’s keen understanding of why the Sith are evil. The Sith may be right to point out the hypocrisy of Jedi rules and dogmas, but they fail to view the world outside of an equally black-and-white context.
Obi-Wan has always been a pragmatic Jedi master, and his loyalty to the Jedi Order is out of reverence for the light side of the Force more than it was the organization. When Luke becomes a Jedi, he adopts this same reverence for his Jedi lineage, but he also learns the flaws of the Jedi Order at an incredibly high price in the events leading up to the new trilogy.
4 He was a better Jedi trainer
It wouldn’t be hard to argue that Obi-Wan is not a successful trainer of other Jedi. His first Padawan ended up turning to the dark side and taking over the galaxy, and his second couldn't focus on completing his training, even when Obi-Wan was constantly in his ear as an all-seeing Force ghost. But he did end up training the most powerful father/son duo ever, the latter of which ended up restoring peace of the Galaxy, if only for a spell.
Meanwhile, as a trainer, Luke managed to undo everything he achieved in the original trilogy when he brought up his emo nephew in the ways of the Force. Here's hoping Luke can redeem himself by training Rey, because as things stand, Obi-Wan is definitely the superior trainer.
3 He was better with a lightsaber
His anti-climactic final showdown with Vader notwithstanding, Obi-Wan dominated the lightsaber arena. As mentioned previously, he was able to beat perhaps the most powerful Force user of all time--and he took three of his limbs in the process. He also beat Darth Maul, twice—once in what might be the most epic lightsaber battle ever, and again in one that he won in like two seconds. He's also successfully crossed blades with the likes of General Grievous, Savage Oppress, Ventriss--the list goes on and on.
Luke’s lightsaber skills are intermediate at best in the original trilogy because we’re seeing him at the beginning of his Jedi path, but there's no way he would ever match the combat experience and prowess of Obi-Wan.
2 He’s more in tune with his emotions
Obi-Wan is hardly the emotionally detached automaton that the Jedi Order encourages its followers to become. In fact, he’s a deeply emotional character. Having suffered the loss of multiple loved ones—from Master Qui-Gon to his long lost love Satine—he’s even been forced to wear his emotions on his sleeve. At the same time, he never dips into the emotional roller coaster patterns of the Skywalkers.
Obi-Wan never lets his emotions get the better of him because he never really tries to suppress them. Instead, he lets them run their course and tempers them with intellect when appropriate. In this sense, Obi-Wan is deeply meditative with his emotions, letting them come and go naturally without following them into dark corners. Luke never gave in fully to the dark side, but you can hardly say he ever had a firm grasp on, or even an understanding of, his emotions.
1 Obi-Wan actually brought balance to the force
Luke Skywalker may have defeated Emperor Palpatine and the Empire, but he clearly didn't maintain the galactic restoration of peace for long. His most promising Padawan ended up turning against him, and his inner peace with the dark and light sides of the Force were never all that steady to begin with. In contrast, Obi-Wan Kenobi actually brought balance to the Force, if only on a smaller scale.
Obi-Wan completely embodies a true Force balance. Unlike other Jedi, he isn’t averse to human emotion. Yet, he’s firmly dedicated to the highest Jedi ideals—temperance, justice, self-sacrifice, etc. The Skywalkers were the ones who were supposed to restore balance to the Force, but they were never balanced enough themselves to really pull off the job. Perhaps it was Obi-Wan all along who was the true catalyst of galactic peace.
Do you agree? Was Obi-Wan a better Jedi than Luke? Who do you think was the greatest Jedi of all time? Let us know in the comments!