Who is the greatest Jedi in Star Wars history? It’s a question that splits the fanbase in bitter rancor, with some calling Yoda the best and others looking to Revan from the Extended Universe.
However, for many, there’s no other answer in the expansive Star Wars universe for the greatest Jedi Knight than Obi-Wan Kenobi.
Our first meeting with Obi-Wan came in the form of Alec Guinness, who conveyed extensive wisdom without breaking his calm demeanor. Kenobi guided Luke with the air of a Jedi who had a grand plan in mind, even sacrificing himself to keep Luke from the grasp of his father.
Then, Ewan McGregor stepped into Obi-Wan’s shoes in the prequels. And even while those films were uneven, he delivered a blistering take on a youthful Obi-Wan that paid homage to Alec Guinness’ original character while becoming beloved in his own right.
Now, after 17 years away from the character, Ewan McGregor is back as the legendary Jedi Knight for his own series Obi-Wan Kenobi on Disney Plus. Here’s why Obi-Wan Kenobi is the best of all Jedi Masters.
1. He’s a Feared Warrior
Throughout Star Wars: The Clone Wars and the prequel trilogy, Obi-Wan proved himself a capable warrior and skilled battle tactician.
During Duel of the Fates, as Obi-Wan and Qui-Gon Jinn are locked in a titanic battle against Darth Maul, Obi-Wan’s recklessness is evident as he continually tries to impose his will upon the Sith Lord.
That ends up with Obi-Wan Kenobi being knocked off the walkway and having to catch up to the fight—and before he’s able to rejoin the fight, he watches his master killed by Darth Maul’s hand.
Obi-Wan becomes angry and starts fighting Maul emotionally only to be once again knocked down by the Sith. Obi-Wan must first calm himself to defeat Darth Maul, using his master’s old lightsaber and the Force.
This calm nature sets the tone for all of Obi-Wan’s later fights. He uses his skill and mental fortitude to gain the upper hand in countless duels.
Even in his final moments, when he’s aboard the Death Star and engaging Darth Vader in combat, Obi-Wan uses his superior knowledge and command of the Force to become one, leaving Darth Vader perplexed as to where Obi-Wan has gone.
Few Jedi are as skilled with a lightsaber as Obi-Wan, and his calmness in battle means he can keep his head cool when others can’t.
2. His Independence of the Jedi Code
Obi-Wan understands and adheres to the Jedi Code throughout his life, but he’s also willing to take a different path than that demanded by the Council when he believes it’s the right path to take.
After defeating Darth Maul in Duel of the Fates, he tells Yoda that he’ll train Anakin in the ways of the Jedi regardless of whether the Council allows him to.
Furthermore, Obi-Wan’s final promise to Qui-Gon Jinn is more important to him than the will of the Jedi Council, which shows that the independent mind of Qui-Gon is indeed present within Obi-Wan.
Though he doesn’t actually disagree with the Council on many points, he’s willing to go against their will when necessary—and that reveals a certain independence from the Jedi Code. It’s a trait that few Jedi who stay within the Order possess.
3. His Abundant Compassion
Because of the Jedi Code, many decisions made by the Jedi seem ruthless—even with the Jedi being a religion of peacekeepers.
When a typical Jedi feels a situation has passed beyond reason, they often resort to imposing their will upon their enemies. Obi-Wan Kenobi, however, understands that compassion is a key perspective.
One could argue that Obi-Wan’s compassion is what leads to the fall of Anakin Skywalker, in that Obi-Wan became blinded by his brotherhood with Anakin to see what he’d become.
Indeed, Obi-Wan always wanted to believe the best in Anakin. And even when he’s confronted by the horror of Anakin’s actions at the Jedi Temple, he still doubted whether he’d be able to kill him.
By leaving Anakin on the shores of the lake of fire, Obi-Wan again showed that he wasn’t willing to strike the final blow, leaving Anakin to fate.
At the same time, Obi-Wan’s sense of compassion is also what led Luke on the path toward redeeming his father and fulfilling the prophecy of balance. That never would’ve happened under any other Jedi Master.
4. His Incredible Foresight
The benefit of Obi-Wan having Qui-Gon as a master is that Obi-Wan inherited a perspective that separated him from the other Jedi.
Qui-Gon Jinn was able to see the future—even if it wasn’t always clear—and it was his decision to take Anakin to be trained because he knew that Anakin would bring balance.
Obi-Wan has a similar sense of knowing what must be done, which was evident in the look he gave to Darth Vader when realizing that Luke is on the other side of the hangar watching on.
Obi-Wan knows something about Luke that Darth Vader doesn’t yet know: he sees that Darth Vader can still be turned back to the Light by his son, and that Luke must escape the Death Star to do it.
At that moment, he can see the saga unfold before him and gives a wry smile when he prepares to become one with the Force.
Very few Jedi are blessed with the foresight that Obi-Wan has. That foresight is an indication of how honed his skills are—even in old age—which has gifted him with immense wisdom and clarity.
Obi-Wan continues to guide Luke from beyond the grave, proving that what Obi-Wan saw in the hangar was Luke’s true destiny.
5. He Truly Understands Balance
Above all, the words of Qui-Gon Jinn echoed true when he described the future of his apprentice: “I foresee you will become a great Jedi Knight, and a far wiser man than I am.”
Obi-Wan isn’t the best of the Jedi because of his unparalleled skills. In fact, Obi-Wan isn’t the best at everything—he’s not even the strongest Jedi in any particular category. What’s true of Obi-Wan is this: his specialty is having no weaknesses.
He’s a Jedi who’s powerful, wise, gifted, strategic, compassionate, and blessed with foresight. Obi-Wan’s fate came true as predicted by Qui-Gon, who saw him as a man who would do what needed to be done for the greater good of the Force.
In the end, Obi-Wan is the most balanced of the Jedi. He understands that everything is always shifting, and he adapts to what he must do with utmost clarity. Even after the fall of Anakin, Obi-Wan knows that Anakin can still bring balance, which is why he sets Luke out on his path.