One of the greatest moments in the history of Star Wars was the duel between Obi-Wan Kenobi and Anakin Skywalker in Mustafar. This duel changed Anakin into the cyborg Sith Lord known as Darth Vader, as Obi-Wan cut off all of his limbs and left him for dead while the lava of Mustafar burned him. Of course, Anakin’s hatred for his old master grew due to this battle as he survived as a shell of his former self that needed the help of a life-support system to live. But what if Obi-Wan killed Anakin?
If Obi-Wan had killed Anakin, the end result would only serve to further Palpatine’s grand plans. That’s because the Empire would have still continued to reign supreme with or without Darth Vader. And if Anakin had died on Mustafar, he wouldn’t have completed the prophecy of the Chosen One.
The thing about Anakin’s fall to the dark side was that it was necessary when it came to the grander scheme of things. That means it was the Force’s will that Obi-Wan spared him not once but twice. Had Obi-Wan killed Anakin right then and there on Mustafar, nothing would have changed because Palpatine was still the emperor. So, with that said, let’s look at what would have happened had Anakin been killed early.
The Empire Would Have Still Reigned Supreme
One of the things that we know about Star Wars is that the fall of the Jedi Order was something that Palpatine had planned for a long time. He deceived and manipulated millions of people to change the Republic into the Empire, with him sitting on the throne as the Galaxy emperor. He also used the Clone Wars as a way for him to destroy the Jedi Order and get revenge for all of the Sith that the Jedi killed in the past. Of course, one of the biggest things he did in The Clone Wars was luring Anakin Skywalker over to the dark side and turning him into Darth Vader.
We know that Yoda and Obi-Wan, in a last-ditch effort to stop the Empire from rising, decided to assassinate both Palpatine and Anakin. Yoda had to take on Darth Sidious, while Obi-Wan was tasked to kill the newly-christened Darth Vader. The fight between Obi-Wan and Anakin was an epic one that took place on the volcanic planet of Mustafar. And it ended with Kenobi using the high ground to defeat Anakin after slicing off all of his limbs.
After an emotional moment between the two former best friends, Obi-Wan left as he saw the fires of Mustafar consuming Anakin. Instead of dealing with the killing blow, he left Anakin for dead because he thought the fires would consume his former Padawan. But we all know that the emperor arrived just in time to save Anakin and turn him into the cyborg monster that Darth Vader became known for.
Of course, we learned in the Obi-Wan Kenobi series, which takes place ten years after the fall of the Jedi Order, that Obi-Wan thought that he had killed Anakin back on Mustafar. That’s because Kenobi lived in isolation for a decade and was unaware of what was happening in the galaxy. But for ten years, he lived with the guilt that came with the thought that he killed Anakin and was responsible for not guiding him well enough that he fell to the dark side.
Basically speaking, even though Obi-Wan thought that he had killed Anakin, there was nothing that changed in the status quo. The Empire still reigned supreme for ten years and without resistance. That means there would have been no difference in how things around the galaxy would have progressed had Obi-Wan killed Anakin on Mustafar. Yoda still failed to defeat Sidious, which means that the Empire would have continued regardless of whether or not Vader survived that battle with Kenobi.
Obi-Wan realized this in his second battle with Anakin in the Obi-Wan Kenobi series. He spared his former Padawan once more and proclaimed that Anakin died on Mustafar ten years ago when it was clear that Darth Vader had consumed his old friend. Kenobi must have realized that killing Vader right then and there wouldn’t have changed the outcome because the emperor would still be in power.
Palpatine Would Have Simply Replaced Him
Of course, we’ve seen Palpatine replacing his apprentices twice. He took on Count Dooku as his new apprentice just moments after Darth Maul fell to Obi-Wan Kenobi. And after Anakin killed Dooku, he immediately groomed the young Jedi Knight to become his new apprentice.
That means that Palpatine would have simply found another young Jedi or Force user to turn to the dark side and train as his new apprentice. Anakin’s death would not have changed the emperor’s plans because he could have simply looked for another young talent to serve as his apprentice. And we know that there were a lot of Jedi that Palpatine and Vader turned to the dark side to serve as Inquisitors during the height of the Empire’s power.
So, if Anakin had been killed on Mustafar, Palpatine would have simply groomed a Jedi youngling to serve as his new apprentice. And we all know that it didn’t matter to him who his apprentice was because he was simply using his apprentices as lapdogs that he could order around.
In Vader’s case, he acted as the angry dog that Palpatine ordered around to kill Jedi survivors and Rebels during the Imperial era. After Anakin lost his limbs and became weaker in his physical body and the Force, he was simply nothing more than just a dispensable puppet that Palpatine used for his own benefit. Had he found a stronger and more talented Force user during his reign, the emperor would have easily replaced Vader. And we did see him doing that when he tried to lure Luke Skywalker over to the dark side.
That means Palpatine would have just groomed and trained another lapdog if Obi-Wan had killed Anakin. Vader was nothing more than just a pawn to him. The only reason why he took him on as his apprentice was to take over his body and claim his power as his own. But when Anakin became weaker due to his injuries, he was simply an angry guard dog that did the emperor’s bidding.
The Prophecy of the Chosen One Would Not Be Complete
The prophecy of the Chosen One was always vague, but the point is that the Chosen One was supposed to destroy the Sith and bring balance back to the Force. Of course, we all know that Obi-Wan and the other Jedi lost hope in the prophecy when Anakin turned to the dark side. And that was the reason why they thought that Luke was going to be the new Chosen One.
But we all know that Anakin was still the Chosen One because he did bring balance back to the Force when he destroyed Darth Sidious and ended the Empire’s reign of terror by killing Palpatine. Luke didn’t defeat the Emperor but catalyzed for Darth Vader to see the light once more and redeem himself.
If Obi-Wan had killed Anakin, it would have been impossible for the Chosen One to fulfill his destiny. Luke and Leia would have still fought hard as Rebels, but the fact is that Anakin was always the one destined to defeat the Sith. As such, Anakin would not have been able to restore balance to the Force if Obi-Wan had killed him on Mustafar.
Palpatine Would Have Never Been Defeated
As mentioned, Anakin was the one that defeated the emperor when he turned on him. This redemption arc completed the Chosen One cycle and allowed Anakin to end the oppression of the Sith and the Empire. And the only reason he could do so was that Palpatine wanted to meet Luke in person and tried to turn Anakin’s son against him.
So, even if Luke ended up becoming a Rebel hero despite his father dying nearly 20 years ago on Mustafar, there was no real way that he could have had a chance to actually defeat Palpatine. Remember that Palpatine was more of a shadow that loomed over the entire Empire instead of someone that took to the battlefield and fought on the frontlines.
The Emperor was only in the second Death Star because he wanted to meet Luke as he planned on turning the younger Skywalker over to the dark side by tempting him to kill his father. So, if Obi-Wan had killed Anakin, there was no way for the emperor to try to lure Luke over to the dark side. As such, Palpatine would have stayed hidden throughout the entire Rebellion to ensure that the Rebels wouldn’t be able to cut the head off of the snake.
Remember that the Rebels were always fighting a losing battle with the Empire because they were simply outgunned. But the fact that Palpatine exposed himself to try to lure Luke to the dark side by forcing him to kill his own father eventually led to the defeat of the Empire. So, if Anakin wasn’t around, there wouldn’t have been any real reason for Sidious and Luke to meet. And that means that the Empire wouldn’t have fallen to the Rebels.
This all means that it was the will of the Force that Obi-Wan spared his former Padawan not once but twice. Anakin was always meant to live so that he could fulfill the prophecy. And the galaxy was lucky enough that Anakin’s master was a true Jedi that decided to spare him twice.