Why Did Obi-Wan Let Anakin Burn in Revenge of the Sith?

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One of the turning points in the entire Star Wars saga was the battle between Obi-Wan Kenobi and Anakin Skywalker on the planet Mustafar during the events of Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith. During that battle, Kenobi was able to use Anakin’s hubris against him to cut off his former padawan’s limbs and leave him there after his clothes made contact with the lava river. But why did Obi-Wan let Anakin burn instead of killing him himself?

Obi-Wan let Anakin burn in Mustafar during the events of Revenge of the Sith because he could not bring himself to kill someone he saw as a brother and the closest friend he ever had. On top of that, Obi-Wan was still a Jedi that stuck by his code in that he shouldn’t kill an unarmed man.

There are many points in Revenge of the Sith that could have changed the fate of the galaxy as we know it. One such event was when Obi-Wan just left Anakin to burn instead of taking action himself, and this led to Darth Vader’s survival. In that regard, let’s look at what we know about Obi-Wan’s relationship with Anakin and why he let him burn in the events of Revenge of the Sith.

Why Did Obi-Wan Leave Anakin To Burn In Revenge Of The Sith?

Arguably the biggest event in the entire prequel trilogy was the turning of Anakin Skywalker from Jedi to Sith because he was afraid of the possibility of Padme dying. He was promised by Darth Sidious the power to prevent someone from dying, and that was what ultimately lured him to the dark side as he wanted the love of his life spared.

When Anakin turned to the dark side during the events of Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith, he was sent by Darth Sidious to the planet Mustafar, where the rest of the Separatist leaders were gathered as he basically murdered them.

Anakin returned to the port to see that Padme had followed him to Mustafar. As he tried to convince Padme that what we did was for the best and for their future together, Anakin’s wife showed her disagreement with what the former Jedi had done. And unknown to Padme, Obi-Wan Kenobi had snuck aboard her ship so that he could confront Anakin and kill him under the orders of Jedi Grandmaster Yoda.

Obi-Wan alighted from the ship to the surprise of Padme as Anakin thought that his former master was responsible for turning her against him. He Force-choked Padme until Obi-Wan convinced him to let her go. This turned into an exchange of words between the two former best friends as they had to draw their lightsabers for an epic battle.

The battle between Obi-Wan Kenobi and Anakin Skywalker turned out to be one of the most epic swordfights in the history of film, as it is often regarded as the greatest lightsaber battle in all of the nine main Star Wars movies. 


The duel took them to a lava river, as Mustafar is known to be a planet that resembles a volcano in terms of its topography. Mounting droids that could travel through Mustafar’s lava river, the battle between master and student was so intense that a single mistake could kill one of them in an instant.

However, Obi-Wan found a way to get off the droid and position himself on an elevated position on a rocky area by the lava river. He told Anakin that it was over because he now had the high ground, which allowed him to gain the advantage over the former Jedi.

In his hubris, Anakin Skywalker told his former master that he was underestimating his powers. This led him to jump off the droid and towards Obi-Wan, who quickly countered with a single strike that severed all of Anakin’s limbs.


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Anakin was left unable to stand or even drag himself by the lava river as the two former best friends shared words with one another. And Anakin was fueled with rage the entire moment as his clothes got caught in the lava river.

After seeing Anakin getting set on fire, Obi-Wan left the scene without even attempting to finish off Anakin or save him. So, in that regard, why did Obi-Wan just leave Anakin to burn in Mustafar after their duel in Revenge of the Sith?

The biggest reason why Obi-Wan left Anakin to burn in Mustafar is that he was someone he regarded as his brother. Despite the fact that Anakin had already turned and had killed innocent people to help Palpatine rise to power as the Emperor, Kenobi still thought of him as the little boy that he trained many years ago. He was not only Anakin’s older brother figure but was also his best friend, as the younger Jedi basically grew up under his guidance and care.

If you’ve seen the Clone Wars series, you will understand how many events Obi-Wan and Anakin have been through together. Kenobi just couldn’t forget all of the things that he and his former student went through in their years together just because Anakin betrayed the Jedi Order and the Republic.

On top of that, Obi-Wan Kenobi was still, first and foremost, a Jedi. He was always a model Jedi that tried to stick to the rules despite the fact that he trained under a Jedi Master that didn’t like sticking with the rules, and even though he trained a student that loved doing things outside the books. It was not the Jedi way to kill an opponent after disarming him.

That said, the only thing that Obi-Wan Kenobi could do at that point was to walk away from Anakin Skywalker. He could’ve killed his former student, or he could’ve saved him (not the wisest choice because of Anakin’s rage). However, he couldn’t slay his own former student in cold blood, and that’s why he just left him there.

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This proved to be a turning point in the history of Star Wars because Anakin did indeed survive but was at the point of death when Darth Sidious found him. The injuries he sustained after getting his limbs cut off and after getting burned in Mustafar forced him to become a cybernetic monster that needed to wear a life support armor that became Darth Vader’s trademark look. 

Did Obi-Wan Think That Anakin Would Die When Left In Mustafar?

Another angle that you could look at is the possibility that Obi-Wan thought that Anakin was going to die then and there if he would just leave him. After all, the lava had already burned him, and he had no way of escaping because he had no arms or legs. So, did Obi-Wan really think that Anakin would just die in Mustafar?

It is possible that Obi-Wan thought that Anakin would just die then and there if left alone to burn in Mustafar. After all, there was no one else on the planet to save him. And Mustafar is a volcano planet that will kill almost anything alive when left on that planet without any means of escape.

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However, what Obi-Wan did not anticipate was that Anakin’s rage was enough to keep him alive. Take note that the Sith use their emotions to fuel their power, and rage is one of the emotions that they often rely on.

We’ve seen some of the strongest Sith in history becoming stronger by relying on their rage, as Darth Malgus, who lived thousands of years ago, was a strong Sith that was fueled by his boundless rage. Meanwhile, Darth Maul survived getting cut in half at the torso and falling several stories down a shaft because his rage for Obi-Wan Kenobi kept him alive.


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In that regard, Anakin’s rage for his old master kept him alive long enough that Darth Sidious was able to sense that he was dying. The emperor came just in time to save Darth Vader as Obi-Wan should’ve just killed him on the spot. Leaving him there thinking that he would die was a fatal error on the part of Obi-Wan as Darth Vader ultimately became the most dangerous force in the galaxy under Palpatine’s rule.

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