The emotional story behind Obi-Wan Kenobi's nickname "Ben"

Is there a canon explanation of why Obi-Wan Kenobi chose to go by the alias 'Ben?'

Obi-Wan Kenobi (Ewan McGregor) in Lucasfilm's OBI-WAN KENOBI, exclusively on Disney+. © 2022 Lucasfilm Ltd. & ™. All Rights Reserved.
Obi-Wan Kenobi (Ewan McGregor) in Lucasfilm's OBI-WAN KENOBI, exclusively on Disney+. © 2022 Lucasfilm Ltd. & ™. All Rights Reserved. /

Is there a canon explanation for why Obi-Wan chose to be known as "Ben Kenobi?"

When we're introduced to Obi-Wan Kenobi in Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope, Luke refers to him as "Uncle Ben," a mysterious old man who seems to be hiding many secrets.

Star Wars: A New Hope. Obi-Wan Kenobi shows Luke Skywalker a lightsaber. Image credit: Star /

Later on, it's revealed that Ben Kenobi is the same man Leia is looking for: The former Jedi Master named Obi-Wan Kenobi. Years later, during the Star Wars sequel trilogy, we meet Leia Organa and Han Solo's son, Ben Solo. While the choice of name may have seemed random for casual viewers, it looks very deliberate after the release of the series Obi-Wan Kenobi. It's very possible that Leia named her son after Obi-Wan, who came to her rescue as a child when Senator Bail Organa asked him for help.

A New Hope isn't the only time Obi-Wan goes by the name "Ben." During Season 4 of The Clone Wars, Obi-Wan goes undercover as the bounty hunter Rako Hardeen, and this is yet another occasion when he goes by the name "Ben." That's not all. If you've watched The Clone Wars, then you know that Duchess Satine Kryze refers to Obi-Wan as "Ben" in various episodes. This is because the two of them were romantically involved when they were younger, so the name may have come to hold sentimental value for Obi-Wan.

Thankfully, Star Wars finally gives a canon explanation of the origins of the name "Ben Kenobi." Mike Chen's novel Brotherhood details how Obi-Wan was given this name. It comes from none other than Satine Kryze - the love of Obi-Wan's life. Obi-Wan and Qui-Gon Jinn were sent on a mission to protect the Duchess, and during this mission, Satine and Obi-Wan fell in love. While they never acted on their feelings and decided to choose duty over love, Obi-Wan loved her throughout his life. As "Ben" was Satine's nickname for Obi-Wan, it's probably why he decided to go by it during his time on Tatooine.

The name "Ben" likely brought back fond memories of Obi-Wan's time with Satine, who was assassinated during Season 5 of The Clone Wars. Now, in exile on the desert planet, with the job of watching over his best friend-turned-nemesis's son, Obi-Wan used the name to hide his identity from the Empire. Satine's nickname worked like a charm as Obi-Wan's identity remained a mystery for several years. He could stay on Tatooine, apart from his brief time off planet on his mission to save Leia, without being noticed.

Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace. Obi-Wan Kenobi (Ewan McGregor) and Qui-Gon Jinn (Liam Neeson). Image credit: /

Even though it's become a joke among fans that the Empire didn't seem to care that old Ben's surname was "Kenobi," the story behind "Ben" reveals a lot about Obi-Wan as a character. By going by a nickname given to him by the woman he loved, Obi-Wan shows that he's much more than the aloof Jedi some fans seem to think of him as.

It also makes us wish that Lucasfilm would someday release a novel or a series that focuses on the love story of young Obi-Wan and Duchess Satine Kryze.

Obi-Wan Kenobi and The Clone Wars are streaming on Disney+.

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