What Does “Only a Sith Deals in Absolutes” Mean & Who Said It?

anakin and obi wan
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The world of Star Wars is full of different memorable quotes coming from some of the most memorable characters in the best scenes possible. Of course, one of the most memorable quotes came from one of the best scenes in ‘Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith,’ wherein the quote “only a Sith deals in absolutes” was mentioned. So, what does the quote “only a Sith deals in absolutes” mean?

The quote “only a Sith deals in absolutes” means that only the Sith don’t look at all possible solutions to an issue and would only use power and force against people that don’t have the same views. Obi-Wan Kenobi told Anakin Skywalker this when the latter branded him as an enemy for disagreeing with him.

Many Star Wars fans have misinterpreted this quote from Obi-Wan to be an absolute statement concerning how the Jedi and the Sith look at different situations. In that regard, some people don’t know the quote’s true meaning. So, with that said, we are here to look at what this quote from Obi-Wan Kenobi means and why it is so meaningful.

Obi-Wan realized that Anakin had fallen

During the events of ‘Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith,’ Anakin Skywalker allows Palpatine to seduce him to the dark side of the Force as his love for Padmé Amidala is so strong that he wants to find a way to prevent his visions of her death from coming true. In that regard, he went to the dark side of the Force and helped Palpatine out in carrying Order 66 when he went to the Jedi Temple to slaughter the Jedi that there were there, including the innocent younglings.

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When Jedi Masters Yoda and Obi-Wan Kenobi snuck back into the Jedi Temple to look at the security footage of what happened, they were shocked to discover that Anakin had fallen to the dark side when he killed the people in the Jedi Temple and was seen kneeling down in reverence and respect to Palpatine, who had become his new master. As such, Yoda sent Obi-Wan to kill Anakin while he went to Palpatine in an attempt to assassinate the newly crowned emperor.

Obi-Wan snuck onboard Padmé’s ship to get to Mustafar, as that was when he saw Anakin and Padmé having an emotional moment, wherein Skywalker was so angry at Padmé for not agreeing with his recent actions. After Anakin let go of Padmé, he and Obi-Wan had their conversation regarding Skywalker’s recent actions and why he decided to go down that dark path in life.

Of course, Obi-Wan Kenobi could never agree with what Anakin had done because he did horrible and evil things for the sake of his twisted sense of security, justice, and peace in the galaxy. As such, Kenobi said told him that what he was doing was not in line with the democratic way of doing things in the Republic. And that was when Anakin told him he was his enemy if he was not with him.

This was when Obi-Wan Kenobi told him the quote, “Only a Sith deals in absolutes.” That’s because Obi-Wan Kenobi had seen how far his former Padawan had fallen and how he now saw things in black and white instead of looking at the grey areas. As such, Kenobi realized that he needed to kill Anakin due to how the former Jedi Knight had become an agent of the dark side of the Force.

The Jedi look at all of the possibilities

One of the things that we know about the Jedi is that they were trained to be peacekeepers of the galaxy. The Jedi Order was established to help make the galaxy more peaceful as they were agents of the Republic. As peacekeepers, their job was to go from one system to another to pacify situations that could lead to war and other conflicts. If needed, they had to work as negotiators and mediators between two warring parties instead of joining one party to destroy the other party.

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Only when the Jedi had no choice, they needed to take up arms and fight for what they believed was right. In all other cases, they could defend themselves against an opposing force that couldn’t be reasoned with. As such, if the negotiations failed and one party resorted to using force, the Jedi were allowed to take action, defend themselves, and fight the opposing party if necessary.

That is what it means for the Jedi to look at all possibilities. The Jedi are not supposed to deal with absolutes wherein they must conclude that one party is the enemy while the other is an ally. Instead, what they need to do is to look at all of the possible situations to resolve conflicts between different parties. 

In fact, we saw this in ‘Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace’ when Qui-Gon Jinn and Obi-Wan Kenobi were sent to the Trade Federation’s blockade outside of Naboo to negotiate terms that would have allowed both parties to come to an agreement. But Qui-Gon and Obi-Wan only fought back to defend themselves when the Trade Federation sent droids to kill them. And they only joined the side of Naboo when it was clear that they had to take the side of the oppressed party.

qui and obi

So, what Obi-Wan told Anakin about how only the Sith deal in absolutes opposes what the Jedi were taught to do. That’s because he saw Anakin was ready to brand anyone who didn’t agree with him as a traitor. And this was something that the Sith have always been known to do because they were fascists who weren’t willing to resolve things peacefully whenever someone disagreed.

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In that regard, Obi-Wan had seen how far his former Padawan had fallen when he realized he had already adopted the Sith way of dealing with things they couldn’t control. Anakin was ready to kill anyone who didn’t agree with his philosophy, which was why Kenobi had no choice but to stop him.

Is “only a Sith deals in absolutes” an absolute statement?

Some fans actually believe that Obi-Wan Kenobi contradicted himself when he said that only a Sith deals in absolutes. Because this statement in itself is also an absolute statement that allowed Kenobi to conclude that Anakin was now a true Sith Lord; while that may be true, it is important to take note that what Obi-Wan was referring to as absolutes was the mindset and the actions that Anakin was willing to take in response to those who didn’t agree with him.

In fact, Kenobi didn’t even resort to anything absolute when he was tasked to stop Anakin. He told Yoda he wasn’t willing to kill Anakin because he was his brother. And upon reaching Mustafar, Obi-Wan even tried to reason things out with Anakin because this was the Jedi way of doing things.

AnakinvsObi Wan

It was only when Anakin had decided to brand Obi-Wan as an enemy that Kenobi needed to fight back. Of course, during the fight, he was on the defensive the entire time as he wasn’t willing to deal a lethal blow to Anakin. Even the high ground moment between them was proof of the fact that Obi-Wan still wasn’t ready to deal with the absolute because he even told Anakin that the fight was already over because he had the high ground. And it was only when Anakin gave Obi-Wan no choice that he eventually decided to act.

So, with all that said, Obi-Wan’s statement may sound absolute, but his actions were never absolute. As much as possible, throughout his scenes with Anakin on Mustafar, he tried to pacify the situation and only fought back to defend himself. As such, there was nothing absolute about Kenobi’s actions because he only decided to take action and maim Anakin when he absolutely no longer had any choice. And if he were a Sith that dealt in absolutes, he would have tried to kill Anakin earlier in the fight.

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