Star Wars – The Phantom Menace: What If Darth Maul Hadn’t Killed Qui-Gon Jinn?
While Star Wars: Episode I – The Phantom Menace isn’t one of the most critically beloved Star Wars movies (to put it lightly), there are enjoyable elements of it. For instance, Liam Neeson’s Qui-Gon Jinn received a lot of positive reception, though sadly, we didn’t get to spend much time with him in a galaxy far, far away. During Qui-Gon and Obi-Wan Kenobi duel against Darth Maul on Naboo, the Jedi Master was killed by the Zabrak Sith, but what if this battle had ended differently?
What if there was a timeline where Qui-Gon Jinn made it out of The Phantom Menace alive? That’s what we’re here to go over, as if Qui-Gon survives, a lot of the Star Wars mythology could unfold much differently. But first, let’s recap what happened to him in the main continuity.
What Happened When Qui-Gon And Obi-Wan Dueled Darth Maul
During the assault to retake Naboo from the Trade Federation, Qui-Gon Jinn and Obi-Wan Kenobi separated from Padme Amidala’s group to deal with Darth Maul, the apprentice of Darth Sidious, who was pulling the strings of the Federation’s leader, Nute Gunray, from behind the scenes. Qui-Gon and Obi-Wan were able to give Maul a run for his money together, but Qui-Gon had to fight the Sith alone when Obi-Wan got separated from the duel. Qui-Gon and Maul were evenly matched, but the latter hit the former with a well-timed strike from his lightsaber hilt, and with Qui-Gon’s guard down, Maul fatally stabbed him.
Qui-Gon Jinn clung to life long enough to have one last moment with Obi-Wan Kenobi after his apprentice sliced Darth Maul in half. He made Obi-Wan promise that he would train Anakin Skywalker as a Jedi, reiterating that the boy was the “Chosen One.” While that marked the end of his physical life, it was later revealed that Qui-Gon had discovered the secret to manifesting one’s consciousness after death, a power he taught Obi-Wan and Yoda, hence why they were able to appear as spirits in front of Luke Skywalker.
What If Qui-Gon Had Survived The Duel?
Despite only appearing in one movie, Qui-Gon Jinn left a notable impact on the Star Wars franchise, and the character’s spirit would later appear in a few episodes of The Clone Wars. But now let’s turn to that alternate timeline mentioned earlier, where Qui-Gon survived the duel against Darth Maul. Maybe he was able to dodge Maul’s blow and continue holding his ground until Obi-Wan Kenobi caught up with them. Maybe Obi-Wan never got separated from them in the first place and they kept a consistent barrage against Maul.
Either way, the duel would culminate in Maul being overwhelmed and defeated by both Jedi. Furthermore, rather than be dispatched in a way that still allows him to return and cause trouble years later (as he did in The Clone Wars and Rebels), this Maul is actually killed during the duel, which makes for a nice bonus. And with the rest of the mission to free Naboo from Trade Federation control unfolding just like it does in the main timeline, that means Qui-Gon gets to join in on the planet’s celebration afterwards rather than be the center of attention at a funeral pyre.
Qui-Gon Trains Anakin
Since Qui-Gon Jinn is alive, that means he’s able to train Anakin Skywalker in the ways of the Force rather than Obi-Wan Kenobi (who we’ll get back to in a little bit). However, while the Jedi Council reluctantly agreed to have Obi-Wan train Anakin as a way to honor Qui-Gon’s last wish in the main timeline, with Qui-Gon still in the picture here, presumably they’re still unwilling to admit the boy into the Jedi Order, as he’s much older than when younglings are usually brought in.
It’s possible that the Jedi Order might have ended up changing its mind and allowed Qui-Gon Jinn to train Anakin Skywalker through official channels, but it’s more likely that Qui-Gon would have followed through on his ultimatum to leave behind the Jedi Order and instruct Anakin in his own special way. As such, while Qui-Gon and Anakin presumably would have maintained informal ties with certain Jedi allies, Qui-Gon would no longer be classified as a Master, and Anakin would never officially be classified as a Jedi.
Obi-Wan And Anakin Don’t Become Close
It was quite apparent during The Phantom Menace that Obi-Wan Kenobi was hardly enamored with Anakin Skywalker. He questioned why Qui-Gon Jinn brought them along for the rest of their mission in The Phantom Menace, and he only agreed to train the boy to fulfill his promise to his dying master. Yes, Anakin and Obi-Wan did end up forming a close, albeit strained bond, but if Qui-Gon survives the duel against Darth Maul and becomes Anakin’s master instead, then you can be sure Obi-Wan wouldn’t establish his own special bond with Anakin.
That’s not to say that Obi-Wan Kenobi and Anakin Skywalker would never meet again. Despite Qui-Gon Jinn and Obi-Wan’s differences, I imagine the two would maintain communication with one another even after Qui-Gon left the Jedi Order to train Anakin, and surely there would come a time where the three would all been together again. However, with Qui-Gon now busy training Anakin in his own unique way, and Obi-Wan being preoccupied with training a different apprentice and continuing to represent the interests of the Jedi Order, Obi-Wan and Anakin would be acquaintances at best in this timeline.
Anakin Resists The Pull Of The Dark Side
There were a variety of factors that contributed to Anakin Skywalker turning to the Dark Side and becoming Darth Vader, including him feeling stifled by the Jedi Order’s numerous restrictions. So Qui-Gon leaving the Order with Anakin is already a good step towards ensuring he stays with Team Light Side, but it goes further than that. During the second episode of Disney Gallery: The Mandalorian, director/writer/executive producer Dave Filoni talked about how if Qui-Gon had survived, he would have trained Anakin differently than your standard Jedi. He would have taken a more fatherly approach with Anakin’s care than the brotherly approach the youth got with Obi-Wan, and that would have made all the difference in the world, as Anakin needed a father figure more than a brother.
It’s also worth pointing out that Anakin training under Qui-Gon means he probably wouldn’t have crossed paths with Padme Amidala again, or at least not nearly as soon as he did in the official timeline. The only reason Anakin was reunited with Padme is because he and Obi-Wan were called back to Coruscant at the beginning of Attack of the Clones to protect her from an assassination plot, which ignited their romantic relationship.
Even if Anakin kept thinking about Padme, and even on the slim chance they did run into each other again, he would have been able to handle his feelings towards her (or anyone person he was romantically attracted to) much more healthily thanks to Qui-Gon’s unorthodox tutelage, thus further steering him away from embracing the Dark Side. Of course, if Anakin and Padme don’t end up together, that means Luke and Leia aren’t born, but that’s an alternate scenario for another time.
Palpatine Is Defeated Before The Empire Rises
During his time on Coruscant training as a Jedi, Anakin Skywalker struck up a friendship with Chancellor Palpatine, who was secretly pulling the galaxy far, far away as Darth Sidious. Palpatine slowly cozied up to Anakin for over a decade, establishing trust with the youth so that he could one day recruit him as his new Sith apprentice. But if Qui-Gon Jinn takes Anakin away from the Jedi Order, then Palpatine isn’t able to sink his proverbial claws into the youth at a young age.
With Darth Maul still being gone and Count Dooku still serving Palpatine for approximately a decade in this scenario, one would imagine Palpatine is still able to ignite the Clone Wars as planned, thus throwing the Republic into a destructive conflict with the Confederacy of Independent Systems. However, with Anakin unavailable to groom as a loyal servant, Palpatine would have to improvise.
Maybe Palpatine would have found a different apprentice to take Count Dooku’s place, and maybe said apprentice would have been a powerful Force user. And honestly, even ignoring the devastation of the Clone Wars, considering that Palpatine inputted the Order 66 commands into the clone army from the start, it’s even possible that he still would have initiated that massacre like he did in the main timeline.
But with Anakin fully in the Light Side’s corner and thriving under Qui-Gon’s tutelage, Palpatine wouldn’t have been successful in bringing forth the Empire, let alone be able to lead it. It was clear in The Phantom Menace that Qui-Gon was better attuned to the threat of the Sith than the members of the Jedi Order, so in addition to leading Anakin down a better path, it’s also likely he would have spent the years following Darth Maul’s defeat investigating the Jedi’s ancient enemy, perhaps even sharing his findings with Obi-Wan so that he has the ear of at least one official Jedi.
This ultimately leads to Palatine’s being uncovered as the puppet master behind the Clone Wars sooner than how it went down in the main Star Wars continuity, and this time around, he doesn’t have Anakin Skywalker to serve him. Even on the off chance Palpatine manages to slay the group of Jedi that try to arrest him after the discovery is made, with Qui-Gon and Anakin opposing him, not to mention Obi-Wan and Yoda still being in play, the nefarious Sith Lord would be overpowered. That’s not to say that Qui-Gon still couldn’t be slain should he be part of a duel against Palpatine, but at least his death in this reality would be in service of preventing a tyrant from taking control of the galaxy.
Of course, this is just how I envision the aftermath of Qui-Gon Jinn surviving. Let us know what you think would happen if the Jedi Master lived past The Phantom Menace in the comments below.