Hello There – Did Obi-Wan Kenobi Pay Off A Great Star Wars Meme?

By Rick Gonzales

hello there

Hello there. It’s a pretty common greeting, one that most of us wouldn’t give a second thought to, other than with a proper response. But this common greeting, one that has been uttered countless millions of times, has taken on a new life form – a meme. So, who do we have to thank for this?

WHAT IS THE “HELLO THERE” MEME FROM?

Disney has returned Star Wars to its fans by churning out a number of solid series on Disney+. Not only has the popular streamer added every Star Wars movie in canon, but they have also brought forth a few new series that has made the Star Wars experience a winner for those tuning into Disney+. It’s a universe and franchise that, amazingly, is only growing these days. The one happening now is, of course, Obi-Wan Kenobi. And it is with this character where our story starts, a long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away…

If we want to get technical about it, the “Hello there” greeting was first said by Ewan McGregor in terms of Star Wars timeline. That’s because his version of Obi-Wan Kenobi is technically “before” the original Star Wars version which had come out about two decades prior. So, yes, in terms of timing then this character is the first one to utter “Hello there”.

But, if we truly want to get technical, Ewan McGregor was not the first Obi-Wan to grace fans with that polite greeting. We can actually turn the clock back almost 30 years from when Episode III premiered to 1977 when Sir Alec Guinness first played the Jedi Master in Star Wars: Episode IV – A New Hope. As you may recall, when we first see Obi-Wan in A New Hope, he is attending to an unconscious Luke Skywalker, who just lost a short battle against the Sand People. As Obi-Wan begins to tend to Luke, he hears R2D2 hiding inside a small cave. He pulls his hood down as he turns to address R2D2 by saying, “Hello there. Come here, my little friend. Don’t be afraid.” You can see it at the 2:25 mark of the following video.

WHY DID OBI-WAN SAY HELLO THERE?

McGregor hits fans with his “Hello there” in the 2005 film, Star Wars: Episode III – Revenge of the Sith. In it, we see McGregor’s Obi-Wan take a leap to eventual confrontation, but after landing, he calmly says, “Hello there.” It was a perfect way for our Jedi Master to kick things off. Little did we know that it was the simple beginning to a meme ending.

A MISSED OPPORTUNITY AT “HELLO THERE?”

So far, not one “Hello there” has been in the new Disney+ Obi-Wan Kenobi series, though there has definitely been an opportunity or two for McGregor’s Obi-Wan to whip it out. One perfect chance was during Episode 2 of the new Star Wars series. This comes when Obi-Wan first meets Haja Estree, played by Kumail Nanjiani (Eternals, The Big Sick, Stuber). It would have been the perfect time for a nod to the “Hello there” memes, but it may also have been best that the phrase wasn’t uttered at that time.

When we meet Obi-Wan in the Obi-Wan Kenobi series (SPOILERS) we are ten years after the events of Star Wars: Episode III – Revenge of the Sith. Obi-Wan has seen the Jedi destroyed by Order 66 and his apprentice, Anakin Skywalker, has become Darth Vader, although Obi-Wan thinks Anakin has perished by his own hand.

Obi-Wan, who now goes by Ben, is living in exile on the planet Tatooine, keeping an eye on the young Luke Skywalker, when he is called back into action to rescue Leia Organa, who Ben knows is Luke’s twin sister and Anakin’s daughter. The reason for the kidnapping is to bring Obi-Wan out into the open so the Inquisitors can hunt him down, along with any other remaining Jedi.

So, what we see is a sullen Obi-Wan, ready to live out his remaining days in hiding. He is not a happy man, he is not a fun man, and his persona is not light and jovial. Although Haja provides some smiles to the episode, Obi-Wan plays it safe and cool. While it would have been the perfect time for a “Hello there” from Obi-Wan, it was perhaps the perfect time not to use it.

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THE GROWTH OF THE “HELLO THERE” MEME

The “Hello there” memes started roughly two years after Revenge of the Sith premiered when YouTuber Thereisnospoon303 posted a three-and-a-half-minute video titled “Obi-wan Says Hello There While I Play Unfitting Music”. And true to his word, the video is exactly that. You’ll get the drift after 10 seconds. Although the video did not go viral as it only has a little over 40K views since it was posted in 2007, it was the beginning of something much bigger.

Admittingly, the “Hello there” meme has been a slow build. It took another seven years but suzcatonmars posted on Tumblr a number of Obi-Wan GIFs from Revenge of the Sith and it included McGregor’s “Hello there” scene. The post received plenty of comments. Three years later, a photoshopped version of Obi-Wan saying the famous line was added to Imgur and it received over 96,000 views.

That was just the beginning. The meme began to take on a life of its own and became super popular on the Star Wars meme subreddit /r/PrequelMemes. Eventually, the “Hello there” meme made it over to TikTok where it took off like wildfire. @chuggernuts was the first to take a sound clip of the Obi-Wan scene and reenact it. In one month, the popular meme had almost 29,000 likes. Another TikTok upload of the meme grabbed almost 370,000 likes in its first three weeks. The meme was taking on a life of its own and you can count Ewan McGregor as shocked at how much play his simple “Hello there” has gotten. Check a compilation of TikTok “Hello there’s” below.

EWAN MCGREGOR REACTS TO THE MEMES

obi-wan kenobi

Ewan McGregor has been asked on a number of occasions just how he feels about his famous line being used as a now-famous meme. McGregor is very aware of his meme legacy and while he tries to be a good sport about it, he does say that he is not a happy camper when people come up to him off the street and ask him to repeat it.

“I’m asked to say it a lot. I don’t like to say it if I’m asked to by strangers and stuff on the street because I think that’s odd,” the Obi-Wan Kenobi star told Capital FM in an interview alongside Hayden Christensen. McGregor then was able to reflect quite happily on the fact that it was Sir Alec Guinness’s first line in A New Hope, surmising that Alec ran into the same problem he did by always being asked to repeat “Hello there.” But McGregor also did say that although it can be a bit tiresome, he does “knock out ‘Hello There’ every now and again.”

In another interview with Daily Pop, McGregor talks about when he finally realized that it was his “Hello there” that caught on to be the popular meme it has now become. “I don’t know, I supposed it’s funny cause when I say it, I think it is in Attack of the Clones (it was actually Revenge of the Sith, Ewan!) when I drop in behind General Grievous, I know it was Alec Guinness’s first line as Obi-Wan Kenobi in A New Hope. And so, it was like, when I remember doing it on set, it was like, okay, now I am doing this iconic line. So, I had to sort of somewhat throw it away I guess, or else I wouldn’t have been able to do it. So, now it’s become this crazy meme all over the place.”

WILL THERE BE MORE?

As far as “Hello there” memes, the chances of those ending soon may come with the end of the Obi-Wan Kenobi series that has one episode left. The previous five have given McGregor’s Obi-Wan plenty of chances to toss in the line, but so far it has yet to happen. Perhaps they are saving the best for last.

Maybe, though, they understand where Obi-Wan stands in this timeframe, and giving him a shot at brevity may not be in the best interest of the show. Who knows? There is still (we think) another big scene or two with Obi-Wan and Anakin/Darth Vader that should take place in the final episode, maybe there will be a chance to include that line. If not, you can easily get your fill of “Hello there” memes as they are easy to find on most social media.

THANK YOU, OBI-WAN KENOBI, YOU WERE OUR ONLY HOPE

[SPOILERS TO FOLLOW] The simple fact that we are giving our thanks to the Obi-Wan Kenobi series probably tells you where this is heading. So, if you have not seen the series, or you have but you have not yet watched the sixth and final episode, turn back now, “there is nothing to see here.”

It had to happen. It was a must as it was the very first line our Jedi Master uttered when Sir Alec Guinness appeared in Star Wars: Episode One – A New Hope. It’s his most famous line, the reason why McGregor’s delivery of it has become the viral meme it was meant to be. Thankfully, Obi-Wan Kenobi didn’t disappoint.

Again, MASSIVE SPOILERS. After a strange final episode that was both satisfying and troubling (you can read our complete season one review here), there was the inevitable denouement to put a nice, neat bow on everything we had seen. Obi-Wan got to have his moment with Prince Leia that would set up their eventual reintroduction in A New Hope and as “Ben” Kenobi, he was able to smooth things with Luke’s Uncle Owen (Joel Edgerton). As “Ben” was ready to make his exit, stage left, Owen stops him and asks him if he would like to meet Luke, the boy Obi-Wan said he’d always keep an eye on.

Of course, “Ben” is going to agree to the meeting, and it was everything expected. He approached Luke and said those words we had been waiting almost six complete episodes to hear. “Hello there.” It was a perfect way for their introduction and while we gave away this spoiler, we will not give away the final biggie. You’ll have to check that one out for yourselves. May the force be with you.