Anakin Skywalker (Darth Vader)

Character Profile

Hayden Christensen as Anakin Skywalker
Hayden Christensen as Anakin Skywalker in Attack of the Clones. Lucasfilm Ltd./Lisa Tomasetti

Anakin Skywalker was one of the most powerful Jedi who ever lived. Raised as a slave on the desert planet Tatooine, he was discovered as a young boy and trained as a Jedi by Obi-Wan Kenobi. Fear and pride drove him to the dark side of the Force, and, as Darth Vader, he helped slaughter nearly all the Jedi in the galaxy. Eventually, with the help of his son, he returned to the Light and helped overthrow the evil Empire.

Anakin Skywalker in the Star Wars Prequels

Anakin was born in 41 BBY. His mother was Shmi Skywalker, but he had no father. He may have been conceived by midi- chlorians. Anakin and his mother were slaves to Gardulla the Hutt, a notorious crime lord, and were later sold to Watto, a Toydarian junk dealer. Surrounded by salvaged parts in Watto's shop, Anakin learned to construct machines such as the droid C-3PO and a pod racer.

Anakin first encountered the Jedi when Qui-Gon Jinn came to Watto's shop looking for parts. Always willing to help people in need, even complete strangers, Anakin offered to enter a dangerous pod race in order to help the visitors get the money they needed to fix Queen Amidala's ship.

Qui-Gon analyzed Anakin's blood and discovered that he had a midi-chlorian count of over 20,000 -- even higher than Master Yoda. Believing that Anakin could be the Chosen One prophesied to bring balance to the Force, he arranged to buy Anakin from Watto as part of his bet.

After Anakin won the race, Qui-Gon brought him back to the Jedi Temple on Coruscant. But despite Anakin's strong Force-sensitivity, the Council worried that he was too old to begin training as a Jedi and too susceptible to the draw of the dark side.

During the battle between Naboo and the Trade Federation, Anakin hid in a starfighter and accidentally activated the auto-pilot, bringing him straight to the battle.

The same reflexes that made him a skilled pod-racer helped him destroy the Trade Federation's battle station. Meanwhile, Qui-Gon died in a duel with the Sith Lord Darth Maul. Although Obi-Wan didn't have as much faith in Anakin as his late master, he respected Qui-Gon's wishes and took Anakin as his apprentice.

By 22 BBY, just before the Clone Wars, Anakin had grown into a powerful Jedi. Although he respected Obi-Wan as a friend and master, Anakin was keenly aware that his Force abilities were far beyond Obi-Wan's -- or anyone else's in the Jedi Order. He believed that Obi-Wan was holding him back from reaching his true potential.

When Senator Padmé Amidala was attacked, Anakin was assigned to protect her. But when he had nightmares about his mother, he took Padmé from the safety of Naboo to find his mother on Tatooine. He discovered that she had been freed by a moisture farmer, Cliegg Lars, whom she later married. But she had been abducted by Tusken Raiders, violent Tatooine tribes, and there was little hope of her survival. When Anakin found his mother, she was still barely alive. He slaughtered the tribe who had captured her, taking his first step towards the dark side of the Force.

When Anakin and Padmé received a message from Obi-Wan on Geonosis, they went to investigate and got captured. Knowing that they might soon die, Padmé was finally able to let go of her fears and confess her love for Anakin. After they were rescued by the Jedi and the newly discovered clone army, Anakin and Padmé married. Because the Jedi Order forbade attachment, they were forced to keep their relationship secret.

During the ensuing Clone Wars, Anakin became a Jedi Knight and a General of the clone army. He also trained a Padawan, fourteen-year-old Ahsoka Tano. Although the other Jedi respected his skill, they also recognized how reckless and aggressive he could be. Anakin's secrets -- his relationship with Padmé and his brush with the Dark Side -- made him feel isolated from the other Jedi.

He turned to Chancellor Palpatine for support, unaware that the leader of the Republic was really the Sith Lord Darth Sidious.

Episode III: Revenge of the Sith

Towards the end of the Clone Wars, Palpatine was abducted by General Grievous and Count Dooku. After Obi-Wan was knocked unconscious, Anakin incapacitated Dooku and was prepared to arrest him. Palpatine insisted, however, that Dooku was too dangerous to take alive, and incited Anakin to kill him in cold blood.

Reunited with his wife on Coruscant, Anakin learned that Padmé was pregnant. He began to have dreams, as he did before his mother's death: visions of Padmé dying in childbirth. On top of this, Anakin faced further conflict with the Jedi when Palpatine requested that he be given a seat on the Jedi Council. The Jedi, suspecting treachery from Palpatine, refused to make Anakin a Master; this only cemented Anakin's belief that the other Jedi were jealous of his power and purposely holding him back.

When Anakin took his concerns to Palpatine, the Chancellor revealed that the Sith held the secrets to life and death. As a Sith, Anakin could reach his full potential in the Force and prevent Padmé from dying. Anakin reported the Chancellor to Mace Windu, and finally, Darth Sidious' mask was revealed. When he saw Windu about to kill Palpatine, however, Anakin had a change of heart, killing Windu and becoming Palpatine's apprentice, Darth Vader.

While Palpatine issued Order 66, causing the Clone Troopers to destroy the Jedi, Vader slaughtered the younglings in the Jedi Temple. Obi-Wan attempted to kill Vader in a duel on the fiery planet Mustafar, but Vader survived. Missing limbs and severely burned, Vader was confined to a black suit containing bionic limbs and a respirator. The suit both kept him alive and lent him his distinctive, menacing appearance.

Darth Vader During the Dark Times

More than 100 Jedi survived Order 66, and Darth Vader made it his mission to destroy them all. Once he had completed his Jedi Purge, Yoda and Obi-Wan Kenobi were some of the few Jedi who remained. Acting as Palpatine's fist, Vader helped prepare the galaxy for the downfall of the Old Republic and the rise of Palpatine's Empire. Vader also took Galen Marek, the son of one of his Jedi victims, to train as a secret Sith apprentice, code named "Starkiller"; however, Vader's apprentice turned to the Light and betrayed him.

Darth Vader in the Star Wars Original Trilogy

Episode IV: A New Hope

During the Galactic Civil War, Emperor Palpatine entrusted Darth Vader with uncovering the hidden Rebel Base. In 0 BBY, Vader captured Princess Leia Organa, a Rebel leader. When she refused to give up the location of the Rebel base, the Empire had her home planet of Alderaan destroyed to demonstrate the Death Star's power.

They eventually discovered the Rebels' location, but -- thanks to Leia's work -- the Rebels had the secret plans to the Death Star and were able to attack at its weak point. Attacking the Rebels in a TIE fighter, Vader sensed that the Force was strong with Luke Skywalker, who fired the shot that destroyed the Death Star.

Vader was present when the Empire attacked the Rebels again, this time on the ice planet Hoth. The Rebels escaped, but Vader pursued Han Solo's ship, the Millennium Falcon, into an asteroid field.

At this time, he learned from the Emperor that the pilot who destroyed the Death Star was Luke Skywalker, his son.

Hoping to turn Luke to the Dark Side, Vader devised a plan to capture his son. With the help of the bounty hunter Boba Fett, he tracked Han Solo, Princess Leia, and Chewbacca to the gas planet Bespin, where he used them as bait to attract Luke.

The plan succeeded, and Luke -- a stronger fighter than Vader had counted on -- faced Vader in a duel. When Vader revealed that he was Luke's father and enticed him to join the dark side, however, Luke refused and escaped by falling through Cloud City's gas vents.

Episode VI: Return of the Jedi

Darth Vader faced Luke one last time on the Second Death Star above the Forest Moon of Endor. In the presence of the Emperor, Vader once again tried to lure Luke to the Dark Side; but Luke, believing that Vader still had good in him, refused. Sensing that Luke had a twin sister, Leia, Vader taunted him with the possibility that she might turn to the Dark Side.

Luke attacked his father in anger, but, after cutting off Vader's hand, realized his mistake. When Palpatine finally realized that Luke would not turn to the dark side, he tortured Luke with Force lightning. Unwilling to watch his son die, Vader had a change of heart, throwing Palpatine to his death down the Death Star's reactor shaft.

Sensing that he was about to die, Anakin asked Luke to remove his mask so that he could see his son with his true eyes. Finally able to let go of the Sith's fear of death, Anakin died and became a Force ghost.

The prophecy had ultimately come true: although he had first destroyed the Jedi Order, Anakin eventually brought balance to the Force by destroying the Sith.

Anakin Skywalker Behind the Scenes

Anakin Skywalker/Darth Vader was portrayed by the most actors of any character in the Star Wars films: Jake Lloyd in Episode I, Hayden Christensen in Episode II and Episode III (as well as an retconned scene in the Special Edition of Episode VI), David Prowse (body) and James Earl Jones (voice) in the Original Trilogy, and Sebastian Shaw as the unmasked Anakin Skywalker in Episode VI. Voice actors in cartoons, radio adaptations, and other media include Matt Lanter (The Clone Wars), Mat Lucas (Clone Wars), and Scott Lawrence (in a number of video games).

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