Darth Vader is a former general of the Villain League, and is the dragon to Emperor Palpatine in the Star Wars series. He was originally a former Jedi named Anakin Skywalker who had a good wife, and was about to have kids, until he was instantly turned to the dark side by his anger and depression. But he redeemed himself when he rescued his son, Luke, by sacrificing his own life.
Concept and creation
Darth Vader design being shown in a Star Wars exhibit. Lucas' vision of Darth Vader's design is to have a cape that fluttered in the wind and a wide-brimmed helmet similar to the headgear of a medieval samurai. The costumiers, Bermans Nathans and John Mollo, completed the character with elements from four separate departments: a monk's cloak from the ecclesiastical division, a World War II German helmet and gas mask from the military department, a leather undersuit from the motorcycle department, and a metal breastplate from the medieval section.The first draft of Star Wars includes a tall, grim general named Darth Vader; the character came closer in line with his final depiction in the second revision. A character named "Anikin Starkiller" also appears in an early draft of Star Wars, playing a role similar to Luke Skywalker's, as the 16-year-old son of a respected warrior. Vader's mask was originally designed by Ralph McQuarrie as part of Vader's spacesuit, and not intended to be part of the regular costume. After Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope was successful, Lucas hired science fiction author Leigh Brackett to write Star Wars II (later retitled Star Wars Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back) with him. They held story conferences and, by late November 1977, Lucas had produced a handwritten treatment called The Empire Strikes Back. The treatment is very similar to the final film, except that Darth Vader does not reveal he is Luke's father. In the first draft that Brackett would write from this, Luke's father appears as a ghost to instruct Luke. George Lucas was disappointed with the script, but Brackett died of cancer before he could discuss it with her. With no writer available, Lucas had to write his next draft himself. In this draft, he made use of a new plot twist: Darth Vader claiming to be Luke's father. According to Lucas, he found this draft enjoyable to write, as opposed to the year-long struggles writing the first film.
This new story pointing out that Darth Vader was Luke's father had drastic effects on the series. Michael Kaminski argues in his book that it is unlikely that the plot point had ever seriously been considered or even conceived of before 1978, and that the first film was clearly operating under an alternate storyline where Vader was a separate character from Luke's father; there is not a single reference to this plot point before 1978. After writing the second and third drafts of Empire Strikes Back in which the point was introduced, Lucas reviewed the new backstory he had created: Anakin Skywalker had been Obi-Wan Kenobi's brilliant student and had a child named Luke, but was swayed to the dark side by Emperor Palpatine (who became a Sith and not simply a politician). Anakin battled Kenobi on the site of a volcano and was badly wounded, but then resurrected as Darth Vader. Meanwhile, Kenobi hid Luke on Tatooine while the Galactic Republic became the tyrannical Galactic Empire and Vader systematically hunted down and killed the Jedi. This change in character would provide a springboard to the "Tragedy of Darth Vader" storyline that underlies the prequels.
For Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace, the first film in the prequel trilogy, Lucas made Anakin nine years old to make the character's departure from his mother more poignant. Movie trailers for The Phantom Menace focused on Anakin, and a one-sheet poster showing him casting Vader's shadow informed otherwise unknowing audiences of the character's eventual fate. The movie ultimately achieved a primary goal of introducing audiences to Anakin, the saga's main character.
After deciding to create the prequels, he indicated the series would be a tragic one examining Anakin Skywalker's fall to the dark side. He also saw that the prequels could form the beginning of one long story that started with Anakin's childhood and ended with his death. This was the final step towards turning the film series into a "Saga".
Michael Kaminski, in The Secret History of Star Wars, offers evidence that issues in Anakin's fall to the dark side prompted Lucas to make massive story changes, first revising the opening sequence of Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith to have Palpatine kidnapped and his apprentice, Count Dooku, murdered by Anakin as the first act in the latter's turn towards the dark side. After principal photography was complete in 2003, Lucas made even more massive changes in Anakin's character, re-writing his entire turn to the dark side; his fall from grace would now be motivated by a desire to save his wife, Padmé Amidala, rather than the previous version in which that reason was one of several, including that he genuinely believed that the Jedi were plotting to take over the Republic. This fundamental re-write was accomplished both through editing the principal footage, and new and revised scenes filmed during pick-ups in 2004.
Bodybuilder David Prowse's size and stature allowed him to fill out the large Vader costume in the original Star Wars trilogy, although stunt performer Bob Anderson portrayed Vader during the intense lightsaber fight scenes in The Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi. Sebastian Shaw originally portrayed the unmasked Vader in Return of the Jedi, although stock footage of Hayden Christensen replaced Shaw's appearance of Vader as a ghost in the 2004 DVD release. James Earl Jones, who provided the voice of Darth Vader, was initially uncredited in A New Hope and The Empire Strikes Back because Jones felt his contributions were too small to warrant recognition.
Jake Lloyd was chosen from over 3,000 prospective child actors to play Anakin in The Phantom Menace. Casting director Robin Gurland initially thought Lloyd was too young to play the role; however, upon another meeting several years later, Gurland believed Lloyd was an appropriate choice for the part.
Hayden Christensen played Anakin in Attack of the Clones and Revenge of the Sith; he also donned Darth Vader's armor for the final scenes of the latter film. Mat Lucas voiced Anakin for the Clone Wars animated series and in various Star Wars video games. Matt Lanter voiced the character in the CGI The Clone Wars film and subsequent TV series.
 Original trilogy
Sebastian Shaw as Anakin Skywalker, unmasked in Return of the Jedi (1983)Darth Vader is introduced in Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope (1977) as a ruthless cyborg pursuing the film's protagonists. Vader is charged with recovering technical schematics of the Death Star stolen by the Rebel Alliance, who seek to overthrow the Empire. Obi-Wan Kenobi, tells Luke Skywalker that Vader is a former Jedi who "betrayed and murdered" Luke's father. Obi-Wan and Luke — along with smugglers Han Solo and Chewbacca, and droids R2-D2 and C-3PO — help Princess Leia Organa escape the Death Star. Vader kills Obi-Wan in a lightsaber duel, and later escapes the Death Star's destruction during the film's climactic battle scene. 
Star Wars Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back (1980), set three years later, depicts Vader leading an Imperial starfleet in pursuit of the Rebels. Emperor Palpatine (Clive Revill), Vader's Sith master, tells Vader that "the offspring of Anakin Skywalker" must not become a Jedi; Vader promises that he will turn Luke to the dark side. To this end, Vader captures Leia, Han, Chewbacca and C-3PO on Cloud City, using them as bait for Luke, who has by now been partially trained as a Jedi by Yoda (Frank Oz). During their lightsaber duel, Vader cuts off Luke's right hand and reveals that he is Luke's father; he then entreats Luke to convert to the dark side and help him overthrow Palpatine. Horrified, Luke throws himself into Cloud City's reactor core, ultimately escaping aboard the Millennium Falcon. Onboard his Star Destroyer, Vader telepathically tells Luke that it is his destiny to join the dark side.
In Star Wars Episode VI: Return of the Jedi (1983), a dying Yoda confirms to Luke that Vader is indeed his father; moments later, Obi-Wan's spirit tells him that Vader was originally Anakin Skywalker, that Luke has a twin sister — whom Luke almost instantly divines to be Leia — and that he must confront his father to save the galaxy. Luke surrenders himself to Imperial forces, hoping to turn his father back "to the good side". Vader brings Luke onto the second Death Star, where Palpatine tries to seduce Luke to the dark side. During their duel, Vader learns Leia's true identity and threatens to turn her to the dark side if Luke will not submit. Enraged, Luke attacks and overpowers Vader, severing his mechanical right hand. At the last minute, Luke realizes he is close to suffering his father's fate, and refuses Palpatine's command to kill Vader and take his place. An enraged Emperor unleashes a torrent of Force lightning upon Luke, who begs his father for help. The sight of his son's suffering breaks the dark side's hold on Vader, who kills Palpatine by throwing him into the Death Star's reactor core; in the process, however, he is mortally wounded by his master's lightning. The redeemed Anakin Skywalker asks Luke to remove his helmet; in his dying breaths, Anakin tells his son that there was good left in him after all. Luke escapes with his father's remains, which he burns in a funeral pyre. That night, as the Rebels celebrate the destruction of the Death Star and, with it, the Empire, Luke sees the spirit of Anakin standing alongside the spirits of Obi-Wan and Yoda.
 Prequel trilogy
Anakin Skywalker as portrayed by Jake Lloyd in The Phantom Menace (1999), Hayden Christensen in Attack of the Clones (2002), and Sebastian Shaw in Return of the Jedi (1983). Shaw was digitally replaced with footage of Christensen for Return of the Jedi's 2004 DVD release.Anakin Skywalker appears as a nine-year-old slave in Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace (1999). He is raised on the planet Tatooine by his mother, Shmi (Pernilla August), who says Anakin had no father, implying miraculous birth. He is a gifted pilot and engineer, and has the ability to "see things before they happen". He even creates his own protocol droid, C-3PO. Jedi Master Qui-Gon Jinn (Liam Neeson) meets him after an emergency landing on Tatooine and becomes convinced the boy is the "Chosen One", foretold by a Jedi prophecy as the one who will bring balance to the Force. Anakin wins his freedom in a podrace, but is forced to part with his mother. Qui-Gon takes Anakin to the Jedi Council, who forbid training on the grounds that the boy's future is clouded by the fear he exhibits. During the invasion of Naboo, Anakin helps defeat the Trade Federation by destroying their command ship. After Qui-Gon is killed in a duel with Sith Lord Darth Maul (Ray Park), his apprentice, the young Obi-Wan Kenobi (Ewan McGregor), promises to train Anakin, a proposal the Jedi Council reluctantly accepts. During the film, Anakin forms a close bond with Padmé Amidala (Natalie Portman), Naboo's queen. Palpatine, newly elected as the Republic's Supreme Chancellor, befriends the boy, telling him that "we will watch your career with great interest."
Star Wars Episode II: Attack of the Clones (2002), set 10 years later, depicts Anakin as Obi-Wan's Padawan learner. Palpatine assigns Anakin and Obi-Wan to investigate an assassination attempt made on Padmé, who is now a senator. Anakin travels with her to Naboo, where they fall in love, despite Padmé resisting her feelings for him. Anakin has a vision of his mother in pain, and goes to Tatooine, where he learns that Shmi had been kidnapped by Tusken Raiders. He goes to the Tusken camp, where he finds his mother, mortally injured; she dies in his arms. Seized by a violent rage, Anakin slaughters the entire tribe. He returns with his mother's body, and tearfully confesses his crime to Padmé, who comforts him. Soon after, Anakin and Padmé travel to Geonosis, hoping to rescue Obi-Wan from Jedi-turned-Sith Lord Count Dooku (Christopher Lee) and his army of Separatists; instead, they are captured and sentenced to be executed. Anakin and Padmé confess their love for each other moments before being rescued by an army of clone troopers and Jedi. Anakin loses his right arm in a lightsaber duel with Dooku; it is replaced with a prosthetic. At the end of the film, Anakin and Padmé marry in a secret ceremony. Hayden Christensen as Anakin Skywalker in Revenge of the Sith (2005).In Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith (2005), set three years later, Anakin is a Jedi Knight and hero of the Clone Wars. He and Obi-Wan lead an attempt to rescue Palpatine, who has been kidnapped by Dooku and Separatist leader General Grievous (Matthew Wood). During the rescue, Anakin defeats Dooku in a lightsaber duel, and decapitates him in cold blood at Palpatine's urging. When he returns to Coruscant, he meets with Padmé, who tells him she is pregnant with his child. That night, he has a vision of Padmé dying in childbirth; he fears it will come true, as it is similar to visions he had of his mother before she died. Meanwhile, Palpatine names Anakin his representative on the Jedi Council; the Council, suspicious of Palpatine's dictatorial power in the Senate, denies Anakin the rank of Jedi Master, and asks him to spy on Palpatine, whom Anakin considers a friend and mentor. Angered by the snub and instructions to commit what he believes to be treason, Anakin begins to lose faith in the Jedi.
Palpatine eventually reveals to Anakin that he is the Sith Lord Darth Sidious, the mastermind behind the war, and that the dark side holds the power to save Padmé's life. Conflicted, Anakin reports Palpatine to Jedi Master Mace Windu (Samuel L. Jackson). Despite orders to remain behind, Anakin follows Windu to the Chancellor's office to ensure Palpatine is captured alive. He walks in on Windu ready to kill Palpatine and intervenes on the Sith lord's behalf, severing Windu's lightsaber arm; Palpatine then kills Windu with a blast of Force lightning. Desperate to save his wife, Anakin pledges himself to the Sith as Palpatine's apprentice, Darth Vader.
Palpatine sends Vader to kill everyone inside the Jedi Temple, and then to assassinate the Separatist leaders on Mustafar. Padmé meets him there and pleads with him to flee Palpatine's grasp with her. He refuses, saying that the two of them can overthrow Palpatine and rule the galaxy. When Obi-Wan emerges from Padmé's ship, Vader accuses her of conspiring against him and uses the Force to choke her into unconsciousness. Vader then engages Obi-Wan in an epic lightsaber duel, which ends when Obi-Wan severs Vader's legs and remaining organic arm in mid-air. Vader then slides too close to a lava flow and catches fire, sustaining life-threatening third-degree burns. Obi-Wan picks up Vader's lightsaber and leaves him to die.
Moments later, Palpatine rescues Vader and reconstructs his apprentice's ruined body with the cybernetic limbs and black armor first seen in A New Hope. When Vader regains consciousness, Palpatine tells him Padmé died as a result of Vader's anger. The news of her death breaks what remains of Vader's spirit, and he screams in torment. He is last seen alongside Palpatine and a young Grand Moff Tarkin (Wayne Pygram) viewing the construction of the first Death Star.
 Expanded Universe
In the animated series Star Wars: Clone Wars (2003), Anakin (voiced by Mat Lucas) is made a Jedi Knight despite the Council's reservations. During the next three years of fighting in the Clone Wars, Anakin becomes a legend throughout the galaxy, renowned as "The Hero With No Fear". Anakin's adventures in the Clone Wars are also chronicled in the Star Wars: Republic comic series. In the 2008 animated film The Clone Wars and the subsequent television series, Anakin (voiced by Matt Lanter) takes on Padawan learner Ahsoka Tano (voiced by Ashley Eckstein). In the episode "Ghosts of Mortis", he sees a cryptic vision of his eventual transformation into Darth Vader.
Vader appears numerous times in comic books such as Dark Horse Comics's Star Wars Tales and Marvel Comics' Star Wars series (1977–1986). Vader's Quest (1999) which depicts Vader hiring a bounty hunter to bring him information about the pilot who destroyed the Death Star, ultimately meeting Luke for the first time.
In the novel Splinter of the Mind's Eye (1978), Vader and Luke duel, and Luke cuts off Vader's right arm. Shadows of the Empire (1996) reveals that Vader is conflicted about trying to turn his son to the dark side of the Force, and knows deep down that there is still some good in him. In James Luceno's Dark Lord: The Rise of Darth Vader (2005), set a few months after the events of Revenge of the Sith, Vader disavows his identity as Anakin Skywalker as he systematically pursues and kills the surviving Jedi and cements his position in the Empire. The novel also reveals that Vader plans to eventually to overthrow Palpatine, and that he betrayed the Jedi because he resented their supposed failure to recognize his power. The redeemed spirit of Anakin Skywalker appears in The Truce at Bakura (1993), set a few days after the end of Return of the Jedi. He appears to Leia, imploring her forgiveness. Leia condemns him for his crimes and banishes him from her life. He promises that he will be there for her when she needs him, and disappears. In Tatooine Ghost (2003), Leia learns to forgive her father after learning about his childhood as a slave and his mother's traumatic death. In The Dark Nest trilogy (2005), Luke and Leia uncover old recordings of their parents in R2-D2's memory drive; for the first time, they see their own birth and their mother's death, as well as their father's corruption to the dark side. In The Unifying Force (2003), Anakin tells his grandson, Jacen Solo, to "stand firm" in his battle with the Supreme Overlord of the Yuuzhan Vong. In Bloodlines (2006), Jacen — who has himself turned to the dark side — uses the Force to "watch" Anakin slaughter the children at the Jedi Temple and become Darth Vader.
 Video games
Darth Vader (voiced by Matt Sloan) plays a central role in The Force Unleashed (2008). He is a playable character in the first level of the game, where he and his armies invade Kashyyyk to hunt down a Jedi who had survived the Order's destruction. Vader kills the Jedi and kidnaps the man's young Force-sensitive son, whom he raises as his secret apprentice. Vader sends this apprentice — the game's protagonist — on various missions throughout the galaxy, with an ultimate goal to assassinate Palpatine so that Vader can rule the galaxy himself. Toward the end of the game, however, it is revealed that Vader isn't planning to overthrow Palpatine at all; he is merely using his apprentice to expose the Empire's enemies. At the game's climax, the player chooses between attacking Palpatine to help his Rebel friends escape the Death Star or killing Vader to become the Emperor's new apprentice.
He appears in the sequel The Force Unleashed II as the main antagonist and final boss.
Vader is a playable character in other games, including Lego Star Wars: The Video Game , Lego Star Wars II: The Original Trilogy , Lego Star Wars: The Complete Saga, Soulcalibur IV, Star Wars: Battlefront II, Star Wars: Empire at War and its Forces of Corruption expansion, and Star Wars: Galactic Battlegrounds. Vader is an active but non-playable character in Star Wars Galaxies.
In Attack of the Clones, Anakin feels "smothered" by Obi-Wan Kenobi and is unable to control his life. By Revenge of the Sith, however, Anakin's "father-son" friction with his master has matured into a more equal, brotherly relationship. Once he becomes Darth Vader, each evil act he commits makes it harder for him to return to the light, but Vader ultimately escapes the dark side and redeems himself before he dies by saving his son and killing Palpatine.
Eric Bui, a psychiatrist at University of Toulouse Hospital, argued at the 2007 American Psychiatric Association convention that Anakin meets six of the nine diagnostic criteria for borderline personality disorder (BPD), one more than necessary for a diagnosis. He and a colleague, Rachel Rodgers, published their findings in a 2010 letter to the editor of the journal Psychiatry Research. Bui says he found Anakin Skywalker a useful example to explain BPD to medical students. In particular, Bui points to Anakin's abandonment issues and uncertainty over his identity. Anakin's mass murders of the Tusken Raiders in Attack of the Clones and the young Jedi in Revenge of the Sith count as two dissociative episodes, fulfilling another criterion. Bui hoped his paper would help raise awareness of the disorder, especially among teens.
 Cultural impact
Darth Vader's iconic status has made the character a synonym for evil in popular culture. Anakin's origin story in The Phantom Menace has been compared to signifiers of African American racial identity, and his dissatisfaction with his life has been compared to Siddhartha's before he became Gautama Buddha. A Mexican church advised Christians against seeing The Phantom Menace because it portrays Anakin as a Jesus figure. A slime-mold beetle of the genus Agathidium is named after Vader, and several buildings across the globe are regularly compared to him. A grotesque of Darth Vader looms over the south side of the Washington National Cathedral's northwest tower. During the 2007–08 NHL season, Ottawa Senators goaltender Martin Gerber performed so well in an all-black mask that fans endearingly termed him "Darth Gerber". Many commentators and comedians have also evoked his visage to satirize politicians and other public figures, and several American political figures have been unflatteringly compared to the character. For example, Al Gore referred to Tele-Communications Inc.'s John C. Malone as the "Darth Vader of cable", and political strategist Lee Atwater was known by his political enemies as "the Darth Vader of the Republican Party".
On June 22, 2006, U.S. Vice President Dick Cheney referred to himself as the Darth Vader of the Bush administration. Discussing the administration's philosophy on gathering intelligence, he said to CNN's John King, "It means we need to be able to go after and capture or kill those people who are trying to kill Americans. That's not a pleasant business. It's a very serious business. And I suppose, sometimes, people look at my demeanor and say, 'Well, he's the Darth Vader of the administration.'" Jon Stewart put on a Darth Vader helmet to address Dick Cheney as a "kindred spirit" on The Daily Show on January 25, 2007. Cheney's wife, Lynne, presented Stewart with a Darth Vader action figure on her appearance on the show on October 10, 2007. Both Stewart and Stephen Colbert have occasionally referred to Cheney as "Darth Cheney". In the satirical cartoon show Lil' Bush, Dick Cheney's father is portrayed as being Darth Vader. At her presidential campaign event on September 19, 2007, Hillary Rodham Clinton also referred to Cheney as Darth Vader. At the 2008 Washington Radio and Television Correspondents' Association Dinner, Cheney joked that his wife Lynne told him that the Vader comparison "humanizes" him. George Lucas told The New York Times columnist Maureen Dowd, however, that Cheney is more akin to Emperor Palpatine, and that a better stand-in for Vader would be George W. Bush. An issue of Newsweek referenced this quote, and compared Bush and Cheney to Vader and Palpatine, respectively, in a satirical article comparing politicians to various Star Wars and Star Trek characters.
Many films and television series have paid homage to Darth Vader. Marty McFly in Back to the Future (1985), dressed in a radiation suit, calls himself "Darth Vader from the planet Vulcan" to convince the past version of his father to ask his mother to a dance. Rick Moranis plays "Dark Helmet" in the Star Wars parody Spaceballs (1987). In Chasing Amy (1997), Hooper X speaks at a comic convention about Darth Vader being a metaphor for how poorly sci-fi treats black people; he is especially offended that Vader, the "blackest brother in the galaxy", reveals himself to be a "feeble, crusty old white man" at the end of Return of the Jedi. In Laugh It Up, Fuzzball: The Family Guy Trilogy, a parody of the first three Star Wars films, the characters of Family Guy portray the characters of the films; Stewie Griffin (Seth MacFarlane) plays Darth Vader.
The character has gained much positive reception as a classic film villain. The American Film Institute listed him as the third greatest movie villain in cinema history on 100 Years... 100 Heroes and Villains, behind Hannibal Lecter and Norman Bates. Darth Vader was also ranked number two on Empire magazine's 2008 list of The 100 Greatest Movie Characters. Premiere magazine also ranked Vader on their list of The 100 Greatest Movie Characters of All Time. On their list of the 100 Greatest Fictional Characters, Fandomania.com ranked Vader at number 6. Darth Vader was also the #1 supervillain on the Bravo series Ultimate Super Heroes, Vixens and Villains. Darth Vader was also ranked as #1 in IGN's list of top 100 Star Wars characters. Furthermore, Darth Vader's quote in The Empire Strikes Back — "No, I am your father" (often misquoted as "Luke, I am your father"), — is one of the most well known quotes in cinema history. The line was selected as one of the 400 nominees for the American Film Institute's 100 Years... 100 Movie Quotes, a list of the greatest American movie quotes. It is often been parodied and mimicked in other forms of media such as film and television.
Role in the series
Currently, Darth Vader has reformed fully from the dark side and has joined Pooh and his friends in their efforts to stop the Dark Spawn Lords, Bowser and Mistress 9. But Vader will someday arrive to help Spongebob in his own adventures one day.