Anakin Skywalker/Darth Vader has been played by six different actors across seven different movies. In 45 short years of life, his character saves the galaxy, ruins the galaxy, then helps save it again. He is a father, son, hero, villain, and lover all in one; a ‘chosen one’ archetype that cuts both ways. No wonder his character is saddled with some inconsistencies and weak motivations.
Although nothing in our article tarnishes Vader’s status as the most memorable movie baddie of all time, some points may lend fans a fresh perspective just in time for The Last Jedi - which is sure to bring up Vader’s ghost in one way or another.
In this list of 15 Things About Darth Vader Don’t Make Sense, we’ll take a closer look at Anakin’s unlikely origin story, the strained points in his transition to Darth Vader, his awkward leap between the original series and prequels, and some basic plot-holes that Vader merely got wrapped up in.
Of course, we could write another article called 15 Things About Casting Hayden Christensen That Don’t Make Sense, but that would hardly spark debate.
15 Being Evil Gives Him a New Accent
Young Anakin Skywalker speaks standard American English, presumably taught to him by Shmi, and Hayden Christensen’s adolescent version more or less keeps the original intonation, despite his Canadian heritage.
So far, so good.
Darth Vader’s accent post-dismemberment, however, continues to spark debate among fans. Vader’s dramatic vocal change is commonly attributed to his suit’s ‘vocabulator’, which was designed to intimidate enemies with its booming enunciation.
The suit theory falls apart in Vader’s death scene, however, when Luke removes his father’s helmet. Vader now speaks with a clear English accent, which neither resembles Ani’s original voice, nor James Earl Jones’ lordly baritone. Whether due to the prolonged Coruscanti influence, or the civilizing effect of his evil master, Anakin’s accent has clearly changed from up-beat American hero to civilized British stage-villain.
14 He Turns Very Bad, Very Fast
This is a matter of opinion rather than an outright plot-hole, but many fans have criticized the speed with which Anakin goes from troubled hero to outright psychopath. Most share the same complaint: the younglings scene was too much, too fast.
That Anakin would murder a village of Tusken Raiders to avenge his mother is believable. That he would betray an order that already distrusted him to save his wife is believable. However, that he would slaughter half a dozen children by hand - for whatever reason - simply isn’t.
The younglings scene even casts a shadow of implausibility on Vader’s redemption. Betrayal and cruelty are one thing, but it’s difficult to imagine a shred of decency remaining in anyone who’s done what Anakin did to the young initiates.
13 He Can't Sense His Own Daughter
One of Star-Wars’ first scenes put Darth Vader and Princess Leia within inches of each other.
Surprisingly, given he could sense Luke’s without even seeing him, Vader is incapable of recognizing Leia’s sensitivity to the force. Fans have a myriad suggestions to smooth over the inconsistency: Leia hasn’t been trained yet, so her abilities are dormant, Vader can only recognize the force when it is being used, or someone has to be looking for the force to find it.
The simplest explanation, however, is that George Lucas and the other SW writers didn’t create the Vader-Luke-Leia triangle until Return of the Jedi (which also explains a few other items on this list). So simply put, Leia wasn’t Vader’s daughter in A New Hope.
12 He's a Virgin-Birth
While the canon provides some explanation of Anakin’s virgin birth, the movies gloss over it in a couple lines. Shmi claims Ani had no father, a statement Qui-Gon accepts without blinking. In Qui-Gon’s reckoning, Anakin was conceived by midi-chlorians, acting consciously to create the ‘chosen-one’ who would bring balance to the force. In other words, the Force impregnated Shmi... without asking her. This theory would explain Anakin’s unprecedented force-sensitivity, but raises some serious questions about the consciousness, and morality, of midi-chlorians - more than it answers, in fact.
The virgin-birth also positions Anakin as a Christ-like figure. Obviously, Vader turns out closer to an anti-Christ than a Christ, but really, he never approaches the power of either.
In fact, he’s nowhere near as powerful as his origins, and their earthly connotations, suggest he would become. Vader is a competent warrior, but he isn’t in a different category from Obi-Wan, Yoda, Darth Sidious, Luke, or any other force-sensitive born the old fashioned way.
11 He's Not as Powerful as His Midi-Chlorian Count Suggests
Building off the last point, Anakin's midi-chlorian count of over 20,000 is "off the charts": higher even than Master Yoda, according to Obi-Wan’s analysis.
However, the fact remains that almost every powerful Jedi/Sith he battles gives him a run for his money. In Revenge of the Sith, Obi Wan leaves Anakin more dead than alive, and then, in Return of the Jedi, Darth Sidious brings him to the brink of death.
If Anakin is meant to be the most powerful force-sensitive of all time - The Chosen One - shouldn’t he be able to make short work of any individual foe? Even a relatively inexperienced Jedi like Luke is able to hold his own against him and a geriatric Obi Wan takes him the distance.
10 He Doesn't Recognize a Droid He Built
Anakin built C-3PO from scratch and faced multiple life-or-death encounters with R2-D2. It seems highly unlikely, then, that he doesn’t give the droids a second glance on Cloud City.
Granted, 3P0 and R2 look similar to other droids of their model - but over eight movies we never see the droids’ exact lookalikes. And, over time, even mass-produced machines gain individuality through wear and tear, like with C-3PO’s silver leg.
Most people would recognize their old car or even an old phone by its scratches - and yet Darth Vader remains oblivious to machines he shared parts of his life with.
9 He Somehow Achieves Immortality
While Anakin’s ability to escape death and become ‘one with the Force’ alongside Obi-Wan and Yoda is explained canonically, his ghostly cameo makes no sense in the movies.
In Revenge of the Sith, Yoda explains to Obi-Wan that Qui-Gon had found a way to communicate from beyond the grave and that Yoda was willing to pass on the technique to Kenobi.
Anakin, however, never received that training.. How then does he appear to Luke at the end of Return of the Jedi and, more to the point, does he deserve to live forever after betraying his dearest friends, murdering children, and then destroying a whole planet (even if he did say sorry 10 seconds before he died)?
8 The Prophecy About Him Doesn’t Make Sense
Qui-Gon Jinn believed Anakin Skywalker was 'The Chosen One’: the fulfillment of an ancient Jedi prophecy, who would destroy the Sith and bring balance to the force.
While some argue Anakin achieved his destiny by killing Darth Sidious, and ending the immediate Sith line, the scene remains a sloppy answer to a sloppy prophecy.
First off, the Sith would’ve been destroyed anyway if Anakin had assisted in defeating Darth Sidious. Secondly, the Force’s dark side is clearly alive and kicking in Kylo Ren and Supreme Leader Snoke, decades after Darth Sidious and Vader’s deaths. And finally, how exactly would destroying the Sith bring balance to the force, if balance implies equal, but opposite forces at play?
No matter how you cut or define things, Anakin’s actions caused no shift in the balance of the force and any darkness he did destroy, he also helped create.
7 He Didn't Catch Palpatine's Biggest Screw-Up
Vader is nothing if not shrewd, which begs the question of why he signed off on Palpatine’s disastrous bait-and-switch.
In Return of the Jedi, Palpatine leaks the Death Star II’s plans to the rebel forces to draw them into open battle. At a basic level, the plan works. The Rebels are drawn into open combat. Less intelligent, however, was his decision to leak the Death Star’s actual plans, including the location of its shield generator. Leaking a fake location would surely have been a safe, equally easy alternative.
While Palpatine was removed from the last Death Star’s destruction, Vader nearly lost his life. It seems unlikely then,Vader wouldn’t give Palpatine’s new scheme the once over. Those who forget history…
6 He's Oddly Selective with the Death Star
At the end of A New Hope, the Death Star is poised to destroy Yavin IV, obliterating the rebel’s base and effectively ending the insurgency. The Empire must wait to deliver the final blow, however, because their shot is blocked by another planet.
In the time it takes for the Death Star to maneuver around the offending body, the rebels are able to effect their counter-attack. Given Luke blows up the Death Star mere seconds before it destroys Yavin 4, it follows that had the Empire devised an even marginally quicker plan, they would have been successful.
In fairness, we don’t know how long the Death Star’s ‘reloading’ period is, but the idea of a machine designed to destroy planets being foiled by an inconveniently placed planet is counter-intuitive, if not illogical.
5 He Forgets (?) the Rule of Two
The ‘Rule of Two’ governed the Sith for over a thousand years. In keeping with Sith philosophy, it stated only two Sith could exist at any one time: a master who controlled the Force’s dark power and a student who craved it.
So when Darth Sidious ordered Vader to convert his son over to the dark side, the arithmetic must have raised some serious red flags. Either Vader was willing to die in order for Luke to become Palpatine’s apprentice or he was plotting to overthrow Palpatine, and then train his son as Sith apprentice.
Either scenario means an uneasy and temporary truce between Darth Sidious and Vader, which the films neither explain nor explore.
4 He Built C-3PO at Age 9
C-3PO is one of the galaxy’s most complex unit protocol droids, fluent in over seven million forms of communication. High midi-chlorian count or not, we don’t understand how a nine year old Anakin Skywalker could have rebuilt the droid from spare parts in a provincial junkyard - even modifying it to withstand Tatooine’s extreme weather.
If we accept that Anakin had the engineering know-how to rebuild 3PO, it makes even less sense that he couldn’t devise a way to cover up the droid’s exposed wiring. Surely shaping metal is easier than reconstructing a genius-intellect translation A.I.
Apparently when you’ve built a race craft capable of 600 mph, putting together a glorified dictionary is light work.
3 He Couldn’t Find Someone With His Own Last Name
In A New Hope, Luke piques the Empire’s interest and finds himself on the run for the next three movies. What makes less sense, however, is how he evaded detection for the previous 19 years, given he has Anakin Skywalker’s last name, lives with Anakin Skywalker’s relatives, and struts around Anakin Skywalker’s home planet.
Forget bounty hunters and secret agents: any one of the locals down at Tosche Station could have told Vader anything he needed to know. Talk about a lucrative tip.
Also, as princess of one of the galaxy’s powerful planets, Leia’s “cover” isn’t much better. In fact, hers is one of the few positions that guarantees frequent interaction with Empire higher-ups.
2 He's Very Gentle with the Millennium Falcon
Upon escaping Cloud City, Leia, Lando, and Chewbacca discover that Vader has disabled the Millennium Falcon’s hyperdrive. The question is, if Vader went to the trouble of disabling the ship’s ‘getaway button’, why didn’t he just disable the engine, or better yet - just throw a couple thermal detonators in the control-room.
Having a ship with no hyperdrive didn’t stop the crew from escaping, but having a ship with no engine almost certainly would have.
Perhaps Vader respected the ship’s capabilities and wanted to commandeer it for the Empire? Or his arrogance made him careless? Ultimately the answer lies in Vader’s mind - but his order to selectively dismantle the ship are still odd, bordering on self-defeating, given his prisoners’ status and the Millennium Falcon’s reputation as a legendary get-away vessel.
1 He Expects Luke to Recognize Him in Teenage Form
Luke only saw his father’s face once and not in the best of circumstances. Not only was Anakin on the verge of death, covered in old burns and scars, but he was also 45 years old. How then does Anakin expect Luke to recognize him when he appears as a teenage Force Ghost at the edited ending to Return of the Jedi?
Anakin makes no attempt to identify himself beyond a weird, smoldering smirk. Honestly, Luke probably assumes he’s one of Obi-Wan’s friends from the afterlife, tagging along to say hi.
In the original scene, with Sebastian Shaw playing Anakin, there was at least some resemblance between Anakin’s Force Ghost and what Luke saw under Vader’s mask.
Who knows, maybe one day we’ll see the ghost of Lucas’s editorial judgment.
What other issues with Darth Vader get under your skin? Let us know in the comments!!