Filmmaker George Lucas introduced one of the most iconic cinematic characters of all time in 1977’s sci-fi classic Star Wars. But once The Empire Strikes Back (1980) revealed Darth Vader (David Prowse) was in fact Luke Skywalker’s (Mark Hamill) father, the complex and intriguing tragedy of Anakin Skywalker (Sebastian Shaw) began to unfold.
Fans would have to wait over sixteen years though, after Return of the Jedi (1983), to get the full story behind Darth Vader’s rise and fateful fall to the dark side of the Force.
Lucas’ prequels (1999-2005) may not have been as well-received as the original saga, but Anakin’s story was fleshed out in great detail. From a nine-year-old boy (Jake Lloyd) in The Phantom Menace (1999), to an obstinate apprentice (Hayden Christensen) in Attack of the Clones (2002), Anakin gradually learned the ways of the Force.
But in Revenge of the Sith (2005), Anakin’s love for his wife Padme (Natalie Portman) ultimately became his undoing. Palpatine (Ian McDiarmid) used the boy’s fears to seduce him into joining the emerging Empire. Before donning Vader’s iconic mask, Anakin made a lot of mistakes along the way.
Here are the 16 Most WTF Things Anakin Skywalker Has Done.
16 Sand Rant
Like his son Luke, Anakin Skywalker was raised on the isolated world of Tatooine. While Luke grew up with his aunt and uncle on a moisture farm, poor Anakin and his mother Shmi (Pernilla August) were slaves of the trader Watto (Andrew Secombe).
Tatooine was a barren planet cloaked in layers of desert terrain. But it wasn’t until Attack of the Clones that audiences learned of Anakin’s aversion to sand. While escorting Senator Padme Amidala back to her home world of Naboo, to protect her from an assassination plot, Anakin went off on an awkward rant as he compared Tatooine and Naboo.
Padme had explained how she used to dry herself on the shores, but Anakin was quick to interject. "I don't like sand. It's coarse and rough and irritating and it gets everywhere. Not like here. Here everything is soft and smooth." He was trying to flirt with the senator and used the conversation to compare the coarseness of his home to the supple softness of hers. This led to him running his fingers down her back. It might have been the worst pick-up line in history, but it actually worked.
15 Murdered Younglings
Things were about to take a decidedly dark and deadly turn compared to Anakin’s raving rant on sand. In Revenge of the Sith, Palpatine finally made his move against the Jedi. The Supreme Chancellor sent his new apprentice to storm the Jedi Temple, and with an army of clones at his command, Anakin committed the ultimate betrayal.
As the new Sith Lord and his soldiers murdered the Jedi, Anakin found his way into the Jedi Council chamber. Huddled together were a number of children known as "younglings." Unsure of what to do, a child approached Skywalker.
To the boy’s horror, Anakin ignited his lightsaber. And while none of the mayhem played out on screen, Yoda (Frank Oz) and Obi-Wan Kenobi (Ewan McGregor) later found the bodies of many slaughtered Jedi Knights along with the kids. In one of the most heinous crimes committed by Anakin Skywalker, not even the youngest of children survived his lightsaber.
14 Lost to Obi-Wan Kenobi
George Lucas had nearly thirty years to outline, orchestrate, and execute one of the most pivotal moments in Star Wars history, which finally came to fruition in Revenge of the Sith: the lightsaber duel on Mustafar. From the time Anakin Skywalker ignited his lightsaber to Obi-Wan Kenobi cutting off Skywalker’s limbs, audiences were treated to an 11-minute battle that was intercut with Yoda facing off against the Emperor.
But the brilliance of that sequence was shattered in one of the most bizarre letdowns in cinema history. Anakin and Obi-Wan fought to a stalemate on the fiery planet. Kenobi spotted a hill and jumped off the raft carrying him and Skywalker. He then senselessly spouted, “It’s over Anakin, I have the high ground.”
It's too bad the Emperor didn’t have time to teach Anakin the value of Force lighting. Rather than simply hopping to a lower point on the hill, Skywalker leaped high into the air like some sort of deranged acrobat. Kenobi took advantage of the situation and sliced off Anakin’s legs and his left arm. As Anakin shouted “I hate you,” audiences were left loathing Obi-Wan’s ill-gotten victory.
13 Helped Kill Mace Windu
Jedi Master Mace Windu never fully trusted Anakin Skywalker. That was probably the last thing going through his mind, aside from Palpatine’s Force lightning, as young Skywalker helped the Chancellor vanquish the mighty Windu.
After Palpatine and Windu engaged in an epic lightsaber duel, in the chancellor's office, Mace found the strength to finally defeat him. Anakin raced in and saw the mayhem unfolding, and Palpatine begged for help as he tried to fight off Windu with his Force lightning.
Windu used his blade to reflect the energy back into the chancellor’s face, which horribly disfigured him. As Windu swung his lightsaber to kill Palpatine, Anakin intervened. Shocked, Windu screamed as Skywalker severed his arm. A smile of satisfaction crept across Palpatine’s face, as he unleashed the full power of the dark side on Windu. Immediately following Mace's death, Anakin was knighted Darth Vader.
12 Slaughtered the Tusken Raiders
You don’t kill a man’s mama and live to tell about it. In Attack of the Clones, the Tusken Raiders - aka the Sand People - made the humongous mistake of messing with Anakin Skywalker’s mother, Shmi. During the outset of the second sequel, Anakin shared with Obi-Wan Kenobi his dreams about his mom.
While protecting Senator Amidala on Naboo, Skywalker had a haunting vision of his mother in danger. Anakin disobeyed his orders to remain on the planet and journeyed to Tatooine to help her. Shmi was imprisoned in one of the Raiders’ camps, and she had been fatally tortured. Skywalker arrived too late and his mother died in his arms.
Enraged, Anakin went on a killing spree, which included butchering the Sand People’s women and children. Most of the action took place off-screen, though. However, in R.A. Salvatore’s novelization, the author went into graphic detail.
Anakin impaled one Tusken Raider with his lightsaber, tossed the monster through the air, and then used the Force to drop a large boulder on several Sand People trying to flee for their lives. This was the first real glimpse of Vader buried deep within Skywalker.
11 Killed Darth Tyranus
Count Dooku, aka Darth Tyranus (Christopher Lee), kidnapped Supreme Chancellor Palpatine at the beginning of Revenge of the Sith. Obi-Wan Kenobi and Anakin Skywalker embarked on a daring rescue mission to save Palpatine, but standing in their way was the cunning Sith Lord.
Dooku had easily bested the two Jedi at the conclusion of Attack of the Clones, and he quickly put Obi-Wan out of commission in Revenge of the Sith. With Kenobi incapacitated, Palpatine watched as Dooku tried to fight off Anakin's ferocity. Skywalker proved to be too powerful for the aging Tyranus.
In one quick motion, Anakin cut off the dark lord’s arms. On his knees, Dooku was helpless as Palpatine urged Skywalker to kill the Sith Lord. Against his better judgement, Anakin gave into his hate and severed Dooku’s head from his body. It was just one in a series of bad decisions that would snowball into Skywalker’s journey to the dark side of the Force.
10 Impregnated Padme
One of the primary rules for the Jedi was that they were forbidden to fall in love. But Anakin Skywalker had no intention of respecting such an outlandish boundary when it came to Padme Amidala. Skywalker had been entranced by the Queen of Naboo since they first met in The Phantom Menace.
Ten years later, during Attack of the Clones, Anakin pursued Amidala relentlessly. At the film’s conclusion, both youngsters gave into their romantic feelings and declared their love for one another.
After a long conflict in The Clone Wars, Skywalker returned to Coruscant to discover Padme was pregnant. The unborn child was a source of great pride for Anakin. But that moment of happiness led to Skywalker having a haunting dream of Padme's death in childbirth, which pushed Skywalker further down the path to the dark side.
9 Tried to Change Fate
Jedi Master Yoda warned Anakin Skywalker about the dangers of trying to sense the future, but to no avail. After having visions of his wife’s death, Skywalker sought out Yoda’s counsel. He was told to let go of everything he was afraid to lose, but Anakin had no intentions of watching Padme perish.
Desperate to change Padme’s fate, Anakin foolishly listened to Palpatine’s tale of the old Sith Lord - Darth Plagueis the Wise. Supposedly the vanquished Sith had the power to keep the ones he cared about from dying. Anakin finally had a way to save Padme, but Palpatine told him that a Jedi couldn’t teach him the technique.
Nothing would stop Skywalker from saving his lover, and as things escalated the young Jedi was forced to make a choice. In order to save Padme, Anakin believed he had to turn from the light and become one with the Sith. He helped Palpatine wipe out most of the Jedi Order, as the new Emperor and his apprentice took control of the Senate.
Anakin never guessed that it was he - Darth Vader - who caused the disturbance in the Force that led to his nightmarish visions, and to Padme’s eventual death.
8 Befriended Palpatine
While the Jedi, especially Yoda, sensed much danger surrounding the young Padawan, Palpatine knew of the potential the Chosen One had within him. Rather than ostracizing Skywalker, as many Jedi did, Palpatine chose to befriend the boy, and Anakin reciprocated.
Their relationship grew into one of mutual admiration, friendship, and even flourished into a father/son bond. Indeed, Palpatine began fostering Anakin early on and instilled in him a sense of grandeur. The Chancellor even boasted that he saw Skywalker becoming more powerful than Master Yoda.
The Jedi tried to exploit Skywalker and Palpatine's bond in Revenge of the Sith, but with dire consequences. Ultimately, Anakin’s allegiance lay with Palpatine and his promise to save Padme from the clutches of death. Mace Windu (Samuel L. Jackson) was about to find this out the hard way.
7 Turned to the Dark Side
Anakin’s descent to the dark side of the Force was inevitable. Fans of the films also knew that Skywalker would make his transformation into Darth Vader during Revenge of the Sith. Speculation suggested his fall would involve his wife Padme, so it wasn’t a big shock when Palpatine used Anakin’s visions of her pregnancy against the young Jedi.
After Palpatine revealed his knowledge of the dark side to Skywalker, Anakin told Jedi Master Mace Windu of the Supreme Chancellor’s secret. Windu ordered Skywalker not to interfere, as Mace proceeded to arrest Palpatine.
Palpatine didn’t go quietly. He showed off his power by effortlessly murdering three of the four Jedi sent to apprehend him. Only Windu remained, and he finally managed to disarm the Chancellor. Anakin walked in as Palpatine unsuccessfully unleashed his Force lightning on Windu.
Mace decided Palpatine was too powerful to let live, so he went in for the kill shot. Unfortunately for Windu, Anakin was tricked into thinking Palpatine could save Padme's life. Skywalker cut off Mace’s arm, and Palpatine sent the betrayed Jedi Master flying out over the city with a final salvo of Force lightning. Anakin's actions forever changed his destiny.
6 Wiped out the Separatists
The Emperor wasted no time utilizing the skills and blinding power of his new apprentice once the duo took out Jedi Master Mace Windu. Anakin Skywalker followed the assassination by taking a squad of Clone/Stormtroopers to infiltrate the Jedi Temple.
As if Skywalker didn’t have enough blood on his hands, Emperor Palpatine then ordered the young Sith to journey to Mustafar to wipe out the Separatists and their leader Viceroy Gunray (Silas Carson). R2-D2 (Kenny Baker) knew his master was up to no good, but Anakin told the droid to remain behind once they reached the fiery planet.
Once inside the command center, Gunray welcomed Skywalker. Anakin didn’t say a word. He simply used the Force to seal the post like a tomb. In a freakish show of savagery and strength, the newly knighted Darth Vader massacred every last one of the Separatists. Skywalker stood outside after, and looked out on the fiery planet, as he wept over his deplorable actions.
5 Married Padme
Padme Amidala’s beauty and her indomitable spirit were too powerful for Anakin Skywalker to dismiss. Their tragic love affair was something right out of the written works of Sophocles and Shakespeare.
Doomed to be destroyed by their affections for one another, Anakin and Padme enjoyed their short-lived relationship the best they could. After The Clone Wars began, the pair was secretly married. The shroud of darkness and the horrors of war couldn’t tear them apart, but a young Jedi’s desire to protect his lover ultimately damned them both.
Visions of Padme’s death consumed Anakin. The Jedi explicitly forbade love and attachment for fear that certain emotions would lead to the dark side of the Force.
Although his intentions were pure, as he desperately tried to save his wife, eventually greed overpowered Skywalker. Out of that frenzy to control fate, Darth Vader was born and Padme Amidala died.
4 Stormed the Jedi Temple
Anakin Skywalker’s first action for his new master, Emperor Palpatine, was to wipe out those inhabiting the Jedi Temple. It was one of those grand moments of cinematic imagery, as Skywalker led a battalion of heavily-armed Clones to engage the unsuspecting Jedi.
With most of the Jedi Masters and Knights spread out across the galaxy, leading their own respective groups of Clonetroopers, the temple was susceptible to attack. The Clones easily overpowered those inside, and Skywalker was only seen engaging the younglings in the Jedi Council chambers.
This maneuver was a critical first step for the Emperor against the Jedi Order. As Anakin and the Clones secured the temple for the return of any stragglers, Palpatine executed Order 66. This initiative to kill every last Jedi was sent out to all Clonetroopers. The majority of Jedi were caught off guard and murdered by their own soldiers. The Sith were close to wiping out the entire Jedi Order.
3 Tried to Defeat Dooku Alone
Obi-Wan Kenobi and Anakin Skywalker had an opportunity to capture Count Dooku, and end The Clone Wars before they even began, at the conclusion of Attack of the Clones. As the two Jedi closed in on the Sith Lord, Anakin jumped the gun and tried to take Dooku on his own.
After the Count incapacitated Anakin with his Force lightning, Obi-Wan was nearly killed. Fortunately, Skywalker gathered himself and put up a worthy effort against Lord Tyranus. In the end, Dooku’s experience trumped Anakin’s power. The dark lord severed Skywalker’s arm, as both Jedi were finally defeated.
Dooku never had a chance to finish them off, though, because Master Yoda arrived in the nick of time. Tyranus was no match for Yoda, so he was forced to flee.
Had Anakin not jumped the gun, perhaps the dark influence of the Sith could have been avoided. Impulsiveness nearly got young Skywalker and Master Kenobi killed on Geonosis that day.
2 Believed He Was A Better Swordsman Than Yoda
Confidence was never a problem for Anakin Skywalker. After the events of The Phantom Menace, approximately ten years passed before Attack of the Clones. Skywalker had spent that decade training with his Jedi Master Obi-Wan Kenobi. Skilled, and immensely powerful, Anakin became very arrogant.
It was clear that he and Obi-Wan were very close, but Anakin continually questioned his mentor’s choices, particularly when it came to their new assignment of protecting Senator Padme Amidala. After the bounty hunter Zam Wesell (Leeanna Walsman) botched an attempt to kill Padme, Obi-Wan and Anakin engaged in a speeder chase to catch Zam.
It was during this action sequence that audiences found out just how confident young Skywalker really was. Obi-Wan suggested that if Anakin practiced his saber skills as much as his rapier wit, he would rival Jedi Master Yoda as a swordsman. Skywalker’s reply was, “I thought I already did.”
1 Choked Padme
Anakin Skywalker was corrupted by power and greed at the conclusion of Revenge of the Sith. He had basically helped wipe out the entire Jedi Order and betrayed himself to save his wife Padme from certain death. Fearing that her husband had turned to the dark side after a candid conversation with Obi-Wan Kenobi, Padme journeyed to Mustafar to confront Skywalker. Kenobi was a secret stowaway.
When Padme arrived, she was so relieved to find her loving husband. But things got a little hairy when Anakin began discussing his ambitions to overthrow the Emperor and rule the galaxy with his wife. Slowly, Padme realized that everything Obi-Wan Kenobi had told her about Anakin was true.
It all hit the fan when Anakin noticed Obi-Wan standing on the ramp of Padme’s ship. Believing his wife betrayed him, Skywalker was fully consumed by Darth Vader. Utilizing the Force, Vader reached out and used his powers to choke out his wife. It was the last moment they’d ever share together.
After Padme fell unconscious, Obi-Wan engaged in a lightsaber duel with his best friend in order to stop the madness. Anakin was severely injured in the battle and Padme sadly died afterward in childbirth.
Is there any thing else Anakin did that was completely crazy - before he was Darth Vader in Star Wars? Sound off in the comments!