Star Wars Misconception: Darth Vader Doesn't Mean Dark Father

Star Wars Darth Vader George Lucas

One of the biggest legends about Star Wars is that Darth Vader's name means "Dark Father" – but it’s not entirely true. George Lucas changed the science fiction genre with Star Wars, and its success is in no small part due to the greatness of its villain.

Through Darth Vader's role in the Star Wars Saga, he has become arguably the most iconic villain in pop culture, from his menacing entrance in Star Wars to the shocking twist in The Empire Strikes Back. Although his story has been explored in the films, there are still a bunch of myths surrounding him, the most popular one being about his name and its supposed meaning.

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Related: Star Wars: The Real Reason Darth Vader Was On The Death Star

For years, it has been believed that Darth Vader means “Dark Father” in Dutch or German (depending on who you ask). This has been fueled by Lucas himself, who after the release of The Empire Strikes Back, revealed that “Vader” comes from the Dutch word for “father”, adding years later that “Darth” is a variation of dark, so Darth Vader would mean “dark father”. However, there’s evidence that the “father” part of the name is mere coincidence, as pointed out by Phil Szostak on Twitter.

At some point, Lucas said he toyed with different name combinations for Vader, and his early name was “Dark Water”. He added that he tried with lots of last names, such as Vader, Wilson, and Smith, and the combination “Darth Vader” eventually came up. Sure, Vader is not a common last name, but Lucas went to high school with a Gary Vader, so for him it wasn't that much of an unusual last name. As shown in the screenshots provided by Szostak, the final name combination appeared in May 1972 in a rough draft for Star Wars, with Vader being described as “a tall, grim-looking general”. The plot twist of Vader being Luke Skywalker’s father wasn’t planned until much later, which completely debunks the “dark father” myth.

Darth Vader as Luke’s father wasn’t a thing until Lucas was developing The Empire Strikes Back, with the plot twist finally appearing in the second draft of the script. So yes, while “Vader” does mean father in Dutch, and Darth refers to darkness (and means nothing in Dutch and German), Darth Vader wasn’t named as such with the idea of “Dark Father” – it’s more of a happy coincidence that added up to the character’s already mysterious vibe in Star Wars.

Next: How Each Star Wars Prequel Villain Foreshadowed Darth Vader's Fate

Key Release Dates
  • Star Wars 9 / Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker (2019) release date: Dec 20, 2019
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