Darth Vader, the main antagonist in the Star Wars franchise, dominated the original film trilogy to the point of overshadowing the main protagonist, Luke Skywalker. The original trilogy was essentially the coming-of-age saga of young Luke who, content with his uneventful life on his uncle’s moisture farm, resisted his calling to Jedi Knighthood until circumstances forced him to accept it. However, it was the actions of Darth Vader and his proxies that shaped the circumstances which forced Luke to leave home to train as a Jedi Knight.
Darth Vader’s search for the stolen plans of the Death Star led to the invasion of Luke’s home on Tatooine and the execution of Uncle Owen Lars and his wife Beru. The tragic incident forced Luke’s decision to join the Rebel Alliance fighting the Galactic Empire.
The destruction of Princess Leia’s home planet Alderaan and the subsequent threat to the Rebel Alliance’s hideout on Yavin IV, got Luke involved in the mission to destroy the Death Star. Similarly, Vader’s subsequent obsession with finding the pilot who destroyed the Death Star drove the plot of the story until the confrontation in the final installment of the trilogy.
Vader’s blood-drenched career earned him recognition as one of the most iconic fictional villains ever. But while his career was certainly a litany of evil, there were redeeming moments in the stretches of unrelenting villainy.
This brings us to look at Darth Vader’s career and consider 10 Horrible Things He’s Done (And The 5 Best!).
15. Really Bad: Darth Vader Took Out His Own Troops And Senior Officers
Darth Vader often took out his soldiers and officers. In Star Wars Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back (1980), he did this to Admiral Kendal Ozzel, Commander of the Imperial Starfleet’s Death Squadron, by Force-choking him.
Darth Vadar did it to Ozzel on the bridge of the flagship Super Star Destroyer Executor, for committing a tactical error during the search for the headquarters of the Rebel Alliance on planet Hoth. Vader also did this to Lorth Needa, Captain of the Imperial Star Destroyer Avenger, for failing to stop Han Solo’s Millennium Falcon.
In the Marvel Comics’ Star Wars series, set in the years between Star Wars: A New Hope and The Empire Strikes Back, Vader broke the neck of a Stormtrooper (Star Wars Vol 2 #2) because the soldier accidentally caught a glimpse of the Sith Lord’s face after his helmet fell off his face.
14. Really Bad: Darth Vader Force-Fed A Rodian Crime Lord To His Pet Monster
After Luke destroyed the Death Star in the Battle of Yavin, the Empire launched a campaign against organized crime rings in the Outer Rim Territories. One of the major criminal organizations targeted by the Imperial forces was the Son-tuul Pride, a crime syndicate on the Outer Rim jungle planet, Son-tuul.
In Darth Vader 2: Shadows And Secrets, Part 1, #7, the Dark Lord of the Sith force-fed a Rodian crime lord to his pet monster. When Vader and his Stormtroopers confronted the Rodian, he ordered his pet beast to attack. However, Vader used the Force to take control of the beast and lifted the Rodian into his beast’s open mouth. After forcefully cramming the Rodian into the monster’s gaping maws, he used his lightsaber to slice through the monster’s head, taking out the beast and its owner.
13. Best: Darth Vader Sought To Avenge His Mother’s Violent Death
When, after many years, Darth Vader returned to Tatooine (Darth Vader 1: Vader, Part I, #1) and visited Jabba the Hutt, he proved that time had not healed the wound in his heart over the death of his mother Shmi, who was kidnapped and tortured to death many years before by a band of Tusken Raiders.
Darth Vader’s insistence on revisiting his grievance against the Tuskens so many years after the initial incident was deplorable and his hurting of innocent Tusken villagers villainous. However, his reaction was part of a pattern that gives insight into a deeper aspect of his personality — his deep sense of familial obligation, despite the monstrous dimensions of his villainy.
12. Really Bad: Vader Exterminated The Jedi
After Anakin joined the dark side as Darth Vader in Star Wars: Episode III – Revenge of the Sith, Emperor Palpatine moved to strengthen his grip on power by executing Order 66, a program that made the clone troopers turn against the Jedi. To ensure that the purge of the Jedi was total, Palpatine sent Vader to finish the remaining Jedi in the Coruscant Temple.
During the massacre, Darth Vader encountered the Jedi Younglings — juvenile initiates — and you can guess what happened. Palpatine then ordered him to the planet Mustafar to silence all of the remaining Separatist leaders.
Padmé went to Mustafar to persuade Darth Vader to leave the dark side and Obi-Wan hid himself on Padmé’s ship. When she arrived on Mustafar, Padme confronted Vader, but when Vader saw Obi-Wan, he became enraged and Force-choked Padme until she was unconscious.
11. Really Bad: Vader Harms His Own Daughter, Princess Leia
One of the most bizarre scenes in the entire Star Wars series occurred in A New Hope, when Darth Vader visited Leia in her cell after he seized her from the Tantive IV. Vader was accompanied by the droid IT-O interrogator armed with a syringe to torture her and extract information about the location of the Rebel Alliance’s secret base. Vader did not know that Leia was his daughter.
Hans Solo, Chewbacca, Luke Skywalker, and Obi-Wan later arrived on the Death Star aboard the Millennium Falcon and rescued Leia, but Obi-Wan was sacrificed in a duel with Vader.
Darth Vader tortured Leia once again in The Empire Strikes Back (1980). When Vader’s probe droids located the rebel hideout on Hoth, the Empire attacked. Leia and her companions tried to escape to Lando Calrissian’s Cloud City on Bespin. However, Vader and Boba Fett found and captured them.
10. Best: Vader Yearned To Be With His Son, Luke Skywalker, Searched For Him Across The Galaxy
Darth Vader reacted with strong emotion when he learned in Darth Vader 1: Vader, Part VI, #6 that Darth Sidious (Emperor Palpatine) had lied to him about how his wife Padmé died. Sidious claimed that Vader had took out a pregnant Padmé in anger. This implied that her baby had also passed, thus Vader did not realize he had a son.
He learned that he had a son from the bounty hunter Boba Fett. Fett told Vader that he had an encounter with the young pilot who destroyed the Death Star and that he discovered his name was Skywalker. Darth Vader was so overcome with emotion that he nearly provoked a confrontation with Sidious over the matter. As he struggled to contain his feelings, he used the Force to crack his star ship’s viewport glass.
9. Really Bad: Darth Vader Sought Out Rebel Leaders And Troops Across The Galaxy
In Star Wars: Vader Down, Part VI, #15, the Sith Lord Vader fought in the Battle of Yavin during his search for Luke Skywalker. He decimated three Rebel Alliance squadrons in a dogfight over planet Vrogas Vas. Luke Skywalker ended the carnage by crashing his X-wing into Vader’s TIE Advanced fighter.
After Vader’s fighter crashed on the planet, he eliminated hundreds of rebel soldiers and defeated Imperial Commander Karbin in a lightsaber duel. He then captured and silenced Karbin.
In Rogue One (2016), which covers the events between Revenge of the Sith and A New Hope, Darth Vader destroyed rebel forces that stole Death Star plans. It was during the Battle of Scarif that the famous breathing scene occurred. Vader’s ominous breathing could be heard before he appeared and massacred the rebels.
8. Really Bad: Vader Invaded Luke’s Home Planet
In Star Wars: Episode IV — A New Hope, Lord Vader’s Stormtroopers invaded Tatooine, Luke Skywalker’s home planet, and took out his uncle Owen Lars and his wife Beru. The imperial forces were searching for the Death Star’s blueprints stolen by Princess Leia and stored in the droid R2-D2’s memory.
Owen and Luke had earlier purchased R2-D2 from Jawa traders and were unaware of the valuable information stored in its memory. But Vader’s Stormtroopers under Captain Mod Terrik tracked the droid to Lars’ moisture farm on Tatooine. Terrik’s troops captured and interrogated Lars and his wife, and executed them.
The crime was a turning point for Luke who had previously refused Obi-Wan’s invitation to train as a Jedi Knight. He left Tatooine with Obi-Wan aboard Han Solo’s Millennium Falcon to join the Rebel Alliance and train as a Jedi under Master Yoda.
7. Best: Vader’s Sadness And Regret When He Visited The Ruined Farm On Tatooine
In Darth Vader 2: Shadows And Secrets, Part 1, #7, Vader traveled to Tatooine with Chelli Lona Aphra and visited Luke’s former home after he learned from Boba Fett that Luke was his son.
He toured the farm and located Obi-Wan’s former hut. While inside the hut, Vader took note of the physical evidence of the duel between Luke and Fett in the form of lightsaber indents on the wall. He could judge that Luke was poorly trained, yet he realized that he was “strong in the Force,” which meant that he had innate but unrealized potential.
It was clear from Vader’s broody silence that the visit was a poignant moment for him due to the realization – as Aphra remarked — that his actions were directly responsible for the chain of events that led to Luke joining the rebel forces, becoming a Jedi Knight, and destroying the Death Star.
6. Really Bad: Darth Vader Ending With Obi-Wan
When Han Solo, Chewbacca, Luke Skywalker, and Obi-Wan Kenobi, reached the planet Alderaan in Star Wars: Episode IV — A New Hope, they found it had been destroyed by the Death Star. The Death Star’s tractor beam then captured the Falcon and forced it to land in one of the battle station’s hangars. Luke Skywalker learned that Princess Leia was a prisoner on the Death Star and rescued her with help from Han Solo and Chewbacca.
They encountered Darth Vader, and Obi-Wan engaged him in a duel, allowing the others, including Leia, to escape.
Darth Vader defeated Obi-Wan, his former Jedi master and best friend. The two had faced many perils together in Star Wars: Episode II — Attack of the Clones, and Episode III – Revenge of the Sith. Together, they fought the Sith Lord Count Dooku who was leading a secessionist movement against the Galactic Republic.
5. Really Bad: He Took Out Informants And Associates
In Darth Vader 2: Shadows and Secrets, #7-12, Darth Vader killed The Ante, an information broker from the floating city Spire on planet Anthan Prime. The Ante helped Darth Vader’s agent, Chelli Lona Aphra, by providing information about the mortician who buried Padme. The Ante also provided valuable information about Luke Skywalker.
However, when The Ante was about to give information that could lead to the uncovering of Aphra’s connection with Darth Vader, he removed him from the equation by redirecting a laser blast on him.
Vader also silenced The Dragon, an Ortolan arms dealer from Anthan Prime, who sold explosives to Aphra.
In Darth Vader 4: End Of Games, Part VI, #25, Darth Vader tried to eliminate Chelli Aphra after he accused her of betraying him by divulging information to Emperor Palpatine. Darth Vader jettisoned Aphra into space, but she was rescued by Black Krrsantan, BT-1, and Triple-Zero.
4. Best: Darth Vader Spared Luke Skywalker’s Life During The Duel At Cloud City
In Star Wars: Episode V – The Empire Strikes Back (1980), Luke arrived at Cloud City to rescue Leia and engaged Darth Vader in a duel. Vader could have killed Luke if he wanted to. Luke was not yet a properly trained Jedi Knight, so his fighting skills were inferior to Vader’s. However, instead of killing him, Vader severed his hand to disarm him and stop the fight. Although Luke was maimed and Darth Vader could have finished him, he tried, instead, to convince him to join him to rule the Galactic Empire.
When Luke accused him of eliminating his father, Vader revealed he was Luke’s father.
Luke was shocked by the revelation. He escaped from Vader through an air shaft and was rescued by Leia. They fled Cloud City, and later, while on board a Rebel Alliance ship, Luke received a new robotic arm.
3. Really Bad: Darth Vader Obliterated Princess Leia’s Home Planet Alderaan
Princess Leia, a leader of the Rebel Alliance, stole the blue print for the Death Star in Star Wars: Episode IV – A New Hope. Darth Vader and Grand Moff Tarkin threatened Alderaan with destruction if Leia did not reveal the secret location of the rebel base. To save her planet, Leia revealed the location of an abandoned base on planet Dantooine, but Vader still let Tarkin destroy Alderaan.
Some fans argued that the order to destroy Alderaan was given by Tarkin and thus Vader could not be blamed for it. However, Tarkin, as commander of the Death Star, was directly under Darth Vader’s command. Tarkin apparently acted within the limits of the Imperial Starfleet’s operational policy approved by Vader. It was also clear that Vader was aware of the decision and thus effectively approved it when he refused to overrule it.
2. Really Bad: Destroyed Entire Communities Across The Galaxy
In Darth Vader Annual #1, Vader cut off the hand of Princess Trios and then appointed her the vassal queen of planet Shu-Torun, after his droid BT-1 took out her father, the king, and her siblings, Prince Monthan and Princess Hollian.
When Darth Vader was leaving the planet, he gave the queen a box. She found a strange object in it and asked Vader what it was. Vader told her it was the remains of Princess Leia’s planet, Alderaan.
In the novel Lords of the Sith by Paul Kemp, Emperor Palpatine and Darth Vader traveled to Ryloth to quell a rebellion. They defeated the Lylek hordes and met a young girl, Drua, who led them to a Twi’lek village. After defeating the rebel forces, Darth Vader eliminated the Free Ryloth troops taken prisoners and then silenced Drua and all the villagers who witnessed incident.
1. Best: Vader Sacrificed His Own Life To Save Luke Skywalker
In Star Wars: Episode VI – Return of the Jedi (1983), Luke met Vader and tried to convince him to leave the dark side. However, Vader took Luke to Emperor Palpatine and both tried to convince him to join them. A duel soon broke out between Luke and Vader.
Luke attacked Vader and cut off his right hand. Palpatine then urged Luke to eliminate Vader and take over as his commander. But Luke resisted Palpatine’s tempting offer and proved — as Yoda believed before he died — that he had matured as a Jedi Knight, despite his inadequate formal training.
Palpatine was furious when Luke rejected his offer and tried to take him out with Force lightning. Darth Vader saved his son’s life by picking Palpatine up and throwing him down a shaft.
However, Darth Vader was electrocuted by Palpatine’s Force lightning and passed away in Luke’s arms.
Did we miss any horrible things Darth Vader did or any best things? Please share in the comments section below.
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