In the pantheon of great movie villains, Darth Vader is in a league of his own. Intimidating, tragic, and sporting arguably the most iconic suit of armor ever assembled, Vader is a pillar of popular culture -- a figure by which the mere imitation of his breathing sends chills down our spines.
Vader cast a towering shadow over the heroes of the original Star Wars trilogy, and, as evidenced by the unhealthy fandom of his grandson Kylo Ren, he continues to linger in the minds of the new generation. He was even able to survive being defanged in George Lucas’ prequels -- save for the scene where he shouts “Nooo!!” It's best to just force block that out and focus on his fighting skills at the end of Rogue One.
While Vader may be gone, the ongoing success of the Star Wars brand has made it so that the Vader conspiracy theories live on. From crossovers with other Lucas characters to the suspicion that he may still be alive and plotting the downfall of the rebellion, the internet is riddled with fantastical claims.
Get comfortable in your meditation chamber, and steer clear of any sand, because we present Star Wars: 15 Craziest Fan Theories About Darth Vader.
15 Qui-Gon Jinn Knew Anakin Would Turn Evil
Another one of many Reddit theories that force us to reevaluate the prequels, this one claims that Qui-Gon Jinn was aware that Anakin would bring about the destruction of the Jedi Order, and pushed for his training anyway. The theory points to the fact that everyone around Jinn felt the boy was too emotional, too reckless to make a good Jedi, and yet Jinn persisted, ignoring all the obvious signs and taking steps he knew would only alienate Anakin as he got older.
Things get even crazier when it's implied that Jinn was working with the Sith throughout The Phantom Menace, and that he orchestrated his own passing as a means of guilting Obi-Wan into taking Anakin on as his apprentice. If true, then Jinn may be the most devious, manipulative character in the entire Star Wars saga. If not, which is the more likely outcome, than he was just a guy who made the worst possible judgment call imaginable.
14 Young Vader VS Supreme Leader Snoke
Leading up to the release of The Last Jedi, the internet was saturated with conspiracy theories regarding Snoke’s backstory, the identity of Rey’s parents, and, somehow, the belief that Jar Jar Binks was a Sith Lord. Fingers crossed that the last one is still true, but we digress. One notable theory put forth by Variety was that Snoke was a young Jedi who we met during the events of 2005’s Revenge of the Sith. He was one of the younglings we see being trained by Yoda early on, and is said to be present in the scene where Vader dispatches them all.
Assuming that Snoke survived what looked to be a certain doom, the theory would explain the notable scarring on his face.
It could also support the fact that his body language and disfigurement suggest a character who is centuries older. It remains to be seen whether J.J. Abrams will delve into Snoke’s backstory with Episode IX, but we doubt he’ll go with the youngling angle.
13 Rey Is the Reincarnation of Vader
An enormously popular theory, even in the wake of what happened in The Last Jedi, is that Rey is the reincarnation of Darth Vader aka Anakin Skywalker. There is much to support this theory, including the parallels between them (poor beginnings, flying skills), and the sequence in The Force Awakens that sees Rey undergo a force vision -- the likes of which we’ve never witnessed onscreen.
The reincarnation theory would also explain how Rey is so proficient in the ways of the Force despite having known of its existence for a short time and having no formal training.
Unfortunately, Abrams might ruffle a few feathers if he were to go this route, as much of the praise heaped upon Rian Johnson for The Last Jedi had to do with the fact that Rey was said to be a nobody; a normal person who is able to make a huge difference in the galaxy. Time will tell, but it does make for interesting conversation in the meantime.
12 Daddy Palpatine
Parents and their children are a major component of the Star Wars films, an emotional core that all ten installments have delved into. It makes sense, then, that the identity of Anakin/Vader’s father has continued to be a source of debate since the release of The Phantom Menace in 1999. It’s implied that Anakin was the result of a virgin birth, a “convergence” in the Force. According to Mental Floss, however, there are some fans who believe that Emperor Palpatine was his father.
The theory goes that Darth Plagueis taught Palpatine how to manipulate midi-chlorians to create life, and Palpatine created Anakin to bring about the destruction of the Jedi Order.
The opera scene between he and Anakin in Revenge of the Sith goes a long way in supporting this idea, though its unlikely we’ll ever get legitimate confirmation.
11 Vader’s Traumatic Past
Mental Floss claims that Obi-Wan Kenobi was exceedingly clever when he chose to hide Luke Skywalker on Tatooine. Not only was it a place where he could grow up with family -- Aunt Beru and Uncle Owen -- but it was a planet that had brought about some of his father’s most painful experiences.
Tatooine was where Anakin was raised as a slave, where his mother was ravaged, and where the megalomaniacal edge of his Vader persona first began to manifest. It makes sense that he would prefer to never again enter the planet's surface.
On a less serious note, Tatooine is covered in sand, and, as anyone who’s seen 2002’s Attack of the Clones can attest, Anakin really hates the feeling of sand. We have pity for the poor soul who mentioned sand around him, without knowing of his fiery hatred for its texture.
10 To Padmé Or Not To Padmé
This one is a chilling theory that suggests Padmé’s passing was caused by Emperor Palpatine, rather than Anakin. The idea is that Palpatine used his aforementioned control of midi-chlorians to steal Padmé’s life force after she gave birth. In allowing Anakin to assume the blame, Palpatine ensured that his new apprentice wouldn’t be tempted by love, and would give himself fully to the Dark Side.
Adding to Palpatine’s evil nature as a manipulator and pulling more tragedy from Anakin’s transformation, who spent decades punishing himself for an act he never really committed.
It also makes sense given that Padmé’s passing confused the droids who were performing the delivery. While maintaining that she was “medically fine,” the droids are unable to save her from perishing moments after naming Luke and Leia. Seems like the sort of ominous event that Palpatine would be responsible for, especially given how volatile and torn Anakin was during their last encounter.
9 He Was a Secret Rebel Ally
Could Darth Vader actually be an ally for the rebels during his time with the Empire? Probably not. Reddit user SyncProgram claims that Vader kept in touch with Obi-Wan Kenobi after their fateful battle in Revenge of the Sith, and that it was Vader who kept both Luke and Leia alive during A New Hope and The Empire Strikes Back, respectively.
It all hinges on the fact that Vader doesn’t mortally injure either Skywalker while they are in his custody -- in A New Hope, Leia is merely unconscious and put into holding, as opposed to tortured, while Luke loses his hand rather than his life during the fight in Empire.
“We clearly see violent behavior to the rebels [by Vader],” writes SyncProgram, “But when we see the younger Skywalker it only results in minor to non-lethal injuries.” It’s a fair point, but it’s more likely that it points to old-fashioned storytelling rather than a gigantic conspiracy on the part of screenwriters George Lucas and Lawrence Kasdan.
8 He Was In Cahoots With Indiana Jones
This conspiracy theory comes by way of SyFy, who not only claims that Indiana Jones and Darth Vader exist in the same universe, but that they’re time travelers who joined forces to take down Adolf Hitler!
The theory goes that Harrison Ford and James Earl Jones, government agents in Patriot Games, plan to travel back in time to decimate Hitler before WWII.
Ford is sent back to 1938 as Indiana Jones, to engage directly, and Jones is sent back a long time ago, to a galaxy far, far away as Vader, to go after the man (English actor Michael Sheard) who plays both an Empire officer and Hitler in the Indy film The Last Crusade. As you can infer, this theory is not meant to be taken seriously, and instead plays on the fact that Lucas and Steven Spielberg tend to cast a lot of the same actors.
7 His Suit Was Purposely Made to Limit His Power
A very popular theory online, according to Quora, is the idea that Darth Vader’s suit was made to maximize the pain he felt and minimize the power he was able to exert while in it. This had a two-fold effect -- the first being that it kept Vader connected to the Dark Side at all times, as the constant pain and discomfort he felt furthered his anger. The second, and most important for this theory, is that it kept him under Palpatine’s thumb.
Palpatine could have just as easily encased Vader in a suit that provided comfort and mobility, but he cagily decided to keep in pain, as a means of cutting him off from the rest of the world. Everyone would see Vader as a monster, a freak, which ensured that he would have to rely on Palpatine as his only means of friendship. The suit also proves beneficial in that it limits how powerful Vader can be, thus removing any chance that he would overthrow Palpatine.
6 He Had a Third Child
This theory suggests that Anakin had a third child in addition to Luke and Leia Skywalker. According to ScreenCrush, a grammar error in the opening scroll to The Last Jedi sparked the internet’s imagination, as it read: “With the support of the Republic, General Leia Organa leads a brave resistance. She is desperate to find her brother Luke and gain his help in restoring peace and justice to the galaxy.”
There are no commas around Luke’s name, which suggests to the viewer that it's necessary to specify which brother Leia is looking for.
Fans have taken the grammar error and ran with it, theorizing that maybe Vader had another child after Padmé’s passing, and that Leia and Luke have a half-brother running around somewhere in the galaxy.
5 Snoke, You Are Not The Father!
Another parental theory, this time concerning Vader and the mysterious Snoke. The Guardian proposes that Snoke is in fact Darth Plagueis, the legendary Sith, and that it was he who manipulated the midi-chlorians to create young Anakin. In this theory, fleshed out further on Steemit, Palpatine is little more than a pawn, an arrogant apprentice who thought Plagueis to have passed, only to be defeated by Plagueis' son in the end.
It's definitely a juicy theory, down to the physical resemblance between Snoke and old man Anakin, though the surprise destruction of Snoke in The Last Jedi looks to have closed off that possibility. There was a chance that Abrams had such an idea in mind at one point. According to Express, an early draft of The Force Awakens script had excerpts supposedly leaked, including an exchange between Snoke and Luke that alluded to their relation with the line: “What father doesn’t want to see his own creation?”
4 He Is Darth Plagueis Reincarnated
A direct buffer to the previous entry, this theory, courtesy of Imgur, claims that Vader is in fact the reincarnation of Darth Plagueis. A lot of it stems from the aforementioned Opera scene in Revenge of the Sith, where Palpatine speaks of Plagueis’ ability to survive. The theory goes on to state that because he was the first one to achieve this, through reincarnation no less, he would be the first being to ever truly be born of the Force -- a description included in the prophecy of the Chosen One.
Anakin’s mysterious birth seems to coincide with this reincarnation, as well as the widespread belief that he is the Chosen One.
All things considered, it's one of the most fascinating theories on this list. There’s lots to pick apart, and most of it holds up between the films, the extended universe, and various other internet conspiracies. It may not be true, but it’s definitely worth looking into.
3 An Unfortunate Necessity
In taking this theory into account, one has to understand that the Padawan School scene may prove to be the crucial moment when Anakin transformed into Darth Vader. According to the YouTube channel Star Wars Theory, Anakin’s spree carried a dual purpose. The first, and most obvious, being that he ended the younglings so that they would be unable to carry on the Jedi tradition and/or come for revenge as adults.
The second is that Anakin needed to purge his remaining humanity, and doing away with the younglings that he helped protect as a Jedi was the fastest way to do so. In dispatching them, he got rid of the part of himself that was still decent, and from then on he could never turn back. A similar act was played out by Anakin’s grandson, Kylo Ren, when he ended Han Solo's life in The Force Awakens.
2 Luke, Obi-Wan Is Your Father
Wielding the conspiracy theory that most resembles a soap opera, Reddit user TheLearnedSoldier claims that Luke is not actually Anakin Skywalker’s son, but Obi-Wan Kenobi’s. The evidence to support this wild claim includes the fact that Obi-Wan watched over Luke for decades, instead of merely dropping him off and departing for another planet.
TheLearnedSoldier feels this is behavior befitting a concerned father rather than a man watching over the son of his greatest enemy.
Furthermore, by deflecting Luke’s real origins and making him a Skywalker, Obi-Wan was using him as a ploy to break through Vader’s rigid exterior. What better way to appeal to the Sith than to present a child that he never knew as the savior of the galaxy? Had Vader found out that Padmé had an affair with Obi-Wan, Luke would have probably lost more than his hand in Empire.
1 He Survived Return of the Jedi
The biggest possible theory regarding Vader is, of course, whether he survived the final act of Return of the Jedi. Those that think he did point to Snoke as the proof. Newsarama theorizes that Vader and Snoke are one and the same, and that the similar appearance and facial scarring on both men alludes to the fact that Vader was not actually redeemed in his final moments.
As fun as that would be, there’s are some asteroid-sized issues with the theory. For one, we saw Vader’s body being burned by Luke at the end of Jedi, just as we saw his Force ghost hanging out with Yoda and Obi-Wan. Bringing him back would not only take the emotional punch away from these scenes, but undermine the entirety of the original trilogy, as Vader continued to spread evil throughout the cosmos.
What was the craziest Darth Vader theory that blew your mind? Let us know in the comments!