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In his 20+ years as Darth Vader, was Anakin ever fully fallen to the dark side? Before Padme's arrival on Mustafar, he was crying and regretting the mess he had gotten himself into. When Luke tried to bring him back to the light, he seemed to quite easily reveal his deepest thoughts. As far as I understand, being remorseful over becoming evil, being compassionate and trusting towards a loved one are traits a dark sider is extremely unlikely to exhibit. Are these signs that, like Padme said, there is still good in him, that a piece of him still lies in the light?

Extending from this, can it be said that the Jedi are actually right in that redemption is not possible for one who has fallen to the dark side, albeit only for those who have wholly given themselves to it - Anakin could be redeemed because he had not fully forsaken the light, whereas all of the other three Sith Lords portrayed in the movies are truly lost, for the is not a single shred of goodness left in them?

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    Anakin was redeemed because he chose to turn back to the light. I would argue that Vader was far more evil than Tyranus and Maul, yet they were not redeemed because they remained with the dark side to the point of death. Obi-Wan and Yoda thought Vader was irredeemable because he was that evil. – Null Oct 19 '15 at 20:50
  • I don't think he could get any darker unless he packed his inferred flashlight. – Major Stackings Oct 19 '15 at 23:05
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    He murdered dozens of children. If that doesn't amount to a true fall, I don't want to know what does. – Wad Cheber Oct 19 '15 at 23:37
  • Relevant: scifi.stackexchange.com/questions/97618/… – Wad Cheber Oct 19 '15 at 23:50
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Did Anakin truly fall?

Absolutely, and to such an extent that he couldn't be fully redeemed, according to George Lucas. Remember, this man has killed dozens of children - both Jedi younglings and Sand People children. He was actively involved in the destruction of an entire planet. He has tortured and murdered too many people to count.

How was he redeemed?

Through committing self sacrifice out of love for someone else - love that was stronger than his love for himself and the Emperor.

"It really has to do with learning," Lucas says, "Children teach you compassion. They teach you to love unconditionally. Anakin can't be redeemed for all the pain and suffering he's caused. He doesn't right the wrongs, but he stops the horror. The end of the Saga is simply Anakin saying, I care about this person, regardless of what it means to me. I will throw away everything that I have, everything that I've grown to love - primarily the Emperor - and throw away my life, to save this person. And I'm doing it because he has faith in me; he loves me despite all the horrible things I've done. I broke his mother's heart, but he still cares about me, and I can't let that die. Anakin is very different in the end. The thing of it is: The prophecy was right. Anakin was the chosen one, and he does bring balance to the Force. He takes the one ounce of good still left in him and destroys the Emperor out of compassion for his son."
- George Lucas, The Making Of Revenge Of The Sith; page 221

"You learn that Darth Vader isn’t this monster. He’s a pathetic individual who made a pact with the Devil and lost. And he’s trapped. He’s a sad, pathetic character, not a big evil monster. I mean, he’s a monster in that he’s turned to the Dark Side and he’s serving a bad master and he’s into power and he’s lost a lot of his humanity. In that way, he’s a monster, but beneath that, as Luke says in Return of the Jedi, early on, “I know there’s still good in you, I can sense it.” Only through the love of his children and the compassion of his children, who believe in him, even though he’s a monster, does he redeem himself."
- George Lucas, quoted in J. Windolf, “Star Wars: The Last Battle,” Vanity Fair, 2005

"And obviously there are two sides to the redeemer motif in the Star Wars films. Ultimately Vader is redeemed by his children.
- George Lucas

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The questioner didn't mean did he ever fall to the dark side, but did he ever COMPLETELY fall to the dark side. The answer is no. He held a spot in his heart for his child which went beyond even his love for himself. That is not something a complete sith lord would do.

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One of my friends is the "fight-chief" (what we might call "warlord") for a small language group in ... another country. He led raids where he and his men would wipe out entire villages, surrounding them, then coming in burning every house down to the ground and killing everyone in their path. This man had tasted human flesh. When I first met him, he was the human embodiment of evil. His expression told you that he would love nothing more than to bite your head off, literally.

One day, shortly after I met him, he was reading the newly translated account of Cain and Abel. After Cain kills Abel, God comes to Cain and says to him "the blood of your brother is crying out to Me from the ground." My friend told me that when he read those words, he felt like a spear went into his side, intense literal physical pain so that he could hardly walk. He said he felt that God was saying to him that the blood of all the people he had killed was calling to Him from the ground. Shortly after, he repented and made an astounding turn around. Over the coming weeks, he instituted a peace pact with their main enemies and held to it in spite of their breaking it several times. The last break came when five enemy clans banded together and attacked his village, burning every house down to the ground. By a miracle, none of my friend's people were killed, but they lost everything. Contrary to cultural expectations, he refused to retaliate and instead continued to speak to his people and his enemies about peace and reconciliation. That attack was the last of a war that had raged for several decades. For the last 8 years, there has been no more fighting, and I am now looking at a picture of this man holding my youngest when she was three years old. The expression on his face is so entirely different from when I first met him - his eyes are shining and are no longer dead like before; his smile looks honest and warm, rather than like the snarl he used to wear.

The point is, no man is beyond repentance. The further a person sinks into evil, the harder it is for them to come out, but it is never impossible. And I think Darth Vader's story illustrates that. The way I interpret the movie is that the Jedis thought it was impossible, once having gone to the dark side, to ever come back. Yoda said that once you go to the dark side, "Forever will it dominate your destiny". But Yoda and the Jedis were wrong about that. Luke proves it by being the instrument through whom Anakin is redeemed.

George Lucas may or may not have intended for the Jedis to be wrong in thinking that the Dark Side was inescapable. But no author can ever craft a perfect character, and truth has a tendency to come out. In this case, the truth that anyone can be turned comes out in spite of some of the characters having been written to think that it was impossible.

  • I agree on the moral you mentioned here. In-universe though, don't forget that the Force is a mystical entity that doesn't exist irl. Yoda's statement on the impossibility of redeeming one completely fallen to darkness may be the proven result of studies into the nature of the Force. Yoda & Obi-Wan are either wrong about the impossibility to redeem one fallen to darkness, or wrong about Anakin being fully fallen. I see a possibility where Yoda is right about the dark side being irredeemable, where exceptions exist only if "there is still good in him" – thegreatjedi Oct 21 '15 at 19:20
  • @thegreatjedi - not forgetting the difference, only illustrating that truth has a pernicious way of popping its head out even in the most fantastical fiction. It does not seem to me that Yoda's and Obi-Wan's statements leave any opening for a Sith lord to repent, whether they allowed there might be any good left in them or not. So the Yoda characters simply do not see the last possibility you speak of. That leads me to conclude that, in-universe, it is impossible for anyone, even Yoda, to ever know that a Sith Lord is beyond repentance (and be right), so the possibility is always open. – AgapwIesu Oct 21 '15 at 19:54
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Anakin is unredeemable because he killed his wife, he lived his life as if he was completely fallen, until he saved Luke. Redemption in your last moments, doesn't redeem you from countless darkside motivated actions, as well as blind faith in the Emperor. 20-25 yrs of darkness, doesn't save you from the dark side. It's not as if, for example, in Christianity, when you commit a heinous sin, you can be forgiven. Anakin's religion was the way of the Jedi, to choose light or the dark. Up until that point, he was leaning towards the Emperor and the darkness. The act of killing his pregnant wife, which albeit an accident..tilted him, irredeemably to the dark side. At the end of "Return of the Jedi" when he killed the Emperor in order to save Luke, as a redeeming act...it WAS a redeeming act. But, even in his own mind, he realized himself that he was unredeemable and had shifted to the dark side. It was cute that he redeemed himself a bit by saving Luke, but the entirety of his actions in life, even he realized, had brought him over to the dark side.

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    Did you not notice Anakin's Force ghost standing next to Yoda and Obi-Wan's Force ghosts at the end of Episode VI? – Null Oct 19 '15 at 21:29
  • This is simplistic and incorrect. – JMFB Oct 21 '15 at 18:37

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