A friend and I were talking this the other day and it turned into a rather interesting debate. Who saved Luke from The Emperor at at the end of Return of the Jedi?

The quick and easy answer (at least for me) would be Anakin as Luke's father came through and saved his son. On the other hand (no pun intended), one might argue that Vader with all his robotics and body suit is what saved Luke. I'm inclined to go with Anakin saving Luke as the robotics/body suit were more like the "tools" he used to save him.

Is there anything in the canon that specifically says whether Anakin or Darth Vader saves Luke?

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    They are one in the same, the robotics are cybernetic enhancements made to Anakin to keep him alive. Commented Oct 21, 2015 at 4:54
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    I find your lack of clarity disturbing :) Am I interpreting your question correctly if I put it this way? You want to know whether Anakin's redemption preceded him saving Luke. In other words, did Anakin save Luke and was therefore redeemed by the sacrificial act or did Anakin return to the light side and then save Luke because that's what any Jedi would do?
    – Alarion
    Commented Oct 21, 2015 at 5:07
  • Well that's not what a Sith would do, so I guess it was "Anakin"?
    – Saturn
    Commented Oct 21, 2015 at 5:10
  • @Voldemort Not necessarily, reading the script his actions seem more self preservative than emotional. He mainly wants to end the emperors reign and begin the era of Vader. Commented Oct 21, 2015 at 5:13
  • @CandiedMango I see. Not a fan, but didn't saving Luke pretty much kill him too (like, frying his circuits etc)? If he wanted to begin his own era then he would've killed Palpatine in a different way that wouldn't have killed him too haha XD. I don't know.
    – Saturn
    Commented Oct 21, 2015 at 5:19

2 Answers 2


According to the film's Junior Novelisation, it was Anakin. In the moment that the Emperor tried to kill Luke, Darth Vader died and was reborn as Anakin once more.

And then, in a moment, something changed. Perhaps he remembered something heard in his youth a long time ago: an ancient prophecy of the Chosen One who would bring balance to the Force. Perhaps the vague outlines of someone named Shmi and a Jedi named Qui-Gon struggled to the surface of his consciousness. The most powerful, the most repressed thought of all could have emerged from the darkness: Padmé … and her undying love for someone he once knew well. And despite all the terrible, unspeakable things he’d done in his life, he suddenly realized he could not stand by and allow the Emperor to kill their son. And in that moment, he was no longer Darth Vader.
He was Anakin Skywalker.

He grabbed the Emperor from behind. The impossibly wretched Sith Lord gaped and squirmed in his embrace, continuing to release blue lightning, but the bolts veered away from Luke and arced back to strike the Sith Lords.

  • That was exactly what I was looking for; thank you. I do find the irony of the last sentence in the quote where it somewhat contradicts itself referring him as a Sith Lord again slightly amusing . Lol
    – iMerchant
    Commented Oct 21, 2015 at 6:12
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    @iMerchant - I think it's fair to say that he's still a Sith Lord until he hands in his badge and gun.
    – Valorum
    Commented Oct 21, 2015 at 7:29
  • The James Kahn book uses the name Anakin only in the sentence that describes Vaders/Skywalkers death, after having him say "tell your sister you were right about me" (presumably the moment of his redemption). Commented Dec 17, 2015 at 19:35
  • @iMerchant - I've not found anything else that adds to this answer. If you found it useful, you might consider offering an acceptance...
    – Valorum
    Commented Dec 17, 2015 at 19:44

If someone with a ‘split personality’ like Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde “reaches down to pull you up” as you’re hanging over the ledge of a building, it’s safe to assume that this is their Dr. Jekyll personality that is acting on your behalf — not their Mr. Hyde identity. The Darth Vader that slaughtered all of those Younglings and tried to kill Padme would have let the Emperor fry Luke Skywalker to death. Anakin Skywalker who was effectively ‘freed’ from iron grip of the Darkside in the 11th Hour is the one who saved Luke Skywalker.

  • If Jekyll/Hyde is reaching down to pull you up to save you, this makes sense. Of course, perhaps he's reaching down to pull you up to beat you to death, or pull you apart, or just torture you for a while. If you're' the person hanging, then the answer isn't so clear as he reaches down....
    – RDFozz
    Commented May 14, 2018 at 18:33
  • The point of my explanation is that ‘obviously’ it was Anakin Skywalker who saved Luke from the Emperor, and not the Darth Vader persona that had consumed him for the previous 20 plus years. The Sith lord Vader would never have saved a Jedi from another Sith lord. Commented May 15, 2018 at 3:48
  • Sorry - yes, I understood you were talking about the scene from Vader's perspective. My comment was simply a note that, from outside, you can't tell from the start of the action (reaches down), only the end (pulls you to safety).
    – RDFozz
    Commented May 15, 2018 at 14:51
  • Yes, that’s what I was getting at. The title ‘Return of the Jedi’ has a dual meaning. Luke is returning as a Jedi and Anakin returns to being a Jedi. Some would say that Anakin brought balance to the Force at the moment he saved Luke and vanquished Palpatine, but that balance didn’t last long. Commented May 16, 2018 at 18:09

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