In Revenge of the Sith, we learn that Anakin's final seduction to the Dark Side occurs because of his obsession with power and especially his obsession with the power to cheat death to save Padme.

PALPATINE: Only through me can you achieve a power greater than any Jedi. Learn to know the dark side of the Force, Anakin, and you will be able to save your wife from certain death.

(Note, save your wife from certain death, not resurrect)

This obsession is motivated by Anakin's repeated visions of Padme's death during childbirth.

Also, we have

PALPATINE: To cheat death is a power only one has achieved, but if we work together, I know we can discover the secret.

Yet when Padme confronts Anakin on Mustafar, and then Luke and Leia are born, they are full term or close to it.

So how did Anakin think this would help? Did he expect to figure out this power with Sidious in a matter of days or weeks?

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    Yeah, pretty much. Commented Dec 10, 2015 at 5:56
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    Whe hasn't Anakin kind of a daredevil in the episodes 2 and 3? I had the impression that he jumped on the first opportunity he had to save his girlfriend, without giving much thought about the risks and consequences. He also had a lot of ego...
    – Taladris
    Commented Dec 10, 2015 at 7:47
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    @Taladris: I disagree -- Anakin is terrified of losing Padme. He's not afraid to risk his own life, but he's desperate to protect her (which manifests in some foolish choices on his part). Also, at that point Padme is his wife, not his girlfriend. Commented Dec 10, 2015 at 10:16
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    Has anyone explored the possibility that Sidious was responsible for Anakin's nightmares about Padme? That seems like the kind of thing a Sith Lord would be capable of doing. His fear of her death primarily came from his dreams, and that's what drove him straight into Sidious's embrace. Commented Dec 10, 2015 at 19:35
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    @MikeHarris: Hello from five years in the future.... The supposed actions of Palpatine behind the scenes during Ep. 7 & 8 certainly bolster this interpretation. Commented Jan 13, 2020 at 16:56

6 Answers 6


Anakin is desperate and gullible

In universe, Anakin is not very bright, and he trusts Sidious implicitly. He describes Sidious to Obi-Wan as "a mentor and a friend". Sidious has had more than ten years to cultivate a relationship with Anakin.

Anakin is desperate for help because of his prophetic dreams. He does go to the Jedi first, but Yoda is incredibly unhelpful, telling him only to "let go of that which you fear to lose". He also knows he can't reveal his marriage to the Jedi. So Sidious is the only one he can turn to, and when Sidious offers him a way out, he doesn't ask any questions.

That said, it is very, very stupid of Anakin not to question whether Sidious is really able to help him.

Out of universe, Lucas is a lousy plotter, so he makes his protagonist implausibly gullible to cover it up.

(Self-promotion: I've written a blog post about bad character motivation in Episode 3 which is somewhat relevant.)

The exact timescale is unclear

It's unclear from visual cues whether the Skywalker twins were full-term or not. So in fact Anakin may have had a few months to work with.

There is no way Padmé was carrying full-term twins on Mustafar; if she had, she would have been much bigger. Really, with twin babies, her slim build, and that modest little bump, it's implausible she was out of her second trimester.

Conversely, the babies do appear to be full term. In fact they are older than that, I would guess by several months. To be fair, it's not very practical to have a newborn baby on a film set, so this is not unusual in Hollywood.

Out-of-universe, Lucas is no better a director than he is a writer, and he has long-standing issues with the shape of womens' bodies (infamously refusing to let Carrie Fisher wear a bra on the set of Episode 4). This may explain why Padmé is smaller than one might expect.

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    "To be fair, it's not very practical to have a newborn baby on a film set" - I don't know, American Sniper seemed to manage just fine :-D Commented Dec 10, 2015 at 12:41
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    "let go of that which you fear to lose" follows a simplified version of what Buddhist teachings would recommend, just for a random bit of info. Continuing (with a very simplified explanation) the belief is that attachment to physical things is what causes pain in this world. By "letting go" of Padme, he would no longer be blinded by his fear and could respond in a more positive manner. If he could have saved her, he would have been more likely to do so in a more capable mindset. (Think of all he did trying to "help" out of fear, actually causing pain, instead of helping out of love) Commented Dec 10, 2015 at 22:35
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    @DoubleDouble: Yes, I know that. And some version of that philosophy had served Yoda well for eight hundred years or so. Under the circumstances, it was still an incredibly unhelpful thing to say to Anakin. Commented Dec 10, 2015 at 22:38
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    @RoyalCanadianBandit I thought you might, it was more for others' benefit. I agree that it was very unhelpful in Anakin's case, but I don't think the advice was bad - (I think it is more Anakin's fault on not acting on the advice). Yoda seemed to actually expect Anakin to have been able to do some meditation and accomplish "letting go" at this point in his career, with some training. The actual lines are: Anakin: "What must I do, Master Yoda?" Yoda: "Train yourself to let go of everything you fear to lose." Yoda may have presumed Anakin would actually act on this, but Anakin didn't. Commented Dec 10, 2015 at 22:59
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    I would just like to point out that it's perfectly possible for women to have small baby bumps, even at advanced stages of pregnancy: buzzfeed.com/juliareinstein/…
    – Mikasa
    Commented Apr 14, 2016 at 18:30


Anakin's need to control everything and inability to cope with uncertainty essentially drove him mad with paranoia.

PADME: you're not all-powerful ...

ANAKIN: Well, I should be! Someday I will be. I will be the most powerful Jedi ever. I promise you. I will even learn to stop people from dying! - source

Not wanting to experience the pain he felt at his mother's death again, Anakin is desperate for anything resembling a solution.

Lucas probably didn't think of that.


Anakin is self-confident to a fault

The arrogance and pride that Anakin had - that Palpatine encouraged - was nearly limitless. He was about 22 years old and never planned ahead. He would wait until the last second to perform a task, wouldn't plan it out, and in his experience and according to his perspective everything always worked out well. He would even often ignore the advice or planning of his master in favor of his own last-minute decisions, and felt justified in doing so when things worked out.

It was this hubris that led him to take no action in the months, weeks, and days leading up to the birth event which he had foreseen was fatal to Padme.

The only thing he truly ever felt failure in was saving his mother's life, and he may have believed that if he had been there it would have been ok. This doesn't lead him to prepare in any special way for the impending birth, but to stick close to Padme, reluctant to leave her side without assurances from Palpatine that she would be watched over.

Anakin honestly believed that as long as he is near Padme, then no matter what happened he would be able to save her.

He didn't consider it a specialty, a process, or something he needed to prepare for. He assumed that he simply had enough power, and that he would learn anything additional he lacked on the fly during the event.

Perhaps Anakin could have saved her

We don't know what caused her death, not in terms that would help medical bots save her, anyway. However, there is evidence that as Darth Vader, Anakin had to use the force to maintain his own life and ability to move.

In a parallel universe, perhaps Anakin noticed her body was preparing for labor, and perhaps he stopped fighting with her and went to the medical facility, and perhaps he spent the rest of his life using the force to sustain her life. This one different choice would have him spending his force ability sustaining as much life in his wife as he did spend sustaining his own life as Vader.

This is, perhaps, something even the Jedi could have done, except for their creed preventing attachments. In fact, this creed points to the idea that if a Jedi used their power this way, where would they draw a line, assuming it's finite?

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    Then there's always the idea that Palpatine was the cause of her death, and that had things worked out according to Palpatine's plan she might have survived, and Anakin would have been just as bound to Palpatine as he was after her death (because Palpatine would have ensured Anakin could have saved her) - along with two more force users he could train in the dark side.
    – Adam Davis
    Commented Dec 10, 2015 at 18:12
  • "We don't know what caused her death". I figured it was dramatic irony and the cause was Anakin himself, what with the force choking and all.
    – JAB
    Commented Dec 10, 2015 at 22:21
  • Nice answer but it might need sources to back some of your claims.
    – RedCaio
    Commented Dec 11, 2015 at 3:15
  • Speaking of childbirths, I'm not an expert or anything, but it seems to me that a simple c-section could have saved Padme. Was this technique forgotten? :) Commented Dec 11, 2015 at 12:45
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    @SergioTulentsev Please visit "What did Padme die of?" for that discussion.
    – Adam Davis
    Commented Dec 11, 2015 at 13:10

He didn't know why or how she would die, only that she would. So he is pretty desperate and jumps to any chance he has, even turning to the dark side.

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    He knows it's during childbrith, so he knows the timeframe. That's the point of the question. Commented Dec 10, 2015 at 21:40

Other answers mention that Anakin is arrogant and not that smart, which it true, but there's more to why he made his decision.

The quote mentioned in the question

To cheat death is a power only one has achieved, but if we work together, I know we can discover the secret.

is from after Anakin helped Palpatine and Windu was killed as a result. First, at that point, it was a bit late for Anakin to backtrack and be like "Oh so you don't even know for sure how to do it? Then I'm out." and go back to the Jedi. Second, keep in mind that this was the first time Palpatine mentioned the ability to cheat death with much less degree of confidence than before.

At first, he only hinted that it's possible

— Darth Plagueis was a dark lord of the Sith so powerful and so wise, he could use the Force to influence the midi-chlorians to create life. He had such a knowledge of the dark side, he could even keep the ones he cared about from dying.


— Is it possible to learn this power?

— Not from a Jedi.

The next time they met, his statement was very confident.

Learn to know the dark side of the Force, and you will be able to save your wife from certain death.

As it was when Windu was about to kill Palpatine.

I have the power to save the one you love.

It means that Anakin thought that Palpatine already knew how to cheat death before making his choice. But saving Padme alone wasn't enough for him to betray the Jedi, even though he already had some doubts about them when the council asked him to spy on Palpatine.

You're asking me to do something against the Jedi code, against the Republic, against a mentor and a friend.

Even after that he still told Windu that Palpatine is a Sith as soon as he found it out, which almost certainly meant that Palpatine won't be around to help him save Padme. That was also the reason why he simply didn't have a chance to question Palpatine about his ability to cheat death. He couldn't accept him being a Sith back then. Next time they met, he obviously didn't have the time to ask questions.

Still Anakin wasn't sure if he's making the right choice, as Windu noted

For your own good, stay out of this affair. I sense a great deal of confusion in you, young Skywalker. There is much fear that clouds your judgement.

Only when Windu was going to kill an "unarmed" and "weak" old man, which was definitely against the Jedi teachings, he made the final choice. At that point, his disappointment in the Jedi was almost as good of a reason for him to support Palpatine as saving Padme.


Darth Sidious's master, Darth Plagueis conducted all sorts of weird and wonderful experiments to create life and maintain life. These are detailed in Darth Plagueis novel which is prequel to Episode 1.

Sidious himself tells Annie this shortly before he reveals himself in Episode III;

"Darth Plagueis was a Dark Lord of the Sith so powerful and so wise, he could use the Force to influence the midi-chlorians to create life. He had such a knowledge of the dark side, he could even keep the ones he cared about from dying."


Old Sid thought that by teaming up with young Annie they would be able to use their combined mastery of the dark side and influence over the midi-chlorians to complete the job Plagueis could not, to be master of over life and death itself...including the ability to keep the ones you love from dying.

Young Annie had visions of his wife dying, having bit of a history with death vision coming true, he rightful concluded that his visions would come to pass into reality.

So having the power of stopping people you love, e.g. your wife from shuffling of this mortal coil before their time, is something I would suggest is a pretty useful skill to have in ye-old repertoire.


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