At the end of Return of the Jedi, when Luke takes Vader's helmet off, Vader has a big scar across his face, and, if I remember correctly (please correct me if I am wrong), Vader never got that scar when battling Obi-Wan at the end of Episode III.

So what battle did he get this scar in? Someone must have been a challenge for Vader sometime or other?

  • What scar? Looking at the scene where Vader is unmasked to Luke, he has lots of visible burnt flesh scarring but no prominent scar like the vertical scar over his right eye from Episode III, however this also to was not visible in Return Of The Jedi unmasking scene. For reference: i.stack.imgur.com/Ayltc.png
    – Jared
    Mar 7, 2012 at 10:25
  • @Jared I really do remember him having a huge scar on his face before the revamps. I will have to go home and confirm this now. But either way the scars that he does have in that image don't go together with the once from episode III.
    – Popeye
    Mar 7, 2012 at 12:04
  • 2
    There's a good chance you're thinking of the scar on the back of his head that showed in the scene in Ep. V when he's in his meditation chamber and the top rises and we see a scarred head before his helmet is lowered into place on his outfit.
    – Tango
    Mar 7, 2012 at 14:50
  • @TangoOversway You know what I could be thinking of the scar on the back I may have just got them mixed up. Thanks
    – Popeye
    Mar 8, 2012 at 14:20
  • 1
    @JPow3 That was the explanation that EU gave before the prequels contradicted it. Palpatine was, if anything, older then he looked. His face in the last part of SW III and the Original Trilogy was a result of the damage he took when Mace reflected his Force lightning back at him. Vader's was from the burns. There is no Canon evidence that the dark side deteriorates the physical body. As much as I love the EU, this is one of many ways in which it is broken. Disregard that aspect, please.
    – user22879
    Feb 15, 2014 at 17:32

6 Answers 6


Fortunately, they paid attention to those details when they filmed Revenge of the Sith.

As a reference, here is a screen shot of Vader in the Return Of The Jedi unmasking scene. You can see two big scars, one on the top of his head and one under his eye.

Return of the Jedi

And here is a screenshot of Vader as he was burning. There are other frames where you see his face, but I chose this one because you could see the scar on the top of his head.


Finally, when he is rebuilt, you can see the scar under his eyes:


  • 4
    Thanks I never really noticed the scars when he was on the table that does explain a lot now.
    – Popeye
    Mar 8, 2012 at 14:20

George Lucas was asked this question during the filming of 'Revenge of the Sith'. Suffice to say, his answer was neither illuminating, nor especially meaningful.

"So how did Anakin get that scar, George?" asks John Knoll.

"I don't know. Ask Howard," says George, referring to President of Lucas Licensing Howard Roffman. "That's one of those things that happens in the novels between the movies. I just put it there. He has to explain how it got there. I think Anakin got it slipping in the bathtub, but of course, he's not going to tell anybody that."

The book that he's referring to is 'The Rise and Fall of Darth Vader' which informs us that his scar was received during a duel with Asajj Ventress.

Lethal droids were not the only adversaries to the Jedi, as Count Dooku had recruited such deadly beings as the Sith aspirant Asajj Ventress and the nearly indestructible Gen'Dai bounty hunter, Durge, to fight on his behalf. Dooku himself had trained Ventress in the art of lightsaber combat, but often ridiculed her preference to wield two lightsabers at the same time. Anakin nearly defeated Ventress on the fourth moon of the gas giant Yavin. One of their duels, in the industrial sector of Coruscant, left him with a deep scar on the right side of his face.

The Rise and Fall of Darth Vader

We actually get to see this event in the comic serial Republic 71: Dreadnaughts of Rendili, Part 3

enter image description here

  • Both the comic and book are Legends. Your quote talks about a scar on his right side of the face - a scar which isn't there in Ep 6. The comic shows where he might have gotten a scar on the left side below his eye (there in Ep 6), but Anakin only has a scar on the right side of his face during Ep 3, so the scar on the left side couldn't canonically be from that duel before Ep 3.
    – phantom42
    Oct 30, 2016 at 20:59
  • @phantom42 - Yup. Both legends. It's still what Lucas is referring to though.
    – Valorum
    Oct 30, 2016 at 21:00

I read in one of the Expanded Universe novels that the scarring on Vader's face in his final moments were due to his use of the dark side. It was mentioned that the dark side of the force can physically corrupt a person, and that Emperor Palpatine appeared much older than he actually was due to his extended use of the dark side. This is further supported by the Dark Empire graphic novel which explains the Emperor needed a series of clones because the bodies could only support the use of dark energy for so long.

  • 1
    +1 - this was the correct answer before the prequel nonsense
    – Omegacron
    Apr 6, 2015 at 16:20
  • 4
    As opposed to the EU nonsense?
    – user20155
    May 5, 2015 at 1:37

In The Rebels animated series, we see

Ahsoka damaging Darth Vader's helmet with her lightsaber, which gives enough opening for her to recognise him as Anakin Skywalker, her former Jedi master

It is possible that one of the scars could be caused by this hit. However, the accepted answer seems to be solid enough.


His whole body was burning when Daddy Sidious found him on Mustafar. The most likely explanation is that the bots couldn't stitch him together better than that. There were no threats to Vader after his defeat by Obi-Wan and before Luke confronted him on Death Star II.

  • 5
    There were threats to the Empire that Darth Vader dealt with between episodes III and IV. There are loads of books that are between them. Also not the best source but there are also games out there between these two periods
    – Popeye
    Mar 7, 2012 at 12:06
  • 1
    @Popeye: That heavily depends on what you accept as canon.
    – bitmask
    Mar 8, 2012 at 18:11
  • @bitmask though stating that what exactly happened between ep III and IV might be a matter of canon is true, I find it hard to believe Vader just sat on his thumbs for 20-odd years. Something must've happened.
    – steenbergh
    Aug 30, 2019 at 12:02
  • @steenbergh Sitting on this thumbs is not the same as not meeing a single worhty opponent.
    – bitmask
    Aug 30, 2019 at 17:05

The scars on his head were from the burning on Mustafar. I think the answer on the overuse of the dark side is pretty interesting. But i know it isnt true according to those scenes in the movies showing those same scars.

  • 4
    How does this add to the other answers already submitted?
    – Null
    Dec 2, 2014 at 17:08

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