General Grievous already existed as we know him before the First Battle of Geonosis but the Sith chose not to reveal him yet.

Given that precedent, when did Emperor Palpatine reveal the post-Mustafar, black-suited Darth Vader to the world, or at least to his armies? Considering that Vader was still new to the whole thing, he probably needed to get used to his suit and then he needed to learn the ways of the Sith and the dark side first. This is most necessary as Anakin's fighting style as a Jedi relies on speed and agility, techniques Vader can no longer use to optimal effect.

Grievous was ready by the time the Clone Wars began but the Sith kept him hidden for strategic reasons. Meanwhile, Vader was most certainly not ready to appear by the Emperor's side just yet on the very dawn of the Empire. So, how long did it take for Vader to be "ready"?

  • 17
    Considering his previous actions, I don’t think that he had to “learn the ways of the Sith and the dark side” by that time. He was pretty good at being evil and dangerous.
    – Holger
    Commented Sep 15, 2016 at 11:58
  • 2
    "he needed to learn the ways of the Sith and the dark side first" It is better to look at the light side and dark sides as fuels for Jedi powers, rather than two sets of powers. A Jedi doesn't need to learn the ways of the dark side in particular. The ways of the Sith are little more than tenets of a particular dark side cult. Palpatine will teach Vader his religion, in due time, but that isn't needed to actually carry out any atrocities. IOW, You don't need to be a priest to go out and preach.
    – Shane
    Commented Sep 15, 2016 at 17:43
  • 5
    Wasn't Mustafar Simbas dad? Also voiced by James Earl Jones?
    – AJFaraday
    Commented Sep 16, 2016 at 8:54
  • @AJFaraday Nah that was Mufasa
    – Kevin
    Commented Sep 16, 2016 at 9:38
  • 1
    @Kevin shhhhh...
    – AJFaraday
    Commented Sep 16, 2016 at 9:40

4 Answers 4


Vader interacted with stormtroopers in the canon novel Tarkin:

When the stormtrooper operating the equipment accidentally allowed [Vader's meditation] sphere to bang against the edge of the cargo hold’s retracted hatch, Vader stamped forward with his gloved hands clenched.

“I warned you to be careful!” he shouted up at the trooper.

Tarkin, p. 94

Tarkin takes place 5 years after the end of the Clone Wars and Vader's transformation so Vader was known to the stormtroopers within five years of Vader's transformation.

There were rumors that Vader was from the Clone Wars era (emphasis added):

It was that genuflecting obedience, the steadfast devotion to execute whatever task the Emperor assigned, that had given rise to so many rumors about Vader: that he was a counterpart to the Confederacy’s General Grievous the Emperor had been holding in reserve; that he was an augmented human or near-human who had been trained or had trained himself in the ancient dark arts of the Sith; that he was nothing more than a monster fashioned in some clandestine laboratory. Many believed that the Emperor’s willingness to grant so much authority to such a being heralded the shape of things to come, for it was beyond dispute that Vader was the Empire’s first terror weapon.

Tarkin, p. 73

Tarkin himself suspected Vader is the same person as Anakin and observed that Vader had already developed a rapport with the stormtroopers:

Very early on in their partnership—soon after both had been introduced to the secret mobile battle station—Tarkin grew convinced that Vader knew him much better than he let on, and that behind the bulging lenses of his face mask, whatever remained of Vader’s human eyes regarded him with clear recognition. More than anything else it was those initial feelings that had provided Tarkin with his first suspicion as to Vader’s identity. Later, observing the rapport the Dark Lord shared with the stormtroopers who supported him, and the technique he displayed in wielding his crimson lightsaber, Tarkin grew more and more convinced that his suspicions were right. Vader might very well be Jedi Knight Anakin Skywalker, whom Tarkin had fought beside during the Clone Wars, and for whom he had developed a grudging appreciation.

Tarkin, p. 73

The five year upper bound is almost certainly a significant overestimate, though. Vader was probably made known to the Imperial military almost immediately after his transformation, for two reasons:

  • Vader still needed to hunt down Jedi after Order 66. Vader and the Emperor wouldn't want to waste any time and give Jedi survivors a chance to scatter and hide. Vader had already demonstrated some skill in the dark side before his transformation (e.g. he already knew how to use Force Choke...on his wife) and was capable of evil acts like murdering Jedi younglings. Vader wouldn't need much time after his transformation to start hunting Jedi again, especially if he had help from stormtroopers (which is when he would have built up the "rapport" mentioned earlier).
  • Vader was seen viewing the incomplete Death Star with the Emperor and Tarkin in Episode III on a Star Destroyer. A Star Destroyer requires a crew (and some of its crew members can be seen in the film) so that crew would know about the transformed Vader.

    enter image description here

    The exact timeframe for that scene is not clear, but it was probably close in time to Vader's transformation at the end of the Clone Wars since the Death Star was started before the Clone Wars ended.

  • 4
    Every time I see that line quoted, I try to imagine how a Lord of the Sith would go about conducting team-building exercises with lowly Stormtroopers... Commented Sep 15, 2016 at 14:50
  • are we sure about the timeframe of "Tarkin"? "Lords of the Sith" establishes itself 8 yrs post Clone Wars
    – NKCampbell
    Commented Sep 15, 2016 at 15:42
  • 1
    @NKCampbell Yes. The opening crawl to the novel starts with "Five standard years have passed since Darth Sidious proclaimed himself galactic Emperor...".
    – Null
    Commented Sep 15, 2016 at 15:48
  • 1
    weird - wonder why the timeline all the book jackets lists LotS before Tarkin. Oh well! Thanks
    – NKCampbell
    Commented Sep 15, 2016 at 15:57
  • 1
    @NKCampbell Hmm, I didn't notice that before but I see that now. Very weird, indeed!
    – Null
    Commented Sep 15, 2016 at 16:01

If you're accepting Legends, then it's literally 1 month, as shown by Star Wars: Purge.

If you're only accepting regular Disney canon, then see the answer above for a detailed explanation of why it's 5 years.

The general idea is that, while it's true Vader would need time to adjust to the new restricted mobility and visibility of the suit, he pretty much just adjusted as he went, mostly because he was hellbent on finding his "betrayer", Obi-Wan Kenobi, the person on which he places some blame for Padme's death.

He was also perfectly adapted to the dark side before he even donned the suit, since he was shown in Revenge of the Sith leading a bunch of Stormtroopers and... killing... younglings, already going by the name Darth Vader. So no adaption really required there.

EDIT: I previously said that we didn't know in the regular canon, but I was unaware of the Tarkin novel, so I changed my answer.

  • Yeah but I just feel that Palpatine probably won't unleash Vader - who is supposed to be his principal Jedi hunter - until he is trained in Sith powers, something he didn't receive yet before he was flamed up. Commented Sep 15, 2016 at 14:45
  • To add to this, Anakin is shown as a very impatient dude. He always jumps right in (quite literally sometimes). Palpatine gives him assignments, but he leaves it up to Anakin how to accomplish them. If Obi-Wan couldn't brace Anakin at all while actually caring about him, why would Palpatine be able to if he clearly doesn't care that much about Vader or how he completes his assignments? I imagine it like this: Vader: "I'm gonna hunt down Obi-Wan and make him pay for murdering my wife". Emperor: "Yeah sure, do what you gotta do as long you kill the other jedi as well".
    – Kevin
    Commented Sep 16, 2016 at 9:50
  • @Kevin This scene begs to differ youtube.com/watch?v=pjigBxuXpww I don't know if Palpatine has successfully reined Vader in, but I doubt he wouldn't resort to everything necessary to do so, since Palpatine's one who would leave nothing to chance to ensure the success of his schemes. Regardless, it's not for a lack of trying. Commented Sep 16, 2016 at 16:53
  • @thegreatjedi "have you dealt with", "they are broken" not much specifics, that's pretty much exactly what I meant. Palpatine works in a very political way if that makes makes sense, he is much more concerned with the grand scheme of things and not so much with the execution of single steps in his plan as long as it doesn't stand in the way.
    – Kevin
    Commented Sep 17, 2016 at 4:21
  • @Kevin That's what I'm talking about. He's the Sith Lord who destroyed the Jedi Order and now rules the galaxy. There shouldn't be any question if he can control Vader where Kenobi failed. Commented Sep 17, 2016 at 5:06

More legends if you want it, Dark lord: The rise of Darth Vader covers his appearance to regular troopers and then the galaxy as a whole; http://starwars.wikia.com/wiki/Dark_Lord:_The_Rise_of_Darth_Vader

Takes place 4 weeks after order 66 Vader is sent to hunt down some Jedi that escaped their clone troopers. Its so soon after order 66 that the clones pull their blasters on Vader when he ignites his lightsaber.

At the end of the novel we see obi-wan sitting in a cantina when a broadcast from palpatine comes over the holonet introducing the galaxy to Vader.


Short Answer: 19BBY

In canon, Palpatine first formerly introduced him to the senior Imperial Military hierarchy in Darth Vader (2017) Issue #12, which took place sometime within the first year (maybe even just a few months) of the Empire. As one might expect, strangulations ensued.

Palpatine: It is time to eliminate any confusion. This is Lord Vader. He speaks with my voice. A command from him is a command from me. Pass this information down to your men. All must understand.

Given that his existence seemed to be news to the cast of 'Rebels' some 15 years later, it's reasonable to assume that Palpatine never "unveiled" him to the galaxy at large, and that most everyone outside of the military that encountered Vader in that time kept quiet because A) they didn't survive the encounter, or B) they really REALLY didn't want a second encounter (see: 'A')

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