In the famous Boonta Eve podrace from Star Wars: Episode I – The Phantom Menace, Sebulba taunts a young Anakin:

'You won't walk away from this one, you slave scum.'

To what extent is there truth in the "slave" part of this?

Were the Skywalkers, and all humans, slaves? Or is this just interplanetary trash talk?

My question is more about the origin of their slavehood, and slavery of humans, in general. Are there any hints that anyone ever hunted Anakin as a runaway slave?

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    The fact that the Skywalkers were slaves was a pretty big subplot of that film. – DaaaahWhoosh Mar 6 '17 at 16:14
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    If he was born a slave, then he had to be freed, officially. Otherwise he was still a slave. or so it seems to me. – Vekzhivi Mar 6 '17 at 16:59
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    Yes, but Qui-Gon won his bet with Watto, and received ownership of Anakin. Although it's not stated explicitly in the film (though it is in the novelization), we're meant to assume that Qui-Gon legally freed Anakin – Jason Baker Mar 6 '17 at 17:04
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    @Ajedi32 wouldn't that make the transaction over him illegal and thus, still watto property? – CptEric Mar 7 '17 at 10:43
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    @CptEric I guess we can only really try to apply our real-world analogues to the situation. In our world, usually if you travel to another country you are subject to their laws while there, but if you do something there which is illegal in your own country you may be prosecuted on your return. So assuming slavery was legal there it would be legal for Qui-Gon to receive the slave on Tattoine but he'd be subject to prosecution on his return to the council. Of course the fact that he'd freed the slave in the interim would likely negate any such charges, indicating no crime was intended. – delinear Mar 7 '17 at 11:45

From the script:

PADMÉ: (amused): Have you been here long?

ANAKIN: Since I was very little, three, I think. My Mom and I were sold to Gardulla the Hutt, but she lost us, betting on the Podraces, to Watto, who's a lot better master than Gardulla, I think.

PADMÉ: You're...a slave?

ANAKIN looks at PADMÉ defiantly.

ANAKIN I am a person! My name is Anakin.

So the Skywalkers were slaves. It isn't clear how they came to be slaves in the first place or if this extended to humans as a species.

Non-canonical sources say

At the age of six, Shmi and her family embarked on a space voyage to the Outer Rim Territories, where they were captured by pirates and sold into slavery.

(Shmi being Anakin's mother.)

This suggests that slavery was not extended to all humans.

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    Which non-canonical sources? – Valorum Mar 6 '17 at 16:48
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    @Valorum wherever this points to. – AncientSwordRage Mar 6 '17 at 18:26
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    "slaves .. or if this extended to humans as a species." Apparently not. Cliegg Lars bought, freed & married Shmi. The first two of those three actions would likely not be allowed of another slave. – Andrew Thompson Mar 6 '17 at 18:33

We have (canon) confirmation from the Star Wars: Absolutely Everything You Need to Know Updated Edition that Shmi was captured by slavers when she was a girl. It follows that Anakin was born a slave.


Anakin's mother, Shmi Skywalker, is captured by pirates and sold into slavery when she is just a girl. She and Anakin end up as the property of Gardulla the Hutt on Tatooine. Later, a Toydarian junk-dealer named Watto wins them both in a bet with Gardulla.

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