In the prequels, the primary reason Anakin was willing to become the Chancellor's apprentice is because he wanted to save Padmé;

ANAKIN: I will do whatever you ask.


ANAKIN: Just help me save Padme's life. I can't live without her. If she dies, I don't know what I will do.

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

ANAKIN kneels before PALPATINE.

ANAKIN: I pledge myself to your teachings. To the ways of the Sith.

Given that he didn't manage to save her, why did he still become a Sith?

  • 22
    Well, he had already murdered a load of Sandpeople, Jedi (including younglings), Trade Federation members, was involved in the larger extermination of the Jedi, attempted to kill his master/brother-figure and thought he killed his wife and unborn child. What else was he going to do?
    – phantom42
    Commented Jan 25, 2014 at 2:44
  • 69
    @phantom42 - Retire to Argentina Commented Jan 25, 2014 at 3:51
  • 7
    The followup question to the answers you will probably get is: I accept that once you go dark you never go back, but why did he keep working with/for Palpatine? Surely he would have eventually realized that Palpatine had manipulated him into to this situation.
    – Zoredache
    Commented Jan 25, 2014 at 10:15
  • 7
    @phantom42 Do one more murder.... Kill Palpatine...
    – user931
    Commented Jan 25, 2014 at 14:34
  • 5
    @Zikato I believe it is a reference to Argentina harbouring / hiding Nazis from Germany/the Allies in the aftermath of WW2.
    – TZHX
    Commented May 7, 2015 at 11:26

7 Answers 7


In Jedi vs Sith: The Essential Guide to the Force, it notes that

The dark side was extremely addictive, and almost impossible to renounce. Every time a person in tune with the Force called on the dark side, they became more and more addicted to the power it brought them.

In addition, many times when a being 'fell' from the light side to the dark side, it was following great tragedies or issues they felt were unsolvable. Additionally, the dark side, especially the tenets of The Rule of Two, was based upon mistrust. And once a being fell into mistrust of the light, it was difficult to regain that trust, especially from an adversarial position.

Also in the book Jedi vs Sith, a theory is presented, created by Tolaris Shim, called the Four Stages of the Dark Side. They are,

  1. Temptation
  2. Imperilment
  3. Submission
  4. Redemption/Atonement

To pass through and come back to the light required a heroic action without use of the dark side, something a Sith heavily invested in the dark side would find extremely difficult. But most key to your question is what Shim thought about step 3: Submission. Shim believed that once a Jedi accepts the dark path, having to justify the end by the means is of no more concern. Thus, Anakin, once he had turned, had power - incredible power, very different than comparable power of a light side user, and of course did not want to give it up. And by this point, he had no need to justify his actions to himself.

The point is, he was already a Sith by the time Padme died, and so had no desire to change back. And the rage he felt at her death drove him further into the Dark Side's hold. (Additionally, remember that Sidious told Vader initially that he (Vader) killed Padme).

  • 17
    The retcon is strong with this one. +1 Commented Jan 25, 2014 at 3:35
  • 4
    Lucas closing logic holes in his masterpiece using EU works. Commented Jan 25, 2014 at 3:50
  • 6
    More like EU authors closing Lucas' plotholes, but yeah, I see your point. Commented Jan 25, 2014 at 5:46
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    I think there is something else that needs to be taken into consideration. What else was there for him to do? At this point it was either death or staying with the Emperor. The Jedi were all but gone and he couldn't have rejoined them anyway. The Emperor wouldn't have let him go or hunted him down as an enemy. Unless he totally lost his will to live (which apparently he did not) there was not much else for him to do then join the Emperor and find something else to do with his life. Commented Jan 25, 2014 at 10:29
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    @Sebastian_H - make that an answer Commented Jan 25, 2014 at 11:54

Vader provides an important reason for joining the Sith in Episode III -- he thinks the Jedi have lied to him and are evil:

Anakin Skywalker: Don't lecture me, Obi-Wan! I see through the lies of the Jedi. I do not fear the dark side as you do.


Anakin Skywalker: I should have known the Jedi were plotting to take over.

Obi-Wan: Anakin, Chancellor Palpatine is evil!

Anakin Skywalker: From my point of view, the Jedi are evil.

Since Vader believes the Jedi are evil, and the Sith oppose them, from his point of view it makes sense to ally with the Sith. By this point he hasn't found out that he can't save Padme, but Padme's death wouldn't change his hatred of the Jedi.

Vader's dialog with Luke in Episode VI provides more reasons why he remained a Sith. By this time he has long since known of Padme's death, and he has had plenty of time to reconsider becoming a Sith. Yet he still has reasons for remaining a Sith:

  • He has psychologically separated himself from Anakin:

    Luke: I have accepted that you were once Anakin Skywalker, my father.

    Darth Vader: [angrily] That name no longer has any meaning for me!

    This was likely a mechanism to help him forget the pain of losing Padme -- if his past life as Anakin is forgotten, then so is his life with (and loss of) Padme.

  • Vader believes the dark side is stronger than the light (with good reason, he did kill many Jedi as a Sith):

    Luke: You couldn't bring yourself to kill me before and I don't believe you'll destroy me now.

    Darth Vader: You underestimate the power of the Dark Side. If you will not fight, then you will meet your destiny.

  • He is afraid of the Emperor (fear is a path to the dark side), in part because he believes the dark side is more powerful than the light:

    Luke: Come with me. Leave everything behind.

    Darth Vader: Obi-Wan once thought as you do. You don't know the power of the Dark Side. I must obey my master.

  • He feels that he is beyond redemption:

    Luke: Search your feelings, Father, you can't do this. I feel the conflict within you. Let go of your hate.

    Darth Vader: It is too late for me, son. The Emperor will show you the true nature of the Force. He is your master now.

    Considering the atrocities he participated in (destruction of Alderaan, cold-blooded murder of younglings, etc.) it is understandable that he would think this way. Some of these atrocities occurred before he learned of Padme's death (e.g. the murder of the younglings) so he likely would have considered himself beyond redemption by the time he learned of her death. Moreover, he believed he was responsible for Padme's death.

In short: Vader (no longer Anakin, in his mind) hated the Jedi, believed that the dark side was stronger, was afraid of the Emperor, and felt he was beyond redemption. With these reasons, it made sense for him to join the Sith even if Padme had died.

  • 2
    +1 If only Lucas and Christensen had managed to convey a fraction of this!
    – user1786
    Commented Mar 6, 2015 at 18:43
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    Since all the evidence in this answer comes from movie scenes, it's all right there in the films. Commented Aug 18, 2015 at 23:44

Even before he knew Padme was dead he had already become inundated by the dark side. He had, already, killed so many people at the jedi temple but more revealing was his conversation with Obi-wan before their bout. There, he tried to impress upon Obi-wan the jedi's impotence and how he would bring piece to the galaxy and to his 'new empire'. This represents 4 very influential ideas that each, by themselves could, understandably, change a person.

  • He murdered many people and felt he could not go-back from the path he had chosen
  • The jedi ideals were inherently flawed and a new form of thinking was necessary
  • He truly desired peace and felt that unilateral rule was the only effective vehicle to accomplish this goal (as many tyrants in the real world have believed.)
  • He became power hungry- he was a very powerful jedi and as a wise man once said, "absolute power corrupts, absolutely." He believed all the hype of him being the chosen one and felt that his dominance was required for a better galaxy.

All but the 1st point were motivated by his desire to do what was right (in his own misguided way).

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    Seems odd that in the sequels he was the Emperor's flunky, and didn't even command the Death Star. Just his little flight of 3 Tie fighters.
    – Oldcat
    Commented Jul 28, 2014 at 21:06

enter image description hereThe first issue of the new Darth Vader comic series begins directly after the scene where Vader is first encased in his life support suit, when he finds out Padme died and destroys the operating theatre and the medical droids who just saved his life. He turns to the Palpatine and tries to force choke him, but discovers he isn't as powerful as he used to be, and in his inner monologue he realizes that the only person left who ever cared about him is Palpatine. Palpatine then responds to Vader's attempted murder by attacking him with force lightning and promising that if he ever tries to use the force against him again, he will kill him.

I feel this pretty much explains Vader's motivations from then on and why stayed loyal to him, up until Luke entered the picture and he realized he'd been lied to and manipulated into losing everything he cared about, but he's still caught up in the dark side, he can't imagine life without it, he even attempts to cause his own son to fall by capturing his friends, cutting off his hand and threatening to kill everyone he cares about too if he doesn't turn. In my mind seeing Luke faced with a very similar situation yet refusing to fall to the darkness changed Vader, which is what eventually lead to his redemption to the light in the throne room of the second Death Star at the Battle of Endor.

  • Can you possibly find some snippets of the comic? It will turn this from a good answer to a great answer.
    – Edlothiad
    Commented Nov 3, 2017 at 18:12
  • @Edlothiad is right. Quote (or in this case showing) your source will make your answer a lot better.
    – amflare
    Commented Nov 3, 2017 at 18:31
  • @Dom Vasta "Even the power of the Dark Side cannot bring her back". Then the Sequels came and, "Somehow, Palpatine has returned".
    – Sandun
    Commented Apr 27, 2021 at 5:02

Anakin was an idealist. In his discussions with Padme throughout the movie, it's clear they both want an end to the war, and to galactic violence. In his arguments with Padme near the end this is still a very strong motive, though he is of the opinion by this time that a good dictator might be able to achieve the same end much more quickly while she believes democracy is the best way to go.

He knows that Padme desired peace as well.

With his friends dead or effectively banished, his wife and children gone, the only thing he has left to pursue is this ideal that he and and Padme both desired. He may not be interested in pursuing it the way she would have liked, but it was still a desire in himself, possibly buoyed in part by the knowledge that she, too, desired peace and stability.

Further, he was still the apprentice of Palpatine and Palpatine saved him from Obi-Wan's seeming betrayal. The only person in the universe now who could seemingly understand and mentor him was Palpatine, and Anakin was still a teenager at this point. He's hardly able to make reasonable choices in the absence of good counsel. Also, his life, at this point, was in the hands of the empire. The technology to keep him alive wasn't something he could simply cart with him to a rim planet and live out his remaining days at this point in time. Perhaps as he grew in power and in later movies he would have been capable of breaking away, but at this juncture it would have been a death sentence.

Lastly, he gave himself fully over to the dark side. The act of killing the sandpeople in revenge for the death of his mother was only a small step. The act of killing men, women, and children in the Jedi temple for a cause he believed in sealed him to the darkside. Leaving the grip of the dark side at this point would have taken a significant act - that of killing his mentor Palpatine in order to save his son Luke, for instance.

In fact, the emperor knew that only Padme herself or Anakin's children would ever be capable of saving Anakin - which is why, once he learned of Luke, he worked so hard - moving heaven and earth, so to speak - to convert Luke.

  • 2
    Good point about galactic peace via a "good dictator". +1.
    – Null
    Commented Mar 6, 2015 at 17:27
  • @Adam Davis you are incorrect to write: " The act of killing the sandpeople, not much more than animals, was only a small step." It was the major step. The Sandpeople tribe included adults and children, and killing their children was just as evil as killing Jedi younglings. After this Anakin was an evil person giving allegiance to the light side of the Force and fighting for the Jedi, and it was comparatively easy for Papatine to turn him into an evil person giving allegiance to the dark side of the Force and fighting for the Sith against the Jedi. Commented Jan 28, 2021 at 17:23
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    @M.A.Golding While I agree it was a significant massacre in cold blood, it was an act of revenge. Significant, yes, but many would carry out such acts of revenge if they had his power without allying themselves to the dark side. Murdering those on the light side in cold blood, however, and not for revenge or in a fit of passion but as an act of belief, is a far greater turning toward the dark side. I've edited my answer to reflect that the difference wasn't the humanity of the victims, but the intent behind the murders.
    – Adam Davis
    Commented Feb 10, 2021 at 15:48

Adding on to the answers already posted here, it is impractical for Anakin to try and run anyway.

By the time he found out that his vision had indeed come true, he is already a big black walking armoured cyborg. I was studying lightsaber styles and midichlorians and it was mentioned that his new prosthetics are getting in the way a lot. After becoming Darth Vader, he is no longer as powerful as he used to be as Anakin Skywalker, both lightsaber and Force-wise. That's the reason why none of his plans ever involved a one-on-one confrontation with Palpatine, isn't it?

It's also the reason why he will fail if he try to run. Palpatine can easily cut him down. Especially frying his life support systems. Even if he does the smart thing and waits until he is sent on a mission far away from Palpatine before he runs, the Emperor can simply label him a traitor and an enemy of the Empire. Vader did check for and believe an executive order exists to have himself killed, so we can safely say that if it comes to it, the Empire would be ordered to hunt him down. Unlike the dozens of surviving Jedi, the big black armoured machine is much less conspicuous to hide anywhere. He'll have to go find his own uncharted planet to hide in.

The fact that Vader had once checked if an executive order exists for his own termination shows that he had considered his own self-preservation against Palpatine too. It's just that running away from Palpatine in his current state appears to be much more difficult than saving Padme in practice.


Palpatine had manipulated Anakin for a good portion of his life. After his battle with Obi-wan on mustafar where he lost most of his limbs, the way palpatine, or sidious, had designed his suit was terrible. It was extremely painful & uncomfortable for Vader, causing him to live in constant pain and suffering making his connection to the dark side much more stronger. When Luke confronts Vader, Vader says “ you don’t know the power of the darkside.” The darkside of the force can take control of you, cloud your judgment & emotions. Palpatine told him that anakin was the one who cared for padme, and Vader should not have the feelings of a Jedi. Ultimately the feelings of his former self are what caused him to return back to the light side, throw sidious down the shaft in the Death Star, and save Luke, his son. Sidious was so consumed with the darkside that he wasn’t aware of what Vader was doing to him, until he was falling down the shaft in the Death Star. And if you haven’t played or seen any of the Old republic games, you should check those out, especially the Eternal Family. Arcann vs Thexan is a sad, but great example of how the darkside manipulates it’s users. Arcann was full of so much rage towards his father when he tried to kill him his brother stopped him, his brother was everything to him, and he was being manipulated by the darkside so he turned and unleashed his anger on him, killing him in the process. Sorry for ally the spelling & punctuation errors that I missed

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