147

Two there should be; no more, no less. One to embody power, the other to crave it. ― Darth Bane

Did Darth Vader REALLY crave power? After thinking about the films a bit I realized that Darth Vader didn't really explicitly act in a way to obtain power for himself. The more I think about it, it seems like he got snared in a situation in which he realized that he was on the wrong side but didn't see a way out.

It seems like he keeps doing bad things not out of a desire for power, but out of some adolescent desire to please an authority figure/parental figure that is perpetuated throughout his adult life. He expresses regrets to Luke about the way things are.

I think the most telling point I have to make is that when Vader is fighting Luke on Death Star II he uses his lightsaber to keep Luke from killing the Emperor. Wouldn't a REAL Sith have killed the Emperor and used the ensuing confusion to capture Luke, to brainwash him into being his apprentice?

  • 36
    Whoa. Elegant, if not slightly insane :) +1 – DVK-on-Ahch-To Dec 9 '11 at 18:30
  • 11
    One of my more civilized thoughts of the day. – erdiede Dec 10 '11 at 2:42
  • 3
    I thought he did crave power... the power to save his loved one – Huangism Dec 8 '14 at 16:49
  • 36
    "Join me, and together we can rule the galaxy as father and son." - Vader not craving power. – kylie.a Aug 13 '15 at 12:08
  • 1
    Don't forget that Bane believed that a true Sith should prove himself by destroying his master, not seize the power by trickery. – webejaxx Jan 19 '16 at 13:55

14 Answers 14

93

I'd say yes, he was a Sith - just not a very good one. I think you're spot on about getting snared in a bad situation, and - as I've written about Vader elsewhere on SE, I think that's generally how evil works, by requiring you to trade your soul because you're not willing to pay the price to hold onto it.

I think a couple of things are at play with the scene in ROJ. First and foremost, the rule of two wasn't established until after the movie. But in-universe, I think there are a couple of things going on as well. At this point Vader is much more focused on the father-son dynamic rather than the master-apprentice relationship...it's possible that it was Luke and not the Emperor that Vader was protecting.

Furthermore, if Vader was truly considering bringing on Luke as his apprentice, he may have known that striking down the Emperor in one blow would not turn Luke to the dark side...he needed Luke to develop his rage in a way that the duel would bring out.

Overall, if you stick strictly to canon sources, I think given Anakin's actions in ROTS justify his evil-ness, insofar as that is a measure of being a Sith. But I think you're right in that he didn't have that great a lust for power.

  • 80
    So basically Vader was a bad Jedi and became a bad Sith. What a failure. – MPelletier Dec 10 '11 at 2:32
  • 17
    @MPelletier ...and he was great with kids! – LarsTech Dec 10 '11 at 3:36
  • 47
    @MPelletier - Star Wars - in charge of the Death Star (with Tarkin) - destroyed. Empire - In charge of finding rebels - they escape. Then in charge of capturing Skywalker - Skywalker escapes. Return of the Jedi - well, you get the picture. Vader was Darth Fail. – Chris B. Behrens Dec 12 '11 at 16:59
  • 3
    @MPelletier But don't tell to him if you don't want to get choked ;-) – Matemáticos Chibchas May 17 '13 at 8:04
  • 7
    @childcat15, I mean out-of-universe - Lucas hadn't thought it up until PM. – Chris B. Behrens Jul 23 '14 at 18:34
47

The Emperor as a father figure argument holds, but I think you might forget this conversation from Episode V:

Darth Vader: There is no escape! Don't make me destroy you. Luke, you do not yet realize your importance. You've only begun to discover your power. Join me, and I will complete your training. With our combined strength, we can end this destructive conflict, and bring order to the galaxy.
Luke Skywalker: I'll never join you!
...
Darth Vader: Luke, you can destroy the Emperor. He has foreseen this. It is your destiny. Join me, and together, we can rule the galaxy as father and son.

Vader wants to rule with his son. The Emperor sees through this too, and wants Luke to kill Vader (kill the competition and replace it with a loyal follower, let the cycle begin anew).

Other sources (games, novels) mention that Vader had apprentices too, meaning that he was looking for his own #2 for the time when he gets to be top dog.

  • Rethinking this, there hadn't been Siths for a ages. Sidious and Vador (and Maul) were the first Siths, but most likely had to figure everything out about being Siths by themselves. So I guess it's OK to bend a few rules. – MPelletier Mar 22 '12 at 21:03
  • 19
    Not true. Sidious had a master (Plagueis), who had a master (Tenebrous), who had a master going back to Bane. They may have been the first to reveal themselves, but were not the "first Sith in ages" – The Fallen Jun 22 '12 at 18:09
  • 1
    @SSumner Thanks for the correction, I did not know this. – MPelletier Jun 22 '12 at 18:20
  • 1
    That's the beauty of the Sith, living in the shadows, so their enemies don't even know they exist, until they're ready to take over the entire galaxy within 10 years of revealing themselves – childcat15 Jul 23 '14 at 18:05
23

I think he was really a Sith, but the Emperor was always one move ahead of him.

From the beginning, Anakin showed his desire to take the Emperor's place. From the Star Wars Episode 3 Revenge of the Sith Script :

PADME: Come away with me. Help me raise our child. Leave everything else behind while we still can.

ANAKIN: Don't you see, we don't have to run away anymore. I have brought peace to the Republic. I am more powerful than the Chancellor. I can overthrow him, and together you and I can rule the galaxy. Make things the way we want them to be.

But he was prevented from doing it somehow. We saw that Vader's armor was built so that the Emperor could keep control over him. We also saw that the Emperor may have exploded if he were killed. He probably warned him of the consequence of a direct physical assault, and may have developed this technique as a dissuasion weapon.

When Vader prevented Luke from killing the Emperor, he may just have saved his ass. The Emperor’s apparent passiveness was because he knew that Vader didn't have any other choice than protect him. They were very close to the Emperor when Luke made his attempt and we could guess that Vader would be mortally affected as his weakness to force lightning would also apply to such blasts. Anyway, their location, at the top of a tower on an atmosphere-less battle-station, reduces any hope of survival. This also explain why he thew him in the pit instead of Force-pulling Luke's lightsaber and slicing him with his left hand.

9

There are plenty of quotes from Revenge of the Sith which prove that Vader craved power. After turning to the dark side Vader said:

Love won't save you, Padme. Only my new powers can do that...I've become more powerful than any Jedi has ever dreamed of and I've done it for you...I have brought peace to the Republic. I am more powerful than the Chancellor. I can overthrow him, and together you and I can rule the galaxy.

Indeed, the reason Anakin turned to the dark side in the first place was that he craved the power to cheat death so that he wouldn't lose Padme.

Even as a newly minted Sith Lord he was plotting to overthrow Palpatine. He was prevented from overthrowing Palpatine largely because his body was badly damaged by his defeat on Mustafar -- Vader's loss of limbs weakened his power with the Force. According to an answer to a question about Force ability when losing limbs, Lucas explained in Empire of Dreams that:

However, after all of his limbs were severed, and he was extremely burned on Mustafar, he lost much of his Force potential. As Darth Vader, Skywalker was believed to have had roughly 80% of the strength of the Emperor. Had he sustained none of his injuries on Mustafar, he would have been twice as powerful.

Had he not been defeated on Mustafar, he would have been powerful enough to overthrow Palpatine himself and claim absolute power. Unable to overthrow Palpatine on his own, he served Palpatine largely out of fear of his master and his perception that he was beyond redemption. In the meantime, he needed to attempt to recruit another powerful Force user to help him defeat Palpatine. Hence, Vader attempted to recruit Luke in The Empire Strikes Back:

Luke, you can destroy the Emperor. He has foreseen this. It is your destiny! Join me, and together, we can rule the galaxy as father and son! Come with me. It is the only way.

Vader didn't attempt to kill Palpatine because he knew he would lose and die, not because he didn't crave Palpatine's power.

8
+150

Sure he is

The nature of the relationship between Sith Master and Sith Apprentice is given more explicit treatment in the canon novel Lords of the Sith. According to Palpatine's teachings, the Master is only to be overthrown when he is no longer strong; this is something that, as of the events of this book (which take place 14 years before A New Hope), has never been a problem:

Soon after destroying the Jedi, the Emperor had told Vader that he would one day be tempted to kill him. He'd said that the relationship between Sith apprentice and Master was symbiotic but in a delicate balance. An apprentice owed his Master loyalty. A Master owed his apprentice knowledge and must show only strength. But the obligations were reciprocal and contingent. Should either fail in his obligation, it was the duty of the other to destroy him. The Force required it.

Since before the Clone Wars, Vader's Master had never shown anything but strength, and so Vader intended to show nothing but loyalty.

Lords of the Sith Chapter 2

It's worth pointing out that, at least at one time, Vader did not believe he would ever want to kill Sidious:

Perhaps Vader would attempt to kill his Master one day. Sith apprentices ordinarily did. They must, if they were trained well. An apprentice was unquestioningly loyal until the moment he wasn't. Both Master and apprentice knew this.

"But our relationship is different, Master," Vader had said then.

Lords of the Sith Chapter 2

However, later events in the novel make it clear that he does feel the temptation:

"The weak are found out and killed by the strong."

"As it must be," Vader said.

"As it must be, indeed," his Master echoed.

"But sometimes the strong mistake their strength," Vader dared to add. "And so demonstrate weakness."

"Do they?" his Master commented, and Vader said nothing more.

Lords of the Sith Chapter 13

A thought flashed through Vader's mind, a stray thought, just for a moment: his Master dead, Vader ruling the Empire, the galaxy, unconstrained by the leash of an old man...

[...]

"Lord Vader," his Master responded, and chuckled. "Enjoyable, no? Did you consider allowing me to die to realize your own ambitions?"

Vader didn’t even attempt to lie. "I did, but only for a moment."

Lords of the Sith Chapter 16

So yes, despite his loyalty to the Emperor, Vader is definitely thinking as a proper Sith should; he is loyal only as long as his Master is strong - at least until he rejects the Dark Side, when he becomes disloyal again.

  • I like this answer, because it provides quotes directly about how Darth Vader felt about this matter, which is ultimately what matters. – b_jonas Feb 21 '17 at 14:14
7

Going by the Rule of Two, Vader can only become a Sith master if he strikes down the Emperor himself. That could have been his motivation to protect the Emperor. Otherwise, the Rule of Two would collapse, since every apprentice would abandon their master the first chance they get, and there'd be no cooperation.

OTOH, if an apprentice can only rise to become a Sith master by slaying his master himself (and by himself), then this ensures that the Sith apprentice won't turn on his master during a mission and let his master die in order to take his place. This also preserves the purpose of the Rule of Two—to make each generation of Sith master stronger than the last.

Alternatively, Luke probably wasn't strong enough to strike down the Emperor just like that, and Vader probably knew it. (The Emperor made no apparent attempt to defend himself, even though he was baiting Luke to strike him down the entire time and must have anticipated the strike. This would suggest that the Emperor felt no real threat from Luke's lightsaber abilities.) So he may have been protecting Luke while also demonstrating his loyalty to the Emperor.

  • 3
    The Rule of Two doesn't say that the apprentice must kill his master directly and purely by himself. Besides, it's a rule, not a law of the universe. If Vader had been more powerful than Luke and allowed Luke to kill the Emperor, what is going to stop him from assuming the title and role of Sith Master? – Matthew Read Apr 18 '16 at 22:47
6

It may be more accurate to describe Darth Vader as a Dark Jedi, as he was a jedi first, and did not begin as a Sith. However, he was taken as an apprentice by Palpatine/Sidious, and was given the title "Darth", so yes, he is a Sith Lord.

  • I don't think Palpatine ever actually taught Vader any sith magic out of fear of how powerful he was. So he technically would be a dark Jedi, not a Sith, even though he has the title of Sith. – Wayne Dec 18 '14 at 22:22
2

Anakin is presented as wanting power and status. It was rather overshadowed by all the melodrama about Padme, but we see him whining in Ep III about how badly he wants to be given the rank of Jedi Master and a seat on the Council. In Ep II, he tells Padme that "someone wise" should rule the galaxy as a dictator. Finally, as mentioned in DavRob60's answer, there is his rant to Padme in Ep III about how he can overthrow Palpatine and the two of them can rule the galaxy.

IMO, Episode III would have been much better if this motivation was played up. As Ep III opens, Anakin is a hero of the Clone Wars; but once peace arrives, he will be only an ordinary Jedi Knight.

At best, Anakin will slowly rise through the ranks of the Jedi. It will take decades for him to reach a really senior position, and Yoda will continue to outrank him for the foreseeable future. But it's questionable whether he will be promoted to the Jedi Council at all. The Jedi Masters distrust him, because he's not a team player and too passionate and ambitious.

Most importantly, there is his secret marriage to Padme. Maybe the Jedi have been turning a blind eye to it because they need Anakin for the war, but they will punish him when the war has ended.

So, Anakin is looking at a future as just another Jedi, and either hiding his marriage for the rest of his life or being disgraced if it is found out. Palpatine offers him a way out, in which he can have the power and glory he craves, and he and Padme can live openly as a married couple. Frankly this would have been a lot more interesting than all the nonsense about visions of Padme's death, but it's not what we got.

As for the scene in ROTJ, I agree Vader is protecting Luke as much as the Emperor. But I'd add that Vader has been trained to obey the Emperor for the last twenty years, and it's a hard habit to break. As he says to Luke on Endor (approximately): "It is too late for me. I must obey my master. If you only knew the power of the Dark Side."

I'm speculating here, but it may be that the Emperor can use the Dark Side to condition Vader into remaining loyal. After the events of TESB he might have suspected Vader was planning to betray him, and stepped up his use of these powers. For Vader to break his conditioning and defy the Emperor to his face was extremely difficult.

2

Darth Vader was a Sith Lord according to the original Star Wars comic book #1 released in 1977. I remember because I had that comic book after the movie came out.
You can see a preview of the first few pages here: http://marvel.com/comics/issue/53791/star_wars_1977_1 click on "read sample" underneath the cover photo.

Here is a snip from the page I am referencing:

Darth Vader - Dark Lord of the Sith

1

I feel that yes, he was a full on sith Lord. It was established in the EU that Vader KNEW he was used, but it was too late to do anything about it as he was too weakend by his injuries to stop the emperor so he just embraced the evilness. He seemed to have no misgivings about it...until he found out about luke. For a real world comparison, it's like a guy who was a crappy father but realized after a near death experience for said kid, that he really does love him and changes his ways, stops drinking, or drugs, or blowing up planets ect...

0

I would say yes he was a Sith for many of the same reasons laid out here, but also for the same reason that Count Dooku/Darth Tyranus was a Sith as well. He followed the steps of Dooku into the Sith as a powerful Jedi first before becoming a Sith. Vader/Skywalker also exhibited desire for power to both his wife and to his son. He let fear, hate and anger fill him and direct him which is why Darth Sidious is able to seduce him to fully embrace the dark side and able to order him to murder.

Also I would argue that Vader, after Mustafar, needed the Emperor to stay alive which is another reason why he prevented Luke from striking him down.

0

It was my understanding that the sith were a race and that the characters who are commonly referred to as sith were actually dark jedi. I read somewhere that the sith were a red-skinned race who were enslaved by early dark jedi but when a jedi turns to the dark side he doesn't necessarily become a sith.

  • 3
    Sith has two meanings. The first, to which you refer, was a species. The Dark Jedi, however, became Sith Lords when they enslaved that species. When the species went more or less extinct, the Sith Lords remained, and eventually Sith Lord was abbreviated, creating the second meaning of Sith. – Tomari7 Sep 9 '13 at 5:55
  • FWIW, you can see the "sith" race in the "old republic" series of video games. IIRC, by their canon Darth Maul was a "sith"... – DougM Dec 8 '14 at 19:36
  • Originally the Sith were a race who were able to manipulate the force through magic. Some dark Jedi found out about them, learned their magics, killed them off, and assumed the name of Sith Lord. – Wayne Dec 18 '14 at 22:18
-1

Sorry for reviving this question but in its full meaning Darth Vader was never a Sith. Sith is both a belief and a heritage - being Sith is about wishing the absolute destruction of the Jedi Order and desiring the supreme and absolute reign of the Sith. Darth Vader failed to be a Sith two times - first when, ironically, he invited Padme to rule alongside him: He did not wish the Sith to rule, he just wanted to rule - and after he lost his ability to ever surpass the emperor. First failure is he did not have the belief, second failure he lost the ability to get the Sith heritage.

So no, Anakin Skywalker was never for a second a Sith. He only desired power. Darth Vader was a Dark Jedi. And not even a good one at that. You can see in the now non-canon expanded universe that he got his ass wooped by Starkiller, Ferus Olin and even others.

  • This has the makings of a good answer. Other than mere opinion, can you offer any solid evidence (quotes, etc) that back up your claims? – Valorum Feb 7 '15 at 19:52
-1

Probably Not

A Sith doesn't really complete his training until he thinks that he has learned all he can from his master then he challenges his master to a duel and if he was correct about being ready then he will kill his master and become the new master. That is pretty well known so I'm fairly certain that was just a review for you. But the reason that Vader would have saved his master from Luke is that he didn't think he had learned all he could from him. Now that is what a REAL Sith might do but it's also likely that Vader was simply to loyal to his master. Or he didn't know about the whole Apprentice kills Master thing and simply thought that Sidious would be his master forever.

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.