Anakin Skywalker is incredibly bright and quick. He catches on to things almost instantly, either through the force or his own intelligence. He puts together a protocol droid before he's even 12 years old, knows pod racers backwards and forwards, and even later, he shows the ability to think and act quickly (for example when chasing an attempted assassin on Coruscant).

But Vader doesn't seem to act as quickly. I know his suit is uncomfortable and forced him to change his whole light saber combat technique, but when I think over how Vader tried to handle the whole situation with capturing and converting Luke, now, I can't help but to wonder how a dark Anakin without the suit would have handled it.

It's hard to imagine someone brilliant enough to build a droid as a kid not having the insight and intelligence to modify a life support suit to make it more comfortable.

I'm not asking about why -- it's clear that Vader went through a major change by losing limbs and needing the suit. But Vader doesn't seem to act (not move, but to act or react) or think with the swiftness that Anakin had. It seems like his range and anger has significantly dulled his thinking.

Is Vader not as sharp as he was before he had the suit and is he not as quick-witted as Anakin was?

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    @SachinShekhar: I'm thinking about in TESB mostly, but the whole thing, too. I didn't want to get too deep into that since it's all speculation, but if I think about the setting as it is at the start of TESB, if you imagine Anakin in that suit, I think the plot would be quite different. Even with all the resources Vader had, I think Anakin would have handled the situation quite differently.
    – Tango
    Commented Jan 22, 2012 at 21:41
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    The question of why Anakin didn't upgrade his suit to be more flexible/less cumbersome is a valid one, but I don't agree that one set of skills (building droids, flying podracers) translates onto the other (the emotional manipulation of seducing someone to the dark side). Also FWIW my opinion of Anakin is not that he thinks and acts quickly but that he acts impulsively... Commented Jan 22, 2012 at 22:01
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    @Tango Anakin's quick-thinking doesn't mean that he makes good decisions. He's pretty consistently depicted as reckless. That's why he lost his limbs in the first place. I think a younger Anakin would have flown in and tried to destroy the Rebel shield generator and base by himself.
    – KSmarts
    Commented Jan 16, 2015 at 16:30
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    "Smart"... "Quick-witted"... these aren't adjectives I would apply to the portrayal of Anakin we received in the prequel trilogy.
    – Omegacron
    Commented Apr 2, 2015 at 19:56
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    A comment as I can't remember specific source. Likely Legends, but I think he had plans for an upgraded suit, but he would need someone powerful in the force (ie Palpatine) to keep him alive while the switch between suits. He is not just wearing a suit. The suit is as much a part of him as his cybernetic limbs. There are many sensors and connections joining him with the suit. This is, at least partially, contradicted by the scene in the more recent comic with him submerged in the bacta tank without his suit. Commented Oct 19, 2020 at 13:45

5 Answers 5


Vader was also under pretty much CONSTANT pain from his injuries. It's hard to concentrate on being brilliant when you're in pain.

Don't remember the canon source, one of Dark Sun related books - I think the Boba Fett trilogy ones.

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    It's hard to concentrate on being brilliant when you're in pain. Citation needed! Counter-example: Dr House.
    – xDaizu
    Commented Jan 30, 2017 at 13:24
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    @xDaizu - Long time since I've seen the show, but wasn't he also frequently on drugs? Commented May 14, 2018 at 19:37
  • @BrootsWaymb Yep, on vicodin (an opiate). But I assume those machines are also pumping serious drugs on Darth Vader to stand the phantom pain, the serious burns, the sepsis all through his body and the transplant rejection for all those mechanical prostheses. Stronger drugs than vicodin, probably; but he also has the Force so I guess it sorta kinda evens out. Maybe not.
    – xDaizu
    Commented May 15, 2018 at 6:42
  • A Sith uses their pain to fuel their power. Commented May 15, 2018 at 13:18

Untreated PTSD. Having your legs hacked off, being roasted alive, and this being immediately followed by the death of your wife is bound to have some effect on your psyche. Somehow I don't see Darth Sidious as the sort who would let you have time off for counseling either.

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    +1, 'cause it's funny.. and also probably true.. Heck; look at how things ended with him.... Nasty as it was, was that all it took to switch him back? Sure... with lots of unresolved issues.. He was fighting himself the whole time he was on the dark side..
    – K-H-W
    Commented Jan 23, 2012 at 1:11
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    I should add I'm not laughing at PTSD, but the way it was put. Yes, this stuff would have an effect, that's not in question. But the big issue is if Vader didn't think as quickly or intelligently as Anakin. And, while being sarcastic, this puts it in perspective.
    – Tango
    Commented Jan 23, 2012 at 9:18
  • Yeah, Sidious doesn't give me much counseling off-time, although I use Force choking as an alternative method of counseling. Seems to work just fine. chokes random trooper See? Works just fine! Commented May 15, 2018 at 13:20

My answer is more from a personal understanding of Anakin than actual canon or facts; but I believe that it was more from a lack of will to live that he became less "smart" as the question is asking.

Darth Sidious had convinced Anakin/Darth Vader that he had indeed killed Padme' in an act of aggression. After his mother's death and the betrayals of the council (in his perspective a betrayal), all he had left was Padme', and even before that she was his first and top priority; she was what meant the most to him in life. Losing that, what point was there to go on?

However, as I have read in the book Star Wars III: Revenge of the Sith, it describes how Anakin/Darth Vader's lungs breathed on their own because of the technology that was permanently attached to him. Therefore he could not stop living even if he wanted to. (I'm not stating that he was or wasn't suicidal.) I know when I thought that I had lost my wife, even standing up felt like I had a giant weight pressed down on me, preventing me from continuing life. He had lost his reason for living, so why try as hard as he did. What was the point?

His children were also thought, to him, to have died with Padme'. So Padme's death, mixed with the fact that he thought he killed her, not to mention his own child (as he didn't know that they were twins until facing Luke at the end of Star Wars VI: Return of the Jedi) and then put on top that his mother was dead, his best friend was evil and manipulated him (in the same book it stated that he realized that he had been deceived by Palpatine/Sidious and he tried to kill him with the force, but couldn't) as well as his father figure, Obi-Wan, betrayed him (again, from his perspective) and the jedi (his last family after the death of his mother) had betrayed him... I'm surprised that his lightsaber didn't end up in his gut....

(Edited) I also, recently had a conversation with my wife about this. She said that he also grew up. Anakin Skywalker was, for lack of better term, a young buck and was more rash and impulsive than he was as Darth Vader. As we grow up we think about what we do before we do it more and more. Maturity, more or less. If you even read/watch/play, Anakin's decisions weren't always the right ones, indicating that he was making a decision more quickly. Darth Vader was in all technicality the more mature and adult Anakin Skywalker.

I understand that this is a completely different type of answer than you might have been looking for, and of course we cannot ignore the physical agony that he was in constantly, but hopefully it at least helps you.

  • “I understand that this is a completely different type of answer than you might have been looking for” — a couple of paragraph breaks might make it more readable. Commented Jan 16, 2015 at 16:49

Darth Vader is “as intelligent” as a Sith lord as he would have been had he remained a Jedi. Sith understand things that the Jedi do not, and vice versa. Sith can ‘conceal’ their presence from Jedi, but Jedi cannot conceal their Force-presence from the Sith. Living Jedi can commune with dead Jedi, while Jedi Force ghosts are completely undetectable to Sith. Sith masters can harness lightning from their hands, while advanced Jedi masters can harness lightning from the sky (Yoda on Ahch-To). Advanced Jedi masters can astral-project a solid image of themselves (Luke on Crait), while Sith (thus far) cannot. So you can’t say decisively that Darth Vader is less intelligent or less powerful than Anakin Skywalker was. The Darkside doesn’t make Force-sensitives dumber. In fact, it can actually make them more ‘crafty & manipulative’. Think about Palpatine playing on Anakin’s fear of Padme dying. That takes ‘intelligence’. Just like Hannibal Lecter, Sith lords are crazy, but they aren’t stupid.

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    What are you basing this on? Can you offer any evidence?
    – Valorum
    Commented May 14, 2018 at 18:32
  • You seem to be focusing more on the "less powerful" aspect than the "less intelligent" aspect. All those powers you listed are exactly that - powers, that have nothing to do with intelligence. Palpatine's intelligence has nothing to do with Anakin's intelligence, or its apparent decrease once be becomes Vader.
    – F1Krazy
    Commented May 15, 2018 at 13:30

I would say that all of the trauma that he went through, from losing both his legs, being burned alive, which also included having his cornea's burned away, his ear drums popped and his tongue burned out, which is why he needed the helmets vocabulator to be able to talk, along with most of his skin being burned and his lungs scorched, all have an effect on your mind, not only from the pain, but because the body is all interconnected.

It's known in Chinese medicine for example, that your liver has a lot to do with the clarity of ones thinking. Your heart and kidney chi combine to form human consciousness too. The lungs are a major controlling organs for all of the other organs, which is why breathing in Chinese medicine, martial arts and chi-gung is SO critical for health, healing, longevity, power and mental clarity.

With his lungs being badly scorched from the fire, all of his organs health would be compromised to some degree. That, plus the physical and emotional trauma from all of his other injuries, plus utilizing the dark side which focuses on anger, which also clouds the mind and judgement, would all have combined to certainly effect his thinking, mental clarity and likely even his overall IQ.

We also know that his overall force power was diminished by as much as sixty percent after his horrific injuries and losing two more limbs, mainly his legs. Before his injuries, he had twice the potential of both the Emperor and Yoda, but after his injuries that was knocked down to about 80% of either Yoda or the Emperor, making him about equal with Darth Maul.

All of this, combined with him likely being in regular pain and most amputee's report, would have also effected his intellect, emotional balance and totally changed and warped his personality, not to mention the effects of the dark side itself.

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    This was shaping up to be quite a good answer until you took a detour into chinese medical superstition. People with poorly livers don't become stupider.
    – Valorum
    Commented Oct 11, 2014 at 11:38
  • It is far from "medical superstition" as countless facets of Chinese medicine such as millennia old herbal formulas, herbs, acupressure and chi theory, are more and more becoming accepted by the once totally scoffing, western medical community. I have helped countless people over the years and taught others how to help themselves using this ancient knowledge I've studied and used successfully for over thirty years. Regarding the intellect, just the trauma to the brain effects the minds ability to comprehend & understand things, similar trauma to the organs & body can also have a similar effect Commented Oct 13, 2014 at 9:17
  • Just as the phenomena of transplant recipients taking on the traits of their donors proves that the internal organs sure DO have an effect on the personality, mind, skills and abilities of a person. People that had no musical interest or ability at all, have suddenly developed both the passion & skill after receiving heart & liver transplants, learning songs in mere weeks or months that the original donor was playing for years. In at least one case, the person even wrote a song which the original donor composed years ago in a notebook hidden & found years later. Doctors have no explanation for Commented Oct 13, 2014 at 9:20
  • @JediWitness: the proof is undeniable! Commented Jan 16, 2015 at 16:53

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