I understand that Luke turned himself in on Endor to turn Vader to the good side, but after Vader refuses and takes him to the Emperor, he just does nothing except for look out that window. Did he just give up? Why didn't he do anything until he was tricked by the Emperor into doing something?

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    Because he's a schmuck
    – Valorum
    Jul 14, 2015 at 23:00
  • because he didn't foresee that the emperor would "it's a trap!" the attacking fleet and have a working death star? Jul 14, 2015 at 23:12
  • @OlivierDulac That doesn't explain why he didn't just kill them both. Jul 14, 2015 at 23:15
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    bewilderment, you feel, hmmm? Not in a good state of mind to fight the 2 most dangerous beings in the galaxy, it puts you, hhmmm? finishing your formation instead of jumping the shark in the last episode,, you should have, hmmmhm? (not sure how to spell yoda's trademark sounds...) Jul 14, 2015 at 23:20
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    Or he was just resigned to die and waiting at that point for the fleet to come blow up the death star? And wanted to know when they arrive? I don't have the movies, so I just rely on quite old memories of it... Jul 14, 2015 at 23:36

2 Answers 2


My answer to this question is relevant here.

The Emperor wanted Luke to either kill Vader or be destroyed. He would have preferred to have Luke kill Vader, because in doing so, Luke would fall to the Dark Side of the Force. This being the case, it is reasonable to assume that by doing nothing, Luke was proving himself to be above the Emperor's efforts to manipulate him. All Luke had to do was resist the temptation to lash out in aggressive violence, and he would prove his loyalty to the Light Side of the Force. This was his final test. If he passed the test, he would become a Jedi Knight.

Master Yoda says as much in an earlier scene:

LUKE But I need your help. I've come back to complete the training.

YODA No more training do you require. Already know you that which you need.

Yoda sighs, and lies back on his bed.

LUKE Then I am a Jedi?

YODA (shakes his head) Ohhh. Not yet. One thing remains: Vader. You must confront Vader. Then, only then, a Jedi will you be. And confront him you will.

YODA Remember, a Jedi's strength flows from the Force. But beware. Anger, fear, aggression. The dark side are they. Once you start down the dark path, forever will it dominate your destiny.

He beckons the young Jedi closer to him.

YODA Luke...Luke...Do not...Do not underestimate the powers of the Emperor, or suffer your father's fate, you will. Luke, when gone am I (cough), the last of the Jedi will you be. Luke, the Force runs strong in your family. Pass on what you have learned, Luke...

So Luke has to confront Vader and the Emperor in order to become a Jedi. This isn't a random task, it is an extremely difficult trial by fire. The danger is very real. He has to confront them and avoid giving in to the Dark Side, and the Dark Side is fear, aggression, hatred, and anger. He has to keep his cool, no matter what the Emperor throws at him.

Just before Luke surrenders, he tells Leia "There is still good in [Vader]. I felt it." And when he turns himself in, the following exchange takes place:

VADER You don't know the power of the dark side. I must obey my master.

LUKE I will not turn...and you'll be forced to kill me.

VADER If that is your destiny.

LUKE Search your feelings, father. You can't do this. I feel the conflict within you. Let go of your hate!

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

LUKE Then my father is truly dead.

We don't know for sure, but it is probable that Luke knows his father is lying, despite his claim to the contrary.

Luke is brought before the Emperor, and in the event, he does lose his temper once or twice, but only for a moment. When he appears to have totally lost control of himself and engages Vader in a vicious battle, he regains his composure after lopping off Vader's hand. He realizes that killing Vader would be tantamount to becoming Vader, and tosses his light saber aside.

Luke proudly declares his loyalty to the Light Side of the Force, and throws the Emperor's derision back in his face. The Emperor is enraged, and unleashes a barrage of Force-Lightning. This is the moment in which Luke's plan is revealed: he is utterly defenseless against the Emperor's attack, or at least appears to be, and he begs his father to help him. He has just shown unexpected mercy on his father, and that act is what sets the wheels in motion.

Vader is torn between his fealty to the Emperor and his newfound love for his son - his son who just moments earlier chose to let him live, when he was incapable of defending himself and it would have been incredibly easy to kill him. The sight of his own, unexpectedly merciful son writhing in agony, mere moments away from death, is too much for Vader to bear. He makes the ultimate sacrifice. He lifts his master above his head, carries him to the edge of the abyss, and hurls him in. In the process, he is mortally wounded by the now-undirected Force-Lightning.

This is exactly what Luke had to do in order to become a Jedi. He could only become a Jedi by (1) resisting the temptation to resort to aggressive violence, and (2) setting the stage for his father to redeem himself. He managed to achieve both of these tasks. If he had acted differently, he would have fallen to the Dark Side and been irredeemably lost - which is precisely what the Emperor wanted to happen.

The short version of the answer is this: Luke did nothing when the Emperor taunted him because that it exactly what he had to do.

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    "He realizes that they are now even, and tosses his light saber aside." Interesting viewpoint on that. I assumed the message that Luke got was that he was becomming Vader (or his replacement). When he looks at the chopped off hand and his own hand, my brain shows me the exploded decapitated head of Vader from the cave on Dagobah with Luke's own face under the mask. In short, if he kills Vader he becomes the new Vader. He didn't get it at the cave, but he finally sees it in the new Death Star. Jul 27, 2015 at 17:50
  • @ToddWilcox - Yeah, I've rethought that bit since I wrote it. Now I think the missing hands might have reminded him that the dude was his dad.
    – Wad Cheber
    Jul 27, 2015 at 17:52
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    @ToddWilcox - edited
    – Wad Cheber
    Jul 27, 2015 at 17:53
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    Too bad Yoda didn't teach him to use his lightsaber to absorb force lightning. Then he might not have carelessly tossed it aside. Then again, if he hangs on to it and isn't electrocuted for a solid 2-3 minutes, Vader might never have been redeemed.
    – Ellesedil
    Jul 27, 2015 at 22:31

Some alternate literature on this event actually implies he intended to lure the Emperor into a false sense of security and then assassinate him... in a way. Remember that he knew fully about the plans for destroy the Death Star that he himself had just gotten onto with Vader. His plan was very simple: Distract Vader and Palpatine until the Death Star was destroyed, he might have died, but he would have ended the Sith at the same time, and he believed his sister could still possibly bring about a return of the Jedi.

Hence why in the movie he remarks that he's not the last and when meeting the Emperor he offhandedly states that they'd all soon die.

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    Could you please provide specific references where it hints that? Jul 15, 2015 at 16:43

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