Anakin Skywalker was an adorable young boy who had a high level of respect for the Jedis, who trained him, especially Obi-Wan Kenobi. He had a loving wife and an excellent reputation among the Jedis, too. Knowing this, it’s hard to imagine why he’d join the Dark Side.
Why did Anakin join the Sith? It was actually a multi-step process that was mostly urged along by Emperor Palpatine. As it turns out, Palpatine engineer everything from Anakin’s birth, all the way to his understanding of the Dark Side in order to ensure he would have him join up.
The strange tale of how Anakin ended up turning into Darth Vader is one that’s marked by tragedy and also reveals how cunning Emperor Palpatine really was. The more you learn about this wild story, the easier it is to sympathize with one of the most notorious bad guys in Star Wars.
Why Did Anakin Join The Sith?
If there’s one thing that Star Wars writers wanted to make clear, it’s that no one just wakes up one day and decides to join the Sith. It is a process and one that is often kicked off by a Sith member seeking to recruit new members.
For Anakin, his recruitment started all the way before he was born. Emperor (then Chancellor) Palpatine orchestrated everything from his birth to the moments where he first courted the Dark Side. The rest, as it’s said, is history.
Anakin’s Conception And The Dark Side
Let’s start from the beginning by explaining how Anakin even came to be. If you ever took a look at the series, you may have noticed that Anakin’s father is oddly absent throughout the sagas. That’s by design, primarily because Anakin has no father.
It was later revealed (through a series of very subtle hints) that Anakin was technically conceived through immaculate conception. The entire premise of his birth involved midichloria, the microscopic organisms that were behind the Force, joining with his mother.
This has all become fairly obvious in recent years and is generally accepted as canon. Even his mother noted that she believed Anakin was immaculately conceived and wasn’t quite sure how it was possible.
How Did Emperor Palpatine Influence Anakin’s Conception?
Anakin’s conception wasn’t a random deed done by midichloria, though the Force was involved in his creation. It was recently revealed in Darth Vader comic #25 that Shmi, Anakin’s mother, was impregnated by the Force by none other than Emperor Palpatine.
According to canon, Palpatine manipulated the Force using the Dark Side in order to get the Force to spark life in Shmi. So, right off the bat, Anakin was born with a tinge of the Dark Side already in him.
Did The Dark Side Influence Anakin’s Character?
If you watched movies featuring a young Anakin Skywalker, you’ll soon notice that he wasn’t without his flaws. Anakin Skywalker was a very prideful and hot-tempered young man. When compared to other Padawans, it became clear something was a little different about him.
A common fan theory is that Anakin’s natural proclivity towards the Dark Side might have been what rang alarm bells in many of his Jedi teachers. Considering his temper, it’s safe to say his personality had a part to play in his conversion.
Believe it or not, Jedi training also lent its hand into Anakin’s fall into the Dark Side. That being said, it wasn’t entirely the Jedis’ fault. Anakin was entered into the program after the typical age cutoff happened–and many Jedi weren’t pleased about that fact.
Throughout his youth, Anakin often was made to feel like he was an outcast due to his older age and his slightly unruly behavior. Instances of this included the following moments in his early youth:
- Anakin believed he should have been given the rank of Jedi Master, but wasn’t rebuffed over it. Anakin was noticeably stronger than other Jedis his age and believed that his strength should be rewarded with a higher rank. In truth, the Jedi were cautious about giving such a young boy so much responsibility.
- He also naturally had an arrogant flair that exacerbated the problems. His arrogance was a serious concern to Jedi council members, and rightfully so. Jedis are supposed to be humble in nature.
- Even when Anakin exposed Emperor Palpatine as a Sith lord, Jedis still didn’t fully trust him. Anakin took a huge risk to make Palpatine’s true face known, and yet, there were moments where Jedis still didn’t give him the responsibilities that he desired.
It’s easy to see where Anakin may have felt hurt and dismissed by the Jedi Order.
Why Was Anakin’s Age Such A Big Deal During Jedi Training?
Truthfully, it was because he was old enough to start gaining emotional connections to his mother and his family. Part of being a Jedi is being able to avoid getting connected to things that could eventually cause you to break.
The fact that Anakin was already used to forming deep emotional bonds made his joining of the Jedi a major liability–and a huge opportunity for Palpatine to exploit his feelings later on.
How Did Chancellor Palpatine Worsen The Problem?
Palpatine was present in Anakin’s life for a very long time, with some movie clips even showing him attending an opera with a young Anakin Skywalker prior to his recruitment in the Jedi Order. This wasn’t a mistake; he wanted to become a trusted advisor to Anakin.
When Anakin started to struggle with his life as a Jedi, Emperor Palpatine quickly became a confidante to him. He made a point to earn the distraught Jedi’s trust little by little, just so that Anakin would become more inclined to hear him out.
Using their bond, Palpatine quickly began to point out issues in Anakin’s relationship with Jedis, often insinuating that they didn’t really trust him or like him. By feeding him these toxic thoughts, Palpatine encouraged Anakin to walk away from the Jedi.
How Did The Jedi React?
True to form, the Jedi reacted with caution. It became fairly obvious that something was happening with Anakin. Many Jedis, including Obi-Wan Kenobi, tried to urge him to avoid falling into the traps that the Dark Side laid out for him.
If it was only a matter of feeling ostracized by the Jedi, there may have been a slim chance that Anakin would have stayed true to the good side of the Force. However, things took a turn for the worse when he got an apprentice named Ahsoka Tano.
Asokha and Anakin grew very close during their time together, to the point that they were extremely good friends and confidantes. Unfortunately, during the Clone Wars television series, it was revealed that Ahsoka was framed for the bombing of a Jedi Temple.
What Happened To Ahsoka?
To Anakin’s dismay, the framing got Ahsoka in serious trouble with the Jedi. She was almost sentenced to death by the order. Lucky for her, they simply expelled her from the Order, which meant that Anakin was no longer allowed to speak to her.
Before she was driven away, Anakin promised his former apprentice that he would ensure no harm came to her. Evidence to her innocence later resurfaced thanks to her mentor, but the damage was done. She refused to reenter the Jedi ranks after her framing.
Who Betrayed Ahsoka?
Anakin was the one to discover that Ahsoka was innocent in the bombing. The true culprit (and framer) was their friend, Bariss Offee. Bariss wasn’t actually a Sith, per se, but still held similar beliefs to them.
Disillusioned with the Jedi Order, she tried to frame Ahsoka as a way to get her to work against them. The plan backfired, but that framing incident still caused Anakin to rethink what he knew about the Jedi even more.
By the time that Anakin had lost his Padawan and dealt with the constant feeling of ostracization from his own order, he was a young adult. His struggles didn’t end there, nor did they let up in terms of quantity.
How Did His Powers Evolve?
Most of his powers were fairly visible by the time he was a young adult, especially when it came to prophetic dreams. He started to foresee events like his mother’s death and Padme’s pending death as well.
As one can imagine, this wreaked emotional havoc on him.
How Did His Personality Evolve?
The more he dealt with the cautious approach of Jedi Knights, the angrier he seemed to get. He continued to be known for his reckless behavior and constant trouble with the rules set for him to abide by.
Throughout the comics, television shows, and movies, Anakin’s anger became increasingly apparent. Some of the more startling scenes included:
- He slaughtered Tuskan Raiders. To be fair, the Tuskan Raiders just killed his mother on Tattooine. However, that still wasn’t the way of the Jedi, and it ended up showing his propensity towards violence.
- Anakin killing Count Dooku, even when Dooku was at his mercy. Guess who was the one urging him to kill the count? If you guessed Emperor Palpatine, you were correct. (Palpatine also staged his own kidnapping to spark the war and Dooku’s death, too.)
- In one comic, Jedi bullies almost got killed through his anger. When bullies taunted him for being a “slave,” use tore their lightsabers out of their hands and asked them what they felt. Using lethal force to handle simple teasing was a clear sign that his anger was starting to spiral out of control.
Along with a high penchant for violence, Anakin was becoming increasingly annoyed with the rules that the Jedi Order upheld. As far as Jedis went, he was a very unruly, aggressive, and foolhardy one.
Padme Amidala And Her Death
As much as Anakin was known for his violence, he also was known for being fiercely loving towards those he cared about. When he met Padme Amidala, it immediately became an all-consuming romance between the two.
Unfortunately, it didn’t take long for him to sense Padme’s future. Using his Jedi senses, he started to realize her days were numbered and that she would die in childbirth. Alarmed by the sights he was experiencing, Anakin told people he would do anything to save her.
Was Anakin Even Allowed To Marry Padme?
Truthfully, it was against the Jedi rules to have a wife because it could cause an emotional connection capable of corrupting a Jedi’s mind. That didn’t deter Anakin, though. The two married in secret at the end of Episode II: Attack of the Clones.
Anakin would have been forced to leave the Order if he openly married her. So, he kept mum about his situation but still discussed his concerns about Padme. Many fans believe the Jedis knew of their relationship but remained silent out of concern for him.
How Did The Jedi React To Anakin’s Visions?
When Anakin started to see Padme’s death in the future, the Jedi immediately counseled him and warned him against trying to change the future. They strongly urged him to just let the future happen, and for him to be happy that she will die.
Anakin didn’t like that, at all.
Palpatine’s Padme-Centric Recruitment
Anakin never really had a love as deep as he did for Padme. After the two married, it became clear that his attachment to Padme was one that could easily change his choices permanently.
His paranoia, paired with the visions of her death, made Anakin Skywalker a ticking time bomb. Palpatine recognized this and used it to his advantage. It’s fairly clear that Padme was the catalyst for Anakin becoming the Sith.
How Did Chancellor Palpatine Use Padme To Convert Anakin To The Dark Side?
At this point, Anakin was heavily poisoned by Palpatine’s messaging. He spent years manipulating the Jedi, driving a wedge between them. He was quick to provide reasons why Anakin shouldn’t trust the Order, and he knew what made Anakin tick.
Chancellor Palpatine managed to convince Anakin that converting to the Sith would give him an opportunity to save Padme from her fate. He told him the Sith legend of Darth Plagueis, who had the power of being able to harness midichlorians to create life–just like how he used it on Anakin.
“The dark side of the Force is a pathway to many abilities some consider to be unnatural,” he explained, insinuating that he could potentially chance Padme’s fate by switching sides. Considering how emotional he was, Anakin was basically sold on it.
What Else Did Palpatine Tell Anakin While Converting Him?
Of course, dangling Padme’s life over Anakin’s head wasn’t the only thing that Palpatine did. If it was, there was a good chance that Anakin would still question it and decide against turning to the Dark Side.
During this troublesome time, he also made a point to plant these seeds inside Anakin’s mind:
- Palpatine told Anakin that the Sith weren’t really as evil as the Jedis portrayed them to be. Anakin grew up learning about how evil and dangerous the Sith really were. Palpatine made a point to assuage his concerns and frame the Jedi as the restrictive ones.
- He also told Anakin that the Jedi behaved the way they did to hold power. By portraying them as power-hungry soldiers that just wanted to control him, it made the decision easier on him.
- Palpatine also framed the entire situation as a choice between loving Padme and obeying the Jedis. It wasn’t just Padme’s life in the balance; he also wanted to protect his unborn child. Chancellor Palpatine played this point heavily. As Palpatine put it, “You must choose.”
- Palpatine also revealed himself to be a Sith Lord by the name of Darth Sidious. By revealing who he was, he displayed a level of trust in Anakin that the Jedis never really did. This brought Anakin closer to Palpatine and further convinced him that the Jedis weren’t good to him.
Make no mistake about it. When Palpatine finished talking to Anakin, the young Jedi was truly convinced that he was making the right decision.
How Did Padme React To Anakin’s Choice?
The first person that he told his decision to was his wife, Padme Amidala. Anakin was expecting Padme to be thrilled with the news, but she really wasn’t. In fact, she was somewhat horrified by what he did.
Padme Amidala was not a fan of Chancellor Palpatine. In fact, she had grown increasingly wary of him as he slowly grabbed power throughout the senate under her nose. She knew something was wrong and even told Anakin that what he was doing broke her heart.
Revealing Chancellor Palpatine To The Jedi
One of the final straws to Anakin’s time with the Jedi came when he revealed that Chancellor Palpatine was a Sith leader. The Jedis immediately set out to kill him, but Anakin couldn’t allow that. He saw Palpatine as Padme’s only chance at life.
When Anakin realized that they were going to kill Palpatine, he panicked, burst in, and saved the Sith. Jedi Mace Windu was ready to kill Palpatine. As Windu was just about to go in for the kill, Anakin reached out and injured Windu instead. Then, Palpatine killed Mace Windu.
Was This The Point Of No Return?
At this point, Anakin Skywalker had done a major crime against the Order of the Jedi. It was a crime that was unforgivable and basically spelled the end for his Jedi days. If he tried to return to the temple, he would have been expelled–or even killed.
Palpatine then gave him a new name: Darth Vader. Even with the new name, there was still a certain part of Darth Vader that felt guilt for what he had done and who he betrayed. However, that guilt didn’t last too long.
At that point, Vader was ordered by Chancellor Palpatine to go to the Jedi Temple and slaughter everyone inside it. The slaughter included children, as well as his former friends. It was an incredibly tall order of Palpatine to make after Mace Windu died.
At this point, it became clear that Darth Vader would do anything that Palpatine told him to do, and for good reason. Darth Vader did as he was told.
Why Did Darth Vader Carry Out The Orders Palpatine Gave Him?
If you really think about it, Darth Vader didn’t have a choice. Emperor Palpatine got him to commit a crime against the Jedi that basically ended his career. If the Jedis knew that he was nearby, they would hunt him down and kill him.
There was really no way that he could return to the Light Side at that time without facing certain death. Moreover, if he died, he would be unable to save Padme. At that point in the series, Darth Vader believed he was doing what he could in order to save Padme and his children.
When Did Darth Vader Become Fully Involved In The Dark Side?
Believe it or not, there was still a chance that Darth Vader could have repented after the Mace Windu incident. However, it quickly came to a screeching halt not too long after.
The Temple Murder Aftermath
Off away from Anakin, Padme received a message from Obi-Wan Kenobi about Anakin. Obi-Wan told Padme about the murders Darth Vader carried out at the Jedi Temple. Stunned and in disbelief, she traveled to see him in Mustafar.
There, she and Obi-Wan decided to give Darth Vader one last chance to return to the Light Side. Darth Vader assumed Padme has decided to join a plot to kill him and starts to choke his pregnant wife out.
Obi-Wan lashes out at Darth Vader and defeats him, dismembering him and eventually leaving him for dead near lava. He then brings Padme to medical care, leaving Vader all alone. Palpatine wasn’t going to let Vader die, though.
Padme’s Death And Darth Vader’s Rebirth
Palpatine gave Darth Vader’s body to medics who surgically reattached his limbs together and rebuilt his face. Darth Vader slowly recovered, but his wife started to wither away. Doctors believed she lost the will to live after Anakin’s betrayal.
Despite Padme being given a clear bill of health earlier, she died in childbirth while delivering Luke and Leia Skywalker. Meanwhile, Darth Vader would eventually wake up to hear the devastating news.
Did Emperor Palpatine Play A Role In Padme’s Death?
Though it is never openly expressed in the movies, there’s a lot of reason to believe he may have had a role in Padme’s death. This is especially true when you consider the following context clues:
- Emperor Palpatine already proved that he had the power to manipulate life force when Anakin was conceived. Darth Vader shouldn’t have survived being burned and chopped up into tiny pieces, so it’s clear Palpatine had gotten life force for him somewhere.
- Palpatine openly admitted that he had abilities that could keep Padme alive. If he had the power to keep Padme alive, it makes sense that he would use his abilities to save Darth Vader. After all, Darth Vader was crucial to Palpatine’s power grab; Padme wasn’t.
- Padme was totally healthy. She just suddenly died, as if the very life was being drained out of her. The droids who were checking on her earlier gave her a totally clean bill of health, and she even gave birth to two healthy babies prior to her death.
- As Darth Vader woke up, Padme died. The timing alone definitely suggests that something unnatural happened here.
That being said, there was no outright admission that Palpatine was the one who killed Padme. Even so, the implications are there.
Why Did Darth Vader Stay In The Dark Side Once Padme Died?
Considering that Darth Vader switched to the Dark Side in an effort to save his wife, many fans tend to question why he would stay as a Sith ally once she died. This is actually a very good question, and it is one that boils down to three main reasons:
- The Dark Side is addictive. It’s important to remember that the Dark Side almost acts like a drug to people. It’s a “drug” that feeds off anger, pain, and fear. By the time that Anakin turned into Darth Vader, he was acting like a junkie for his emotions.
- Darth Vader crossed the point of no return with the Jedi Order. Even if he wanted to go back, he couldn’t. The Jedis would kill him on sight, and he was totally outcasted as a result of the murders he carried out for Emperor Palpatine. No one wanted him back, even if he were to repent.
- Emperor Palpatine was now all that Darth Vader had. He lost the Jedi Order he once belonged to. He lost his beloved wife and had no access to his children. The only person who he actually still had around him was Emperor Palpatine, and in his eyes, that was probably better than no one at all.