Movie Reviews

Star Wars: 13 Characters Most Influential In Anakin Skywalker Becoming Darth Vader

The entire Star Wars Skywalker saga rests on the shoulders of Anakin Skywalker, and he is one of the characters who could truly be considered the main character of the saga. He is undoubtedly one of the best and most fascinating figures in the franchise as well, with his fall being so tragic.

One of the most tragic and interesting parts of the character is how many different people affected his story and could have changed it. Ultimately there is only one, arguably two, people who truly were responsible for his fall, but there are other characters who had some sort of influence along the way, some through no real fault of their own.

Updated on May 17th, 2022, by Rhys McGinley: With Darth Vader returning to face off against his old master in the Obi-Wan Kenobi series, it’s an extremely exciting and interesting time to be revisiting Anakin Skywalker’s turn to the dark side.

Barriss Offee is far from the first person fans will think of when it comes to influences in Anakin’s fall to the dark side, but she did have a very contained, very important part to play.

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It is Barriss Offee who frames Ahsoka Tano for the crimes that get her banished from the Jedi Order, and subsequently what makes her leave Anakin behind; also meaning she is not there for the events of Revenge of the Sith as she goes off to Mandalore to help Bo-Katan. All of these events take a toll on Anakin, who loses a lot of faith in the Jedi and also loses his little sister, the person he loved more than anyone outside of his wife and maybe Obi-Wan at that time.

One of the biggest what-ifs in Star Wars is what if Qui-Gon Jinn lived and trained Anakin. To many, if that had happened, Darth Vader would never have existed.

That is pretty much the extent of Qui-Gon’s influence on Anakin’s dark side collapse. He was unable to train him after pulling him away from the life of slavery. Like pretty much everyone else, Qui-Gon cannot be blamed for Anakin’s fall, nobody can other than him, but his death certainly set off a chain of events that put the fall in motion.

Qui-Gon Jinn has one of the best deaths in Star Wars just in terms of the action surrounding it, given that it comes in one of the best crafted and awesome lightsaber battles ever, the Duel of the Fates. Maul’s murder of Qui-Gon had a massive indirect impact on Anakin.

Anakin and Maul are two of the best characters alive at ay one time in Star Wars to never interact in the canon – as far as fans are aware – yet Maul still had a huge influence on Anakin’s life and fall. In just the same way as Qui-Gon influences Anakin’s fall by dying, Maul influences Anakin’s turn to the dark side by killing the Jedi Master who could have prevented it.

Anakin’s hatred of the practice of slavery and the crime lords who sanction it is documented but not hugely explored in the films. It is only glimpsed in both the prequel trilogy and The Clone Wars.

However, when it is touched on, it brings out an instant rage and passion from Anakin that he simply cannot control. That is where Watto comes in; having owned Anakin and his mother as slaves, one of the worst things to happen in Anakin’s often tragic life, he was a big part of Anakin’s formative experience and helped instill a rightful rage and hatred inside of him, a hatred he took with him into being Darth Vader.

As mentioned, it was not just Anakin kept as a slave but also his mother, Shmi Skywalker, a character whose impact on Anakin’s life can’t be understated.

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One of the biggest issues with Anakin becoming a Jedi at the age he did was that he had already formed a loving, dependent attachment to his mother. He missed her when he left, and he dreamt of her before she died. That loss affected him greatly, not just in that he slaughtered a village of Sand People, but also because his dreams of her death came true, building on his fear and paranoia, especially when he dreamt the same things about Padmé. His mother was not specifically responsible for his descent into darkness, but her connection with Anakin did play a role.

Anakin had a different viewpoint on the war compared to other Jedi. He believed they had to be more, in a word, ruthless, to do whatever it took to win the war. This often left him susceptible to a lot of anger and hatred towards the opposition leaders.

This is especially true for Dooku. Dooku taunted Anakin throughout all of their battles, and when it came to killing or arresting Dooku on the Invisible Hand, he hesitated, but he still did it and is fine with that choice. There are also glimpses into his dark side via other characters like Trench, who he is happy to murder. They brought something out in Anakin that Palpatine pounced on.

One of the most significant reasons for Anakin’s fall was his belief that the Jedi had gone bad, that the dark side was the right way to go. This was largely due to years of mistrust and a constant loss of faith in the Jedi Council.

Time and time again, they mistreated Anakin or did things to lose Anakin’s trust. They used him to get close to the Chancellor, they gave Ahsoka a sham trial to banish her, they outright told him they did not want him to be a Jedi, and time and time again, they made decisions that left Anakin feeling cast aside, untrusted and undervalued. Even the likes of Yoda, arguably the best of the Jedi in Star Wars, had a part to play in the Jedi Council’s poor treatment of Anakin as a collective unit.

It was not just the Jedi Council as a whole that influenced Anakin’s fall, specific Jedi also influenced the darker Anakin, and Mace Windu is the most obvious example in this regard.

Mace constantly proved to Anakin he did not trust him. It took over a decade in the Jedi Order alongside the discovery of a Sith for Mace Windu to say, “You will have gained my trust.” Anakin really could never have won with Windu. All that treatment, combined with Mace refusing to arrest Sidious, made it relatively easy for Anakin to see Windu as the bad guy.

Obi-Wan Kenobi was Anakin’s brother, as well as a father figure in his life, and even though he never intended to hurt his friend, nor did he distrust Anakin like other Jedi, Obi-Wan still had some influence in Anakin’s fall.

RELATED: 10 Times Obi-Wan Was The Best Part Of The Prequels

For one, he was not perfect and did some not-so-great things to Anakin, like pretend to be dead, not stick up for Ahsoka, and allowing Anakin to be a bit of a pawn in order to get close to the Chancellor. On a more heartbreaking level, Obi-Wan was never the perfect fit as Master for Anakin despite how good the two were as a duo. Obi-Wan is not to blame for Anakin’s fall, but one has to wonder if dark Anakin, and ultimately Darth Vader, would have risen if he had Qui-Gon as a Master, not Obi-Wan. Either way, fans are hotly anticipating the two character’s reunion in the upcoming Obi-Wan Kenobi series.

Unlike the rest of the Jedi, Ahsoka Tano never did anything to make her Master question her trust or loyalty to him. In fact, she never hurt him, except for one occasion that was not her fault whatsoever.

Ahsoka leaving the council served to make Anakin trust them less and less. It also hurt him to see his little sister go. As Yoda points out in The Clone Wars movie, the real test for Anakin was to see if he could let go of his Padawan when the time came. He could not. Ahsoka was a positive presence in Anakin’s life, but events in their lives – such as the variety of awful things to happen to Ahsoka and Anakin as individuals – and in their relationship piled on to the influences of his downfall.

When it comes to attachment, there is, of course, nobody Anakin found himself more hopelessly attached to than Padmé Amidala, the love of his life.

Like Ahsoka, Padmé never did anything to make Anakin become Vader. But Anakin became so paranoid about the survival of his wife, so angry and hate-filled at the thought of losing her, that he was so susceptible to seduction and fell to the dark side. Padmé is nothing but a victim in this relationship and is not to blame one bit for Anakin’s fall, but there is no doubt that his love for her influenced Anakin’s turn to the dark side.

Darth Sidious, the most powerful villain in Star Wars, is one of two characters who actually caused Anakin’s fall to the dark side (whereas everyone else merely influenced it), and Palpatine’s doing so was a masterpiece of genius and seduction.

Palpatine preyed on every insecurity and every emotion Anakin had. Every time the Council did something to betray Anakin’s trust, Palpatine was there. Any time Anakin felt underappreciated, Palpatine was there. Any time Anakin needed reassurance, comfort, or someone to vent his emotions to, Palpatine was there. Palpatine was a friend to Anakin in Anakin’s eyes, and Palpatine manipulated Anakin masterfully to become his apprentice, puppeteering from the shadows like only he could.

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