The Obi-Wan Kenobi series took the Star Wars universe to a different level when we were allowed to see the ruined relationship between a master and a student. Throughout the entire series, Kenobi was obviously depressed and sad about the things that had happened ten years ago when he failed his former student. On the other hand, Anakin Skywalker, in the form of Darth Vader, hunted his master down and even said, “Anakin is gone; I am what remains,” in their fateful battle. But what did Vader mean when he said that Anakin was gone?
Darth Vader meant that Anakin was already gone and that he was the one that remained because he had chosen long ago to cast who he was in the past and to embrace his new persona and identity as Darth Vader. He was essentially saying that Anakin no longer existed because of his choice to become a new person.
The thing about the Obi-Wan series is that it takes a look at the two central characters in a manner that allows us to see their own personal struggles. We also get to understand how things became what they are in the events of Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope. Now, with that said, let’s look at what Vader meant when he said that Anakin was already gone.
What Did Darth Vader Mean When He said, “Anakin Is Gone?”
The world of Star Wars is one that is focused a lot on the different characters that make the entire franchise special. Of course, two central characters that have stood the test of time and have always been popular are Obi-Wan Kenobi and Darth Vader. The former master-student duo has one of the most compelling stories in the entire franchise because of how they basically grew up together and went through a lot.
But we all know what happened to them as Anakin became Darth Vader in Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith and contributed to the downfall of both the Republic and the Jedi Order. Nevertheless, Obi-Wan survived and went on to live a secluded life in Tatooine, where he spent every single day working as a laborer and observing Luke so that he could stay safe.
But the one thing that we noticed about Obi-Wan was the fact that he wasn’t happy with his life. Sure, his life did look boring and very routine, but there was something that was bothering him deeply. It was obvious that he was still bothered by the things that happened ten years ago during the events of Revenge of the Sith, as Obi-Wan thought that he failed Anakin and led him to his death. That was the reason why he had lived a life of depression for ten years and had become a shell of his former self.
However, he learned that Anakin had survived and had been acting as the Empire’s enforcer in the form of Darth Vader. And when the Inquisitors were able to lure Kenobi out, Vader started hunting him down the entire series.
The entire hunt led to a fateful encounter between the two as Obi-Wan led Darth Vader to an isolated planet so that they could settle things one-on-one. This ended in an epic duel between the master and his former student, as Kenobi reconnected with the Force to find the strength he needed to defeat Darth Vader.
Kenobi not only defeated Vader but also incapacitated him by going after his life-support system. After that, he sliced open a portion of his helmet to reveal the eyes he had last seen in ten years. Obi-Wan, who always thought that he failed Anakin and was the one responsible for not being able to keep him away from the dark side, told his former student that he was sorry for failing him.
In what was a great distortion between James Earl Jones’s Vader voice and Hayden Christensen’s Anakin voice, the Sith Lord told his former master that he himself was the one that killed Anakin Skywalker. He also said the words: “Anakin is gone; I am what remains.” It was at that moment that Kenobi left Darth Vader and accepted the fact that Anakin was truly no more. But what did Vader mean when he said that Anakin was gone?
When Darth Vader said that Anakin was already gone and that he was the one that remained, what that meant was that he had already made his choice long ago to dispel everything that made him Anakin Skywalker because he was now an entirely new person in Darth Vader.
The choices that Anakin made years ago allowed him to completely dispel the remnants of his former self. Padme’s death (and presumably their children) and the fall of the entire Jedi Order allowed him to completely forget everything that made him Anakin Skywalker as what remained of the man that used to be a Jedi Knight was now the Sith Lord named Darth Vader.
Essentially, the only thing that kept him anchored to his past as Anakin Skywalker was his relationship with Obi-Wan Kenobi. Almost all of his friends and the people that he loved when he was still Anakin were already gone, and he didn’t even think that his children were still alive.
In that regard, the only tie he needed to sever from his past was Obi-Wan, who he was so obsessed with because he was the only remnant of Anakin Skywalker’s old identity. That is why he wanted to kill Kenobi, even though he himself said that he was no longer Anakin.
Was Anakin Truly “Dead?”
When Darth Vader said that he was what remained of Anakin Skywalker, he was also saying that his old identity as the heroic Jedi was already dead as well. Obi-Wan understood as much when he eventually referred to him as “Darth” for the first time instead of calling him Anakin because he already knew that his old friend was already gone. But was Anakin truly dead?
Both Vader and Kenobi had us believe that Anakin was already dead because that was what they thought. Darth Vader was trying to sever his ties with his old master so that Anakin could finally die. Meanwhile, Obi-Wan realized that there was no way to bring his friend back because he had already been fully consumed by Darth Vader.
Nevertheless, in both Star Wars Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back and Star Wars Episode VI: Return of the Jedi, we did see remnants of Anakin Skywalker in Darth Vader. And these remnants finally overcame Vader when Palpatine was about to kill Luke as Anakin resurfaced and killed the Emperor to save his son.
In that regard, Anakin was never truly dead because he was always there, trapped inside the persona of Darth Vader. Luke and Leia were the ties that he couldn’t sever because he never knew that they existed. And it was the fact that Luke was able to bring Anakin back that proved that the former Jedi Knight was still alive underneath the hunk of metal known as Darth Vader.