When it comes to some of the characters in Star Wars, there’s no doubt that Darth Vader stands at the top of the list in terms of popularity. That’s because he has always been one of the most fearsome entities in the entire storyline and the most iconic villain in this fictional universe. Nevertheless, Vader’s death left a massive hole in the villain spot in Star Wars, especially regarding how iconic and powerful he is. But did Vader actually return to life after he died?
Darth Vader never returned to life because his death during the events of Star Wars Episode VI: Return of the Jedi was always permanent. While his body never disappeared, Luke Skywalker held a funeral for him by burning his body. After that, he appeared as a Force Ghost to his son.
Dying was the only way for Vader to ever redeem himself as a character because he committed countless atrocities during the time that he was enforcing the rule of the Empire. That means there was no doubt that he was never coming back to life, especially because those who appear as Force Ghosts have become one with the Force itself. Now, let’s look at this topic in greater detail.
Darth Vader Never Returned to Life
Throughout the entire Skywalker Saga, a name that remained constant was Anakin Skywalker because he was the great Jedi Knight that eventually fell to the dark side and became Darth Vader, the dreaded Sith Lord who enforced the will of Emperor Palpatine during the reign of the Empire. Vader was the first antagonist of the original Star Wars trilogy. And we saw how tragic of a figure he was when we learned that he was merely a pawn in the larger game that Palpatine played.
Anakin was born the Chosen One and was supposed to be the one to bring balance back to the Force after the dark side corrupted it for about a thousand years. But Darth Sidious decided to tempt him over to the dark side so that he could destroy the Jedi Order and rule the galaxy as its tyrannical emperor.
Vader, of course, revealed that he was the father of Luke Skywalker and still had a bit of good left in him despite all of the evil things he did when acting as the enforcer of the Empire. So, when it came down to choosing between Palpatine and his son, he chose Luke and betrayed his master. But the damage left by Darth Sidious’ Force Lightning rendered Vader’s life support system unable to keep him alive anymore.
That means that Darth Vader made the ultimate sacrifice when he gave his life up for the sake of his son. As the Chosen One that was born through the will of the Force, he fulfilled the prophecy and brought balance back to the Force. And dying for the sake of his son was the best way for him to go out.
After that, Darth Vader never returned to life because he had already fulfilled his duty as a character and as the Chosen One. There was no way he would ever return to life after committing the ultimate sacrifice of choosing his son over his master. With that, he went out the way he was supposed to go out. And because we know that Darth Vader had already committed countless atrocities during the reign of the Empire, he needed to die as part of his redemption story.
Did Darth Vader Disappear When He Died?
Of course, one of the ways that we can tell whether or not the death of a Jedi in Star Wars is permanent is when that Jedi returns as a Force Ghost. For that to happen, the Jedi’s body has to disappear. We’ve seen this a few times when the bodies of Obi-Wan Kenobi, Yoda, and even Luke Skywalker disappeared upon their death. Of course, we saw how Obi-Wan and Yoda could return as Force Ghosts.
However, in Vader’s case, his body never disappeared when he died. But that doesn’t mean there was a good chance he would return to life after that. That’s because not every Jedi or Force user disappears whenever they die. In Vader’s case, he didn’t disappear when he died but still returned as a Force Ghost. And we saw how Qui-Gon Jinn’s body never disappeared even though he appeared in the Obi-Wan Kenobi series as a Force Ghost.
Of course, there’s also the fact that Luke Skywalker was able to retrieve his father’s body after he died in the second Death Star. Luke held a funeral for his father and burned it alive. That was when the Force Ghosts of Obi-Wan, Yoda, and Anakin appeared before him. So, the fact that Anakin’s Force Ghost appeared indicates that he did indeed die and would never return to life.
Later, in the Legends continuity, it was made clear that Anakin’s body did indeed disappear upon his death. That means that Luke burned Vader’s empty armor. However, this is yet to be established in the canon storyline of Star Wars, and that means that, as far as the current canon is concerned, his body didn’t disappear.
Vader’s body didn’t disappear when he died because he couldn’t become truly one with the Living Force upon his death. In Qui-Gon’s case, he was yet to find out how to become one with the Living Force before he died, as he could only do so upon his death. So, when Qui-Gon taught the secrets of the Living Force to both Yoda and Obi-Wan, they became one with the Force before they died, which was why their bodies disappeared.
Does Darth Vader Turn Back to Anakin?
For more than 20 years, Darth Vader tried to compartmentalize his Anakin Skywalker side as he decided to turn his back on who he used to be to focus more on his new life as the Sith Lord who enforced the will of the Empire. In the Obi-Wan Kenobi series, Obi-Wan concluded that Darth Vader had already “killed” Anakin when he saw how deep down into the dark side his old Padawan had plunged into.
However, out of all the people that met Darth Vader, Luke was the only one who never truly gave up on the possibility that Anakin was still inside. So, when Luke was able to appeal to Vader’s fatherly nature, he proved that Vader never truly discarded his identity as Anakin Skywalker. As such, Vader was always Anakin deep inside, even though he tried to forget who and what he used to be before he became a Sith Lord.
The fact that Vader was always Anakin Skywalker was also shown when he turned into a Force Ghost. Only Jedi can turn into Force Ghosts, meaning Anakin died as a Jedi instead of a Sith Lord. He was able to redeem himself at the end of his life as he embraced who he truly was by discarding his Darth Vader persona to become a father and fulfill the prophecy of the Chosen One.