Star Wars: How Long Was Anakin Darth Vader?

vader broken mask

First introduced as the villain named Darth Vader, Anakin Skywalker is the tragic hero of Star Wars as he fell from grace after getting named the Chosen One by the Jedi when he was still just a boy. Of course, we all know that Anakin became the Sith Lord named Darth Vader and became the lap dog of Emperor Palpatine during the reign of the Galactic Empire. But how long was Anakin Darth Vader?

Anakin Skywalker was Darth Vader for 23 years as he turned into a Sith Lord during the start of the Empire and stayed such until the death of Emperor Palpatine. He fell from grace on 19 BBY and was redeemed when he killed Darth Sidious and ended his reign of terror on 23 ABY.

Since Anakin fell to the dark side at 22, he was Darth Vader longer than Anakin Skywalker. In that regard, a good part of his life was spent as a villain that terrorized the entire galaxy and forced different systems to bow down to the might of the Empire. Now, let’s talk more about how long Anakin was Darth Vader.

When Did Anakin Become Darth Vader?

When we think about Anakin Skywalker, we can’t help but think about how tragic of a hero that started out as a character that could change the entire galaxy but ended up falling from grace. He was initially regarded as the person that could bring balance to the Force, which was why the Jedi Order thought Anakin could be the hero to help destroy the Sith. 

However, Anakin’s attachments to the people he loved did him in. When he had dreams about the death of his beloved Padme Amidala, he started worrying more about her than his duties as a Jedi Knight. That was what Chancellor Palpatine, secretly the Sith Lord named Darth Sidious, needed to pull him over to the dark side of the Force as he saw that Anakin had a weakness that he could try to take advantage of.


Fooling Anakin into thinking that the Sith had secrets about the Force that could help him save Padme from death, he decided to save Palpatine from the Jedi when Jedi Master Mace Windu was about to strike the Sith Lord down. Anakin needed Palpatine to stay alive if he wanted to save Padme, and that was why he betrayed Windu and allowed Sidious to deal the killing blow to the Jedi Master. That was when Anakin’s decision to turn to the dark side became final as Darth Sidious took him in as his apprentice and gave him the name “Darth Vader.”


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Anakin’s fall to the dark side took place on 19 BBY, 19 years after the Battle of Yavin, which eventually became the turning point in the galaxy’s history. It was after Anakin turned into Darth Vader that the Jedi Order steadily fell. Palpatine initiated Order 66 to compel the clones to turn on their Jedi Generals and kill them in cold blood. Meanwhile, Anakin was ordered to massacre anyone still in the Jedi Temple on Coruscant, as both Yoda and Obi-Wan Kenobi saw the footage of him killing younglings in the temple.


Anakin’s actions allowed Palpatine to reform the Galactic Republic into the Galactic Empire. He fooled the Senate into believing that the Jedi Order had turned on him and tried to take his life after defeating the Separatists. In that regard, Anakin’s betrayal was one of the turning points in the history of the galaxy. And after he lost his duel with Obi-Wan Kenobi on Mustafar and learned that Padme had died, he became the robotic cyborg that clung to rage and hatred throughout his entire life to become strong and terrifying.

Anakin Was Darth Vader for as Long as The Empire Existed

As mentioned, Anakin became Darth Vader on 19 BBY, just mere moments before Chancellor Palpatine initiated Order 66 and reformed the Republic into the Empire. That means that Anakin’s turn to the dark side coincided with the transition of the Republic into the Empire, with Palpatine sitting on the throne of the galaxy as the emperor.

Anakin and Palpatine ushered in a reign of terror that was uncontested for many years due to the fact that there was no longer a Jedi Order that could oppose the Empire. Meanwhile, all of the other military forces around the galaxy were either disbanded or consolidated into a central military force within the Empire. As such, it took a while for those who opposed the Empire to find enough people and resources to try to resist the power of the emperor and the Imperial reign of terror.

Eventually, the insurgents around the galaxy consolidated themselves to form one big Rebel faction that opposed the rule of the Empire. But the Rebels struggled to find their footing for many years. But Luke Skywalker’s rise as the hope of the galaxy coincided with the first true victory of the Rebellion during the Battle of Yavin, which saw the Rebels destroying the Death Star and giving hope to the Rebellion. This happened on 0 BBY, as this event marked the turning point for the galaxy and the Rebels.


Anakin Skywalker vs. Darth Vader: Who Would Win in a Fight?

Four years after the Battle of Yavin, Luke Skywalker confronted his father, Darth Vader, and Emperor Palpatine inside the second Death Star. Luke dueled with his father and defeated him in a fated meeting between the Skywalkers. When Palpatine tried to pull Luke over to his side to replace Anakin as his new apprentice, the younger Skywalker declined the offer.

Sidious blasted Luke with his Force Lightning as the son pleaded with the father to help him. That was when Darth Vader redeemed himself by becoming Anakin Skywalker once more as he threw the emperor down the reactor shaft of the second Death Star, killing Darth Sidious and ending the reign of the Empire in the process. However, the emperor’s Force Lightning also damaged Vader’s life-support system, as the former Sith Lord died in a sacrifice that made him worthy of the Anakin Skywalker name once more.

vader no mask

Anakin Skywalker was Darth Vader for a total of 23 years because he turned into a Sith Lord on 19 BBY but was redeemed on 4 ABY. As such, he was Vader for as long as the Empire existed. It was his actions during Order 66 that helped usher in the Empire. And it was the fact that he turned on the emperor and killed Palpatine that ended the Empire as well.

Considering that Anakin Skywalker was just 22 years old when he fell to the dark side, it is clear that he was a Sith Lord longer than he was alive before he fell to the dark side. That is why it isn’t surprising that Anakin had forgotten who he was, considering that he was Darth Vader for 23 years.

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