As the villain of the original Star Wars trilogy, Darth Vader has made a huge impact. With his black armor, heavy breathing and powerful abilities, he's one of the scariest villains we've ever seen on the big screen. More than what he looks like, Vader is scary because of what he does. When we first saw him in 1977's Star Wars, Darth Vader lifted a man off the ground and crushed his neck. Vader cut a path of destruction through the movies, ending with his death in 1983 with Star Wars: Episode VI - Return of the Jedi. In the second trilogy, we saw how Anakin Skywalker went from Jedi Knight to a fearsome villain, and we saw how the man became a monster.
When it comes to the Dark Lord of the Sith, he has a long list of crimes, but there are a few that stand out. He made a fall from a time as a hero, so he has some good in his ledger, and we want to cover that, too. With Darth Vader casting a shadow in Star Wars: The Last Jedi, CBR wants to run down the 11 worst things he did, along with the five best.
16 WORST: KILLED COUNT DOOKU
In Star Wars: Episode Two - Attack of the Clones, Anakin Skywalker first faced Count Dooku. Dooku claimed to be a leader of the Separatist movement that was tearing the Galaxy apart but was really working under the orders of the Sith Lord Sidious. In the climax, Dooku knocked out Obi-Wan Kenobi and cut off Anakin's right hand. The two had a rematch in Star Wars: Episode Three - Revenge of the Sith where Anakin defeated Dooku and beheaded the leader.
Count Dooku was beaten. He had no hands, so he was defenseless. There was no excuse for Anakin killing Dooku other than a desire for revenge. The murder of a helpless prisoner was the start of Anakin's fall to the Dark Side, encouraged by Senator Palpatine.
15 WORST: DESTROYED ALDERAAN
Of course, when you talk about Darth Vader and evil, you have to talk about Alderaan. In Star Wars: A New Hope, the Empire was ready to reveal the Death Star to the galaxy, but Princess Leia and the rebels had stolen the plans to the battle station. To make her reveal the location of the rebel base, Darth Vader and Grand Moff Tarkin threatened to destroy her homeworld of Alderaan. Even when she gave them a location, Alderaan was destroyed anyway.
This would be higher on the list if Darth Vader had been the one who actually gave the order to destroy the planet or pushed the button. As it was, he was more of an observer than the one who blew up Alderaan. He didn't stop the attack, though, so the billions of deaths are on his head.
14 WORST: SLAUGHTERED TUSKEN RAIDERS
When Anakin was a young boy, he was taken to the Jedi Temple on Coruscant to become a Jedi Knight, leaving his mother Shmi Skywalker behind. Years later, in Star Wars: Episode II - Attack of the Clones, Anakin had visions of his mother's suffering until he finally went back to Tatooine to find out what happened. It turned out his mother had been kidnapped by a group of Tusken Raiders, who tortured to death.
In his rage, Anakin slaughtered the entire village of Raiders, including women, children and animals. The bloodbath was so bad that Qui-Gon Jinn cried out as a ghost from the afterlife to stop him. It wasn't the first time Anakin killed but it was so horrific and from a place of such anger that it pushed Anakin from the light side into darkness.
13 WORST: BEAT RUSH CLOVIS
What's a romance without a rival? Anakin's rival showed up on Star Wars: The Clone Wars with Rush Clovis, a former lover of Padme from Naboo who went on to become a senator. He betrayed the Republic to the Trade Federation and went on to work for the InterGalactic Banking Clan. The whole time, Anakin resented the relationship between Clovis and Padme.
In the sixth season, the rivalry came to a head with "The Rise of Clovis" when Anakin walked in on Clovis trying to kiss her. Anakin used the Force to choke him and fought hand-to-hand. The fight wasn't the most brutal of Anakin's, but it was the most personal with his jealousy and rage driving him to almost kill Clovis. Only Padme was able to stop him.
12 WORST: KILLED TWI'LEK VILLAGE
In the 2015 novel Lords of the Sith by Paul S. Kemp, the Free Ryloth movement was introduced into the Star Wars universe. Originally just a movement dedicated to freeing the planet Ryloth, it turned into a huge army with safe houses and resources that made it a threat to the Empire. The movement was such a threat that the Emperor and Vader went personally to Ryloth to stop it. The Free Ryloth movement took the chance to attack them, forcing their ship to crash.
The Emperor and Vader were led to a nearby Twi'lek village by an innocent girl who didn't know who they were. They were taken in and helped by the kind villagers, claiming to be lost travelers. How did Vader repay their kindness? By slaughtering everyone in the village to get rid of the witnesses.
11 WORST: FOUGHT AHSOKA TANO
When he took on Ahsoka as his Padawan (apprentice) in 2008's Star Wars: Clone Wars, the two butted heads often with their differing styles. Eventually, the two Jedi became close friends, and she helped him grow more stable. After his fall to the Dark Side, Anakin became Darth Vader without Ahsoka's knowledge.
She survived Order 66 that killed most of the other Jedi and joined the crew on Star Wars: Rebels in season 2 fighting the Empire. "Twilight of the Apprentice" brought Ahsoka into a battle with Vader. Did Vader see the error of his ways? Did he hesitate to fight the young woman he had once cared for as a girl? No, he attacked her brutally and almost killed her. It was the ultimate betrayal of his friendship, in some ways worse than his fight with Obi-Wan.
10 WORST: KILLED CYLO MULTIPLE TIMES
The mad scientist Cylo introduced in 2015's Star Wars: Darth Vader #1 (Kieron Gillen, Salvador Larroca) started out as Darth Vader's savior and became his worst threat. Cylo was the one who designed the exoskeleton for Anakin that turned him into a cyborg but also carried out a secret program authorized by Emperor Palpatine to make replacements for Vader.
Vader had no love for Cylo, who had a series of clones to upload his mind into after his death. In fact, Vader tortured Cylo's fourth body to death to get the location of the Emperor's apprentices. After beating Cylo's creations, Vader managed to kill Cylo once and for all by commanding Cylo's living starship to fly into a star, destroying the scientist and all his remaining clones.
9 WORST: TORTURED HIS DAUGHTER
In the opening of Star Wars: Episode IV - A New Hope, Darth Vader led the charge to stop and seize the Tantive IV, a diplomatic ship of Princess Leia Organa. She was exposed as a member of the Rebel Alliance and Vader wanted her to give the location of the rebel base and the plans for the Death Star. When she refused, he brought an interrogation droid into her cell to torture her. On top of that, Leia turned out to be his own daughter.
You could make the case that Vader didn't know Leia was his daughter, but would that really make a difference? He tortured a diplomat, an innocent young woman for information. The fact that she turned out to be his daughter only makes a horrible crime worse.
8 WORST: DESTROYED THE JEDI ORDER
In Star Wars: Episode III - Revenge of the Sith, Senator Palpatine released his final plan to get rid of the Jedi Order and place himself as the Emperor of the Galaxy. He had to pull a lot of strings, including Order 66, which turned the clone troopers against the Jedi. A big part of his plan involved Anakin Skywalker, who he led to corruption and turned into Darth Vader. Vader's first act was to lead a squadron of troops to the Jedi Temple.
Overnight, Vader destroyed the temple and killed the Jedi found inside. He carried out the ultimate betrayal, slaughtering the ones who had been his friends and allies just moments before. The death of Mace Windu was one of the worst, since Windu had been on the verge of stopping Palpatine.
7 WORST: SLAUGHTERED YOUNGLINGS
In Star Wars: Episode III - Revenge of the Sith, we finally saw Anakin Skywalker go from Jedi Knight to Sith Lord. Driven by a desire to save his wife and unborn children, he pledged himself to Darth Sidious in exchange for power over life and death. One of his first acts as Darth Vader was to lead clone troopers into the Jedi Temple to purge it. That included the younglings.
Children in training among the Jedi are known as Jedi initiates or younglings, and we had seen a group of children under Yoda's guidance in Attack of the Clones. In the attack on the Jedi temple, Vader walked into the room with the younglings in hiding and triggered his lightsaber. Obi-Wan later confirmed the children had been killed. Killing his fellow Jedi knights was bad enough, but murdering a group of innocent children was unforgivable.
6 WORST: KILLED PADME
One of the most emotional moments in Star Wars: Revenge of the Sith came when Anakin Skywalker faced Padme Amidala on Mustafar over his fall from the light to the dark. After accusing her of betraying him, he used the Force to choke her until she collapsed. Later, she gave birth to his children Luke and Leia and died.
What exactly did Padme die from? The medical droid said she was healthy but lost her will to live because of Anakin's betrayal. Some have suggested it's more likely she died from Anakin choking her unconscious. Either way, it's all Anakin's fault, which is ironic since he turned to the dark side to try to save her in the first place. His love for her was what ultimately killed her, and one of his worst crimes.
5 BEST: DESTROYED TRADE FEDERATION MOTHERSHIP
In Star Wars: Episode One - The Phantom Menace, Anakin Skywalker was a young boy who still managed to be a hero. Not only did he win a pod race to get the Queen her parts to repair her ship, but Anakin later climbed into a starfighter and "accidentally" blasted some droids and launched himself into space. There, he found his way aboard the Trade Federation mothership and blew it up.
That's how Anakin destroyed the Federation's blockade of Naboo and shut down all the droids attacking the planet's surface. With that one act, he saved the planet of Naboo and also ended the conflict Queen Amidala had spent all her time trying to stop. Not only was it a heroic move, it also set him on the path to becoming a Jedi Knight.
4 BEST: FOUGHT THE CLONE WARS
In Star Wars: Episode II - Attack of the Clones, the conflict between the Separatists and the Trade Federation turned into a civil war. When Anakin and Obi-Wan went to stop the droid factories on Geonosis, they also found out about the existence of a secret army of clones that became the troopers of the Republic.
Starting in 2008, the Star Wars: Clone Wars TV series showed how Anakin went from a brash and temperamental youth to a mature military leader. He fought countless battles and saved dozens of worlds, which adds up to billions of lives saved. Without Anakin, the Clone Wars might have ended in disaster. His military record is one that is almost as impressive as his brutal history of Darth Vader. His heroism during the war doesn't erase his evil, but it does put it in a different light.
3 BEST: SAVED HIS SON
In Star Wars: Episode V - The Empire Strikes Back, Luke Skywalker and Darth Vader had their first duel on screen. While battling through the halls and machines of Cloud City, Luke fought the Dark Lord with all his skill and strength. Unfortunately, he wasn't a fully trained Jedi yet and was beaten. Vader even cut off Luke's right hand.
While there are a lot who could argue that was one of Vader's worst acts, it was actually one of his best. That's because Darth Vader could have killed Luke instead of maiming him. He could just have easily cut Luke in half. Vader cutting off Luke's hand was his way of ending the duel without killing his son, and also gave him the chance to reveal what Luke meant to him.
2 BEST: KILLED THE EMPEROR
For almost Anakin's entire life, Senator Palpatine was a presence manipulating and controlling him. He became the Chancellor and took Anakin under his wing as a mentor and friend, quietly guiding him onto the path to the Dark Side. He saved Anakin from dying on a lava flow on Mustafar, and raised him up to become Darth Vader.
In Star Wars: Episode VI - Return of the Jedi, all that changed. Darth Vader took Luke Skywalker to the Emperor to be turned to the Dark Side. When Luke refused, the Emperor tried to kill Luke with force lightning. Vader hurled the Emperor to his death. By killing the Emperor, Vader not only saved his son's life, he also destroyed the Sith Lord, ending decades of terror. The end of the Emperor was the end of the Empire, and brought peace to the Galaxy.
1 BEST: BALANCED THE FORCE
The Sith and the Jedi have been fighting each other for thousands of years, and their war is a battle for control of the Force. By their very existence, the Sith have thrown the Force out of balance, tilting it to the Dark Side. By taking over the Galaxy, killing the Jedi and raising up Darth Vader, Darth Sidious put the Force even more out of balance so the Light Side was almost put out.
In The Phantom Menace, Anakin was called the Chosen One, in reference to an ancient prophecy that someone would bring balance to the Force between the light and the dark side. Anakin fulfilled that prophecy by killing the Emperor and himself, which destroyed the Sith, bringing the light side back in control of the Force again. That's how Darth Vader saved us all.