Whether you’re a diehard fan of Star Wars or you’ve never seen an episode, it’s more than likely you’ve heard of Darth Vader. Even so, there’s more to the Dark Lord than meets the eye.
Darth Vader began his illustrious career as a Jedi, Anakin Skywalker. As a Jedi, Anakin had many accolades that made him a galaxy-wide name. This doesn’t mean that he had a good life; quite the opposite, but more on that later.
Anakin’s beginning as a Jedi, then becoming the Lord of all things dark side, prompted viewers to ask whether or not Darth Vader is truly a Sith or simply a Dark Jedi.
This is an interesting question, and the answer may not be as simple as it seems. So without further ado, let’s take a trip through the life of Darth Vader.
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What Is a “Dark Jedi”?
Before we get into the meat of the matter, we must define “Dark Jedi.” So what exactly is it?
Sometimes referred to as Fallen Jedi, these were Force-sensitives who had chosen to relinquish their connection to the light side without adopting the dark side.
More often than not, these individuals were Jedi, but over time, the meaning expanded to include those who did not receive Jedi training but were taught by another Dark Jedi.
Additionally, the term “Dark Jedi” involved dark-side Force-sensitives who did not fall under the category of Sith.
In essence, “Dark Jedi” became a blanket term for any Force user who did not belong to the Jedi or Sith.
The term “Dark Jedi” wasn’t as popular as it became during the eras of the Great Sith War and the Jedi Civil War. It was then that the Fallen Jedi fought under the guidance of Exar Kun, Darth Revan, and Darth Malak. After that, the moniker “Dark Jedi” was ultimately retired.
Many millennia later, Emperor Palpatine revived the expression, giving it to those serving him who did not fall into the bracket of Sith. In particular, those agents ruled by Miraluka Jerec became known as the Seven Dark Jedi.
Is Darth Vader a Sith or a Dark Jedi?
As we established, the term “Dark Jedi” was initially used to describe Jedi who gave up their light-side affiliation. Essentially, this is what Darth Vader did, which is why many fans are confused as to whether or not he is a Sith or simply a Dark Jedi.
Even though they are no longer associated with the Jedi, that doesn’t mean a Dark Jedi has joined the Sith.
Going by this definition (and other factors that we’ll get into), we can say with confidence that Darth Vader is a Sith and not a Dark Jedi.
After he fell to the dark side, Anakin Skywalker became the apprentice of the Emperor and Sith Lord, Darth Sidious. What this means is that Anakin was trained in the ways of the Sith, their culture, values, rules, and way of life.
His newfound affiliation with the Sith Order alone proves that Anakin sincerely became a Sith. Just to further demonstrate that Anakin was, in fact, a Sith and not a Dark Jedi, we will take a look at his name change.
The title of “Darth” was a title given to the Sith who fully embraced the dark side of the Force and graduated from the role of apprentice.
Darth is roughly translated to “Dark Lord” and was bestowed on the Sith by their master.
The denomination of Darth was not added to the Sith’s original name, but they were completely renamed by their master. To that end, Anakin Skywalker was given the name Darth Vader by his master, Darth Sidious.
Armed with his new name, Darth Vader (meaning Dark Father), the former Jedi, fully became a part of the Sith Order as an official Sith Lord.
About Darth Vader (Before He Became a Sith)
Darth Vader did not begin his life as a Sith. As we briefly touched on, Darth Vader began his long career in the Force as a Jedi, Anakin Skywalker.
Growing up with his mother (Shmi Skywalker) as a slave on the planet Tatooine, Anakin became a Padawan at the age of nine. Although this was old for a Padawan, Anakin made up for that by creating galactic history.
To begin with, Anakin had the highest known midi-chlorian count at an impressive 20,000 per cell. That, coupled with his determination to be the best, led to Anakin’s ascent up the Order’s ranks. He became a Jedi Knight in an impressive ten years when the average time is double that.
Needless to say, Anakin was on his way to becoming one of the greatest Jedi ever. He gained praise, a reputation that preceded him, and he was even known as the “Chosen One”.
Naturally, this went to his head and stoked Anakin’s ego, which meant he eventually felt entitled to certain things: specifically, being promoted to Jedi Master.
Anakin blatantly disregarded some of the rules in the Jedi Code but still felt as though he should become a Master. What he didn’t account for was the fact that Mace Windu (the person who had the power to make him a Jedi Master) did not trust him.
This mistrust resulted in Anakin remaining at the rank of Jedi Knight. He couldn’t even take the time to try to win Mace over, as he soon became a part of the dark side.
Why Did Anakin Skywalker Turn to the Dark Side?
Some fans have credited Mace’s denial of Anakin with pushing him into the waiting arms of the dark side. While there may be some truth in this claim, it isn’t the entire reason Anakin gave up on the light side.
You see, one of the Jedi rules Anakin broke was the rule against emotional attachments. The Jedi loved his mother, Shmi, and no code of conduct would have stopped that.
This is why, when his mother was brutally tortured by Tusken Raiders on his home planet, Anakin rushed back to hopefully save her life. Unfortunately, he was too late, and all he could do was hold the first woman he loved as she took her last breath.
Understandably, this broke Anakin. He was filled with rage, grief, and worst of all, guilt, perhaps thinking that if he had just gotten there a little earlier, he could have saved her.
Of course, when Anakin met his wife, Padme Amidala, he wanted to do whatever he could to prevent her from suffering the same fate as his mother. Especially since he started having dreams of her death.
Seeing the potential for pure evil lurking within Anakin, Emperor Palpatine took advantage of the situation. He convinced the young, heartbroken, gullible Jedi that the dark side was the only way to get the power he needed to save his loved ones.
To put the icing on the cake, Palpatine orchestrated the perfect scenario to paint the Jedi as the enemy in Anakin’s head.
From that point on, the Jedi (and by extension, the Galactic Republic) became persona non grata to Anakin. He fully immersed himself in the dark side, becoming the stony-hearted Dark Lord we know today.
Sadly, Darth Vader still had to suffer the loss of his wife. What the Dark Father didn’t realize was that the Emperor was behind it all.
Palpatine had a hand in Padme’s death, and it was even theorized that he could have orchestrated the torture of Shmi to break Anakin.
Palpatine also purposefully created a painful life support suit for Darth Vader after his injuries. This ensured that he had to depend on the Empire for maintenance. Additionally, it pushed the emotionally fractured being deeper into the darkness.
While it would not be too outlandish to consider Darth Vader a Dark Jedi, he is a true Sith in every sense of the word.
Even though he began his Force user path as a Jedi, Anakin joined the Sith Order and even became a Sith Lord. This is not something that a Dark Jedi would do, as the very definition of a Dark Jedi means they are devoid of any organization.
Still, it was not Anakin’s intention to join the dark side. On the contrary, Anakin wanted to become the greatest Jedi there was. Things didn’t go as planned, and a series of terrible events led to Anakin embracing the dark side.
These events included the death of his mother and wife, as well as personal weaknesses. Palpatine preyed on the weak points he saw, thus creating the Dark Father.
Ironically, all the self-loathing, guilt, grief, seething rage, and hatred that would have barred Anakin from becoming a Jedi Master were the same things that made him into one of the best Sith Lords in the galaxy.