The climactic duel between Jedi Luke Skywalker and his father, Sith Lord Darth Vader, is one of the most memorable battles of any movie. The moments following this battle are every bit as memorable.
But perhaps you’re struggling to remember the conversation that happened as Vader died in Luke’s arms. What did the Sith Lord say to his son as he breathed his last breath?
Many fans argue that the last words spoken by Darth Vader were actually uttered by a redeemed Anakin Skywalker. These words were, “You were right about me. Tell your sister you were right.”
What Were Darth Vader’s Last Words to Luke?
In Star Wars Episode VI: Return of the Jedi, Luke famously allowed himself to be captured and taken aboard the Second Death Star. What followed was one of the most iconic showdowns in cinema history–a lightsaber duel between Luke and his father, Darth Vader.
By the time of this duel, Luke and Vader had already developed quite a history.
Four years earlier, Luke had rescued his sister, Princess Leia, from Vader and, shortly thereafter, destroyed the first Death Star.
Sometime following, Emperor Palpatine/Darth Sidious had informed Vader that Luke was the son of Anakin Skywalker–Vader’s former identity when he fought as a Jedi on the light side of the Force.
After learning he was Luke’s father, Vader set a trap for him and tried to turn him to the dark side. But Luke was stubborn and good-hearted; after recovering from his injuries and the shock of learning who his father really was, he set out to redeem Vader, believing there was still good in him.
These events led to the epic showdown that provided the climax in Return of the Jedi.
The duel between Luke and Vader took place with Emperor Palpatine looking on. Before either of them drew their lightsabers, the Emperor taunted Luke with the knowledge that the Rebel Alliance was flying into a trap, attempting to provoke anger in him.
Luke and Vader crossed blades and the Emperor laughed at his apparent victory. But Luke held his own in the duel, showing his skills had greatly improved since their previous meeting.
That said, he nearly lost control of his emotions at times, especially toward the end of the duel when Vader read his mind and discovered he had a sister. Vader attempted to use this knowledge against Luke.
“If you will not turn to the dark side,” he taunted, “then perhaps she will.”
These words prompt the response he was looking for, as Luke explodes back into the duel, allowing rage and desperation to fuel his actions until he finally disarmed Vader.
But, in the moment before killing his father, he catches himself and throws down his lightsaber, refusing to fight any more. “I am a Jedi,” he tells Palpatine. “Like my father before me.”
In response to this, Palpatine shoots Luke with Force lightning. As Luke writhes in agony and pleads with his father to help him, Vader seems momentarily uncertain what to do.
Then he makes up his mind. He picks up Palpatine and throws him down an energy shaft, becoming mortally wounded as he takes on the full force of the Emperor’s Force lightning.
At the same time, the Rebel Alliance has managed to continue their assault on the Death Star. As it becomes clear the battle station is about to be destroyed, Luke attempts to help his father get to a starfighter so they can escape. But Vader is too weak.
The following exchange ensued:
“Luke, help me take this mask off.”
“But you’ll die!”
“Nothing can stop that now. Just for once, let me look on you with my own eyes.”
Luke did as he was asked and saw his father’s badly scarred face for the first time. A moment later, as the battle station threatened to explode, Vader said, “Now…go, my son. Leave me.”
“No,” Luke replied, “you’re coming with me. I won’t leave you here. I’ve got to save you!”
“You already have, Luke. You were right. You were right about me. Tell your sister… you were right…”
These were the last words of the iconic Darth Vader.
Some fans argue that he spoke these words after being redeemed; thus, he was no longer Darth Vader, but Anakin Skywalker.
From this point of view, Vader’s last words were actually spoken when he taunted Luke about turning his sister to the dark side.
Regardless, the last words of the redeemed villain, the ones spoken right before his death, make for a tender and emotional moment in the trilogy.
It is a moment that’s often quoted and recognized even by those who aren’t well-acquainted with the Star Wars franchise.
Why Did Darth Vader Die?
You may be wondering what actually caused Darth Vader/Anakin Skywalker’s death. After all, Luke was struck by more Force lightning than Vader was; so why did Vader die and Luke appear uninjured?
The blame lies with the iconic life support suit Vader wore.
The suit had many purposes, allowing Vader to breathe, move, and continue other vital functions following what would have otherwise been mortal injuries he sustained on Mustafar. But the suit had a weakness; it was electrically powered, so it could be shorted out by electricity.
The Force lightning Palpatine hit him with was so powerful that it quickly shorted out his suit so it no longer functioned at all.
Without the suit, Vader was not able to breathe; his body was still badly scarred and injured from his duel on Mustafar and so, with his suit no longer keeping him alive, he simply couldn’t survive for more than a few minutes.
This is why Vader died. His death was not caused by the removal of his mask, but by the fact that his suit no longer functioned.
Darth Vader spoke his last words to his son, Luke, after being redeemed as Anakin Skywalker.
He told Luke, “You were right about me” and asked him to tell his sister that he had been right all along. Then he succumbed to his injuries after his life support suit was shorted out by Force lightning.
Sarah Hood is a freelance content writer and editor with a love for all things Star Wars. When she’s not writing, she enjoys cooking, singing, and spending time in the great outdoors.