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What Is Darth Vader’s Rank?

What Is Darth Vader’s Rank?

Throughout the galaxy, the various military forces have been broken down into military ranks. This division shows an individual’s place within the military hierarchy. 

The Galactic Republic’s clone army is broken down into factions such as Clone Sergeant, Lieutenant, Captain, and Commander. 

As for the Jedi Order, their ranks are broken down into Youngling, Padawan, Service Corps, Jedi Knight, Jedi Consular, Jedi Guardian, Jedi Sentinel, Jedi Master, High Council Members, and Grand Master.

On the other hand, the Galactic Empire’s Imperial Navy is broken down into factions such as Ensign, Lieutenant Commander, Commander, Captain, Vice Admiral, Admiral, and Grand Admiral.

All Imperial Navy Ranks Explained
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Naturally, the Sith Order has its own hierarchical structure and divisions. This led to fans questioning the ranks of their favorite characters. 

In particular, many have asked what Darth Vader’s rank is. So without further ado, let’s explore this topic.

What is Darth Vader’s Rank?

Darth Vader is one of the most impressive and ruthless characters that Star Wars has to offer. The combination of his tragic backstory, emotional range, and unquestionable power made him a pleasure to watch on screen. 

Formerly known as Anakin Skywalker, Darth Vader began his life as a Jedi Knight. 

Anakin's Depressing Childhood at the Jedi Temple [Legends] - Star Wars Explained

As a Jedi, Anakin was incredibly talented and was expected to progress through the Order. However, he had a rebellious streak that his fellow Jedi did not account for. 

This slight tinge of darkness within Anakin was detected by Palpatine (Darth Sidious), who then went on to do whatever it took to nudge Anakin towards the dark side of the Force. 

Of course, his efforts were successful, as Anakin became the powerhouse Sith Lord, Darth Vader.

Darth Vader quickly climbed through the Sith Order’s hierarchical structure. In the Order, Vader seems to wear multiple hats of duty. His major rank was Supreme Commander of the Imperial Forces. 

What Darth Vader's Public Rank was within the Empire

In addition to this, Lord Vader served as Palpatine’s Lieutenant.

Tarkin or Vader: Who Has a Higher Rank?

When Darth Vader made the switch to the dark side, there were other commanders, dark lords, and leaders within the Sith Order. 

Still, Vader reached the top at an accelerated rate. Many in the Star Wars fandom have questioned whether Darth Vader is ranked higher than Grand Moff Tarkin.

To briefly recap: Grand Moff Tarkin, also known as Wilhuss Tarkin, is a military officer and political bureaucrat. 

Grand Moff Tarkin

Similar to Anakin Skywalker, Tarkin began his career serving under the Jedi General, Even Piell. That was until the two were held prisoner by the Confederacy of Independent Systems, and the General eventually died. 

When Tarkin was saved by the rescue team, he found that he and Anakin had something in common. That is, they both believed the Jedi Code got in the way of their military duties. From there, Tarkin joined the Galactic Empire and rose through the ranks

In comparison to Darth Vader, Tarkin technically outranks him, as he has authority over the Outer Rim Territories. So much so, that even Vader had to listen to Tarkin while on the battle station. 

Why Does Darth Vader Take Orders From Grand Moff Tarkin in A New Hope - Star Wars Explained

The one caveat Darth Vader has is that he served as Palpatine’s right-hand man. With that came the perk of potentially being honored to act as Emperor when Emperor Palpatine wasn’t around. 

Who Has a Higher Rank Than Vader?

As we’ve established above, when it comes to military standing, Grand Moff Tarkin is technically ranked higher than Darth Vader. 

But apart from him, there is another dark-side Force user who is ranked higher than Vader. This individual is none other than Emperor Palpatine

Jedi can't sense Palpatine

Per his title, Palpatine is depicted as being the Emperor of the Galactic Empire. As the Emperor, Palpatine was tasked with being the Head of State for the Galactic Empire, and by extension, the Fel and Sith Empires. 

What’s more, Palpatine served as Darth Vader’s mentor from the minute he entered the Dark Side, all the way to when he became the stony-hearted Sith Lord we know today. 

If truth be told, it’s a common theory in the Star Wars communities that Palpatine may have manipulated Anakin into relinquishing his Jedi affiliation. 

How PALPATINE Groomed ANAKIN Skywalker (Canon)

Based on the major role he played in Anakin’s switch to the dark side, as well as being the Head of State of the Empire, it’s safe to say that Palpatine is undoubtedly ranked higher than Darth Vader. 


Despite all that is known about Star Wars, some topics spark more questions in the fandom than others. Whether it be because of the lack of a clear answer, or no answer at all, some queries arise more frequently than others. 

So without further ado, let’s dive into the answer to one of these recurring questions. 

Is Darth Vader the Leader of the Empire?

As we have already established, Darth Sidious, also known as Palpatine, is the Emperor. Ergo, he is the leader of the Empire, and right off the bat, it can be said that Darth Vader is not. 

That said, Darth Vader is the Supreme Commander, as appointed by Emperor Palpatine himself. With this position comes great responsibility. 


Although Palpatine unquestionably had ultimate power over the Imperial Forces, Supreme Commander Darth Vader had authority over many of the military factions. 

Added to this is the fact that Palpatine seemingly had a connection to Darth Vader since day one. Thus, Darth Vader is something of a second in command to Palpatine. 

Palpatine's Thoughts as ANAKIN was Built into VADER


Darth Vader is a warlord deserving of the term “Dark Lord of the Sith.” This powerhouse, once dubbed the “Chosen One,” began his journey as an outstanding Jedi Knight. 

Eventually, his rebelliousness, overflowing emotions, and passionate nature caused him to fall into the dark side of the Force. There, he quickly ascended through the ranks, becoming Supreme Commander. 

Even though this position is esteemed, there are few Sith that are ranked higher than Darth Vader. Namely, there is Grand Moff Tarkin, who technically has more authority over the military than Darth Vader does. 

Then there is Emperor Palpatine, who has ultimate authority over the Imperial Forces, and the Galactic Empire at large, as Head of State and Head of Government. 

That said, as Palpatine’s subordinate, Darth Vader has his command over certain military factions. What’s more, it is theoretically possible for Darth Vader to take over the role of Emperor when Palpatine is not present.

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