The character was created by George Lucas and numerous actors have portrayed him. His appearances span all six Star Wars films, and he is an important character in the expanded universe of television series, video games, novels, literature and comic books. The films establish that he was originally a Jedi who was part depicted in the prophecy of being the Chosen One by restoring balance to the Force but fell to the dark side of the Force; he is also the father of both Luke Skywalker and Princess Leia, the two of the main protagonists of the original trilogy.
In Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace, Anakin Skywalker appears as a nine-year-old slave. Raised on the planet Tatooine by his mother Shmi Skywalker, Anakin had no father, implying miraculous birth. He is a gifted pilot and engineer and has the ability to "see things before they happen". He even creates his own protocol droid C-3PO. Jedi Master Qui-Gon Jinn meets him after an emergency landing on Tatooine. After discovering that Anakin's blood has an unusually high number of midi-chlorians, Qui-Gon becomes convinced the boy is the "Chosen One" foretold by a Jedi prophecy as the one who will bring balance to the Force. Anakin wins his freedom in a podrace, but is forced to part with his mother. Qui-Gon takes Anakin to the Jedi Council, but they forbid training on the grounds that the boy's future is clouded by the fear he exhibits. During the film, Anakin forms a close bond with Naboo Queen Padmé Amidala. During the invasion of Naboo, Anakin helps defeat the Trade Federation by destroying their command ship. After Qui-Gon is killed in a duel with Sith Lord Darth Maul, Obi-Wan Kenobi promises to train Anakin, a proposal the Jedi Council reluctantly accepts. The Galactic Republic's Supreme Chancellor Palpatine befriends the boy.
10 years later in Star Wars Episode II: Attack of the Clones, Anakin Skywalker is depicted as a Padawan learner of Jedi Knight Obi-Wan Kenobi. Palpatine assigns Anakin and Obi-Wan to investigate an assassination attempt made on Senator Padmé Amidala. Anakin travels with Padme to Naboo where they fall in love. Anakin has a vision of his mother in pain and goes to Tatooine, where he learns that she had been kidnapped by Tusken Raiders. He goes to the Tusken camp, where he finds his mother tortured by the tribe and dies in his arms. Anakin flies into a violent rage and kills the entire tribe with his lightsaber. After he returns with his mother's body, he tearfully confesses his crime to Padmé. Soon after, Anakin and Padmé travel to Geonosis to rescue Obi-Wan from Sith Lord Count Dooku (Darth Tyranus) and his Separatists army but they are instead captured and sentenced to be executed. Anakin and Padmé profess their love for each other moments before being rescued by an army of clone troopers and Jedi. During a lightsaber duel with Dooku, Anakin loses his right arm and later has it replaced with a prosthetic. At the end of the film, Anakin and Padmé marry in a secret ceremony.
Three years later in Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith, Anakin Skywalker is a Jedi Knight and hero of the Clone Wars. He and Obi-Wan Kenobi lead an attempt to rescue Palpatine after the Chancellor been kidnapped by Separatist leader General Grievous. During the rescue, Anakin defeats Count Dooku in a lightsaber duel. At Palpatine's urging, Anakin decapitates Dooku in cold blood. When he returns to Coruscant, he meets with Padmé Amidala and discovers she is pregnant with his child. That night, he has a vision of Padmé dying in childbirth; he fears it will come true as it is similar to visions he had of his mother before she died. Meanwhile, Palpatine names Anakin his representative on the Jedi Council; the Council, suspicious of Palpatine's dictatorial power in the Senate, denies Anakin's rank of Jedi Master and asks him to spy on Palpatine, whom Anakin considers a friend and mentor. Angered by the snub and instructions to commit what he believes to be treason, Anakin begins to lose faith in the Jedi.
Palpatine eventually reveals to Anakin that he is Sith Lord Darth Sidious, the mastermind behind the war, and that the dark side holds the power to save Padmé's life. Conflicted, Anakin reports Palpatine to Jedi Master Mace Windu. Despite orders to remain behind, Anakin follows Windu to the Chancellor's office to ensure Palpatine is captured alive. He walks in on Windu ready to kill Palpatine and intervenes on the Sith lord's behalf, severing Windu's lightsaber arm; Palpatine then kills Windu with a blast of Force lightning. Desperate to save his wife, Anakin pledges himself as Sith apprentice Darth Vader.
Palpatine sends his new apprentice to kill every Jedi, and then to assassinate the Separatist leaders on Mustafar. Padmé meets her husband there and pleads with him to flee Palpatine's grasp with her but he refuses, saying that the two of them can overthrow Palpatine and rule the galaxy. When Obi-Wan emerges from Padmé's ship, Anakin accuses her of conspiring against him and uses the Force to choke her into unconsciousness. Anakin then engages Obi-Wan in a lightsaber duel, which ends when Obi-Wan severs Anakin's legs and remaining organic arm in mid-air. Anakin then slides too close to a lava flow and catches fire, sustaining life-threatening third-degree burns. Distraught, Obi-Wan picks up his former friend's lightsaber and leaves him to die.
Later, Palpatine rescues and reconstructs his apprentice's ruined body with the cybernetic limbs and black armor from the original trilogy. When Vader regains consciousness, Palpatine tells him Padmé died as a result of his anger. The news of her death breaks what remains of Anakin's spirit, screaming in torment. Vader is last seen alongside Palpatine and Tarkin viewing the original Death Star's construction.
Introduced in Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope, Darth Vader is depicted as a ruthless cyborg pursuing the film's protagonists. Along with Grand Moff Tarkin, Vader is charged with recovering the Death Star's technical schematics stolen by the Rebel Alliance seeking to overthrow the Galactic Empire. While Luke Skywalker, smugglers Han Solo and Chewbacca, and droids R2-D2 and C-3PO help Princess Leia escape, Vader fights Obi-Wan Kenobi in a lightsaber duel and kills his former master. During the Battle of Yavin, Vader personally leads a squadron of TIE fighters and shoots down several Rebel fighters. After being clipped and sent flying into deep space, he survives the Death Star's explosion.
Three years later in Star Wars Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back, Darth Vader leads an Imperial starfleet in pursuit of the Rebels. Intent on turning Luke Skywalker to the dark side, Vader captures Princess Leia, Han Solo, Chewbacca and C-3PO on Cloud City to use them as bait for Luke. During a lightsaber duel, Vader cuts off Luke's right hand and reveals that he is Luke's father; he then entreats Luke to convert to the dark side so they can "rule the galaxy as father and son". Horrified with Vader's confession, Luke throws himself into Cloud City's reactor core and ultimately escapes aboard the Millennium Falcon. Onboard his Star Destroyer, Vader telepathically tells Luke that it is his destiny to join the dark side.
One year later in Star Wars Episode VI: Return of the Jedi, Luke Skywalker surrenders himself to Darth Vader's Imperial forces in to hopes to turn his father back "to the light side". Vader brings Luke onto the second Death Star, where the Emperor tries to seduce Luke to the dark side.
During their duel, Vader learns Leia's true identity as Luke's twin sister and threatens to turn her to the dark side if Luke will not submit. Enraged, Luke attacks and overpowers Vader, severing his mechanical right hand. At the last minute, Luke realizes he is close to suffering his father's fate, and refuses the Emperor's command to kill Vader and take his place. Enraged, the Emperor unleashes a torrent of Force lightning upon Luke. With the sight of his son's suffering breaking the dark side's hold on himself, Vader kills his former master by throwing him into the Death Star's reactor core but is mortally wounded when the Emperor's lightning surges through his body, shorting out his life support system.
Redeemed, he asks Luke to remove his helmet and, in his dying breaths, tells his son that there was good left in him after all. Luke escapes with his father's remains, which he burns in a funeral pyre. As the Rebels celebrate the destruction of the Death Star and the fall of the Empire, Luke sees his father's spirit standing alongside the spirits of Obi-Wan and Yoda.