In the pantheon of movie villains, few figures are as imposing or unforgettable as Darth Vader. Though the prequel trilogy demystified the Sith Lord, the original Star Wars trilogy established him as one of the galaxy’s ultimate badasses. Accordingly, the character — played by David Prowse in the original films and voiced by James Earl Jones — has just as much unforgettable dialogue as philosophical enemy Yoda. Here is our rundown of the best Vader quotes from throughout the saga, including some of his key moments. For the record, we’re focusing only on scenes that take place following Anakin Skywalker’s (Hayden Christensen) fall to the dark side during which he receives his famous moniker.
6. “I see through the lies of the Jedi. I do not fear the dark side as you do. I have brought peace, freedom, justice, and security to my new empire.” — Star Wars: Episode III — Revenge of the Sith
Granted, Hayden Christensen’s performance in the latter two films of the prequel trilogy has received much criticism. However, this moment in which Anakin/Vader demonstrates just how far gone he is still stands out. As Obi-Wan (Ewan McGregor) desperately tries to reason with his former friend, he discovers that Anakin’s perspective has been so twisted by Darth Sidious (Ian McDiarmid) that he believes his actions have been in service of a greater good.
5. “I am altering the deal. Pray I don’t alter it any further.” — Star Wars: Episode V — The Empire Strikes Back
The Empire Strikes Back is generally considered the best entry in the saga to date. There’s many reasons why one could argue that point, but perhaps one of the easiest is that the film establishes what a badass Vader really is. As Lando Calrissian (Billy Dee Williams) realizes he is in over his head, Vader illustrates his absolute control over the situation, threatening to make matters even worse for Lando and the residents of Cloud City.
4. “Don’t be too proud of this technological terror you’ve constructed. The ability to destroy a planet is insignificant next to the power of the Force… I find your lack of faith disturbing.” — Star Wars: Episode IV — A New Hope
Back in 1977, audiences had no clue what to expect from George Lucas’s original film. As such, A New Hope naturally served as the world’s first introduction to the concept of the Force. Cryptic but fascinating lines like this one build suspense regarding the inherent power in Vader’s “ancient religion”, and the Sith’s subsequent Force-choking of a high-ranking Imperial officer makes clear both his strength and his dedication to the philosophy that grants him such supernatural abilities.
3. “Just for once let me look on you with my own eyes… You were right. You were right about me. Tell your sister you were right.” — Star Wars: Episode VI — Return of the Jedi
There are a ton of memorable declarations of power and authority attributed to Vader throughout the films, but this quiet, mournful moment still deserves inclusion among them. Rising up to defend his son Luke (Mark Hamill) against the Emperor, Vader knows his demise is imminent and asks his son to remove his mask so that he can truly gaze into his son’s eyes for the first and final time. It’s a tragic end to a terrifying villain, but Vader’s death — in which he confirms Luke’s assertions that there is still good in him — makes it clear that he is in some ways a victim himself.
2. “The circle is now complete. When I left you, I was but the learner. Now I am the master.” — Star Wars: Episode IV — A New Hope
George Lucas wouldn’t make Revenge of the Sith for another 28 years after A New Hope hit theaters. So when Vader faces off with Obi-Wan (Alec Guinness), viewers have no context for their relationship other than the clues sprinkled throughout the film. This fatal encounter includes the most blatant references to their shared past without spoiling the sequel’s revelation (more on that in a moment). Moreover, it reveals the saga’s cyclical nature and is just so damn fun to repeat to adversaries in everyday life.
1. “No, I am your father.” — Star Wars: Episode V — The Empire Strikes Back
Could any other moment top this list? Sure, we all know about this twist now, but in 1980, moviegoers had their collective minds blown by the fact that Vader is, in fact, Luke’s father. More than just a brilliant twist, it deepens the emotional stakes to the film in innumerable ways, developing its character relationships and creating far more suspense in the father and son rematch that would follow in Return of the Jedi. Just don’t fall into the trap of misquoting the line as “Luke, I am your father,” as so many frequently do.
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