- "I burn his armor and with it the name of Darth Vader. May the name of Anakin Skywalker be a light that guides the Jedi for generations to come… Rest well, father. The Force is with you."
- ―Luke Skywalker, after lighting the funeral pyre
The funeral of Anakin Skywalker took place on Endor in 4 ABY, after Anakin Skywalker died aboard the second Death Star during the Battle of Endor. Skywalker was redeemed by his son, Luke, and fulfilled the prophecy of the Chosen One by destroying the Sith, but the redemption cost Skywalker his life. Upon death, Skywalker's body disappeared and his soul became one with the Force, leaving behind only the armor of Darth Vader.
Luke escaped the Death Star with his father's armor just before the battle station was destroyed by the Rebel Alliance. Once on Endor, Luke built a funeral pyre and lit the armor on fire, declaring his hope that the name of Anakin Skywalker would be a light to guide the new Jedi. After the funeral ended, Luke joined the Rebel and Ewok victory celebration, where he saw the spirit of his father—along with the spirits of Obi-Wan Kenobi and Yoda—proudly watching the celebration.
- "I'll not 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."
- ―Luke and Anakin Skywalker, in the moments before Anakin's death
During the Battle of Endor in 4 ABY, Darth Vader was redeemed from the dark side of the Force and once again became Anakin Skywalker. His redemption came when he chose to save his son, Luke Skywalker, who was being electrocuted by Emperor Palpatine. Anakin threw Palpatine, his Sith master, down the second Death Star's reactor shaft, killing the Dark Lord of the Sith. Through this decision, Skywalker fulfilled his destiny as the Chosen One and brought balance to the Force through the destruction of the Sith.
The choice to save Luke ended up being a sacrifice; Palpatine's lightning attack hit Anakin when the redeemed Jedi grabbed and threw his master, leading to Skywalker's life-supporting suit of armor becoming damaged. Luke attempted to save his father by bringing him to a shuttle, but Anakin insisted that his death was imminent. At his father's request, Luke removed the helmet from Skywalker's head, allowing the Chosen One to look at his son with his own eyes for the first and last time. Anakin comforted Luke, reminding his son that despite his imminent physical death, Luke had saved him in the one way that truly mattered, and died. His body disappeared, and Anakin became one with the Force.
- "...first you're going to light Lord Vader's funeral—that is your father's funeral pyre, sir?"
"What could be more fitting? It's a night of lights, Ewok victory fires, Rebel fireworks, even the last pieces of the Death Star burning up in the atmosphere."
"Put that way, Master Luke, it does sound appropriate."
- ―C-3PO and Luke Skywalker, during the funeral
With Skywalker's body gone, Luke escaped from the Death Star with the empty armor just before the station was destroyed by the Rebel Alliance. Luke brought the armor to Endor, where the Alliance and the native Ewoks were celebrating the defeat of Palpatine and the Galactic Empire, and constructed a funeral pyre outside of the Ewok village. Although initially alone, he was joined by C-3PO, who asked Luke to join the Ewok victory celebration. Luke told C-3PO he would be right along, but first lit fire to the armor in the hopes that the mistakes of Darth Vader would be shed and that the name of Anakin Skywalker would become a light to guide the new Jedi for generations.
After the funeral, Luke joined the Rebel celebration in the Ewok village, reuniting with his friends, as well as his twin sister Leia Organa. As Luke stepped away from the celebration, he saw the spirits of his Jedi masters, Obi-Wan Kenobi and Yoda, quietly watching the evening's festivities. Anakin appeared beside them, proudly watching his son as Luke looked on, happy to see his father having become one with the Force. Luke bid them farewell and rejoined the celebration, with the knowledge that the Jedi had returned.
Behind the scenes
Anakin Skywalker's funeral is a scene from Star Wars: Episode VI Return of the Jedi, taking place after Anakin's death aboard the second Death Star. When Return of the Jedi was shot, the funeral scene was originally not in the film. It was not until after the conclusion of principal photography that George Lucas and his creative team chose to insert it. Because Anakin's death scene ended with the character in Luke's arms, Lucas was concerned the audience would believe the character was not dead and that he would come back, or there would be audience confusion as to what Luke did with Anakin's body. Producer Howard G. Kazanjian was initially opposed to inserting the scene, which aimed to clarify that potential confusion, but changed his mind once he saw an animatic version of the scene.
With the decision having been made to include the funeral pyre in the film, the scene was then scripted, given a storyboard treatment by Joe Johnston, and shot. The scene was filmed near Skywalker Ranch a few months before Return of the Jedi opened in theaters.
For years, Star Wars canon stated that Anakin's body was burned on the funeral pyre; Return of the Jedi does not show his body disappearing, and the film novelization says that the body was burned. Later, in the Legends continuity, it was established that Anakin's body disappeared after his death, and that Luke burned Darth Vader's empty armor on Endor.
- Star Wars: Episode VI Return of the Jedi (First appearance)
- Star Wars Episode VI: Return of the Jedi novel
- Star Wars Episode VI: Return of the Jedi junior novel
- Star Wars Episode VI: Return of the Jedi radio drama
- The Rise and Fall of Darth Vader
- Dark Apprentice (Mentioned only)
- "Center for the Arts Show"—Star Wars Insider 24
- Return of the Jedi: The National Public Radio Dramatization
- "Dark Father"—Star Wars Galaxy Magazine 11
- Anakin Skywalker: The Story of Darth Vader
- Star Wars: The Official Starships & Vehicles Collection 3
- Star Wars: The Card Game – Between the Shadows (Card: Funeral Pyre) (Picture only)
Notes and references
- Star Wars: Episode VI Return of the Jedi
- Star Wars Episode VI: Return of the Jedi radio drama
- Star Wars: Episode III Revenge of the Sith DVD commentary
- Archive of Anakin Skywalker Databank entry
- The Life and Legend of Obi-Wan Kenobi
- The Making of Return of the Jedi
- Star Wars Episode VI: Return of the Jedi film novelization