In the aftermath of the Galactic Empire's defeat against the Alliance to Restore the Republic during the Battle of Endor, the Jedi Knight Luke Skywalker held a funeral for his father, Anakin Skywalker, on the Forest Moon of Endor. During the battle, Anakin, who had been known as the Sith Lord Darth Vader, was redeemed by Luke and brought balance to the Force. However, the redemption cost Anakin his life, having been mortally wounded by the Emperor, Darth Sidious, while killing his former Master.
After his death, Anakin became one with the Force. Luke escaped the DS-2 Death Star, where Anakin had died, just before the battle station was destroyed by the Rebel Alliance. Once on Endor, Luke built a funeral pyre and lit his father's empty armor on fire. After the funeral ended, Luke joined the Rebels and the native Ewoks for a victory celebration, where he saw the spirit of his father—along with the spirits of Jedi Masters 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."
- ―Luke and Anakin Skywalker, in the moments before Anakin's death
During the Battle of Endor in 4 ABY, a climactic engagement of the Galactic Civil War between the Galactic Empire and the Alliance to Restore the Republic, the Dark Lord of the Sith Darth Vader and his son, Luke Skywalker, faced one another in a final lightsaber duel aboard the second Death Star, a battle station capable of destroying an entire planet. Luke defeated his father and proclaimed himself a Jedi Knight but was attacked by the Emperor, Darth Sidious, who used Force lightning in an attempt to kill Luke. Refusing to watch his son die, Vader—who still had good within him—threw his Master down a reactor shaft. This act redeemed Vader from the dark side of the Force, and he once again became Anakin Skywalker. With Sidious dead, the Sith were defeated.
The choice to save Luke was ultimately a sacrifice, as Sidious' lightning damaged Anakin's life-support systems when the redeemed Jedi threw the Emperor down the shaft. Anakin's redemption and Sidious' death brought balance to the Force, and Anakin fulfilled his destiny as the Chosen One. Luke attempted to save Anakin by bringing him to a shuttle, where they could escape the Death Star, but Anakin knew that his death was imminent. At his father's request, Luke removed Darth Vader's helmet from Anakin's head, allowing the former Sith Lord to look upon his son with his own eyes for the first and last time. In his final moments, Anakin comforted Luke, reminding his son that there had always been good in him—just as Luke had believed. Anakin then passed away, and his body disappeared into the light side of the Force.
Luke escaped the Death Star with his father's armor moments before the battle station was destroyed by the Rebel Alliance at the battle's end. The death of the Emperor and the destruction of the Death Star led to the defeat of the Empire and the restoration of freedom to the galaxy. Luke brought Anakin's armor to nearby Endor, where the Rebel Alliance and the native Ewoks were celebrating the Emperor's defeat, and constructed a funeral pyre near the Ewok village. When the pyre was constructed, Luke lit it aflame and burned his father's armor, leaving behind the twisted remains of Darth Vader's helmet.
The funeral held importance for Luke, but he knew that for anyone else, the sight of Vader's helmet in flames would be cause for rejoicing. As such, Luke was careful to hold the funeral well away from others.
As Vader's armor burned, the droids C-3PO and R2-D2 found Luke in the forest. C-3PO expressed his joy at seeing Luke alive and suggested that the young Jedi join the celebration with his fellow rebels in the Ewok village. Once there, Luke reunited with his friends, including his twin sister, Leia Organa. Luke briefly stepped away from the celebration and saw the spirits of his Jedi Masters, Obi-Wan Kenobi and Yoda, quietly observing the evening's festivities. Anakin's spirit, which had been preserved by Kenobi and Yoda, materialized beside the two Jedi Masters, appearing as he had before he fell to the dark side of the Force. Together, the three watched as Luke looked on. Luke bid them farewell and rejoined the celebration, his journey to becoming a Jedi Knight complete.
Vader's helmet was scavenged from his funeral pyre in the aftermath of the Battle of Endor. Thirty years after the funeral, the charred and melted helmet was in the possession of Vader's grandson, Kylo Ren. He spoke to the twisted helmet for guidance, and the helmet acted as a symbol of the power of the dark side—as well as its weaknesses, as Ren believed that it was Darth Vader's sentiment in saving Luke that brought down the Empire.
Behind the scenes
Anakin Skywalker's funeral is a scene from the ending of Star Wars: Episode VI Return of the Jedi. When the film was first shot, the funeral scene was not part of the movie. Only after the conclusion of principal photography did George Lucas and his creative team decide to add the scene. Anakin's death had ended with the character in Luke's arms, which created concern that the audience might think Anakin was still alive or, according to editor Duwayne Dunham, that Luke had left his father's body aboard the second Death Star. Producer Howard G. Kazanjian was opposed to the scene at first but changed his mind after viewing an animatic version of it. Once the decision was made to include the funeral pyre, the scene was scripted, given a storyboard treatment by Joe Johnston, and filmed at Skywalker Ranch in Marin County, California.
The events of the funeral were briefly expanded upon in the Star Wars LINE Webtoon, a web comic retelling of the original trilogy from Luke Skywalker's point of view. The LINE Webtoon and its storyline are approved by Lucasfilm, though cultural interpretation affords the storyline some leeway in terms of strictly following canon. The comic's depiction is similar to that of the 1996 Return of the Jedi radio drama, in which C-3PO finds Luke at Darth Vader's funeral pyre.
On April 16, 2015, Lucasfilm released the second teaser trailer for Star Wars: The Force Awakens, the seventh live-action installment of the franchise. The teaser included a brief shot of the scorched and twisted mask of Darth Vader, a shot that was present in the final cut of the film.
- Star Wars: Episode VI Return of the Jedi (First appearance)
- Return of the Jedi: Beware the Power of the Dark Side!
- Star Wars: Return of the Jedi junior novelization
- Episode VI: Return of the Jedi Read-Along Storybook and CD (Mentioned only)
- Star Wars LINE Webtoon
- Star Wars: The Story of Darth Vader
- Star Wars: The Force Awakens: The Visual Dictionary
- Darth Vader: Sith Lord
- Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker: The Visual Dictionary
Notes and references