We know that Darth Vader has always been one of the most iconic characters in the world of Star Wars, as no other character is just as iconic as him regarding his presence and cultural impact. That is why Vader has appeared in many different Star Wars movies, shows, and games, both as Anakin Skywalker and the Dark Lord of the Sith. And while he has appeared in many different comic books in canon as well, we’re not going to get there.
The fact of the matter is that Star Wars would never be complete without Darth Vader, and that’s why he has always been used to attract fans to a Star Wars movie, show, or game. Of course, the legends aspect of Star Wars also has a good amount of Vader appearances. But we’re only going to discuss what’s canon here. So, that said, let’s look at all of Vader’s appearances in chronological order.
How many movies and shows have Darth Vader appeared in canon?
Darth Vader appeared in 12 movies & TV Shows, either as Anakin Skywalker or the fallen Sith Lord. When it comes to Star Wars, no other villain comes close to how iconic Darth Vader is because he has always been in the mix regarding the storyline of the main Star Wars movies. Of course, while other characters are important in the galaxy, the former Anakin Skywalker was the one who launched the entire Star Wars Skywalker Saga as he has appeared in almost all of the mainline movies and made several more appearances in shows and video games.
Darth Vader has appeared in a total of eight Star Wars movies. He appeared in all of the movies of the original trilogy and the sequel trilogy, where his story as Anakin Skywalker was told. Anakin returned in the 2008 animated ‘Clone Wars’ movie. Vader also had a cameo appearance in a spin-off movie. Meanwhile, he appeared in four Star Wars shows.
Darth Vader movies & appearances in order (at a glance)
- ‘Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope’ (1977)
- ‘Star Wars Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back’ (1980)
- ‘Star Wars Episode VI: Return of the Jedi’ (1983)
- ‘Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace’ (1999)
- ‘Star Wars Episode II: Attack of the Clones’ (2002)
- ‘Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith’ (2005)
- ‘Star Wars: The Clone Wars’ Movie (2008)
- ‘Star Wars: The Clone Wars’ Series (2008-2020)
- ‘Star Wars: Rebels’ (2014)
- ‘Rogue One: A Star Wars Story’ (2016)
- ‘Obi-Wan Kenobi’ (2022)
- ‘Star Wars: Tales of the Jedi’ (2022)
Are Darth Vader movies & shows connected? Do you need to watch them in a specific order?
All Darth Vader movies and TV shows are connected and set within the same universe and should be watched in a specific order. Following the iconic villain, all his appearances in Star Wars media are following his days as a Jedi Knight, his journey to falling to the dark side, and at last, his rule of fear while serving as the most ruthless Sith empire enforcer in the recent memory.
What is the best way to watch Darth Vader movies & shows?
When it comes to Vader’s life, the best way to watch all related media is in chronological watch order, as this will allow you to make sense of the timeline and the events that took place the most. You can always watch all the media in their respective release orders, but in that case, prepare to witness the life of Anakin Skywalker / Darth Vader in a sort of reverse order. But, if you plan on getting the whole experience, we’ve prepared the full chronological order in the rest of this post.
Darth Vader movies and appearances in chronological order
1. ‘Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace’ (1999)
The very first appearance of Darth Vader in the Star Wars chronology of events was in ‘Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace.’ But he was yet to be Vader here because he was just an innocent nine-year-old slave boy named Anakin Skywalker, who was born with the highest Midi-chlorian count in the history of the galaxy and was said to be the Chosen One that was supposed to bring balance to the Force.
Anakin’s origin story started in this movie as Jedi Master Qui-Gon Jinn and Padawan Obi-Wan Kenobi found him on Tatooine and eventually brought him to the Jedi Temple to be trained in the ways of the Force. Qui-Gon’s final wish as he died was for Obi-Wan to train Anakin, which was how this bond between the fated rivals started.
2. ‘Star Wars Episode II: Attack of the Clones’ (2002)
Continuing the story of Anakin Skywalker’s rise as a Jedi Knight was ‘Star Wars Episode II: Attack of the Clones.’ The movie showed Anakin ten years after ‘The Phantom Menace’ as he was now a true Jedi Padawan with all the talents in the world but was impatient and had an inner darkness that he struggled to contain. He was shown to be a very caring man but was far too attached to the people he loved, including Padmé Amidala, who he fell in love with even though the Jedi weren’t supposed to fall in love.
Anakin’s darkness was seen when he slaughtered Tusken Raiders without any remorse after they killed his mother. The movie also detailed the start of the Clone Wars, which was the most important part of the rise of the Empire. And Anakin ended up secretly marrying Padmé at the end of the movie.
3. ‘Star Wars: The Clone Wars’ Movie (2008)
In 2008, ‘Star Wars: The Clone Wars’ was released as a 3D-animated movie detailing the events of the Clone Wars, which happened right after ‘Attack of the Clones.’ This was a retelling of the non-canon Clone Wars cartoons released several years back. Of course, Anakin was one of the important characters in this movie.
In this movie, Anakin finally got the chance to become a teacher because he was given a Padawan in the form of the young Ahsoka Tano, who eventually became one of the most important characters in Star Wars. The movie showed the early relationship between the master and the apprentice. Of course, this movie also served as the start of the more successful Clone Wars series.
4. ‘Star Wars: The Clone Wars’ Series (2008-2020)
Following the release of the Clone Wars movie, ‘Star Wars: The Clone Wars’ was released as a TV series with seven seasons. The series showcased many stories regarding the Clone Wars, as we saw Anakin returning in another role as one of the lead characters, along with the likes of Obi-Wan Kenobi, Ahsoka Tano, and Padmé Amidala.
Of course, the series expanded the Clone Wars story by showing events never seen in the movies. In that regard, the series bridged the three-year gap between Episodes II and III so that we could understand what led to the eventual fall of the Jedi. And ‘The Clone Wars’ also focused heavily on Ahsoka’s relationship with Anakin as his student.
5. ‘Star Wars: Tales of the Jedi’ (2022)
‘Star Wars: Tales of the Jedi’ is a spin-off series to ‘The Clone Wars.’ It was a mini-series that told stories about the different Jedi we met and saw during the Clone Wars. Season 1 focused primarily on the stories of Count Dooku and Ahsoka Tano. Anakin was featured in some of the episodes about Ahsoka, especially in the episode wherein he trained her to handle numerous clones attacking her all at once.
6. ‘Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith’ (2005)
‘Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith’ was the finale of Anakin Skywalker’s descent into darkness as he eventually became Darth Vader in this movie. The film detailed what happened to him as he eventually became more obsessed with keeping Padmé alive after spending sleepless nights dreaming about her death. Of course, Palpatine understood Anakin’s power and decided to take advantage of his dreams to pull him over to the dark side.
Palpatine successfully pulled Anakin to the dark side when Mace Windu was about to end the Sith Lord’s life. Anakin betrayed Windu and completed his fall to the dark side as he wanted the dark side’s power to save Padmé. This also led to the fateful battle between Anakin and Obi-Wan Kenobi on Mustafar, where Skywalker was burned and had to be placed in a life-support suit that kept him alive. Of course, the end of this movie allowed us to see the birth of Luke and Leia.
7. ‘Obi-Wan Kenobi’ (2022)
Set right around the same year as ‘Survivor,’ the ‘Obi-Wan Kenobi’ series follows the titular character’s story ten years after Order 66. This time, Kenobi suffers from self-doubts and depression after spending ten years blaming himself for what happened to Anakin Skywalker, thinking that his former Padawan had died after their battle. However, Anakin returned as Darth Vader while he and his Inquisitors were scouring the universe for Kenobi and the other Jedi that survived Order 66.
This series closed the chapter on the relationship between Obi-Wan and Anakin because Kenobi finally realized that his former apprentice had already been consumed by the Dark Lord of the Sith called Darth Vader. Kenobi left Vader defeated in another important rematch that showcased a moment of catharsis for the Jedi Master.
8. ‘Star Wars: Rebels’ (2014)
‘Star Wars: Rebels’ is a storyline that occurs years before the original trilogy. It follows the story of the crew of the rebel ship known as the Ghost, as these characters all work together to oppose the Empire in whatever way possible. The Ghost has two Jedi characters in Kanan Jarrus and Ezra Bridger, and that means that Darth Vader and the Inquisitors chased them around.
Vader served as the main antagonist of season 2 of the series. The finale involved him and his Inquisitors in a battle against Kanan, Ezra, and Ahsoka on Malachor. Vader fought Ahsoka in the Sith Temple on Malachor. They were never seen again by the crew of the Ghost until the series’ final season, wherein Ezra returned to the past through the World Between Worlds to rescue Ahsoka from certain death in that duel against Vader.
9. ‘Rogue One: A Star Wars Story’ (2016)
‘Rogue One: A Star Wars Story’ follows a band of Rebels that ended up working together in the most unlikely way to give hope to the entire galaxy after learning of the existence of an Imperial superweapon known as the Death Star. The group’s goal was to get the blueprints of the Death Star so that the Rebels could find a way to destroy it.
Darth Vader appeared in the movie’s final scenes, which connects to the opening of ‘Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope.’ In that scene, he boarded the Rebel ship with the blueprints of the Death Star to recover the stolen plans. Vader ended up massacring all of the Rebel soldiers on that ship, leading to the confrontation between him and Leia Organa in the opening of ‘A New Hope.’
10. ‘Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope’ (1977)
In terms of real-world chronology, Darth Vader made his first appearance in ‘Star Wars Episode IV; A New Hope,’ which is the Star Wars movie that launched an entire worldwide franchise. Vader appeared as the primary antagonist of this movie as he was actively searching for Rebels while also overseeing the operation of the Death Star.
The movie also allowed us to see the first-ever lightsaber duel between Vader and Obi-Wan Kenobi. Vader finally defeated his old master in that duel, only for Kenobi to become one with the Force and use his newfound piety to guide Luke Skywalker as the galaxy’s new hope.
11. ‘Star Wars Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back’ (1980)
Three years after the events of ‘A New Hope,’ Vader returned in ‘Star Wars Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back,’ where we saw the Empire still actively pursuing the Rebels. The Empire basically cornered the Rebels after seeing a defeat in Episode IV. This time, Vader has a new goal in mind because he now knows that Luke Skywalker is the son of Anakin Skywalker.
During this film, Vader and Luke fought for the first time. Of course, Vader revealed to Luke that he was the young Jedi’s father and that he and Anakin Skywalker were one and the same. This allowed Luke to have a new goal: to redeem his father from the dark side because he knew that Vader still had some good left in him.
12. ‘Star Wars Episode VI: Return of the Jedi’ (1983)
‘Star Wars Episode VI: Return of the Jedi’ was Darth Vader’s final canon appearance in Star Wars chronology. In this movie, he convinced Luke to come with him to the Death Star II to meet Emperor Palpatine. While Palpatine was impressed with Luke’s abilities, he decided to pit Vader against his son in a fated duel between the Skywalkers.
Luke momentarily defeated Darth Vader after tapping into his rage, only for him to decide to spare his father because he was a Jedi. This led to Palpatine blasting Luke with his Force Lightning as the young Jedi didn’t want to join him in the dark side. Vader was overcome with fatherly love and finally became Anakin Skywalker once more as he placed himself in the way of Palpatine’s lightning to kill the emperor and save his son.
Anakin died due to the damage he sustained from the emperor’s Force Lightning but was happy enough to see Luke with his own two eyes in his final moment.
Where to watch Darth Vader movies & shows?
You can watch all Darth Vader movies & shows on Disney+ with an active subscription. Disney+ streaming platform is well known to be the home of all Star Wars-related content.
Will there be more Darth Vader movies?
Nothing has been confirmed now, but we can expect that the life of one of the most powerful Jedi and greatest Sith Lords will be explored in some form in some future Star Wars projects.
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