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The Star Wars franchise is one of the most popular franchises in the world for many reasons, but one of the bigger ones has to do with the success of the original trilogy.

If the original trilogy wasn’t as successful as it was, then the franchise likely wouldn’t have been, either. While some people loved the original trilogy for the lightsabers and the epic space battles, others loved it for the melodramatic relationship between Darth Vader and his children, Luke and Leia. At the end of the original trilogy, Darth Vader seemingly sacrifices himself to save Luke.

However, Star Wars fans think that his death was actually even more meaningful than that. 

How Darth Vader died in ‘Return of the Jedi’ 

Darth Vader with a lightsaber at the 'Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker' premiere
Darth Vader with a lightsaber at the ‘Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker’ premiere | Ian West/PA Wire

After Vader iconically revealed to Luke that he was Luke’s father, Luke was at a crossroads. He knew that he had to defeat Vader, but at the same time, he realized that he couldn’t kill his father.

Surely enough, in Return of the Jedi, after Luke successfully beat Vader in a duel, Luke threw his lightsaber away and refused to kill Vader despite Emperor Palpatine’s request. 

This act of compassion angered Palpatine, who proceeded to zap Luke with some force lightning. Vader didn’t want to see his son die, and so he grabbed Palpatine and threw him down a shaft.

However, when he was doing this, Palpatine zapped Vader with some force lightning too, and soon after, Vader died in Luke’s arms. 

Why Darth Vader’s death doesn’t really make sense


Has ‘Star Wars’ Made Death Completely Meaningless?

As Star Wars fans on Reddit wrote, there are two possible explanations for how the force lightning killed Vader, but neither of them make any sense. The first possible explanation is that the force lightning was lethal and could kill someone.

However, as Star Wars fans on Reddit said, Vader, in the comics, has been hit by force lightning before, and it seemingly didn’t hurt him. 

Another possible explanation has to do with Vader’s suit. As the prequel trilogy showed, Anakin Skywalker only became Darth Vader after Obi-Wan Kenobi beat him in a duel. After that duel, Anakin was nearly dead as he had lost multiple limbs and was on fire.

However, thanks to some high-tech medical equipment, Anakin put on a suit of armor to become Vader, and that armor supposedly kept him alive. 

So, when Palpatine zapped Vader, it’s possible that the lightning caused Vader’s suit to malfunction. Without the suit’s medical tech, Vader would die. However, as Star Wars fans again noted, this is unlikely since the comics have shown that Vader can actually survive without his suit for some time. 

Darth Vader’s death could be related to the Force

According to Star Wars fans, a more plausible explanation for why Vader really died at the end of Return of the Jedi has to do with the Force. Just like how the light side can turn people into force ghosts when they die, the dark side can use the force to escape death.

For example, Darth Maul was the villain in The Phantom Menace, and he was chopped in half. Yet he was able to survive because he was simply so angry that he couldn’t die. 

Star Wars fans think that, similar to Maul, Vader was able to survive because of the dark side. He was so full of rage that he simply couldn’t die, even though he had suffered so much pain and trauma.

However, when he finally decided to turn to the light side and save Luke, the dark side couldn’t keep him alive anymore. Without the dark side, Vader’s wounds killed him, according to fans. But of course, thanks to the fact that he turned to the light, Vader did become a force ghost at the end of the movie.