Darth Vader is a fictional character in the Star Wars franchise. The character is the central antagonist of the original trilogy and, as Anakin Skywalker, is one of the main protagonists throughout the prequel trilogy. Star Wars creator George Lucas has collectively referred to the first six episodic films of the franchise as "the tragedy of Darth Vader". He has become one of the most iconic villains in popular culture, and has been listed among the greatest villains and fictional characters ever.
Originally a slave on Tatooine, Anakin Skywalker is a Jedi prophesied to bring balance to the Force. He is lured to the dark side of the Force by Chancellor Sheev Palpatine / Darth Sidious and becomes a Sith Lord, assuming the title of Darth Vader. After a lightsaber battle with his former mentor Obi-Wan Kenobi on Mustafar, in which he is severely injured, Vader is transformed into a cyborg. He then serves the Galactic Empire for over two decades as its chief enforcer.
Vader ultimately redeems himself by saving his son, Luke Skywalker, and killing Palpatine, sacrificing his own life in the process. He is also the secret husband of Padmé Amidala, the biological father of Princess Leia, and the grandfather of Kylo Ren (Ben Solo). In the non-canonical Star Wars Legends continuity, he is also the grandfather of Ben Skywalker, his eponym Anakin Solo, Jaina Solo and Darth Caedus (Jacen Solo), and the great-grandfather of Allana Solo.
The character has been portrayed by numerous actors: David Prowse physically portrayed Vader while James Earl Jones has voiced him in all of the films and some television shows, and Sebastian Shaw portrayed the unmasked Anakin in Return of the Jedi, as well as the character's spirit in the original release of that film. Jake Lloyd played Anakin Skywalker as a child in The Phantom Menace, the first film of the prequel trilogy, while Hayden Christensen played him as a young adult in the following two films, post-2004 releases of Return of the Jedi, and Obi-Wan Kenobi.
In addition to the first six Star Wars films, the character appears in the anthology film Rogue One. He also appears in television series (most substantially The Clone Wars) and numerous iterations of the Star Wars Expanded Universe, including video games, novels, and comic books. Due to Vader's popularity, various merchandise of the character, such as action figures and replicas of his lightsaber, has been produced.