Darth Vader is a fictional character in the Star Wars franchise. He is a primary antagonist in the original trilogy, but, as Anakin Skywalker, is the main protagonist of 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."
Originally a Jedi prophesied to bring balance to the Force, Anakin Skywalker is lured to the dark side of the Force by Palpatine, who is secretly a Sith Lord. After fighting a lightsaber battle with his former mentor Obi-Wan Kenobi in which he is dismembered, Vader is transformed into a cyborg. He then serves the Galactic Empire as Darth Vader until he redeems himself by saving his son, Luke Skywalker, from Palpatine, sacrificing his own life in the process. He is also the father of Princess Leia, the secret husband of Padmé Amidala, and grandfather of Kylo Ren, the main villain of the Star Wars sequel trilogy.
The character has been portrayed by numerous actors. His cinematic appearances span the first six Star Wars films, as well as Rogue One, and he is referenced in both The Force Awakens and The Last Jedi. 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.
Darth Vader has become one of the most iconic villains in popular culture, and has been listed among the greatest villains and fictional characters ever. The American Film Institute listed him as the third greatest movie villain in cinema history on 100 Years... 100 Heroes and Villains, behind Hannibal Lecter and Norman Bates. His role as a tragic hero in the prequel trilogy was met with positive reviews.