10. Anakin Skywalker
(Write-up by Elaine Tveit, Dork Side of the Force Assistant Editor)
Born into slavery with seemingly no hope for freedom, Anakin Skywalker thinks he has found his true destiny with the coming of Jedi Knight Qui Gon Jinn. He discovers that he has a powerful sensitivity to the living Force, more powerful than that of even Grand Jedi Master Yoda; more than this, he finds that he is to be the fulfillment of the prophecy of the Chosen One as the one who will bring balance to the Force. But the path he finds himself on proves to be more twisted and dark than an innocent boy of ten years could ever imagine.
Anakin represents the darkness in all of us. The choices he makes are fed by his passions: his deep love for his mother and his wife, Padme Amidala, and his hatred for slavery. Though he becomes a powerful and skilled Jedi Knight and a leader of legions in the Clone Wars, and is even granted his own apprentice, he cannot escape the lure of the Dark Side, especially when Chancellor Palpatine, also Darth Sidious, is feeding his doubts and fears. When visions of Padme’s death haunt his dreams, Anakin thinks he has to make a choice between saving her with the power of the Dark Side and saving the galaxy from the Dark Side. In the end, he doesn’t think he can live without her… and so the Emperor names him Darth Vader, and Anakin Skywalker becomes the new lord of the Sith.
But Anakin also represents the power of redemption. Though he succumbed to the Dark Side, his spiral was partly motivated by very human intentions: he wanted to save the woman he loved from death. Unfortunately, he went about it in the worst way possible, and in so doing his vision of Padme came true. The next two decades were spent in instilling fear and order into the new Empire, and carrying out the bidding of his Sith master. Yet, despite all of that rage and destruction, all it took was the kindness and love of his son to resurrect Anakin Skywalker from the metal shell that was Darth Vader. The result is one of the most human and profound character arcs in the Star Wars saga.
Next: ...Until he chose the Dark Side