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Star Wars Prequels: 10 Times Anakin Got Closer To The Dark Side

After charting the Sith Lord’s redemption throughout the original Star Wars trilogy, George Lucas returned to a galaxy far, far away to complete the tragedy of Darth Vader. While they occasionally got bogged down by politics and side missions along the way, the Star Wars prequels set out to chronicle Anakin Skywalker’s journey to the dark side.

RELATED: 5 Ways Luke Is Like Anakin (& 5 Ways He's Different)

For the most part, the trilogy tackled that story brilliantly. Lucas told the heartbreaking tale of Anakin’s transformation from a bright-eyed Jedi prodigy into galactic overlord Darth Vader through these crucial moments.

10 When Yoda Sensed Darkness In His Soul

Qui-Gon is convinced that he’s found the fabled “chosen one” when he stumbles across a nine-year-old slave with a record-high midi-chlorian count on Tatooine. However, when he takes Anakin back to the Jedi Council, Yoda’s not so sure.

He senses darkness in Anakin’s soul and refuses to allow him to be trained as a result. Despite Qui-Gon’s objections, Yoda turned out to be all too right about Anakin’s susceptibility to the dark side.

9 Qui-Gon’s Dying Wish

The climactic lightsaber duel between Qui-Gon, Obi-Wan, and Darth Maul is easily The Phantom Menace’s most spectacular sequence, and it’s also one of the saga’s most important events. The reason why John Williams’ iconic track from this scene is called “Duel of the Fates” is that it determines Anakin’s fate. What Anakin needed was a positive father figure, like Qui-Gon.

After Qui-Gon died and his final wish was that Anakin be trained, it forced Yoda’s hand against his better judgment. He allowed Anakin to be trained by Obi-Wan. But Obi-Wan was more of a brother than a father figure, so the father figure that Anakin ended up with was Palpatine.

8 When Palpatine Promised To Watch His Career “With Great Interest”

After Ian McDiarmid made Emperor Palpatine an unforgettable villain in the original Star Wars trilogy, he got to bring new angles to the character in the prequels. He rose through the ranks of the Galactic Senate, hiding the fact that he was a Sith Lord until he had enough power to turn it into the Empire.

Throughout The Phantom Menace, Palpatine’s harmless politician persona doesn’t have much interaction with Anakin. However, at the end of the movie, he tells Anakin, “We will watch your career with great interest,” sealing his dark fate.

7 When He Slaughtered The Tusken Raiders

In Attack of the Clones, when Anakin senses that his mother is in danger, he tracks her down to a campsite full of Tusken Raiders where she’s being held hostage. She dies in her son’s arms, driving him into a vengeful rage.

RELATED: The 5 Funniest (& 5 Saddest) Scenes In Attack Of The Clones

He slaughters the Sandpeople – not just the men, but the women, and the children too. While the motivation to avenge his mother is understandable, massacring women and children is a pretty noticeable red flag.

6 When He Decapitated Count Dooku

In the opening act of Revenge of the Sith, Anakin and Obi-Wan infiltrate a Separatist command ship to rescue the supposedly kidnapped Chancellor Palpatine. When they find him, they’re confronted by Palpatine’s secret Sith apprentice Count Dooku, who quickly defeats Obi-Wan and then gets overpowered by Anakin.

Anakin holds his own lightsaber and Dooku’s lightsaber to the Count’s neck like a pair of scissors. He intends to bring in Dooku alive, but Palpatine encourages him to decapitate the Separatist baddie – much to the horror of Dooku, who didn’t realize he was a pawn in a larger plan and thought he was being primed to co-run the Empire. Anakin reluctantly lops off Dooku’s head, then expresses immediate regret. The first real nail is in his light-side coffin.

5 When He Had Visions Of Padmé’s Death

After Padmé tells Anakin she’s pregnant, Anakin is ecstatic and can’t wait to become a father. It’s heartbreaking to imagine an alternative scenario where Anakin stayed on the light side and he and Padmé could raise Luke and Leia together.

Unfortunately, after hearing the good news, he starts being tormented at night by visions of Padmé’s death. Saving Padmé from death becomes an obsession that drives Anakin into the cold embrace of the dark side.

4 When He Was Denied The Rank Of Master

The interesting thing about Revenge of the Sith is that Lucas makes it clear that the Jedi are as much to blame for Anakin’s turn to the dark side as Palpatine. Palpatine tells Anakin everything he wants to hear, but the Jedi constantly undervalue and undermine him, so they’re just as responsible.

When he’s offered a seat on the Jedi Council, Anakin is denied the rank of master, which he deems to be outrageous and unfair. How can you be on the Council and not be a master? No wonder he turns his back on the Jedi.

3 When Palpatine Told Him The Tragedy Of Darth Plagueis The Wise

Since Anakin’s biggest fear is losing Padmé, Palpatine tempts him toward the dark side by promising him that the Sith can teach him how to cheat death, but the Jedi can’t.

RELATED: Darth Vader's 5 Best Quotes In The Original Star Wars Trilogy (& Anakin's 5 Best In The Prequels)

He conveys this message through “The Tragedy of Darth Plagueis the Wise.” Plagueis figured out how to save people from death, taught everything to his apprentice (who’s implied to be Palpatine himself), and was subsequently murdered by that apprentice (again, who is probably Palpatine).

2 When He Chose To Save Palpatine Over Mace Windu

After learning that Palpatine is a Sith Lord, Anakin doesn’t turn to the dark side straight away. He allies with the Jedi and brings the information to Mace Windu, who takes a strike force to arrest the soon-to-be Emperor. Palpatine effortlessly annihilates the strike force, but Windu manages to best him in lightsaber combat.

At this point, Anakin shows up and has to choose between Windu and Palpatine. He chooses to save the latter, effectively completing his long, twisted journey to the dark side.

1 When Palpatine Told Anakin He Killed Padmé

When Anakin awakens in the Vader suit, the first thing he asks Palpatine is whether Padmé is safe and all right. The Emperor tells his new apprentice, “It seems, in your anger, you killed her,” which isn’t entirely factual.

That well-timed half-truth about the role Anakin played in Padmé's death destroyed the final shred of Anakin’s humanity and caused him to devote himself entirely to serving the Emperor as Darth Vader.

NEXT: 10 Ways Revenge Of The Sith Is A Perfect Finale For The Star Wars Prequel Trilogy

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