Darth Vader Took On Apprentices Before Luke (According To Lucas)


Although audiences never see Darth Vader (James Earl Jones) take on an apprentice in the Star Wars films before he attempts to recruit Luke (Mark Hamill), George Lucas confirmed that he trained several people before trying to bring his son to the Dark Side. As one of the main conflicts for the original Star Wars films, Luke’s temptation and refusal of Darth Vader’s influence and training is a pivotal point for the original trilogy. But his refusal is all the more impressive given the number of others who haven’t been able to resist Darth Vader’s tutelage.


In both Star Wars’ Jedi and Sith traditions, taking on an apprentice is a normal part of both orders’ functionality. But due to the Sith’s ‘Rule of Two,’ Darth Vader’s efforts to take on an apprentice are a bit more sinister, as at every age throughout the Star Wars movies, Darth Vader was constantly searching for someone to help him usurp his master, Darth Sidious. Many of Darth Sidious’ previous apprentices before Darth Vader did much the same, as Darth Maul (Ray Park and Sam Witwer) worked with his brother, Savage Opress (Clancy Brown), and Count Dooku (Christopher Lee and Corey Burton) trained Asajj Ventress (Nika Futterman). All became powerful Dark-Side warriors in their own right, but none were able to usurp Emperor Palpatine (Ian Abercrombie, Tim Curry, Ian McDiarmid).

Related: Why The Rebels’ Ships Are Faster Than The Empire’s (Explained By Lucas)

According to an interview with Rolling Stone in 2005, Lucas confirmed that Darth Vader searched for an apprentice long before he discovered that his son had the potential to follow in his footsteps. Further proving the ferocity of Sith traditions, Lucas reminded audiences that that’s what Sith do – consistently work to supplant each other once their usefulness has been expended. In Lucas’ vision for the iconic Star Wars character, “when [Darth Vader] finds out Luke is his son, his first impulse is to figure out a way of getting him to join him to kill the Emperor. That’s what Siths do! He tries it with anybody he thinks might be more powerful, which is what the Emperor was looking for in the first place…” (via Rolling Stone). And in Star Wars extended universe material (largely non-canon), there is a long list of those who Darth Vader considered having potential before Luke.

What We Know Of Darth Vader’s Apprentices (In Legends & Canon)

Throughout his time in the Star Wars universe, Darth Vader trained several apprentices, or at least apprentice-adjacent Force users. Technically, the Inquisitors of Obi-Wan Kenobi and Star Wars: Rebels were also trained by Darth Vader but were never true apprentices to the Sith Master. Several of Darth Vader’s apprentices appear throughout Star Wars material. The only canon apprentice is The Smuggler, found in the video game Vader Immortal: A Star Wars VR Series. Darth Vader’s apprentices in Legends are far more numerous, the most notable of which is Galen Marek. The son of two Jedi Knights before he was taken and trained by Darth Vader, Galen starred in the canon Star Wars: The Force Unleashed video game, novel, and comic. His clones, the Dark Apprentice and Starkiller, were featured in the sequel Star Wars: The Force Unleashed II as well, all of which Darth Vader trained. Darth Vader’s other most notable apprentice is Lumiya, who appeared in several Star Wars comics in 1977. A previous Emperor’s Hand, Lumiya started as an imperial spy before becoming a Sith apprentice, eventually becoming a cyborg like Darth Vader as well. Others trained by Darth Vader before Star Wars‘ Luke, largely featured in comics, include Tao, a Jedi Padawan Perfect Evil; Kharys, a S’kytri who Darth Vader first met as Anakin Skywalker in the Star Wars Annual comic in 1977; Flint, who eventually became a stormtrooper from Star Wars Annual 3; Antinnis Tremayne, a High Inquisitor; Rillao and Hethrir, two Firrerreo, one who resisted the call of the Dark Side and one who did not; and Vost Tyne, a retired imperial navy admiral.

The sheer prevalence of Darth Vader’s apprentices before Luke truly proves Lucas’ assertion that Sith ideology perpetuates a vicious cycle of training and usurpation. Although none of Darth Vader’s former pupils could fully match Luke’s hereditary abilities, Darth Vader’s constant search for someone of greater strength makes his final betrayal of the Emperor in Star Wars: The Return of the Jedi far more logical. Even if they couldn’t hold a candle to Luke’s powers throughout Star Wars, Darth Vader’s former trainees certainly made their mark as strong villains and heroes throughout many Star Wars stories.

Next: Star Wars: Every Apprentice Palpatine Had (In Canon and Legends)


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