Darth Vader (born Anakin Skywalker) is a central character in the Star Wars saga, appearing as one of the main antagonists in the original trilogy and as the main protagonist in the prequel trilogy.
The character was created by George Lucas and numerous actors have portrayed him. His appearances span all six Star Wars films, and he is an important character in the expanded universe of television series, video games, novels, literature and comic books. The films establish that there was originally a Jedi Knight named Anakin who fell to the dark side of the Force; he is also revealed to be the father of both Luke Skywalker and Princess Leia Organa, the two main protagonists of the original trilogy. Vader is ultimately redeemed in Star Wars Episode VI: Return of the Jedi, when he sacrifices himself to save his son, Luke.
Vader's name has become used as a synonym for a powerful form of evil, in both televisual pop culture and political discourse.
Darth Vader's iconic status has made the character a synonym for evil in popular culture; psychiatrists have even considered him as a useful example to explain borderline personality disorder to medical students. Anakin's origin story in The Phantom Menace has been compared to signifiers of African American racial identity, and his dissatisfaction with his life has been compared to Siddhartha's before he became Gautama Buddha. A Mexican church advised Christians against seeing The Phantom Menace because it portrays Anakin as a Jesus figure. A slime-mold beetle of the genus Agathidium is named after Vader, and several buildings across the globe are regularly compared to him. A grotesque of Darth Vader looms over the south side of the Washington National Cathedral's northwest tower. During the 2007–08 NHL season, Ottawa Senators goaltender Martin Gerber performed so well in an all-black mask that fans endearingly termed him "Darth Gerber". Many commentators and comedians have also evoked his visage to satirize politicians and other public figures, and several American political figures have been unflatteringly compared to the character. For example, Al Gore referred to Tele-Communications Inc.'s John C. Malone as the "Darth Vader of cable", and political strategist Lee Atwater was known by his political enemies as "the Darth Vader of the Republican Party".