The Star Wars sequel trilogy explored the legacy of Darth Vader in canon, but this was done much better in the Legends universe. George Lucas always viewed the Star Wars saga as Anakin Skywalker’s story, so it makes sense for the post-Return of the Jedi timeline to tackle the legacy he left behind, both good and bad. Star Wars canon has honored this legacy in some ways, but not as effectively as it could have, with Legends showcasing greater variety and character impact. If future Star Wars stories are to continue delving into the legacy of Darth Vader, then it’s worth analyzing what the old Expanded Universe already did right.


The greatest example of Darth Vader’s legacy after Return of the Jedi is his family, with canon and Legends developing the Skywalkers differently. Both Star Wars continuities feature the Skywalker family struggling to overcome and right Darth Vader’s mistakes, but also to honor the great Jedi that Anakin was before he turned to the dark side. This conflict between the good and bad parts of Vader’s legacy formed the foundation of the Star Wars sequel trilogy, and the struggle was just as instrumental in shaping the Skywalker narrative in Legends. Two particular characters from canon and Legends demonstrate the biggest reason why the latter gave Darth Vader a better legacy.

Related: The Star Wars Sequel Trilogy Failed The Original Heroes

Anakin Solo Embodies Darth Vader’s Legacy In Star Wars Legends

Anakin Solo wielding a lightsaber - Star Wars Legends

While each of Han Solo and Leia Organa’s children struggled with Darth Vader’s legacy in Legends, Anakin Solo embodied it especially well. Being named after his grandfather placed extra pressure on the youngest Solo child, fearing that he would eventually turn to the dark side as Anakin Skywalker did. He was truly put to the test during the Yuuzhan Vong War, blaming himself for Chewbacca’s death and struggling to overcome his guilt. This also created a rift between him and his father for a long time, and Jaina Solo nearly turned to the dark side after having to watch Anakin die to save her and the other Jedi.

However, Anakin Solo also embodied the best parts of his grandfather’s legacy, from his childhood affinity for machines to being instrumental in the Yuuzhan Vong War. Anakin also surpassed Darth Vader’s legacy, proving that he didn’t have to follow in his grandfather’s footsteps, as he became a great leader who inspired other Jedi Knights. He even forged a deep bond with his childhood friend Tahiri Veila, and while Anakin Skywalker’s attachment to Padme led him to the dark side, Anakin Solo’s romance with Tahiri helped him be a better man. Anakin Solo’s tragic death would have negative consequences on the Solo family, but he left behind his own great legacy too.

Kylo Ren’s Vader Obsession Embodied His Grandfather’s Worst Instincts

Darth Vader and Kylo Ren in Star Wars.

Kylo Ren, however, embodied the worst aspects of Darth Vader’s legacy, setting out to finish what he had started. Just like Anakin struggled with the dark side as a Padawan, so, too, did Ben Solo, with his family believing there was too much Vader in him. Ben eventually turned to the dark side and slaughtered his fellow Jedi, just as Anakin had, joining a powerful Emperor set on taking over the galaxy. Kylo Ren took it a step further by killing his father and later becoming Supreme Leader of the First Order, and while he eventually found his way back to the light, his last-minute redemption was similar to Vader’s in Return of the Jedi.

The Star Wars Sequel Trilogy Never Really Remembered Vader Was Redeemed

Luke reconciles with Vader at the end of Return of the Jedi

Kylo Ren’s fixation on Darth Vader’s legacy also highlighted a recurring problem with the Star Wars sequel trilogy: the movies never fully remembered Anakin Skywalker’s redemption. Although he claimed to be finishing what his grandfather started, Kylo Ren didn’t seem to care that Anakin Skywalker returned to the light side at the end, and Anakin’s Force ghost never showed up to try and stop his actions. Rey did point out that Luke Skywalker helped save his father, but even this wasn’t enough to convince Luke to find faith in the Jedi at that point, and the only other mention of Anakin Skywalker bringing balance was his short voice cameo in Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker.

Star Wars Legends never forgot that Anakin Skywalker was redeemed, and always treated his time as Darth Vader as something to be avoided. That’s not to say Legends forgot the bad parts of Darth Vader’s legacy either, as Leia had a harder time forgiving her father than Luke, and each of her children struggled with the dark side in some way. However, Star Wars Legends made sure to focus on the good and bad aspects of Vader’s legacy, as well as letting his descendants forge their own unique paths. Star Wars Legends stories did give Darth Vader a better legacy than canon, but future media can still learn from its example.

More: Legends’ Version Of Kylo Ren Was FAR Better Than The Star Wars Sequels

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