In Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope and Star Wars Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back, Vader is depicted as the cunning, brutal enforcer of the Galactic Empire's rule across the galaxy. Vader serves as the apprentice of Emperor Palpatine, using the dark side of the Force to mercilessly pursue the Jedi and the Rebel Alliance to the ends of the galaxy. The prequel trilogy recounts the heroic rise and tragic fall of Vader's former self, Anakin Skywalker.
Darth Vader is the primary antagonist: a dark, ruthless figure, out to capture, torture, or kill the films' heroes to prevent them from thwarting the Empire.
In A New Hope, Vader is charged with recovering the stolen plans of the Death Star and finding the Rebel Alliance's secret base. He captures and tortures Princess Leia and, along with Death Star commander Grand Moff Tarkin, destroys her home world of Alderaan. Shortly afterward, he duels his former master, Obi-Wan Kenobi, who has arrived at the Death Star to rescue Leia, and cuts him down, turning him into a spirit in the Force. He then encounters Luke Skywalker during a battle over the Death Star, and senses in him a great strength in the Force; this is confirmed moments later when the boy destroys the battle station. He was about to shoot Luke down using his TIE fighter, but Han Solo disables his ship using the guns on the Millennium Falcon, and sends Vader spinning into space.
In The Empire Strikes Back, Vader captures Leia, Han, Chewbacca, and C-3PO on the planet Bespin to lure Luke into a confrontation. He strikes a deal with the administrator of Cloud City, Lando Calrissian to give Han over to the bounty hunter Boba Fett, and has Solo frozen in carbonite. Luke, who has been partially trained by Yoda, duels Vader, but is eventually defeated, losing his right hand to Vader's lightsaber. Vader then reveals his true identity as Luke's father and offers Luke the chance to overthrow Palpatine and rule the galaxy as father and son. Luke refuses, throwing himself down a mine shaft. He is sucked into a garbage chute and rescued by Leia, Chewbacca, Lando and C-3PO. He is fitted with a robotic hand to replace the one Vader had cut off.
In Return of the Jedi, Vader is charged with overseeing the completion of the second Death Star. He meets with Palpatine on board the half-constructed station to plan Luke's turn to the dark side.
Darth Vader escorting Luke Skywalker to Palpatine in an attempt to turn him to the dark sideBy this time, Luke has nearly completed his Jedi training, and has learned from a dying Yoda that Vader is indeed his father. He learns about his father's past from Obi-Wan's spirit, and also learns that Leia is his sister. On a mission to the forest moon of Endor, he surrenders to Imperial troops and is brought to Vader. Aboard the Death Star, Luke resists the Emperor's appeals to his anger and fear for his friends, but snaps when Vader telepathically probes his mind, learns of Leia's existence, and threatens to turn her instead. Enraged, Luke nearly kills Vader, severing his father's right hand. He controls his anger at the last minute, however, as he looks at Vader's cybernetic hand and then at his own; he realizes that he is perilously close to suffering his father's fate.
As the Emperor approaches, encouraging Luke to kill Vader and take his place, Luke throws down his lightsaber, refusing to perform the killing blow. Angered, the Emperor attacks Luke with Force lightning. Luke writhes in agony under the Emperor's torture, begging his father for help. Unable to bear the sight of his son in pain, Vader turns on his master and throws him into the very core of the Death Star, where the evil emperor explodes in a fury of dark energies. However, Vader is mortally wounded by the Force lightning.
Anakin Skywalker in his last few moments of lifeMoments from death, he begs his son to take off his breath-mask so he can look at Luke "with his own eyes". Luke complies and for the first (and as it turns out, the only) time, father and son truly see each other. In his dying breaths, Anakin Skywalker is redeemed, finally admitting to Luke that the good within him was not destroyed after all. Luke escapes with his father's body as the Death Star explodes, destroyed by the Rebel Alliance.
That night, Luke cremates his father in his armor in the manner of a Jedi's funeral. During the victory celebration on the forest moon of Endor, Luke sees the redeemed spirit of Anakin Skywalker, standing once again with Obi-Wan and Yoda.