In Star Wars: The Revenge of the Sith’s most infamous scene, our protagonist Anakin Skywalker can be seen making a definite move towards the dark side, signified through the deaths of an estimated eleven Younglings.
You may have noticed that there are a variety of theories and concepts believed by Star Wars fans as to why Anakin did such a heinous act, with a range of probable factors.
Here’s what you need to know about that infamous scene, and why Anakin chose to kill the younglings.
Why Did Anakin Kill The Younglings?
Whilst approaching the Jedi Temple amidst the chaos of Order 66, Anakin is seen with a yellow glow in the centre of his eyes, produced as a result of the dark side that has taken over him. The emergence of the dark side within Anakin is widely believed to have caused his actions within the Jedi Temple and the eventual deaths of four Jedi Padawans, three Jedi Masters, and eleven Younglings.
All of this stemmed from his desire to save Padmé, his wife, following premonitions and visions of her death.
Here are the 3 most popular reasons explaining why Anakin killed the Younglings.
#1 To Save Padmé
Many believe that the main reason for the deaths of the Younglings by Anakin’s blade was to save Padmé. Earlier in Revenge of the Sith, we see that Anakin suffers from visions of Padmé’s death, and determined to prevent such a tragedy Anakin would have done anything to prevent such a fate, as well as that of his unborn children.
You can find out more about Anakin’s and Padmé’s secret marriage here.
The canonical comic Star Wars: Darth Vader #7 outlines Anakin’s grief and pain of the attack on the Younglings, telling us that Anakin did not want to do such an act. However, the presence of emotions such as anger and self-loathing as a result of it helped to fuel the dark side within him, making him more powerful.
This would suggest that Skywalker felt stronger as he killed the Younglings, which reinforced his belief that only the dark side could save his new family.
#2 To Spare The Younglings
Now, this view is one with great controversy surrounding it. Some suggest that Anakin saw the slaying of the Younglings as a mercy, rather than a cruel demise.
Knowing of the attack on the Jedi Temple, and the likely effects of Order 66, perhaps Anakin saw his actions as showing mercy. With the marching of the 501st Legion towards the Jedi Temple on Coruscant, he may have known that cruel fates awaited the Younglings.
This is certified following the (supposed) death of Mace Windu after his fight with Darth Sidious, where the latter states “every single Jedi, including your friend Obi-Wan Kenobi, is now an enemy of the Republic” to Anakin, before adding “do not hesitate. Show no mercy”.
Whilst on the surface this may seem like a simple call to arms for Darth Vader, perhaps it hinted towards the creation of Inquisitors from Jedi Younglings, as highlighted in both Kenobi and Star Wars: Rebels.
This was the case in Kenobi Episode 5, where Anakin was seen killing younglings.
Reva survived this ordeal and eventually became the Third Sister.
The most common of all answers to this question is simply, “for payback”. Although Skywalker was a star pupil of the Jedi Order, he also had a rather tenuous relationship with the Council even before the events of Revenge of the Sith.
Unlike the Younglings who were brought to the Order as infants, Skywalker joined at the age of nine. For an organisation as entrenched in tradition as the Jedi Order, this was a major taboo, leaving Skywalker ostracised by the Jedi.
Knowing this, perhaps the Younglings served as a reminder that Skywalker did not really fit in with the Jedi Order. With them being a symbol of everything he despised and loathed, it would have felt only right for Anakin to kill them.
The Aftermath of The Younglings’ Deaths
The killing of the Younglings allowed the Empire to restrict force-sensitive opposition to their new order, allowing them to control the galaxy unrivalled. It may be argued that their execution was a key factor in Darth Sidious’ later plans for the galaxy.
Here are 3 ways the deaths of the Younglings aided the Empire.
The Inquisitors belonged to the Inquisitorius Program, an organisation of force-sensitive dark side agents who served the Sith-ruled Galactic Empire.
The Inquisitors were a limited number of talented force-sensitive children who became Jedi Younglings on Mustafar, going through a slave conditioning process (and later extensive torture and corruption).
Anakin’s murder of the Younglings allowed for the emergence of such Padawans without the threat of betrayal by once-Jedi Younglings.
This meant that the Empire was able to create a legion of force-sensitive slaves to hunt out survivors of Order 66, as seen in Kenobi, which became a great asset to Darth Sidious and Darth Vader in their control of the galaxy.
However, there were some exceptions to this; The Second Sister, Trilla Suduri, was a former Jedi Padawan who was captured shortly after Order 66 and tortured until she gave in to the dark side.
#2 Lack of Jedi Knights
The most simple benefit to the Empire of Anakin’s massacre of the Younglings is that there was a lack of Jedi Knights. This limited opposition to Darth Sidious’ grand plans and allowed the development of the Inquisitorius Program without interference.
During Star Wars: A New Hope, Obi-Wan Kenobi is noted to have said to Luke Skywalker, “A young Jedi named Darth Vader, who was a pupil of mine until he turned to evil, helped the Empire hunt down and destroy the Jedi Knights.”.
Anakin’s slaughter of the Younglings, and the consequent hunting of all force-sensitives, helped to “destroy the Jedi Knights” and clear out the galaxy for the emergence of the Empire.
However, the success of this can be challenged through the creation of the Alliance to Restore the Republic, led by former Padawan Kanan Jarrus, after the Grand Inquisitor’s failure to hunt the rebel group on the planet Lothal.
#3 To Create An Empire
Anakin’s murder of the Younglings symbolised the beginning of a new age within the galaxy and the birth of the Empire. Following the attack on the Jedi Temple, a special session of Congress was called by Senator Palpatine, where senators were informed of the Jedi’s treason and attempt to control the galaxy.
To fully sway the Senate to his cause, Palpatine delivered a critical speech condemning the Jedi’s orchestration of a rebellion, announcing the need for order and security throughout the galaxy through a Galactic Empire.
Master Yoda’s exclamation, when observing the fate of the Younglings with Obi-Wan Kenobi following the attack, of “killed not by clones, this Padawan, by a lightsaber, he was” likely aided the Senate’s conclusion of Jedi treason, helping Darth Sidious to establish his Empire throughout the galaxy.
Anakin’s murder of the Younglings may have been for a variety of reasons at the same time rather than just one. Apart from this, he had Force choked Padmé as well!
It may have been seen as an atrocity by Obi-Wan, which was why he left Anakin to die in Mustafar.
By killing the Younglings, Darth Vader’s power was grown, and the image of Jedi treason was evident throughout the Empire. At the same time, this action prevented future opposition to Darth Sidious and his legion of Inquisitors.
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