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This is Darth Vader's best line ever

Darth Vader is perhaps the single most important figure in all of Star Wars lore. His distinctive shadow looms large over the entire series; the inevitability of Anakin Skywalker's transformation into the Sith Lord drove the narrative of the prequels, his continued influence on the First Order in general and Kylo Ren in particular is a critical element of the sequels, and as for the original series… well, let's just say that there's a reason Vader is often considered to be the greatest screen villain of all time. 

He's a man… er, cyborg of few words, but those few words he does speak are pretty much guaranteed to send chills down your spine (and often spell doom for whatever unfortunate soul they're directed at). We decided to peruse the annals of Star Wars history to try to determine: what is Darth Vader's single best line of dialogue ever?

Well, let's start at the beginning — or rather, near the beginning of Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope. The film's opening sequence, with Vader and a phalanx of Stormtroopers forcibly boarding Princess Leia's humble "consular ship" in search of the stolen Death Star plans, clued us in to just how terrifying and ruthless he could be when dealing with the rebels. But it was a subsequent scene in which Vader, Grand Moff Tarkin, and a couple of Imperial lackeys discuss recent developments that let us know that it wasn't just the rebels that had reason to fear the Dark Lord.

In the scene, Tarkin informs the panel that the Emperor has just dissolved the Imperial Senate, and Commander Tagge and Admiral Motti are arguing over how the old guy will maintain control in the absence of the bureaucracy. Vader listens silently to the bickering, but when Motti maintains that the fear of annihilation by the Death Star will be more than enough to keep rogue governments in check, he speaks up, attempting to give Motti a little perspective.

"Don't be too proud of this technological terror you've constructed," Vader says. "The ability to destroy a planet is insignificant next to the power of the Force." This is when Motti steps firmly out of line, and immediately regrets it.

"Don't try to frighten us with your sorcerer's ways, Lord Vader," he says. "Your sad devotion to that ancient religion has not helped you conjure up the stolen data tapes, or given you clairvoyance enough to find the Rebel's hidden fort-"

But suddenly, he stops speaking, because it's tough to speak when you can't breathe. As Vader uses the power of "that ancient religion" to squeeze all the air out of Motti's lungs, he utters a beautifully understated line that is absolutely bubbling over with menace: "I find your lack of faith disturbing."

Most of Vader's best, most badass lines imply a simple but unsettling idea: yes, this is bad, but he could always make it worse. This is perhaps no more true than in Star Wars Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back, a film that puts our heroes Luke Skywalker, Princess Leia, and Han Solo right through the wringer, and ends on the most downbeat note of any blockbuster in history (at least until Avengers: Infinity War came along).

When Han, Leia, and Chewbacca seek refuge from the forces of the Empire on Cloud City with Han's old buddy Lando Calrissian, things appear to be on the up and up at first. But then, a nasty surprise: Vader had arrived there first, and cut Lando a deal to keep the Empire out of Cloud City and off his back in exchange for betraying his friends.

Of course, it turns out that Vader isn't the most stand-up guy when it comes to upholding the details of deals made with those sympathetic to rebels. After encasing Solo in carbonite and giving him over to Boba Fett, Vader instructs Calrissian to bring Leia and Chewbacca to his ship. Calrissian protests, "You said they'd be left in the city under my supervision," to which Vader coldly responds: "I am altering the deal. Pray I don't alter it any further."

Another of Vader's most badass lines came during the events of Rogue One: A Star Wars Story, the famous final scene of which went a longer way toward spelling out just how formidable Vader really is than perhaps any other of his onscreen appearances. The Sith Lord delivers an awesome callback to that first cinematic Force-choking during a conversation with Director Krennic, who has just presided over a botched test of the Death Star which resulted in the destruction of the city of Jedha and a rebel attack on an Imperial base.

Amazingly, Krennic comes away from the encounter with his life, as Vader relates that the Senate has been placated over the Jedha incident with the lie that it was a "mining disaster" which obliterated the city. But the potential betrayal of Death Star designer Galen Erso has already been discovered, and Vader informs Krennic that it's now his duty to make sure that Erso hasn't leaked any information about the battle station to the rebels. 

That's when Krennic presses his luck. "So, I'm still in command?" he asks. "You'll speak to the Emperor about…" Vader cuts him off with a gentle Force choking, along with a reminder that still being in command should be the least of his concerns: "Be careful not to choke on your aspirations, Director."

Yes, that Darth Vader sure knows how to succinctly communicate barely-concealed threats, but his very best line came at the point at which he had actually ceased to be Darth Vader. He had never had any trouble being badass and menacing, but the one thing audiences never expected from him was to be gentle, poignant — and in the moments before his death, he surprised us all by delivering perhaps the most meaningful line in the entire Star Wars series.

In Star Wars Episode VI: Return of the Jedi, Vader and the Emperor trap Luke Skywalker aboard the second iteration of the Death Star, with the intent of provoking his fear and anger in an attempt to turn him to the Dark Side of the Force. This attempt fails, as Luke — realizing that he is being manipulated — simply deactivates his lightsaber and refuses to continue the fight.

This doesn't sit very well with the Emperor, who begins torturing Luke with bolts of Force lightning as Vader looks on. Luke screams for his father, and there's a moment of uncertainty as Vader looks back and forth, back and forth between the two — and then takes sudden, decisive action.

Vader seizes the Emperor and throws him down a bottomless shaft to his apparent death, and in doing so, he's mortally injured — but also redeemed. Vader — or, rather, Anakin Skywalker — asks Luke to help him remove his mask so that he can look on his son with his own eyes, and then implores the young man to leave him.

"No," Luke says. "You're coming with me. I can't leave you here — I've got to save you!" His father then utters four words that demonstrates perhaps a greater understanding of the Force, in all of its duality, than any character in the entire series: "You already have, Luke."

Yes, for a devotee of the Dark Side, it's easy to intimidate, to menace, to kill; what's not so easy is to find your way back to the light, to do the absolute right thing at the most crucial moment, and to bring balance to the freakin' Force. Those four words sum up Anakin Skywalker's story quite nicely — a story that reminds us that within all of us, no matter how dark things get, there is always the possibility of redemption.