Why did Anakin kill the Younglings in ‘Star Wars’?

“Every single Jedi — including your friend, Obi-Wan Kenobi — is now an enemy of the Republic,” spoke Senator Palpatine to the impressionable young Anakin in one of the Star Wars franchise’s most insidious moments.

Who knows? Those young Jedi could have grown up to threaten everything The Galactic Empire would one day become. In a galaxy far, far away, even children can be deadly. 

In fact, if it weren’t for Anakin’s poor parenting, his progeny wouldn’t have rebelliously shut down the whole operation in the first place. Father of the year, everyone.

In reality, Anakin’s choice was a misguided play at trying to save his love life.

Yet Anakin’s massacre of those poor defenseless younglings signifies a definitive shift toward the dark side of the Force. Killing kids ain’t cool, and we certainly hate him for it. 

Still, Palpatine was just trying to bring “peace” to the galaxy, and as the expression goes: you can’t make an omelet without breaking a few eggs. In an infamously cruel move in Revenge of the Sith Anakin (known hereafter as Darth Vader) makes a direct effort to snuff out the Jedi before they’re even able to realize what’s going on.

Vader is coerced by Palpatine to carry out these wishes to save his beloved Padmé. Having visions of her death, he is convinced the only way to prevent her demise is to grow as powerful as he possibly can. Then, the Force will keep Padmé safe. 

Order 66 didn’t play favorites. Fully trained Jedi were snuffed out in one fell swoop by the Clone troopers that fought alongside them. So, Vader’s killing of the younglings was a more surgical decision than one of cold-blooded passion.

The irony is that through his obsession, Vader’s love ultimately kills Padmé, leaving the Sith Lord even more misguided and alone. There are, of course, his displaced children Luke and Leia, who grow up to be a real pain in their old man’s side. No wonder the guy hates kids.

You can’t really come back from killing children though, and in the end Vader’s choice solidifies his chilling persona. It takes someone truly evil to slaughter innocence like that, and audiences everywhere had to accept from then on out that Darth Vader was the real deal. 

If you’d like to know more about the executive order that brought the Jedi to their knees, check out the video essay below detailing the covert operation.