Anakin grew up as a slave in the markets of Mos Espa, on Tatooine, arriving on the planet with his mother Shmi when he was just three years old. Shmi later revealed that there was no father to him, that she simply found out she was pregnant and carried the child to birth. He and his mother were owned by Gardulla the Hutt at the time, but were eventually won in a podracing bet by Watto.
Despite his gruff demeanor, Watto treated the Skywalkers fairly. After meeting Qui-Gon Jinn, he dreamed of becoming a Jedi Knight. His chances were enhanced when Qui-Gon learned of his immaculate conception, believing he to be the Chosen One prophesied by the ancient Jedi lore.
After winning the Boonta Eve Classic podrace and being freed by Qui-Gon, he left Tatooine and trained by Obi-Wan Kenobi. His own lightsaber was constructed on Ilum, but he could only remember obtaining the red blade from a vision of Darth Maul. Eventually, he grew into a brash young pilot who joined the Old Republic as a fighter pilot, gaining recognition during his education at the Academy and then during the Clone Wars.
He was still a brash young man, and the barriers of patience and hard work seemed to stifle his growing proficiency in the Force. It was about this time that Senator Palpatine also noticed the young Anakin. Sensing the Force within him, Palpatine also sensed his desire to learn quickly. After the death of Shmi Skywalker Lars at the hands of a clan of Tusken Raiders, he became so enraged that he killed the entire clan, inclding the females and the children. His descent into the Dark Side began. During the Battle of Geonosis, he lost his right arm in a lightsaber duel with Count Dooku. The arm was replaced with a cybernetic prosthesis, but took away some part of Anakin's humanity.
Seizing the opportunity, Palpatine introduced Anakin to the wonders of the Dark Side of The Force, and Anakin was hooked. He realized that, with the power of the Force behind him, he would be able to provide for himself and his pregnant wife. There would be nothing to hinder him, and his security seemed assured. He became Palpatine's student, and the fall from the Light Side to the Dark Side happened so quickly that Kenobi was powerless to stop it.
Kenobi pleaded with Anakin to return to the Light Side, but Anakin would have no part of it. After a heated argument, Anakin and Kenobi confronted each other in a vicious lightsaber duel. They were evenly matched physically, but Obi-Wan's knowledge of the Force was much greater than Anakin's, and Kenobi was able to maintain his strength. A coincidence led to their battle nearing a pit of molten lava, and Anakin misplaced his footing. He fell into the pit, and was seared alive. Obi-Wan, seeing that he had a single chance to save his friend and return him to the Light Side, pulled the burning Anakin from the pit. He returned to the Old Republic, where a tram of cybernetic surgeons worked furiously to save him.
The newly-promoted Emperor Palpatine spared no expense in trying to save Anakin. This was noted by Kenobi, who realized that Anakin would see Palpatine as a savior. Kenobi then fled with Anakin's wife, hiding her and her unborn twins on remote worlds, out of the Emperor's watchful sight. Palpatine, upon Anakin's recovery, re-introduced Anakin to the Dark Side of the Force. This eventually led to his acceptance of the Sith training and lore, and sometime during this training Anakin Skywalker ceased to exist. He became Darth Vader, and rose to become a Dark Lord of the Sith.
As such, he also became Palpatine's minion, and became the Emperor's tool. Sometime after the Battle of Yavin, Palpatine was able to discover that Anakin had had a son. He used this knowledge to help secure his hold on the former Anakin Skywalker, as well as a way to help turn Luke to the Dark Side. The Light Side of him seemed to try and return to the surface, and Vader was faced with a crisis. During the Battle of Endor, Luke managed to get the Light Side of Anakin to re-assert itself, and as
the Emperor was trying to kill Luke, Anakin rose up and threw the Emperor down the Death Star's power shaft. The life-support systems that kept Darth Vader alive, however, were seriously damaged by the Emperor's Force lightning, and failed. He died soon after Luke removed the facemask to allow Anakin to see his son with his own eyes.