When Anakin Skywalker turned back to the Light side of the Force in Return of the Jedi, we knew his Force ghost hung out with Yoda and Obi-Wan because we saw him smiling at Luke at the end of the movie. But where did Anakin’s ghost go after that? One new theory suggests the elder Skywalker intentionally took his spirit and hid it in a special place, just in case Palpatine came back to life.
Here’s why the theory is compelling, plus three ways it could tie up a lot of complicated canon without bogging down the plot of Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker.
Speculation ahead. No spoilers intended, but these theories could be right on accident.
Over the weekend, on Reddit, user Bgormz931 speculated that if Hayden Christensen does return as Anakin in The Rise of Skywalker, one big question would need to be answered: Where has his ghost been this whole time? Return of the Jedi ends with three spirits, Obi-Wan, Yoda, and Anakin. So far in the sequel trilogy, we have seen or heard from two of the ghosts; Obi-Wan briefly spoke to Rey in The Force Awakens and Yoda appeared to Luke in The Last Jedi. Kylo Ren says he’s been talking to the ghost of Darth Vader in The Force Awakens, but it’s tough to say if that was legit or not. We haven’t actually seen or heard from Anakin’s ghost in the sequel trilogy yet. So where is he?
In a roundabout way, this theory says Anakin is basically chilling on Mortis, which is the sort of metaphysical realm where the Force is balanced in Star Wars canon. The theory goes that Anakin has been hiding here, “guarding the source of the Dark side along with the dagger [of Mortis] awaiting his grandson’s and Rey’s arrival, to teach balance and how to stop the Emperor’s return.” It sounds a little wild, but it could work, and if you’re a hardcore Clone Wars fan, you’ll probably find yourself hoping this does happen. Here are three reasons why.
Anakin is the only Star Wars character who understands balance
Throughout six films, Anakin moves through extremes on the Force spectrum. In fact, you could argue that because he’s swung so far in both directions, he’s kind of the only character who “gets it.” So, if he is instrumental in setting up a scenario in which the Force gets balanced again, it not only makes sense because of all the silly “Chosen One” prophecy stuff, but it also checks out in terms of qualifications. Anakin is the ghost with the most, and what he has the most of is experience with both the Light and Dark side of the Force. If Anakin has been hiding out, waiting for the right moment, he’s probably got his reasons.
Clone Wars canon tells us Anakin’s ghost probably should be on Mortis
In the three-part Clone Wars arc, “Overlords,” “Ghosts of Mortis,” and “Altar of Mortis,” a being called “the Father,” actively want Anakin to say on Mortis and bring balance between “the Son” and “the Daughter.” But, because this is pre-Vader Anakin and he’s really full of shit, he refuses, “the Daughter” is killed, and the Force gets totally screwed up. Fast-forward to Return of the Jedi, where Anakin becomes one with the Force. Where would he go? On some level, he probably knows he has to go to Mortis and wait for some new folks to come and help him keep the Force in balance. And, as this Reddit theory suggests, those two people could be Rey and Kylo Ren. If Rey really is a decedent of Palpatine, this is actually pretty perfect, because it means that everyone involved has some seriously pluralistic experiences of the Force.
We’ve seen in The Last Jedi that Rey is fine to use to the Dark side to get what she wants. Meanwhile, Ben Solo, a person who went bad, feels a “pull” to the Light side. Then there’s Anakin Skywalker, a person who started good, went totally evil, and then became good again. Together, these three characters are the perfect candidates to replace “The Father,” “the Son,” and “the Daughter” on Mortis.
Rise of Skywalker could easily explain all this without getting too deep in the weeds
As Bgormz931 points out, some “haters” might suggest all of this is too complicated for casual fans and that J.J. Abrams won’t touch this stuff because it’s too confusing and weird. But it’s not really that complicated. Rey could enter the Force and meet Anakin. He could say something like, “I’ve been waiting for you, but you need to bring Ben with you. Otherwise, there can be no balance.” Then, maybe Rey’s mission is to bring Kylo Ren to meet Anakin. At that point, Anakin could give Rey the nifty dagger of Mortis (which it really seems like she has in the trailers) and Anakin could tell them to team up and kill Palpatine.
The movie could do all of this without mentioning the word “Mortis” once! If Anakin is telling Rey and Ben what they need to do to save the universe, we’re going to believe him. Because, after all this time, the man who became Darth Vader is still, no matter what anyone says, the most pivotal character in the entire Star Wars saga. It would be a fitting end to the story that started with Anakin to let him set the stakes for the very final chapter.
Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker, Anakin Has Been Waiting For You hits theaters on December 20, 2019.