Star Wars devotees are used to being kept in the dark, but the recent announcement that Hayden Christensen will reprise his role of Anakin Skywalker in the upcoming spinoff series Ahsoka took fan confusion to a new level. The spinoff, which will build off Ahsoka’s live-action appearance in The Mandalorian, takes place years after Darth Vader’s sacrifice.
So how could the character appear alive at this point in the timeline? The answer is simpler than you may think — and takes inspiration from a little-known novel.
For a character to live on after their alleged demise isn’t unheard of in the Star Wars universe. That’s why Anakin appearing as a Force ghost in Ahsoka is one prominent fan theory. But there’s another way seemingly dead characters have been reborn — cloning.
The infamous “Somehow, Palpatine returned,” plot twist may have been bemoaned by fans, but it was a convenient way to bring the archvillain of the Skywalker Saga back into the narrative. After all, Siths and experimental clones go back to Darth Plagueis.
Lost Legends is an Inverse series about the forgotten lore of our favorite stories.
What if Anakin was cloned? In the young readers' novel Galaxy of Fear: Clones by John Whitman, a pre-Original Trilogy Darth Vader visited an automated cloning facility on the planet where his squad was massacred by security turrets. In the fray, traces of Vader’s blood were left behind.
The droids manning the cloning facility, acting on protocol, did what they do and cloned the organic material they had access to. Years later, Vader returned to the planet and faced off against a clone version of himself.
How could this factor into Ahsoka? Well, if a clone version of Anakin was established within Star Wars canon in The Mandalorian, which has explored cloning technology in the past, then a clone Anakin could appear in Ahsoka. Perhaps that’s a plot point for Season 3 to tackle.
Not only would this solve the big timeline discrepancy that Anakin’s appearance would otherwise cause, but it would also explain Anakin’s (and Hayden Christensen’s) aging. Though a clone version of Anakin would only be about a decade old, it’s established in Star Wars canon that clones age faster than normal, meaning an Anakin clone could appear 40 years old (the age Christensen is now).
Another clone resurrection after Palpatine’s return wouldn’t be recycling a previous plot twist so much as showing how it could work more flawlessly within a Star Wars series. It would also give more weight to the emphasis cloning tech has received across past series like The Bad Batch and The Mandalorian. Is this what it’s all leading up to?
At the very least, this theory gives more options for Anakin’s appearance than just Force Ghost or flashback. The clone theory is the dark horse in the race, but don’t count it out just yet.
Ahsoka premieres on Disney+ in 2022.