Always two, there are: An Anakin Skywalker and another Anakin Skywalker. Wait, what? An absolutely off-the-wall Star Wars fan theory has asserted that we need to unlearn what we’ve know about the history of Anakin Skywalker. And although this theory may never become canon, it totally should.
Here’s how the brazen “Two Anakins Theory,” fixes everything wrong with The Clone Wars, the Star Wars prequels, and maybe even new shows like Obi-Wan Kenobi and Ahsoka, too.
The Two Anakins Theory of Star Wars
Over on Reddit, u/TheChainsawVigilante dropped a complex but fairly elegant fan theory. There’s not one Anakin Skywalker in the canon of Star Wars, but instead, two: the original version of the character and a Dark Side Clone.
The impetus for this theory is pretty simple. During the animated series The Clone Wars, Anakin starts to feel like a totally different person than who he becomes in Revenge of the Sith.
The Doylist (real world) explanation is that The Clone Wars was created after Revenge of the Sith and Matt Lanter plays Anakin in The Clone Wars, not Hayden Christensen. In other words, IRL, there are two (adult) Anakins since two different actors played the role.
What the Two Anakins Theory does is to take the tonal dissonance between Lanter-Anakin and Christensen-Anakin and apply it to the actual canon. As TheChainsawVigilante writes:
What if the Anakin in [Episode III] is actually an entirely new character: a clone, perhaps manufactured by Palpatine, to replace the "good" Anakin [?]
Imagine that while the clone Anakin was incubating, Sidious was using the dark side to influence him, perhaps even putting hypnotic triggers in his head, like Order 66 was implanted in the other Clones. Between the opening act of the last episode of [The Clone Wars] and the opening act of Revenge of the Sith, Sidious activates the younger, darker Anakin and orders him to kill the older, better Anakin.
Seems pretty far-fetched, right? Well, maybe not. Here’s why.
Star Wars canon and clones
Prior to The Rise of Skywalker, the notion of a major character being cloned was mostly limited to the non-canon “Expanded Universe” of Star Wars novels and comics. Back in the ‘90s, it was pretty common for evil clones of Luke Skywalker (Luuke) and Palpatine to pop up in the Timothy Zahn novels or Dark Empire comics.
But outside of The Clone Wars, clones of other people in the faraway galaxy have been rarer in the “real” canon. That is, until Palpatine somehow returned as a clone and used other clones called “Snoke” to (retroactively) mess with everyone in the prequel trilogy.
The point is, post-Rise of Skywalker assuming that anyone was a clone (Baby Yoda, Luke, et al.) isn’t the wildest of assumptions. The next big Star Wars TV show, The Book of Boba Fett will also star a very famous clone in the form of Boba himself. So thinking about a clone version of Anakin, is, again, not that far-fetched. It feels unlikely Lucasfilm would ever make this theory canon, but here’s why it would be cool if they did.
How Two Anakins fixes Star Wars
If we take the Clone Anakin theory to its logical conclusion, suddenly everything about the Force becoming unbalanced post-Return of the Jedi makes sense. Because if Darth Vader/Anakin Skywalker in Return of the Jedi really was the “first” Anakin, then when both Anakin and Palpatine perished, the Force would have stayed balanced.
But as we know from the sequels, the Force was less balanced than ever after RotJ, leading to the birth of both Ben Solo and Rey.
However, if the Anakin that passed away at the end of the original trilogy was an evil clone, then that explains why the Force would become so unbalanced. Maybe there never was any balance because the “real” Chose One was the first Anakin, not the second one.
The demise of a clone Anakin would also (kinda) explain the younger Anakin Skywalker Force Ghost in the Special Edition of Return of the Jedi. Of course, clone Anakin/Darth Vader would convince himself that at some point he was the real Anakin, since, up until the death of the first Anakin, they would have all the same memories.
Still, it feels safe to assume the midi-chlorian count of the second Anakin would be lower than the first. And it feels equally safe to assume the Force itself would know the difference between “real” Anakin and “fake” Anakin. This leads to a slightly more complex question: If there were two Anakins, would that mean there would be two Force Ghosts or just one?
In unused concept art for The Force Awakens, one abandoned scene would have found Kylo Ren speaking to a hybrid Force Ghost that was equal parts Darth Vader and Anakin Skywalker. This has always felt like a weird, funky, and slightly transgressive concept. But now, if we imagine competing Force Ghosts — one the ghost of the “first” Anakin, and one, the ghost of Clone Anakin/Vader — suddenly this idea makes sense.
From Anakin’s strange personality shifts from Clone Wars to Revenge of the Sith to wonkiness surrounding questions about “The Chosen One,” the gonzo theory that there were two Anakins fixes more than it destroys. It’s never gonna be canon, but for once, this is a fan theory that creates an elegant, civilized take on the most famous character to ever wield the Force.
Anakin Skywalker will return in Obi-Wan Kenobi in 2022.