The "Chosen One" prophecy outlined in The Phantom Menace looms large over the prequel trilogy, but there's never a complete confirmation that Anakin Skywalker was indeed the foreordained hero who would bring balance to the Force. Now that the Skywalker Saga's over and done, the most likely candidate for that lofty title is quite the shock.
Redditor halexmorph builds a strong case for who truly is the Chosen One: Emperor Palpatine. It seems preposterous on its face — he sought to destroy all the Jedi. How could he bring balance to the Force? Just like the case for Anakin, the concept of Sheev as the Chosen One asks us to stretch far beyond the scope of the prequels.
First of all, there are plenty of reasons why the Chosen One isn't Anakin. As much as it hurts to admit Qui-Gon Jinn was wrong, Anakin never did much to truly balance the Force. He incorporated nuance into it by turning to the Dark Side, and his children both destroyed the Empire and produced Ben Solo, who could possibly be seen as a "balanced" Force user. But there was no definitive blow from Anakin, or even from a Skywalker, to bring peace to the Force users. Rey delivered the last blow to Palpatine.
In the case for Palpatine, we first need to dig a little bit deeper. In the comic Darth Vader #25, Palpatine's infamous "powers some deem to be... unnatural" speech is paired with images of what appears to a spectral Palpatine behind a pregnant Shmi Skywalker. This seems to imply that instead of Anakin being a "child of the Force," he's actually a child of Palpatine, conceived in an... unnatural way.
The creator of this comic since has asserted this scene was a figment of Vader's imagination as a way to instill a legacy before him, but there's surely some canonical weight to it, if only metaphorical.
If interpreted literally, however, whatever resulted from Anakin attempting to balance the Force, and the actions of his descendants, all stemmed from Palpatine in the beginning. So regardless of whether or not Anakin is the chosen one (as alluded to in the comic) Anakin is a blood relative of Palpatine.
All this talk begs the question, how exactly could the Force be balanced? The theory proposes three scenarios: one where all Force users are eliminated and it all starts from scratch, one where only Jedi remain because Jedi seek to bring peace to the galaxy, and one where both sides are equally powerful and numerous.
In the sequel trilogy, there are hardly any extant Sith and Jedi. Luke and Leia are retired, and Snoke and Kylo aren't technically Sith Lords, just Dark Side Force users. Rey truly is the last Jedi, and if we interpret Palpatine's "All the Sith live in me" line literally, he's the last Sith. (Or the clone version of him is, at least.)
This would technically bring balance to the Force, but the conflict is far greater than the balance. Instead, Palpatine is slain by Rey, who is herself a Palpatine. Palpatine created balance in the Force, and then a Palpatine dealt the final blow and eliminated him, erasing all Sith from the galaxy and bringing peace and balance to the Force.
The Inverse Analysis — Regardless of who is truly the Chosen One, this theory lays out just how much influence Palpatine had over the Star Wars canon, both directly and indirectly. As Star Wars looks to move into its next phase after "The Skywalker Saga" it may be worth considering who is really the center of attention in these films. Wouldn't "The Palpatine Saga" be more accurate?