by @holocronGeorge for @sw_holocron
“A Chosen One shall come, born of no father, and through him will ultimate balance in the Force be restored.” Much of the Skywalker saga centers around this iconic Jedi prophecy, foretelling an individual who will restore balance and peace in the Force. While the question of “who really is the Chosen One?” seems pretty cut and dry, debate among fans regarding this question has existed for decades now and has, once again, intensified in light of Darth Sidious’ return in The Rise of Skywalker. Since the release of the film, new questions have arose as to which, if any, of the three trilogies’ respective Jedi heroes can take the mantle of the Chosen One.
Anakin or Luke?
For a while, it seemed that the Chosen One prophecy could apply to either Anakin or Luke Skywalker. In the prequel trilogy, Qui-Gon initially prophesied that the young boy he found on Tatooine would restore balance to the Force, a sentiment other Jedi believed in to varying degrees. However, as the Clone Wars raged on and Anakin’s allegiance to the Chancellor grew stronger, Jedi like Yoda and Mace Windu began openly questioning the validity of the prophecy’s applicability to Anakin. Yoda even states, “A prophecy, misread could have been.” This sentiment carries over to Obi-Wan, who emotionally declares on Mustafar, “You were the Chosen One! They said that you would destroy the Sith, not join them! Bring balance to the Force, not leave it in darkness!” At this point, Obi-Wan and Yoda believed that the prophecy was misread and that it was Anakin’s son Luke who must be trained in the ways of the Jedi to fulfill the Chosen One prophecy and bring balance to the Force by killing his father and Palpatine.
In watching the original six films, there’s a degree of ambiguity as to whether or not Anakin or Luke is the Chosen One. It is Luke who, through his compassion, turns Anakin back to the light side of the Force, thus leading to the death of Palpatine. However, it is Anakin who actually kills Palpatine and restores balance. Without Anakin, who was perfectly positioned as Palpatine’s right-hand man, turning to the light, the dark side would have continued to reign.
Still, many fans argued that without Luke, Anakin would have never turned to the light, therefore making the son of Skywalker the Chosen One. However, George Lucas dispelled this theory in an interview in which he officially confirmed that Anakin, even after becoming Vader, was still the Chosen One. This is affirmed in the canon reference title Darth Vader: Sith Lord, which explicitly states, “Anakin had fulfilled the destiny of the Chosen One.”
Is Anakin still the Chosen One?
The sequel trilogy, in particular The Rise of Skywalker, casts doubt on Anakin’s position as the Chosen One. The Force Awakens and The Last Jedi intelligently subverted invalidating the Chosen One prophecy, as it was actualized in Return of the Jedi, by stating that the prophecy foretold the destruction of the Sith, but not the dark side of the Force necessarily. Snoke and Kylo Ren are depicted as dark side users, but are clearly not Sith, thus making Anakin’s restoration of balance in Return of the Jedi compatible with the rise of a new evil in the sequel trilogy.
However, The Rise of Skywalker adds a degree of complexity to the Chosen One prophecy. Although some fans may disagree, The Force Awakens and The Last Jedi present the new antagonists in a way that does not necessarily conflict with the Chosen One prophecy, given that the Sith are still destroyed following Anakin’s actions in Return of the Jedi. This is not the case in The Rise of Skywalker, in which Sidious is revealed to have died and returned, overseeing the First Order via Snoke. So, the question becomes: is Anakin still the Chosen One given that he did not truly bring about the end of the Sith? There’s several possibilities.
One of which is that, simply, Anakin is still the Chosen One. Although Palpatine did return, Vader actually killed Palpatine in Return of the Jedi. In this sense, balance was restored, at least for a time, after Anakin’s actions.
This, however, raises yet another question. If Rey does the same thing in The Rise of Skywalker as Anakin did in Return of the Jedi, is she the Chosen One? Moreover, it is Rey who definitively kills Palpatine, deflecting his lightning strikes back at him and making the Sith Lord disintegrate. Anakin says to Rey in Episode IX, “Bring balance to the Force, as I did.” This line shows that both Anakin and Rey, in slaughtering Palpatine, restore balance to the Force. It’s not the case that Anakin’s actions in Return of the Jedi are invalidated. Rather, Anakin killed Palpatine and restored balance for a time, before Rey killed Palpatine again, thus restoring balance again.
Some fans may find this problematic given that it makes the Chosen One prophecy seem more like a Chosen Two prophecy. It’s possible that Anakin is still considered the Chosen One as he killed Palpatine in Return of the Jedi and was vital in helping Rey kill Palpatine in The Rise of Skywalker (through his encouragement and support to Rey), collectively making him the most important individual in bringing balance. Or, it may be the case that the Chosen One prophecy can be fulfilled multiple times, with both Anakin and Rey actualizing this upon killing Palpatine at different times. Or, there’s a possibility that, as Yoda once said, the prophecy was initially misread and it is actually Rey who is the Chosen One, not Anakin or Luke.
Canonically, it’s still unclear where the Chosen One prophecy stands in light of the events in the sequel trilogy. George Lucas once emphasized that Anakin, not Luke, was the Chosen One, but it seems that a more relevant discussion nowadays regards whether Anakin and/or Rey is the Chosen One. Whether or not this question will be addressed in a future Star Wars project remains to be seen, but given that the Chosen One prophecy has been an integral part of the Skywalker saga, it’s certainly not out of the realm of possibility that more light will be shed on this topic eventually.
Images courtesy of Lucasfilm & Disney+