“You were the Chosen One” — a line that hits different once you know how long the man who spoke it struggled with his belief that he’d been wrong. Jedi Master Obi-Wan Kenobi spent a decade convinced he’d killed his best friend; his student; his brother — the man who was supposed to destroy the Sith, but became one of them instead.
Years later, Obi-Wan, having finally learned what Anakin had truly become, gave young Luke Skywalker only one task: Confront and defeat Darth Vader. But in the moment when Vader finally turned back to the light and saved Luke — becoming Anakin Skywalker once more — was he still the Chosen One in Star Wars?
Bringing balance to the Force
According to the prophecy addressed in the Star Wars prequels, the Chosen One was meant to “bring balance to the Force.” As with many such prophecies, this leaves a lot up to interpretation. The Jedi Council eventually saw this to mean the Chosen One would defeat the Sith — the only perceived threat to the Jedi Order and what it represented.
Over the years, many Star Wars fans questioned, in the many stories that followed Return of the Jedi, whether or not Anakin was actually the Chosen One that prophecy spoke of. After all, even though Anakin defeated the Emperor to end the Galactic Civil War, he eventually came back. Did that cancel out Anakin’s “Chosen One” final act? When Luke, at the end of The Last Jedi, sacrificed himself to save the galaxy — did that make him the Chosen One instead?
And what about Rey? In the end, she — with the help of all the Jedi that came before her — defeated the Emperor once and for all. Even though Anakin was among those Jedi spirits, did Rey then fulfill the prophecy instead of him?
Anakin, Luke or Rey?
Let us turn to 2008’s Star Wars: The Clone Wars for a little context. In Season 3’s “Mortis” arc, Anakin, Obi-Wan and Ahsoka Tano are transported to a strange world that embodies three pillars of the Force: The Father, the Daughter, and the Son. At one point throughout these episodes, the Father — in charge of keeping the Daughter (representing the light side of the Force) and the Son (representing the dark side) in balance. He asks Anakin to take on the role. Anakin can be seen standing between the Daughter and Son, holding them back from attacking one another. The Chosen One. Responsible for doing just that — not on Mortis, but throughout the entire galaxy.
This all but confirms that Anakin is meant to fulfill the prophecy of the Chosen One, and because he destroyed both the Emperor and himself to save his son, technically he ended up doing exactly what the prophecy said he would.
From this perspective, the sequel trilogy doesn’t completely erase Anakin’s efforts. Yes, the Emperor comes back. Yes, Anakin must once again — even as a “Force Ghost” — assist in eliminating the Sith. But perhaps this is part of the whole point of the prophecy. Anakin was a powerful Force-wielder. But throughout his time as a Jedi, he influenced many of the characters that would go on to eventually influence the final defeat of the Sith. Ahsoka, who assisted the Rebel Alliance in its efforts to strike the Empire down Death Star by Death Star. Obi-Wan, who protected Luke until he could be trained. Luke, who recognized that his father’s downfall was fear, and that the key to overcoming fear was to face it. Rey, who learned this lesson from Luke and more, and eventually did what no one else in the galaxy could.
Perhaps, in the larger story of Star Wars, Anakin being the Chosen One wasn’t about just bringing balance to the Force one time. Instead, maybe being the Chosen One meant he would lead others onto the path of being able to keep the Force in balance, even long after he was gone.