Anakin Skywalker, the greatest figure in the entire Star Wars Saga, could have been created by Palpatine as part of his quest for immortality. The Prequels established Anakin Skywalker as a uniquely powerful Force-user, with a Midichlorian count that exceeded even Master Yoda. According to Anakin's mother Shmi, he had no natural father, a fact that made Qui-Gon Jinn very curious indeed.
Qui-Gon Jinn was one of the few Jedi who had dedicated a great deal of time to studying the ancient Jedi prophesies. He was particularly interested in the prophecy of the Chosen One, which foretold the birth of a powerful Force being who had no father, and through whom "ultimate balance in the Force" would be restored. The Jedi came to assume that this meant the Chosen One was destined to destroy the Sith, and when the Clone Wars began they were eager to bring Anakin into play against the dark side. This proved to be their undoing; Palpatine had noticed Anakin's potential, and he manipulated him into becoming Darth Vader.
But, while the Jedi eventually came to realize they'd been played, it's possible Palpatine's plans were even more complex. Was Anakin his creation all along, designed as part of the Sith Lord's quest for immortality?
Palpatine Definitely Created Anakin For His Own Gains
Qui-Gon Jinn believed that Anakin was conceived by the Force itself, but recent tie-in comics have suggested that wasn't the case. Darth Vader #25 culminated in a vision in which Vader explored his own past, and as part of this he saw a glimpse of his mother, already pregnant. The vision changed, showing Palpatine's shroud encircled her, his hands curled in Sith sorcery, a swirl of dark side energy forming in Shmi's womb. This vision seems to suggest that Palpatine himself created Anakin Skywalker.
This theory is actually quite a well-established one in Star Wars lore. In Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith, Palpatine told the tale of Darth Plagueis the Wise, a Sith Lord who learned how to manipulate the Midichlorians in order to create life. Palpatine himself was Plageuis' apprentice, who killed him in his sleep. Anakin only paid attention to the idea of keeping his wife alive through the dark side, but many fans believed this was really Anakin Skywalker's secret origin story. Anakin Skywalker was chosen not by the Force, but by Darth Sidious.
Now, it's important to note that this theory is far from proven. While a surface reading of Darth Vader #25 does indeed suggest this, Force visions aren't necessarily supposed to be taken literally; indeed, Shmi is already pregnant in the vision, so it may just be a symbolic way of saying Palpatine's darkness would dominate her son's life. Still, although the vision is not conclusive, it strongly supports the idea Anakin was created by Palpatine. But why would the Sith Lord do this?
Palpatine Was (And Is) Obsessed With Immortality
The trailer for Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker revealed that Palpatine somehow survived - or returned from - his death in the Second Death Star over the Forest Moon of Endor. That's led viewers to eagerly run through all Disney's Star Wars canon, and it's swiftly become clear that the Emperor was always focused on the idea of conquering death itself. "The dark side of the Force is a pathway to many abilities some consider to be unnatural," Palpatine observed in Revenge of the Sith as he told the story of Darth Plageuis the Wise. He's been shown interacting with the Nightsisters, a dark side cult who have their own mystic ways of surviving death; learning from Lord Momin, an ancient Sith whose consciousness was preserved inside one of his Sith helmets; and he even researched clone technology in order to create new bodies to transfer his soul into.
At the moment, it's unclear just how the Emperor will return in Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker. What is certain, however, is that Darth Sidious sought to live forever, and explored countless different avenues in his quest for immortality. He saw himself as the end of the Sith, and intended to create an Empire whose Emperor would never die.
What Did Palpatine Want Anakin For?
This view neatly explains why Palpatine wasn't exactly your ordinary Sith. The relationship between a Sith Lord and their Apprentice is always fractious - the Rule of Two establishes that there should be one to crave power, and the other to wield it - but that seems to have been particularly the case with Palpatine, who never anticipated being supplanted by one of his students.
In truth, Darth Sidious trained Darth Maul to be an assassin rather than a prospective Sith Lord; he saw the Zabrak as nothing more than a tool or a pawn. A recent tie-in novel even has suggested that Darth Sidious took Dooku on as apprentice several years before Maul's death; Dooku himself was also discarded ruthlessly, of course. Even when he had gained Darth Vader, Palpatine considered replacing him, describing him as nothing more than a slave in Chuck Wendig's "Aftermath" trilogy.
And yet, the contrast between Darth Maul and Darth Vader strongly suggests that the Emperor had some special purpose for Anakin Skywalker. Both Sith suffered the same fate, defeated in battle and left crippled by Obi-Wan Kenobi. There's no evidence Palpatine even tried to retrieve Maul, whereas he went to incredible lengths to save Anakin's life. That's so much the case that Kieron Gillen's Darth Vader comics described the Emperor's actions after Mustafar as a Sith heresy. Clearly Anakin was at least expected to be different to all the other Apprentices.
The key probably lies with the Chosen One prophecy. The prophecies don't appear to have originated with the Jedi Order, and there's no reason to assume the Sith weren't aware of them - even Maul acknowledges a Sith version of the prophecy in the final moments before his death. As such, Palpatine may have believed that through manipulating the Midichlorians he could personally bring about a twisted version of the Chosen One, creating a being of unique and unprecedented Force potential. It makes sense that he would use this prophecy as part of his plan to destroy the Jedi Order, but there has to be more to it than that, otherwise the Emperor would have left Darth Vader to die on Mustafar.
Did Palpatine Want To Possess Anakin?
The key may lie in one of the traditional Sith methods of immortality, a power known as Essence Transfer. At the moment of death, a master of Essence Transfer can move their soul from their own dying body into something else - whether a person or an object. Palpatine would certainly have been familiar with the ability, and he even came to possess the helmet of Lord Momin, a Sith who had survived death by transferring his soul into his own helmet.
A man like Palpatine wouldn't be satisfied with the idea of living on in a helmet, or indeed in any other artifact. He'd want to possess a body, and he'd want that body to be a powerful one. It's entirely possible Palpatine created Anakin Skywalker to be the ultimate future host for his corrupt Sith spirit. That would explain why he refused to simply let Anakin die; he was unwilling to give up on the idea.
No doubt Anakin Skywalker would become far less attractive a host when Palpatine realized that Anakin's body was broken, and that a portion of Darth Vader's dark side power was lost due to the horrific injuries he sustained at Obi-Wan Kenobi's hands. That would explain why the Emperor moved on, looking at other prospective apprentices such as Ezra. He'd have viewed Luke Skywalker as a gift from the dark side itself, especially when he got a sense of Luke's power in the Force. Into the Sequel Trilogy era, Darth Sidious would presumably be just as interested in Kylo Ren and Rey, an ominous prospect for Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker.
If this theory is correct, then Anakin Skywalker was created by Palpatine as a corruption of the Chose One prophecy. "A Chosen One shall come," the prophecy reads, "born of no father, and through him will ultimate balance in the Force be restored." Palpatine sought to corrupt that prophecy, by creating an ultimate weapon against the Jedi Order and a potential host that would allow him to tip the galaxy into eternal darkness. But this may well have been a critical error, because the prophecy doesn't hint at just how the Chosen One would be born.
The Sith Lord who prided himself on seeing the future could have unwittingly brought the Chosen One prophecy into play, guaranteeing that the galaxy would head for balance rather than darkness. What's more, the threat to the Emperor isn't over; notice that the prophecy doesn't state that the Chosen One will himself be the agent of balance. Given Star Wars 9 is called The Rise of Skywalker, it's safe to assume Palpatine will somehow be defeated by the Chosen One's legacy.
- Star Wars 9 / Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker (2019) release date: Dec 20, 2019