Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker disappointed many fans and critics alike. One of the film’s multitude of problems, in the eyes of some of the franchise faithful, was absence of Hayden Christensen, whom they hoped would return in Force ghost from as Anakin Skywalker to help guide or redeem his grandson, Kylo Ren. Perhaps Christensen, or Lucasfilm, simply wasn’t interested in a reprisal, but there may be an in-universe explanation.
A theory floated to Reddit offers up two ideas. One is that Anakin walked away from the Force following his death to rest in peace with Padme. But the other is that Palpatine, or possibly someone else, severed Anakin’s connection to the Force following the death of Darth Vader. The Redditor claims it is extremely unlikely that the ghost of Anakin Skywalker wouldn’t try to keep his grandson from turning to the Dark Side, or, at the very least, try to redeem him, especially considering the man who turned his grandson down a villainous path did the same to Anakin. His absence in the sequel trilogy makes the theory that his Force connection was severed more likely.
If that is the case, the most likely culprit is Emperor Palpatine. As the Redditor explains, Emperor Palpatine would love nothing more than to torture the ghost of Anakin by cutting him off from the Force as he watches his legacy get destroyed. Through a “weird Force thing,” as they put it, Emperor Palpatine and his Sith cult are able to render him helpless as he watches his son’s new Jedi Order get destroyed and his grandson turned to the Dark side. This theory also explains why other Jedi don’t appear as Force ghosts until Rey frees them at the end of The Rise of Skywalker.
Emperor Palpatine could have also severed the Force connection with both Rey and Palpatine’s son (her father) and sought to make Ben Solo his apprentice because he believed that Solo would be more powerful. It wasn’t until the Force awakened in Rey that Emperor Palpatine decided he wanted his granddaughter. That leads the Redditor to name the second suspect that may have severed Anakin’s Force connection, which is Snoke, although the former Supreme Leader was confirmed in Episode IX to have been a puppet for Emperor Palpatine. The Redditor notes that Snoke was seemingly a powerful Dark Side user, and was possibly just as capable of severing Force connections as he was creating Force bonds.
The third suspect may stretch credibility. It’s the adorable Baby Yoda, the breakout character from the hit Disney+ series, The Mandalorian. The theorist acknowledges that it’s far-fetched, but notes that Baby Yoda’s age is 50. Baby Yoda emerged after the Sith were defeated following the events of Return of the Jedi, possibly as a tool to restore the Jedi Order. The Redditor claims that Baby Yoda was a direct response to Anakin’s death and the fall of the Sith Order, and then was possibly used by Emperor Palpatine and the Sith cult to sever Anakin’s Force connection.
The theorist finally claims that The Rise of Skywalker takes on a double meaning if you believe his theory. The title, on a surface level, clearly refers to either Rey and Ben Solo, but Anakin Skywalker was able to return to being a Force ghost at the end of The Rise of Skywalker due to Rey’s actions.
While the original theory claims that the Jedi don’t appear as Force ghosts until Rey frees them at the end of The Rise of Skywalker, another Redditor pushed back by mentioning that Yoda was a force ghost in The Last Jedi. The original poster refutes this, however, claiming that Yoda was such a powerful Jedi that he may have been able to avoid having his Force connection severed. Another hole in the theory, as another commenter mentions, is that a Force ghost that has their Force connection severed simply wouldn’t exist, as Force ghosts are solely composed of the force. While the Redditor’s theory is certainly ambitious, there are certainly enough holes to possibly sink it.
Directed and co-written by J.J. Abrams, Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker stars Daisy Ridley, Adam Driver, John Boyega, Oscar Isaac, Lupita Nyong’ o, Domhnall Gleeson, Kelly Marie Tran, Joonas Suotamo, Billie Lourd, Keri Russell, Anthony Daniels, Mark Hamill, Billy Dee Williams, and Carrie Fisher, with Naomi Ackie and Richard E. Grant.