Star Wars is, in large part, the story of Anakin Skywalker. Anakin becomes a war hero during the Clone Wars but fell to the dark side near the war's end. His son, Luke, later redeems him, and he appears at the end of Return of the Jedi as a Force ghost alongside Obi-Wan Kenobi and Yoda. Some fans have wondered about this moment, especially since George Lucas replaced original Anakin actor Sebastian Shaw with prequel trilogy star Hayden Christensen in the special edition of Return of the Jedi in 1997. Star Wars: The Clone Wars star Sam Witwer revealed during Cinefix's Return of the Jedi watch party that Star Wars creator George Lucas had a specific reason for this change, and it almost came out in dialogue in The Clone Wars finale. The line didn't make it into the finalized episode, but Witwer paraphrased what Lucas told him.
"Lucas explained that when you're a Jedi, and you think of your friends, you can sort of touch them in the Force," Witwer says. "You can just kinda reach out and think of your friend, and you get a good feeling, you know that they're out there. And you look out in the starlit sky, and every one of them is a Jedi. And when the Empire starts taking over, one by one the stars start winking out, and Order 66, boom, almost all of them are gone at once. And when Ahsoka reaches out to touch her friend Anakin he's gone. She doesn't sense Anakin Skywalker out there. She assumes that he's dead, that he was killed. So that idea that Anakin Skywalker died when he did in Revenge of the Sith was also built into the Clone Wars series and into George's understanding of how the Force works and how these things work."
Anakin Skywalker died when he became Darth Vader. Therefore, his Force ghost should look as he did before that transformation.
"Because ultimately, with all these bad guys, the further down into the dark path that they go, the more they become a caricature of themselves," Witwer continue. "If you look at Darth Vader, the sweep of his helmet is a mockery of Anakin's hairstyle. His robes are like a mockery of what Anakin's Jedi robes were. Even Darth Maul becomes a twisted mockery with spider legs and all kinds of weird stuff. Palpatine is completely an evil caricature of Senator Palpatine. The darker they go, it's like if you never hear the word 'no' from anyone, or you refuse hearing the word 'no' from any other human being, you're no longer living in the real world and suddenly you start behaving very strangely and start living this strange Howard Hughes type thing, except Star Wars and the dark side. So the idea that Anakin became a different person, that's part of the DNA all the way back from these movies and all the way through the Clone Wars, all the way through the prequels, all that stuff. It's fun, interesting stuff to think about."
What do you think of this explanation for Anakin's Force ghost? Let us know in the comments. Star Wars: The Clone Wars and Return of the Jedi are both streaming now on Disney+.