Star Wars May Finally Have Explained Why Anakin Skywalker Doesn't Appear to Luke in the Sequels

The Star Wars sequel trilogy brought the Skywalker saga to its end, but Anakin Skywalker -- who appeared in all six previous installments by that name or that of his Sith Lord alter ego, Darth Vader -- wasn't to be seen. It seemed an odd move to some. We know that Anakin is capable of manifesting as a Force ghost since he does so at the end of Star Wars: Return of the Jedi,. Why, then, is it Yoda who visits Anakin's son, Luke Skywalker, in Star Wars: The Last Jedi instead of Anakin, as welcome as that appearance may have been? We may now have an answer.

The new novel Star Wars: Shadow of the Sith by Adam Christopher is a kind of prologue to the sequel trilogy, providing backstory to some of the characters and plot devices added to the universe only in the saga's final chapter, The Rise of Skywalker. It may also offer an explanation for why Anakin doesn't appear in the sequels. [SPOILERS follow.]

Shadow of the Sith sees Luke Skywalker investigating the mysterious Sith planet Exegol. He and Lor San Tekka tried to do it through research but only got so far. As a next step, Luke visits Tython, a planet holy to the Jedi, and uses the planet's seeing stone to enter a deep meditative state. This allows Luke to project himself onto Exegol, similar to what he did in Star Wars: The Last Jedi to face Kylo Ren.

But Exegol is different. The planet is so deeply saturated with dark side energy that it affects Luke, even in this spectral state. Even more dangerous are the ghostly figures, seemingly spirits of the Sith, who attack him. The scene plays out like the Star Wars version of the Ringwraiths attacking the Hobbits on Weathertop in The Lord of the Rings. Instead of Strider, it's Anakin Skywalker who plays the rescuer.

In Force ghost form, Anakin steps in to defend his son from the wraiths, but Exegol's dark nature affects Anakin as much as it affects his son. Anakin uses the last of his strength to help Luke escape Exegol. Upon returning, Anakin's form changes from that of a younger man to the older man who Luke saw under Vader's helmet in Return of the Jedi. It's clear then that this excursion has cost Anakin:

"The look on Anakin's face made Luke's blood run cold. His father looked pained – no, worse, in agony – and Luke didn't know if that was even possible. Anakin was one with the Force now. And yet… he was in trouble. His spirit flickered, faded, flickered."

After this, Anakin's Force ghost disappears. Reading this scene, this feels like a dangling plot thread that will be revisited before the end of the novel, but it isn't. Instead, it may be the case that whatever damage this skirmish with the specters did is the explanation for why Anakin does not appear to Luke in the sequel trilogy, offering what information he has about Exegol and Palpatine's cloning process, which we know he knows about.

This is the first conversation between Luke and Anakin after Return of the Jedi to appear in the new Star Wars canon. It also may be the first time Anakin has reappeared to his son since that night he died as Luke initially mistakes Anakin for Obi-Wan Kenobi, suggesting he wasn't expecting to see his father. We know that Anakin isn't entirely gone as he does offer words to Rey during her battle with Palpatine in The Rise of Skywalker, but it seems his abilities may have been weakened from this battle.

What do you think? Let us know in the comments. Star Wars: Shadow of the Sith is on sale now.