We know that according to Star Wars canon and a 2007 interview with George Lucas, Anakin Skywalker’s father is the Force. In an earlier StarShips post, we explored the religious and mythological roots of a virgin birth brought about by a deity or spiritual entity.
Although Anakin was conceived by midi-chlorians, other clues linger that other candidates might have participated in his mysterious origins. When canon and non-canon sources are considered, there’s an interesting array of possibilities about not just who Anakin’s father was, but who might have known about the circumstances of his birth. Let’s look at a few theories about who Darth Vader’s other parent is—and who’s aware of it.
Anakin’s Father and Human Possibilities
Anakin’s mother was Shmi Skywalker, a slave who lived on Tatooine. In The Phantom Menace, when Qui-Gon Jinn realized Anakin’s strong Force connection asked Shmi about who Anakin’s father was, she answered, “There was no father. I carried him, I gave birth, I raised him—I can’t explain what happened.”
There’s a lot to unpack here.
Some fans propose that Shmi, as a slave in the outer reaches of the galaxy, might have been victim of an assault. As a coping mechanism, she told herself—and later Qui-Gon– the lie that “there was no father.”
She also may have mentally blocked the trauma, and can therefore truthfully claim that “I can’t explain what happened.” In the Star Wars universe, drugs and devices are available to blank out certain memories; Shmi’s attacker or someone else might have administered one of these to her.
There’s also a theory that Qui-Gon himself is the father and wiped Shmi’s memory with the Force. That means the Anakin-related events of The Phantom Menace are an elaborate ruse on Qui-Gon’s part to see to it that his boy is raised as a Jedi, but that doesn’t explain the supposed “necessity” of JarJar in anyone’s life, including ours.
Anakin’s Father and the Force
In the non-canon Expanded Universe, a backstory novel called Darth Plagueis tells us that Plagueis the Wise experimented with controlling midi-cholrians to bring about life. If Plagueis the Wise sounds familiar to you, that’s because you heard his name in the prequel trilogies.
Plagueis thought his experiments always failed until just before his death, when he realized he’d somehow succeeded with Anakin. This suggests that Darth Plagueis “accidentally” used the Force to bring about Anakin, and that his apprentice, Darth Sidious, knew precisely how Anakin came to be.
Supreme Chancellor Palpatine—the public face of Sidious—told Anakin at the end of The Phantom Menace that he would “watch his career with great interest.” It wasn’t just a throwaway fan-servicey line: Palpatine was well aware of the youngster’s immense potential.
Here’s the basis for that theory. It comes from Revenge of the Sith, when Anakin and Palpatine attended the opera. Palpatine said:
Darth Plagueis was a Dark Lord of the Sith who lived many years ago. He was so powerful and so wise that he could use the Force to influence the midi-chlorians to create (big pause and stare at Anakin) life. Unfortunately, he taught his apprentice everything he knew, and then one night, his apprentice killed him in his sleep.
Palpatine knew the details of this story because he was that apprentice. This seems to have sailed right over Anakin’s head, but it might have lodged in his subconscious. As Palpatine was a Sith, however, even this apparent moment of “the truth” is as likely to be a lie as the truth.
Certain Force visions Anakin experiences in canon Darth Vader comics are also part of the debate about his paternity. Some fans have interpreted Anakin’s visions as suggesting that Palpatine somehow manipulated Shmi Skywalker’s womb to result in his pregnancy.
However, Matt Martin, who was involved with the comic, said on Twitter that these panels weren’t meant to suggest this as a plot development. The writer of the comic, Charles Soule, had Martin’s back on this one: “The Dark Side is not a reliable narrator,” he tweeted.
Non-canon sources and fan theories also suggest that Darth Maul was sent to assassinate Qui-Gon to prevent him from training Anakin, because a Jedi armed with so much Force sensitivity would likely destroy the Sith. The fallout from this had profound consequences for the galaxy. While Anakin was indeed raised as a Jedi, he lost the elder father figure that Dave Filoni insists he so desperately needed. Instead, he was given a “brother” in Obi-Wan.
An alternate fan theory inspired by Darth Plagueis proposes that Anakin’s conception was enabled by the Force via the midi-chlorians to combat the rise of Plagueis and Palpatine. It suggests that while Plagueis tried to artificially create the ultimate Sith apprentice, the Force would not allow it, and preserved the light in Anakin. In this sense, then, Anakin “brings balance” simply by coming into existence as an embryo.
Future Knowledge of Anakin’s Father
The answer to who Anakin’s father is might lie in how you interpret the term “father.” Technically, in the EU as well as in canon, his “father” is indeed the midi-chlorians. And although both canon as well as non-canon sources mention that Sith Lords use the Force unnaturally to bring about Shmi’s pregnancy, Anakin is not carrying their DNA. His “father” is still the Force.
Another take: The Mandalorian and The Bad Batch have a great deal to say about cloning. The sequel films also indicate that Palpatine is a clone-carrier for his Force essence, and that the Empire undertook many failed programs in an attempt to achieve Sith cloning. Who, then, is the father of a clone—the original template or the enabler of the cloning?
Whatever else we learn from these clone “fathers” will likely spring from these new series. We do know from Attack of the Clones that Jango Fett asked to raise an unmanipulated infant clone as his son, Boba, who refers to him as his father. But how that might connect to Anakin and his origins remains to be seen.