Star Wars: The Clone Wars secretly explained how Anakin Skywalker managed to become a Force ghost after his redemption. The Clone Wars fills in the gaps Star wars history between Star Wars: Episode II – Attack of the Clones and Star Wars: Episode III – Revenge of the Sith, chronicling the battles, character dynamics, and world-building that would ultimately lead to Palpatine’s victory and Anakin’s turn to the dark side. However, one of the most important things The Clone Wars did is deepen the knowledge of the Force, delve further into the powers of the dark side and the light, as well as explain the mechanics behind the Force ghosting ability.
Even if it becomes a Force ghost i Star wars was originally thought to be an inherent ability of all Light-side Force users, The Clone Wars revealed that it could only be achieved by those who completed a special type of education. Qui-Gon Jinn had completed much of his training and in turn showed Yoda the way. And which Revenge of the Sith proves, Yoda eventually told Obi-Wan Kenobi, a narrative thread that was later continued in Obi-Wan Kenobi show. Yoda and Obi-Wan’s knowledge clearly explains how Luke Skywalker and Leia Organa could later appear to Rey as Force ghosts in Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalkerbut Anakin’s path to becoming a Force ghost was a little more subtle.
Yoda’s experiences planted the seed of Force ghosts in Anakin Skywalker’s mind
Two separate The Clone Wars arcs play an important role in understanding how Anakin Skywalker was able to appear as a Force ghost in Return of the Jedi. The first is the Mortis arc in season 3 of The Clone Wars, where Anakin, Obi-Wan and Ahsoka Tano are stranded in an unknown region of space. This turns out to be Mortis, the fulcrum of power throughout the galaxy. While on Mortis, both Obi-Wan and Anakin saw Qui-Gon’s “spirit”. The other vital arc is the one that follows Yoda’s quest into The Clone Wars season 6, where he makes contact with Qui-Gon and scours the galaxy for new Force-related knowledge.
During this second arc, there is a scene where Yoda asks Anakin if he saw or communicated with Qui-Gon while he was on Mortis. Although Anakin acknowledges Obi-Wan Kenobi’s skepticism, Anakin’s own belief in what he saw of Mortis is clear. This belief is encouraged by Yoda essentially “planting the seed” of Force ghosts being a real possibility in Anakin’s mind for the first time. This scenario was acknowledged by Dave Filoni himself in a panel discussing how Anakin managed to become a Force ghost. Filoni emphasized the importance of what Anakin experienced on Mortis, and how Yoda’s understanding of these experiences, however subtle, turned Anakin’s attention to the fact that Force ghosts were a real possibility.
Anakin could only become a force ghost because he was redeemed
In the same The Clone Wars Filoni cites the importance of George Lucas introducing Hayden Christensen’s likeness as Anakin’s Force ghost and removing Sebastian Shaw’s in Return of the Jedi. Not only did this help bridge the gap between the original trilogy and the prequels, but it also speaks to how Force ghosts work. Both Filoni and Lucas have previously mentioned that when Anakin was redeemed by Luke, he reverted to who he was before he “died” and became Darth Vader – a sentiment echoed by the final duel between Vader and Obi-Wan in Obi-Wan Kenobi. As a result, he was able to appear as a Force ghost, as this is an ability most often associated with the light side.
Dark side users generally have another method of keeping their identity and consciousness intact after death. This is called Essence Transfer. After (a violent) death, a Sith’s essence could be transferred to another person, just as Palpatine planned with Rey in The Rise of Skywalker. When Anakin was freed, his soul instead became one with the Force and his body disappeared (albeit off-screen), allowing him to manifest as a Force ghost in Return of the Jedi like who he had been when he was last a Jedi. Expanding the understanding of Force ghosts is just one way The Clone Wars proves its importance i Star wars cannon.