One of the most disputed topics in nerdom is the idea of bringing balance to the Force, in the Star Wars saga. Anakin Skywalker is the one presumed to be the Chosen One, destined to bring balance to that Force. Though even this is in dispute.
Identity of the Chosen One
I’m going to get this out of the way first, since it has the simplest answer. The Chosen One is Anakin, not Luke, not anyone else, just Anakin. Here’s why:
Now it’s always possible that Lucasfilm could change this idea in their new canon. Perhaps there can be multiple chosen ones, such as Luke and Rey. But for now, we’re going with what George Lucas said. So now that that’s out of the way, let’s move on to the next debate.
What does it mean to bring balance?
Well, there are several theories.
1) Balance means equal numbers of light side and dark side users.
If this theory works, it means that Anakin brought balance to the Force because he essentially reduced the number of Jedi to 2 (Obi-Wan and Yoda), equaling the 2 Sith (Vader and Palpatine). This doesn’t work very well because, first of all, there are more than 2 Jedi out there, Kanan for example. Second, having equal numbers of Jedi and Sith make it difficult to have any peace at all. Balance implies peace, which brings us to the next theory.
2) Balance means there are no dark side at all and only the light side exists.
This is closer to what I think is the true, but not quite. The dark side has to exist in some form or another for there to be balance, even though this doesn’t mean the Sith have to exist.
In the Mortis arc of the Clone Wars (directly created by George Lucas I might add) it clarifies, slightly, the nature of this balance. In it, the Father maintains the balance between his Son and Daughter, both of whom are embodiments of the dark and light side respectively. The Father choses Anakin as the one to take his place, the one to bring balance.
While these episodes are considered canon, they are also more symbolic of the struggle between light and dark in the galaxy at large. It is implied in these episodes, that both light and dark must exist for there to be balance. You cannot kill the Son and only leave the Daughter. The two must have a mediator, the Chosen One.
You might ask, how can having no dark side be a bad thing? Why can’t light side exist purely on its own? Well, let’s look at an example in the prequel trilogy. The Jedi in that time were becoming arrogant, and more of a bureaucratic entity. According to them, “The Sith have been extinct for a millennia.” According to them, there is no dark side. And what did this do for them? It made them arrogant. It made them think that it’s okay to be generals and leaders in a civil war, rather than remembering the dark side, and how it leads to destruction.
They tried hard to eliminate all trace of the dark side by only accepting the extremely young into their ranks. They shied away from emotion and other things that could potentially cause anger. I’m not saying these actions were part of the dark side, but it was the Jedi’s ignorance, dismissal, and dare I say, fear of the dark side that led to their downfall.
So, I don’t think that only the light side can exist for balance. I don’t, however, believe that any Sith can exist either, which brings me to my personal theory.
3) Balance refers to an internal struggle. Letting the dark side take control causes that balance to shift. Like a disease.
In the final episodes of The Clone Wars, we see Yoda confront a dark side version of himself. At first, Yoda tries to snuff out his dark side completely. However, he finds that by attempting to fight it, he actually gives it power. After all, “a Jedi uses the Force for knowledge and defense, never for attack.” Attacking gives the dark side power, something Yoda realizes in these episodes, and teaches Luke later on.
So what does Yoda do? He accepts his darker self. He acknowledges it. By doing so, he is able to master it. Looking back at the Mortis arc, the Father could be representative of any Force user, keeping the dark side of himself in check, and making sure it does not dominate the light side. But it must be there.
When someone turns to the dark side, they are essentially letting that side of them grow to overpower the light side. They become imbalanced. The Sith, by extension, cause imbalance. We do not determine balance by how many light side vs. dark side users there are. If it’s an equal number it would still remain imbalanced. Dark side users still exist, where the dark side overpowers the light.
The ideal Jedi are not necessarily embodiments of the light side, but they are examples of balance. They are like Yoda, embracing their dark side, and welcoming it as a cautionary reminder. A Jedi who fights too hard against their inner dark side, might end up in an order much like the Jedi we see in the prequel trilogy. They fought so hard to eliminate the dark side from themselves, that they only made it stronger. After all, it was their mistaken attitude towards love that caused Anakin to fall.
How did Anakin bring balance?
Anakin fell to the dark side, as we know. To bring balance to the Force, he would have to accept his own inner dark side, and master it. Although it took a long time, he was eventually able to do so with the help of his son. This didn’t change him from being the Chosen One however. Luke was a help, but not the Chosen One.
Other than acheiving inner balance, Anakin also had to bring balance to the rest of the universe. Palpatine was far gone, without hope of redemption. Therefore, the only way to bring the dark side back to a balanced level would be to kill Palpatine. And this is exactly what Anakin does.
But let’s also look at the light side. I’ve made it clear that the Jedi were fighting the dark side too much. They weren’t embracing it and mastering it like Yoda eventually did. Instead, they were afraid of it. I say this is an example of the light side’s imbalance. It would make sense, then, that Anakin killed most of the Jedi. I’m not condoneing his actions of course, but I would like to point out that Order 66 was essentially the end of the light side dominance of the Force. The Force would no longer remain imbalanced in favor of the light side.
So by killing the Jedi, Anakin brought the light side into balance. By killing Palpatine, he brought the dark side into balance. And finally, by mastering his own dark side, he was able to bring balance to the Force as a whole.
This is my own personal theory. Lucasfilm may contradict it in future installments of the franchise, especially with the whole “neutral/gray” force wielder thing that Lucasfilm has been seeding for a while, which is likely to culminate in the upcoming The Last Jedi. But for now, this is the picture that makes the most sense for me. As far as I’m concerned, this is what the prophecy means by bringing balance to the Force. Let me know what you think in the comments below. I’d love to hear your thoughts. May the Force be with you.