Between his love for his family and his rise to evil, Anakin Skywalker flaunts one of the richest stories of any antihero in Star Wars and, more broadly, pop culture. (Yes, even with the controversial prequel trilogy in mind.) The release of The Rise of Skywalker is just around the corner, and we can't help but wonder if this iconic fallen Jedi will return to cap off the sequel trilogy. Luckily, there are certainly many factors that point toward a tentative yes, so let's investigate them closely.
Hayden Christensen, who plays Anakin in the prequels, hasn't been officially confirmed as part of the cast. Still, we can't imagine the third trilogy ending without Anakin. With Palpatine's return, it only makes sense that Anakin will come back to complete a full-circle narrative with the prequel and original trilogies in mind. Remember that the new title is The Rise of Skywalker. While this could refer to Ben Solo, who, through Leia, is half Skywalker, it would make more sense if it references Anakin, whose last name is actually Skywalker.
If you recall, there's unfinished Anakin business — well, kind of. We need to see what happens when Anakin's lightsaber breaks after Kylo Ren and Rey fight to gain possession of it. Right now, Rey has looked over the pieces for safekeeping, but it would be a glaring omission if the new story doesn't touch upon this breakage and its consequences.
Anakin will likely return as a Force ghost in The Rise of Skywalker as he did in Return of the Jedi. One obvious narrative route is for him to speak with Ben Solo and guide his grandson back to the light side of the Force. Along with Palpatine's comeback, we may very well see the return of Darth Vader doing the opposite and drawing out the dark side of Kylo Ren.
With all of our unanswered questions about the whereabouts of the Resistance and the First Order in Episode IX, rumors are relentlessly cropping up on the internet. For example, there have been unconfirmed whispers about a major scene between Ben Solo and Anakin. Another rumor tells us that we'll see Rey in a cave with ancient symbols, where she'll encounter the hybrid Force ghost of Vader and Anakin. While we should take these supposed spoilers with a grain of salt, it's hard not to agonize over them!
The evidence for Anakin's return looks strong, and we're rooting for it in The Rise of Skywalker. Still, we can't confirm it until we see it, so we'll just be obsessing over every little detail of the trailer that we do have.