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Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker is said to be a conclusive wrap on the first nine episodes of the franchise, also known as the Skywalker Saga. There's been a lot of speculation about what may or may not appear, and while we have no idea what elements will return for sure, there are signs that indicate Force Ghosts will return. After all, it'd be a little hard to end the Skywalker Saga without a Skywalker, right?
Well, since Mark Hamill is returning, it's most likely going to be as an advising Force Ghost to Rey. One would hope anyway because the Emperor may be back, and that's a whole other bag of tricks that could imply Force Ghosts have a bigger presence in this movie than some may think. Is your head already spinning? Don't worry, here's some of the major things we know in canon continuity about Force Ghosts, and how they may be used in Episode IX.
The New Force Ghost Rules
Canon continuity currently states that the Force Ghost ability started with Qui-Gon Jinn, who first learned of the technique, but died before completing the training. Though he can't take physical form, Qui-Gon can reach out to Jedi via his voice. Eventually Yoda and Obi-Wan developed the same technique and figured out how to retain their physical forms as well.
Now, the assumption is that Luke Skywalker also has that ability, although there may be some doubt from Star Wars fans seeing as Luke admittedly closed himself off from the Force for quite a while. With that said an excerpt from the upcoming Star Wars: The Secrets of The Jedi (which is "written" by Luke) has confirmed that Luke had kept in contact with the spirits a long while before shutting of the Force.
We also saw Luke re-connect with them not long after Rey arrived in Star Wars: The Last Jedi, so chances are he learned the secret to becoming a Force Ghost, or Force Spirit as the new canon calls it, as well. The basic rules of Force Ghosts still apply from classic or Legends canon, in that Force Ghosts can speak to Force-sensitives who can see them, but cannot affect the world in a physical manner.
Can Sith Turn Into Force Ghosts?
Classic Star Wars fans may be surprised to learn that, in the transition to new canon, Sith, or "Dark Jedi" as they were called before the prequels, can no longer become Force Ghosts. As current canon states, Sith are unable to achieve the type of transcendence Jedi's of the Light Side have achieved, which is why they're self-consumed with obtaining as much physical power as possible.
With that said, there have been ways in new canon that Sith have managed to retain some sort of physical presence after their death. For example, The Presence and Lord Momin were both able to retain their consciousness by implanting themselves within a physical object. This tethered them to the world and allowed them to interact with the living, though in an entirely different way than the Force Ghosts we're familiar with.
It is worth mentioning that while it's explicitly stated this is impossible, there is an instance of a Sith Force Ghost in new canon. Anakin Skywalker was able to appear and retain his presence as a Force Ghost long after his death, and he was among the most powerful and evil of the Sith. With that said, the primary argument for Anakin's transformation is that his heroic sacrifice redeemed him and allowed for Obi-Wan and Yoda to manifest him. That's what we're told anyway, but one could argue Vader's strength in the Force could also have been a large part as to why he survived.
How Force Ghosts May Be Used In Star Wars: The Rise Of Skywalker
Star Wars: The Last Jedi ended with the notion that Rey was going to take the Jedi texts and somehow help bolster the Resistance along the way. The assumption is that she's going to build the core of what will be a new Jedi Order, which is where Force Ghosts would come in real handy. Who better than the guide her in the success and failures of the Jedi than Luke, Yoda, Anakin and maybe even Obi-Wan?
Even if all of those characters don't appear, it does seem like at least one (probably Luke) will be around to guide Rey on what may the final leg of her journey. It could be something like establishing a new Jedi/Skywalker/Force Sensitive order, or it could be just him bopping in and out of her adventure to offer his guidance when he can.
Then, on the Sith side, we have Emperor Palpatine, who was heavily teased to have some role in the upcoming story. Remember how the second Death Star was broken up on that planet, and the whole bit from earlier about how Sith can keep their essence within objects? Well, Palpatine may have been a flip-flopper and a bit of a coward, but make no mistake, he's one of the most powerful Force wielders of this era.
My point, of course, is that it would not be the least bit surprising if some of the Emperor's essence is contained within a portion of the Death Star. It was his final resting place after all, and while I'm not entirely sure how much time a Sith needs to complete that essence transference, Palpatine's paranoia and tendency to have contingency plans was legendary. Chances are he would've had the process hammered out long before he landed on the Death Star to begin with.
Unfortunately, new Force Ghost/Spirit rules seem to ensure that Luke, Anakin or any other dead Jedi wouldn't have a ghost showdown with Palpatine. Of course, Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker could be the first film to show something like that happen, but beyond the fact that Anakin was about as Sith as one could be before his redemption, there's little evidence to support Palpatine could manifest into a Force Ghost. Who knows though, maybe all the rumors floating around the web are right and there will be some massive Force Ghost fight!
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