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Shmi Skywalker made it clear that there never was a Father for Anakin (which Qui-Gon accepted, hook, line, and sinker, without even questioning it at all). Now it's said that, even though Darth Plagueis was suspected of causing this, it was the midi-chlorians themselves that caused her pregnancy.

There was no other genetic material to work with, just Shmi's genes and her ova. Midi-chlorians could have started the cell division process, but introducing new genetic material would have been almost impossible. So how did the embryo end up with XY chromosomes and not XX?

Under the circumstances, shouldn't Anakin have been a girl?

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  • 29
    And the first person who makes a comment about him being called "Ani" gets a boot to the head.
    – Tango
    Feb 12, 2012 at 20:42
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    Actually, when force is applied, a special branch of science takes over everything (including biology).. Its known as LucasPhysics! ;)
    – user931
    Feb 13, 2012 at 0:10
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    @Tango - Little Orphan Ani?
    – Valorum
    Dec 23, 2022 at 10:48
  • Love won’t save you, {insert padmes's male name}. Only my new powers can do that
    – shanu
    Dec 24, 2022 at 4:38
  • 1
    I find your lack of faith in the force disturbing. Dec 24, 2022 at 10:35

7 Answers 7

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It might be a better question for a Biology board.. But I believe you are saying the Midichlorians induced Parthenogenesis, which, as a rule, only produces viable female offspring.

Now, the argument that they can't just 'Invent' a Y chromosome makes sense.. but could be argued in the fictional universe. A Y Chromosome IS an X chromosome, just (in layman's terms) missing the end. Therefore, it makes sense, that the midichlorians could just 'lop' off the end of one, resulting in a synthetic Y chromosome. That makes sense... except that although the Y chromosome STARTED as an X (and lost some data over time), after several millennium of separate existence, the two have developed to such a degree that they contain a considerable amount of gender specific info, and really aren't the same thing anymore. (This isn't to say you won't see Males produced by Parthenogenesis; you will, but they are Haploid males.)

Now that I've nuked the easiest argument... My best guess (with no canon backup, so far) would be that the Midi-chlorians used Darth Plagueis' DNA (to a limited degree; he was a Muun, after all -- basically copy her X (exactly as I said wouldn't work, above) then overlay the male specific sections with his) or sampled male DNA from the local environment. Or, given that we've seen Midi-chlorians can communicated with each other over great distances, they could have grabbed DNA from any force sensitive within range, and that range could be pretty impressive.

(On a related note, but addressing a different issue... I've always thought of any consciousness Midichlorians have as being more of an expression of the Collective Unconsciousness more than something that exists independantly in them. That being the case, replicating a Y chromosome would be no problem.)

That's all in-universe. Out of universe? I think Lucas either never considered the genetic angle, or fell for the trap I mention in the second paragraph, thinking that you could create a Y by trimming an X. You CAN, but you tend to get non-viable offspring.

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    Wouldn't "non-viable offspring" be a fair description of the second three SW scripts, anyway?
    – Tango
    Feb 12, 2012 at 21:17
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    Oh, you set yourself up for this, you realize? youtu.be/vFldBVWFgWo?t=51s
    – K-H-W
    Feb 12, 2012 at 21:19
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    Genetics in the Star Wars galaxy may be different from ours (after all, they all have midiclorians while we have mitochondria). Switching gender in a genome may be a trivial matter.
    – HNL
    Feb 13, 2012 at 7:59
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    The suggestion that the 'X' chromosome can be turned into a 'Y' by snipping off one leg is semantically equivalent to suggesting that by removing the left rear wheel of my '73 Volkswagen, it will be transformed into a coffeepot. Genetics doesn't work that way, and even if the "X" and "Y" chromosomes are similar in the Star Wars universe, snipping off parts of chromosomes doesn't result in neat transformations into new forms, it results in hideous birth defects.
    – user12685
    Feb 21, 2013 at 14:51
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    @321 - Actually, if you look, I state that it won't work in the answer. It's not a 'VW / Coffee' pot issue, but a 'Cut the front wheel off a Bike to make a Unicycle' issue. That being said, X and Y aren't fundamentally that different.. But over time, the Y Chromosome has acquired a considerable amount of gender specific data not found in an X; the original Y may have been simply a truncated X, but has changed enough since then that the current version couldn't be manufactured from an X. See Wikipedia on Y Chromosome for some basic information on it.
    – K-H-W
    Feb 21, 2013 at 16:04
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You say "it's said that it was the midichlorians themselves that caused her pregnancy" -- is this a canon-verified fact? I'm asking because I don't know. And, if midichlorians could randomly create zygotes, wouldn't it be possible that more unexplained conceptions would have been occurring? Or that immaculate conceptions would be commonplace? Would this suggest that midichlorians have free will and an urge to procreate? Is the genetic makeup of midichlorians known from Star Wars canon?

Anakin. . . it was almost like he was the Force, personified. I know that this is a simplistic description of Anakin. But who's to say that the Force didn't hold Anakin's spirit within, and when the time came for the Chosen One to become corporeal, that the Force itself couldn't have been responsible for triggering Shmi's pregnancy? Depending on how Anakin was placed within Shmi, heck I don't know, perhaps he provided his own Y chromosome. I'm not being flip (just sayin' -- trying to avoid an avalanche of Luke, I am your father. . . and your grandfather. . . disses). Or, if the genetic makeup of midichlorians are not known, then perhaps they do contain the equivalent of the Y chromosome. Perhaps the Force orchestrated Anakin's gender and birth through canonically unknown means.

Is "human" actually a race in Star Wars canon? I know there's a race that looks like humans, but are they technically human?

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    The part about the midichlorians causing the pregnancy is in the new book Darth Plageuis, just released. I haven't read it, but have read about it.
    – Tango
    Feb 12, 2012 at 21:27
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    +1 for "Luke, I am your father. . . and your grandfather. . ." Feb 13, 2012 at 14:28
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Why couldn't it go like this:''Shmi, you WILL forget about tonight''? She would have had no recall of how the child was conceived, and it would have been easier than the immaculate conception thing.

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Since this takes place in a galaxy far far away, it's a mistake to assume that Homo sapiens genetics are relevant. Maybe for Anakin's species, the males are the homogametic sex.

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There's not any meaningful concept of should here. Anakin could have been female, but he could just as easily have been male.

The other answers seem to be trying to suggest detailed "scientific" answers to the question under the implicit assumption that the midichlorians are some sort of genetic engineering biotechnology.

However, it was the Force that did it. This is a magical, well, force that can allows people to move objects without touching them, see the future, and control the minds of others. It is not beholden to mundane physics, to say nothing of mundane genetics. Moreover, the Force is confirmed to be able to create objects out of nothing (or at least thin air), such as Luke's projected dice in The Last Jedi.

If the Force can induce a pregnancy, it can create a Y chromosome out of nowhere. It could create Anakin with only X chromosomes and still have him be physically male (something that can actually happen in real life). It could create an Anakin without any chromosomes that still walked and talked and killed younglings. In other words, because Anakin was created by an explicitly supernatural process, and there is everything to indicate that this process is not bound by genetics, there is really nothing preventing Anakin from being male.

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No, Anakin should not have been a female; Shmi probably lied about the circumstances of his conception.

Think about it: The Jedi were wrong from the beginning about Anakin Skywalker. He was not the Chosen One, definitely not the one to bring the Force back into balance. So why should his birth have been anything special? It makes more sense to believe that Palpatine fathered the boy. That would explain Shmi's reticence in revealing the name of the father. It would also explain why she would think Qui-Gon would believe such a ridiculous notion as a child without a father--- Palpatine put her up to it, knowing that any Jedi would know the legend of the Chosen One and fall for the story. Who knows what Palpatine promised her down the line, or how he threatened her if she didn't play along. We know that Palpatine was playing a very deep game and playing for huge stakes, so such a plot does not seem beyond his vision nor his capabilities.

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    According to the new book on Darth Plageuis, there was no man, just midichlorians. I included that point in the question.
    – Tango
    Feb 13, 2012 at 7:56
  • @Tango Books aren't canon.
    – Kyle Jones
    Feb 13, 2012 at 8:44
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    I referenced the book in the answer, which means I have no issue dealing with the EU. If you want G-level canon, then that would include Lucas' comments as well as his scripts, which would go back to taking it at face value.
    – Tango
    Feb 13, 2012 at 8:58
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    @KyleJones - Books are very much canon. C-canon, to be exact. Your own personal opinions/prejudices don't really matter as long as question asker didn't ask to restrict the answers to G-canon (in addition, the main reason to have layers of canon is to resolve contradictions, NOT to exclude layers). Feb 13, 2012 at 14:29
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    @KyleJones Anakin was the chosen one. He did bring balance to the Force in the last..
    – user931
    Feb 13, 2012 at 14:44
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Hmmm if we had to construct a Y There's only 3 genes on the Y that actually do something vital. There's one involving sperm formation (mutations to it cause bad sperm mobility), one I don't know what it does, and the SRY itself. The SRY is a suppressor gene, so if you really wanted to get a male from female genes, knock out what it's suppressing (it's called the Z gene for the obvious reason). You get a sterile male. If you manage to fix that somehow, you're gonna have some seriously mixed up gene problems in offspring. Inheriting the nonfunctional Y results in an XY female (sterile), while inheriting the X would be normal female. But, inheriting whichever autozome has the Z knocked out (we know it's NOT on the X) would do bad things sooner or later. The best case would be if the normal Z is dominant, in which case down the line you would get XX males. If barr inactivation doesn't work (and it likely doesn't because this would kill the original subject) than bad things happen. If barr inactivation does work, you get something like an infertile XXY male.

But parthenogenesis in mammals is blocked by genetic imprinting. The resulting offspring would be underdeveloped at birth and have a future life expectancy of a few minutes.

I'm going to go with spectacular writing failure.

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