Many of the most famous protagonists within science fiction come from an elite group known as the Chosen Ones. These characters are typically hero figures, set with the impossible task of saving the world. My three favorite examples are Anakain Skywalker (Star Wars), Neo (The Matrix) and Harry Potter (okay, not exactly sci-fi, but he’s just too good to leave out). But what is it about these characters that makes them the “chosen”?
It all begins with a prophecy. For example, in Star Wars there is an ancient Jedi legend that foretells the one who will bring balance back to the Force:
“Fully defeated by just anyone, the dark side cannot be, but only by the Chosen One. And who might be this Jedi? Know I do not, but not yet born is he or she. This much, sense I can. A vessel of pure Force the Chosen One will be, more powerful than any Jedi in history.” - Yoda from the Great Holocon
Similarly, in The Matrix the Oracle tells Morpheus that he will find the one destined to end the war between humans and machines. And finally in Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, Sybill Trelawney prophesied:
“The one with the power to vanquish the Dark Lord approaches . . . born to those who have thrice defied him, born as the seventh month dies . . . and the Dark Lord will mark him as his equal, but he will have power the Dark Lord knows not . . . and either must die at the hand of the other for neither can live while the other survives . . . the one with the power to vanquish the Dark Lord will be born as the seventh month dies.” Sybill Trelawney in The Order of the Phoenix
As you can see, these prophecies never outright state who the Chosen One is. The Oracle didn’t turn to Morpheus and say, “Hey, you know that guy Thomas Anderson, aka. Neo? Go find him so he can save you from the Machines.” Instead she gives vague hints that make many doubt whether "The One” was, in fact, chosen correctly. These same doubts rear up in Star Wars after Anakin falls to the Dark Side and the balance of the Force becomes more precarious than ever.
Furthermore, sometimes these prophecies offer more than one possible outcome. Professor Trelawney's foretelling indicated two different boys who might be able to defeat the Dark Lord. If Voldemort hadn't chosen to believe that Harry was his biggest threat, Neville Longbottom - also born in the seventh month - could have easily been the one.
In the end, what really differentiates the Chosen Ones from the rest is choice. One cannot simply fulfill their destiny because a prophecy tells them to - they must decide. It's the climax of every hero story. In order to defeat Agent Smith, Neo must accept Morpheus’s belief in him. In The Half Blood Prince, Harry Potter realizes that, chosen or not, risking his life to defeat Voldemort is the right thing to do. And as for Anakin, it's his decision in the end of Return of the Jedi to kill the Emperor and save his son that fulfills the prophecy and brings balance to the Force, once and for all. It is their choices, in the end, that make them heroes.
This post is part of the Blogging A through Z Challenge 2012. My theme is (in case you didn’t already guess) science fiction. Stay tuned for the rest of the alphabet, and if you’d like to check in on the rest of the participants, simply click here.