Emperor Sheev Palpatine (also known as Darth Sidious) is the main antagonist of the original Star Wars saga.
He was the Supreme Chancellor of the Galactic Republic, and later became the Emperor of the Galactic Empire after the Jedi's destruction, until he was killed by his redeemed apprentice, Anakin Skywalker/Darth Vader, when he tried to kill the latter's son, Luke Skywalker.
At first, Palpatine appeared to be an amiable politician and a harmless but well-meaning individual. This was a guise used to fool those in the Senate that he had the best intentions for the galaxy. However, in truth, Palpatine was actually an ambitious, power-hungry, and machiavellian schemer; he desired absolute power and rule out of a deluded belief that he was above everything else. Despite his arrogance, he was extremely intelligent, patient, cunning and manipulative. Palpatine was also sometimes known to be treacherous, as he would kill his allies or have them killed, as he had no desire to share his power with anyone.
After he had successively gain full control of the Galactic Republic and turned it into the Galactic Empire, he abandoned his public persona; he openly became a tyrannical ruler, despite this, he never revealed that he was the Dark Lord of the Sith to the public; as only his most trusted followers were aware of his Sith identity. Some of his commanding officers, such as Tarkin, also suspected he was a Sith Lord, but were unable to prove it.
Palpatine was the only Sith Master/Dark Lord of the Sith in the history of the galaxy to achieve the ultimate goal of the Sith Order; to eradicate the Jedi Order and bring the galaxy under the rule of the Sith.
Palpatine also greatly desired to become immortal; his master had once had the ability to keep others from dying using the Dark side of the Force. Palpatine learned this same ability and desired to use a similar power, if one did exist, to increase his lifespan so that he could rule the galaxy forever, with one such scheme involving the creation of a Force-made virus, called Project: Blackwing. However Palpatine's searches for such secrets of the Sith were ultimately fruitless (as the Blackwing virus turned its hosts into undead zombies and had to be eradicated), and he never found a way to become immortal.
Like most practitioners of the Dark side of the Force, Palpatine was susceptible to fear to the point of being paranoid. This paranoia was extensive to the point where he feared the power of other Force-users, and had them hunted down and either killed or turned to his side as loyal servants. However, his paranoia was never extensive to the point of being cowardly; he felt little fear as he was not afraid of getting into direct confrontations with exceptionally powerful opponents like Mace Windu and Yoda. Fear ultimately proved to be Palpatine's weakness as it caused him to constantly plot and devise schemes against his enemies, which ultimately lead to the unexpected creation of the Rebel Alliance and the eventual downfall of his Empire.
During the time of the Galactic Empire (prior to its downfall) Palpatine was not as forgiving as his former apprentice Darth Vader, as he would kill his allies or subordinates, for failing him even once (with the exception of Vader) as he had no tolerance for failure; well his former apprentice was able to tolerate failure to a certain extent; Vader one stated that Palpatine was not as forgiving as him.
Despite his evil nature, Palpatine was a known patron of the arts; this was evidenced in the craftsmanship of his lightsabers, and in the many statue and sculptures present in his office during his time as chancellor. However, he abandoned most of his love of the arts when he became emperor in favor of expanding his power.
At one point in an interview, Palpatine's actor, Ian McDiarmid claimed Palpatine was "even more evil than Satan"; in other words he was pure evil.
Despite his accomplishments - or perhaps because of them, Palpatine was arrogant to the point of underestimated his opponent(s), like Rebel Alliance, as he often underestimated the strength and determination of the Rebellion, mainly due to them only having a few Force-users in their group; like Ahsoka Tano, Kanan Jarrus, Ezra Bridger, and Luke Skywalker, he also believed when a person falls to the dark side, they can never return to the light, as he had underestimate how strong the love Anakin had for his family was (as his faith in Vader made him underestimate Luke's positive influence on Vader and made him not take the matter seriously until it was too late) this arrogance of his would eventually lead to Palpatine's downfall and death at the hands of the redeemed Anakin Skywalker/Darth Vader; when torturing and attempting to kill Anakin's son, Luke.
Powers and abilities
- The Force: Despite his old age, Palpatine was immensely powerful and had an amazingly strong connection to the Force. Although he was not quite as powerful as Anakin Skywalker/Darth Vader at his peak, Palpatine was still one of the most powerful Force-users in the history of the galaxy; indeed, he was the most powerful Sith that had ever existed, stated by Maul to have been the most powerful man in the galaxy. Palpatine's Force potential was rivaled only by Yoda at his peak, Palpatine's skills with the Dark side of the Force were also such that he almost never needed to rely on his lightsabers, and generally believed himself above using such weapons.
- Telekinesis: Palpatine was very proficient in Telekinesis, utilizing it either as an offensive attack or simply as a means of displaying his power, the latter being most prevalent when he used the ability to remove Luke Skywalker's binders aboard the second Death Star while barely lifting a finger.
- Force push: Palpatine utilized Force push to send his opponents flying through the air, causing them serious injury or temporarily incapacitating them/knocked them unconscious.
- Force pull: Palpatine utilized Force pull to pull his opponents or objects towards him.
- Force choke: Like Darth Vader, Palpatine utilized Force choke to either weaken, kill or intimidate his opponents.
- Force Throw: Palpatine utilized Force Throw to cause objects, and even individuals, to be hurled toward a target at an astounding velocity.
- Mind trick: Palpatine utilized Mind trick to control the minds of other sentient beings, however, it did not work on individuals who have very strong wills.
- Force vision: Palpatine utilized Force vision, to have visions of the past, the present and the future; however, like all Force users, his visions were not always clear or sometimes has visions even when he was not utilizing this power at will.
- Force sense: Palpatine utilized Force sense to sense another sentient being's emotions, the future, ripples in the Force caused by momentous or traumatic events, impending danger and the presence of the Light side. However, in Return of the Jedi, for unknown reasons, he was unable to sense the presence of Luke Skywalker, who was on Endor, unlike Darth Vader, who was able to easily sense the presence of his son.
- Electrokinesis: Palpatine was a master of electricity and lightning, which he used to torture or kill his opponents. It was most likely his favorite move.
- Force jump: Palpatine utilized Force jump to jump or leap at great distances.
- Force Dash: Palpatine utilized Force Dash to move at amazing speeds.
- Lightsaber Skills: Despite his frail appearance, Palpatine was incredibly skilled in lightsaber combat and an extremely gifted duelist. He was one of the greatest lightsaber duelists in the history of the galaxy. In fact, the only person known to have defeated Palpatine in lightsaber combat was Mace Windu (however, in truth, he threw the fight in order to further corrupt Anakin Skywalker into killing Mace, which he succeeded at, albeit Anakin became indirectly responsible for Mace's death; as he could have defeated or killed the latter at any time he wanted). Palpatine was one of the few known individuals who could fight Yoda as an equal. Palpatine's lightsaber skills were such that he had mastered all the forms of lightsaber combat and could shift from one combat form to another fluidly and without effort. Palpatine's technique and fighting style was a combination of brutal aggression and lethal precision, making him an almost unstoppable opponent. Ironically, despite Palpatine's masterful dueling skills, he was fairly disdainful of lightsaber combat in general, believing the Sith to have grown beyond the need for lightsabers. He also rarely used his lightsabers unless absolutely necessary as they would identify him instantly as a Sith. He still proceeded to carry the weapons however, as a way of mocking the Jedi.
- Form I: Palpatine was highly skilled in Shii Cho.
- Form II: Palpatine highly skilled in in Makashi.
- Form III: Palpatine was highly skilled in Soresu.
- Form IV: Palpatine was highly skilled in Ataru.
- Form V: Palpatine was highly skilled in Shien/Djem So.
- Form VI: Palpatine was highly skilled in Niman.
- Form VII: Palpatine was extremely skilled in Juyo/Vaapad.
- Jar'Kai: Palpatine was a master of Jar'Kai.
- Genius-Level Intellect/Master Tactician/Leader/Manipulator: Palpatine was amazingly intelligent; his intelligence and wisdom was rivaled only by Yoda, Anakin Skywalker/Darth Vader and Luke Skywalker. As the leader of the Sith Order, he was a highly skilled tactician and a very capable leader. He was very manipulative, as he was able to easily manipulate individuals directly or indirectly to achieve his goals. Palpatine even managed to manipulate and deceive Anakin, a genius in his own right, into becoming his apprentice and turning him against the Jedi Order.
Weapons and Equipment
Palpatine's valued weapons and possessions were his two red-bladed lightsabers, whose hilts were inlaid with gold-colored Electrum metal and made of Phrik alloy, making them indestructible, even to other lightsabers. The weapons bore the same appearance to one another save for one being coated in an unknown black alloy. Being a patron of the arts, the lightsabers were elegantly crafted with an artisan's skill and were small enough that they could be easily hidden up his sleeves. While in office as Supreme Chancellor, Palpatine always kept one of his lightsabers hidden inside a neuranium statue on his desk in his office in case of emergencies. Both lightsabers were utilized together once in his duel on Mandalore against his former apprentice, Darth Maul, and Maul's brother, Savage Oppress.
- First Lightsaber: Palpatine built his first red-bladed lightsaber during his apprenticeship under Darth Plagueis. It would remain in his possession until his death, but it is unknown what happened to it after Palpatine's death.
- Second Lightsaber: At some point Palpatine had built a second red-bladed lightsaber. It would remain in his possession until his duel against Mace Windu, when it was kicked out of Palpatine's office window.
The Phantom Menace
In the prequel trilogy, Palpatine is a middle-aged politician of the Republic who rises to power through deception and treachery. Outwardly, he behaves like a well-intentioned and loyal public servant and supporter of democracy, yet underneath his affable public persona lurks his true identity; Darth Sidious, the Dark Lord of the Sith. He orchestrates the invasion of Naboo through pawns Viceroy Nute Gunray and Gunray's assistant, Rune Haako. When Qui-Gon Jinn and Obi-Wan Kenobi arrive on Gunray's ship to negotiate, Palpatine orders their deaths, though Gunray fails to kill them. After Queen Amidala escapes the invasion, Darth Sidious dispatches Darth Maul, his apprentice, to dispose of the Jedi. Pretending to help deal with the invasion as Palpatine, he convinces the Senate to make him the new Chancellor in place of Chancellor Valorum by convincing Amidala to move for a vote of no confidence. Soon after, he learns of Queen Amidala's plans to return to Naboo and liberate their people, and dispatches Maul once again to join the subsequent battle. Amidala's plan is risky, but it succeeds in the end. Gunray is captured, the droid army is immobilized, and Darth Maul is killed. Darth Sidious' plans to take over Naboo have failed for the time being. He is last seen being introduced to Anakin Skywalker, who has just destroyed the Droid Control Ship.
Attack of the Clones
As the Chancellor of the Republic, Palpatine continues in his guise. To replace Darth Maul, Sidious begins training Count Dooku, a man who used to be a Jedi but turned to the dark side. As Palpatine, he sets up security measures to counter the mercenaries attempting to murder Senator Amidala, also lying to Yoda that he fears the thought of an imminent war (in reality, he anticipates it). He also convinces Jar Jar Binks to give him emergency powers, allowing him to summon the clone army. With this new power, he begins the Battle of Geonosis and later the Clone Wars. After the said battle, Dooku informs him that the war had begun as planned, and even though they lost, it was merely the first step in a greater game. During the war, he continues to set up several events to his advantage. The war goes on for three years.
Revenge of the Sith
At the peak of the Clone Wars, Palpatine fakes kidnapping in order to test Anakin. Hoping to save who he thought was Chancellor Palpatine, Anakin and Obi-Wan engage Dooku in combat. Although he knocks out Obi-Wan, Dooku is soon at Anakin's mercy. The Jedi is quick to kill him in cold blood, courtesy of Palpatine's goading.
After some additional tension, Obi-Wan and Anakin bring him home safely. Soon after, he has the Separatists moved to Mustafar through General Grievous. He then learns of Anakin's fear for his wife, and plays on it by lying that the dark side can save her life. From there, he deliberately blows his cover, knowing Anakin will report him. Still devoted to the Jedi, Anakin tells Mace Windu of Palpatine's double identity as Darth Sidious, and Mace leads a strike team of four Jedi Masters to stop him. Nevertheless, Palpatine suspects their arrival and is ready to fight. He cuts down the three Jedi Mace brought along, but had to revert to Force lightning, as well as Anakin's help, to kill Mace. After the fight, Palpatine prompts Anakin to join him, and Anakin pledges himself to the ways of the Sith. He then convinces Anakin the Jedi are plotting to take over the Republic, and sends him to eliminate the Jedi in their headquarters, the Jedi Temple. To take care of the others, Palpatine initiates Order 66 to the clone troopers; this ultimately destroys most of the Jedi Knights and the Republic. With Darth Vader on his way to kill the Separatists, Palpatine ushers in the Galactic Empire, a brutal authoritarian regime, officially.
He goes to his private quarters downstairs to check on Vader via hologram, but is then confronted by Yoda, who survived the Jedi purge. As the duel moves to the Senate chamber, Palpatine uses both his lightsaber and Force lightning against Yoda, who is ultimately forced to retreat. He begins a search for Yoda, but turns away when he senses Darth Vader is in mortal danger. He flies to Mustafar himself to rescue him, and rebuilds him in a life suit on Coruscant. To seal his victory over Vader, Palpatine tells him he killed Padme in anger, as she was already dead. Neither knew she gave birth to twins moments before she died. He is last seen overlooking construction of the Death Star.
Ian McDiarmid has hinted at the possibility of reprising the role for the sequel trilogy.
The Empire Strikes Back
Palpatine first appeared as the unnamed Emperor of the Galactic Empire in the 1980 film The Empire Strikes Back and was voiced by Clive Revill (later portrayed by Ian McDiarmid in the later Special Edition releases). In the film he contacts Darth Vader via holographic communication and tells him of a "great Disturbance in the Force", and warns him that Luke Skywalker is becoming a threat and could possibly destroy them. Vader insists he is just a boy and his mentor, Obi-Wan Kenobi, can no longer help him (neither know that Yoda has replaced Obi-Wan as Luke's teacher), but Palpatine insists he is still strong in the Force. But Vader convinces the Emperor that Luke would be a perfect asset if he could be turned to the Dark Side of the Force. Palpatine asks if Vader thinks he can do it, and Vader replies that he would join the dark side or be destroyed.
Return of the Jedi
In Return of the Jedi, Palpatine (now portrayed by Ian McDiarmid) arrives on the second Death Star to oversee the final stages of the war between the Rebel Alliance. He is seen again speaking with Darth Vader. When Vader delivers his son, to Palpatine, the Emperor - intent on replacing Vader with a younger, more powerful apprentice - tempts the young Jedi to the dark side by appealing to his fear for his friends. This leads to a lightsaber duel in which Luke defeats and nearly kills Vader. Luke ultimately refuses to turn to the dark side, which angers Palpatine who attacks him with Force lightning and ignoring the shield generator protecting the Death Star II been destroyed by the Rebel strike team allowing Lando Calrissian, Nien Nunb and Wedge Antilles to prepare to attack it. Vader, witnessing the suffering of his son, turns on his master who was really the true traitor and enemy of the Galactic Republic that Mace Windu warned him in the Clone Wars and redeems himself by throwing the evil Emperor into the Death Star's reactor shaft to his death and fulfilled the Prophecy as the Chosen One, which the Emperor spent a lifetime trying to prevent. With Palpatine's death, as well as that of Darth Vader, the Sith were finally destroyed.
Palpatine is one of the recurring characters as well as the true hidden main antagonist in the animated series Star Wars: The Clone Wars.
In the first season, Palpatine makes a brief appearance on the Holonet broadcast in the episode "Empire Day", but makes a vocal appearance in the second season's television movie The Siege of Lothal, voiced by Sam Witwer, who originally provided both the voices of Emperor Palpatine and Galen Marek/Starkiller (Darth Vader's apprentice) in the 2008 video game Star Wars: The Force Unleashed and the 2010 sequel Star Wars: The Force Unleashed II. He is also the central antagonist.
- Palpatine is often considered as one of the most evil movie villains ever created.
- Since the initial theatrical run of Return of the Jedi, Palpatine has become a symbol of evil and sinister deception in popular culture. People have compared his corrupt leadership to many dictators throughout history and his appearance to that of Benedict Arnold.
- The film historian Robin Wood has compared Palpatine's appearance to that of the Evil Queen's witch form in Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs. Coincidentally, both of their disfigured appearances had some relation to lightning that they summoned (the Queen added lightning to a potion as part of an ingredient to fashion a disguise for herself and Palpatine's body ended up disfigured as a direct result of Mace Windu redirecting his Force Lightning back at Palpatine when he attempted to blast him with it, although it was heavily implied with the latter that the disfigurements were actually his true form being exposed).
- Contrary to popular belief, Palpatine was not referred to by name until The Phantom Menace. His name originated from supplementary materials such as the visual dictionary for the original trilogy, the script, and the novelizations.
- Palpatine's defeat and death at the hands of Vader was referenced in Toy Story 3, where Big Baby picked up Lotso after one abuse too many and threw him in the dumpster. At the time the movie was released, Disney had not acquired the rights to Star Wars yet, though many of the Disney / Pixar films, including all of the Toy Story films, have included references to aspects of the Star Wars franchise.
- Palpatine's current voice actor for Star Wars Rebels, Sam Witwer, had previously voiced him in Star Wars: The Force Unleashed.
Notes and references