The Emperor has long loomed over the Star Wars saga.
Sometimes, he’s manipulated events from the shadows.
Other times, he’s stepped onto the screen and shocked audiences with his crazy powers.
From his days as an apprentice to his appearance in Episode IX, here’s the entire Emperor
Sheev Palpatine, the man who would become a Sith Lord and the galactic emperor, was
born on the planet Naboo.
According to the novel Darth Plagueis, young Palpatine first discovered the temptation
of the Dark Side of the Force while collecting Sith artifacts.
As a young man he met Plagueis.
The encounter led Palpatine to kill his entire family and dedicate himself to becoming Darth
Plagueis' Sith apprentice.
As a result, Plagueis gave him the name of Darth Sidious.
Like Plagueis before him, Sidious carefully maintained his non-Sith identity as Sheev
Palpatine, and he became active in politics on Naboo.
He rose in rank to become a senator after secretly arranging the assassination of his
predecessor, representing Naboo in the Galactic Senate.
He remained in that position for years, methodically working to accumulate more power, gaining
strength both politically and in the Dark Side.
While Palpatine gained popularity in the Senate, Darth Sidious formed alliances in the darker
corners of the galaxy.
Appearing as a mysterious cloaked figure who primarily communicated via hologram, he contacted
and manipulated groups who were dissatisfied with the Republic, such as the Neimoidians
and their Trade Federation.
When it was finally time to make his bid to become chancellor of the Republic, he encouraged
the Neimoidians to blockade Naboo, creating a crisis that would provide him with a political
During this same period, Palpatine took custody of a young Zabrak and had him raised in the
ways of the Dark Side.
The Zabrak became Sidious' first Sith apprentice, Darth Maul.
Since nobody knew that he was the one behind the Trade Federation's blockade of Naboo,
Palpatine was able to exploit the incident to consolidate his political power.
When Chancellor Valorum failed to take strong action to defend Naboo, Palpatine encouraged
Naboo's Queen Amidala to call for a vote of no confidence in Valorum, which in turn led
to a new election.
Being the senator from the planet that was in crisis, Palpatine was perfectly positioned
to win the election and become the new supreme chancellor of the Republic.
Taking the top office in the galaxy was a huge step in Palpatine's rise, but it would
still take years of simultaneously consolidating his political power as chancellor while also
stoking the galaxy's conflicts as Darth Sidious before he would be able to gain absolute power.
He would also need a new Sith apprentice, as Darth Maul was defeated and seemingly killed
by Obi-Wan Kenobi as the Naboo crisis was drawing to a close.
After the defeat of Darth Maul, Palpatine's new Sith apprentice was the elderly aristocrat
Count Dooku, who acted as his proxy in leading a separatist movement of multiple systems
that were dissatisfied with the Republic.
When the Separatists were found to be building a vast droid army, Chancellor Palpatine was
granted special powers to deal with the threat.
As it turns out, using other proxies, he'd already commissioned an army of clone troopers,
and his new powers enabled him to command that army to go to war against the Separatists.
Not only was Palpatine's power increased, but the Republic ended a long period of peace
to become a dominant military power in the galaxy, a big step closer to becoming an empire.
Outwardly, the chancellor pretended to be reluctant to take on the burden of greater
power and lead the Republic into war, but of course, it was all part of the long game
he'd been playing since the beginning.
Three years later, Chancellor Palpatine arranged his own capture by Count Dooku's Separatist
He was rescued, as he knew he would be, by Obi-Wan Kenobi and Anakin Skywalker.
"I sense a trap.
Spring the trap."
At Palpatine's urging, Anakin killed an already-defeated and literally disarmed Dooku.
From then on, Palpatine began actively working to seduce Anakin to the Dark Side of the Force
and make the powerful young Jedi into a new Sith apprentice.
Anakin was concerned for the health of his pregnant wife, Padmé, and Palpatine planted
the idea in Anakin's head that becoming powerful in the Dark Side was the key to ensuring that
she survived the pregnancy.
Ultimately, of course, Palpatine didn't care about Padmé at all, and it was Anakin's turn
to the Dark Side that led to her death.
In his new Sith persona as Darth Vader, Anakin Skywalker would become the most powerful ally
Palpatine had ever had and a key part of his plan to eliminate the Jedi and rule the galaxy.
When the Jedi finally realized that Palpatine was a Sith Lord, it was far too late.
A vicious battle with Jedi Master Mace Windu brought about a fearsome change to Palpatine's
While there has been much speculation, it's unclear whether Palpatine was disfigured by
Force lightning, as he claimed, or whether he was revealing what had already been his
In any case, the evil within him came to the surface, and his face got all gross and pasty.
Ironically, his disfigurement enabled him to turn the Senate against the Jedi who'd
He took the opportunity to seize the power he'd worked so long to bring within his grasp
and declared himself emperor of the galaxy.
Although the Galactic Senate would remain in place for years to come, the Republic had
become the Empire, and with the Jedi eliminated by the clone troopers, there was nobody left
to challenge Palpatine's power.
Almost 20 years later, Emperor Palpatine dissolved the Galactic Senate permanently, because the
completion of the Death Star enabled him to rule through fear.
Commanded by one of the Emperor's most trusted and ruthless operatives, Grand Moff Tarkin,
the Death Star was a mobile space station with the power to destroy entire planets.
As a demonstration of its power, Tarkin obliterated the planet Alderaan, home to key members of
the Rebel Alliance who were working against the Empire.
Leia Organa, adopted princess of Alderaan and secretly the daughter of Anakin Skywalker,
was forced to watch the destruction of her planet from the deck of the Death Star, where
she was being held prisoner at the time.
As these events unfolded Emperor Palpatine remained unseen in the background, leaving
Tarkin and Darth Vader to do his dirty work aboard the Death Star.
"I recognized your foul stench when I was brought on board."
"Charming, to the last."
This turned to be particularly fortunate for him because he was nowhere near the Death
Star when Luke Skywalker managed to blow it up on behalf of the Rebel Alliance.
Darth Vader was able to escape the destruction, but Tarkin and the other military leaders
on board all died.
Following the destruction of the Death Star, Emperor Palpatine and Darth Vader both learned
the identity of Luke Skywalker, and they became determined to find him.
As Vader searched for Luke and the Rebels, Palpatine remained in the imperial capital
of Coruscant and communicated with Vader via hologram.
Palpatine suspected that Vader wanted to turn his son to the Dark Side and overthrow Palpatine
with his help.
Killing your master after you've found your apprentice was Sith tradition, after all,
and it was exactly what Palpatine had done to his own master.
For his part, Palpatine hoped that either Luke would kill his father and then replace
him as the Emperor's apprentice, or that Luke would die, thus eliminating the threat and
maintaining the status quo.
Eventually, Vader would confront Luke on Bespin, but he failed to convert, capture, or kill
He did however reveal himself as Luke's father, ensuring that Luke would eventually seek out
Vader by choice, which could only put him in the path of the Emperor.
With construction underway on the second Death Star, Emperor Palpatine decided to take a
more active hand in the Galactic Civil War.
Arriving on the new Death Star to oversee its completion himself, the Emperor carefully
laid a trap for the Rebel Alliance.
He knew they were planning to attack the Death Star before it was finished, so he made sure
that when the Rebels arrived, the half-built space station's weapon systems would be fully
What enabled the Rebels to ultimately win the day was the efforts of a Rebel team on
the surface of the forest moon of Endor, where the new Death Star was in orbit during its
Led by Han and Leia, these Rebels were eventually able to shut down the shield generator that
protected the incomplete Death Star, enabling Rebel ships to destroy it.
Ironically, Darth Vader had allowed the ship holding the Rebel party to approach Endor,
even though he sensed Luke Skywalker's presence among them.
That was the first of Vader's betrayals at Endor that led to the Emperor's downfall,
but it was far from the last.
As the Emperor had predicted, Luke Skywalker soon sought out Darth Vader on Endor.
The young Jedi surrendered, and Vader brought him before Palpatine on the new Death Star.
The Emperor could sense that the emotional Luke was veering closer to the Dark Side,
and he and Vader encouraged Luke to give himself over to his emotional turmoil.
Palpatine seemed ready to die if it would cement Luke's turn to the Dark Side, but he
was even more enthusiastic about the possibility of Luke killing his father and taking Vader's
place by the Emperor's side.
Ultimately Luke resisted the Dark Side, casting his weapon away.
At that point, Palpatine revealed that, like the armed and operational Death Star, he wasn't
as weak and helpless as he seemed.
The Emperor blasted the young Skywalker with Force lightning from his fingertips, preparing
to kill him even as the Death Star's weapons killed Luke's allies.
At the last moment, however, Darth Vader was unable to stand by and watch as the man who'd
ruined his life tried to murder his son as well, and Vader grabbed Palpatine and hurled
him down a seemingly bottomless shaft within the Death Star, killing the Emperor.
Darth Vader died immediately afterwards, and Luke managed to escape just as his allies
finally destroyed the second Death Star, which was a decisive victory against the Empire.
It's debatable, in the end, whether Palpatine died on the Death Star or not, but if he did
he managed to come back pretty quickly.
He never exactly says how, but cloning seems to be involved.
He hid for decades on the planet Exegol in the Unknown Regions.
He created the figure of Snoke, the original Supreme Leader of the First Order, to be his
puppet until it was time for the rebirth of the Empire as the Final Order.
He also built an entire Sith empire on that hidden planet, complete with a vast fleet
of Star Destroyers that would be able to crush the Resistance and once again establish his
dominance over the Galaxy.
When he eventually revealed himself, he recruited Supreme Leader Kylo Ren, who had already killed
Snoke and taken over the First Order.
Palpatine promised Ren even greater power if Ren would fulfill his wishes, and for a
time Kylo seemed to agree.
Somewhere along the line, ol' pasty Palp had himself a kid, and eventually his greatest
concern became his granddaughter, Rey.
He'd been searching for her since she was born, but she was a grown woman before she
learned about her connection to him and journeyed to Exegol to destroy her grandfather and end
his threat to the galaxy.
Then she learned that his death at her hands was part of Palpatine's plan.
If she killed him in anger, she would turn to the dark side, take the spirits of him
and the other Sith within her, and become the new Empress.
When Kylo Ren, having turned away from the dark side, arrived to help Rey, Palpatine
drew on both of their life forces to restore himself, regaining mobility and his trademark
He used his vast power to shoot the Resistance fleet out of the sky with those fancy force
fingers, until a weakened Rey managed to redirect the lighting back onto him, basically making
Palpatine kill himself.
As for Emperor Palpatine, is he dead for real now?
The Skywalker saga is supposed to be over, so it's nice to believe he is.
But he might have just retreated to another planet and another body, waiting for a future
decade to try it all again.
His ambition, after all, is stronger than death.
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