10 Questions About Emperor Palpatine, Answered

Star Wars fans went crazy at the latest Star Wars Celebration when the Episode IX trailer premiered and delivered two earth-shattering revelations about the movie: first, that it would be called The Rise of Skywalker, and second, that Emperor Palpatine would be making a reappearance. He could be heard laughing at the end of the trailer, and just for good measure in case fans didn’t put two and two together, Ian McDiarmid emerged and joined the panel, confirming that he would appear in the movie. Naturally, fans are brimming with questions. So, here are 10 Questions About Emperor Palpatine, Answered.

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10 Is Snoke really Palpatine?

Ever since it was revealed that Emperor Palpatine will return in The Rise of Skywalker, fans have been running wild with their theories. One is that Palpatine has somehow been Supreme Leader Snoke this whole time. This could be because Palpatine is a Dark Jedi moving from one host body to another, and Snoke was just another host body that he used to pull the puppet-strings on a young, powerful, wayward Jedi Padawan and dominate the galaxy yet again. If Snoke really is Palpatine, it will put the angry fans who saw Snoke as a cheap rip-off of Palpatine to rest.

9 How old was Palpatine when he died?

Similar to how our years are separated into B.C. (Before Christ) and A.D. (Anno Domini, a Latin phrase meaning, “In the year of our Lord”), the years in the Star Wars timeline are divided into B.B.Y. (Before the Battle of Yavin – when the Rebels blew up the Death Star) and A.B.Y. (After the Battle of Yavin). According to Wookieepedia, Emperor Palpatine was born in 84 B.B.Y. and died in 4 A.B.Y., which would make him around 88 years old at the time of his death. This makes him just a regular old man, rather than crazy old like 900-year-old Yoda.

8 How long could he have lived?

If Palpatine died at 88, which is around the age that humans die of old age, how much longer could he have lived if Darth Vader hadn’t thrown him down that reactor core shaft? Well, in the Expanded Universe (which Disney has decided to discount, but most Star Wars fans still count as canon), Palpatine and Darth Plagueis worked together to figure out a way to become immortal.

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This suggests that Palpatine is mortal and could die of old age – but roughly how old would he have to be? Due to the fact that the Force can extend your lifetime, he might’ve lived to around 150 or 200 years old.

7 Did Palpatine kill Padmé?

Star Wars: Palpatine, Vader, and Tarkin view Death Star Construction

At the end of Revenge of the Sith, Anakin turns to the Dark Side, chokes Padmé, battles Obi-Wan, and gets put in the Darth Vader suit. We see Padmé giving birth to Luke and Leia on Polis Massa and then she mysteriously dies. She doesn’t die from the childbirth or the strangling. And with her final breath, she tells Obi-Wan that “there is still good” in Anakin. When Anakin wakes up in the Vader suit, Palpatine informs him that Padmé died of a broken heart. There is one fan theory that Palpatine killed Padmé – and this sequence of events does suggest that it’s true, because it served Palpatine’s plan to break what remained of Anakin’s good side and make him totally subservient to him – but it hasn’t been confirmed.

6 Can Palpatine read minds?

Yes, he can, and no one’s safe. He can even read Yoda’s mind. In a novel set during the Clone Wars, Yoda confessed that even he, as possibly the most powerful Jedi who ever lived, didn’t have enough control to hide his thoughts from Palpatine. Palpatine, or Darth Sidious, is the strongest Sith Lord of all, and he has such a stranglehold on his telepathic abilities that Yoda fears him for it.

5 What is Palpatine’s first name?

Since the character is usually only referred to as “Palpatine” or “the Emperor” (or “Senator Palpatine” in the prequels), we don’t really get to hear his first name on-screen. He’s the highest authority figure in the Galactic Empire – even higher in the ranks than Darth Vader – so no one is on first-name terms with him. In the Star Wars universe, there are some characters with regular names, like Luke or Leia or Uncle Owen, and other characters who have Star Wars-y names, like Anakin or Qui-Gon or Chewbacca. Palpatine falls into the latter category, because his first name is Sheev.

4 Was Palpatine ever good?

Star Wars - Emperor Palpatine

We never see Palpatine as a good man who gets corrupted. We see him pretending to be nice to get ahead in politics in the early prequels, but it’s all an act. As far as we can tell from the movies, Palpatine has always been evil and only showed it when he was so powerful that no one could stop him. In his DVD commentary for Revenge of the Sith, George Lucas explains, “One of the issues in all of this is that bad guys think they’re good, and Lord Sidious thinks he’s bringing peace to the galaxy, because there’s so much corruption and confusion and chaos going on, and that now, he’s going to be able to straighten everything out, which may be true, but the price the galaxy’s going to have to pay for it is way too much.”

3 Why was Luke not affected by the Force lightning?

Luke Skywalker hit with Force Lightning

In Revenge of the Sith, when Palpatine hits Mace Windu with some Force lightning, Mace deflects it with his lightsaber, which disfigures Palpatine’s face forever, before flying out the window. While it is thought that the fall is what killed Mace (or rather, did not kill him), as opposed to the Force lightning, but still, when Luke was hit with Force lightning in Return of the Jedi, it didn’t affect him at all. It put him in a lot of pain, but that’s about it. There are a number of theories about this. The leading one is that Palpatine was holding back and not using all of his power, because he wanted Luke to really suffer.

2 Is Palpatine really Anakin’s father?

In one of the original drafts of Revenge of the Sith, George Lucas was going to have Palpatine reveal to Anakin that he was his father. It would’ve been the final nail in the coffin, as Anakin’s life-long search for his father would drive him to follow Palpatine to the Dark Side.

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In The Phantom Menace, Anakin’s mother Shmi explains that he just appeared in her womb one day, kind of like a virgin birth. Last year, a comic book was released that revealed once and for all that Palpatine was technically Anakin’s father. He manipulated the midi-chlorians (ugh) in Shmi’s womb to create the powerful young Jedi he would use to see through his evil plans.

1 How is he still alive?!

Star Wars The Rise of Skywalker Trailer - Death Star

For the exact specifics on this question, we’ll simply have to wait until The Rise of Skywalker is released and Palpatine’s involvement in the plot is explained. However, there are some elements of Star Wars mythology that hint at the answer. While Jedi Knights have spiritual powers that allow them to become “more powerful than you can possibly imagine,” Sith Lords’ power is imbued into ensuring their physical bodies remain alive for as long as possible. This is how Darth Maul managed to keep himself alive long enough to get robot legs. The appearance of the ruins of Death Star II in the trailer for The Rise of Skywalker seems to suggest Palpatine, or at least his physical body, is still in the reactor core shaft he was thrown into in Return of the Jedi, but Ian McDiarmid has promised the Emperor is well and truly dead.

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