Emperor Palpatine is the ultimate embodiment of evil in the Star Wars universe. From humble beginnings as a mere Senator, Sheev Palpatine used extremely manipulative tactics to create galaxy-spanning wars that resulted in the loss of trillions of lives and even more resources, yet he was able to benefit no matter what the outcome of the war resulted in, and benefit he did.
Eliminating the Jedi Order and getting willingly elected the Emperor of the newly formed Galactic Empire, Palpatine’s selfish reign of terror had merely begun.
Aside from his cunning, the Emperor also went by Darth Sidious, and was a master of the Dark Side of the Force, which he used without mercy.
Of course, anyone who has seen the original trilogy, or the Star Wars television shows, knows that the Emperor is capable of Force lightning or foresight, but the extent of his aptitude with these techniques goes further than you might think. In fact, he has an entire arsenal of powers that range from terrifying to absurd that you’ve likely never heard of.
To set the record straight, we’ll be discussing 15 Powers You Didn’t Know The Emperor Had, and plucking our entries from both canon and Legends.
In our own world, the concept of alchemy has been around for ages. Alchemy is the art and “science” of transforming objects, such as the famous example of turning lead into gold, while also supposedly having the means to create eternal life through certain elixirs.
Of course, none of this has ever come to fruition, as far as most scholars can tell, but that doesn’t mean that alchemy didn’t work a long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away.
Being such a Dark Side adept, and being educated in the history of the Sith, it’s no surprise that Palpatine was knowledgable and skilled in the secrets of Sith Alchemy, which he used for various purposes, including creating specific, custom breeds of Rancor to keep as pets. The Emperor even wrote a book on the subject, called The Creation of Monsters, proving his expertise further.
While the prequel trilogy is deeply and obviously flawed throughout multiple levels, one positive element that most can agree on is the gorgeous, balletic lightsaber choreography that, while not always practical, served as awesome eye-candy.
In Revenge of the Sith, when Palpatine is confronted by the Jedi about being a Sith Lord, we finally get a chance to see the great manipulator in action, as he brandishes his lightsaber for the first time on screen, lunging at, and defeating, his would-be conquerors.
Following this, it’s shown that Sidious is so skilled in lightsaber techniquse, that he can even take on the supremely skilled Yoda, which was no easy feat.
Beyond the films, Sidious was also trained in Jar’Kai, which is the art of duel-wielding lightsabers, which he used to great affect against his former apprentice, Darth Maul, and his brother, Savage Opress.
In the original trilogy, Yoda revealed that he was somewhere around nine-hundred years old, which is a staggering number to us Earth-bound humans, who can barely make a century if we’re lucky.
While longevity may be a trait of Yoda’s race, it’s arguable that his affinity with the Force has also extended his life. Unfortunately, this also means that someone equally attuned to the Dark Side may have the exact same effect, and such was the case with Emperor Palpatine himself.
Living far longer than his natural lifespan, the Emperor also remained reasonably healthy (if we can even use that word to describe his degraded, sickly appearance).
More troubling is the fact that despite his advanced age and frail physical appearance, he was also still extremely powerful, nimble and formidable in combat, if he so chose to engage.
The Jedi Mind Trick is a beloved fixture of Star Wars, and often a source of comedy. Using the Force, a Jedi can make a “suggestion” to their target, using pre-existing, latent desires, and get an outcome in their favor by having the recipient of the trick indulge in their subconscious whims, such as the bored Stormtroopers ignoring Luke and Obi-Wan on Tatooine.
While that’s all fun and games, the Emperor has a far more extreme version of the “mind trick” at his disposal, and it’s far less of a suggestion. Using the Dark Side, Palpatine can “persuade” his target to do anything he pleases, even if they subconsciously don’t want to do so.
He can take control of someone’s entire body using his mastery of the Force, leading to a much darker outcome than getting a drug dealer to stop selling death sticks.
One of the powers on this list that seems like a no-brainer at first is Emperor Palpatine’s gift of foresight. He mentions it throughout the series, often saying “everything is proceeding as [he has] foreseen.” This ability isn’t about his general power of foresight, but rather the tremendous and terrifying level of accuracy that his actual foresight brings.
While there are many others with this power throughout the various trilogies and entries in the Star Wars canon, Palpatine has a mastery over this skill that would even make much of the Jedi Council feel inadequate.
It was also this particular gift that allowed Palpatine to accurately and efficiently gain power through his false wars, and even intricately plan the demise of the Rebellion at Endor. Of course, his power isn’t one-hundred percent perfect, which contributed to his own death, but he was still a force to be reckoned with.
The existence of Sith Magic has lasted millennia, starting with the original Sith in the extremely early days of the Star Wars Universe. Though many of their practices and rituals fell to the wayside, along with other aspects of their culture, Palpatine had rediscovered and long-studied their ways, incorporating much of this lost art into his personal life and use.
Using some of these ancient rituals and techniques, Palpatine would examine his food and drink to make certain that no one was attempting to assassinate or maim him through poison.
Going beyond this, Darth Sidious was also known to use the ancient Sith tongue for certain spells and incantations, along with the Balc language, which he used in a hex against Master Yoda while he fought against the spirit of Darth Bane.
Much like our entry on Emperor Palpatine’s foresight, his use of Force Lightning seems like an extremely obvious power at first glance. However, it’s his mastery of this skill that goes beyond the basic displays of the power we’ve seen on film, and deep into the territory of secret techniques.
At one time, Force Lightning was a shocking (pun intended) display to audiences seeing Return of the Jedi for the first time. Sadly, as the years went, more and more characters seemed to casually use this power, whether they were Count Dooku or even Kyle Katarn, which severely took the edge off its reputation.
Of course, as a master of the power, Palpatine was able to manipulate his Force Lightning like no one else, being able to arc it countless adversaries in a chain reaction, and even pinpointing its devastating effects on various internal systems of starships, bringing them down.
While The Last Jedi continues to divide audiences well after its release, it revealed some interesting aspects of the Force, particularly the ability for it to not only allow strong users to communicate, but to straight-up have them appear and seem physically present.
This is an extremely powerful display of Force mastery, and something the Emperor himself did not seem capable of. That said, Palpatine was still no slouch in the telepathy department, despite his inability to see Kylo Ren shirtless in a Force Skype session.
While the previous trilogies showed relatively short range communication between Luke, Leia and even Darth Vader, the Emperor had everyone beat by being able to contact Darth Vader from light-years away with ease. Again, it’s not as impressive as what the new trilogy has put on display, but for his time, it was monumental.
Pyrokinesis is a power that’s popular throughout plenty of fantasy and fiction. In short, it’s a form of magic or sorcery that allows the user to either create or manipulate the element of fire. It’s no surprise that this power has found its way into the fiction of Star Wars, and even less of a surprise that the Emperor has it is as part of his repertoire of deadly powers.
In James Luceon’s Darth Plagueis novel, the future Emperor, Darth Sidious, opened his bag of Force-tricks and powers, choosing pyrokinesis as his tool to eliminate Senator Pax Teem.
With a simple manipulation of a nearby fire place, the Emperor created a raging inferno that incinerated the Senator, furthering his own goals, and those of Plagueis.
Throughout the three (so far) trilogies of Star Wars, Force-users, both good and evil, often remark about being able to “sense” what others are feeling, or what emotions and potential they’re keeping hidden within them.
Like many common techniques and powers, though, Emperor Palpatine has a much more potent and extreme grasp of their basic functions, taking them to heights that are seldom matched or dreamed of.
Such is this case of his ability to not only have acute “senses,” but his ability to conceal his own thoughts from any unwanted probing.
Taking things even further, Palpatine is able to cloud the entire Jedi Council’s senses, operating in complete secrecy with his ultimate, tyrannical plans only being discovered too late. To be able to hide his thoughts and block off so many powerful Jedi Masters, such as Yoda, is a testament to the supremacy of Palpatine.
The novel Aftermath: Empire’s End by Chuck Wendig, is the final entry in the trio of books that set out to explain what occurred between Return of the Jedi and The Force Awakens, in order to appropriately set up the new canon.
Of course, no one is quite sure why the movies themselves didn’t feature this content (or even attempt to explain the interim in any meaningful context) but the books are still worth a read for fans of the Universe.
Within Empire’s End, we learn of a new Force ability, dubbed “shatterpoint” after how the Emperor describes it. Similar to Force foresight, and the Emperor’s evolved version of it, Shatterpoint allows the user to sense a moment of historical significance.
In this particular case, Luke’s presence on the Tydirium triggered the Emperor’s sense, telling him that history was about to change.
While the Force allowed Emperor Palpatine to have unnaturally long life, death is an inevitability for every living thing, something that Sidious was acutely aware of. To counter the event of an untimely demise, the Emperor prepared the extremely dangerous and radical technique of passing his life force into a cloned body, in order to live once again.
Using clone bodies, Palpatine was able to save himself from the great beyond at least twice, rewriting the host’s soul and personality in the process, but had other methods of self-preservation, too, such as inhabiting the bodies of non-cloned individuals.
Perhaps most disturbing was the fact that Palpatine was able to siphon the life force out of entire planetary populations in order to sustain himself and his apprentices, leaving the billions of victims in a vegetative state.
While many of Darth Sidious’ Force powers are used for manipulation, coercion and planning, a select few were used as purely offensive weapons, such as his extremely technical take on Force Lightning. Beyond this, though, he had the ability to conjure what is known as a “dark aura.”
Where lightning was able to electrocute and wound, the dark aura was able to methodically torture an opponent. Using a contained storm of the Force, the aura would create a field that would slow the victim down, eliminating their ability to flee, while dreadfully torturing them in the process, surely giving Palpatine his infamous grin and letting out a hearty cackle.
The most devastating part of his “dark aura” technique was that it could be used on multiple victims at once, creating a cacophony of despair.
The Last Jedi drew a lot of ire for a particular moment featuring Leia. If you haven’t seen the film yet, the bridge of the Resistance flagship is destroyed, sucking its occupants into space, killing everyone but General Leia, who uses the Force to survive the vacuum, and then propel herself back into the ship, essentially soaring through the cosmos for a brief moment.
Whether that part was awesome or terrible to you, it is not unprecedented within the series and Emperor Palpatine is happy to demonstrate.
Using the Force, Palpatine was known to fly and float throughout battle and beyond, whether as an offensive dash or a means of retreat, which he masterfully incorporated into both strategies. While he never had the opportunity to try it out in space, it seems likely that with his immense control of the Dark Side, it would be a piece of cake.
Even before reading through this list of lesser-known powers, it was clear that Emperor Palpatine was one of the most powerful characters in all of Star Wars.
He had mastered basic skills such as charisma, leadership, deception, and manipulation, but also had an entire arsenal of deadly Force powers to help him in his pursuit of unlimited power. The man can fly, live eternally, fire lightning out of his hands and control entire people with a mere thought.
He can also destroy space-time.
That’s right, Palpatine’s ultimate power is what is known as the “Force Storm,” a technique which allowed him to tear open a wormhole in space-time, destroying essentially anything he saw fit.
However, unlike the rest of his powers, which he had safely mastered, this devastating Force Storm was something that he, upon his own admission, did not have full control over, and that’s saying something.
Can you think of any other powers that Star Wars' infamous Emperor has? Sound off in the comments!