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Description: Emperor Palpatine Black Robes: ROTS, ESB, ROTJ
Prefix: SL
Detachment: Sith Lord Detachment
Context: Star Wars Episodes III, V, VI

 

Episode I: The Phantom Menace

McDiarmid reprises his role as Palpatine in Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace, as a young senior Galactic Senator from the planet Naboo who secretly is a Sith Lord named Darth Sidious. In the film, set 32 years before A New Hope, Sidious influences the corrupt Trade Federation to blockade and invade Naboo. Queen Padmé Amidala of Naboo flees to the planet Coruscant to receive counsel from Palpatine. After a plea for help from the senate results in bureaucratic delays, he persuades the queen to make a motion to have Supreme Chancellor Finis Valorum removed from office. Meanwhile, Sidious sends his Sith apprentice Darth Maul to Naboo to oversee the invasion and find the queen, but the invasion is thwarted by Jedi Master Qui-Gon Jinn and Padawan Obi-Wan Kenobi. After the Trade Federation is defeated, and Maul is killed in a duel with Obi-Wan, Palpatine is elected the new Chancellor of the Republic and returns to Naboo, where he tells nine-year-old Anakin Skywalker that he "will watch [his] career with great interest".[5]

Episode II: Attack of the Clones

In Star Wars Episode II: Attack of the Clones, Chancellor Palpatine has led the Republic for 10 years, exploiting constitutional loopholes to remain in office even after the official expiration of his term. Meanwhile, Darth Sidious continues to manipulate events behind the scenes by having his second Sith apprentice Count Dooku lead a movement of planets inseceding from the Republic to form the Confederacy of Independent Systems. Palpatine suggests to Padawan Anakin Skywalker that he bring Senator Padmé Amidala to Naboo to protect her. Since the Separatists are secretly building a battle droid army, Palpatine uses the situation to have himself granted emergency powers. Palpatine feigns reluctance to accept this authority, promising to return it to the Senate once the crisis has ended. His first act is to allow the use of an army of cloned human warriors, which were discovered by Jedi Knight Obi-Wan Kenobi, to counter the Separatist threat; this results in the Battle of Geonosis, which serves as the opening salvo of the Clone Wars. After clone template Jango Fett is killed and the Separatist partners escape the battle, Dooku meets with Sidious with plans for a "Geonosian superweapon" (the Death Star).[6]

Episode III: Revenge of the Sith

In Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith, Supreme Chancellor Palpatine is captured by Separatist leader General Grievous as part of Darth Sidious's plan. Palpatine is rescued by Jedi Knight Anakin Skywalker and Jedi Master Obi-Wan Kenobi, but not before the Jedi confront Count Dooku. A short duel ensues in which Anakin kills Dooku in cold blood at Palpatine's insistence. Palpatine then escapes with his Jedi rescuers and returns to Coruscant. By this point, Palpatine has become a virtual dictator, able to take any action in the Senate. The Jedi Council is troubled by Palpatine's power and fears he will not relinquish it when the Clone Wars end. Their suspicions only grow when the Senate grants Palpatine a vote on the Jedi Council by appointing Anakin as his personal representative. While they granted him a seat, the Council refuses to grant Anakin the rank of Jedi Master, and orders him to spy on Palpatine; Anakin instead reveals the Jedi's plan to him. Palpatine tells Anakin the story of Darth Plagueis, a powerful Sith Lord who was able to manipulate life and death but was killed by his own apprentice. Eventually, Palpatine reveals his secret Sith identity to Anakin and tempts him with promises of the power to prevent death. Palpatine knows that Anakin has been having visions of his wife Padmé Amidala dying in childbirth, and offers to teach him the secrets to save her life.

After Anakin informs the Jedi of Palpatine's treachery, Jedi Master Mace Windu and three other Jedi Masters attempt to arrest Palpatine. Palpatine quickly and easily kills everyone but Windu, whom he engages in a fierce duel. Windu deflects a burst of Force lightning back into Palpatine's face with his lightsaber, disfiguring his face into the pale, wrinkled visage seen in the original trilogy. Anakin appears and intercedes on Palpatine's behalf by cutting Windu's hand off, allowing Palpatine to kill the Jedi Master with a blast of Force lightning. Anakin then pledges himself to the dark side of the Force, and Palpatine rechristens him as Darth Vader.

Palpatine instigates the Great Jedi Purge by having the clone troopers to turn on their Jedi Generals, while dispatching Vader to kill everyone inside the Jedi Temple and assassinate the Separatist leaders on the planetMustafar. Palpatine then reorganizes the Republic into the Galactic Empire with himself as Emperor for life. Jedi Master Yoda confronts him in his Senate office and engages the Sith lord in a duel that ends in a stalemate. Sensing that Vader is in danger, Palpatine travels to Mustafar and finds his apprentice near death following a duel with Obi-Wan. Palpatine returns to Coruscant and rebuilds his apprentice's ruined body with the black armored suit from the original trilogy. When Vader regains consciousness, Palpatine tells Vader that Padmé was killed in the heat of his anger. Palpatine is last seen watching the original Death Star's construction with Vader and Grand Moff Tarkin at his side.

Original trilogy

A New Hope

The Emperor does not appear in A New Hope, but is mentioned as the Galactic Empire's ruler by Grand Moff Tarkin during a meeting with the Death Star's council. There, Tarkin explains that the Emperor has dissolved the Galactic Senate due to increasing support for the Rebel Alliance and given direct control to the regional governors of the star systems controlled by the Empire.

The Empire Strikes Back

The Emperor makes his first appearance in The Empire Strikes Back in the form of a hologram, voiced by Clive Revill, revealing himself to be the Sith master of Darth Vader. He tells Vader that Luke Skywalker poses a threat to the Empire. Vader persuades him that Luke would be an asset to the Empire if he could be turned to the dark side.[7]

Return of the Jedi

In Return of the Jedi, the Emperor (Ian McDiarmid) personally arrives to oversee the last stages of the second Death Star's construction and to set a trap for the Rebel Alliance. He assures Darth Vader that they will both turn Luke Skywalker to the dark side. Unknown to Vader, the Emperor plans to replace his apprentice with Luke. When Vader brings Luke before his master, the Emperor tries to tempt 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. When Luke refuses to turn to the dark side, the Emperor attacks him with Force lightning. Moved by his son's cries for help, Vader throws his former master into the Death Star's reactor shaft, killing him.[8]

Television

 
Chancellor Palpatine in Star Wars: Clone Wars.

Star Wars: Clone Wars

Palpatine/Darth Sidious is a central character in Genndy Tartakovsky's Star Wars: Clone Wars micro-series, which is set between Attack of the Clones and Revenge of the Sith. The character's likeness in the series is based on that in The Phantom Menace and Attack of the Clones.

In the first chapter, Palpatine is informed by Obi-Wan Kenobi that the Jedi have discovered that the InterGalactic Banking Clan has established battle droid factories on the planet Muunilinst. Palpatine agrees to send a strike force that includes Anakin Skywalker, and suggests that Anakin be given "special command" of Obi-Wan's fighters. Yoda and Obi-Wan initially speak against it, but reluctantly concede to the chancellor.[9] In the seventh chapter, a holographic image of Sidious appears shortly after Count Dooku trains Dark Jedi Asajj Ventress. Sidious orders Ventress to track down and kill Anakin. He remarks to Dooku that her failure is certain, but the point of her mission is to test Anakin.[10]

In the final chapters, a hologram of Sidious again appears and orders General Grievous to begin the special mission: an assault on the galactic capital.[11] Later, the Separatist invasion of Coruscant begins and Palpatine watches from the window in his private residence. He is protected by Jedi Shaak Ti, Roron Corobb and Foul Moudama. Grievous breaks through the Chancellor's window and kidnaps him.[12] After Grievous kills Roron and Foul then defeats Ti, Palpatine is taken to the Invisible Hand (Grievous's flagship), setting the stage for Revenge of the Sith.[13][14]

Star Wars: The Clone Wars

In the 2008 animated film Star Wars: The Clone Wars (also set between Attack of the Clones and Revenge of the Sith), Darth Sidious engineers a Separatist plot where Count Dooku turns Jabba the Hutt against the Republic by kidnapping his son Rotta and framing the Jedi for it. Meanwhile, Palpatine suggests that the Republic ally itself with the Hutts. Although Anakin Skywalker and Padawan Ahsoka Tano foil the plot, the outcome suits Palpatine's ends: Jabba places Hutt hyperspace routes at the Republic's disposal.

In the subsequent animated series, Palpatine continues to serve as Supreme Chancellor while his Sith identity remains behind the scenes via holograms. In the second season, Sidious hires bounty hunter Cad Bane to infiltrate the Jedi Temple and steal a holocron. He then takes a valuable Kyber memory crystal that contains the names of thousands of Force-sensitive younglings - the future of the Jedi Order - from around the galaxy. The final stage of the plot: to bring four Force-sensitive children to Sidious's secret facility on Mustafar. Anakin and Ahsoka again foil the plot, but Bane escapes and all evidence of Sidious' involvement is lost. In the fifth season, Sidious personally travels to the planet Mandalore to confront his former apprentice Darth Maul after becoming leader of Death Watch, killing Maul's brother Savage Opress before torturing Maul with the intent to make use of him. In the final season, Sidious goes to lengths to conceal the full nature of his plan from the Jedi by attempting to silence the Clone Trooper Fives when he learns of Order 66 and having Dooku wipe out anything tied to Jedi Master Sifo-Dyas.

Literature

Star Wars Legends: Expanded Universe literature elaborates on Palpatine's role in Star Wars fiction outside of the films. The first appearance of Palpatine in Star Wars literature was in Alan Dean Foster's (writing as George Lucas)[15] novelization of the script of A New Hope, published as Star Wars: From the Adventures of Luke Skywalker (1976).[16][17] Foster characterizes Palpatine as a cunning senator who "caused himself" to be elected president of the Republic, and then declared himself Emperor and isolated himself from his subjects, eventually becoming a pawn of his advisers.

Palpatine made his first major appearance in the Expanded Universe in 1991 and 1992 with the Dark Empire series of comic books written by Tom Veitch and illustrated by Cam Kennedy. In the series (set six years after Return of the Jedi), Palpatine is resurrected as the Emperor Reborn or Palpatine the Undying. His spirit returns from the neitherworld of the Force with the aid of Sith ghosts on Korriban and possesses the body of Jeng Droga, one of Palpatine's elite spies and assassins known as the Emperor's Hands. Droga flees to a secret Imperial base on the planet Byss, where the Emperor's advisor Sate Pestage exorcises Palpatine's spirit and channels it into one of many clones created by Palpatine before his death. Palpatine attempts to resume control of the galaxy, but Luke Skywalker, now a Jedi Master, sabotages his plans. Luke destroys most of Palpatine's cloning tanks, but is only able to defeat the Emperor with help from Leia Organa, now a Jedi herself. The two repel a Force storm Palpatine had created and turn it back onto him, once again destroying his physical form.[18]

Palpatine's clone in theDark Empire series byTom Veitch and Cam Kennedy.

Palpatine's ultimate fate is further chronicled in the Dark Empire II and Empire's End series of comics. The Dark Empire II series, published from 1994 to 1995, details how the Emperor is once again reborn on Byss into a clone body. Palpatine tries to rebuild the Empire as the Rebel Alliance grows weak.[19] In Empire's End (1995), a traitorous Imperial guard bribes Palpatine's cloning supervisor to tamper with the Emperor's stored DNA samples. This causes the clones to deteriorate at a rapid rate. Palpatine attempts to possess the body of Anakin Solo, the infant son of Leia Organa and Han Solo, before the clone body dies, but is thwarted once again by Luke Skywalker. Palpatine is killed by a blaster shot fired by Han, and his spirit is captured by wounded Jedi Empatojayos Brand. When Brand dies, he takes Palpatine's spirit with him, destroying the Sith Lord once and for all.[20]

Novels and comics published before 1999 focus on Palpatine's role as Galactic Emperor. Shadows of the Empire (1996) by Steve Perry and The Mandalorian Armor (1998) by K. W. Jeter—all set between The Empire Strikes Back andReturn of the Jedi—show how Palpatine uses crime lords such as Prince Xizor and bounty hunters like Boba Fett to fight his enemies.[21][22] Barbara Hambly's novel Children of the Jedi (1995), set eight years after Return of the Jedi, features a woman named Roganda Ismaren who claims that Palpatine fathered her son Irek.[23] The Jedi Prince series of novels introduces an insane, three-eyed mutant named Triclops who is revealed to be Palpatine's illegitimate son.[24]Created from DNA extracted from Palpatine and placed into a woman, he was born mutated, cast away and forgotten. Triclops had a son named Ken who became known as the "Jedi Prince".

Beginning in 1999 with Terry Brooksnovelization of The Phantom MenaceStar Wars writers chronicled the role of Palpatine prior to A New Hope as a politician and Sith Lord. The comic "Marked" by Rob Williams, printed in Star Wars Tales 24 (2005), and Michael Reaves' novel Darth Maul: Shadow Hunter (2001) explain Darth Sidious' relationship with his apprentice Darth Maul.[25][26] Cloak of Deception (2001) by James Luceno follows Reaves' novel and details how Darth Sidious encourages the Trade Federation to build an army of battle droids in preparation for the invasion of Naboo. Cloak of Deception also focuses on Palpatine's early political career, revealing how he becomes a confidante of Chancellor Finis Valorum and acquainted with Padmé Amidala, newly elected queen of Naboo.[27] Palpatine's role during the Clone Wars as Chancellor of the Republic and Darth Sidious is portrayed in novels such as Matthew Stover'sShatterpoint (2003), Steven BarnesThe Cestus Deception (2004), Sean Stewart's Yoda: Dark Rendezvous (2004), and Luceno's Labyrinth of Evil (2005) and Darth Plagueis (2012).

Following the theatrical release of Revenge of the SithStar Wars literature focused on Palpatine's role after the creation of the Empire. John Ostrander's comic Star Wars Republic 78: Loyalties (2005) chronicles how, shortly after seizing power, Emperor Palpatine sends Darth Vader to assassinate Sagoro Autem, an Imperial captain who plans to defect from the Empire.[28] In Luceno's novel Dark Lord: The Rise of Darth Vader (2005) (set shortly after Revenge of the Sith), the Emperor sends Darth Vader to the planet Murkhana to discover why clone troopers there refused to carry out Order 66 against their Jedi generals. Palpatine hopes these early missions will teach Vader what it means to be a Sith and crush any remnants of Anakin Skywalker.[29]

Characteristics

 
The Emperor in an early version of The Empire Strikes Back portrayed by Elaine Baker and voiced by Clive Revill.

In Star Wars fiction, Palpatine is a cunning politician, a ruthless emperor, and an evil Sith Lord. The Star Wars Databank describes him as "the supreme ruler of the most powerful tyrannical regime the galaxy had ever witnessed"[30] andStephen J. Sansweet's Star Wars Encyclopedia calls him "evil incarnate."[31]

As a senator, Palpatine is "unassuming yet ambitious".[30] In Cloak of Deception, James Luceno writes that Palpatine carefully guards his privacy and "others found his reclusiveness intriguing, as if he led a secret life".[32]Despite this, he has many allies in the government. Luceno writes, "What Palpatine lacked in charisma, he made up for in candor, and it was that directness that had led to his widespread appeal in the senate. ... For in his heart he judged the universe on his own terms, with a clear sense of right and wrong."[32] In Terry Brooksnovelization of The Phantom Menace, Palpatine claims to embrace democratic principles. He tells Queen Amidala, "I promise, Your Majesty, if I am elected [chancellor of the Republic], I will restore democracy to the Republic. I will put an end to the corruption that has plagued the Senate."[33] A Visual Dictionary states that he is a self-proclaimed savior.[34]

As Emperor, however, Palpatine abandons any semblance of democracy, as noted in A New Hope, when he abolishes the Imperial Senate. Sansweet states, "His Empire ... is based on tyranny, hatred of nonhumans, brutal and lethal force, and, above all else, constant fear."[31] In Matthew Stover's novelization of Revenge of the Sith, Count Dooku anticipates the coming of the new government: "A government clean, pure, direct: none of the messy scramble for the favor of ignorant rabble and subhuman creatures that made up the Republic he so despised. The government he would serve would be Authority personified. Human authority."[35]

Revenge of the Sith suggests that Palpatine was the apprentice of Darth Plagueis, while later Expanded Universe materials say explicitly that he was.[36] Palpatine is characterized as "the most powerful practitioner of the Sith ways in modern times."[37] Palpatine is so powerful that he is able to mask his true identity from the Jedi for decades. In the novel Shatterpoint, Mace Windu remarks to Yoda, "A shame [Palpatine] can't touch the Force. He might have been a fine Jedi."[38]

The Star Wars Databank explains that the Force "granted him inhuman dexterity and speed, agility enough to quickly kill three Jedi Masters" (as depicted in Revenge of the Sith).[30] Stover describes the duel between Yoda and Palpatine in his novelization ofRevenge of the Sith thus: "From the shadow of a black wing, a small weapon ... slid into a withered hand and spat a flame-colored blade[.] When the blades met it was more than Yoda against Palpatine, more the millennia of Sith against the legions of Jedi; this was the expression of the fundamental conflict of the universe itself. Light against dark. Winner take all."[39] During the duel, Yoda realizes that Sidious represents a small but powerful Sith Order that had changed and evolved over the years, while the Jedi had not: "He had lost before he started."[40] George Lucas has stated that Palpatine considers himself the savior of the galaxy.

 

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The 501st Legion is a worldwide Star Wars costuming organization comprised of and operated by Star Wars fans. While it is not sponsored by Lucasfilm Ltd., it is Lucasfilm's preferred Imperial costuming group. Star Wars, its characters, costumes, and all associated items are the intellectual property of Lucasfilm. ©2014 Lucasfilm Ltd. & ™ All rights reserved. Used under authorization

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