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Villain Overview
Everything is proceeding as I have foreseen.
~ Emperor Palpatine's most famous quote.
Young fool, only now at the end do you understand. Your feeble skills are no match for the power of the dark side! You have paid the price for your lack of vision!
~ Emperor Palpatine taunting Luke Skywalker.

Emperor Sheev Palpatine, also known by his Sith alias Darth Sidious and later dubbed as The Emperor, is the main antagonist of the Star Wars franchise.

He served as the main antagonist of both the original and prequel trilogies, as well as an overarching antagonist in Star Wars: The Clone Wars, Star Wars Rebels, and several novels within both the Star Wars Legends continuity and the current mainstream continuity.

He was an immensely powerful Sith Lord and the supreme founder of the Galactic Empire who was also the de-facto ruler of the CIS. As the Dark Lord of the Sith, Sidious plotted to overthrow the Jedi by manipulating the events of the Clone Wars to bring himself to rule the whole galaxy; thus posing as the Supreme Chancellor of the Republic throughout the course of these events.

In the saga films, he was most famously portrayed by Ian McDiarmid. In Star Wars: The Clone Wars, he was voiced by the late Ian Abercrombie, and later Tim Curry who also played Hexxus, Ben Ravencroft, and many other villains. McDiarmid returned to play Palpatine in the Star Wars Rebels series finale.

Personality

Emperor Palpatine

Emperor "Sheev" Palpatine

At first, Palpatine appeared to be a compassionate, well-meaning, and harmless individual. However, this was nothing more a public facade that Palpatine made up to hide his true nature as Darth Sidious, and while as the Sith Lord he exposes it all. He is actually a very murderous, egotistical, ambitious, power-hungry, ruthless, sadistic, psychopathic, and unpredictable individual. And as such, there was only one goal he had in mind to accomplish: total control of the entire galaxy. Cold and dominant, it is either obeyed or be obliterated with him.

Despite his arrogance, he was highly intelligent and manipulative, possessing some sense of humor. Darth Sidious was also known to be treacherous and deceptive, as he would kill his allies or have them killed, as he had no desire to share his power with anyone, especially his own apprentices, and unlike most of the other Sith Lords, he prefers using mental breaking and the Force over physical strength.

After he had successfully gained full control of the Galactic Republic and turned it into the Galactic Empire. He abandoned his public persona and openly became a tyrannical dark lord; 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. Darth Sidious 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.

Sidious 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/Sidious 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 Sidious'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. Despite his desire for immortality, Sidious would anticipate the possibility of facing death, and in some cases, he is willing to forsake his own life by provoking any person to kill him in order to convert that person into the Dark Side and carry on his evil legacy. Like most practitioners of the Dark side of the Force, Darth Sidious 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 and pusillanimous, as he felt little fear and was more than willing to get into direct confrontations with exceptionally powerful opponents like Mace Windu and Yoda if necessary. Fear ultimately proved to be his 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, thus his own demise in addition to creating his would-be-killer, Darth Vader.

Despite his evil nature, he 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. In addition, although Sidious openly acknowledged his being a Dark Sider he also did not consider himself evil, but rather thought of himself as a savior.

At one point in an interview, his actor Ian McDiarmid claimed that Darth Sidious was "even more evil than Satan".

Powers and Abilities

The Force

Palpatine zaps Luke

Palpatine electrocuting Luke Skywalker after he refuses to join the dark side.

Despite his old age, Darth Sidious was immensely powerful and had an amazingly strong connection to the Force, considered to be the most powerful Sith ever. His power and skill in the usage of the Force exceeds that of Darth Vader after he was badly burned in Mustafar and Darth Tyranus and can only be matched, if not slightly surpassed, by Yoda.

He was extremely skilled in using Force lightning, and was known to use this power both as a deadly attack, and as a means of torture. On several occasions on Ryloth he used bursts of lightning which not only killed numerous Lyleks but badly charred and scorched their carapaces, which were tough enough to repel heavy blaster fire. On another occasion, he used the ability to damage a Twi'lek freighter's engines badly enough to pull it out of the sky with telekinesis. Sidious could use Force lightning in a number of creative ways, including striking multiple enemies at once, with the bolts jumping from one victim to the other, like a chain and imbuing the ground around a victim's feet with energy, effectively electrocuting them.

His Force Lighting is powerful enough that even someone of Yoda's calibare had noticable difficulty deflecing it using the Force. Another more obscure ability that he possessed was the power to produce a dark aura, a miniature storm of force energy that slowed the movement of, and tortured all caught withing its radius. He was also highly skilled with telekinesis; during his duel with Yoda, he levitated several Senate pods simultaneously, including the one he was standing on, with great dexterity and accuracy. Likewise, he was skilled enough with telekinesis that he was also able to remove Luke Skywalker's handcuffs while barely lifting his finger when meeting face to face on the second Death Star.

On Mandalore, he casually telekinetically strangled two Mandalorians at once to death, and easily pinned both Darth Maul and Savage Opress against a wall without they being able to break free before deliberately releasing them and later easily threw around Maul after disarming him telekenetically, He once also telekinetically choked Count Dooku from hundreds of light years away during a holo-transmission.

Darth Sidious was highly adept at foreseeing the future, often utilizing the power to see his plots to fruition, ensuring that all would proceed as he had envisioned. His accuracy with this power can only be rivaled by that of Yoda. The Dark Lord was also adept in the use of Force Persuade, to the extent that he was able to take complete control of a subject's mind and force them to obey his commands. He was also capable of telepathically communicating with Darth Vader over a distance of hundreds of light-years. Palpatine also had a remarkably keen ability to sense the thoughts and feelings of others, including those of incredibly powerful Force adepts such as Darth Vader and Luke Skywalker. On a related note, he was also capable of hiding his own thoughts and feelings from even such individuals as Yoda, and managed to conceal his true dark nature from the entire Jedi Council for decades before deliberately revealing himself.

Lightsaber Skills

Darth-Sidious-lightsaber

Darth Sidious during his duel with Yoda.

Despite his old age, Darth Sidious 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. Sidious' 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. Sidious' technique and fighting style was a combination of brutal aggression and lethal precision, making him an almost unstoppable opponent.

Sidious's skills in Lightsaber combat allowed him to effortlessly kill Agen Koolar and Tin Saesee with a single blow, who were among the best duelists of their time. He then swiftly overpowered and killed the formidable Fit Kitso while also engaged with Mace Windu. He proved capable of matching Windu in their duel and even initially seemed to have the upper hand, altough he was seemingly defeated by the latter ultimately. Sidious even managed to stalemate Yoda himself for an extended period of time before he was outmatched in their lightsaber duel.

Altough Sidious usually used only one Lightsaber, he was also extremely skilled in the art of Jar'Kai, evidenced when he used both of his lightsabers against Darth Maul and Savage Opress with tremondous skill and effiency and using a ferocious, but fluid, fighting style, managed to duel both of them at once on equal grounds and ultimately managed to seperate them. He then effortlessly killed Opress, who used a double-bladed lightsaber, in mere seconds and proceeded to duel Maul also using 2 lightsabers. Altough not without visible effort, Sidious ultimately overpowered Maul and disarmed him of his 2 Lightsabers by forcing his blades down toward the hilts of Maul's 2 blades and then forcing them apart.

  • Genius-Level Intellect/Master Tactician/Leader/Manipulator: Darth Sidious was amazingly intelligent; his intelligence and wisdom was rivaled only by Yoda, 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. Sidious even managed to manipulate and deceive Anakin Skywalker, a genius in his own right, into becoming his apprentice and turning him against the Jedi Order.

Lightsabers

Darth Sidious' valued weapon and possession 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/Sidious 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: Darth Sidious 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 Sidious' death.
  • Second Lightsaber: At some point Darth Sidious 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. Since Sidious viewed the Sith's lightsabers as only existing to mock the Jedi's weapons, following Order 66, Sidious carried no lightsaber and preferred to use the force as his weapon. 

Other Appearances

Darth Sidious made several other appearances in other TV shows. Some examples are Family Guy (when Cleveland tried to kill Quagmire), and the Mad Scientist once played as Emperor Palpatine/Darth Sidious in the Star Wars Robot Chicken special. When the developers made a Star Wars Family Guy special, Carter Pewterschmidt portrayed The Emperor, but he was instead known as "Emperor Carter".

Quotes

All who gain power are afraid to lose it. Even the Jedi.
~ Palpatine on the Jedi to Anakin.
Good is a point of view, Anakin. The Sith and the Jedi are similar in almost every way, including their quest for greater power.
~ Palpatine on the Jedi and the Sith.
Did you ever hear the Tragedy of Darth Plagueis the Wise? I thought not. It's not a story the Jedi would tell you. It's a Sith legend.
~ Palpatine begins to tell Anakin about the legendary Sith Lord, Darth Plagueis.
Darth Plagueis was a Dark Lord of the Sith so powerful and so wise, he could use the Force to influence the midi-chlorians to create life. He had such a knowledge of the dark side, he could even keep the ones he cared about from dying.
~ Palpatine talking about the tragedy of Darth Plagueis.
The dark side of the Force is a pathway to many abilities some consider to be unnatural.
~ Palpatine on the dark side of the Force.
He became so powerful. The only thing he was afraid was losing his power which eventually of course he did. Unfortunately he taught his apprentice everything he knew, then his apprentice killed him in his sleep.
~ Palpatine on the fate of Darth Plagueis
Ironic. He could save others from death, but not himself. (Anakin: Is it possible to learn this power?) Not from a Jedi.
~ Palpatine and Anakin about Plagueis's powers and how to learn them.
They don't trust you Anakin. They see your future they know your power will be too strong to control. You must break through the fog of lies the Jedi have created around you.
~ Palpatine to Anakin on the Jedi Council.
Let me help you to know the subtleties of the Force. My mentor taught me everything about the Force, even the nature of the dark side. Anakin, if one is to understand the great mystery, one must study all its aspects not just the dogmatic view of the Jedi. If you wish to become a complete and wise leader, you must embrace a larger view of the Force. Be careful of the Jedi, Anakin. Only through me can you achieve a power greater than any Jedi. Learn to know the dark side of the Force, and you will be able to save your wife from certain death.
~ Palpatine reveals himself as the Sith Lord.
I know what's been troubling you. Listen to me. Don't continue to a be a pawn of the Jedi Council! Ever since I've known you, you have been searching for a life greater than that of an ordinary Jedi, a life of significance, of conscience.
~ Palpatine trying to manipulate Anakin.
Are you going to kill me? (Anakin: I would certainty like to!) I know you would. I can feel your anger. It give you focus… makes you stronger.
~ Palpatine to Anakin.
(Mace Windu: The Senate will decide your fate.) I am the Senate! (Mace Winud: Not yet!) It's treason then.
~ Palpatine before engaging Mace Windu in a lightsaber duel.
No! No! NOOO!.......YOU WILL DIE!
~ Palpatine before attacking Mace Windu with Force lightning.
POWER! UNLIMITED POWER!
~ Darth Sidious killing Mace Windu.
You've done well, Lord Vader. And now I sense you wish to continue your search for young Skywalker. (Vader: Yes my Master.) Patience, my friend. In time, he will seek you out and when he does, you must bring him before me. He has grown strong. Only together can we turn him to the dark side of the Force.
~ The Emperor to Darth Vader on Luke.
With each passing moment, you make yourself more my servant!
~ The Emperor to Luke.
As you can see, my young apprentice, your friends have failed. Now witness the firepower of this fully ARMED and OPERATIONAL battle station!
~ Palpatine
Fire at will commander!
~ Palpatine as he demonstrates his second Death Star.
Your fleet is lost. And your friends on the Endor moon will not survive. There is no escape, my young apprentice. The Alliance… will die, as will your friends. Good, I can feel your anger. I am defenceless. Take your weapon. Strike me down with all of your hatred and your journey towards the dark side will be complete!
~ Palpatine manipulating Luke.
If you will not be turned, you will be destroyed.
~ The Emperor to Luke preparing to kill him.
Now, young Skywalker, you will die.
~ Palpatine's last words before Darth Vader redeems himself and throws him down into the shaft, killing him and ending his reign of tyrant for good.

Trivia

  • Historical leaders such as Adolf Hitler, Joseph Stalin, Julius Caesar, and Richard Nixon served as the main influences for his character.
  • Palpatine/Sidious (after his 'disfigurement') shares a strong resemblance to Count Dracula in 1992 Dracula film. He also shares a strong resemblance to the 2008 incarnation of Davros.
  • In the original script of The Empire Strikes Back, Palpatine was named Cos Dashit, a puppet leader who was controlled by the Moffs. He had no connection to the Force at all. However, Lucas had replace him as the main mastermind of the Saga.
  • In the Blu-ray commentary to Return of the Jedi, actor Ian McDiarmid noted that when George Lucas first approached him to play the Emperor he had just finished playing Lucifer in a stage version of John Milton's Paradise Lost. Mcdiarmid noted ironically that Lucifer (as depicted in the play) was more sympathetic and had more redeeming qualities than Palpatine, and Palpatine ironically had no redeeming qualities whatsoever; his sole positive characteristic being his dark sense of humor.
  • Darth Sidious/Emperor Palpatine is often considered one of the most evil and dangerous villains to ever date in both television and film history - as his reign of terror in addition to his tyrannies have led to billions of casualties and the destruction of countless planets, thus devastating the galaxy altogether.
  • Since the first release of the films, Darth Sidious has became an iconic villain, along with Vader. He is also the second most recurring villain of Star Wars, second only to Vader.
  • Even though Darth Sidious is the main antagonist of Star Wars: The Clone Wars, his Sith persona was only seen in 17 episodes out of 121 episodes total. Sidious was only seen in 1 episode in Season 1 (Cloak of Darkness), 3 episodes in Season 2 (Holocron Heist, Children of the Force and Duchess of Mandalore), 2 episodes in Season 3 (Nightsisters and Ghost of Mortis, the latter as a future vision to Anakin), 2 episodes in Season 4 (Escape from Kadavo and Shadow Warrior), 2 episodes in Season 5, including "Revival" where he smiles after learning Maul's survival, implying his identity (and the other one being The Lawless), and 7 episodes in Season 6 (The Unknown, Orders, An Old Friend, The Rise of Clovis, Crisis at the Heart, Voices and Sacrifice, the last one is also the series finale).
  • Following Palpatine's ultimate downfall in Return of the Jedi, Supreme Leader Snoke took his place as the main antagonist of the Star Wars sequel trilogy.

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