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Palpatine is a scheming politician who eventually emerges as the main villain of the series as the supreme ruler of the evil Empire. He is also the Sith Master Darth Sidious although this is not revealed unambiguously until Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith.
At the beginning of Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace, Palpatine represents the planet Naboo in the Senate of the Galactic Republic and, by the end of the movie, manipulates Queen Amidala to call for a vote of no confidence in Chancellor Valorum's leadership, thereby making the Senate elect him as Chancellor of the Republic.
In Star Wars Episode II: Attack of the Clones, which is set ten years after Episode I, Palpatine is still in office as Chancellor and further manipulates events to make the Senate grant him dictatorial emergency powers to deal with Count Dooku's Confederacy of Independent Systems and promises to set his new powers aside after the Clone Wars end. But Palpatine was kidnapped by General Grievous at the start of Battle of Coruscant, although this would later turn out to have been staged.
By the end of the Clone Wars, with the defeat of the Confederacy, Palpatine proclaimed himself Emperor of the Galaxy, abolishing the Galactic Republic and establishing the Galactic Empire. He also declared the Jedi enemies of the Empire, with Anakin Skywalker, later rebuilt as Sith Lord Darth Vader, leading the extermination. These events have not been seen in any Star Wars film thus far, but it is conjectured that they will be depicted in Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith.
Known primarily as "the Emperor" from this point on, Palpatine continues to increase his power and squash rebellions with his iron hand. In the fourth film, Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope, he eliminates the last threat to his absolute power by dissolving the now-Imperial Senate and assuming complete control over the quadrillions of inhabitants of the galaxy.
It becomes evident by Star Wars Episode VI: Return of the Jedi that Palpatine does indeed possess the capability to use the Force. His training with the ancient Sith Lord, Darth Plagueis, is made clear in Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith. It is not explained how Palpatine escaped detection as a potential Jedi as an infant, which would have meant his being taken in to be trained as a Jedi, being born on a Republic planet like Naboo.
Through his servant Darth Vader, he tries to make Luke Skywalker join the Sith, but in the end his plot fails. In anger over Luke's resolve, he tortures the young Jedi with Dark-Side lightning (and seems to get a kind of sadistic pleasure from seeing him writhe in pain,) but Vader, who turns from the Dark Side to once again become Anakin Skywalker at the last moment, turns against his master and casts Palpatine down a reactor shaft of the second Death Star, where his body dissolves in a cloud of energy. Thus Palpatine dies, ending the Sith Order and Anakin Skywalker fulfills his prophecy as the Chosen One, bringing balance to the Force.
Palpatine in the Expanded Universe
Palpatine appears very frequently in the Expanded Universe material which covers the prequel era. In the novel Cloak of Deception, a prelude to The Phantom Menace, he sets up his bid for the Chancellorship by discrediting Chancellor Valorum and in the comic Star Wars Republic, it is hinted that he is behind the assassination of the former Naboo Senator, the abdication of Naboo's King Veruna , and also that he assassinated his predecessor, Valorum. In the various "Clone Wars" stories, he continues his "great interest" in Anakin Skywalker.
In the classic era stories, Palpatine shows up the most in Shadows of the Empire, where Prince Xizor attempts to discredit Darth Vader, by killing Luke Skywalker, and take his place as the Emperor's second-in-command. Xizor is ultimately killed by Vader, who was obsessed with the idea of turning his son to Dark Side and did not want him dead.
Also according to the Expanded Universe, Palpatine created clones of himself - his spirit - which continued to live through the Force after his death, as Obi-Wan Kenobi's did, possessed so he could return to life. The cloned Palpatine tries to gain back his control of the galaxy, and brings Luke to the brink of the Dark Side. However, after his "final death," he was gone permanently, making the Dark Empire trilogy, which also resurrected Boba Fett, his last appearance chronologically.
It is also revealed in the novels that Palpatine trained a number of secret agents called the Emperor's Hands, among them popular character Mara Jade, as well as several Jedi who had gone to the Dark Side and become Dark Jedi, not disrupting the "two Sith" rule. It is also hinted in the Barbara Hambly novels -- and later discounted -- that Palpatine has had several offspring. In the Jedi Prince series an insane three-eyed mutant named Triclops appears as Palpatine's son with Ken as his grandson. In the series Triclops is impersonated by another three-eyed mutant named Trioculous. Despite this, the concept of Palpatine having children has not been embraced by the Expanded Universe at large, and is heavily out of character.
On the planet Derilyn , there is a city named for Palpatine.
Behind the Scenes
Like many personalities in the Star Wars universe, Palpatine's character has clear similarities to certain historical figures. Parallels to Julius Caesar, Napoleon Bonaparte and Adolf Hitler can all be found in the Galactic Emperor's words and actions (in many ways he is an amalgamation of the two Caesars -- Julius Caesar and Caesar Augustus -- and Lucius Cornelius Sulla). In writing the original drafts of the Star Wars films, during the mid-1970s, George Lucas has said he was influenced by then-US President Richard Nixon. Several fans have noted how similar his appearance in the original trilogy is to Pope Benedict XVI, and in the prequels to U.S. Senator Joe Lieberman (although the former is certainly just coincidence).
In many ways, Palpatine is an archetypical villain, who does not appear to have any understandable motivation. He relies on deception and manipulation to control and corrupt individuals throughout the films, and as a result is a classically diabolical character. As the Emperor, he appears to be a frail, weak old man, but is actually quite supernaturally powerful. Palpatine may be viewed as the quintessential wolf in sheep's clothing. Palpatine's motivations are more easily explained when viewed in the context of his alter ego Darth Sidious.
Palpatine's full name (assuming he has any names other than "Palpatine" alone) has never been revealed. The use "Emperor Palpatine" suggests that Palpatine is in fact his only name, though the use of titles such as "Senator Palpatine" suggests it may be his family name. Of course, Palpatine might be a Name of State, as the name Amidala is, so it may mean that neither Palpatine's given nor family name is known.
Nevertheless, the original version of his character in Lucas's early scripts was named "Cos Dashit" and many Star Wars fan fiction writers have quite incorrectly adopted the name "Cos Palpatine" in their stories and web pages -- so much so that it has become fanon. The name "Dantius Palpatine" has also been adopted, though its origins are more ambiguous, seeming to come from SuperShadow, a website of fraudulent Star Wars material, including synopses for Episodes VII - IX. On the official website it is stated that Palpatine's first name, if he has one, has not yet been revealed.
Both the middle aged Palpatine and the elderly Emperor Palpatine are played by actor Ian McDiarmid, although the holographic image of the Emperor that briefly appeared in The Empire Strikes Back was played by an unnamed actor (a woman with the composited image of a lemur for the eyes) and was voiced by Clive Revill. For the 2004 DVD release of the Star Wars Trilogy, the scene in Episode V was reshot with Ian McDiarmid replacing Revill as the Emperor, with new lines recorded for both McDiarmid and James Earl Jones (the voice of Darth Vader). In the Clone Wars cartoon series and the audio adaption of the Dark Empire trilogy of comic books, Nick Jameson voiced Palpatine.
The exact origin of the name "Palpatine" is not known. It may come from the word "palatine," meaning "relating to a palace," which is fitting for a supreme dictator. Some have speculated that it was named after Leonard Harris 's character in Taxi Driver, Senator Palantine (note the difference in spelling). Another theory suggests he was named for Palatine Hill overlooking the Roman Forum, where Romulus and Remus were found and raised by she-wolf according to Roman mythology and where the palace of the Roman Emperors was located.
Several unsubstantiated rumors claim that Sidious/Palpatine shall make another appearance in the Expanded Universe, set not long after the New Jedi Order.
As Darth Sidious
- "Viceroy, I don't want this stunted slime in my sight again." (about Daultay Dofine , who said Sidious' scheme had failed)
- "I will make it legal." (after Nute Gunray asked if an invasion of Naboo would be legal)
- "Wipe them out — all of them."
- "Enter the bureaucrats, the true rulers of the Republic, and on the payroll of the Trade Federation I might add. This is where Chancellor Valorum's strength will disappear."
- "A surprise to be sure, but a welcome one." (on his nomination to become Chancellor)
- "I will not let this Republic, that has stood for a thousand years, be split in two."
- "It is with great reluctance that I have agreed to this calling. I love democracy. I love the Republic. The power you give me I will lay down when this crisis has abated. And as my first act with this new authority, I will create a Grand Army of the Republic to counter the increasing threat from the Separatists." (being given emergency powers)
To Anakin Skywalker
- "We are indebted to you for your bravery Obi-Wan Kenobi and you young Skywalker. We will watch your career with great interest."
- "I have said it many times; you are the most gifted Jedi I have ever met."
- "I see you becoming the greatest of all the Jedi, Anakin. Even more powerful than Master Yoda."
About Luke Skywalker
- "There is a great disturbance in the Force. We have a new enemy; the young rebel who destroyed the Death Star. I have no doubt this boy is the offspring of Anakin Skywalker." (speaking with Darth Vader via hologram; DVD version only)
- "Search your feelings, Lord Vader, you will know it to be true. He could destroy us." (speaking with Darth Vader via hologram; DVD version only)
- "The Force is strong with him. The son of Skywalker must not become a Jedi." (speaking with Darth Vader via hologram)
- "You have done well, Lord Vader...and now I sense you wish to continue your search for young Skywalker...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." (Speaking with Vader, after Palpatine arrives on the second Death Star, and they are inspecting the troops.)
- "It is of no concern. Soon the Rebellion will be crushed and young Skywalker will be one of us." (after Vader mentioned the Alliance was massing near Sullust.)
- "His compassion for you will be his undoing. He will come to you, and you will bring him before me." (to Darth Vader, after learning from Vader that Luke and his friends have landed on Endor.)
In Revenge of the Sith
- "The dark side of the Force is a pathway to many abilities, some consider to be 'unnatural.'"
- "Learn to know the dark side of the Force, and you will achieve a power greater than any Jedi."
- "Are you threatening me, Master Jedi?" (to Mace Windu, and his Jedi entourage who have come to arrest Palpatine.)
- "I am the Senate!" (to Mace Windu, who says the Senate will decide Palpatine's fate.)
- "Power! Unlimited power!" (after turning Anakin to the dark side)
- "Every single Jedi is now an enemy of the Republic!" (stating to the Senate.)
- "Do what must be done, Lord Vader. Do not hesitate. Show no mercy." (instructing Anakin, now Darth Vader, to hunt down and kill the Jedi.)
- "I will soon have a new apprentice... one far younger and more powerful than Lord Tyranus."
Trying to turn Luke Skywalker to the dark side
- "Welcome, young Skywalker, I have been expecting you..."
- "I'm looking forward to completing your training. In time, you will call me 'Master.'"
- "Oh no, my young Jedi. You will find that it is you who are mistaken...about a great many things."
- "By now you must know your father can never be turned from the dark side, so will it be with you."
- "Everything that has transpired has done so according to my design."
- "Your faith in your friends is yours." (retort to Luke's statement that Palpatine's overconfidence was his weakness)
- "From here you will witness the final destruction of the Alliance — and the end of your insignificant rebellion."
- "You want this, [patting Luke's lightsaber] dont you? The hate is swelling in you now. Take your Jedi weapon. Use it. I am unarmed. Strike me down with it. Give in to your anger. With each passing moment you make yourself more my servant."
- "It is unavoidable. It is your destiny. You, like your father, are now...mine."
- "Now witness the firepower of this fully armed and operational battle station."
- "There is no escape...the Alliance will die...as will your friends. Good, I can feel your anger. I am defenseless. Take your weapon. Strike me down with all of your hatred, and your journey towards the dark side will be complete."
- "Use your aggressive feelings, boy! Let the hate flow through you!"
- "Good! Your hate has made you powerful. Now fulfill your destiny and take your father's place at my side!"
- "So be it...Jedi."(after Luke refuses the dark side and declares himself a Jedi)
- "If you will not be turned...then...you will be...destroyed." (he unleashes blue Force lightning)
- "Young fool. Only now, at the end, do you understand. Your feeble skills are no match for the power of the dark side. You will pay the price for your lack of vision." (as he is gleefully electrocuting Luke with Force lightning)
- "And now, young Skywalker...you will die." (last words before Vader/Anakin turns on him)
Quotes about Palpatine
- "Do not underestimate the powers of the Emperor, or suffer your father's fate you will." (Yoda to Luke, just before Yoda passes away)
- "The Emperor does not share your optimistic appraisal of the situation." - Darth Vader to Commander Jerjerrod, on the second Death Star's progress being behind schedule.
- "The Emperor is not as forgiving as I am."
- "Sidious is Palpatine! The Chancellor is the Sith Lord!" -Anakin Skywalker in the Revenge of the Sith novel in a painful conversation with Mace Windu.
- "...the pure exercise of power is what he's all about. That's the only thing he's interested in and the only thing that can satisfy him — which makes him completely fascinating to play, because it is an evil soul. He is more evil than the devil. At least Satan fell — he has a history, and it's one of revenge."
- "The Imperial Senate will no longer be of any concern to us. I have just received word that the Emperor has dissolved the council permanently. The last remnants of the Old Republic have been swept away."
- -Grand Moff Tarkin, A New Hope
Styles of Address
Senator Palpatine of the Sovereign System of Naboo
His Excellency, Chancellor Palpatine
His Imperial Majesty, Emperor Palpatine I
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