- "Everything is proceeding as I have foreseen."
- ―Darth Sidious
Darth Sidious, born Sheev Palpatine and commonly known simply as the Emperor, was a Force-sensitive human male who became a Dark Lord of the Sith and Galactic Emperor of the Galactic Empire, ruling the galaxy throughout most of the Imperial Era. Rising to power in the Galactic Senate as the senator of Naboo, he cultivated two identities in order to accumulate political authority during the final years of the Galactic Republic, culminating in a reign that lasted from his ascension to absolute power in 19 BBY to his demise in 4 ABY. Death was not the end for Sidious, however, as the dark side of the Force was a pathway to abilities that made his return possible.
Born on the Mid Rim planet Naboo around 84 BBY during the Great Peace, Sidious was secretly trained in the ways of the Sith by Darth Plagueis. He eventually killed his Sith Master in order to train his own Sith apprentice, Darth Maul, for the Rule of Two limited their ranks to two Sith Lords at any given time. As a result of the Invasion of Naboo, a crisis orchestrated by Sidious, the Senate elected Palpatine as Supreme Chancellor. The Separatist Crisis and the Clone Wars were masterminded by Sidious and his new apprentice, Darth Tyranus, in an effort to achieve galactic dominance. Following an attempt to arrest the chancellor, the purge of the Jedi Order commenced with Sidious enacting Order 66.
With the Jedi all but extinct, Sidious installed the New Order in the Republic's place, declaring himself Galactic Emperor and bringing an end to a millennium of democracy. He had also taken another new apprentice, having lured the Jedi Knight Anakin Skywalker to the dark side, transforming him into Darth Vader. Their reign was virtually unchallenged for a generation until the formation of the Alliance to Restore the Republic. During the Galactic Civil War, the Emperor sought to replace Vader with his son, Luke Skywalker. However, Sidious' plan backfired when Vader ultimately renounced the dark side to protect Luke by killing Sidious. Thus, with the Sith's destruction, the Force was brought back into balance, fulfilling Anakin's destiny as the prophesized Chosen One.
Through his Master's teachings, however, Sidious transferred his essence to an imperfect clone vessel that had been modeled on his original body. Anticipating the possibility of defeat, he created the Contingency to destroy the Galactic Empire and replace it with a new Sith Empire. His plans culminated in the destruction of the New Republic and the emergence of the First Order, the creation of Supreme Leader Snoke, who turned Ben Solo—heir to the Skywalker bloodline—to the dark side, and the establishment of the Final Order. When the Emperor announced his return to the galaxy in 35 ABY, the Resistance invaded the planet Exegol, Sidious' hidden stronghold in the Unknown Regions. During the battle, he discovered a dyad in the Force in the form of the bond between Solo and Rey, a Jedi apprentice sired from the Emperor's bloodline. The return of the Sith was ultimately prevented, however, when Rey called all the power of past Jedi and managed to vanquish her grandfather by turning his own power against him, destroying Sidious and his Sith Eternal cultists.
Early life and political career
- "My mentor taught me everything about the Force, even the nature of the dark side."
- ―Darth Sidious, to Anakin Skywalker
A human male, Sheev Palpatine was born to a very influential family on the Mid Rim world of Naboo around 84 years prior to the Battle of Yavin. As far as anyone knew, Palpatine had no family of which to speak. Brought up on the planet's capital city of Theed, the young Naboo acquired a great amount of knowledge on governance and the subtleties of power during his early years, eventually joining the cultured city's reputable host of credible politicians produced over the centuries.
At some point during his youth,[source?] Palpatine met Darth Plagueis, a Banite Dark Lord of the Sith, who took him as an apprentice with the name Darth Sidious.[source?] As the Sith Sidious, he learned all his Sith Master knew about the dark side of the Force and studied the Force as their predecessors, including the ancient Darth Bane, knew it.[source?] While training with Plagueis, Sidious was taught that two Sith were required for their perilous machinations. So, if they worked together in accordance to Darth Bane's Rule of Two, with one of them serving as a bait for the dark side of the Force and the other as a vessel, they would succeed in acquiring the ability to harness the full power of the dark side and rule immortal for ten thousand years.
Darth Sidious and Plagueis worked together for years, trying to unlock the secrets to immortality. Eventually, Sidious was made aware of Plagueis' ability to manipulate the midi-chlorians to create life, which his master employed to prevent the people he cared for from dying. However, Plagueis ultimately discovered a secret for eternal life, which Sidious later stole: transferring his own consciousness to another body, using bodies as vessels. This obsession with extending one's own life later passed onto Sidious from his time as Galactic Emperor.
In his public persona as Sheev Palpatine, his embarkment on a career in politics was aided by his Master, who raised him to the position of Senator for his homeworld in the Senate of the Galactic Republic. Once elected, the representative for Naboo quickly joined incumbent Supreme Chancellor Skor Kalpana's ruling party, and noticed the fervent bickering and corruption that mired the Republic. He began to establish relations with those who'd become his future collaborators, such as Wilhuff Tarkin. The duo met for the first time when Tarkin was still a cadet of the Sullust Sector Spacefarers Academy, and while Palpatine was still apprenticed to Plagueis. Taking an interest in the younger man, Senator Palpatine resolved to help him to join the Judicial Department, according to Tarkin's desire but advised him to also consider a political career. In the following years, their relationship became more and more confidential. Palpatine often lauded Tarkin for his talents and skills and remarked they were very similar: they both came from planets at the edge of the galaxy but were destined to have great repercussions on the history of the galaxy itself. Tarkin eventually became one of the few people who called Palpatine by his first name.
Keeping his Sith identity a secret from the public eye, Sidious took it upon himself to execute the Sith's long-percolating plan of supplanting the Republic with a new Sith Empire as well as destroying the Jedi Order. Seeking a Sith apprentice, Sidious traveled to the planet Dathomir and met with the Dathomirian Nightsister Mother Talzin. Intermingling his knowledge of the dark side of the Force with Talzin's knowledge of Nightsister magicks, Sidious had considered to make Talzin his apprentice and right hand. However, Sidious chose her infant son, the Zabrak Nightbrother who would become his true Sith apprentice, Darth Maul.
However, by taking Maul under his wing, the Rule of Two had been violated, as it demanded only two Sith. Following the traditions set forth by the Rule of Two and deciding that Plagueis had outlived his usefulness, Sidious betrayed and murdered his Master on his sleep. Now the Sith Master himself, Sidious brutally trained Maul to be a weapon of the Sith, viewing Maul's prowess and combat abilities as an invaluable asset to his master plan. Palpatine was also able to manipulate Nute Gunray's rise to the position of Viceroy of the Trade Federation.
War on Naboo
Invasion of Naboo
- "At last, we will reveal ourselves to the Jedi. At last, we will have revenge."
- ―Darth Maul, to Darth Sidious
Palpatine moved to seize power from Supreme Chancellor Finis Valorum, who had virtually no political power and counted Palpatine as a close friend and ally, allowing for Palpatine to easily manipulate him. Through holographic communication, Palpatine conspired with Viceroy Gunray to blockade the planet Naboo in protest of the Senate's taxation of trade routes in outlying star systems. Driven to desperation by the inactivity of the Senate, Valorum secretly dispatched two Jedi Knights—Master Qui-Gon Jinn and his Padawan Obi-Wan Kenobi—as ambassadors to negotiate with the Federation's Neimoidian leaders.
Upon learning of the ambassadors' identities, Sidious ordered the immediate invasion of Naboo and execution of the two Jedi; when Gunray questioned the legality of such an action, Sidious simply stated that he would make it legal. The Neimoidians acted accordingly, but the Jedi survived the assassination attempt and escaped the Federation ship. After Palpatine terminated his communication with Gunray, Queen Padmé Amidala contacted him concerning the Federation's denial that the Chancellor had sent ambassadors to speak with them as promised. Palpatine feigned concern at this supposed revelation, but was cut off mid-sentence by the Trade Federation's communication blackout, notifying the Naboo to their invasion.
The Federation's droid army proceeded with their assault. Within a day, the army occupied the planet's capital city and its surrounding regions. Additionally, Amidala and her retinue were captured and presented with a treaty that would bring an air of legitimacy to their invasion. However, the Jedi arrived to rescue them, and they successfully evaded the blockade aboard the queen's starship.
When Gunray informed Sidious of Amidala's failure to sign the treaty, the livid Sith Lord introduced them to Darth Maul, whom he dispatched to find and recapture Amidala. Due to Amidala's ship sustaining damage in the escape, the queen opted to land on Tatooine, an obscure desert world in the Outer Rim Territories, to repair the ship. Maul managed to ascertain the queen's location, and assured his master that his search on the sparsely populated world would be a short one. Sidious told him to move against the Jedi first, and then take the queen once they were dead. Maul left for Tatooine, but he failed to kill the Jedi or retrieve Amidala.
- "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."
- ―Sheev Palpatine, to Queen Amidala
Despite these setbacks, Palpatine was able to convene with Amidala on Coruscant, where she intended to plead her case to Chancellor Valorum before the Galactic Senate. Bringing Amidala to his apartment for an audience, Palpatine told the queen that the senate was long past caring about the common good, while Valorum was essentially powerless against them. With both the Senate and Valorum closed off to her as options, Palpatine offered her two choices: she could move for a Vote of No Confidence in Chancellor Valorum, and push for the election of a more effective leader; or she could take the matter to the courts, which would take even longer. Hoping still to reach some resolution to the matter in the Senate, Amidala opted to attend the special session of the body the next day.
During the awaited Senate session, Amidala attempted to make her case for Republic intervention to stop the Trade Federation's occupation of her world. However, the Federation representative Lott Dod fervently objected to the"accusations" levied against the Federation, citing that there was no proof that an invasion or occupation had even occurred. He recommended that a commission be sent to Naboo to ascertain the truth of the situation, a motion that was seconded by the Senator from Malastare, Aks Moe. Vice Chair Mas Amedda conferred quietly with Valorum for a few moments, and Palpatine took the opportunity to predict that the Chancellor, shackled to Senatorial procedure at the behest of bureaucrats who were more than likely on the payroll of the Federation, would fail to help Naboo. When Valorum reluctantly admitted that the Federation was within their rights to request a commission, an outraged Amidala realized that Palpatine was right; Valorum was too weak and ineffectual to provide her world with the help it needed. As such, she took Palpatine's advice and publicly moved for a Vote of No Confidence in the Chancellor. Within moments, hundreds of Senators began demanding for an immediate vote, leaving Valorum thunderstruck.
The sudden power vacuum led to Palpatine's nomination as Supreme Chancellor alongside Bail Antilles of Alderaan and Ainlee Teem of Malastare. When he announced his nomination to Amidala, however, the queen declared her intention to return to Naboo and reclaim it from the Trade Federation by whatever means she could. Palpatine made a show of concern and tried halfheartedly to convince her to stay on Coruscant. She left regardless, taking both Jinn and Kenobi with her for protection and wishing Palpatine success in the election.
Battle of Naboo
- "Wipe them out. All of them."
- ―Darth Sidious, to Nute Gunray
Sidious contacted the Neimoidians on Naboo, instructing them to kill Amidala upon arrival, and sent Maul to accompany them with orders to make certain the Neimoidians killed the queen, and that the Jedi fell by his own hand. Even while he managed the election on Coruscant, he made time to go over the Neimoidians' progress. Against his expectations, he learned that Amidala not only managed to escape Gunray's reach but also forged an alliance with the Gungans and assembled an army in the planet swamp in preparation for a strike against the Federation occupation force. He doubted she would last even five minutes in such a contest, and gave his approval to Gunray's plan to meet the Gungans head-on.
Ultimately, Palpatine won the election for Supreme Chancellor. However, the Federation army was defeated, Gunray was captured by Amidala's forces, and Maul met his presumed death at the hands of the Jedi Obi-Wan Kenobi, though not before striking down Qui-Gon Jinn, whose funeral Palpatine would later attend. Palpatine also learned that the Naboo owed their victory to the unexpected intervention of Anakin Skywalker, a young, freed slave from Tatooine who was highly attuned to the Force, fueling the belief that he was the Chosen One of Jedi prophecy who would bring balance to the Force. After much debate, the Jedi Council decided that Skywalker would be apprenticed to Kenobi as a Jedi. Palpatine personally congratulated the two Jedi during the celebration on Naboo, telling young Skywalker that his career would be watched with "great interest".
- "They said Master Sifo-Dyas placed an order for a clone army at the request of the Senate almost ten years ago. I was under the impression that he was killed before that."
- ―Obi-Wan Kenobi, to Mace Windu and Yoda regarding the Kaminoans
Over the next ten years, Supreme Chancellor Palpatine amassed a favorable reputation as a mild-mannered servant of the common good, and the public remained oblivious to his true, insidious persona. As Anakin Skywalker grew older, his relationship with Palpatine deepened; on many occasions, Palpatine lauded Skywalker as the most gifted Jedi he had ever encountered, one who would surpass even Yoda, the Grand Master of the Jedi Council. Skywalker, who grew increasingly frustrated with the strict lifestyle of the Jedi under his master Kenobi's guidance, appreciated Palpatine's praise and greatly took to his counsel. In truth, this was all part of Sidious' plan to gain Skywalker's trust and groom him into his eventual Sith apprentice.
However, Sidious was well aware that his plan to turn Skywalker to the dark side could not bear fruit for many years to come, and with Maul dead, Sidious needed an apprentice in the interim. As such, he turned to the former Jedi Master Dooku to fill that role. Dooku left the Jedi Order, reclaiming his wealth and title as the Count of Serenno. With the turn of Dooku—anointed Darth Tyranus—the Sith orchestrated the death of Jedi Master Sifo-Dyas and took over his clientele for the commission of a clone army produced on Kamino; the event was subsequently covered up when Dooku erased all records of Kamino from the Jedi Archives. Subsequently, bounty hunter Jango Fett was hired as the clones' genetic template, and the clones were fitted with a bio-chip containing a protocol that would ensure their total obedience to Sidious when the time came for it.
Galli and the Contingency
- "You will go back to Jakku. The spot there in the dirt where my droids were operating is precious. Not just to me, but to the galaxy at large. It is significant… You will go back there and you will monitor my droids excavating the ground. Then I will send more droids and they will build something there below the ground. I want you to guard this space. Can you do that?"
- ―Sheev Palpatine, to Galli
In 30 BBY, Palpatine and his Adviser Yupe Tashu traveled to the barren Inner Rim planet of Jakku, which lay at the edge of the Unknown Regions. After landing his yacht Imperialis in the Plaintive Hand plateau, Tashu ordered a detachment of six droids to begin excavating. The yacht soon left off-world but a local twelve-year-old boy named Galli sneaked aboard the Imperialis. Palpatine sensed his presence and gave the boy the choice of dying or serving him. Palpatine then instructed Galli to return to the excavation site and guard it against any intruders. He stressed that intruders should not be allowed to taint the site and ordered Galli to kill them. Palpatine then introduced himself on a first-name basis as Sheev.
For the next ten years, Galli guarded the Plaintive Hand excavation site. In 20 BBY, Palpatine returned and invited the boy aboard the Imperialis this time as a guest of honor. By that stage, work on the Jakku Observatory had been completed. Using a game of Shah-tezh as an illustration, Palpatine explained that his future Galactic Empire could not be allowed to outlive its Emperor should he die prematurely. To demonstrate his seriousness, Palpatine Force choked Galli. He tasked Galli with executing his secret Contingency plan and inducted the boy into Imperial service. Galli subsequently joined the Naval Intelligence Agency as a commander and adopted the name Gallius Rax.
Laying the foundations
- "I want you to know that there is always a place for you with me. Once your training is complete, of course."
- ―Sheev Palpatine, to Anakin Skywalker
As Anakin Skywalker grew older, the relationship between Palpatine and the young Jedi greatly deepened. On many occasions, the Chancellor attended the boy's training at the Jedi Temple expressing appreciation for the progress reached by the young Padawan in lightsaber combat. He could notice that he was deeply conditioned by his emotions and he asked Master Mace Windu to send Skywalker to him, saying he could help with the boy's formation. When Skywalker arrived in the company of his Master Obi-Wan Kenobi, Palpatine asked to be accompanied by Skywalker for an errand in the lower levels of Coruscant. Dismissing Master Kenobi's reminder that Skywalker was not yet a Jedi and dangers could lie ahead, the Chancellor brought Skywalker to Level 2685. Both disguised as travellers, Palpatine told the youth that he himself frequents the area when his duties permitted it—to try to do some good. Eventually, the duo arrived at Club Kasakar.
There, Palpatine expressed some form of envy in the life of young Jedi Padawans, that was already decided from an early age, in difference with his political life, one of the troubling choices and difficult decisions. He also explained that the Club was full of Senators. In particular, he pointed out Senator Colandrus, a Tarsunt who often went there for gambling. While the Tarsunt senator was betting at a game table, Palpatine said that Colandrus was corrupt, but there were no proofs of it. Inspired by that unflattering description Anakin used the telekinetic Jedi power to rig Colandrus' last dice, making him lose large sums of money. Hearing the disguised Palpatine laugh at his misfortune, Colandrus sicced his bodyguard on him, but the Chancellor defused the situation by explaining that "his son" had just made a joke, and promised that they would leave at once. Still unconvinced, Colandrus nevertheless allowed the cloaked nuisances to go freely.
Once the duo returned back to the Chancellor's office, Palpatine "apologized" to Anakin for involving him in a Senate matter. Anakin said the Jedi could arrest Senator Colandrus, but Palpatine replied that the Jedi were not required to obey him because if they did, he would be like a dictator and that wasn't his wish. He also told the boy not to talk about what had happened to them with his masters and further asked if Anakin was happy in the temple. When the Padawan answered positively, Palpatine felt the truth of it through the Force. Eventually, Palpatine thanked him for his decisive role in the Battle of Naboo, and said there would always be a place for Anakin near him, and that he could make extraordinary use of a young man like Anakin.
The Clone Wars
- "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 threats of the Separatists."
- ―Sheev Palpatine
Under Sidious' direction, Dooku rallied several thousand solar systems into declaring independence from the Galactic Republic, forming the Confederacy of Independent Systems with himself as its leader. Many commercial organizations—including the Trade Federation—pledged their droid military forces to this Confederacy. With civil war imminent and the Jedi's numbers too few to maintain galactic peace, the Senate pushed for a vote to create a Grand Army of the Republic.
Upon arriving in Coruscant to vote on the matter, Palpatine's successor as Senator of Naboo, former Queen Padmé Amidala, narrowly avoided an assassination attempt carried out by Zam Wesell on behalf of the vengeful Nute Gunray. Palpatine had the vote delayed and placed the senator under the protection of Obi-Wan Kenobi and Anakin Skywalker, her old allies from the Battle of Naboo. After a second attempt on the senator's life was made, Skywalker was assigned to protect her back on her homeworld of Naboo. There the two secretly started to fall in love which, coupled with Skywalker's later discovery of his mother Shmi's death at the hands of Tusken Raiders on the planet Tatooine, would bring the young Jedi ever closer to the dark side of the force, and even more vulnerable to Sidious' deceptive machinations.
However, when it was revealed that the Separatists were secretly building a battle droid army, Palpatine used the situation to have himself granted emergency powers from the Senate by Representative Jar Jar Binks. Palpatine feigned reluctance to accept this authority, promising to return it to the Senate once the crisis ended. His first act was to allow the use of the clone army, which was discovered by Kenobi on Kamino, to counter the Separatist threat; this resulted in the Battle of Geonosis, which served as the opening salvo of the Clone Wars. After clone template Jango Fett was killed and the Separatist partners escaped the battle, Dooku met with Sidious at the Coruscant tower in The Works with not only good news that the war the Sith had been orchestrating had begun, but with plans for a Geonosian superweapon that may be of use for their future Sith-led regime. Sidious was pleased with these turn of events, and later with the leaders of the Senate oversaw the new Republic army marching towards war, while Skywalker and Amidala secretly wed on Naboo with their two droids, C-3PO and R2-D2, as sole witnesses besides a local holy man who officiated the rite, which Sidious would later use as an advantage to lure Skywalker to become his next apprentice.
Negotiations with the Hutts
- "Soon, the Jedi will not only be at war with you, Count, but with the Hutt clan as well."
- ―Darth Sidious, to Darth Tyranus
After the Confederacy's Droid Army seized control of the major hyperspace lanes, Sidious had Dooku and his assassin Asajj Ventress kidnap the Hutt Clans' Council leader, Jabba's son, Rotta. After he was taken to Teth, Sidious contacted both Ventress and Dooku. He assured them that the Jedi would be at war with the Hutts as well the Confederacy.
Palpatine then received a message from Jabba, asking for help in rescuing his son. Despite Master Windu's reservations about allying the Republic with the Hutt, Palpatine knew they need the Hutt's space lanes to move their troops. Despite General Grievous spreading the Republic forces thin, Windu told Palpatine that Skywalker and Kenobi could carry out the rescue. During the rescue, Palpatine learned that Jabba believed that the Jedi were behind his son's kidnapping and told Senator Amidala of this. Jabba refused to speak with him, so Amidala decided to speak with Jabba's uncle Ziro at his palace, despite Palpatine's warning. Kenobi, Skywalker, and his new Padawan, Ahsoka Tano were able to return Rotta to his father and secure a treaty with the Hutts. Sidious spoke with his apprentice about this setback. He assured Dooku that the war was turning in their favor.
Palpatine learned that Senator Amidala moved through enemy territory into the Outer Rim, causing him to contact her aboard her H-type Nubian yacht. Amidala explained that an old family friend, Senator Farr of Rodia, had asked for her personally, as his people were starving. Palpatine claimed to understand, although he argued that she should have a clone trooper escort. However, Amidala had trust in diplomacy. After Representative Binks tried to talk to Palpatine, he caused C-3PO's chair to move, knocking the Gungan down and causing the ship to veer off course. Amidala was able to regain control, but Palpatine discreetly urged her to keep Binks out of the negotiations, which she agreed to.
Yet once Amidala was planet-side, she learned Farr had joined the Separatists to help his people, and she was captured by Nute Gunray's battle droids. However, Binks helped disrupt the Separatist's plans and Farr decided to side with the Republic. Thanks to a message sent by C-3PO, the 41st Elite Corps arrived on the planet and captured Gunray. Palpatine contacted them via hologram, stating that Amidala had brought Rodia's needs to his attention. The Chancellor had deployed a convoy of supply ships and stated that Gunray's capture was a major Republic victory.
However, the secret Sith Lord saw the danger Nute Gunray's capture posed, as the viceroy would not last under the Jedi's questioning. Contacting Darth Tyranus, Sidious was informed by his apprentice that Asajj Ventress could infiltrate the Republic warship, allowing her to rescue or kill Gunray. While Sidious was apprehensive about using an agent who had previously failed, Tyranus argued that she was a skilled assassin. Ultimately, the Master allowed his pupil to proceed in this plan; Ventress successfully rescued Nute Gunray, denying the Jedi and the Republic the opportunity to extract secret information from the Separatist leader, whilst also demonstrating her ability to handle a Star Destroyer's contingent of clone troopers, a Jedi Padawan, and a Jedi Master all at once.
Chancellor at war
As the war got underway, Dooku crash-landed his ship on Vanqor and was captured by the Ohnaka Gang. Kenobi and Skywalker were sent to verify their leader Hondo Ohnaka's demand for a reward, and then sent Senator Kharrus and Representative Binks to deliver it. Ultimately, Dooku escaped from the pirates.
Sidious paid Cad Bane to steal a Holocron from the Jedi Temple's Holocron Vault, which when used in conjunction with the kyber memory crystal would reveal the location of Force-sensitive infants across the galaxy. He had Bane kidnap these children to his facility on Mustafar to commence the creation of an army of Force-sensitive spies, but the Jedi foiled Bane and rescued the younglings.
During the Battle of Malastare, the Zillo Beast was inadvertently awakened and Palpatine wanted the creature killed, but changed his mind when Doctor Sionver Boll and Skywalker pointed out the beast's indestructible hide could prove fruitful if analyzed. The Zillo Beast was instead rendered unconscious, and transported to Coruscant. It broke out of its restraints and rampaged through the Senate District before being killed with poison gas. Palpatine ordered Boll to clone the animal.
During the Senate hostage crisis, Cad Bane demanded Ziro the Hutt be released from prison in exchange for the hostages' release. Palpatine reluctantly complied after Skywalker was subdued by Bane's gang.
The following year, while the Senate was considering deregulating the banks to increase funding for the war. Palpatine was soon informed by Amidala that the Separatist Senate, led by Mina Bonteri, was considering peace negotiations. Dooku had the central power distribution grid bombed, and then staged another attack on the Confederacy, which killed Bonteri and was blamed on the Republic, dashing any hope of peace. A bill for more clone troopers was soon passed: Palpatine told a disappointed Amidala that with more troops, perhaps the war would end more quickly.
During the Battle of Sullust, Sidious ordered Dooku to dispose of his general Asajj Ventress, having become aware of her growing power. Dooku complied and ordered his troops to leave her to die during their retreat, but she survived.
Sidious ordered Dooku to ally with the resurgent Zygerrian Slave Empire, explaining past Sith Empires were built on the backs of slaves and theirs would be no exception. They soon plotted for bounty hunters such as Cad Bane and Rako Hardeen to "kidnap" Palpatine during the Festival of Light on Naboo. Kenobi infiltrated the plot and helped the Jedi to prevent it, lulling them into a false sense of security. Dooku showed up the evening after the festival but was defeated and forced to flee.
Return of Darth Maul
- "Maul was trying to build an army of pirates."
"So let him. Let him play with the rabble. They're just petty crooks. It is of no relevance to the Senate compared to the Separatist threat."
- ―Sheev Palpatine, to Obi Wan Kenobi
The next year, Maul returned to the galaxy after a decade of hiding, with his brother Savage Opress now acting as his apprentice. The Jedi were concerned but Palpatine disagreed, convincing Yoda that the Separatists should be their concern and that Maul's vendetta was a private matter for Kenobi to resolve. When Maul seized control of Mandalore, the most powerful planet in the Council of Neutral Systems, Palpatine realized that Maul had grown too dangerous and was a threat to his future conquest of the galaxy. Deciding to end the threat personally, Palpatine had his shuttle flown to Sundari, where he confronted Maul and Opress.
Not fooled by Maul's attempts to become his apprentice once again, Sidious engaged the rival Sith Lords in combat. Sidious proved himself to be not only a match for their combined strength but also superior, as after a prolonged duel, he separated the brothers by first bypassing Savage's defense and knocking him away with a kick and then force-pushed Maul, briefly knocking him out. Sidious then briefly toyed with Savage, not even bothering to engage, before he then began battling him again and soundly slayed Opress in single combat. Not bothering to prevent Maul from going to his brother, knowing it was too late for him to do anything to save Savage after Opress finally succumbed, Sidious taunted Maul again, reminding him of the ancient rules of the Sith and how Maul had been replaced before he then once again engaged his former apprentice. Although Sidious found Maul to be far more ferocious than Savage, he ultimately won the final blade lock and brought Maul to his knees, but chose not to kill him, foreseeing that his fallen apprentice could be useful.
Trial of Ahsoka Tano
- "I'm sure many of you look at this former Jedi and think, 'Surely she cannot be this murderer or saboteur that they speak of.' And yet think of all the times we have been fooled by the Separatists and how they have infiltrated the Republic, and ask yourself, is this yet another Separatist scheme? Another way to rip the Jedi and subsequently all of us, apart."
- ―Sheev Palpatine
Palpatine served as the judge of the trial of Ahsoka Tano, who was accused of masterminding a bombing at the Jedi Temple. As he prepared to deliver the verdict, Skywalker interrupted with Barriss Offee, who confessed to the crime. Palpatine then ordered Offee taken away, and Tano was acquitted.
Manipulating two sides
- "Each day, we grow closer and closer to victory."
- ―Sheev Palpatine
During the Battle of Ringo Vinda, the clone trooper "Tup" suddenly faltered, becoming confused and killing the Jedi Master Tiplee, before ultimately succumbing to insanity and dying himself. This incident was instigated by a faulty inhibitor chip, inserted into clones for the purpose of enforcing loyalty to the Supreme Chancellor and which laid the groundwork for their execution of Protocol 66. With his plans threatened, Sidious, as Chancellor Palpatine, had Tup's body taken to the Grand Republic Medical Facility for autopsy. Shaak Ti and Nala Se brought the rebellious clone "Fives" to Palpatine, who had uncovered the inhibitor chips implanted in each clone trooper, and believed them to be part of a Separatist conspiracy. The Chancellor had his guards stage an attack, making Fives look dangerous to the Republic and discrediting him. He then informed the Jedi that a parasite native to Ringo Vinda was responsible for Tup and Fives's behavior, for which all of the clone troopers would be inoculated against. Palpatine furthered the beneficiary opportunities from this series of events as he transferred the bulk of his Sith artifact collection to the Medical Facility from an abandoned store-house in The Works district, where the elusive Sith feared the Jedi may discover.
During a diplomatic mission to Scipio, Senator Padmé Amidala learned from Rush Clovis that the InterGalactic Banking Clan had gone bankrupt. Palpatine told her to trust Clovis while hiring the bounty hunter Embo to target them on the Clan's apparent behalf. Palpatine and Dooku agreed to make Clovis the new head of the Banking Clan: the Muun government arrested the Core Five, and Clovis was elected by a Senate majority to replace them. Dooku blackmailed Clovis into raising the Republic's interest rates and sent a fleet to blockade Scipio, to which Palpatine responded by sending a fleet commanded by Skywalker. As Scipio fell under the Republic's control and Clovis committed suicide, the Muuns ceded control of the banks to the Office of the Chancellor.
Queen Julia's Request
When Queen Julia of Bardotta requested assistance from the Senate regarding the disappearance of several Dagoyan Masters, Palpatine offered to send Bail Organa and Senator Amidala, but she insisted the aid of Representative Binks. Palpatine informed the Jedi Council, who deemed it unwise, so Master Windu volunteered to accompany him.
Palpatine was visited by Yoda when the Jedi discovered Sifo-Dyas's lightsaber at the location of a distress beacon: apparently, Sifo-Dyas had died on a mission to Felucia, but details were sealed by the Office of the Chancellor. Palpatine told Yoda to consult former Supreme Chancellor Finis Valorum, since he was still a Senator at the time. Sidious then went to berate Dooku via hologram over this loose end, ordering him to sort it out. Vexed by Dooku's carelessness, Sidious Force choked his apprentice, warning him to remember the price for failure. Dooku prevented Kenobi and Skywalker from learning who killed Sifo-Dyas, but they still deduced the Sith were responsible for the creation of the clone army.
Yoda's journey to Moraband
When Yoda entered the Valley of the Dark Lords on Moraband during a quest to uncover immortality, Sidious and Dooku sensed his presence and convened at The Works on Coruscant. Greeting his apprentice once he arrived, Sidious led Dooku to the tower's ceremonial chamber. Exploiting Dooku and Yoda's Force-bond, Sidious used a Balc incantation to cast a dark illusion to ensnare the Jedi Master. Using Sifo-Dyas' visage, he offered to reveal his identity if he would join him, but Yoda refused. The illusion then made it seem that they were in The Works pursuing the Sith Lords with Anakin Skywalker and the 501st Legion. Sidious dueled Yoda on the catwalks outside the tower, with Skywalker arriving outside shortly after. Sidious rendered Skywalker unconscious with Force lightning while he continued fighting Yoda. As the illusion unfolded, Yoda refused to sacrifice Skywalker to pursue Sidious, and instead demonstrated he was willing to sacrifice himself to save the Chosen One. Sidious's illusion faltered: the Jedi Master won. Defeated, Sidious stated that they would need more time to defeat the Jedi.
Battle with Maul and Talzin
Meanwhile, Mandalorian super commandos broke Maul out of his imprisonment in the Spire on Stygeon Prime. Maul called on Mother Talzin for help after General Grievous defeated his forces at Zanbar, precisely what Sidious and Dooku wanted. Talzin foresaw this and ordered her son to draw the Separatists to Ord Mantell, where he defeated and captured Dooku. Maul contacted Sidious and informed him of their capture: the Sith Lord responded he should execute them, saying there were of no more use to him. Maul informed Dooku, goading him into allying with him.
Maul and Dooku flew to Dathomir, where Talzin intended to siphon Dooku's lifeforce to regain her physical body. Sidious and Grievous also arrived on the planet and attacked Maul and the Talzin-possessed Dooku. Talzin regained her physical body and fended off Sidious's lightning, sacrificing herself to allow her son to escape. Taking the opportunity, Grievous plunged two lightsabers into her body, eliminating the foe of Sidious. Despite Maul's escape, Sidious was satisfied that the Shadow Collective had been destroyed.
A Jedi renegade
Later, the Jedi sent Quinlan Vos to work with Ventress to kill Count Dooku. This mission was deemed Jedi business, so Palpatine was not informed. However, Skywalker was unsure if that was the correct decision, and he felt that the Jedi keeping secrets from the Chancellor was wrong. Eventually, aboard the Republic's Venator-class Star Destroyer Vigilance in orbit of Christophsis, Vos, who was now a fallen Jedi, and Dooku, held in captivity of several clone troopers and Jedi, including Obi-Wan Kenobi and Anakin Skywalker, had enlisted the assistance of Asajj Ventress in their escape. The trio, however, crash-landed onto Christophsis under Republic pursuit, with the Count suffering grievous injuries. Having sought shelter in a hidden Confederacy fortress, Dooku contacted a long-awaiting Darth Sidious within a hologram communications chamber in seek of help, yet not before Vos and Ventress slipped in. A second battle of Christophsis ensued as Skywalker led the Republic onslaught.
Battle of Coruscant and death of Dooku
- "You did well, Anakin. He was too dangerous to be kept alive."
- ―Sheev Palpatine, to Anakin Skywalker, on the execution of Dooku
During the Outer Rim Sieges, Grievous commanded a massive invasion of Coruscant, accompanied by Dooku. While the Republic and Separatist fleets clashed above the planet, Grievous went to the ground in order to capture Palpatine. Shaak Ti and Roron Corrob, along with a clone task force were sent to protect him. Corrob and the clones fell to Grievous, while Ti managed to fight further. Grievous took the upper hand by electrifying the Jedi Master with cables, knocking her unconscious in the process. Grievous took her lightsaber and fled with the captive Palpatine to the Separatist flagship Invisible Hand.
Kenobi and Skywalker, who at the time were in the middle of making preparations to take Mandalore, were called upon to rescue him. After landing in the Invisible Hand's hangar, the two found Palpatine bound to a chair on the bridge. They were confronted by Dooku, who they entered a duel with. Dooku took out Kenobi with ease and then focused on Skywalker. They continued the duel until Skywalker cut off his hands. Disarmed and on his knees, Dooku was bested. Palpatine commended Skywalker on his accomplishment, before quickly changing his tone and urging Anakin to kill him. A shocked Dooku looked to Palpatine pleadingly, only to be met with another, more sinister urging. With one swift move, Count Dooku was beheaded. Anakin was conflicted on his actions but was comforted by Palpatine, who told him that it was a simple act of revenge in return for Dooku cutting off his arm. Skywalker went to pick up the unconscious Kenobi, to which Palpatine pleaded with the Jedi to leave his master. His plea was denied, and the three began their descent to the hangar.
Meanwhile, the Invisible Hand was attacked by the Guarlara, with the former taking extensive damage and losing its position, momentarily falling towards that planet's surface. With the ship on its side, the three began running down an elevator shaft, only to lose their footing as the Invisible Hand regained its position. They managed to get out and to a hallway, where they were then captured in a ray shield. They were brought before Grievous in the control room, where R2-D2, who was also a captive, gave a distraction that allowed Kenobi and Skywalker to take control. With nowhere to run, Grievous broke open a window and found his way to the escape pods, which he activated as he fled. The ship then became caught in Coruscant's gravity well and began barreling towards the surface. Skywalker and Kenobi attempted to land it, but only managed to ease the crash. Following the crash, Palpatine and the Jedi were escorted to the Senate Building.
The seduction of Anakin Skywalker
- "Soon I will have a new apprentice, one far younger and more powerful."
- ―Darth Sidious, to General Grievous
Palpatine soon began preparing for the war's end. Skywalker, who had just been hailed as a hero for killing Count Dooku and rescuing the Chancellor, began having visions of his wife dying in childbirth. Palpatine decided to use that to his advantage. Throughout the next few rotations, their relationship kept growing. Ultimately, Palpatine appointed Skywalker to be his representative to the Jedi Council.
Meanwhile, the Jedi began to distrust and resent the Chancellor's accumulating power and control. The Council, who was not happy with Skywalker's appointment by one not of their order, denied him the rank of "Jedi Master". This turn of events simply furthered Palpatine's plans. The Council, however, decided to use this appointment as a chance to spy on Palpatine. Skywalker, who felt insulted by that demand, regretfully agreed and began to devote his time to getting to know the Chancellor better. Some Jedi, such as Mace Windu, were concerned about their relationship, seeing that it could be dangerous putting the two together. Windu ultimately noted that the dark side of the Force surrounded the Chancellor.
At an opera show, Palpatine and Skywalker discussed the situation with Palpatine revealing to know that the Council wanted Skywalker to spy on him. At the same time, Skywalker, who was dealing with the fear of his wife's loss was beginning to distrust the Jedi Council. This allowed Palpatine to orchestrate Skywalker's downfall by telling him the story of his Master, "Darth Plagueis the Wise." According to the story, Plagueis possessed such strength in the Force that he could use it to prevent the ones closest to him from certain death. Skywalker, enthralled by the story, wished to know more about this power, asking him if he himself could learn it with Palpatine stating that, though possible, such things could not be taught by members of the Order.
As the situation grew worse, Skywalker went to speak with the Chancellor regarding the Battle of Utapau. Anakin expressed his disappointment that he was not chosen for the assignment. Palpatine told Skywalker that the Council did not trust him and that the Jedi were plotting to take control of the Republic. Palpatine then revealed that he was trained in the ways of the Force, "even the nature of the dark side." This led to Skywalker concluding that Palpatine himself, was the Sith Lord the Jedi were hunting down. With this, Palpatine told Skywalker that he would teach him to save his wife from death. Skywalker, who desired to kill him, went to the Jedi Council with this information.
Duel in the Chancellor's Office
- "In the name of the Galactic Senate of the Republic, you are under arrest, Chancellor."
"Are you threatening me, Master Jedi?"
"The Senate will decide your fate."
"I am the Senate."
- ―Mace Windu and Darth Sidious
Mace Windu, after learning about Skywalker's claim went to confront the Chancellor along with fellow Jedi Council Masters Kit Fisto, Agen Kolar, as well as Saesee Tiin. Windu and the three other Jedi boldly ignited their lightsabers and declared that he was under arrest. Igniting his own crimson lightsaber, Sidious lunged forward and slew Kolar and Tiin in mere seconds, and Fisto slightly later, leaving Windu to face the Dark Lord alone. Sidious and Windu then engaged in a ferocious one-on-one duel. Though Sidious initially had the upper hand, Windu eventually disarmed him, knocked him to the floor and held him at blade point. Anakin soon arrived after this and both sides tried to persuade him that the other was a traitor. Windu taunted Sidious in his defeat which prompted the Sith Lord to attempt to kill Windu with Force lightning, but Windu managed to deflect it back at Sidious, causing the Sith Lord's face to take on a hideously disfigured appearance in the process due to the Dark Force energy emanating from the lightning. As a result of this, Sidious then switched his strategy to pretending to be a defenseless old man, dropping his lightning attack and proclaiming that he was too weak to carry on. Skywalker told Windu that Sidious had to stand trial, though Windu claimed that Sidious possessed far too much influence to be left alive. Deciding that his wife's survival was more important than his loyalty to the Jedi Order, Anakin intervened, cutting off Mace Windu's lightsaber arm and giving Sidious the opening to drop his feigned weakness and assault Windu with a full barrage of Force lightning, throwing him out the office window.
Skywalker, although initially stunned by what he had done, ultimately viewed Windu's transgressions as the final act of hypocrisy that would be tolerated from the Jedi and knelt before the now-scarred Chancellor, agreeing to join the dark side on the condition that he was be shown how to save Amidala's life. Sidious bestowed on the young man the Sith name of Darth Vader, promising the young apprentice that together they would discover the hidden art of preventing death. Sidious then immediately instructed Vader to wipe out the Jedi, whom Sidious believed were plotting to overthrow not only the Galactic Senate, but the Republic as a whole, as well as to wipe out the Separatist leaders on Mustafar.
Order 66 and rise of the New Order
- "Commander Cody, the time has come. Execute Order 66..."
"Yes, my lord."
- ―Darth Sidious, to CC-2224
Prior to the start of the war, Sidious had instructed his apprentice, Darth Tyranus, to implant the members of the clone army they created with organic chips in their brains. This would allow them to order the clones to do anything they told them to, with the ultimate goal of executing the Jedi. With one simple command, the clones would enter a trance-like state and perform whatever orders they were given.
When the newly-anointed Darth Vader was sent to kill the Jedi in the Temple, Sidious contacted the clone troopers on various planets, commanding them to execute Order 66 and eliminate their Jedi commanders. Due to the existence of the organic chips within their brains, the clone troopers, who had formed deep relationships with their Jedi Generals, turned against them with no hesitation and managed to wipe out most of the Jedi with the exception of a few, notably Obi-Wan Kenobi, Yoda, and Kanan Jarrus.
Sidious, as Palpatine, meanwhile, addressed the Senate and accused the Jedi of attempting to assassinate him and overthrow the Republic, using his newly scarred face as evidence. He ultimately announced the Republic's reorganization into the first Galactic Empire while declaring himself Emperor, with little-to-no resistance from the majority of the senators present.
Battle in the Senate Chamber
- "I have waited a long time for this moment, my little green friend."
- ―Darth Sidious, to Yoda
With Kenobi and Yoda realizing what had happened upon witnessing a recording within the Jedi Temple, Yoda went to face the Emperor personally, while a reluctant Obi-Wan stowed away onboard Amidala's yacht, en route to Mustafar. to kill Vader. Upon arriving at the working office of the Chancellery Secretariat, Yoda disposed of the pair of guardsmen by the entryway, surprising Sidious. Within moments, however, the Sith Lord had recollected himself, unleashing a barrage of force lightning at the Jedi Master after a brief exchange of acknowledgement between the two. Yoda quickly recovered and force pushed Sidious backwards. Yoda then engaged him in a duel when he refused to allow Sidious to escape. Sidious declared that Vader would become more powerful than both of them, while Yoda told Sidious that his faith in his nascent apprentice was a mistake, along with his faith in the dark side. The two then dueled in the Senate hall, and Sidious narrowly managed to gain the upper hand through the use of his Force powers by sending numerous Senate pods at the Jedi Master. Sidious then unleashed a torrent of Force lightning at Yoda, which he was able to redirect back on him. Yoda fled and was forced to go into exile, but the Emperor did not personally pursue him as he had other, more pressing matters to attend to.
- "I sense Lord Vader is in danger."
- ―Darth Sidious
As shock troopers of the Coruscant Guard arrived in the Senate Chamber following the battle, the Emperor stood with Mas Amedda on a Senatorial pod as they searched for the Jedi Master. However, they could not find any trace of a body. The Emperor had more pressing concerns however: he had sensed that Vader, far away on Mustafar, was in danger of being destroyed. He ordered the clones to double their search for Yoda, and that his shuttle be prepared to depart.
The Emperor made haste to Mustafar, accompanied by a detachment of clones. There, he found that Vader had been dismembered, horrifically burned, and left for dead by Obi-Wan Kenobi after the conclusion of their duel. He ordered the clones accompanying him to prepare a medical capsule for his apprentice. As they left to obey his instructions, the Emperor crouched beside his fallen apprentice, determined to find a way to keep him alive.
The Emperor was keenly aware that, without Vader, the foundations of his newfound power would be badly shaken: he needed an apprentice capable of ensuring that his Empire would survive the inevitable challenges that would rise up against it. To make certain that Vader would be capable of remaining a powerful apprentice, the Emperor contacted the boldest scientists he could, those whose practices would have been frowned on by the Jedi and the Republic. Among these scientists was an expert in cybernetics named Doctor Cylo.
The Emperor brought Vader to the Grand Medical Facility, far above Coruscant's surface as a storm raged across the capital. A strenuous night, followed during which the scientists, their droids and their technology worked to save the critically-injured Vader before he died. The new Sith apprentice was kept awake for the whole procedure, feeling the pain that came with saving his life. Cylo and the other scientists designed a suit of armor that would protect his weakened body and allow his scorched lungs to breathe. Cybernetic limbs were added to replace the legs and the arm that Kenobi had taken.
After what the Emperor would call a "long night", Skywalker was surgically reconstructed as a cyborg and encased in the armor and mask that would forever hide away who he had once been from the galaxy. As the procedure ended and the Sith apprentice rose, the Emperor approached him. Vader's first query was to know whether or not his wife was safe. The Emperor told him that he had killed Amidala in his anger. This final loss sent Vader over the edge of pure wrath and anguish, completing his transition into the apprentice Sidious had spent decades grooming. In his rage, Vader used his new limbs to tear away the restraints that held him to the operating table and the Force to destroy the droids who had just saved his life, before stepping unsteadily onto his new legs and screaming his despair to the galaxy as a satisfied Sidious looked on with a devilish smile.
Vader then turned his rage onto the Emperor, throwing him into the wall of the operating room with the Force. He angrily berated his Master for promising that he could save his wife from death. The Emperor conceded that he had failed him in that regard but countered that, with her death, Padmé had given him something so much stronger: pain. This pain would fuel his power for decades and make him the dreaded Sith apprentice that Sidious had always coveted. It would also allow him to live. After a tense few moments, Vader released his Master and proclaimed that he would live. Satisfied, the Emperor then assaulted Vader with Force lightning and warned him never to use the Force against him in such a way again, or he would finish what Kenobi would not.
Age of the Empire
- "There is only one plan—one great design which shall govern the universe—mine."
- ―Darth Sidious
After the creation of his Sith Empire, Sidious established himself in the old Jedi Temple on Coruscant, transforming it into the Imperial Palace. The Jedi had built the palace atop an ancient Sith shrine, in order to neutralize and cap the dark power that sprang from its depths. Sidious entrusted the reopening and restoration of the ancient temple to droids under the supervision of 11-4D, a protocol droid inherited from Darth Plagueis. During his rule, Sidious sent explorers to unmapped regions of the galaxy to search for the source of the dark side, believing it lay there. These explorers built labs on distant moons and asteroids. As part of his planned Contingency, Sidious had Imperial scouts explore the Unknown Regions while also utilizing extensive resources to seed laboratories, shipyards, and observatories within that same region. This arrangement would continue over a period of decades and would be known solely by him and the elect. At some point during the Imperial Era, Sidious created an Imperial hunter droid named M-OC.
The Tarkin Initiative
In his early days as Senator Palpatine, Sidious had closely associated with Wilhuff Tarkin, whom he encouraged to pursue a career in politics after his training with the Judicials was completed. Tarkin went on to become Governor of Eriadu and one of the Republic's foremost military leaders during the Clone Wars. Sidious had learned of Tarkin's upbringing on Eriadu, where he had been trained in harsh conditions through a brutal initiation in the wild Carrion Plateau of his homeworld. Tarkin had been taught to hunt savage creatures and emerged from his training with the belief that only the brutal application of the law and the fear of force could keep beings in line with a central galactic government. Although Tarkin lacked Force-sensitivity, Sidious identified him as one whose mindset was very close to that of the Sith.
Mission to Ryloth
An official visit
Five years after the end of the Clone Wars, Cham Syndulla, a war hero who liberated Ryloth from the Separatist forces during the war, organized and led the Free Ryloth movement in order to liberate his homeworld once again, this time from an Imperial military occupation. Emperor Palpatine summoned the Senator of Ryloth, Orn Free Taa, in order to incorporate the senator into his plan to eradicate the "terrorists". He ordered the Twi'lek to accompany him and his right-hand man, Darth Vader, for an official visit to Ryloth. Once Emperor Palpatine dismissed Taa, Vader asked him why he couldn't simply wipe out the Senator along with his entire staff, in which the two Sith suspected there were one or more traitors, who provided aid to the terrorist movement. But the Emperor wished to find the roots of the treachery, eliminate them and make of it an example for the entire galaxy. Eventually, he ordered Vader to inform the Moff of Ryloth, Delian Mors, of the arrival of Senator Orn Free Taa, but not of the two of them.
Assassination attempt on the Defiance
While on the way to Ryloth aboard the Star Destroyer Perilous, Palpatine instructed the ship to stop at the Denon system for a meeting on the training cruiser Defiance with several Imperial Navy chiefs to discuss a realignment of the Imperial Naval Academy. Palpatine ordered Darth Vader to oversee training exercises conducted by Commandant Pell Baylo while Palpatine was in his meeting with the naval chiefs. During one such exercise, Baylo set a hyperspace route that would have crashed the Defiance into Christophsis' sun. Cadet Rae Sloane and Darth Vader uncovered this assassination attempt and redirected the Defiance. Baylo confronted Palpatine, accusing the Galactic Empire of being a hostile force that had taken over the Galactic Republic. Vader killed Baylo, which upset Palpatine, who wanted Baylo to suffer as the Navy becomes something he hated and watch as the Defiance was decommissioned and turned into "cafeteria trays". Instead, the Defiance was renamed Obedience as a final jab at Baylo and a not-so-subtle reminder toward Vader to remember his place, and Palpatine and Vader re-boarded the Perilous and continued on their way to Ryloth.
The fall of the Perilous
The two Sith and Senator Taa came to the Ryloth system aboard Perilous. When the ship exited from the hyperspace, they found themselves in the middle of a minefield: Syndulla was waiting for them. The Twi'lek wished to eliminate them to strike at the heart of the Empire. However, Palpatine was unperturbed by the ambush, having evidently foreseen such an occurrence. When the shields were overwhelmed, Palpatine remained on the bridge, while Vader took off with his fighter leading a squadron to deal with a swarm of vulture droids. The former Separatist fighters released thousands of explosive buzz droids which further damaged the Star Destroyer. Vader returned aboard the Perilous where he met the Emperor and Senator Taa after finding that Palpatine's personal shuttle had been destroyed in the attack. Because he suspected there was a traitor in the Senator's staff, Palpatine ordered to isolate them in their own quarters and deny them access to any communications equipment.
In the meantime, a Twi'lek task force reached the ship disguised as a repair team and placed explosive charges in the hyperdrive chamber, to trigger a chain reaction. After discovering the sabotage and realizing that the ship was doomed, Vader contacted the Emperor. The Emperor informed Vader that he had prepared a second shuttle either as a contingency or because he had foreseen the destruction of the first shuttle and told Vader to meet him there. However, Vader delayed his arrival by a few minutes in an attempt to find and eliminate the saboteurs. The Twi'lek rebels just barely managed to escape, and so Vader hurried to the Emperor's shuttle, which departed as soon as Vader was aboard. A few minutes later, the Perilous exploded. Once in space, the fugitive task force searched for the Imperial shuttle and caught up with it. Vader Force-choked the resistance pilot of the pursuing ship through the shuttle viewport. In a desperate attempt to get free from Vader's grasp and to kill both him and the Emperor, the Twi'leks rammed the stolen starship into the Imperial shuttle, critically damaging the latter. Vader attempted to regain control of the shuttle while Sidious remembered they had already been in situations like this. Thanks to the piloting skills of Vader the shuttle crash-landed on Ryloth's surface, in the middle of a forest.
Isolated on the planet
- "We are all of us, always being tested, my friend. Tests make us stronger, and strength is power, and power is the point. We must pass all the tests we face… Or die in the effort."
- ―Darth Sidious, to Darth Vader
Once on the planet surface, Sidious noted with mild annoyance that the landing had been far beneath what he knew Vader to be capable of and that Vader's lapse had left four corpses in the rear compartment of the shuttle. Vader admitted to having been distracted by thoughts of his past and attempted to dismiss it as nothing. Sidious however, was unconvinced, though he shelved the matter and proceeded with Vader into the rear compartment. There, three of the shuttle's occupants, Sergeant Erstin Deez, his captain, and another member of the Imperial Guard had survived the crash, though one was badly injured and unconscious. Vader noted with mild surprise that the Emperor appeared to have been wrong; there were only three corpses in the compartment. One of the conscious guards noted that his injured comrade had not strapped himself in during the landing, and as a result had been thrown about the compartment when the ship had crashed. However the Emperor, seemingly having known about the guard, had him executed for his stupidity, leaving the fourth corpse.
The survivors exited in the night, and while the two guards who survived were checking the survival kits, Vader asked his Master if he was testing him. Sidious answered they were always being tested, and they must pass all tests to gain strength and power. Meanwhile, the guards had activated the generator and the communication array to call for help. At that moment the Sith sensed that two Twi'lek ships were approaching and prepared themselves for a confrontation. The Twi'lek rebel's ships fired upon them, while Vader, immersed in the Force, deflected the laser beams with his lightsaber.
The captain suggested to take cover in the woods, but the Emperor refused and instead, removed his cloak, and ignited his lightsaber. The two Sith spun their red blades, turning every shot back at the ships. When the enemy ships engines were hit and began to explode in flames and smoke, Sidious unleashed a bolt of Force lightning on their hulls and then, with the Force, drove one of the ships to the ground, while Vader did the same with the other. The two freighters exploded, and Vader sent Deez to check for survivors. They realized the rebels had jammed the communication network and that they were hunting for them.
They walked for a long time into the depths of the forest. Sidious went forward in the darkness seeing through the Force while testing Vader's loyalty once again until he decided to stop for a while. While the guards were eating, the two Sith began to meditate. The Emperor sensed his apprentice's murderous feelings towards him. When Vader ended his meditation, Sidious told him what he had sensed, but the former Jedi pledged his loyalty to his Sith Master. At that moment, the guards, whom the Emperor had sent away, had returned, pursued by a horde of lyleks. The Emperor remained calm, sending torrents of Force lightning against the predators, and began to advance back-to-back with Vader, their lightsabers ignited.
While Vader and the guardsmen held back the advancing lyleks with their weapons, Sidious used the Force to topple trees over the advancing lylek horde. Through the Force, Sidious sensed a tunnel a hundred meters away. The four retreated into the tunnel with the lyleks in pursuit. This tunnel turned out to be the home of the lylek horde, and the four Imperials were forced to fight through hundreds of the creatures. The guards used their blasters and grenades while the two Sith Lords used the Force and their lightsabers to fight through the horde.
As they waded deeper into the cave, Sidious realized that the lyleks were herding the intruders towards their queen. At Vader's instigation, the four resolved to kill all their opponents with the Emperor activating his red blade. After a fierce battle with the lyleks, Sidious and Vader found themselves back to back. When Sidious asked his apprentice whether he had ever toyed with the idea of letting his Emperor die to fulfill his own ambitions, Vader admitted he had entertained such thoughts but reassured his master it was only for a moment. Sidious accepted Vader's loyalty and the two joined forces to tackle the lylek queen.
Following a savage battle, Vader managed to kill the queen; scattering the remaining lyleks. However, the royal guard captain was killed, leaving only Sidious, Vader, and Sergeant Deez. Based on their battle with the lyleks, Master and apprentice quickly surmised that Cham and his rebels were trying to kill them to bring about the Empire's destruction. Having triumphed over the lylek horde, the three Imperials found an opening at the end of the tunnel which led back to the forest.
Death and Fate
While Sidious and his companions were traveling through the forest, they encountered a young Twi'lek girl named Drua. Sidious made a move to kill her, but Vader blocked his master's death blow and convinced Sidious that she could lead them to a settlement where they could contact reinforcements. Drua led them to her village, which was home to escaped Twi'lek slaves. When the village head Narmn asked for their identities, Sidious introduced himself, Vader, and Deez as "Krataa", "Irluuk", and the Sergeant. Sidious and Vader alone knew that their pseudonyms stood for "death" and "fate."
Sidious warned Vader that his act of mercy towards Drua would cost both her and her fellow villagers their lives. Vader then managed to win over the villagers by offering to repair an ancient communications device. Once Vader had fixed the machine, Sidious ordered Deez to contact Moff Mors; whom he knew to be loyal. After re-establishing contact with the two Sith Lords, Mors took steps to eliminate the Imperial traitor Colonel Belkor Dray, who was secretly aiding Cham's rebels. She foiled Belkor's plot to order V-wing fighters to strike Drua's Village and the massed Free Ryloth forces in a nearby quarry. After executing Belkor, Moff Mors sent her forces to rendezvous with Sidious and Vader at the Twi'lek village.
Cham's forces, unwilling to harm the villagers, fired warning shots so that the villagers would flee the scene of the upcoming battle. The villagers reacted by fleeing to a nearby mine shaft, a sanctuary in time of danger. However, Sidious, Vader, and Deez stood their ground at the center of the village. Before Cham's forces could launch their attack, Moff Mors' forces arrived in two transport vessels and trapped the rebel fighters. With many of the Free Ryloth fighters killed, Cham narrowly managed to avoid capture at the hands of Vader. Under the orders of Sidious, Mors's Imperial forces massacred the surviving Free Ryloth fighters. Following a brief exchange with Cham's lieutenant Isval, Sidious ordered Vader to execute her and then afterward, the surviving Twi'lek villagers hiding in the mine shaft as well, in order not to leave any witnesses. After a brief moment of hesitation, Vader complied with his Master's orders and massacred the villagers.
Berch Teller's campaign
By 14 BBY, Sidious had placed Moff Wilhuff Tarkin in charge of the secret Death Star project. The battle moon was being constructed above Geonosis and was supplied by a series of marshaling stations. The Empire faced a new threat in the form of Berch Teller, a former Republic Intelligence agent who opposed the Empire. He led a rebel cell consisting of survivors and witnesses of the Antar Atrocity, a mass crackdown on Antar 4 following the Clone Wars that had seen the killing of innocent Gotal and Koorivar loyalists. Teller had a special animus for Tarkin, the architect of the Antar Atrocity. He was secretly aided and equipped by Vice Admiral Dodd Rancit, the Director of the Naval Intelligence Agency and a rival of Tarkin.
Following Teller's attack on Sentinel Base, the Emperor convened a meeting of his Ruling Council to discuss the discovery of a cache of communications jammers on the planet Murkhana. The Imperial Security Bureau had purportedly discovered the cache and feared that dissidents were planning to disrupt the Imperial HoloNet; echoing the Separatist Shadowfeed broadcasts during the Clone Wars. The Emperor dispatched both Moff Tarkin and Lord Vader to investigate the matter. However, this played into Teller's hands and allowed the insurgents to steal Tarkin's corvette Carrion Spike, which they intended to turn into a symbol of resistance against the Empire.
After being briefed about the theft of the Carrion Spike, Vice Admiral Rancit suggested that the ship's thieves were the same people who attacked Sentinel Base earlier. In response, the Emperor ordered Rancit to divert Imperial forces in the Belderone system to aid Tarkin and Lord Vader. While Tarkin and Vader pursued the insurgents, the Emperor chaired another meeting of the Ruling Council. During the meeting, Rancit advocated diverting more Imperial forces to reinforcing Imperial facilities across the Perlemian Trade Route and Hydian Way. The Council also learned that Teller' insurgents had attacked the TaggeCo mining facilities on Lucazec and were transmitting holovids of their attacks on the HoloNet.
Following a skirmish in the Phindar system between Imperial forces and the stolen Carrion Spike, Rancit convinced the Emperor to deploy interdictor vessels against the insurgents. Grand Vizier Amedda then informed the Emperor that the Murkhana communications jammers had been discovered by an ISB asset tasked with investigating the find by his case officer. Acting on this information, Sidious interrogated the Koorivar ISB asset Bracchia and his case officer Stellan, who revealed that they had been tipped about the discovery by Naval Intelligence. After viewing the holovid, the Emperor determined that the communications cache had been planted by a high–level Imperial official who was aiding the insurgents.
Meanwhile, Lord Vader discovered that Rancit was the Imperial traitor and executed him. While Tarkin led Imperial forces against Teller's insurgents in a space battle near the Gulf of Tatooine, Darth Sidious mediated on his quest for galactic dominance. Following the defeat of Teller's insurgency, Tarkin and Vader spent the next three weeks hunting down Teller's collaborators and contacts in a ruthless crackdown. The two briefed the Emperor, who appointed Tarkin as Grand Moff and Governor of the Outer Rim Territories. The Emperor also reshuffled the Ruling Council in the wake of Rancit's execution. He also folded Naval Intelligence back into Imperial Intelligence.
The Chiss from the Unknown Regions
During the Empire's reign, Sidious' interest in the Unknown Regions continued. This came to a head when the crew of the Venator-class Star Destroyer Strikefast, under the command of Captain Voss Parck, encountered the Chiss known as Thrawn in Wild Space. Many years earlier, Anakin Skywalker told Palpatine of this alien and how they worked together. This alien claimed to have a great deal of knowledge on the Unknown Regions. Thrawn was then brought before the Emperor on Coruscant in order to be questioned. Thrawn told the Emperor of threats lurking within the Unknown Regions and how they might one day find the Empire and offered his military skills. The Emperor then deduced that Thrawn's intentions were to help protect his people from these threats. Thrawn assured the Emperor that his allegiance would be to the Empire. Thrawn then revealed that he had known Anakin Skywalker during the Clone Wars, thus proving who he was to the Emperor.
For their service, the Emperor promised Captain Parck and his crew rewards. Thrawn however, requested that his translator Eli Vanto stay with him. The Emperor then asked Thrawn to walk with him outside. In his personal garden, the Emperor told the Chiss of his interest in the Unknown Regions. Thrawn then warned that there was great danger to be found there, however, he assured the Emperor that he would share his knowledge of the Unknown Regions. The Emperor ordered that Eli Vanto would be transferred to Thrawn's side and that they would both undergo training at the Royal Imperial Academy.
A new threat
With the Jedi mostly defeated, Sidious felt secure behind his huge galactic military and dominion over most of the known galaxy. Despite this, remaining Separatist holdouts and surviving Jedi would gnaw at his confidence of the longevity of his new Empire. Seeking to secure the center, the Emperor supported mass military excursions into the Outer Rim Territories in an effort to bring more systems under his fold. With his ultimate goal of bending reality into something of his own creation, an omnipotent Empire would allow all the galaxy's inhabitants to be held in his dark embrace. Despite the Jedi being all but extinct, Force-sensitive children were still being born across the galaxy. In an effort to combat this threat, Sidious created the Inquisitorius composed of dark side adepts and commanded his apprentice, Lord Vader, to contact a Pau'an Inquisitor to hunt them down and destroy them if they did not serve the Empire.
During Vader's hunt for the Hidden Hand, the Emperor contacted his apprentice through a hologram, expressing his disappointment in his failure to track down the criminal syndicate. He stated that they must be crushed at once, as they stole weapons from the Empire and supplied them to the Rebellion.
During the fifteenth Empire Day, celebrating the anniversary of the Empire's rise to power, the Emperor presided over the Imperial Senate on Coruscant with an Imperial Guard escort, and invited Lothal governor Arihnda Pryce to celebrate with him. After the Inquisitor's death, at the hands of Kanan Jarrus and his Padawan Ezra Bridger, the Emperor dispatched his apprentice to Lothal as an "alternative solution" to the growing rebel problem. The Emperor was contacted by Darth Vader after he had defeated the Rebel fleet in the Lothal system. Vader informed his Master that he had discovered that his former Jedi apprentice, Ahsoka Tano, still lived. The Emperor was pleased with the news that Tano possibly knew the location of other hidden Jedi, and capturing her would allow the Empire to find them and destroy them before they became threats. Although Vader was more interested in finding his former Master Obi-Wan Kenobi, the Emperor told his apprentice to have patience and to send an Inquisitor to hunt down Tano and the other Jedi discovered on Lothal.
Thrawn's campaign against the rebellion
In 2 BBY, the Emperor promoted the Chiss Imperial Navy officer Thrawn to the position of Grand Admiral for his role in suppressing the rebel insurgency in the Batonn sector. During the promotion however, Thrawn questioned Palpatine on the practicality of the Death Star. The Emperor questioned if the reason for Thrawn's worries were because of the threat the station posed to the Chiss species. However, because Thrawn had fulfilled his end of the bargain by sharing his information on the Unknown Regions, he let the issue go. The Emperor then introduced Thrawn to his personal enforcer, Darth Vader. Later, Thrawn would be dispatched to deal with the growing rebel threat.
Mon Mothma's treason
Later, the rogue Senator Mon Mothma incurred the Emperor's wrath when she denounced him as a liar and condemned his complicity in the Ghorman Massacre. As a result, Mon Mothma was designated a traitor and Imperial forces were dispatched to hunt her down. Despite the efforts of Grand Admiral Thrawn to trap Mon Mothma and the Spectres in the Archeon Nebula, Hera Syndulla managed to deliver Mon Mothma safely to Dantooine where she gave a speech urging the galaxy to rise up against the Empire.
Disturbance in the Unknown Regions
After Thrawn's defeat at Atollon, the Emperor sensed a great disturbance in the force somewhere on the edge of the galaxy. Therefore, the Emperor summoned Thrawn and Vader to Coruscant for a meeting. During the meeting, the Emperor ordered the two to the planet Batuu to locate a disturbance in the force that he had sensed, testing Vader on his vulnerability to his past and Thrawn on his loyalty.
Machinations on Lothal
A world between worlds
After the discovery of a Jedi temple on Lothal, the Emperor directed Minister Veris Hydan to excavate the ruins and uncover its secrets. Sometime thereafter, the Emperor was contacted by Hydan, who informed him that they had reached the roots of the temple and uncovered a mural of the Mortis gods, which was reminiscent of art and iconography found at the former Jedi Temple on Coruscant. The Emperor told Hydan that he had sensed that the death of Kanan Jarrus had altered the fate of Lothal. Vowing to control the conduit between the living and the dead, the Emperor urged his minister to quicken the pace of his work.
Later, the Emperor went to the ceremonial chamber in the tower at the Works on Coruscant so he could use Sith alchemy to open a portal to the world between worlds where Ezra Bridger and Ahsoka Tano were. The Emperor taunted them through the portal and unleashed his power against them, which they were able to hold back. He then caught Bridger's leg and pulled him so that he could get through the portal. However, before he could get through the portal to enter the realm, Tano cut the fiery lasso. The Emperor then tried again but failed as Bridger and Tano made it back to their world. In the process, the Lothal Jedi Temple was destroyed.
During the battle to liberate Lothal, Bridger surrendered to the Empire aboard Grand Admiral Thrawn's flagship Chimaera in order to stop Thrawn from bombing Lothal's Capital City. Thrawn brought Ezra into a chamber aboard the Chimaera which contained a portion of the Lothal Jedi Temple, which the Emperor had ordered to be painstakingly excavated "stone by stone." Since the Emperor was off-world, he used a hologram projection to present himself in his more benevolent, pre-scarred form.
In an attempt to get Ezra to unlock the portal to "the world between worlds", the Emperor tried to tempt Ezra with the opportunity of reuniting with his deceased parents. Ezra, however, recalling his earlier lesson in the world between worlds, decided to reject this offer, knowing he had a family and then proceeded to pull down the Temple into rubble. This caused the Emperor's hologram projection to shift from his benevolent persona to his true from. With his plan in tatters, the Emperor ordered three members of the Royal Guard and three stormtroopers to execute Ezra. However, Bridger was able to use the Force to crush the soldiers with rubble and escaped.
Galactic Civil War
The dissolution of the Senate
- "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. "
"That's impossible! How will the Emperor maintain control without the bureaucracy?"
"The regional governors now have direct control over their territories. Fear will keep the local systems in line. Fear of this battle station."
- ―Grand Moff Wilhuff Tarkin and General Cassio Tagge discussing the dissolution of the Senate.
Four years after the reveal of a united rebel front on Mustafar, the rebels had reorganized themselves into a larger and more organized movement known as the Alliance to Restore the Republic, or the "Rebel Alliance." Striking from Yavin 4, an elite Rebel Squadron, Rogue One, led by Jyn Erso and a large portion of the Rebel Alliance's fleet managed to steal a complete technological readout of the Death Star, the Empire's ultimate weapon which had been under construction for nineteen years, from an Imperial Research Facility on Scarif. This loss, as the space station neared completion, was a bitter, and potentially fatal, blow to the Emperor's long-term plans. In order to deal with the problem, Sidious sent Vader to find the Death Star plans.
Vader destroyed the rebel flagship and much of the rebel fleet. However, the plans had escaped aboard the Tantive IV, a CR90 Corvette, in the hands of Princess Leia Organa, the Imperial Senator for Alderaan and a suspected Rebel sympathizer. Vader soon later trapped the corvette over Tatooine, boarding the ship and taking the Princess as a hostage. Although Vader failed to acquire the plans, he arrested Organa as a traitor and, as such, provided Sidious with the excuse he needed to dissolve the Imperial Senate. One of the last remnants of the Galactic Republic, Sidious had always planned to remove it but he needed to wait for the Death Star to be completed so that order could be maintained through fear instead of representation in the Senate. With the space station nearly completed and a Senator accused of supporting the rebellion, Sidious ordered the dissolution of the Senate. Legislative power was transferred to regional governors and select members of the Imperial military, such as Sidious's ally, Grand Moff Tarkin, allowing the Emperor to gain complete control over the Empire with no checks to his power.
The New Order in peril
- "We kept the skeleton of the Republic for nearly twenty years while the Death Star was constructed. Twenty years, my apprentice. All that planning is now a layer of dust orbiting around Yavin... Now, we no longer have the Senate to hold order. We do not have the Death Star to force it. Our greatest weapon is gone. Our production is in ashes. We are besieged. In all these years, we have never skirted closer to disaster."
- ―Darth Sidious, to Darth Vader
After Vader's duel with Obi-Wan Kenobi, Vader reported to Sidious the death of Kenobi, to Sidious' surprised glee. However, he was still troubled by Kenobi's last words, his body's disappearance upon death, and the still-mysterious whereabouts of Yoda. Sidious resolved to keep the Empire strong and to destroy the Rebellion.
Despite Sidious's careful planning for seizing complete power over the Empire, his plans were jeopardized when the Rebel Alliance succeeded in destroying the Death Star during the Battle of Yavin, killing Tarkin and most of the Empire's high-ranking officers. The only survivors were Sidious's apprentice, Darth Vader, who had failed to defend the space station and General Cassio Tagge, who had been sent to investigate Princess Leia Organa's claims about an active Rebel base on Dantooine. The Rebels' victory at Yavin was followed by another victory on Cymoon 1, where a Rebel team destroyed the Empire's main production facility, Weapons Factory Alpha. Several other assaults by Rebel forces, such as the bombing of a supply base on Imdaar and the shipyards at Kuat, harassed the Empire in the weeks following the Death Star's destruction. In addition, the aftermath of the Death Star's destruction saw a rise in pirate activity against Imperial supply convoys as the galactic government was no longer seen as invulnerable. The Empire's hold over vital worlds also began to slip; one of the worlds which began to question Imperial domination was the mining world of Shu-Torun. Ruled by a mercantile nobility called the ore-dukes, Shu-Torun provided important materials the Empire required for its construction projects, including the development of the second Death Star, and the Emperor constantly demanded higher tithes, especially in the aftermath of the Battle of Yavin. Opposing this unsustainable increase, the Ore-dukes convinced their aged King to rebel against the Empire.
Determined to prevent the destruction of his Empire, Sidious reorganized Imperial High Command by appointing General Tagge as Grand General with command of all military matters. Tagge had argued against the strategy of having the Death Star as the Imperial military's sole weapon, believing that the military was all that was needed to safeguard the Empire and that depending on a single weapon was inviting catastrophe. Vader, who had failed to protect either the Death Star or Cymoon 1, was demoted and ordered to serve under Tagge as the Grand General saw fit. The Emperor gave orders that the military was to focus its attention on the conquest of the Outer Rim until the time when the second Death Star was completed. Tagge and Vader begun targeting the pirates for destruction as well as cracking down on criminal elements which had gone unchecked in the past, such as the Son-tuul Pride.
The only ones spared the Empire's wrath were the Hutts, who had entered into an alliance with the Empire. Needing raw materials for Imperial military production and knowing that the Hutts could provide them for the right price, Sidious sent Vader to Tatooine to negotiate an agreement with Jabba for their support in exchange for the Hutts being allowed to maintain their power base in the Outer Rim and the underworld. The destruction of competitors, such as the Son-tuul Pride, also allowed the Hutts to profit from the alliance as their position in the underworld fell to them.
When Shu-Torun rose up in open rebellion against the Empire following Darth Vader's brutal suppression of an assassination attempt made against him by the King, Sidious sent his apprentice back to the mining world with a large military force at his command. His orders were to end the Ore-dukes' rebellion and preserve the Imperial-backed government led by Queen Trios, whom Vader had placed on the throne after her father's treason.
At some point following the Battle of Yavin, the Emperor's luxury yacht Imperialis was stolen by the gambler Lando Calrissian and his associates while it was undergoing repairs at Sienar Fleet Systems' Orbital Shipyard CC-24 above the planet Castell. Grand Vizier Amedda informed the Emperor of this loss. In response, the Emperor dispatched three Star Destroyers commanded by Commodore Idel, Captain Shan, and Captain Conro to recover his ship. These Star Destroyers destroyed CC-24 to punish the base's Commander Pasqual for failing to protect the Emperor's property. After the Star Destroyers failed to recover the ship, the Emperor dispatched the bounty hunter Chanath Cha to recover the vessel. Should she fail to recover it, he instructed her to destroy the Imperialis to avoid letting its secrets fall into the hands of others. Unwilling to harm her former friends Lando and Lobot, Chanath opted to destroy the vessel instead. The wreckage of the Imperialis eventually ended up on Quantxi, the junk moon of Ord Mantell.
Eliminating the competition
- "I was intrigued by the scientists. What could they achieve if unfettered by the hypocritical morality of the Old Republic? We would see. For is it not my duty to chart the possibilities? [...] Cylo grew powerful. His tendrils were deep in Tarkin's Initiative. His cancer was one with its flesh. If I simply tore him free, I would risk a schism of the Empire's great minds. While the Death Star was being constructed, that was unthinkable. After its destruction, it was even more so. I had to make him overplay his hand."
- ―Darth Sidious, to Darth Vader about Cylo
In the aftermath of Darth Vader's failure to prevent the Death Star's destruction, Sidious was approached by one of the scientists involved in the Tarkin Initiative: Doctor Cylo. One of the specialists who had saved Vader's life after sustaining his fatal injuries on Mustafar, Sidious had kept him on and funded his research into upgrading organic species into cybernetically-enhanced subjects. Cylo believed that organisms could only survive by adapting with technology, and eliminating weaknesses. He also believed that in the new world he foresaw, the Force would be rendered obsolete. Although Sidious dismissed these thoughts by saying that everything was of the Force, he was curious to see what these scientists could do unconstrained by the presence of the Old Republic or the Jedi.
During the twenty years which had passed since the end of the Clone Wars, Cylo had worked to create several subjects which possessed the best genetic and cybernetic upgrades that he could provide, preparing them as potential enforcers for the Empire. With Vader's disgrace clear and the Emperor's need for strong elements to prevent further damage being done to the Empire, Cylo suggested that he replace his apprentice with one of his subjects. Vader's role would be reduced to a ceremonial one, while the doctor's subjects would enforce Sidious's will throughout the galaxy. Intrigued by Cylo's proposition, Sidious agreed to provide his subjects with a chance to impress him.
However, unbeknownst to the scientist, the Emperor had come to believe that Cylo had grown too powerful as a result of his involvement with the Tarkin Initiative. He could do nothing about it because of the doctor's connection with several of the Empire's greatest scientific minds, and removing him could cause a splint among them. When Cylo presented him his plan, however, Sidious knew that he could cause him to overplay his hand which would make him a traitor to the Empire. Knowing that Vader would be the perfect foil to Cylo's subjects, the Emperor made sure the two men met. The day he informed Vader of his punishment for his failure at the Imperial Palace on Coruscant, he also summoned Cylo for a private meeting. When his apprentice asked who the scientist was, Sidious refused to answer him, leading Vader to conduct his own investigation into the Emperor's secrets.
After Vader's hired bounty hunter Black Krrsantan successfully apprehended Cylo in his fourth body, he revealed under torture the location of his secret research base. The Sith Lord made his way to the base where he began an assault to find his potential rivals and destroy them. However, Cylo-IV's death at the hands of Vader's torture droid 0-0-0 had not killed the scientist: having recreated himself as an immortal system, whenever one of Cylo's bodies died, another was activated on board his research base. Cylo-V had guessed that Vader had discovered the location of his base and that he would be coming when he was activated. As such, he contacted the Emperor so that he could give him a demonstration of his subjects. Sidious arrived as Vader was about to kill the scientist. Only his intervention saved Cylo-V from suffering his predecessor's fate. With all the elements for his plan to begin, the Emperor demanded Cylo start the presentation.
As they fought with Vader, Cylo presented to him the subjects that he had been working on over the past twenty years: Aiolin Astarte and Morit Astarte, twins born to a family which had supported the Separatists during the Clone Wars, who had been upgraded genetically and cybernetically to possess abilities similar to the Jedi and Sith of old without having to use the Force; Tulon Voidgazer, a genius scientist involved with high-level R&D development before she was upgraded with a cloud of drone-droids, connected directly to her brain, who allowed her to see and fight through them; Commander Karbin, a Mon Calamari veteran of the Clone Wars who had spent eighteen years on life support after his ship crashed, and who had been upgraded into a model resembling the late General Grievous and trained in lightsaber combat. Finally, Cylo had created a system which could possess various hosts, tested on a Trandoshan, and remove any traits the Emperor would not desire, such as pain and emotions. Sufficiently impressed, Sidious demanded a real demonstration of their abilities. Vader and the subjects began to fight to the death against one another, and the Trandoshan was killed by Morit before the Emperor called a stop to the fight. He announced that he would find a use for every one of them, but that only one would win a place as his enforcer. The sole rule he established was that they not kill each other; or make sure if they did that he not find out. As he made to leave, the Emperor called Vader to speak to him privately.
A worthy apprentice
- "Do not underestimate how much you disappointed me on Mustafar. I saved you, but you showed how much off the mark you fell. [...] The dark side is strength. If they defeat you, they are stronger. If you defeat them, you prove you are. This is the way of the Sith. I named you "Vader" after you pledged yourself to the Sith. You proved yourself worthy of it then. I am certain you will prove yourself worthy now."
- ―Darth Sidious
When they were alone, Sidious complimented Vader on his ability to discover Cylo's project. He was also impressed with his apprentice's ability to act beyond his knowledge, and how he had been able to acquire a private army of Separatist-era commando droids to use for his own ends. Vader was displeased with being forced to prove himself against Cylo's subjects, especially as he considered them blasphemous to the ways of the Force. Sidious chastised him for reprimanding him, reminding him that he was the teacher while Vader remained the apprentice: his task was to learn what Sidious knew, and Sidious's was to discover what there was to teach. The Emperor also revealed that he needed Vader to overcome the disappointment he had caused in him when he almost fell on Mustafar, and prove himself worthy of carrying the name Sidious had given him when he had pledged himself to the Sith. With his business concluded, the Emperor left Cylo's base and returned to Coruscant.
At the Emperor's directive, Cylo's subjects were placed at Grand General Tagge's disposal, while the doctor acted as a consultant for the military. The rivalry between them and Vader eventually led to the confrontation with the Rebel Alliance on Vrogas Vas. As a result of Karbin's manipulation, Vader crashed on Vrogas Vas when he confronted three Rebel squadrons. One pilot chose to crash his X-Wing into Vader's TIE fighter to bring him down. On the surface, Vader confronted a large force or Rebel soldiers assembled by Leia Organa to eliminate his threat. The confrontation culminated in a battle between the Sith Lord and Karbin, which resulted in the latter's death. The Rebellion suffered important losses on Vrogas Vas, and Karbin's disappearance led the Emperor to search for him. Vader eventually made his way to Coruscant where he presented his Master with Karbin's corpse. Although Sidious was annoyed that his apprentice had violated his rule, he was impressed when Vader challenged him to provide him with another way to prove himself worthy of his trust. The Emperor gave his apprentice command of the military force he was sending to Shu-Torun to preserve Queen Trios's hold on the throne. However, he also sent Cylo and his remaining subjects, apparently on Grand General Tagge's request. Before Vader left the Imperial Palace, Sidious warned him not to disappoint him, as he relied on him more than he let on.
Vader's campaign on Shu-Torun was a success, and the rebellious Ore-dukes were brought down. In the middle of the battle, Cylo attempted to have his rival killed by forming an alliance with Baron Rubix, the leader of the Shu-Torun rebels. Vader evaded the trap and, with the help of a dying Aiolin Astarte who had been betrayed by her brother, secured the proof needed to prove the doctor's treachery from her memory circuit. Once Vader's business was concluded on Shu-Torun, he informed the Emperor of Cylo's betrayal and told him that he had fled with his remaining subjects. Pleased that his plan had worked, Sidious summoned Vader to him on the shipyard where the Executor-class Star Dreadnought Executor was being built.
End of Games
- "The fleet will be yours. The Executor will be yours. I leave you to educate your subordinates about this brave new era."
- ―Darth Sidious, to Darth Vader
At Kuat, the Emperor revealed his fear of Cylo's growing influence to his apprentice, the doctor's role in rebuilding him, and the purpose of the contest for his position as an enforcer. Vader recognized that, should one of his rivals had been the last one standing, the Emperor would be having the same conversation with them. However, he declared that he had succeeded and that he represented the strength of the dark side. Sidious was pleased with his apprentice's success and ordered him to find Cylo and destroy him.
While the Executor was still under construction, Cylo's fleet attacked the dreadnought. During the assault, one of his creations, Tulon Voidgazer sabotaged the vessel. Sidious contacted Tagge, demanding to know what was happening, however the general and his crew were knocked unconscious by toxic gas. The Emperor was then informed by one of his guards that they were trapped.
After Vader killed Cylo's minions and destroyed his current body, he informed the Emperor of his success. Pleased with his apprentice, Sidious told him to finish his mission then return. At that moment, the archaeologist Dr. Aphra entered his private chambers. She then claimed they had a "mutual friend" and that she had things the Emperor needed to know.
After Vader finished off Cylo for good, he returned to his master. It was then that Sidious told Vader that Aphra had informed him of all of his secret endeavors, many of which had been technically treasonous. However, rather than chastise or punish Vader, the Emperor told his apprentice that he was impressed with his ambitions and that he was everything he could have hoped for. He then left Vader to deal with Aphra as he pleased. Due to Tagge's failure, the Emperor demoted him and transferred command of the Executor and its fleet to Vader. Pleased with his apprentice, he left him to "educate" his subordinates of the future.
"A great disturbance in the Force"
- "There is a great disturbance in the Force."
"I have felt it."
"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."
- ―Darth Sidious and Darth Vader, about Luke Skywalker
Three years after the Battle of Yavin, the Empire had managed to gain a major victory by capturing the Rebel base on the ice planet of Hoth. However, something bigger was growing. With Darth Vader aboard his command ship, the Super Star Destroyer Executor, the Emperor ultimately contacted the commanding officer of the vessel, Admiral Piett, telling him to have Lord Vader contact him immediately. Vader did as he was instructed and was told of his son, Luke Skywalker, for the first time. Vader however, had known of his son's existence since Cymoon 1. The Emperor then proceeded to stated his desire for the elimination of this threat, yet Vader suggested that young Skywalker could become an ally. With calculated words of approval, the Emperor allowed his enforcer to pursue this possible "asset." The cloaked Master then left Vader to find Luke Skywalker after his apprentice pledged to confront the offspring of Anakin Skywalker and either bring him to the Emperor or have his son destroyed.
- "Join me, and together, we can rule the galaxy as father and son!"
- ―Darth Vader attempts to sway Luke Skywalker to himself.
Darth Vader eventually lured Luke Skywalker to Cloud City on Bespin, where the Sith Lord attempted to capture Skywalker in carbonite and transport the Jedi-aspirant to the Emperor. However, Skywalker evaded capture and was confronted by Vader in a duel on Cloud City. There, with the Jedi-aspirant beaten by a precarious ledge, Vader divulged knowledge of his relationship with Skywalker, his son, and gave an ultimatum for the youth: to join forces—as said to be destined—with father, Darth Vader, or die. However, Luke Skywalker rejected his newfound father, and allowed himself to fall into the abyss.
Having failed in recruiting or destroying Skywalker, Vader returned to the Executor, only to be interrupted by its crew, which reported the Millennium Falcon's escape from Cloud City. Upon the Executor's bridge, Vader sensed the presence of his son aboard the Falcon. Calling out for the young Skywalker to join himself in vain, the father of Skywalker watched as the Falcon slipped past Imperial forces with its fully functional hyperdrive.
Angered, Lord Vader left his flagship aboard an Imperial shuttle with a forensics droid and a unit of death troopers for revenge against those responsible for withholding the knowledge of his offspring's survival, altering the droid's systems that would force its motivator to trigger a self-destruct sequence should the droid reveal any information to anyone—including Imperials and the Emperor himself—regarding their quest.
Meanwhile, the Emperor had Grand Vizier Mas Amedda contact Admiral Piett by hologram. After Piett's confirmation on the escape of the Millennium Falcon, the Grand Vizier relayed the Emperor's demand for Vader to contact him immediately, yet an officer alerted Piett of the departure of Lord Vader's shuttle as the admiral reached for his comlink to Vader. Cautiously wording his response, Piett told Vizier Amedda of Vader's unavailability. Hearing word of Vader's failure and his leave from Imperial command, the Emperor began to laugh before the holo-transmission of Piett, sat on his throne by Mas Amedda's side in his Palace on Coruscant.
Fall of the Sith
- "The Force is strong with him. The son of Skywalker must not become a Jedi."
"If he could be turned, he would become a powerful ally."
- ―Darth Sidious and Darth Vader, about turning Luke Skywalker to the dark side
In the months after the events on Bespin, Luke Skywalker would continue to hone his skills in the light side of the Force, nonetheless, Sidious still believed Luke liable to turn to the dark side.
In an attempt to gain a new Sith apprentice as well as end the Galactic Civil War, Sidious purposely allowed the Rebels to obtain the plans of the new Death Star under construction over the forest moon of Endor. Following the presumed destruction of a vast majority of the Rebellion in a doomed confrontation against an unknowingly armed and operational Death Star, Sidious planned on commencing the deployment of some of the largest invasion fleets known in galactic history to blockade the known rebel strongholds of Mon Cala and Chandrila until the Death Star II could destroy them, permanently ending the Rebellion and all those that would oppose his rule through sheer terror.
The Emperor went to the second Death Star intending oversee the ultimate defeat of the Rebellion and the fall of the Jedi Order. A massive amount of Imperial personnel, including two astromech droids, witnessed their Emperor's momentous arrival. Shortly before his meeting with Luke Skywalker and his death at Endor, the Emperor sensed the existence of a mysterious, malevolent force in the farthest reaches of the unexplored regions; the possible source of the dark side of the Force, but even the Emperor wasn't sure who or what he was sensing.
Meeting Luke Skywalker
- "I'm looking forward to completing your training. In time, you will call me master."
- ―Darth Sidious, to Luke Skywalker
Whilst on the Death Star, Luke Skywalker, Han Solo, Princess Leia, and Chewbacca managed to sneak past the shield and land on the Sanctuary Moon. Vader, who had been told to dispatch the fleet to the moon and to remain on a command ship, sensed his son's arrival. Because of this, he journeyed to the Death Star, where he told the Emperor that he sensed Luke's arrival. Surprised that he was unable to sense it, he told Vader to go and wait for him, saying that he had foreseen Luke seeking Vader out and surrendering to him personally in an attempt to redeem his fallen father.
Shortly after Skywalker and the rebel strike team landed on Endor, the Emperor summoned his secret protégé, Admiral Gallius Rax, for a secret meeting aboard his throne room on the second Death Star. Sensing a shatterpoint approaching, Darth Sidious warned Rax that it may soon be time to implement the Contingency. He then ordered Rax to take the Executor-class Star Dreadnought Ravager into the Vulpinus Nebula and hide until the events of this shatter point had resolved. He also told Rax that there would be others he had to call to his side.
Once Luke did this Darth Vader brought his son to the space station and his master's throne room. The Emperor greeted Luke, dismissed the Guardsmen and removed his chains. Luke was told that the Emperor planned to turn Luke to the dark side and that all that has happened on the Moon was all his plan. The Emperor also managed to explain that his father was irredeemable and could never be turned from the dark side. Sidious also had a surprise in store for the Rebels. When the Alliance Fleet arrived, the Death Star's superlaser was operational, contrary to what the Rebels had been led to believe. The Death Star was able to destroy several of the command ships, but the Rebels both on the surface and in space managed to press forward with their attack, as Lando was counting on Han to destroy the Shield Generator.
Luke was then manipulated by the Emperor, who told him of his friends' impending doom and Luke was told that he would soon become his apprentice. Luke at first resisted, but as the Emperor continued to taunt him, Luke grew angrier and then grabbed his lightsaber to strike the old man down. Darth Vader intercepted Luke's strike and the two began to engage in a duel much to the Emperor's delight.
Luke was first able to calm himself, refusing several times to continue fighting his father. Luke attempted to hide from Vader as their fight became more intense but Vader was able to sense his son's thoughts and learned that Luke had a sister. With this knowledge, Vader told Luke that if he did not turn to the dark side, perhaps Leia would. The threat of losing his sister enraged Luke and drove him to angrily attack Vader.
Although he nearly killed Vader and cut off his mechanical hand, Luke began to see what had happened and that he was dangerously close to becoming like his father was now; a slave to the dark side of the Force. Luke threw away his lightsaber and turned to face the Emperor. He told the Emperor that he would never turn to the dark side and that he was a Jedi, like his father before him.
- "If you will not be turned, you will be destroyed!"
- ―Darth Sidious, to Luke Skywalker
Angered by Skywalker's defiance, the Emperor unleashed a torrent of Force lightning upon him, forcing him onto the floor. The Emperor then proceeded to torment Luke, remarking that his rudimentary skills were no match for the power of the dark side. Meanwhile, Darth Vader watched his son struggle and plead for him to intervene, with Sidious threatening to kill the defenseless, young Skywalker; unbeknownst to Sidious, this was troubling Vader. Ultimately his concern and compassion for his son caused the former Anakin Skywalker to wake up and save Luke. The redeemed Anakin grabbed the Emperor, and threw him off a ledge down the Death Star's reactor shaft to his imminent death. Firing his lightning upward as he fell, the Emperor apparently could do nothing but scream as he went the long way down towards the second Death Star's reactor, causing a great explosion upon hitting it and releasing a light blue wind which encompassed the throne room before falling back down the shaft.
Having killed Darth Sidious and been reborn as a Jedi Knight, Anakin Skywalker had brought the destruction of the Sith. With his armor badly damaged by the Emperor's lightning, Anakin's decision to save his son's life would cost him his own. Before passing away into the Force, a dying Anakin requested Luke to remove the helmet Palpatine forced him to wear all those years so he could finally see his son's face with his own eyes. Luke tried to convince Anakin to let him be saved by him, but Anakin told Luke that he already did and that he was right about there still being good in him, despite all that he had done. With his death, Anakin had fulfilled the ancient prophecy as Qui-Gon Jinn had believed he would thirty-six years earlier.
Fall of the Empire
- "Admiral Versio, Operation: Cinder is to begin at once. Resistance, rebellion, defiance. These are concepts that cannot be allowed to persist. You are but one of many tools by which these ideas shall be burned away. Heed my messenger. He shall relay you to your target."
- ―Darth Sidious' posthumous message to Admiral Garrick Versio
Following his demise, the Empire attempted to suppress the true outcome of the Battle of Endor. In the Anoat sector, which was cut off from the rest of the galaxy by an Imperial blockade in the days following the attack, Imperial propaganda claimed that the attack on the second Death Star had failed and the rebellion was no longer a threat. Rumors of the Emperor's death were dismissed as treasonous fabrications by Governor Ubrik Adelhard. The Emperor also posthumously ordered Operation: Cinder to a select group of Imperial officers, including Admiral Garrick Versio and Captain Lerr Duvat, which called for the scouring of multiple rebellious worlds, including his own homeworld of Naboo. Although several holovids were circulated to show that the second Death Star had been destroyed, both rebels and Imperials around the galaxy discussed whether the Emperor or Darth Vader had really died or not, as no one was sure what exactly happened.
The days following the Emperor's death were chaotic, as massive uprisings, which the Empire tried to cease, took place on thousands of planets to prove that the rebels had been right all along about public sentiment toward the Empire. Months after Endor, dark side adherents such as the Acolytes of the Beyond would worship Vader and the dark side of the Force on planets across the galaxy such as the planet Taris.
While searching the Hall of Imperial Register on Coruscant in 5 ABY, Grand Admiral Rae Sloane discovered that the Emperor's personal Super Star Destroyer Eclipse had mysteriously disappeared instead of being destroyed by the New Republic as reported in the Imperial charts. She also found an image crystal showing a still image of Palpatine and several Imperial Guards, stormtroopers, and officials including Wullf Yularen, Dodd Rancit, Terrinald Screed, Grand Vizier Mas Amedda, and Gallius Rax. Rax had since risen to the rank of Fleet Admiral and was Sloane's secret puppet-master. Following the Attack on Chandrila, Rax brought the remnants of the Empire to Jakku.
Though Rax claimed that he was testing the resolve of the Empire before a showdown with the New Republic, Rax secretly intended to carry out the Contingency. The Contingency involved orchestrating a battle between the Imperial remnants and the New Republic fleets and destroying the two belligerents by detonating Jakku's core. The Jakku Observatory contained a deep borehole which led to the planet's core. Rax planned to pour various Sith artifacts into the borehole in order to activate the planet's self-destruction. In secret, Rax had arranged for himself and several "worthy" Imperials including Brendol Hux, his son Armitage Hux, and a contingent of child soldiers to flee into the Unknown Regions. Sloane managed to stop Rax's plan to destroy Jakku with the help of the rebels Norra Wexley and Brentin Lore Wexley. Despite perishing on Jakku, Rax succeeded in fulfilling his master's orders to bring about the collapse of the "Old Empire".
Eventually, the legacy Darth Sidious left behind ended up becoming the basis of the regime that developed into the First Order, the Empire's successor, led by the mysterious Snoke, who took over the position of Supreme Leader of the Order. As such, Sidious' visions about whoever was Snoke, the being who would succeed him as leader, were fulfilled. After wiping out most of what remained of the Imperial leadership, with several exceptions such as Armitage Hux, Snoke went to discover several truths about Sidious, such as the fact that Sidious' Contingency had always been a two-fold plan, one that involved ensuring the Empire's rebirth among the survivors of the old Empire.
In 34 ABY, thirty years after the Battle of Endor, Sidious's voice was heard during a Force vision experienced by the Jakku Force-sensitive scavenger Rey at Takodana Castle. Sometime afterward, while teaching Rey on Ahch-To, Luke cited the rise of Darth Sidious and the Empire he created along with his father as a failure of the Jedi Order.
- "At last the work of generations is complete. The great error is corrected. The day of victory is at hand. The day of revenge. The day of the Sith."
- ―Darth Sidious' message
Pulling Snoke's strings
- "My boy, I made Snoke. I have been every voice you have ever heard inside your head. The First Order was just the beginning. I will give you so much more."
- ―Darth Sidious, to Kylo Ren
But despite his defeat over Endor, even death wasn't the end for Darth Sidious. When betrayed by Anakin Skywalker aboard the second Death Star, Sidious had little time to realize that his apprentice had turned on him much like he once did with Darth Plagueis, but unlike his former Master, he had prepared himself for Skywalker's betrayal. Calling on all the power of the dark side of the Force, the Emperor transferred his consciousness far, far away as his empty body kept falling towards the battle station's reactor to his death.
Sending his consciousness towards a cloned body designed by the Sith Eternal, a cultist faction of Sith loyalists who continued to follow the religious traditions of the Sith and sought to resurrect their order, Sidious resurfaced and settled at the Sith Citadel on the ancient Sith world of Exegol in the Unknown Regions. There, he took possession of the ancient Throne of the Sith.
However, Sidious had not returned totally unscathed: while he indeed had expected Anakin's eventual betrayal, it still caught the Sith Lord at too early a point for his plans, so the citadel was not completely prepared, the transfer was imperfect and the cloned body, which the Dark Lord settled in, "wasn't enough": the body was not able to contain the immense power Sidious possessed, and began to decay as a result. His body was unable to move on its own, and he took on a ghoulish, undead appearance with missing appendages. Sidious was mobilized through the use of an Ommin harness, a mechanical spine once worn by Ommin, an ancient Sith king, and the decay of his body was slowed by vials of restorative fluid.
Sidious was the one who had created Supreme Leader Snoke, having done so before the rise of the Empire, and the Sith Eternal additionally stored copies of the artificial alien on Exegol. The First Order was unaware of Snoke's true origins and their ultimate purpose in the form of the Contingency, though some in the higher echelons of the Order came to suspect that Snoke was subservient to some greater power. While the First Order served as the military arm of the Contingency, the Sith Eternal secretly served as its hidden spiritual heart.
Snoke came to believe that Ben Solo, the son of Han Solo and Leia Organa and the nephew and apprentice of Luke Skywalker, had the right balance of the light and dark sides of the Force in him due to his heritage as Anakin Skywalker's grandson. When Luke Skywalker sensed Ben's darkness, the Jedi Master approached him in his sleep, and, in a brief moment of instinct, activated his lightsaber to kill. Skwaylker immediately stopped, but Ben awoke and, not knowing what was going on, trapped his uncle before a sudden storm destroyed Skywalker's Jedi temple. He would later take credit for the destruction, however. At the insistence of Snoke, Ben sought to join the Knights of Ren, but their leader Ren tried to kill Ben upon realizing his reluctance to kill while during a battle on the Minemoon. Ben and Ren engaged in a duel, which the young Solo finally won by stabbing the dark sider, unknowingly being prompted to do so by Sidious, leading Ben to become "Kylo Ren", master of the Knights of Ren. To keep Kylo Ren on the dark side, Sidious impersonated the spirit of Darth Vader in order to communicate with Ren from afar.
In 34 ABY, Rey confronted the Supreme Leader and his dark apprentice aboard the Supremacy, believing she could turn the former Ben Solo back to the light. Snoke overpowered Rey, and having gauged her resolve, he saw that she had the spirit of a true Jedi. Determined to see every trace of the Jedi Order eradicated, he ordered her death, but left the deed to Kylo Ren. Sensing his apprentice's newfound resolve, Snoke urged Ren to complete his training and fulfill his destiny by executing Rey. Instead, Ren outmaneuvered his Master by killing him with the Skywalker lightsaber. He offered Rey a place at his side, believing that they could rule together as leaders of the new galactic order, but she refused to turn against the Resistance. With Snoke dead, Ren asserted his claim to the title of Supreme Leader, seizing political and military control of the First Order.
Unbeknownst to Ren, Snoke had been preparing his apprentice to inherit the legacy of the Sith. Though he was not a Sith, Snoke's role had been designed by the Sith Eternal cultists to groom and mold Ren into a master of attack and cunning, and to serve as the final test in his apprentice's training. By killing his Master, Ren passed the ultimate crucible in his path to the dark side. As a result, Sidious, whose clone body weakened with decay, would choose Ren to succeed him as the new Emperor.
- "The ritual begins. She will strike me down and pledge herself as a Sith. She will draw her weapon. She will come to me. She will take her revenge, and with a stroke of her saber, the Sith are reborn. The Jedi are dead!"
- ―Darth Sidious, referring to Rey, before the Sith Eternal
In 35 ABY, a mysterious audio broadcast using the voice of Darth Sidious, who was still thought to be dead by the galaxy at large, was released to the galaxy, threatening revenge. Upon being informed of this, Supreme Leader of the First Order Kylo Ren began a search for the broadcast's source, deeming the phantom Emperor as a potential menace to his rule. After acquiring a Sith wayfinder on Mustafar that led him to Exegol, Ren entered the Sith Citadel on the planet's surface and confronted the decrepit Emperor, who admitted that he had created Snoke and impersonated Vader, as well as having amassed a Sith armada of Xyston-class Star Destroyers, TIE daggers, and an army of loyal Sith troopers that would lead to what Sidious called the Final Order; the creation of a new Empire. However, Sidious offered for Ren to become the Emperor of the New Empire in exchange for killing Rey. To Ren's surprise, it turned out that Sidious was Rey's grandfather; the Sith Lord had a son who sired Rey with a woman before Sidious ordered his granddaughter to be killed due to all the potential that she had. As a result, Rey's parents left her on Jakku in Unkar Plutt's care while Sidious sent Ochi, a Sith assassin, to kill them.
Ren shared this revelation with Rey, believing the truth of her heritage would turn her to the dark side. Rather than killing her, Ren wanted Rey to help him overthrow her grandfather. However, her continued survival caused Sidious to suspect treachery from Ren and as such he threatened to turn the Sith fleet against the Supreme Leader unless he killed Rey. Having been warned, Kylo went to the Endor system where he dueled Rey on the remains of the second Death Star in the sea of the moon of Kef Bir until Rey fatally wounded him. However, upon sensing the death of Leia Organa at Ajan Kloss, Rey saved Kylo's life and left him behind to mourn his mother, leading Ben to ultimately turn back to the light side after her departure. Having felt Organa's passing, Sidious communicated via hologram with Allegiant General Enric Pryde, who had previously served him during the Galactic Civil War. Realizing that the time had come to make his return, Sidious ordered Pryde to send one of his Star Destroyers, named the Derriphan, to Kijimi and destroy it in order to send a clear message to the Resistance. Pryde did so and Kijimi was later destroyed to intimidate the devastated Resistance.
While initially intending to live out the rest of her days in exile like Luke Skywalker once did due to the fear of becoming a Sith herself, Rey desisted from doing so by the Force spirit of Luke Skywalker himself, who encouraged her to not let her bloodline define her legacy and actions by giving her a lightsaber which once belonged to Leia. After learning the truth as well as coming to terms with her past, Rey went to Exegol alone to face Sidious and transmitted the route to the Resistance. Upon finding her grandfather surrounded by the Sith Eternal in his throne room, Rey was welcomed by Sidious, who seemingly claimed he never wanted her dead but brought to him, to succeed him as "Empress Palpatine," all while goading her into striking him down much like he once tried to sway Luke Skywalker to do thirty-one years before, remarking that while Skywalker had his father to save him that day, he was the only family she had. The truth was that Sidious actually wished for Rey to strike him down in order to initiate a Sith ritual that would transfer his spirit into his granddaughter, thus "uniting" them and guaranteeing the continued legacy of the Sith. To make matters worse, Sidious told Rey that by transmitting the route to Exegol to her friends, she had led the Resistance into a trap that would see all of them wiped out by his Sith fleet.
End of the Sith Eternal
- "Do not fear their feeble attack, my faithful. Nothing will stop the return of the Sith!"
- ―Darth Sidious, to the Sith Eternal
However, a glimpse of hope for Rey came when a redeemed Ben Solo, no longer Kylo Ren, arrived on Exegol to help her in her fight against Sidious. Feigning that she was going to strike him down with the lightsaber that once belonged to Anakin Skywalker, Rey transferred the lightsaber to Solo through their Force-bond, allowing Solo to promptly destroy the Knights of Ren while Rey ignited the lightsaber of Leia Organa. With all the Knights dead, Solo joined Rey and Sidious attempted to kill them before becoming aware that they served as a dyad in the Force, a prophesied phenomenon which had not been seen for generations. Realizing that their power would allow him to fully return to life, Sidious used the Force to drain the life energy of both Force-users in order to restore himself to full strength. With his body and mobility fully restored and his powers amplified beyond measure, Sidious declared himself to be the Emperor once more. Having no further use of Solo and exclaiming revenge for his first death, the Emperor flung him into a pit as reinforcements brought by Lando Calrissian arrived to aid the Resistance.
Intending to dispose of the Resistance as well with his powers now stronger than ever before, the Emperor shot an immense amount of Force lightning into the atmosphere of Exegol, thereby disabling every Resistance ship for the time being. His attention soon returned to Rey who was now empowered by the ghosts of the past Jedi, in which the Emperor then unleashed a barrage of Force lightning on his granddaughter in order to kill her, which she deflected with her lightsaber. Declaring himself as all of the Sith, Sidious redoubled the intensity of his Force lightning to kill Rey, but Rey called on the power of the Jedi of the past, ignited Anakin's lightsaber as well as Organa's, and deflected the Force lightning back onto the Emperor while declaring herself as all of the Jedi embodied. As a result, Darth Sidious—the Emperor and final Dark Lord of the Sith—was destroyed by his own power, utterly vaporizing his entire body and releasing a great force wave that decimated the entire arena along with killing all of the Sith Eternal loyalists. His demise and the destruction of his cult had prevented the rebirth of the Sith Order.
- "You are nothing! A scavenger girl is no match for the power in me! I am all the Sith!!"
"And I…am all the Jedi."
- ―Darth Sidious and Rey, shortly before the former's death
Given the amount of power required to forever destroy Sidious, Rey died after vanquishing the Emperor. However, Solo emerged from the pit where the Emperor had previously flung him and gave his remaining life energy to revive Rey, whom he shared a kiss with before he vanished into the Force. Nevertheless, the galaxy celebrated Sidious' death and the defeat of the Final Order, with uprisings against the weakened First Order taking place on several planets. In an act of gratitude to the Skywalkers, Rey adopted the name 'Rey Skywalker', due to recognizing their lineage as the family she had always desired.
Personality and traits
- "Good. Use your aggressive feelings, boy. Let the hate flow through you."
- ―Darth Sidious, goading Luke Skywalker to give in to the dark side of the Force.
Prior to the creation of his Empire, Palpatine was careful to put on a charade, presenting himself as a grandfatherly gentleman and a servant of the public good. When in character, he often spoke of himself with great modesty and maintained only as much luxury as was expected of someone of his stature. However, Palpatine was, in fact, a skilled manipulator and strategist, having orchestrated countless events in the galaxy, from the Invasion of Naboo to the Clone Wars, with the sole aim of increasing his own power. Even when something occurred that he did not initially plan for, the Sith Lord demonstrated that he was as adept at improvisation as he was at plotting.
After his ascension to Galactic Emperor, he essentially dropped his public persona and started living as Sidious full-time. Despite this, very few people other than Vader and some Royal Guard members knew that the Emperor was a Sith, as he took great pains to hide his capabilities. Even Grand Moff Wilhuff Tarkin, perhaps Sidious's most trusted servant besides Vader, only suspected that Sidious was a Sith. Freed from having to portray his gentle alter-ego, Sidious allowed his true personality, one of great cruelty and sadism, to occasionally shine through in ways that were obvious even to the most sycophantic of his servants. This caused many of those who worked closely with him, such as Senator Orn Free Taa and some of the Empire's intelligence chiefs, to greatly fear him. Sidious was also known to loath ostentation and luxury.
Sidious's most defining trait was his deeply manipulative nature, seducing many parties with promises of power, prize, even salvation to further his agenda. He successfully manipulated the leaders of the Separatists and Count Dooku under the pretense of a better future,[source?] coerced Anakin Skywalker into becoming Darth Vader by promising to save his beloved, Padmé Amidala, attempted to sweet talk Bridger with being able to reunite with his deceased parents by altering fate and also tried to push Luke Skywalker into murdering his father so they could rule the galaxy together. While trying to steer Bridger, he displayed himself in his public personality via hologram, showing himself as benign and polite. Once Bridger frustrated his plans, his true malignant self was revealed as he had underestimated the boy's hatred for the Empire and devotion to the Rebellion and new-found rebel family. Likewise, when Palpatine tried to motivate Luke into killing his father upon momentarily embracing the dark side of the Force, the young Skywalker desisted due to his love to his father and Jedi teachings, which led Sidious to turn on him before Vader stopped him from harming his son.
Sidious was known for being hypocritical and arrogant; whilst he told Yoda that his arrogance had blinded him when the Jedi Master confronted him, he had previously declared himself to be the Senate when Windu tried to arrest him. Even shortly before his second death years later, Sidious declared himself to be all the Sith while trying to finish off with his Jedi granddaughter.
After toppling the Republic and shedding his benevolent persona, Sidious essentially disappeared from public life and left most of the day-to-day affairs of the Empire in the hands of the Imperial Ruling Council. His absence did not go unnoticed by the citizenry of the Empire, and rumors began to circulate that the Jedi assassination attempt had not only resulted in his disfigurement but in the death of the sanguine politician that he had once been. In order to quash the gossip and rumor-mongering, the Ruling Council took to dispatching skycar processions in Imperial Center in an effort to make it appear as though Sidious still moved about in public.
From his secured position as Emperor, Sidious devoted most of his time to study and meditation, often in the ancient Sith shrine situated beneath the Imperial Palace. Wishing to rule his Empire for eternity, Sidious launched numerous inquiries into the topic of immortality. One of the most notorious of these was Project Blackwing; an attempt to unlock the secrets of immortality through Sith alchemy, but the project ended in failure. However, Sidious's true goal was ultimately to discover a way to use the dark side to manipulate reality itself, and with that power, not only achieve what he termed "mere immortality" but acquire the ability to reshape the galaxy and its people to his satisfaction. Whether or not Sidious made any significant progress in obtaining this goal is not known however, as he would have needed Vader's assistance to perform the sorts of rituals he had in mind. During the Imperial Era, Darth Sidious sought to gain access to the World between Worlds in order to control time as well as the universe. Following his first death, Sidious still sought ways to achieve immortality and the preservation of the Sith, as was seen by his attempt to perform a ritual on his granddaughter Rey in order to transfer his spirit into her body, which would allow Sidious to continue the Sith's legacy.
To those who had been at his nonexistent mercy, Sidious was known to be exceptionally sadistic, and he often took visible pleasure in torturing others. He was similarly quite bloodthirsty as well, and frequently reveled in combat to the point of laughing while he fought or killed. He was also noted for his lack of forgiveness, as even Darth Vader, who was well known for summarily executing officers who failed him, considered Palpatine to be even less clement than himself. According to Sosha Soruna, the reason Palpatine left his homeworld of Naboo relatively untouched during his reign was because he enjoyed tormenting the populace with the fact that he could destroy the serene beauty of the planet at anytime. In spite of his exceptional mastery of the dark arts, he was no less susceptible to fear, one of the primary emotions of the dark side, than any other Sith: after being attacked by a powerful Force push from Yoda, he displayed visible panic, attempted to flee rather than fight, and only confronted his opponent when he appeared to have no other choice. Despite this, his passion to inflict pain on others and his hate were a priority to him over his own well-being: while he could have used his own powers to save himself from Darth Vader during the Battle of Endor, Sidious' hate was so strong that his only thought was to harm Vader as his apprentice carried him to his first death.
Unlike Darth Vader, his more conservative apprentice, Sidious believed that progress was in no way contrary to the ways of the Sith. When Vader was presented to the cyborgs created by Doctor Cylo, he denounced them as abominations and heresy to the ways of the Force. However, Sidious claimed that he was merely an apprentice and was meant to learn what he knew and that Sidious was meant to discover what there was to teach. He also dismissed Vader's hatred of technological superiority by replying that everything was of the Force.
Due to his Sith philosophy, Sidious was seemingly unwilling to let anyone else inherit the Galactic Empire in the event of his death. Using a game of Shah-tezh as an illustration, Palpatine seemed to believe that the Empire's sole purpose for existence was to protect his own life and well-being. He believed that the Empire was a failure if it failed to live up to this purpose. Even before the formation of the Empire, Sidious had prepared for this fate by formulating a Contingency plan. The Contingency involved luring the Empire to the barren Inner Rim planet Jakku and detonating the planet's core; destroying both the planet and the orbiting Imperial and enemy fleets. The key to the Contingency was the Jakku Observatory (which concealed a borehole that penetrated the planet's core) and Gallius Rax, a native of Jakku who rose to become Counselor to the Empire. As the Contingency showed, Sidious seemed to be willing to risk the lives of countless subjects to prevent the Empire from outliving him, showing his extreme pettiness. Sidious also regarded Rax as a confidante and allowed him to address him as Sheev Palpatine. Decades after his death, however, Supreme Leader Snoke, a Force-sensitive humanoid male whom Sidious had created and who had taken control of the First Order, an organization built out of the remnants of the Galactic Empire, had by then discovered that Sidious's Contingency, as a matter of fact, involved ensuring the Empire's rebirth, going as far as to secretly construct shipyards and laboratories within the Unknown Regions in pursuit of this goal. While it is unclear if Snoke was self-aware or controlled by Sidious the whole time, it can be assumed that as part of his Contingency, Sidious created Snoke as a vessel and puppet to re-build his Empire due to his philosophical beliefs that if the Empire failed to protect him, then the Empire was to be deemed a failure.
Following his demise on Endor and resurrection, in spite of his physical frailness, Sidious' mind was more sharper than ever before. Upon realizing that the Jakku scavenger Rey was his granddaughter, Sidious manipulated Kylo Ren into bringing the young woman to him in order to make her a Sith like him and train her to succeed him in a desperate attempt to bring back the Sith. While he tried to sway Rey to his side by claiming that he cared for her, Rey easily deduced that he didn't care for her since he even ordered the assassination of her parents, in spite of the fact that her father was his own son, for protecting her from him, as Sidious feared that she would turn out more powerful than him. When it became clear that Rey would not become a Sith, Sidious unleashed his fury on her and tried to kill her and a redeemed Ben Solo by absorbing their life energy as well as the entire Resistance, effectively demonstrating that even after experiencing death, Sidious' beliefs and way of being remained largely unchanged and he still just cared for himself and the future of the Sith to the point of harming his own family, traits which eventually led to Sidious' second death at the hands of his own granddaughter and all the great Jedi of the past.
Prior to his disfigurement, Sidious was a slim man sporting wavy hair, a prominent nose, blue eyes, and a narrow face. By 32 BBY, his red hair was graying, and it had turned entirely silver ten years later. After his duel with Windu, Sidious's visage was heavily disfigured and withered, with deathly pale, wrinkled skin, flesh sagging from his bulging forehead and around his piercing yellow eyes. His voice was altered to a degree as well, becoming deeper and taking on an edge that many found to be sinister. Tarkin, however, was of the opinion that Sidious's voice merely sounded strained when compared to that of his pre-war persona. For most of his reign, the Emperor remained away from public view and crafted holograms or idealized portraiture that depicted him in his prime, as he was in the last years of the Galactic Republic. Even so, as the reign of the Empire solidified, the citizenry of the galaxy largely forgot the name of "Palpatine", and the man was known simply as "the Emperor". When he was discovered on Exegol, Sidious, inhabiting a clone body, appeared to be in a putrid and decaying state. His face appeared much as it had prior to his original body's disfigurement, but his skin was more pallid than it was when he was last seen alive, his eyes were white, his lips were blackened, and his fingers had begun to rot away, exposing the bone underneath. Upon draining Rey and Ben Solo of their life energy to restore his own, his appearance became the appearance he had prior to his first death.
Power and abilities
- "Do not underestimate the powers of the Emperor, or suffer your father's fate, you will."
- ―Yoda, to Luke Skywalker
As the reigning Dark Lord of the Sith in his time, Sidious was incredibly powerful in the Force, with extreme levels of mastery over the powers of the Dark Side. He was extremely skilled in 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 utilized blasts of Force lightning powerful enough to not have only killed the lyleks on contact, but also 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 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 lightning's raw power was demonstrated to be far greater than that of Dooku's; while Yoda was able to effortlessly absorb and deflect Dooku's lightning, he was only able to partially deflect Sidious's. Another more obscure ability that he possessed was the power to produce a dark aura, a miniature storm of malevolent Force energy that slowed the movement of and tortured all that it caught within its radius. The maximum potential of Sidious' Force lightning, however, was achieved before his final death on Exegol; when restored back to his former self, Sidious unleashed an immense wave of Force lightning towards the sky which rapidly expanded enough to disable all the ships of the Resistance.
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 having to lift even a finger when they met face to face on the second Death Star. Sidious was capable of unleashing a Force push strong enough to easily send Maul and Opress flying and he was able to keep them pinned with little effort. He later effortlessly slammed Maul into the ground and walls, badly wounding him. Sidious was also highly skilled with Force choke. When he arrived on Mandalore, he was effortlessly able to telekinetically throttle two Mandalorians to death at once and used this power on two others while standing on the other side of the room that they were in. He was even able to use his abilities on a target from hundreds of light years away, using only a holo-transmission to show him his target, allowing him to telekinetically choke and pick up Count Dooku and open the handcuffs of Bridger while projecting himself to their respective locations through the use of a hologram.
Darth Sidious was exceptionally adept at foreseeing the future, an ability which allowed him to plan for nearly any contingency. He believed that, with enough time and practice, he would eventually have been able to use the dark side to view the future with infallible accuracy. The Dark Lord also was proficient in Sith magic, as he was able to cast a Dark illusion on Yoda using a ritual that applied Balc speech incantations and managed to access the World between Worlds using an unknown ritual. He was also capable of using Sith magic to generate a blue fiery energy, which he used to attack Ezra and Ahsoka, that he can use both as a weapon and a tool in order to bind and draw someone closer, as it did with Ezra; the energy wrapping around his leg and becoming akin to a tangible rope as well as knowledge of the ancient Sith tongue, ur-Kittât. The Dark Lord was also adept in the use of Force Persuade to such an extent that he was able to take complete control of a subject's mind and force them to obey his commands.
Likewise, Sidious was also capable of using Dark Absorption. He was also capable of telepathically communicating with Darth Vader over a distance of hundreds of light-years. It appeared however as though this ability may have been limited to sending and receiving relatively simple messages such as Vader requesting that a starfighter be shipped to him, as the two Sith Lords communicated through holoprojections while discussing more complex matters. Sidious 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. Sidious also used Force Dash. He even created the extremely powerful Force-wielder Snoke, who far surpassed Kylo Ren and Rey. He was able to easily overpower both Ben Solo and Rey, as shown by how he deactivated their lightsabers and disarmed them using the Force, then later easily telekinetically picked up the former and threw him into the pit behind him. Palpatine also demonstrated the ability to drain life essence or the Force from his victims as he did with Rey and Ben Solo in their confrontation on Exegol.
Despite his frail appearance, Darth Sidious was immensely skilled in lightsaber combat, to the point of being one of the greatest duelists of all time.[source?]} Having fully mastered every single form of lightsaber combat,[source?] Sidious was one of the very few who could go head to head with both Yoda and Mace Windu. As a result of his tremendous skill, he effortlessly killed Agen Kolar and Saesee Tiin—who were considered to be two of the finest lightsaber duelists of their time—[source?]each with a single blow, and while also engaged with Mace Windu, he slew the formidable Nautolan Kit Fisto only moments later. He then fought Windu on equal grounds for an extended period of time and even briefly had the upper hand, although he was ultimately disarmed by a kick to the face which caused him to drop his lightsaber. Later on, Sidious was able to duel almost evenly against Yoda in a lightsaber duel, but in the end, he had to use his Force powers to force Yoda to retreat. Sidious had an extremely aggressive dueling style and augmented his swordplay by using Force-enhanced speed, which allowed him to kill three experienced Jedi Masters at once within seconds. When fighting at his full power, the Sith Lord was an utterly terrifying opponent, able to overwhelm even the most experienced and skilled duellists. His style was a combination of brutal aggression, extreme speed, and lethal precision making him an almost unstoppable opponent. In fact, the only person known to have defeated him in a duel was Mace Windu.
Although Sidious usually used only one lightsaber, he was also exceptionally skillful in Jar'Kai, wielding both of his lightsabers against Darth Maul and Savage Opress. Utilizing a violently ferocious yet extremely fluid fighting style, Sidious easily held off the two brothers on equal grounds and ultimately separated them, stunning Maul for a brief time with the Force before swiftly toying with and killing Opress. While Sidious showed some difficulty against his former apprentice, who put up a far more ferocious fight than Opress (due to the latter's death and Sidious's subsequent taunts to him about him being replaced by Count Dooku) and appeared to match him with every blow, parry, and kick, the Dark Lord eventually used all of his superior strength in the Force to disarm and bring Maul to his knees in roughly only a minute. He was also skilled in blaster deflection, able to easily deflect every single blaster shot aimed at him when he fought on Ryloth.
Behind the scenes
From the very beginning of the writing process on the 1977 original Star Wars film Star Wars: Episode IV A New Hope, director George Lucas had in mind the character that would eventually develop into the currently known Emperor. One of the earliest documents regarding the project is a paper dating to early 1973, which compiled a list of names to potentially use in the story. At the very top of this list appeared the name "Emperor Ford Xerxes XII", as Xerxes was a historical Persian king who was assassinated by his own son, and would be then changed to "Alexander Xerxes XII", then "Emperor of Decarte". None of these mentioned names would be used ultimately.
In 1983's Star Wars: Episode VI - Return of the Jedi, Darth Sidious was never identified neither by his real name or his Sith alter ego on-screen, as he was referred just as "The Emperor" by most characters or "Master" by Darth Vader. The Emperor's name was supplied in supplementary materials, including the script for Episode VI. It wasn't until the 1999 film, Star Wars: Episode I The Phantom Menace, that the Emperor's name and alter ego were first mentioned on-screen.
Portrayal and casting
Darth Sidious, namely the Emperor at that time, was mentioned in A New Hope. The Emperor first appeared in the 1980 sequel Star Wars: Episode V The Empire Strikes Back, played by the experienced actress Marjorie Eaton. In Return of the Jedi, the Emperor was played by Ian McDiarmid. McDiarmid then reprised the role for the three films of the prequel trilogy, as well as in The Rise of Skywalker in the sequel trilogy.
The Empire Strikes Back
For The Empire Strikes Back, the Emperor was portrayed by Eaton as a holographic image with test shots done by actress Elaine Baker. The mask worn by Eaton was sculpted by Phil Tippett and applied by Rick Baker, Elaine's husband. Eaton's face was then composited with an image of a chimpanzee for the eyes and the voice was provided by Clive Revill.
In the 2004 DVD release of The Empire Strikes Back, Eaton was digitally replaced by McDiarmid, and the scene was re-shot to include new dialogue provided by McDiarmid and James Earl Jones. This re-shoot was shot during the production of the 2005 film, Star Wars: Episode III Revenge of the Sith, which McDiarmid had a starring role in.
Return of the Jedi, the prequels and The Rise of Skywalker
For Return of the Jedi, the role was to be played by veteran thespian Alan Webb, who was 75 years old at the time. However, as filming was about to commence, Webb fell ill due to the record cold England was experiencing at the time. He wrote a letter to the director Richard Marquand, saying that he was very sorry, but that he felt the part was too big for him, shortly dying afterward on June 22, 1982. English actor Ben Kingsley read then for the role but was considered "very English" for playing the Emperor. With filming behind schedule, Ian McDiarmid was drafted in as a late substitute.
For the prequel trilogy, McDiarmid reprised the role for all three films, playing a younger Chancellor Palpatine in The Phantom Menace and a middle-aged Palpatine in Star Wars: Episode II Attack of the Clones and in Revenge of the Sith. He became at first surprised that Lucas asked him to reprise the role, as he supposed that Darth Sidious would be played by a young actor, but he accepted the offer and returned for the role once more. One of the things that George told McDiarmid about playing the young Palpatine was to imagine that his face was a mask that was hiding the monster's face, which made him portray him a seemingly friendly man who was always nice to people. 
During Celebration Chicago 2019, it was officially confirmed that McDiarmid would be reprising his role as Darth Sidious in Star Wars: Episode IX The Rise of Skywalker, the final installment of the sequel trilogy and the Star Wars saga overall, scheduled to be released on December 20, 2019. Upon the announcement, The Rise of Skywalker director J.J. Abrams expressed his delight that McDiarmid's appearance on the film wasn't leaked. Producer Kathleen Kennedy then confirmed that Sidious' return stemmed from discussions during the development of Star Wars: Episode VII The Force Awakens although original director Colin Trevorrow stated that Palpatine's return wasn't an idea presented in his original script for the film. On hinting Sidious' comeback, McDiarmid told Warwick Davis during the panel that over the years, he has had conversations with George Lucas, who affirmed that Sidious was definitely dead by the end of Return of the Jedi. Although the film doesn't explain how Sidious survived, editor Maryann Brandon has said that earlier cuts of the film had an explanation.
For the Star Wars: The Clone Wars film and subsequent TV show, Darth Sidious was voiced by veteran actor Ian Abercrombie. Abercrombie passed away on January 26, 2012, leading to the legendary actor Tim Curry to replace him in the final episodes of the series, for which he started to being credited since the fifth season finale "The Wrong Jedi".
For Star Wars Rebels, Sidious was voiced by Star Wars veteran Sam Witwer in the show's second season. For the fourth and final season of the show, McDiarmid returned to provide the Emperor's voice instead.
Concept and creation
George Lucas compared the story of Sidious to real-life individuals such as Julius Caesar, Napoleon, Adolf Hitler, Joseph Stalin, Ferdinand Marcos, and Alberto Fujimori. All of them used methods similar to the Emperor's while turning their respective democracies into personal dictatorships in real life. The Adolf Hitler similarities are particularly evident from Palpatine's position as Chancellor and the use of emergency powers to cement his hold on the waning Republic.
Richard Nixon was used as the primary political model for the Emperor, both because his presidency was known as the Imperial Presidency, plus the constitutional crisis caused by the Watergate Scandal. Lucas, in fact, created the first Star Wars film as an anti-Vietnam War message, implying that the Empire was what America could have been, had it won the war ten years before 1973. Lucas opined, however, that Vice President Dick Cheney was actually closer to Emperor Palpatine.
In addition, film critic Roger Ebert and film historian Robin Wood noted that Palpatine's appearance resembled Death from the 1957 epic historical film, The Seventh Seal and Queen Grimhilde's witch form in the Disney's 1937 animated film, Snow White and the Seven Dwarves.
Darth Sidious was originally conceived as a weak-willed dullard named Cos Dashit with delusions of grandeur who was elevated first to President of the Republic and then Emperor, controlled by the Imperial bureaucracy, conformed by ministers like Wilhuff Tarkin. However, he was neither a Force user nor a great political strategist. Although this version of Sidious appeared in the original film's novelization, it was superseded by every other appearance since which revealed Darth Sidious as the mastermind of the events of the Star Wars saga. Although The Empire Strikes Back made clear his Force connection, his Sith affiliation was first revealed in The Phantom Menace.
In the original story treatment for Revenge of the Sith, Darth Sidious was intended to reveal that he created Anakin Skywalker through the midi-chlorians, thus making him, in some way, Anakin's father, although George Lucas ultimately cut this out of the film. Though this was dropped from the final cut, some hints that Darth Sidious and/or Darth Plagueis were responsible for Anakin's creation were included in the film.
Debates and discrepancies
One known debate about Darth Sidious is his real appearance. In Revenge of the Sith, during his duel against Mace Windu, upon being disarmed, Sidious uses Force lightning against the Jedi Master, but he deflects it back to him, causing his face to be disfigured and scarred in the process. Later on, when Anakin cuts Windu's hand to succor Sidious, he electrocuted Windu, knocking him off the window to his death, although the Force lightning doesn't disfigure Windu for the short period of time it is used.
However, previous to the Force lightning's appearance in Revenge of the Sith, when it first appeared in Return of the Jedi, Palpatine used it against Luke Skywalker, and it didn't disfigure or scar Skywalker.
Emperor Palpatine was not given a first name in any canonical or Star Wars Legends source until 2014, when the character's first name—Sheev—was revealed in the canon novel Tarkin by author James Luceno. However, according to Luceno in an interview with StarWars.com, the name was reportedly created by George Lucas for the Star Wars: Underworld TV show that he planned to make before budget constraints, his semi-retirement and Lucasfilm Ltd.'s buyout by The Walt Disney Company prevented him to do so.
In a question and answer session for The Clone Wars: The Lost Missions, Dave Filoni stated that Sidious had Darth Maul and Count Dooku as apprentices at the same time. However, Sidious's biography gallery in the Databank establishes that he recruited Dooku into the Sith during his time as Supreme Chancellor. This slide of the biography gallery comes after the slides that cover the story of Star Wars: Episode I The Phantom Menace. As Maul was thought to be killed during this movie, Dooku would have therefore joined the Sith after Maul. This article assumes this version of the timeline is correct.
In the non-canon LEGO Star Wars: The Freemaker Adventures, Darth Sidious was voiced by Trevor Devall. In the first season, Sidious and Darth Vader learned about the history of a powerful lightsaber called the Kyber Saber, which was made out of several kyber crystals. However, the Jedi Master who crafted the sword had deemed it too dangerous and destroyed the lightsaber before scattering all of the crystals throughout the galaxy. Seeking to destroy the galaxy in one blast, Darth Sidious attempted to collect all of the crystals. He and Vader dispatched the Sith agent Naare to recover the Kyber Saber crystals. However, Naare's mission was complicated by her encounter with the Force-sensitive Rowan Freemaker and his family. In an attempt to gain the crystals, Naare pretended to be a Jedi and offered to train him in the ways of the Force. Despite Sidious' efforts, the Sith Lord failed to take the Kyber Saber from Rowan, who managed to destroy the weapon.