- "The Emperor is not as forgiving as I am."
- ―Darth Vader
The Galactic Emperor, also referred to as the Imperial Emperor, the Imperial king, the Sith Emperor, or simply the Emperor, was the sovereign ruler of the Galactic Empire during the Imperial Era of galactic history. Despite the existence of the Imperial Senate, the last remnant of the Galactic Republic in the New Order, the Emperor was invested with supreme authority over both the Imperial government and the Imperial Military. As such, the Emperor had free rein to govern the galaxy as he so desired, from replacing senators with Moffs as regional governors, to disbanding the Senate altogether.
In the aftermath of the Clone Wars, the democratic Republic was transformed into an authoritarian state by Supreme Chancellor Sheev Palpatine, who anointed himself Galactic Emperor in 19 BBY. Unbeknownst to his subjects, Palpatine was in fact the Sith Lord Darth Sidious who conspired to take over the Republic and destroy the Jedi Order. Sidious' reign brought the galaxy under the rule of the Sith, which lasted for a generation until the Emperor was killed in 4 ABY. Fleet Admiral Gallius Rax seized power in the ensuing crisis, becoming Emperor in all but name while Grand Vizier Mas Amedda was forced to serve as a figurehead for Rax's regime. After Rax's demise, the Galactic Civil War concluded with the Empire's capitulation to the New Republic in 5 ABY.
During the New Republic Era, the First Order and the Sith Eternal emerged from the Unknown Regions as offshoots of the Emperor's Contingency. Despite his own death, Sidious returned to oversee the final stage of his plan to create a Sith Empire that would rule the galaxy forever. In his weakened state, he had considered Supreme Leader Kylo Ren and the Jedi apprentice Rey as potential successors, but after discovering their nature as a dyad in the Force, Sidious siphoned the energy of their Force-bond to regain his full strength as the one true Emperor. Before he could unleash his fleet against the galaxy, Sidious was destroyed by Rey with the help of all the Jedi who were one with the Force. As a result of the Resistance victory, the people of the galaxy were inspired to rise up against the military junta.
- "The Imperial Senate will no longer be of any concern to us. I've just received word that the Emperor has dissolved the council permanently. The last remnants of the Old Republic have been swept away."
- ―Wilhuff Tarkin
The Galactic Emperor was the sovereign ruler of the first Galactic Empire. Replacing the office of Supreme Chancellor, which had been empowered with wartime powers by the Galactic Senate during the last years of the Old Republic, the Emperor was the ultimate authority in political and military affairs of state. As a result, the Emperor had the power to unilaterally implement policies that affected the Empire as a whole—from directing the Imperial Military to subjugate entire planets, to dissolving the Imperial Senate and transferring their administrative responsibilities to a cadre of regional governors. To that end the Emperor could delegate power to others, allowing him to rule the Empire through subordinates who served as an extension of his authority. The Emperor's power over the galaxy remained relatively unchallenged until the rise of the Alliance to Restore the Republic, an organization that was committed to the restoration of democracy.
- "As Emperor, I reigned over the galaxy with unquestioned authority while Lord Vader administered my unrelenting justice. Any rebels musguided enough to stand in opposition to my rule were shown no mercy."
- ―Darth Sidious
At the conclusion of the Clone Wars in the year 19 BBY, the Galactic Republic which had existed for a millennium was transformed into the Galactic Empire by proclamation of Sheev Palpatine, the last Supreme Chancellor of the Republic. In secret, Palpatine was Darth Sidious—the Dark Lord of the Sith who orchestrated the galaxy-wide civil war between the Republic and Confederacy of Independent Systems, as well as the subsequent purge of the Jedi Order. Without the Jedi to oppose him, Sidious exercised his control over the Galactic Senate by supplanting a thousand years of democracy with the absolute rule of the Sith through himself as Galactic Emperor. Having attained ultimate power, the Emperor had no further use in cultivating two identities and although he would rule the galaxy through fear and tyranny as "Emperor Palpatine," he was henceforth Darth Sidious in thought and action.
Sidious remained relatively unchallenged as Emperor for two decades. In that time he consolidated his reign over the galaxy by eliminating rivals and directing the Imperial Military to conquer planets beyond the Republic's frontier. With the dissolution of the Imperial Senate in 0 BBY, Grand Moff Wilhuff Tarkin and the regional governors were free to exercise full authority over their territories on the Emperor's behalf. However, as a result of Sidious' efforts to subjugate the galaxy, the scattered cells of a growing rebellion gradually coalesced into the Rebel Alliance—a resistance movement determined to overthrow the Emperor and restore democracy.
Throughout most of the Galactic Civil War, Sidious directed his attention to destroying the rebellion that opposed his rule as Galactic Emperor. This goal culminated in a plot to lure the Alliance forces into a trap at Endor. The plan ultimately backfired however, resulting in the Emperor's death and the Empire's defeat at the Battle of Endor in 4 ABY. In the aftermath of the battle, the remnants of the Imperial Navy regrouped to determine the next Emperor. However, no clear chain of succession was evident, since Sidious had no known family and was always supposed to remain in power.
The Emperor inspired Sith cultists across the galaxy, notwithstanding his legacy as a reviled tyrant whose death was celebrated from the Core Worlds to the Outer Rim Territories. While the Sith Eternal operated mainly from Exegol, a legendary Sith world in the Unknown Regions another Sith cult, the Acolytes of the Beyond, remained in the known galaxy. Under the leadership of Yupe Tashu, one of the Emperor's advisers, the Acolytes scoured the galaxy seeking to collect Sith artifacts. One of their members was Ochi, a trained Jedi killer who served the Emperor as his personal assassin.
- "I am the head of the Galactic Empire. I am its pinnacle!"
- ―Mas Amedda
As head of the Imperial Ruling Council, Grand Vizier Mas Amedda effectively became the proxy Emperor in 4 ABY. Amedda had served the Emperor for years; he was a politician in the Old Republic, serving as Vice Chair to Finis Valorum and Sheev Palpatine, in turn, before the Empire rose to power. Amedda was one of the few beings in the galaxy who knew that Palpatine was a Sith Lord. The self-proclaimed Emperor rewarded Amedda for his loyalty, allowing the Chagrian to remain at his side as Grand Vizier in the New Order.
While Amedda held power during the Emperor's reign, he did not succeed in consolidating his role as the Emperor's successor. As such, his power was largely limited to Coruscant where entire sectors of Imperial City rebelled against his reign, causing Amedda to become entrenched and trapped in government districts. His request for assistance was refused by the Fleet Admiral Gallius Rax, who did not allow Grand Admiral Rae Sloane to send reinforcements to the "proxy Emperor" Amedda as the throneworld had no place in his vision of a renewed Empire and had effectively took Amedda's powers and influence from him in 5 ABY.
In an act of despair and desperation, Amedda attempted to surrender himself into the custody of the New Republic during a secret meeting on Velusia, believing there was no greater target or prize than himself. However, his offer was declined by Chancellor Mon Mothma and Princess Leia Organa, both of whom regarded Amedda not as an Emperor but rather an administrator. As such, they demanded that he find a way to regain his power in order to sign the the Galactic Empire's full surrender. With his reign effectively over upon returning to Coruscant, Amedda considered suicide by jumping off of one of the Imperial Palace's balconies. Instead, he and Sloane forged an alliance to undermine Rax and his cult-like ideas for the Empire by conducting an investigation into his past and preserving the New Order. By assisting the Grand Admiral, Amedda hoped to secure his place under Sloane's Empire.
- "I only serve Palpatine."
"Emperor Rax serves Palpatine, too."
- ―Yupe Tashu and Windom Traducier
In contrast to Amedda, who had lost control over most of Coruscant after his request for reinforcements was denied, Gallius Rax successfully plotted his own rise to power following Palpatine's demise. However, he also continued to serve the late Emperor according to the Imperial agent Windom Traducier. Instead of openly ruling the galaxy, Rax sought to govern the Empire as the head of a new ruling body, the Shadow Council, while supporting a figurehead as Palpatine's official successor.
Although Rax was Emperor in effect, according to Traducier who referred to him as "Emperor Rax," he rejected the title and—in keeping with his intention to rule the Empire as the power behind the throne—created the position of Counselor to the Empire for himself. Officially, he continued to recognize Amedda as the leader of the Empire, but in reality Rax had the Chagrian imprisoned within the Imperial Palace. In secret, Rax planned to eliminate the Shadow Council on Jakku with the exception of Commandant Brendol Hux, who was essential to his plans. Rax ultimately perished in the Battle of Jakku, however; and through the signing of the Galactic Concordance, the Galactic Civil War ended with the remnants of the Empire capitulating to the New Republic.
Rise of the Supreme Leader
- "Kill the girl! End the Jedi, and become what your grandfather, Vader, could not. You will rule all the galaxy as the new Emperor."
- ―Darth Sidious, to Kylo Ren
Following the collapse of the Galactic Empire, a movement of Imperial officers, nobles, and technologists evolved into the First Order. A successor of the Empire in all but name, the First Order was formed in the Unknown Regions and originally consisted of Imperial personnel, including Grand Admiral Rae Sloane, General Brendol Hux, and General Enric Pryde. Despite Sloane's ambitions to rule a new Empire, she and other Imperial leaders were ultimately supplanted by Supreme Leader Snoke, an enigmatic humanoid alien who was strong with the dark side of the Force.
Unbeknownst to his own followers, Snoke was a strandcast—a bioengineered construct—from Exegol. His creator was Darth Sidious; reborn in a cloned body, the fallen Emperor made Snoke as his heir to the Contingency that ensured the Empire's destruction and rebirth as the First Order. In addition to his role as Sidious' proxy in power, Snoke was made to be the final test in the ascendancy of Kylo Ren. As the grandson of Darth Vader, Ren was the heir to the powerful bloodline of the Skywalker family. The Sith Eternal cultists designed Snoke to groom Ren into a worthy successor to the Sith legacy. By creating Snoke to ultimately die by Ren's hand, Sidious circumvented the Sith tradition in which an apprentice completed his training by killing the master.
Snoke possessed unlimited power through his self-appointed position as Supreme Leader; despite this, he made no effort to claim the old title of Emperor. He also had little interest in mundane matters, preferring to focus on spiritual matters instead of the affairs of state. He therefore delegated authority to his high-ranking subordinates, and allowed the members of High Command to control the First Order military in his name. Under his rule, a new generation of young, zealous leaders rose to power in the First Order, including Captain Phasma, General Armitage Hux and Kylo Ren. They controlled the First Order's new superweapon, Starkiller Base, as an unofficial triumvirate.
The New Republic sought to maintain peaceful relations with the Imperial remnants after reducing the Empire to a rump state, hemmed in by war reparations and disarmament treaties. Nevertheless, the New Republic's final years were consumed by the Cold War as a result of the First Order's rise to power. When the New Republic fell in the Hosnian Cataclysm of 34 ABY, the armed forces of the First Order deployed across the galaxy, no longer restrained by their facade as a territorial defense force. As the First Order moved to seize control of the major star systems, Supreme Leader Snoke personally oversaw the military's efforts to destroy the Resistance that continued to oppose him in spite of the New Republic's destruction. His flagship, the Mega-class Star Dreadnought Supremacy, was at the head of a fleet of Resurgent-class Star Destroyers that pursued the Resistance fleet in the wake of the Battle of Starkiller Base and the Battle of D'Qar.
It was during this time that Kylo Ren assassinated his master and became the new Supreme Leader. With Snoke's death, Ren was free to exert his dominance over the First Order leadership, using his dark side powers to torture Hux into recognizing his claim. Ren's immediate goal was to end the First Order-Resistance War, thereby allowing him to pursue his ambition of ruling the galaxy as the head of a new order. Despite remnants of the Resistance escaping from the First Order Army in the Battle of Crait, the First Order nonetheless conquered large swathes of territory under Supreme Leader Ren.
Ren consolidated his reign by suppressing dissent within the First Order and without. He also established the Supreme Council, an advisory board of the highest-ranking First Order officers to promote cooperation in their ranks while keeping them divided through rivalry so as to prevent them from uniting against him. Although Hux survived the accession of Ren, their rivalry ultimately cost the general much of his authority and influence. Hux had little power or independence under Ren's leadership; moreover, Ren favored Enric Pryde whom he promoted to the rank of Allegiant General. During the last days of the war, Ren used his closest followers, the Knights of Ren, as personal bodyguards.
Return of the Emperor
- "And now, the power of two restores the one true Emperor."
- ―Darth Sidious, to Ben Solo and Rey
The First Order relentlessly hunted the Resistance across the galaxy, using every resource at its disposal by order of Supreme Leader Kylo Ren. While Ren was determined to destroy his mother's movement for opposing him, his personal agenda was to secure his power as ruler of the First Order. Therefore, he appointed the task of overseeing the war to his subordinates, not wishing to be distracted by the few remaining remnants of the Resistance. Having overthrown his master, Ren's ultimate goal was to consolidate the galaxy under his rule as the new Galactic Emperor, unlike his grandfather Anakin Skywalker who aspired towards the power of immortality.
During the war, however, the Supreme Leader discovered that Darth Sidious had returned from the grave, plotting from the shadows on the hidden Sith world of Exegol. Ren also learned that Sidious was responsible for the creation of Snoke, whose entire existence was based around the sole purpose of corrupting the young Ben Solo. By killing his master and usurping control of the First Order, Ren had taken a critical step on his path to complete submission to the dark side. He was ultimately Sidious' heir to a new Sith Empire which would conquer the galaxy with a mighty armada—the Final Order—of Xyston-class Star Destroyers and an army of Sith troopers. Aware of Ren's desire to rule over a new, galaxy-wide Sith Empire, Sidious offered him the title of Emperor on the condition that he killed Rey, the last Jedi who was also the former Emperor's granddaughter. Ren ultimately accepted this mandate, and intended to restore the Sith to power as the new Emperor and Dark Lord of the Sith.
Ren's eventual return to the light undermined Sidious' plans for him. Having secured control of the First Order through Allegiant General Enric Pryde, Sidious turned his attention to preparing Rey as his sole successor. During the Battle of Exegol, Sidious encouraged her to take his throne as "Empress Palpatine." His efforts to turn Rey to the dark side of the Force failed, however, due to the intervention of the former Kylo Ren, who reclaimed his identity as Ben Solo. With both of his would-be heirs standing against them, Sidious attacked them through the dark side, but in doing so he discovered that they were a dyad in the Force. Draining the life force of their Force-bond to heal himself, Sidious announced his return as the one true Emperor.
As Sidious prepared to unleash the planet-killer warships of the Sith fleet upon the galaxy, Rey was able to rise up with the strength of all the Jedi backing her. Despite Sidious harnessing all the powers of the Sith in an effort to kill his granddaughter, Rey was able to vanquish the Emperor at the cost of her life, although she was later revived by Solo. With the Emperor's second death and the destruction of the Sith Eternal forces, the Sith fleet was never launched from Exegol. As a result, multiple planets across the galaxy began revolting against the military rule of the First Order.
Style of office
- "This is the Emperor's dream."
"Can't we just call him Palpatine—in private, I mean?"
- ―Galen Walton Erso and Lyra Erso
Majesty was an honorific style used by Darth Sidious during his reign as Galactic Emperor. In direct reference to the Emperor, it took on the form "Your Majesty." Other honorific styles applied to the Emperor were "Your Highness," "Your Eminence," and "His Grace." In the context of nonofficial, everyday conversations, Sidious was generally referred to as just "the Emperor," even between Imperial officers. At the beginning of his reign, clone troopers referred to him as "Sir" and "My Lord." Moff Wilhuff Tarkin once addressed the Emperor as "Your Excellency," which was Palpatine's honorific style as Supreme Chancellor.
Certain individuals had their own ways to address the Emperor. Lyra Erso still referred to the Emperor by his surname, Palpatine, in contrast to her husband, Doctor Galen Walton Erso, who used Sidious' title when speaking of him. As the Sith apprentice of Darth Sidious, Darth Vader addressed his Sith Master as "my master" or "master," a sign of their master–disciple relation in the dark arts of the Force. Vader would also use the possessive determiner "thy" instead of the more common "your," when inquiring his Master's will.
Following the Emperor's demise, his political right-hand, Grand Vizier Mas Amedda, was addressed as "Glorious leader of the Empire" by Counselor Gallius Rax. By then Amedda ruled in appearance only, Rax having assumed control of the Empire as its de facto leader.
Imperial Executive Building
The Emperor's office, located in the Imperial Executive Building on Coruscant, served as the Emperor's seat of power in the early days of his reign. The office suite served as his headquarters since his time as Supreme Chancellor. Although the Emperor still used it as an audience chamber, the office no longer had his desk and chairs save for the chair he used during his chancellery. The Emperor's Royal Guard was stationed in the office for the Emperor's security, just as they had been during Palpatine's chancellery.
Darth Sidious continued to rule the galaxy from Coruscant, now known as Imperial Center, after the Clone Wars. As Emperor, he established the Imperial Palace as his headquarters on the galactic capital. Prior to the Age of the Empire, the palace served as the Jedi Order's center of operations, known as the Jedi Temple. With the fall of the Jedi, however, the Emperor had the temple extensively renovated and repurposed to serve as his personal residence.
Though Coruscant remained the Empire's official capital, with the proxy Emperor Amedda remaining on the throneworld as a virtual prisoner in the Imperial Palace, Counselor Rax preferred ruling as Emperor in effect from his flagship, the Executor-class Star Dreadnought Ravager. During his reign, the warship contained a private upper garden for recreational purposes. It was thought to be the last surviving Super Star Destroyer in the Imperial Navy by the time of the Rebellion on Akiva, and was destroyed on Jakku during the final battle of the Galactic Civil War.
- "Find the Wayfinder, get to Exegol… And bring an end to the conflict once and for all."
- ―Rey, quoting Luke Skywalker's writings
The Sith Citadel was located on Exegol, one of the oldest Sith bastions dating back a thousand years before the fall of the Galactic Republic and the rise of the Empire—when the ancient Sith ruled the galaxy. A massive, forbidding citadel was also ancient in origin, filled with old, crumbling statuary. Serving as the base of the Sith Eternal cult, the citadel held many sinister secrets. Despite the Emperor's demise, his body was preserved and sustained deep within the citadel, which also housed several duplicates of the entity known as Snoke.
The citadel contained a throne room housing the Throne of the Sith. Opposite of the throne was an amphitheater capable of holding the many cultists who kept belief in the Sith religion alive. It was the site of both Sidious' restoration to power and his subsequent destruction. As neither Ben Solo nor Rey accepted the Dark Throne, Sidious claimed it for himself along with his old title of Emperor. With his destruction, however, much of the citadel was destroyed along with the throne room and the amphitheater.
Emperor's Royal Guard
- "The Emperor's personal protectors—handpicked from the very best of his forces. Out of millions of soldiers, they are unsurpassed."
- ―Korin Pers, on the Royal Guard
The Emperor's Royal Guard was an order of elite bodyguards charged with the duty of protecting the Galactic Emperor. Chosen from the very best of the Imperial Military, their loyalty and obedience to Emperor Palpatine was without question. Additionally, the Emperor was guarded by clone shock troopers of the Coruscant Guard before the cloning production on Kamino was shut down, after which the Emperor's security was provided mainly by Royal Guards and Imperial stormtroopers.
Royal Guards wielded force pikes, a staff-like weapon that had a vibro-edged head. Their uniforms consisted of crimson robes and armor, which included featureless scarlet masks that concealed the sentinels' identities.
The remnants of the Royal Guard continued to serve the Empire despite the Emperor's death, with several guardsmen rallying to Palpatine's potential successors such as Grand Admiral Rae Sloane and Fleet Admiral Gallius Rax. During the final months of the Galactic Civil War, Sloane's Royal Guards attacked and killed several New Republic Senate Guards at the peace summit on Chandrila. At the Battle of Jakku, a Royal Guard served in the ranks of Rax's faction and was ultimately killed while fighting against the forces of the New Republic.
- "The might of the Final Order will soon be ready."
- ―Darth Sidious
The Sovereign Protectors were the Emperor's elite bodyguards during the rise of the Sith Eternal. Drawn from the ranks of the elite Sith troopers, only the best were elevated to the status of Sovereign Protector. In addition to their crimson armor, Sovereign Protectors wore a scarlet cape and were stationed throughout the Sith Citadel on Exegol.
Like the Sith troopers in general, Sovereign Protectors were the culmination of generations of work in which the Empire sought to strip its soldiers of their individuality, replacing it with fervent loyalty to the Emperor's will. During the Clone Wars, Sidious was dismayed to discover that the genetically engineered clone troopers still exhibited disconcerting amounts of free will despite numerous alterations to their genetic structure. Though the Sovereign Protectors were not clones, they had to undergo flash-imprinting and loyalty conditioning that were built upon the Kaminoan procedures of earlier generations. As a result, Sovereign Protectors were even more loyal and machine-like than the stormtroopers who trained almost since birth under the First Order.
During the Resistance attack on the Sith Eternal's Final Order fleet, the Sovereign Protectors were unable to compensate for the Force powers of Solo and Rey, both of whom destroyed the Emperor's elite warriors.
List of Galactic Emperors
|19 BBY–4 ABY|
|4 ABY–5 ABY|
|5 ABY||Gallius Rax|
Behind the scenes
The title of Emperor was first mentioned in the novelization of A New Hope, ghostwritten by Alan Dean Foster and published in 1976, but this version of the story of the film is now considered part of the continuity of Star Wars Legends and canon only to the degree that its events align with those depicted in the film. A number of additional Emperors were depicted in other now non-canon Legends material.
- Disney Infinity 3.0
- Star Wars Epic Yarns: The Empire Strikes Back
- Star Wars Epic Yarns: Return of the Jedi
- LEGO Star Wars: The Freemaker Adventures
- LEGO Star Wars: Droid Tales Episodes I-III (Appears as a ghost or spirit)
- LEGO Star Wars: The Force Awakens
- Star Wars: Galaxy of Heroes
- The LEGO Star Wars Holiday Special
- LEGO Star Wars: The Skywalker Saga