- Padmé's death is attributed in the film to her "losing the will to live", but this was unsatisfying enough to prompt several alternate theories.
- Several have interpreted Padmé's cause of death not simply as her losing the will to live, but as the result of internal injuries from her being Force Choked (an explanation that Matt Stover used in his novelization).
- Some have also suggested that Palpatine used Sith sorcery to steal Padmé's life-force and give it to Vader, thereby killing two birds with one stone; Vader survives injuries that otherwise would've killed him, but is even more broken by his wife's death and so will serve his master obediently. This would also mean Palpatine wasn't technically lying to Vader that he'd killed Padmé - the very reason Vader lived is because she died. Since The Rise of Skywalker shows that it is possible to drain life via the Force, the speculations have only been strengthened.
- It's also been suggested that Anakin was unknowingly using the Dark Side to drain her energy to keep himself alive. She didn't just lose her will to live; her husband stole it from her.
- There's an ongoing debate among fans about how justified the Jedi actually were in attempting a coup, simply because one Jedi said the Chancellor was a Sith. It usually comes down not to what Palpatine did, but what they had evidence of him doing (which was nothing, except being a Sith, and the only evidence that they did have was one man's testimony.) Some people even interpret his arrest as "you're a different religion than us! You're under arrest!".note This debate does overlook the fact that they were considering arresting him before they found out he was Sith, since he was consolidating too much power with very questionable legality even though the war (which he was using as an excuse for this) was clearly ending, not to mention they knew for years that the Sith were responsible for the blockade of Naboo, the death of Qui-Gon Jinn and plunging the galaxy into war in the first place, plus the Sith were historically responsible for millennia of atrocities, conflict, slavery and death, so it's not quite as simple as "you are a different religion than us!" Additionally, it is heavily implied—and confirmed in both the Darth Bane trilogy and The Rise of Skywalker—that the Sith religion is (understandably) criminalized, much like fascist organizations, especially neo-Nazi groups, are in many European countries (though Palpatine claims in Stover's novelization that merely being a Sith is not illegal). However, it is debatable whether the Jedi have the right to arrest anyone, let alone depose a democratically elected leader through violence.
- Many like to attribute many of the poor decisions taken by many characters as either idiocy, arrogance, or plain bad writing. But there is an idea, implied in the movie and floating in the novel, that the dark side is influencing everyone in a bad way, especially force sensitive people like the Jedi. Considering they have been fighting a devastating war for the last four years, in which not only comrades and soldiers, but uncountable beings have died, a war they were not prepared for, forcing them to take morally grey and dirtier actions, plus with the Dark Lord of the Sith being the leader of both sides (and the power of the dark side increasing with every day, plus Palpatine's prodigious skills of manipulation and mind control/influence), it makes sense to think the emotional and psychological state of many characters (Anakin and Windu being the most prominent, as the two Jedi more connected to the dark side) is profoundly deteriorated. It would explain the rampant paranoia among the Jedi, like Windu distrusting Anakin, to which even Yoda falls for in a way (while they were justified in distrusting Palpatine, their treatment of Anakin gives a lot to be desired); Anakin being consumed by distrust too thanks to the visions, this, and Palpatine whispering in his ear. It would also explain the rash, impulsive and nonsensical decisions, like Windu jumping to arrest Palpatine without taking more steps to be prepared, or Anakin trusting Palpatine at all after he reveals his identity (while he has a close relationship, the fact he finds out he is a Sith Lord should throw through the window (no pun intended) any trust he could have on him, if he could think straight for a second, visions and Darth Plagueis be damned), or going to rescue Palpatine. Or even worse, when Windu has Palpatine at his mercy. Going straight to the kill, while practical in the large scheme of things, was still an impulsive and badly thought decision, moreso having Anakin acting so desperately. Two minutes of clear talk might have brought both to their senses, and Sidious could have been arrested, or killed, but with both agreeing. And after Windu dies (because of a really long swing instead of a quick stab), Anakin changing sides to Sidious. At that point, it should be more than clear Sidious is using his powers to fuck with Anakin's mind. The only character who seems to be out of the influence of the dark side and keep a clear head is Obi-Wan, who keeps a clear head most of the time; maybe Yoda and Padme too to a lesser extent. It is interesting to see the other two movies, where everyone seemed to have their heads way more clear and relaxed.
- A lot of fans have noted the hypocrisy in the actions of the other Jedi in this episode and argued that the Jedi had become corrupt and misguided by the end of the Clone Wars, something that the Jedi Council themselves are worried of and discuss in a few scenes. A popular (though jossed) fan theory posits that Anakin's role as The Chosen One was to "bring balance to the Force" by wiping out both the Sith and the dogmatic, power-hungry and out-of-touch Jedi Order so it could be rebuilt from scratch.
- The scene where Anakin executes Count Dooku also spurs debate over why he remained silent instead of begging for his life (which was originally planned, but Christopher Lee argued that it should be removed because it was undignified and out of character) or using his final moments to tell Anakin that Palpatine was a Sith Lord, in retribution for Palpatine betraying him. It's possible he said nothing just because he was shocked and frightened, but some more fanciful theories hold that Palpatine used some kind of subtle mind control to keep him from talking.
- Did Mace Windu outright win over Palpatine? Or did Palpatine take a dive and lost purposefully in a gambit to win Anakin over to his side? Or did Palpatine's plan to take a dive go so well that Mace could've actually killed him if Anakin didn't step in? For what it's worth, George Lucas states in the DVD commentary that Mace won fair and square, and Matt Stover's novelization agrees, though notes they were evenly matched until Anakin returned, which distracted Palpatine long enough for Mace to hit Palpatine's lightsaber hilt.
- Was Palpatine really disfigured by the Force Lightning, as he states? Or was his "deformed" face his true appearance all along, that he masked with Sith Alchemy, and the Force Lightning merely destroyed the mask? The second makes more sense. No one else attacked by lighting has shown any kind of deformities, and it really fits with Sidious' character, making his Palpatine's face a mask. George Lucas sort of confirmed it.
- Some have taken Obi-Wan immediately going to Padmé to find out Anakin's location to mean that he always knew about their relationship, but chose to keep quiet about it. The novelization outright confirms this to be the case, further backed up by The Clone Wars.
- More than a few people debate or operate under the idea that Anakin's visions in this film were being deliberately set up by Palpatine to make him change sides. As you might suspect, this is usually in conjunction with nicer interpretations of Anakin.
- Padme. She's obviously extremely upset that her husband has gone down the deep end, but while she is clearly in a lot of pain, she was quite firm about not joining Anakin to the dark side and explicitly tells him that she will "not follow him down this path".
- A lot of people see the Jedi Order as being cold, harsh, and unconnected to any emotions. Others see Yoda as genuinely trying to connect with Anakin, and giving him good advice (which is echoed by many real life religions) about letting go of loss, but tragically unable to relate. This is a very contentious issue, so we'll leave it at that.
- Similarly, the Jedi Council refusing to grant Anakin the rank of Master. Is it a cruel political move, or is it justified given that, while Anakin is immensely powerful, he lacks self-discipline (his immediate reaction is to throw a temper tantrum).
- There is even some discussion on how justified Palpatine is with his plans to destroy the Jedi Order and overthrow the Republic. In the novelization, Palpatine frequently cites how the Jedi way is not the only way and that a lot of the methods used by the Jedi are questionable at best and morally bankrupt at worst. Taking children and indoctrinating them to suppress their emotions and desires, letting disputes occur or not occur on the grounds of the "will of the Force," not allowing the Jedi to follow their passions and maintaining the status quo of the society of the Republic without recognizing the corruption and unrest that occurs without the Jedi even realizing it. Granted, Palpatine IS a form of corruption in that he is a Sith Lord taking over an intergalatic government but the points he bring up do seem reasonable even if he may not have selfless reasons for his actions. Furthermore, the society set up by the Republic, when later restored with the defeat of the Empire, clearly doesn't last very long once the First Order prepares to reconquer the galaxy. With this knowledge in mind, Palpatine's logic for conquering the galaxy to maintain a sort of forced peace has at least a modicum of credibility.
- There are also points of how caring Palpatine is about Anakin. Does he truly care for Anakin as a friend? Points against this include how he is manipulating Anakin's grief, how he lied to him about his true persona for a very long time, how he forces Anakin to do terrible things in the name of the Empire and how he ultimately leads him towards the path of Darth Vader where everyone he loves is either transformed into an enemy or killed. Points for this include how he allows Anakin to indulge his true thoughts and feelings to him in a way Anakin didn't with Obi-Wan, how he allows Anakin to be more human in chasing his goals instead of having to follow the Jedi dogma and how Palpatine didn't really kill Padme as it was instead Anakin doing this relationship breakup by himself. Furthermore, Palpatine seems to recognize that Anakin could grow stronger than himself and that he could very well kill him in the process. Despite this, Palpatine recruited him anyway. Leaves lots of room for how genuine his friendship with Anakin is.
- "The Great Tragedy of Darth Plagueis the Wise" gave rise to a fan theory that Darth Plagueis's experiments with using the Force to create life were responsible for Anakin's virgin birth—which, given the timing, meant that Plagueis was almost certainly Palpatine's unnamed predecessor as Dark Lord of the Sith. However, this relies entirely on the assumption that Palpatine was telling the truth, rather than that he made the whole thing up as bait for Anakin. James Luceno's Star Wars Legends novel Darth Plagueis uses a variation on the theory: the Force impregnated Shmi Skywalker as a reaction to Plagueis tampering with it for his immortality experiments. The Disney-era novel Queen's Peril went the other direction: Palpatine was the Sith Master throughout the film series, and Darth Plagueis is back to being a question mark.
Alternative Character Interpretation / Revenge of the Sith