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Emperor Sheev Palpatine / Darth Sidious
https://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/emperor_sidious_7.png
"Strike Me Down with All of Your Hatred, and your journey towards the dark side will be complete."
https://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/palpatine_wosw.png
"One shudders to think where the galaxy would be without the Jedi."

Species: Human (Naboo)

Homeworld: Naboo

Portrayed by: Ian McDiarmid, Marjorie Eatonnote  (The Empire Strikes Backnote )
Voiced by: Clive Revill (The Empire Strikes Backnote ), Ian Abercrombie (The Clone Warsnote ), Tim Curry (The Clone Warsnote ), Sam Witwer (Rebelsnote , Battlefront reboot series), Ian McDiarmid (Rebelsnote , The Clone Warsnote )
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Darth Sidious was a Force-sensitive human male who was the Dark Lord of the Sith and founded the Galactic Empire after toppling its predecessor the Galactic Republic from within. He led a double life as the kindly Senator Sheev Palpatine from Naboo, masterminded his rise to Supreme Chancellor of the Republic, the destruction of the Jedi Order, and the dissolution of the Galactic Republic after a millennium and the establishment of a new Galactic Sith Empire with himself as its tyrannical, fear-mongering ruler.

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    A-F 
  • Abusive Parent:
    • He adopted and raised Darth Maul, if by "adopted and raised" you mean "kidnapped the poor kid, tormented him, and conditioned him to become a monster".
    • He also served as a father figure to Anakin Skywalker and shaped him into a monster as well; unlike with Maul, though, Palpatine was less obviously abusive to Anakin, opting instead to alienate him from his other loved ones, manipulate him or just straight-up lie to him to get what he wants from him. Dark Lord of The Sith implies Anakin's seemingly immaculate birth was actually the result of Palpatine manipulating the force to impregnate Shmi, and as such, Palpatine could be viewed as Anakin's literal father as well.
    • He is also this to his unnamed biological son, the father of Rey. Considering that his only son dropped his name and is implied to have chosen a life of scavenging and poverty rather than acknowledge his Palpatine lineage, we could only guess just how horrible he was as an actual father. And then he has his son killed when he refuses to give up Rey's location.
  • The Ace: A villainous example. Palpatine is a master at virtually everything he puts his mind to, including politics, war strategy, swordsmanship, and wielding the Force, and old age hasn't slowed him down one bit. He uses all of his considerable talent to dominate the galaxy.
  • Adaptational Intelligence: Regarding the Jedi Purge; in Legends he stops treating the surviving Jedi as a threat after the death of the Dark Woman, regarding the destruction of the Order as complete, with Vader having to take the initiative to hunt down and kill many of those that were left. In canon, on the other hand, he never stops trying to have the Jedi hunted down and exterminated, creating the Inquisitorius and giving them to Vader specifically for the task.
  • Adaptational Late Appearance: Or rather, Adaptational Late Reappearance. In Legends, the resurrected Palpatine resurfaced around 10 ABY. In canon, he doesn't resurface until 35 ABY.
  • Adaptational Nice Guy:
    • A very downplayed example, but unlike in Legends, the relationship between Sidious and Vader is one of deeply twisted affection rather than mutual animosity and distrust. In Legends, Sidious took every opportunity to psychologically (and sometimes physically) torture Vader. In canon, Sidious is much more subdued. It even extends to Vader's suit; in Legends, Sidious deliberately made Vader's armor with painfully outdated technology (thus keeping his apprentice in constant pain) as a means of punishing Vader for his failure on Mustafar. In the Canon, there is no mention of this being the case, and Sidious even gives Vader permission to fully modify the suit in any way he sees fit. Another point is that Palpatine kept Vader's training completely stagnant in Legends, but in the Canon, he's often offering him advice and teaching him Sith philosophy. That being said, it's implied their canon relationship quietly degenerated into typical Sith treachery toward the end of their lives. Vader openly tried to recruit Luke into overthrowing Palpatine, something Palpatine was aware of and tried to do something similar with. Palpatine's attempt at this would cause Vader to lose any respect left for his master and kill them both.
      • This is completely subverted when Vader fails him in recruiting Luke and begins digging too deeply into Padme's death: Palpatine flat out tells Vader he's an easily replaced tool and brutally tortures and cripples him before leaving him for dead with his only hope of survival being to somehow piece himself together without the Force or die. Granted, in this case, said failure and disobedience is a threat to the dark side's hold over Vader and it was also during the later days of their lives.
    • In Legends, he was completely opposed to the idea of others ruling in his stead, never even pretending to broach the subject. In canon (as presented in The Rise of Skywalker), he attempts to manipulate his granddaughter into becoming a new Sith Empress and even acting somewhat grandfatherly towards her. Granted, he never actually intended to let Rey be the one to rule.
  • Adaptational Wimp: In Legends, by the time of the New Republic, Palpatine was essentially a Physical God, having become an outright Humanoid Abomination at the level of Darth Nihilus without any of the latter's drawbacks. He possessed the power to tear time and space itself apart, devoured entire planets to sustain himself, distorted reality with his very existence, and eventually could not be contained by death conventionally. Here, he retains only a fraction of those same powers and is quite mortal, with his second death being his last. That said, in canon, Force powers have been dramatically scaled down to more closely match the movies, and his creation of a massive lightning storm in The Rise of Skywalker is the most impressive feat of raw Force power seen in canon, showing he is still far and away the strongest Dark Side wielder seen.
  • Admiring the Abomination: When he sees the burnt form of Darth Vader. Rather than his expected reaction of disappointment and anger, he instead sounds almost impressed that his apprentice managed to survive such sheer physical trauma. After ordering for a medical capsule (thereby saving Vader's life), Palpatine then kneels down before his wounded apprentice and touches his forehead in an expression of apparent pity.
  • All According to Plan: Everything he does, he's planned for. He even tells this to Luke. The only time that something doesn't go to his plan is when Luke proves to be incorruptible and shortly thereafter when Vader saves his son (which is the instance that leads to his demise).
  • All Take and No Give: He spends the entirety of Revenge of the Sith playing on Darth Vader's insecurities and promising to reward him for his loyalty. By the end of the film, Vader has killed off the majority of his master's opponents with the remainder being cowed into silence and his hopes of saving Padme's life are dashed when Vader crushes her throat in a fit of rage, leaving Sidious in a position where he never has to uphold his end of the bargain.
  • All There in the Manual:
    • In The Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi, the Emperor was only identified by his title (or in the case of Darth Vader in private, "Master"). The name "Palpatine" originates from the non-canon novelization of A New Hope where it was given as the name of the first emperor, who was later assassinated. The first use of "Palpatine" in the Canon to identify the character who becomes the Emperor is in The Phantom Menace, where he was a senator.
    • His first name was a mystery for decades (and the subject of much speculations from fans) before being revealed as "Sheev" in the novel Tarkin.
  • Ambiguously Human: He looks more reptile than man in the Original Trilogy, which makes him stand from everyone else in the Empire, including Darth Vader. And while the Prequel Trilogy revealed that Palpatine used to look like a regular human before being disfigured in his duel against Mace Windu, Ian McDiarmid plays the character as if he's wearing a human mask with the scarred face being his real face all this time.
  • Ambiguous Situation:
    • His duel with Windu leaves it unclear how much advantage either of them had towards the end, before Anakin intruded; depending on who you ask, either Windu had Sidious against the ropes, or Sidious played along to end up in a vulnerable position in order to attract Anakin to his side. The choreography of the bout implies that both theories have a point of truth, as while Sidious clearly played up his battle wear after his disfigurement (he is certainly not "too weak" after all, and even does a visible Eye Take towards Anakin to see his reaction during his pleads), he also seemed to be trying his best against Windu before being disarmed and cornered in the window (as he clearly loses his cool along with his lightsaber even before Anakin entered the room). If it is the case, it shows how much of a master manipulator Palpatine is, because it illustrates a seamless usage of both slow planning and improvisation on the fly in order to get out of an unexpectedly risky situation: right afterward, once the only element that kept him cornered and threatened - Windu's lightsaber - goes literally out the window, Sidious capitalizes on the chance with unlimited power.
    • Related to the fight with Windu, it's uncertain whether getting his Force lightning reflected back into his face is the true cause of his hideous appearance (which is the explanation he uses in-universe), or if that was his true face all along which he had masked with some kind of Force technique that became undone during the lightning. After all, physical decay from use of the Dark Side is common among Sith, and Palpatine is the worst of them. Force lightning also hasn't had the same effect on others struck with it, but that could be a difference in the power and duration of the attack. However, official sources lean towards the lightning having scarred him.
  • Ambition Is Evil: Along with the Sith legacy he embraced, his ambition to rule the galaxy made him the ultimate evil.
  • ...And That Little Boy Was Me: It's heavily implied in Revenge of the Sith (and confirmed in Tarkin) that Darth Sidious served under (and killed) the death-conquering Sith Lord Darth Plagueis, whose story he tells Anakin to sway him to his side. Palpatine never tells Anakin that he was the apprentice in question, though, or how he could possibly know this information.
  • And There Was Much Rejoicing: The Updated Rereleases of Return of the Jedi shows several major planets (Bespin, Tatooine, Naboo, and Coruscant (where a mob actually tears down a statue of him) celebrating his death alongside the Rebel Alliance on Endor. As it turns out, the planets with a significant Imperial presence did not take too kindly to this.
  • The Anti-Christ: Not only is he immensely powerful, but he also manages to exterminate the Jedi and set himself up as ruler of the galaxy through years of plotting and manipulations. George Lucas even outright says Palpatine is Star Wars' equivalent of the Devil, and his actor (Ian McDiarmid) argues that he's worse than that.
    Ian McDiarmid: Everything he does is an act of pure hypocrisy, and that's interesting to play. I suppose it's rather like playing Iago. All the characters in the play—including Othello until the end—think that 'Honest Iago' is a decent guy doing his job, and he's quite liked. But at the same time there's a tremendous evil subconscious in operation. There's a moment in one scene of the new film where tears almost appear in his eye. These are crocodile tears, but for all those in the movie, and perhaps watching the movie itself, they'll see he is apparently moved—and of course, he is. He can just do it. He can, as it were, turn it on. And I suppose for him, it's also a bit of a turn-on; the pure exercise of power is what he's all about. That's the only thing he's interested in and the only thing that can satisfy him, which makes him completely fascinating to play, because it is an evil soul. He is more evil than the Devil. At least Satan fell; he has a history, and it's one of revenge.
  • Arch-Enemy:
    • To both the Jedi and the Rebel Alliance and their founders/main players as a whole (bonus points for the two founders of the Alliance, Mon Mothma and Bail Organa, being present in the Senate when Palpatine founds the Empire); the Alliance's whole war with the Empire is specifically to dethrone Palpatine once and for all. In this end, he becomes a personal enemy of Luke in the very bitter end before his death.
    • Yoda, being the most seasoned of the Jedi Order, is this by Revenge of the Sith. Their battle at the end of the film is one of the prequel trio's most anticipated moments, next to the Anakin/Obi-Wan duel. Unlike that fight, however, theirs is a draw, although Yoda gets the upper hand more often.
    • Sidious eventually displaces Obi-Wain Kenobi himself as Maul's greatest enemy. While Palpatine does not quite hold his ex-apprentice in such high regard, he has personally stepped out twice in the flesh to stop him from threatening his plans.
    • Anakin/Vader is this, in the big scheme of things. He destroyed Anakin's life, making him Vader, and Vader pays him back killing them both at the end.
  • The Archmage: Palpatine is undoubtedly the most purely powerful user of the Force on either side in canon, from his use of Dark Side Force powers to his Sith magic.
  • Art-Shifted Sequel: Palpatine's features in Rebels are softer and less exaggerated than his appearance in The Clone Wars (at least when he's pretending to be the 'good guy' to manipulate Ezra).
  • Authority Equals Asskicking:
    • The guy managed to follow the Rule of Two with three of his apprentices. Most Sith Lords only get to follow it with one. Being Emperor warrants having the strength to back it up.
    • Both the Master of the Sith Order and totalitarian Emperor of the Galaxy, he's also regarded as the most powerful Sith Lord in history, and among the strongest Force users to have ever lived.
  • Awesome McCoolname: Darth Sidious, which is based off the word insidious, which can appropriately mean "causing harm in a way that is gradual or not easily noticed".
  • Ax-Crazy: For obvious reasons, he's very good at hiding it. He has the time of his life beating the everloving snot out of Darth Maul and Savage Opress, and when killing Windu even goes into outright Laughing Mad territory while frying the guy alive with Force lightning and pitching him out a window to his death. This part of his personality is on full display come The Rise of Skywalker, with his Final Order fleet and decision that the first use of his rejuvenated body should be to obliterate the entire allied forces of the Resistance personally.
  • Back for the Dead: Palpatine returns from the grave after being killed on the second Death Star. However, how exactly he achieved this here was unknown; the only real hints are that it has something to do with the Dark Side, and may be "dark science" that only the Sith knew (which the novelization later confirms as being related to cloning: Palpatine's spirit possessed an inadequately cloned body, one that is unable to sustain his immense dark power). Then he's killed off, hopefully for real this time, by Rey.
  • Badass Boast:
    • When Nute Gunray is unsure if Darth Sidious can do something legally or not, he responds with "I will make it legal."
    • "I AM the Senate!"
    • "If you will not be turned, you will be destroyed!" Cue the Force Lightning to back up said claim.
    • A relatively rare example of giving one on behalf of somebody else in Revenge of the Sith: "You will not stop me. Darth Vader will become more powerful than either of us!"
    • "Stand together, die together!"
    • "Do not fear their feeble attack, my faithful. NOTHING WILL STOP THE RETURN OF THE SITH!"
    • "YOU ARE NOTHING! A scavenger girl is no match for the power in me... I am ALL the SITH!"
  • Badass Bookworm: Palpatine is a very intelligent man, oftentimes getting through conflict simply by manipulating others rather than taking action himself. But when he does take action, things aren't pretty. He's also extremely well-versed in the lore of the dark side.
  • Badass Bystander: He is content to observe Darth Maul from afar during the Clone Wars, at least until Maul starts to become a threat to his plans. Then, he deals with the threat personally.
  • Badass in Charge: During the Clone Wars, he had both sides reporting to him, one way or another. When he became the first Galactic Emperor, he only became more powerful and dangerous.
  • Badass Long Robe: He is decked out in full Sith Master garb when he goes to fight Darth Maul and Savage Opress and after his identity as Sidious is exposed to the Jedi.
  • Bad Boss: Vader says in Return of the Jedi that the Emperor is "not as forgiving as I am", which — given Vader's track record for killing officers who disappoint him — helps puts in perspective just how horrible his master really is. It also extends to his apprentices, as is the case of Count Dooku in this quote
    Darth Sidious: This is not the first time you have proven to be clumsy, Lord Tyranus. [begins to Force-choke him from across the galaxy] You know the price of failure...
  • The Bad Guy Wins:
    • The Prequel Trilogy is dedicated to showing how he overthrew the Republic, destroyed the Jedi Order, and organized the Empire. It's not until the end of Return of the Jedi that he finally loses.
    • In a lesser example, while he ultimately dies, Palpatine did succeed in killing off all the Skywalkers by the end of the Skywalker Saga, as well as ruining nearly all the life work of Luke and Leia by destroying the Jedi Order, New Republic, corrupting Ben, and his bloodline ultimately outlives the Skywalkers. The things that manage to make this a Bittersweet Ending is Ben surviving long enough to make his death really count for something by sacrificing his life to revive Rey, thus ensuring that the Skywalker bloodline did not die in vain, and finally Rey taking up the surname Skywalker as her own.
      Palpatine: As I once fell, so falls the last Skywalker!
  • Bad Guys Do the Dirty Work: His takedown of Maul and Savage, while for his own reasons, helped Obi-Wan escape Mandalore.
  • Bad Powers, Bad People: Palpatine is a very powerful Sith Lord with very strong powers, which he uses to commit evil deeds.
  • Bait the Dog:
  • Bald of Evil: After his return in The Rise of Skywalker, he's quite bald and evil as he ever was.
  • Bastard Understudy: Just like many Sith master/apprentice relationships before him, he was this to Darth Plagueis, whom he killed in his sleep after being taught everything his master knew.
  • Battle in the Center of the Mind: He gets into one with Yoda in the season six finale of The Clone Wars, trying to tempt him to the Dark Side. It should go without saying that he fails.
  • Beauty = Goodness: As the respected politician Chancellor Palpatine, he's a noble-looking, distinguished older man. As the Emperor, he's horribly disfigured with deep wrinkles, pallid skin and yellow eyes.
  • Beneath the Mask: The one thing that both his Sidious and Palpatine persona in the Prequel Trilogy share in common is that he's always serious no matter what. But once Anakin chooses to cut off Mace Windu's hand in Revenge of the Sith, the Sith Master reveals a hidden side of his personality that would be the defining trait in the Original Trilogy; megalomania with a cackling, sadistic sense of humor.
  • Big Bad: He is the definitive main antagonist for the Skywalker Saga. Every major conflict in the installments is the result of his meticulous planning. (He even provides the page image!)
    • In the Prequel Trilogy, he manipulates Nute Gunray and the Trade Federation into blockading and invading Naboo in order to arrange his rise to Chancellor. He's Count Dooku's superior, who is leading the Separatists, and uses his emergency powers as Chancellor to build an army of clone troopers, leading to the Clone Wars. In The Clone Wars, he leads the Republic against the Separatists while secretly leading the Separatists against the Republic at the same time and remaining as Count Dooku's master. This ultimately leads to Anakin's fall to the dark side and the execution of Order 66, which kills most of the Jedi. Then, he establishes the Galactic Empire itself.
    • In the Original Trilogy, he serves as the Greater-Scope Villain in A New Hope and The Empire Strikes Back, then finally returns to this position in the second half of Return of the Jedi, where he sets the trap at Endor to crush the Rebels, ultimately planning on turning Luke over to the Dark Side and offing Vader.
    • For the Sequel Trilogy, he returns to this position once more in The Rise of Skywalker, since Snoke, himself the Big Bad of The Force Awakens and The Last Jedi, was revealed to be his creation and puppet, and Palpatine uses Kylo Ren as his chief agent in antagonizing Rey and the Resistance, all to fulfill his ultimate plan of destroying the Resistance for good and establishing the Final Order, a Sith Empire that he will rule for all eternity.
  • Big Good: He posed as this for the Republic during the Clone Wars, while he was also secretly leading the Separatists.
  • Big Guy, Little Guy: The 5.7′ Emperor looks positively tiny when standing next to his 6.2′ apprentice Darth Vader. But size matters not as Sidious is the more dangerous of the two.
  • Bitch in Sheep's Clothing: The soft-spoken, polite, and noble Chancellor Palpatine was simply a role for Darth Sidious to hide behind — the truth is that he's a Manipulative Bastard.
  • Black Cloak: His staple costume as Emperor, which he wore whenever he appeared as Darth Sidious in the Prequel Trilogy and The Clone Wars.
  • Blatant Lies: He hands these out left, right, and center during the Clone Wars.
    • When he is given emergency powers, Palpatine "humbly" accepts and vows to lay down those powers when the crisis is over. During the final days of the war, he begins appointing regional governors that answer only to him, but "assures" Padmé and other Loyalists that it's a temporary measure, which will be removed as part of an "immediate return to democracy" once the war is over. Instead, while Anakin/Vader is disposing of the Separatist leaders, who are now useless to him, Palpatine announces that the Galactic Republic is now the Galactic Empire, making him Emperor with all powers on him forever and the governors still in control.
    • Palpatine tells Anakin that one of the secrets of the Dark Side is the ability to cheat death, something the Jedi can't/won't learn or teach. Once Anakin puts himself in a position where he may never receive forgiveness, he resigns himself to the ways of the Sith. It's at this point that Palpatine reveals that cheating death wasn't as well-known among the Sith as he'd previously implied. What's more, Qui-Gon discovered a way to transcend his mortal body and passed his knowledge onto Obi Wan and Yoda, who in turn passed it onto Luke and Leia, revealing that the Sith never had exclusive knowledge over what Anakin was looking for.
  • Blood Knight: Palpatine utterly relishes a good fight when he allows himself to cut loose. He clearly enjoyed fighting Maul and Savage; in fact, he could have killed them right off the bat, and chose to allow them to fight him simply for his own amusement. He also received a kick out of fighting Yoda. Notably, he's only like this when he's winning; at points when it looks like Yoda has the advantage, he's visibly panicked.
  • Blue Is Heroic: When he's pretending to be the benevolent Supreme Chancellor, he often wears blue.
  • Body Horror: His return from the dead in The Rise of Skywalker features Palpatine in a rather sorry state. His flesh is even paler than it was before, and necrotic black pock marks dot his features. His eyes are cloudy and his lips are black and oozing; all of the features of a body that has been decomposing for a long time.
  • Bond Villain Stupidity: In The Rise of Skywalker;
    • Sending out a broadcast announcing his return served no purpose and removed his element of surprise.
    • When Rey confronts him, he tells her that he wants her to kill him so that he and all the dead Sith can possess her. She probably would have killed him if he hadn't told her that.
  • Boss Arena Idiocy: Built his Final Order fleet on a planet whose storms stop them taking off without a navigation tower that can be destroyed and the novelization says the storms stop their shields working. They'd be near unstoppable if they were built anywhere else.
  • Breakout Villain: Along with Vader, he become a widely recognized popular culture symbol of evil, sinister, deception, tyranny, and the subversion of democracy.
  • The Cameo: A small fragment of his first We Can Rule Together speech to Anakin in Revenge of the Sithnote  can be heard during Rey's vision in The Force Awakens. This is the only time he's alluded to in the theatrical film, although he is mentioned in a conversation between Snoke and Kylo Ren in the novelization.
  • Card-Carrying Villain: Played With. He makes no pretensions about himself or his motives and openly champions the power of the Dark Side of the Force, but he also tells Anakin that Good and Evil are just points of view and seems to regard himself as Above Good and Evil and likely feels that neither of them actually exist, though this only means that he can be as gleefully sadistic as he likes — if good and evil don't exist, then he is free to be as malicious as he likes, and ultimately he's just so cunning, egotistical, and pragmatic that it makes him a very three-dimensional villain in spite of this.
  • Cast From Hit Points: The reason his face looks somewhat young one moment and so wrinkly the next in Revenge of the Sith is because when he had his Force lightning reflected back onto him by Mace Windu, he attempted to draw power from his life force in an attempt to overpower Windu's block. And as the bolts hit him, they only accelerated the process.
  • Catchphrase: "Goooood..."
  • Chain Lightning: When supercharged by the Force drain on Rey and Ben Solo in The Rise of Skywalker, he is capable of creating a massive storm over Exegol with his Force lightning, firing a massive torrent upward into the sky that arcs to nearly obliterate the entire allied forces on the side of the Resistance singlehandedly.
  • The Chessmaster:
    • The way he became Emperor. He used everybody in the galaxy as his pawns, manipulated into tearing the galaxy and foundations of the Republic apart until he could take over completely, wipe out the Jedi, and have an unquestioningly loyal army at his command.
    • In the novel Tarkin, we learn that Palpatine would cleverly play his underlings against each other to prevent them from forming political alliances that could challenge his rule. This was a tactic used by Adolf Hitler in real life, one of George Lucas' inspirations for Palpatine.
    • He ordered Dooku to commission the creation of a clone army together with Sifo-Dyas, then kill the Jedi and conceal his involvement. Ten years later, the mercenary that served as the template for the clone troopers is tasked to assassinate a senator who would vote against a military act supporting the Republic building a standing army. The supposedly very proficient mercenary botches the job and has Obi-Wan on his trail, which leads to the Jedi discovering the clone army. At this point it looks like a gross oversight on Palpatine's part, but in fact it's a calculated move which ensures that the Jedi are the ones to conveniently discover the army, while they themselves remain convinced it's a coincidence. Since it was ordered by one of their own and they need it right at the moment (because Dooku baited the very same Jedi investigating the army and captured him while having built an army of his own), the proposition for using the army comes from the Jedi Order, painting them as warmongers and eliminating any suspicions of Palpatine's involvement, which would have been raised if he had suggested using the clones.
    • He knew better than to think that Dooku would remain unflinchingly loyal forever, and ordered him to kill Ventress as both a sign of his loyalty and to eliminate one of Dooku's most valuable assets.
    • The way he corrupted Anakin. First, he had Qui-Gon killed, which resulted in a freshly knighted Obi-Wan becoming Anakin's master. Obi-Wan was thoroughly inexperienced as a mentor and had to reinforce his authority by chiding his apprentice in public and lecturing him by citing the Jedi Code. All of this resulted in Anakin seeking a more understanding and less stern mentor, to which call Palpatine readily answered. This also paved the way for Anakin's defection from the Order, combined with Anakin's relationship with Padmé.
  • Chewing the Scenery: "Nooo... noooo... NOOOO... YOU WILL DIE!"
  • Chronic Backstabbing Disorder: He stands out as this even among the Sith, who are notorious for this. Between Plageuis, Count Dooku, Maul, the Confederacy leaders, and Anakin Skywalker, he has betrayed everyone who placed trust in him when he decides that they're a liability or no longer useful.
  • Cincinnatus: Subverted. In Attack of the Clones, Palpatine is granted emergency powers and pledges to relinquish those powers as soon as the Clone Wars are over. He never does, nor did he ever actually intend to.
  • Clasp Your Hands If You Deceive: Chancellor Palpatine tends to do this in The Clone Wars and when he does it, he shows a bit of his true nature.
  • Classic Villain: Palpatine represents Ambition, Wrath and Pride. It helps that he's also a completely unsympathetic individual.
  • Classy Cane: He first appears in Return of the Jedi by walking with a glossy black cane, though it's really there only to make him appear weak.
  • Clone Degeneration: The novelization to The Rise Of Skywalker says his soul is in a cloned body that won't last much longer.
  • Cold Ham: Though typically a Large Ham, Palpatine in The Phantom Menace restrains himself when dealing with the Trade Federation's incompetent handling over the invasion of Naboo. His dialogue is what you expect to find in a cheesy villain speech, but he never raises his voice beyond the low raspy one he already has, making him sound more menacing as opposed to just hammy. This carries over through Attack of the Clones and the first half of Revenge of the Sith.
  • Combat Pragmatist: Despite being one of the best duelists and and most powerful Force users in the galaxy, Darth Sidious only fights if he believes he has the upper hand without doubt or if he is completely impeded from withdrawing (and there are only a few individuals who could match him, like Yoda or Windu). If he doesn't, he retreats back into the shadows and does everything to slow his enemies down. This is best exemplified when he initially tries to flee from Master Yoda before Yoda blocks his exit and draws out his lightsaber, forcing Sidious to duel. Even during the duel, Sidious eventually ceases trying to match Yoda at close quarters and adopts a long range fighting strategy with the help of his Force powers.
  • Confusion Fu: Downplayed and possibly even unintentional, but his overtly spectacular desk jump against Windu and the Jedi leaves those visibly confused and startled, which helps him to butcher the first two masters with little resistance.
  • Con Man: Palpatine, in many ways, is one. He cons everyone (Anakin, Padmé, the Republic, the Senate, the Trade Federation, the Rebel Alliance, and Jar Jar) in order to get what he wants: revenge on the Jedi and control of the galaxy. When he tries to con Luke, however, it all falls apart.
  • Consummate Liar: When he doesn't reveal his true colors, he's a pretty effective liar. Even people who have seen his true colors have been fooled by him.
  • Cool Old Guy: Back when he was a Senator and later Chancellor, he served as something to a father figure to Anakin and was a Reasonable Authority Figure. It's a façade to mask his true nature as a Sith Lord.
  • Cool Sword: He has not one, but two red-bladed lightsabers with electrum grafted to the hilts.
  • The Corrupter: He serves as this to Anakin in the Prequel Trilogy and The Clone Wars, earning his trust and leading him astray in order to turn him into Darth Vader. He also tries to be this to Luke in Return of the Jedi; and it might have worked had Luke not had the right realization at the right moment. Finally, it's revealed in The Rise of Skywalker that he was behind Ben Solo's corruption as well.
  • Corrupt Politician: Senator Palpatine got elected to the office of Supreme Chancellor legally. All the power he acquired afterwards was gathered not so legally...
  • Crazy-Prepared: In Revenge of the Sith, it's revealed that he had a second lightsaber after he lost the first to Mace Windu. The Clone Wars retroactively explains this by revealing that he had a penchant for Dual Wielding.
  • Cross-Cast Role: In the original cut of The Empire Strikes Back, the Emperor was portrayed by Marjorie Eaton, with chimpanzee eyes superimposed over her own and her voice dubbed over by Clive Revill.
  • Cruel Mercy:
    • He tortures Darth Maul with Force Lightning, but refuses to kill him due to having "uses" for him. He claims that for a Sith, there is no mercy.
    • His treatment of Vader after his loss to Obi-Wan on Mustafar. He saves Vader's life despite his failure... however, in doing so he rebuilds him as a cyborg stuck in an uncomfortable and painful life support suit for the rest of his life. Zigzagged, as Palpatine allows Vader to adjust his suit to his convenience. Not that Vader seems to care as he finds his suit "acceptable" and with time, he fully embraces it.
  • Cultured Badass: The most powerful Sith Lord of all times, the mastermind behind the Clone Wars, and hides his true face so well that he fooled the Jedi Council for over a decade. Also a huge admirer of the arts, as shown by the sculptures in his office and his attendance at the opera where he tells Anakin about Darth Plagueis.
  • Curb-Stomp Battle:
    • He delivers a serious one to Darth Maul and Savage Opress. He actually looks like he's having fun during the fight, and not once is he seen to struggle in any way, save a very brief look of concern when Maul comes at him in full-on Roaring Rampage of Revenge after Savage's death, and it's quickly gone. The brothers are doomed the moment Sidious walks into the room, and the audience knows it.
    • He also murders Agen Kolar, Saesee Tiin, and Kit Fisto within seconds of pulling out his lightsaber, but Mace Windu defies this by proving to be his equal in combat (providing Palpatine wasn't simply stalling for time for Anakin to show up).
    • Delivers another two more in The Rise of Skywalker: first to Rey and Kylo after they defeat his Elite Mook protectors and move against him and then a second, more spectacular one against the entire orbiting Resistance starfleet after he restores himself to full strength.
  • Dark Is Evil: The black cloak, gravelly voice, yellow eyes, and wrinkled and scarred skin is enough to tip anyone off that Palpatine is not a good guy.
  • Dark Lord on Life Support: In The Rise of Skywalker, he is attached to a crane-like device that seemingly sustains his life, with seemingly blind eyes, his appearance very decayed, indicating that the process of resurrecting him wasn't entirely perfect. Once he drains life force from the dyad in the Force that is the bond between Ben and Rey, his eyes return to yellow and his body heals itself back to approximately his stature in the Prequel era.
  • Deadpan Snarker: He definitely has his moments. The "Tragedy of Darth Plagueis" monologue comes to mind, provided that you look at it less as a sugarcoated parable that he tells Anakin to tempt him and more a recollection as to why his master was simply Too Dumb to Live.
  • Death Seeker: Zig-Zagged; By The Rise of Skywalker, he plans to have Rey kill him but this is only so that he can take over her body, allowing her to inherit the legacy of the Sith lords before them. He throws this out once he uses the power of the Force Dyad formed between her and Ben Solo to fully rejuvenate himself.
  • Decapitation Strike: It's one of his favorite strategies:
    • Revenge of the Sith:
      • The Jedi Order are the only serious threat to a Sith regime. Order 66 decimated the members of the Jedi Order, including the majority of the Jedi Council, leaving a spotty few to counter the Empire's millions-strong standing army.
      • The Separatist Council gets a visit from the Emperor's right-hand man, who wordlessly locks them in the war room and then massacres them. Nute Gunray's beg for mercy reveals that pawns are expendable to The Chessmaster.
    • Further, according to A New Hope, the last bastion of power in the old Republic was the Galactic Senate. Quoting Grand Moff Tarkin: "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." Pink slips or bloodbath?
    • In Return of the Jedi, he lures the Rebel Alliance into attempting one against him as bait for a trap, which in turn would have let the Empire destroy most of the Alliance's military. Unfortunately for him, his foresight proves fallible, and the strike is ultimately successful, taking him out and dealing the Empire a crushing defeat they never recover from.
  • Defeat Equals Explosion: He goes out in a brilliant eruption of dark side energy after being thrown down a reactor shaft. Likewise in The Rise of Skywalker, he practically goes off like a nuke after Rey reflects his Force Lightning back at him. In a way, he's almost an inadvertent Load-Bearing Boss.
  • Despotism Justifies the Means: He acts as though he believes in Utopia Justifies the Means, but it's strongly implied that he actually doesn't much care about the fate of the galaxy or how he gets to the top as long as he's the one in charge. Ruling the galaxy through any means necessary is his primary goal and he wants "UNLIMITED POWAHH!" more than anything.
  • Devil in Plain Sight: As Supreme Chancellor, Palpatine decorated his office in such a way that, if one paid close attention and investigated hard enough, it would be immediately apparent that he was a Sith. His walls and furniture are primarily a Sith-inspired red (though the justification was that the same color of red was one of the Palpatine family's trademark colors) and littered with Sith artifacts and statuary, one of which contains his lightsaber. His statues of the Four Sages of Dwartii are particularly notable, as they were demagogues who encouraged study of the dark side of the Force, a perfect metaphor for Palpatine's rule.
  • Diabolical Mastermind: He orchestrated the Prequel Trilogy's conflict as a means to gain absolute power (along with the gratitude and love of the galaxy's people) in the Galactic Republic.
  • Didn't See That Coming:
    • During the Clone Wars, he is surprised to learn of Darth Maul's survival and his subsequent rise to power. He's also legitimately unnerved when he fails to mentally break Yoda during a Sith ritual.
      • It is particularly noticeable in Maul's case, as he seems to be the only prominent Force-wielder to not have felt something related to Maul's return. Dooku, Anakin, Ventress, Yoda and Obi-Wan all noticed through the Force that something bad was happening as Savage got closer and closer to finding Maul, but Palpatine remained completely oblivious until Anakin informed him.
    • He thought it impossible that the natives of Endor (human child-sized primitives) might be able to take advantage of their native terrain against the Empire's finest troops (though said natives did have help from a Jedi, a droid who could hack anything, a droid that could speak any language, and several crack-shot rebel commandos). He also apparently never considered that a guy who turned to the Dark Side to save his wife might turn from it to save his son.
      • Although, he is willing to take calculated risks which put his life on the line if the reward is good enough. Being cornered by Windu is a good example. Having Anakin as an apprentice another. Going to the Death Star too. He does not fall into Villainous Valor because of his self-assurance he is under control of everything.
  • Dies Differently in Adaptation: In Legends, Palpatine met his final end when he was shot by Han Solo and had his spirit absorbed by a Jedi who survived Order 66. In canon, he meets his final end when Rey deflects his own Force Lightning against him.
  • Disney Villain Death: Darth Vader throws him down the shaft of the Death Star II in Return of the Jedi. We also see him explode before he hits the bottom.
    Kevin Murphy: I regret having this bottomless chasm instaaaaaaaaaaaaaaalled!!!!
  • Doesn't Like Guns: While he keeps his edge with lightsabers in the event of a battle with a Jedi, he always looked down on them as a Jedi's weapon and believed that the Sith should only have power from the dark side of the Force. Indeed, the only reasons Darth Maul, Count Dooku, and Darth Vader had lightsabers were because Sidious felt Maul was too weak to truly embrace the Dark Side, Dooku had already been trained by Yoda in saber mastery but still was nowhere near his master in strength and needed a weapon to go against the Jedi, and Vader had lost much of his organic body and replaced by cybernetics (severely limiting how much of his power he can safely use while making other force powers like sith lightning outright impossible) and needed something to continue to put fear into others.
  • Don't Make Me Destroy You: In contrast to the original canon, where Palpatine only had contempt for Vader and tried to replace him every other day, canon has Palpatine claim Anakin/Vader is genuinely his friend and that he doesn't necessarily want to be forced to kill him for defiance.
  • The Dreaded:
    • To Count Dooku and Darth Maul, both of whom, it should be said, have been his apprentice.
    • While he doesn't show outright fear, Mace Windu takes along three other Jedi to take Palpatine down. The fact one of the strongest Jedi and arguably the best lightsaber combatant in the Order decided he needed that kind of backup says volumes, especially after Palpatine slaughters said backup in just a few economical moves.
    • Vader tells Moff Jerjerrod, the officer overseeing the construction of the second Death Star, that the Emperor is coming. Jerjerrod had the guts to talk back to Vader about the Emperor's demands, but the mere mention of the Emperor's arrival frightens him. The Emperor apparently has such a reputation that he's more feared than Darth Vader.
    • When Poe tells the Resistance that Palpatine has somehow returned, everybody goes silent out of sheer shock.
  • Drunk on the Dark Side: Self-control being anathema to the Sith, he is prone to this, especially in fights (and notably when using his Force Lightning). His only real weakness is that it can result in him failing to pay sufficient attention to his surroundings.
    • When he realizes that he has won when Anakin cuts off Mace Windu's hand, he begins cackling evilly and screams out "Unlimited Power!" as he fries Windu with Force lightning.
      • Arguably, this could also be the reason why he keeps channeling the lightning even when Mace is deflecting it back onto his face: he might have lost self-control by this point, running so high on his emotions, and might not have the self-control to stop.
    • During his fight with Yoda he nearly gets smashed with a huge senate seat because he's so busy cackling at him.
    • Palpatine's all-too-obvious enjoyment of the Electric Torture he administers to Luke. Too bad he doesn't see what's coming.
    • Once again, he gets destroyed by his own lightning in The Rise of Skywalker because he won't stop channeling it even when Rey continues to deflect it onto him. Note that he has just finished using a MASSIVE Chain Lightning and is likely feeling the high.
  • Dual Wielding: He carried two lightsabers during the Clone Wars, which he shows off to impressive effect in his duel against Darth Maul and Savage Opress in "The Lawless". However, one of the pair is destroyed in his duel with Windu, forcing him to rely on just one lightsaber during his subsequent battle with Yoda.
  • Electric Torture: He loves using Force lightning to torture people. Just ask Maul, Mace, and Luke.
  • The Emperor: After ascending to power, he is more often referred to as "the Emperor" in-universe than "Emperor Palpatine".
  • Establishing Character Moment:
  • Everyone Calls Him "Barkeep": In the Original Trilogy, he's curiously never referred to by a proper name, just as "The Emperor".
  • Everything's Better with Spinning: Palpatine gracefully twirls in the air when he lunges at the Jedi Masters that have come to arrest him in Revenge of the Sith.
  • Evil Cannot Comprehend Good: Emperor Palpatine's arrogance and relentless self-centeredness blind him to the idea that Luke would show mercy and redeem his father instead of co-ruling the Galaxy — with someone he is destined to overthrow in due time, no less — causing his carefully-laid plans to fail. The idea that Darth Vader would turn on him rather than watch his son be murdered presumably never entered his mind either. This is foreshadowed earlier, when Vader senses Luke aboard a captured Imperial shuttle headed for Endor. Palpatine comments that he cannot sense anything — presumably because he's turned so completely to the Dark Side that he simply doesn't recognize the rest of the Force. It also explains why he wasn't more careful about provoking Vader's Heel–Face Turn: he could only sense the Dark Side of him.
  • Evil Chancellor: It takes a bit of digging since he's been around for so long, but he starts as this and is the poster boy.
  • Evil Counterpart: To Yoda — particularly noticeable in Revenge of the Sith, where their ideologies are brought into question when they fight.
    • To Padme Amidala. Both are powerful politicians from the same planet, Naboo. But while Padme is a politician because she believes it's the best way to help her people, Palpatine is a politician because he wants power. They are also one of the four most important people in Anakin's live, Padme presuades him to become the best version of himself, while Palpatine manipulates him to becoming a sith lord.
    • To Mon Mothma. Like Padme Amidala she is also a well meaning politician. She is also the leader of the Rebel Alliance, while Palpatine is the Emperor.
    • He can also be a very downplayed with each of the apprentices. Most of his apprentices aren't completely evil, and have a pretty good Freudian Excuse (Maul was basically raised a Sith, Dooku at least started out as Well-Intentioned Extremist. Vader joined the Sith to save his pregnant wife's life). Furthermore both Anakin and Maul have loved ones.
  • Evil Cripple: In the Original Trilogy, he's an absolutely ancient old man who walks with a cane. In the Sequel Trilogy, this is taken even further and he's incapable of even moving under his own power (requiring a large machine for aid) and is missing multiple body parts such as a couple of fingers; he also appears to be blind due to severe cataracts. He regains some vitality after absorbing Rey and Ben's dyad, but he's still over a hundred years old...
  • Eviler Than Thou: As Darth Maul learned the hard way, there's no room for a third party in the Clone Wars.
  • Evil Feels Good: Being one of the most powerful force users to ever live and the Dark Side's ultimate expression, Palpatine certainly revels in his great power. When he throws Windu out of the window, he is practically in ecstasy.
  • Evil Gloating: Boy, does he love to do this as Darth Sidious/The Emperor. Some memorable examples:
    "Everything that has transpired has done so according to my design!"
    "And now, young Skywalker... you will die."
  • Evil Is Hammy: As any Evil Overlord Drunk on the Dark Side needs to be. Particularly noticeable in Revenge of the Sith.
    "POWER! UNLIMITED POOOOOOOWEEEEEER!"
  • Evil Is Petty: He's not above doing this to his enemies, and he greatly enjoys it.
  • Evil Laugh: Whenever something goes exactly the way he wants it to before his eyes, he will let out a sinister chuckle. It's more of a cackle in The Clone Wars and Revenge of the Sith, and more of a chuckle in Return of the Jedi. Either way it has an unpleasantly wheezing, hacking quality.
  • Evil Makeover: After being exposed as Sidious and having Force lightning reflected back into his face, Palpatine's face becomes hideously scarred and wrinkled, reflecting his true nature.
  • Evil Makes You Monstrous: Palpatine became disfigured into a withered ghoul of a man. Though it's strongly implied that was his true face the whole time hidden behind a sort of mask.
  • Evil Mentor: To Anakin/Darth Vader. "I can teach you things you need to know in order to save Padmé. Oh, and you'll have to kill a bunch of kids for me too, but never mind that now..."
  • Evil Old Folks: He's in his sixties during the Prequel Trilogy and The Clone Wars, his eighties during the Original Trilogy and is well over a hundred years old in the Sequel Trilogy, in addition to being the most diabolical sociopath the Galaxy has seen in a long time. According to Word of God, he has absolutely no redeeming qualities.
  • Evil Overlooker: In many Star Wars posters, along with Vader.
  • Evil Overlord: Also, a poster boy for this one. Emperor Palpatine (as opposed to his alter ego Senator/Chancellor Palpatine, a Villain with Good Publicity). A Dark Lord of the Sith who doubles as ruler of a galactic empire, and well versed in manipulating the dark side.
  • Evil Plan:
    • In the Prequel and Imperial eras, his plan is the Galactic Conqueror variety — which succeeded for over two decades before his demise. A secondary plan is his continuing search for a better apprentice.
    • In The Rise of Skywalker, his plan is revealed as an attempt to gain a new, untainted body to transfer his power and various minds into in order to regain control of the Galaxy and annihilate any planets that would stand against him. This time, he fails.
  • Evil Redhead: Palpatine starts out with red hair in The Phantom Menace, though a decade later it's gone white. However he still has ginger eyebrows in Revenge of the Sith, probably because Ian McDiarmid is a ginger in Real Life. It's a fact made noticeable in an outtake for Return of the Jedi when he is being thrown into the pit McDiarmid's hood flops off revealing a cascade of ginger hair.
  • Evil Sorcerer:
    • As shown in "Sacrifice", he's able to use the Master-apprentice link between Yoda and Dooku to attack Yoda's psyche, by way of an ancient ritual that required a single drop of Dooku's blood.
    • The fire he used to try and capture Ezra and Ahsoka in "A World Between Worlds" is another good example of Palpatine's use of Sith Sorcery, and there's his general disdain for lightsaber combat over using the Force as a weapon.
  • Evil Sounds Deep:
    • He has a pretty deep voice in the later seasons of The Clone Wars, thanks to Tim Curry.
    • After he's disfigured during his duel with Mace Windu in Revenge of the Sith, his voice becomes raspier and much deeper.
    • Clive Revill's original voice for him was this, instead of Ian McDiarmid's iconic rasp.
  • Evil Sounds Raspy: In the Prequel Trilogy and The Clone Wars, he speaks with a normal voice while under the guise of Chancellor Palpatine, but uses the rasp when he's acting as Darth Sidious. After the fight with Mace Windu leaves him with his distinctly disfigured face, he speaks with a raspy voice at all times — so it becomes the iconic voice of Emperor Palpatine in the Original Trilogy.
  • Evil Wears Black: Palpatine frequently wears all black, indicating his evil nature.
  • Exact Words: Why yes, Luke, Palpatine is unarmed... but he does have access to the Force, as Luke very painfully discovers.
  • Facial Horror:
    • After taking his own Force lightning to the face, his face is white and heavily wrinkled, and his eyes are yellow and sunken. In Revenge of the Sith, the brightness of his eyes relative to the rest of his face makes them look far wider than they are (or should be), making him look even freakier.
    • In The Rise of Skywalker, when Rey deflects his Force Lightning back at him, his face melts down and withers away in a particularly gruesome fashion.
  • False Prophet: Palpatine lies about being able to cheat death so he can persuade Anakin into becoming his apprentice.
  • Fatal Flaw:
    • Luke is quick to surmise that Palpatine's overconfidence is what will do him in. True to form, he died the very same day.
    • Also his inability to understand good. While he knows how to use other people's flaws and strengths, deep down, he does not get good, being himself pure evil.
    • It is subtle, but Sidious is unable to learn from his mistakes. His intelligence, power, and success, plus his psychopathic traits, make him blind to avoid committing the same mistakes again, and actually understanding some things he really should know better. In The Phantom Menace, he underestimated Padme, the Jedi, and the natives of Naboo. As a result, he lost Naboo and his first apprentice. While his long term plans were undamaged, he had still suffered some shortcomings, and enough lessons to learn from it. But he keeps underestimating his opponents (Yoda catches him off guard and almost killed him, Obi-Wan escapes his trap; Mon Mothma and Bail Organa), which ends up with a rebellion engulfing the Galaxy. When having to deal with the rebellion, his arrogance gets the better of him, and he loses everything. But not only that, but his inability to truly understand love is what destroys him. He ignores very strong signals from Vader and from Luke; not only that Vader is way too obsessed with catching his son, but that Luke shows he is not like Anakin. The fact he could not sense Luke on the ship, and Vader could, should have worried him more. And when he is frying Luke, Vader is with him, showing he truly does not know who Vader is deep down. This, combined with his idea Vader is completely under his thumb, dooms him once and for all.
    • While normally very intelligent and cunning, he has a habit of losing himself in his sadism when going all out, which blinds him to potential dangers around him. This is apparently one of the big weaknesses of the Dark Side, due to having to let one's emotions go wild in order to properly use it.
    • In a broader context, his apathy and cruelty while running the Empire. He's shown to be a very proficient leader during the Clone Wars, capable of expertly manipulating public opinion and managing two sides of the conflict. He's much more hands off with the Empire, only stepping in to control/provoke power struggles between his subordinates and request the odd super project or atrocity. As a result the Empire has a major systemic issue with incompetence and an increasingly dissatisfied populace. If he stepped in to make sure things went smoothly, there would be much less of a rebellion to fight and he might be able to convince Luke to actually join him.
  • Fantastic Racism: Palpatine's Empire was humanocentrist and very xenophobic and prejudiced towards non-Human beings. As such, very few of the higher ups in the Empire were non-Human, with Thrawn and Xixor being notable exceptions. Downplayed with Palpatine himself however. As shown by the fact that he mentored Darth Maul, a Dathomirian Zabrak, he haboured no xenophobia towards non-Humans. He just used it as a useful tool to have a base of support among Humans. He did however show disdain towards common people without Force sensitivity. While it was never enough for him to openly discriminate, he did believe that non-Force sensitives were inherently inferior to Force sensitives, though this could simply be part of his Might Makes Right mentality. True to real life, as psychopaths are said to be incapable of true bigotry.
  • Faux Affably Evil: In the waning days of the Republic, he has a tendency to be charming and friendly in spite of his intentions to screw everyone over. As the Emperor, he doesn't particularly bother to hide the fact that he's a bastard, but on occasion is genuinely polite to his subjects, provided that they don't fail him, and occasionally gives off a mockingly concerned tone of voice. He also employs a veneer as a kindly old grandfather-like figure when interracting with those younger whom he wants to manipulate, such as Gallius Rax or his actual granddaughter, Rey.
    "Oh, I'm afraid the deflector shield will be quite operational when your friends arrive."
  • Final Boss: He's the final villain Luke encounters in Return of the Jedi. He also serves as this to Rey in The Rise of Skywalker.
  • Fisher King: In The Rise of Skywalker, it's no coincidence that the perpetually storm-wracked Exegol gets its first bit of sun immediately after his final death.
  • Force-Choke: An especially creepy example is featured in "The Lawless". Upon arriving at the civil war-torn Mandalore, he chokes two Death Watch soldiers with a gesture of his left hand. He doesn't keep it up, like most characters do, he just waves his fingers once, and it continues even after he passes them by. Later, he pinned two others against a wall without even seeing them before even entering the same room at them. He's also powerful enough to choke and lift Dooku on Serenno, while he himself is on Coruscant — a difference of hundreds of light-years.
    • In Darth Vader (2020), Sidious inflicts this on Vader (the Trope Codifier himself) after his failure to convert Luke to the Dark Side on Bespin and also for defying his orders by investigating Padmé's death.
  • A Form You Are Comfortable With: In the last episode of Rebels, his hologram appears as his younger, unscarred self from before his battle with Mace in Revenge, and his personality matches. It's implied that this is the hologram he uses for official appearances, but when people don't cooperate, the hologram switches to his true form and he drops the friendly act.
  • For the Evulz: Some of his nefarious actions have nothing to do with his schemes. He just does them simply for his own satisfaction or for petty reasons.
  • Freudian Excuse: Strongly averted. Unlike his apprentices who are for the most part products of circumstance (being either Fallen Heroes or Tykebombs), he has no tragic event or circumstance in his past that drove him to The Dark Side. He simply is, and always has been, a horrible person. In Legends, his father was an abusive jerk and liked him least out of all his siblings (presumably because he seems to feel Palpatine's evil from birth). In canon, we don't know if this is still the case (in Life Debt, it's mentioned that Palpatine doesn't seem to have any family left) and Palpatine still always had a ruthless streak and lust for power.
  • Full-Name Basis: He's the only character to address Thrawn as Mith'raw'nuruodo. No comment is made on his pronunciation.

    G-L 
  • Galactic Conqueror: Palpatine is the consummate example of this trope, though he did it through pure cunning rather than outright force. He got voted into absolute power after masterminding a civil war that destroyed a millennium of peace (in which he was secretly the leader of both sides), resulting in him receiving popular support for his authoritarian reforms. By the time he declared himself Emperor, he already had absolute control of the Republic ... or, as he declared it, the first! Galactic! EMPIRE!
  • Gambit Pileup: His rise to power is one predicated on an insane amount of planning, serving as The Chessmaster, being a Manipulative Bastard that relies on Playing Both Sides, operating with a number of Batman Gambits, and coming up with quick alternatives should a wrench be thrown into his plans. Specifically it required that he become a high ranking senator on Naboo and a Dark Lord of the Sith, use his Sith identity to set up a proxy conflict on Naboo to ensure that he would become the Supreme Chancellor when his predecessor seemed too weak to take action, recruit a fallen Jedi diplomat to spearhead the creation of the Clone Army and create an override system to ensure that they would kill the Jedi, cause enough political unrest behind the scenes to lead to the creation of the Separatist movement and have that fallen Jedi become its public face, gain emergency powers in time to mobilize the Clone Army against the Separatists, have the Separatists start the 22-year construction process on a planet-destroying Death Star superweapon, carry out a war while maintaining the façade of being a kindly old man, justify the deaths of thousands of Jedi by what appeared to be an attempt to overthrow the Republic, bump off all of the above collaborators so they wouldn't spill any information, and declare that the Republic needed to become an Empire to be more efficient with him as the leader, and finally dissolve the Imperial Senate upon the completion of the Death Star seized from the Separatists so he could have absolute power with no bureaucracy and instantly blow up anyone's planet who disagrees with him. It all worked, and he ruled as Emperor for twenty-three years until his death.
  • Genius Bruiser: He's a political manipulator, a Force scientist and a fighter all at once, and one of the best of his time, if not the best after Plagueis's death, in every field. He clearly dislikes taking risks and will only engage in duels if he is forced or has an enormous advantage over his opponent, but once he gets in the task, only Windu and Yoda can aspire to fight him in fair terms.
  • Genocide Backfire: He attempted to exterminate everyone in the Jedi Order, and thus made further oppressive laws against Force-users to prevent the return of the Jedi. He was almost successful and would have succeeded if not for the gross ineptitude of Tarkin.
  • The Ghost:
    • Emperor Palpatine is not in Rogue One at all. He gets several mentions from Tarkin, Vader, and Krennic, and is often dangled over the latter's head as a threat should he and his battle station not meet demands.
    • The Emperor is talked about a few times in A New Hope, but he doesn't appear in the film and his name is not mentioned.
  • Giant Poofy Sleeves: A few of his outfits in the Prequel Trilogy include massive sleeves; the rest of the time he sticks to a less ornate black robe.
  • Giggling Villain: When he doesn't laugh maniacally he often does a soft amused chuckle.
  • Glorious Leader: As Emperor of the Galaxy obviously and long before that. Three years into the Clone Wars, the Republic was a military dictatorship in all but name, and Palpatine had a supermajority in the Senate who did everything he said (to the point where he could legitimately boast that he's the Senate). Although his rise to power had been planned out in meticulous detail (with a healthy dose of Xanatos Speed Chess for any sudden changes in circumstances) before anyone noticed him, and his closest political allies knew he was a Sith Lord long before he made himself Emperor. It's implied that a great deal of his power came from mind control.
  • Glowing Eyes of Doom: Palpatine has glowing yellow eyes, as do many of the other Sith Lords.
  • A God Am I: In The Rise of Skywalker, he has amassed a cult known as the Sith Eternal who worships him as a dark god.
    Darth Sidious: I am all the Sith!
  • Godhood Seeker: Palpatine's ultimate goal — to have control over the entire universe. In Rebels, he took interest in the Lothal Temple because it has a gateway to the realm of spacetime, and from that, he would have control over the entire universe.
  • Good Scars, Evil Scars: Of the evil type. Palpatine's face became filled with scars after he got a face full of his own Force lightning.
  • Graceful Loser: Amazingly for Sidious, he calmly concedes he has been defeated when he fails to corrupt Yoda to the Dark Side, praising his strength of will.
  • Greater-Scope Villain: Of every single work in the franchise.note  While he's often behind everything that "transpires", occasionally things go wrong without his help. In these cases he usually lays back and waits for an opportunity to use these events to further his own agenda, especially in the Original Trilogy, where he doesn't have much of a role compared to Darth Vader and Tarkin.
    • Several episodes of The Clone Wars deal with events and villains who operate outside of his plans, though they're all fundamentally thriving in a conflict he created and manipulated. A notable example is featured during the Umbara arc, where he entrusted Krell with taking over the leadership of the 501st from Anakin because he recognized that the Besalisk Jedi had fallen and was curious to see what he'd do. Another example is the Nightsisters and Brothers arc since aside from accidentally setting off the crisis of Darth Maul's return, he remains completely uninvolved in the events right up until Maul becomes an actual threat to his plans.
    • While his only appearances on Rebels have been in a HoloNet broadcast and a holographic conversation with Vader (and we don't even get to see his hologram), he's indirectly responsible for the Empire's actions and all the misery they've brought to the protagonists. By Season 2, he knows who they are and ordered Vader to deal with them...until Season 4, where he ends the series with a confrontation between him and Ezra.
    • He serves as this for most of the Original Trilogy. The Emperor is only mentioned in passing in A New Hope and appears in one scene as a hologram in The Empire Strikes Back to tell Vader to turn Luke to the dark side, though he outranks Darth Vader and Grand Moff Tarkin and is responsible for the paths they took. For the first half of Return of the Jedi, Jabba acted as the Big Bad whom the heroes had to defeat in order to rescue Han.
    • He even serves as this trope posthumously in works set immediately after Return of the Jedi — specifically, the Aftermath trilogy and Shattered Empire. Palpatine operated on something of a Taking You with Me philosophy, and therefore had contingency plans for the Empire to wreak havoc on everybody in the event that he died.
      • He seems to have become this retroactively for The Force Awakens, based on info from Empire's End. His contingency plan involved sending groups of handpicked Imperials into the Unknown Regions and possibly away from the galaxy, where they will establish a new empire elsewhere. This is what happened at the end of Empire's End, when Rae Sloane and Brendol Hux found Palpatine's personal Super Star Destroyer, the Eclipse, stationed in the Unknown Regions, and from there they proceed to found the First Order, the main antagonistic faction in The Force Awakens.
    • In the The Rise of Skywalker, he reveals to Kylo Ren that he had created Snoke. And thus making him this to the Sequel Trilogy too.
      Palpatine/Darth Sidious: [to Kylo Ren] My boy, I made Snoke. I have been every voice [in his own voice] you have ever heard [in Snoke's voice] inside your head [in Vader's voice].
  • Gruesome Grandparent: He turns out to be Rey's grandfather,note  who killed her parents and wants to steal her body.
  • Hero Killer: The number of Jedi and do-gooders who have fallen to his hand or to his Empire are innumerable. His most notable kill though has to be Anakin himself in their final, mutually deadly confrontation.
  • Hero's Evil Predecessor: He is revealed to be Rey's grandfather.
  • Hidden Depths:
    • Possibly. Prior to his mutilation, Palpatine does not seem to mind Darth Vader likely growing far more powerful than him, as he boasts to Yoda about it. Given the nature of the Sith and the Rule of Two in particular, this indicates Palpatine is either just trying to scare Yoda or genuinely accepting of being overthrown if it comes to it in accordance with the Rule.
    • He is also a patron of the arts.
    • In terms of contingency plans, he does not seem to mind the idea of being succeeded by Rey or Kylo Ren... if he can possess them and rule through their bodies anyway.
  • Hijacked by Ganon: Any major villain featured in the era of the Skywalker Saga is more than likely to be traced back to Palpatine/Darth Sidious in some way or form.
    • The Phantom Menace at first sets up Nute Gunray as the Big Bad only to reveal that the Viceroy is taking orders from a mysterious figure called Darth Sidious, who turns out to be the future Emperor of the Original Trilogy.
    • Attack of the Clones establishes Count Dooku and his Separatist allies to be the main villains and instigators of the Clone Wars, and then the ending reveals that Dooku is really Darth Tyranus conspiring with Darth Sidious to destroy the Jedi Order.
    • Rebels features Grand Admiral Thrawn as the Big Bad for the third and fourth season of the show but his position is quickly usurped when the Emperor takes great interest in Lothal's gateway to the World Between Worlds and decides to personally tempt Ezra to the Dark Side.
    • The Rise of Skywalker reveals that the creation of the First Order, the rise of Supreme Leader Snoke, and the fall of Ben Solo (aka Kylo Ren) were all orchestrated by Palpatine, who has come Back from the Dead through unnatural means. He even admits that Snoke was just a clone creation of his and he was the voice that spoke to Kylo through Vader's mask. After this reveal, he quickly seizes control of the First Order and merges it with his secret Sith fleet of Star Destroyers to create the Final Order.
  • Hoist by His Own Petard:
    • When Palpatine/Sidious first tries to fry Mace Windu with Force lightning, Windu deflects the lightning with his lightsaber, which makes them hit him back and disfigures him, giving him the pale, gaunt and wrinkled look he had in the Original Trilogy. It stops soon enough for Palpatine not to die of it, and he uses this disfigurement as a Wounded Gazelle Gambit.
    • Palpatine spends the Canon manipulating people's emotions, both with his charisma and the Force. When Luke Skywalker nearly kills Darth Vader, however, he loses control of his own emotions and becomes excited at the prospect of having an even more powerful apprentice, outright telling the younger Skywalker to kill his father. Luke, however, realizes that he would be playing into Palpatine's hands by doing that, and he also believes that If You Kill Him, You Will Be Just Like Him. Luke then openly rejects Palpatine's We Can Rule Together proposal, telling him that his father is redeemable, which infuriates Palpatine into attacking the young Jedi. Darth Vader, witnessing his son's faith and willpower, and realizing how expendable he is in the eyes of his master, takes the opportunity to kill the bastard once and for all.
    • In the climax of The Rise of Skywalker, he attempts to fry Rey with his Force lightning, only for Rey to use her lightsaber to deflect the lightning just like Mace Windu did decades ago, then crossing it with Luke's blue saber to hold even better, which allows her to move towards Palpatine, making him disintegrate himself with his own power.
  • Huge Holographic Head: The Emperor speaks to Vader in The Empire Strikes Back with a giant holographic image of his head standing in his place.
  • Humanoid Abomination:
    • Palpatine's training in the Dark Side and excessive usage of it has essentially turned him into an eldritch monstrosity in human form. From his inhuman, ancient face to the blue energy of darkness that came out from his first death to his decayed state on Exegol to his legions of cultists that worship him like a twisted god, Sidious has become more monster than man. By the time of his second death, he had essentially become the embodiment of the Sith themselves.
    • The Rise of Skywalker dials this Up to Eleven in a variety of ways. The reborn Emperor's first encounter with Kylo Ren emphasizes the more subtle, eerie elements: he telepathically greets Kylo with a Voice of the Legion despite physically far from him... and then psychically imitates the voices of two pawns Kylo once idolized:
      Palpatine: [as himself] I have been every voice [as Snoke] you have ever heard [as Vader] inside your head.... [Vader Breath]
  • Humans Are the Real Monsters: In a galaxy populated by so many different alien races, this guy manages to be one of the vilest and most sociopathic humans who ever lived.
  • The Hyena: When he's truly amused he has tendencies to hideously laugh maniacally in a way that could rival only The Joker. In the Revenge of the Sith in particular when he fights Yoda he looks like a kid in a candy store.
  • Hypocrite: His MO in the Prequel Trilogy and The Clone Wars, as his rise to power involves him pretending to be one of the good guys, pretending to have concern for the people of Naboo (when he's actually arranging for their destruction), pretending to love democracy and the Republic and to reluctantly take on the emergency powers the Senate granted him (when he's really trying to set himself up as an autocrat), etc. He also targets and chastises Darth Maul for breaking the Rule of Two in The Clone Wars, although he has no problems letting Count Dooku train Asajj Ventress and Savage Opress, only objecting to the training when Asajj simply became too powerful. This is taken even further when George Lucas and Dave Filoni stated that he had been training Count Dooku as his apprentice behind Darth Maul's back.
  • I Am the Noun: He states himself to be the Senate, and the scary part is that, given how much behind-the-scenes control he has, he's right.
  • Iconic Sequel Character: He first appeared (production-wise) in The Empire Strikes Back and every film since, much like Yoda.
  • Immortality Seeker:
    • Palpatine is revealed to be this in Revenge of the Sith, following in the footsteps of his master, Darth Plagueis. Jedi believe that when they die and merge with the Force they Ascend to a Higher Plane of Existence, but Sith like Palpatine view it as a Cessation of Existence and will do anything in order to remain physically alive.
    • In Rebels, it's shown that Palpatine has been seeking the World between Worlds, and since it is the conduit between the living and the dead, it certainly would've given him the power to cheat death.
    • In The Rise of Skywalker, it's revealed that he somehow found a way to come back from his first death in Return of the Jedi, with the implications that Plagueis' reputation wasn't mere legends. The process left him trapped in a dead body, thus Palpatine seeks to posses Rey's body as his own. At the climax of the film, he decides it's easier to drain the life out of Rey and Ben Solo to rejuvenate his body.
  • Incoming Ham: While Palpatine is notorious for being one of the hammiest characters in the franchise, he remains relatively subdued in his hamminess throughout the Prequel Trilogy, up until the second half of Revenge of the Sith. That's when Palpatine fights Mace Windu, loses, and misleads Anakin into coming to his rescue, causing Windu to lose his arm. At this point, Palpatine gives a Slasher Smile and gets rid of any and all subtlety by screaming "POOOOOOOOWEEEEEEEEER! UN-LIM-IT-ED, POOOOOOOOOWEEEEEEEEEEEEEER!" while barraging Windu with Force lightning. And from that point on, he continuously proves that Evil Is Hammy with every single line that comes out of his mouth.
  • In the Hood: Palpatine uses this straight whenever he is in his Sidious persona, and uses it permanently after becoming Emperor (likely because the damage done by his own Force Lightning rendered his visage permanently scarred and hideous). However, if Rebels is any indication, he took it off during some addresses to the Imperial Senate as to not appear too intimidating to the common people.
  • Invincible Villain: During the Prequel Trilogy and The Clone Wars, since him winning is a Foregone Conclusion, naturally almost everything goes his way and very rarely does much of an obstacle get in his way. The only characters who get him against the ropes to some degree of credibility are Windu and Yoda, the top two Jedi of their era, and in both cases Sidious manages to get away without a loss in his record.
  • I Shall Taunt You: Palpatine, like many dark side users, is often seen using intimidation, threats and taunting to weaken his opponents.
  • Is That a Threat?: He delivers this line when Mace Windu comes to arrest him.
    "Are you threatening me, Master Jedi?"
  • It's All About Me: Other people are just a means to an end for him. Moreover, Palpatine had such an inflated sense of self that upon his death, his plan was that the remnants of the Empire were to be destroyed because they failed him.
  • Jerk with a Heart of Jerk: The only time Palpatine comes across as being sympathetic in superficial regard is when he rescues Darth Vader — which is subsequently undone by the fact that he views Vader as expendable if it means he can have a more powerful apprentice. It also works to his benefit that he's crippled and stuck in the Vader suit. Anakin is still strong enough to be the best enforcer he could ask for, but will never be able to realize his full potential and directly challenge Palpatine's authority.
  • Join or Die: Gives Luke an offer to join the Dark Side in Return of the Jedi. Luke refuses, so he attempts to kill him with Force Lightning. Vader puts a stop to it, though.
  • Joker Immunity: George Lucas intended the Emperor to be Killed Off for Real at the end of Return of the Jedi but his popularity meant that Palpatine will always return in some form. In the Prequel era, Palpatine is given more opportunity to show off his villainy and because of the prequel nature, he can never be killed or apprehended by the heroes. This popularity eventually reaches its logical conclusion in The Rise of Skywalker, which brought Palpatine Back from the Dead as the Big Bad in the final film of the Skywalker Saga. And it's not even clear if Rey permanently killed him this time given the lack of explanation on how he survived his first death.
  • Just Toying with Them: When he engaged in a lightsaber duel against Darth Maul and Savage Opress, he opened the duel by pinning them against the wall with the Force, which they were unable to escape, until he let go of them. He didn't break out the lightsabers because he had to, he did it because he wanted to.
  • Karma Houdini Warranty: After decades of tyranny, corruption, and getting away with a lot of evil actions in the Canon, he finally gets his first major comeuppance at the end of Return of the Jedi. And despite his best efforts to bring himself back from the brink decades later in The Rise of Skywalker, he gets destroyed by Rey and the spirits of all the Jedi while his First/Final Order collapses almost immediately after being in power for a measly year.
  • Karmic Death:
    • At the end of Return of the Jedi, Vader kills Palpatine while Palpatine is trying to kill Luke with the use of Force lightning. Also, Anakin's transition into Darth Vader is marked by Palpatine using Force lightning to make Mace Windu fall to his death, while Vader's return to the light side/being Anakin is marked by Vader sending Palpatine to fall to his death. Even better: Palpatine was using Force Lightning to kill Luke, and Vader's act stops him.
    • In The Rise of Skywalker, Palpatine gets killed by his own Force Lightning deflected back by Rey. Even better is that she is his granddaughter, a scavenger abandoned by her parents due to his machinations, who not only rejects her bloodline but becomes the very antithesis of Darth Sidious, becoming a Jedi and an "honorary" Skywalker at the end of the film.
  • Kick the Dog: In the first issue of Darth Vader, he makes Darth Vader go to Tatooine for a mission specifically because he knows of Anakin's painful memories there — which he openly belittles him for. He also mocks Anakin being the Chosen One, knowing how badly he threw his apprentice for a loop. All of this seems to be punishment for Vader failing to prevent the destruction of the first Death Star.
    • In Darth Vader (2020), Sidious does it again after Vader came back from his investigation of Padmé's death. But this time, it is far more violent : he blasts his apprentice with his Force Lightning, allows his Royal Guards to subdue him (and taking away Vader's lightsaber from him), Force-choked him and belittle him very harshly at the same time and Force-crushing three of four of Vader's prosthetics and most of his armor, before dropping him on Mustafar to repair himself without the Force (Sidious forbids him to do so) and sending the Sith assassin Ochi of Bestoon against him. But, Sidious allows him to defend himself against his guards (albeit without his lightsaber), only fully intervening after Vader subdue them (and Amedda), he didn't crush completely his life-support system, he leaves Vader's right arm intact, the Emperor even gives back his lightsaber on Mustafar and most importantly, he didn't kill him. All of this is to strengthen Vader to the Dark Side of the Force by "teaching him fear again to bring him back to power".
      Palpatine/Darth Sidious: You must find yourself again, old friend. You must relearn the primacy of power above all else ... or you must die.
  • Kick Them While They Are Down: In Revenge of the Sith, Palpatine orders Anakin to execute the disarmed Count Dooku after Anakin defeated him. After a moment of hesitation on Anakin's part, Palpatine commands him to do it — slipping into his Darth Sidious voice in the process — and Anakin beheads Dooku. This act serves the double purpose of removing a no longer useful pawn and bringing Anakin ever closer to the Sith way of thinking.
  • Kinslaying Is a Special Kind of Evil:
    • Attempts to invoke this in Return of the Jedi, by goading Luke into killing his father in a duel, in hopes of turning him to the Dark Side. It doesn't work.
    • The Rise of Skywalker reveals that he ordered the murder of Rey's father, who happens to be his own son. This is done to show that, unlike Darth Vader and Kylo Ren, Palpatine is beyond redemption and Rey shouldn't feel any remorse of killing her grandfather to save the galaxy.
  • Klingon Promotion: He became the Sith Master when he murdered his master, Darth Plagueis.
  • Knight of Cerebus: Just when you thought Darth Vader was the scariest villain in the galaxy, enter Emperor Palpatine. When he makes his first physical appearance in The Clone Wars as the shadowy Darth Sidious, it shows just how serious things have gotten. Even more so in The Rise of Skywalker. As soon as he made himself known, the movie became almost entirely bereft of humor, and his plan for the galaxy might very well have been his most sinister to date.
  • Knight Templar: The only motivation Palpatine has besides a sociopathic lust for power and control is that he genuinely believes that a Sith-run government is in the Galaxy's best interest... or so he claims, anyway.
  • Large Ham: UNLIMITED... POWAAAAAAAH!!!.
  • Laser-Guided Karma:
    • He manipulates Padmé and Anakin throughout their entire lives, using their weaknesses to gain more dictatorial power and destroy the Jedi Order. He ends up losing in Return of the Jedi when Luke showcases Padmé's incorruptible spirit and persuades Vader to become Anakin once more and destroy his abusive master once and for all.
    • In The Rise of Skywalker, Palpatine seeks to destroy the Skywalker family for their role in his defeat and desires his granddaughter Rey to inherit his legacy as the ultimate Sith and ruler of the galaxy (with the implications of Grand Theft Me). By the end of the film, Rey embraces the Skywalkers as her true family and thus inherits their surname and legacy, leaving Palpatine's legacy to die with the Sith Lord on Exogol.
  • Last-Name Basis: He is exclusively known as Palpatine in the Prequel Trilogy and most other installments.
  • Last of His Kind: After his final death in The Rise of Skywalker, the Sith Order is essentially extinct.note 
  • Late-Arrival Spoiler: Particularly for more recent installments such as The Clone Wars. Let's face it, we've known his true nature for thirty years.
  • Leitmotif: A very dark and unsetting piece complete with an equally sinister male choir. Notably, his arrival on the second Death Star is initially scored with a typically bombastic version of Vader's Imperial March... which fades out slowly when the Emperor emerges and is consumed by the his own slower and more ominous music, as if to subtly imply just how much worse he is than Vader and more powerful than anything we've seen so far.
  • Let No Crisis Go to Waste: In the Prequel Trilogy, Senator Palpatine uses fear of the Separatist movement (which he secretly influenced) to gain authority.
  • Life Drain: He drains the life force of both Rey and Ben Solo (formerly Kylo Ren) to regenerate himself in The Rise of Skywalker.
  • Light Is Not Good: In the Rebels finale, he projects an illusion of himself while speaking to Ezra in order to manipulate him. The fake Palpatine that appears is his past unscarred self and garbed in an unhooded white robe instead of his typical black one that he normally wears as Emperor. Ezra wasn't fooled by this at all.
  • Lightning Bruiser: During his lightsaber duel with Darth Maul and Savage Opress, he not only outclasses them in terms of swordplay, but proves to be much faster than either of them as well as matching them in feats of strength.
  • Logical Weakness: Though he has the Force to strengthen him, he's still an old man and thus doesn't have the stamina for protracted duels. In his lightsaber duel with Maul and Savage, he gets visibly winded before separating the two to make the duel more manageable. In his duel with Yoda (who's actually older than he is, but has the advantage of belonging to a long-lived species), he shows a clear preference to attacking via the Force rather than his lightsaber. By the time of the Original Trilogy, he's even older and doesn't use his lightsaber at all and appears helpless when Vader grabs him.
  • Long-Range Fighter: Despite being a Master Swordsman, he usually prefers just using his Force powers from afar.
  • Luke, I Am Your Father: He turns out to be Rey's grandfather.
  • Luke, I Might Be Your Father: In the final volume of Darth Vader: Dark Lord of the Sith, one of the many visions Vader sees strongly implies that Palpatine was the one who manipulated the Force to conceive Anakin.note 

    M-R 
  • The Man Behind the Curtain: Subverted in his first production-wise appearance. When Luke first meets him in person, he doesn't look like a physical threat. Then out comes the Force Lightning.
  • The Man Behind the Man:
    • He's the real villain hiding in the shadows, behind Gunray, Maul, Dooku, and Grievous throughout the Prequel Trilogy's era. Between the Prequel Trilogy, The Clone Wars, and Return of the Jedi he's openly the leader of the Empire, but he still relies on the likes of Tarkin and Vader to do his bidding.
    • In the Sequel Trilogy, he is still this. He is the one behind Snoke and by extension, behind the First Order and Kylo Ren's fall to the Dark Side.
      Palpatine/Darth Sidious: [to Kylo Ren] My boy, I made Snoke. I have been every voice [in his own voice] you have ever heard [in Snoke's voice] inside your head [in Vader's voice].
  • Man of Wealth and Taste: While playing his kindly "Chancellor Palpatine" persona, he wears very fine looking red dress robes, which make him look very classy and cultured. Once he becomes Emperor and has the galaxy at his feet, he drops the pretence and opts for ghoulish black Sith robes and hood.
  • Manipulative Bastard: Palpatine is the puppetmaster behind the curtain, pulling the strings of all the characters during the Clone Wars. His manipulativeness is evident throughout the Canon. From coordinating and eventually betraying the Trade Federation as they attack Naboo as an excuse to replace the incompetent Valorum as Chancellor, to setting up the various trade guilds in the Galaxy to take on the Republic as an excuse to access emergency powers, to getting Anakin Skywalker/Darth Vader to kill Count Dooku to replace him as his apprentice, and then promising to save his wife from certain death with his knowledge of the Dark Side so he would turn his back on the Jedi, those are just a few of the manipulative things he's done.
    • If he were just The Chessmaster, Sidious wouldn't have gotten Anakin on his side and might have failed outright. His ability to turn the emotionally vulnerable Jedi into a desperate pawn saved his life at least once.
    • Sith-ness notwithstanding, he managed to shape the galaxy in his image, had manipulated every major event for the past two decades or so, and had kept everyone assured of his respectability and trustworthiness while doing so. As he declared himself ruler-for-life (and was applauded by the Senate for doing so) he could justifiably claim to have earned it. And his start to political prominence was over a seemingly minor trade dispute. Which he started. It helps he's motivated by pure ambition.
    • While he does get defeated due to not realizing Vader cares for his son more than his duty, he still manages to have absolute authority for twenty-three years. Not just that, but he's the first Sith Lord in their five-thousand-year history to accomplish what they'd all been yearning to do.
    • He caused Anakin Skywalker, the Chosen One, on whom all of the Canon's hopes rode, to turn completely and fully to the Dark Side... by talking to him. It's chilling to reach those scenes and then realize how he's spent Revenge of the Sith setting up Anakin's psyche so that he can give it the last push when he needs to.
    • Palpatine did the exact same thing to Ezra, but he fails because unlike Anakin, the loss of Ezra's loved ones made him stronger, accepting that he wouldn't be where he is now without their sacrifices.
  • Mask of Sanity: As the Senator and later Chancellor of Naboo he presents himself as a wise, grandfatherly and affable authority figure. In truth he's a cunning but still psychopathic monster who takes pleasure in dominating and/or hurting others.
  • Master of Illusion: By using an ancient Blood Magic ritual, he was able to appear on Moraband in front of Yoda while being disguised as Sifo-Dyas and then draw Yoda into an illusionary battle, in which he tried to break the Grand Master's resolve, by offering him a chance to kill him, at the cost of sacrificing Anakin. He's also able to perfectly conceal his true nature in front of the Jedi Order.
  • Master Swordsman: He defeats Darth Maul and Savage Opress in a lightsaber duel, kills three of the most powerful Jedi Masters in the Order in mere seconds, possibly throws his duel with Mace to bring Anakin to the dark side (and if not, he stills holds his own for most of the battle), and later defeats Yoda in a lightsaber/Force duel. This is even more impressive considering that he doesn't even care for lightsaber combat and rarely engages in it, usually preferring to just use subterfuge (or Force Lightning) to deal with his enemies. In truth he feels that it's beneath him and only does it to mock his opponents.
  • Meaningful Name:
    • Darth Sidious is rather insidious. All the Darths have meaningful names. Reflective of his true personality, it also rhymes with 'hideous' and sounds vaguely like "sadist".
    • His non-Sith name, Palpatine, also qualifies, as Word of God stated that Palpatine was derived from "Palpitare", which is Latin for "to throb" (in fear, in this case). It also sounds like Palatine, the hill on which Rome was founded and the seat of imperial power.
    • Also to "Senator Palantine", the corrupt senator Travis Bickle decides to assassinate in Taxi Driver, directed by Lucas's good friend Martin Scorsese the year before A New Hope was released. While actual proof is hard to come by, it is a fan theory that the Senator's name inspired the Emperor's.
    • Due to many of the names from Naboo having an Indian origin, like Padmé and the Gungans, his first name, Sheev, is likely based upon the Hindu god Shiva, the Destroyer and Transformer, which fits him well due to his actions of destroying the Jedi and the Republic (among other things) and transforming the Republic into the Empire. Shiva is also the lord of all demons whilst Palpatine is Dark Lord of the Sith and ultimately emperor of the galaxy, making him a symbolic Demon King. Shiva is also prideful and a patron of the arts, both of which Palpatine is as well. Also inverted, in that Shiva is a largely benevolent and paternal god whose other aspects include Life and Rebirth, while Palpatine is a monstrous, murderous tyrant.
    • The name Sheev also brings to mind a 'shiv', a stabbing blade that, in a prison setting at least, is meant to be hidden, not unlike his own hidden agenda during the Clone Wars.
  • Military Mage: While he is largely preoccupied with being a Sorcerous Overlord, he also uses his own Force powers for military intelligence, basing his military strategies on what he has foreseen with his Force clairvoyance.
  • Mind Hive: In The Rise of Skywalker, he claims to be "all the Sith," and his ability to use the voices of several past Sith Lords lends credence to this concept, as does his intention of having the spirits of past Sith flow into his granddaughter.
  • Mind over Matter: He has no trouble tossing around the platforms in the Senate chamber (each the size of a large truck), and can even toss around Maul and Savage (both of whom have strong telekinetic abilities themselves) like they were dolls. In The Rise of Skywalker, he easily overpowers both Ben Solo and Rey with the Force despite his weakened state. Speaks to the great power he can wield.
  • Minored in Ass-Kicking: His most powerful weapon is his mind, to which he owes his rise rather than his physical power, and he prefers having others do his dirty work rather than getting personally involved. He detests physical combat in general, preferring manipulation and the usage of Force powers (he even condescendingly refers to the lightsaber as a "Jedi weapon" with a hint of amusement). When he does finally whip out his lightsaber though, he shows himself to be possibly the most potent combatant in the series, killing three Jedi Masters in seconds, going to the distance against Yoda, and only maybe being beaten by Windu.
  • Modest Royalty: As Emperor, he wears a rather simple black cloak, compared to the elaborate robes he used as Chancellor. Even Wilhuff Tarkin, who also tends to stick to his military uniform, is surprised by the Emperor's modesty.
  • The Mole: If only the Jedi had realized that the Dark Lord of the Sith — their sworn enemy — was hiding amongst the politicians they were working for...
  • Mole in Charge: After he becomes the leader of the Republic.
  • Monster Protection Racket: His overarching plan in the Prequel Trilogy and The Clone Wars is this trope on a galactic scale, and by the time he's found out, it's too late to stop him.
  • Muscles Are Meaningless: Though the Force provides a justification for this, as it enhances one's physical strength. He fought on par with Savage Opress, who has proven strong enough to overpower even Jedi Masters with his strikes and send armored soldiers flying through the air with his blows. Savage has also shrugged off nearly every physical attack used on him, but Sidious kicked him once and made it hurt.
  • Mutual Kill:
    • Palpatine obviously wasn't going to survive a fall into the core of the Death Star, but the stray lightning bolts he fired shorted out Vader's life support.
    • Subverted with The Rise of Skywalker, which implies that Palpatine survived or has returned in some form, making this not quite as much of a mutual kill as it previously appeared. Double subverted within the movie itself, as he states that he really died by Vader's hands. He had to be resurrected by some Sith practices.
      Palpatine/Darth Sidious: I died before. The Dark Side of the Force is a pathway to many abilities some consider to be unnatural.
    • He ends up dying again from his own Force Lightning being deflected back at him by Rey's lightsabers, but the effort required is too much for her and she drops dead not long after. At least until Ben revives her with his own life force.
  • Mysterious Backer: He portrays himself as one in the Prequel Trilogy and The Clone Wars.
  • Names to Run Away from Really Fast: His Sith name is a play on the word "insidious". His real name, Sheev, calls to mind Shiva, the Hindu God of Destruction who although not evil is still definitely not someone to mess with and may also bring to mind the word "shiv".
  • A Nazi by Any Other Name: Considering how the Galactic Empire has several parallels to Nazi Germany, Palpatine is a stand-in for Adolf Hitler, among others.
  • Never My Fault: In the Rise of Skywalker, he throws Kylo Ren down to his seemingly death (He doesn't die until later) in a case Revenge by Proxy of his grandfather throwing him to his death. It couldn't possibly have something to do with torturing Vader's son in front of him and trying to have Luke kill and replace him, right?
  • No Name Given: Palpatine was originally just referred to as "The Emperor" before he was officially given the last name of Palpatine. Even then, his first name, Sheev, would not officially be discussed until 2014's Tarkin.
  • Nice Job Fixing It, Villain!: Torturing Luke is what prompts Vader to make a Heel–Face Turn and destroy him. Even before that, telling Luke that he should kill his father prompts a brief "My God, What Have I Done?" moment in him, which leads to Luke's Kirk Summation and starts Vader's Heel–Face Turn.
  • No Historical Figures Were Harmed: Palpatine was initially conceived as the Star Wars counterpart to Emperor Ming the Merciless (fitting, considering that Flash Gordon was a major influence in the making of the Original Trilogy). Lucas owing to the authoritarian/totalitarian versus democracy theme of the films, sought to mix him with real world analogues:
    • Lucas claimed that Palpatine was intended to be Richard Nixon (albeit by the time he appeared in 1980, Nixon was long gone from the White House) i.e. an old, paranoid man, who lies openly and serially (at least that's how Nixon was seen in popular culture). Eventually by the time of the prequels, Palpatine came to evoke Adolf Hitler as well as other dictators who historically undermined democracy, including Napoléon Bonaparte and Augustus. Though there's far less Napoleon in Palpatine than the other two, mostly because Napoleon does have a positive reputationnote .
    • Palpatine's modus operandi in the Prequel Trilogy and The Clone Wars, i.e. outwardly claiming to be democratic and republic, but inwardly, actively undermining it, was how Hitler operated after the failed 1923 Beer Hall Putsch. He would claim that he would operate legally but privately he openly told his family that as soon as he took power he intended to set up a National Court that would try and execute political criminals. The Nazi movement also attracted and depended on a lot of confused youth and university students from universities who couldn't find work and felt alienated from society (similar to Anakin). Hitler was also inspired by Roman strongmen like Sulla Felix, openly telling everyone that the proscriptions in Ancient Rome would serve as a model for what they would do to their enemies. As such Lucas, naturally combined Hitler and Roman oligarchs for his ultimate villain.
    • One of Palpatine's favorite tactics is (especially in The Clone Wars) is to pretend to be a kindly moderate voice of reason forced into taking extreme measures by both circumstances and political realities. In reality, he's usually the one giving extreme opinions that favor his agenda a voice while silencing moderates by subtly playing favorites on who has the floor. This very same strategy was used extensively by Joseph Stalin during his rise to power.
  • Non-Action Big Bad: In the Original Trilogy, where he never once fights, bar a very brief use of Force lightning. Even in the Prequel Trilogy, he only fights in the last half of the third movie, otherwise remaining in the shadows. He's a very powerful fighter despite this, he just considers swinging a sword around to be beneath him.
  • Nothing Up My Sleeve: He keeps his lightsaber in his sleeve in The Clone Wars and Revenge of the Sith.
  • Not Enough to Bury: Both times; his original body was vaporized when it fell into the Death Star II's reactor, while his final cloned body is disintegrated when Rey redirects his own Force Lightning back at him.
  • Not So Omniscient After All: Palpatine's speech about how everything was transpiring according to his design rings a bit hollow when you realize he's talking to the guy he earlier admitted to not actually knowing would be there. Then again, that's only what he told Vader.
  • Not So Stoic: It's subtle, but the Zillo Beast arc in The Clone Wars features Palpatine encountering something truly new that he never knew about or accounted for, for the first and maybe only time. The mask starts to slip behind the Chancellor's guise as he does: from genuine curiosity when the beast is first discovered, to glee when it falls into his grasp, to uncertainty when things go off the rails, though he eventually recovers. He also starts letting his brutality show with his employees, handing out threats for answers that he usually wouldn't in that persona.
  • Not-So-Well-Intentioned Extremist: He reformed the Republic into the Empire in the name of peace and unity, but it's made painfully obvious that he just wants to be the one who gets to rule it.
  • Obfuscating Disability: He deliberately makes himself appear weak and frail to his enemies, even using a cane in spite of not needing one. But as Revenge of the Sith and Return of the Jedi show, he's among the most skilled lightsaber duelists and the strongest Force wielders in the galaxy.
  • Obviously Evil: Darth Sidious has a hideously withered face, yellow eyes, a scary voice, and black robes with a hood over his head. His name also sounds like "insidious". Subverted with his Palpatine identity, who looked like a kind politician before getting a face full of lightning.
  • Offing the Offspring: He sent an assassin to murder his son and daughter-in-law when they tried to hide his granddaughter from him. This even continued to said granddaughter when she refused to join the Dark Side.
  • Oh, Crap!:
    • He's capable of those reactions, and has a rather genuine-looking one when Windu beats his defense and kicks away his lightsaber. He then plays it up when Anakin enters the chamber, though.
    • Later Sidious has four of them in his duel against Yoda, all of them portraying his shock at finding out how powerful the Jedi Master is. The first happens when Palpatine gets Force pushed across his desk in retaliation for a Force lightning attack, which informs Sidious that he has finally met his match in the Force and it is better for him to try to run away; the second when Yoda unexpectedly overpowers him in a Blade Lock on the central podium, which now makes Sidious abandon swordfighting altogether and resort to long-range Force attacks; the third when Yoda unveils his own telekinetic talent and sends him back a podium with extra spinning, forcing Sidious to jump down to avoid it; and the fourth and final when, in the midst of Sidious' cackling Force lighting assault on Yoda, the latter starts successfully meeting the Sith's power with his own, leading to a Force explosion that sends them both tumbling.
    • The most famous happens when Darth Vader takes hold of him and tosses him into the depths of the Death Star.
  • Old Master: Even during the Prequel Trilogy and The Clone Wars, he was in his late fifties.
  • One-Man Army: He was able to easily stand his ground against his former apprentice Darth Maul and his brother Savage Opress in The Clone Wars. He even managed to kill three Jedi Masters when they accompanied Master Windu to arrest the Chancellor for his crimes in Revenge of the Sith. When he regained his strength in The Rise of Skywalker, his Force Lightning is so strong that he could disable the entire Resistance Fleet, and could have potentially destroyed them all if he hadn’t stopped.
  • OOC Is Serious Business: He's so good at Xanatos Speed Chess and Xanatos Gambits that it takes something truly shocking to unnerve him. Some examples include learning of Darth Maul's survival, failing to break Yoda, gaining awareness of Darth Vader's loss at Mustafar, and seeing Luke's refusal to pull a Face–Heel Turn.
  • Orcus on His Throne:
    • He only got off of his throne twice during the Clone Wars, both times to attack Darth Maul. During the two times he shows up, things get real serious real fast and he offs numerous characters.
    • He also got off the throne for Lords of the Sith, but only because he was stranded on a planet.
    • He's got an Empire to micromanage and plots to set in motion; he has Darth Vader to do the in-person chasing after of Rebels. Only in the Original Trilogy though, he's very active in the Prequel Trilogy. In the sense of Lucas modeling The Empire after Rome, in the Prequel Trilogy, he's Octavian/Augustus, while in the Original Trilogy, he's Tiberius with Vader as Sejanus and Tarkin as Pilate, or Hitler who was actually pretty hands-off and let his subordinates do the grunt work and be the face of his regime.
  • Our Liches Are Different: Between his preference for weaponizing the Force over utilizing a lightsaber, his boasted command over life and death, his nearly-superhuman ability to manipulate both events to come and the people around him, and the fact that he both strongly resembles an undead monster and is implied to have risen from death in The Rise of Skywalker, Palpatine is essentially a science fantasy lich.
  • Overarching Villain:
    • He's the one running things in the Prequel Trilogy, The Clone Wars, and Original Trilogy, even when he's offscreen.
    • The first 10 minutes of The Rise of Skywalker reveals he's this for the Sequel Trilogy as well, having created Snoke and used him as a Puppet King from the shadows.
  • Parental Substitute: Palpatine was this for Darth Maul via having raised him from a young age. None of this implies that he was a ''good'' father figure. He was also this for Anakin Skywalker as well, who has no biological father in addition to the fact that he looked up to Palpatine for years and saw him as a father figure and this continues (in a rather twisted way) after he reveals himself as a Sith Lord and converts Anakin to his side. What's more, in the finale of Darth Vader: Dark Lord of the Sith Palpatine is actually revealed to be his "father" after a fashion, as it's heavily implied he was the one to manipulate the midichlorians inside of Shmi that resulted in Anakin's conception. The only apprentice he doesn't even bother to act parental to is Dooku, which he only saw as a proton torpedo.
  • Parents in Distress: He is a Parental Substitute to Anakin and ends up being saved by him at least twice in Revenge of the Sith. In this case, Anakin would probably have been better off letting Palpatine die (provided he was ever actually in real danger), what with him manipulating him into turning to the Dark Side and all...
  • Permanent Elected Official: As a result of the "emergency powers" he was given at the start of the Clone Wars, he can remain in office indefinitely. The Jedi and many members of the Senate are disturbed by this.
  • Person of Mass Destruction: After draining Rey and Kylo to restore his Prequel-era vitality, the Emperor personally disables the orbiting Resistance starfleet (including capital ships) by zapping them with Force lightning from his throne in what is the single most devastating Force feat in canon.
  • Pet the Dog: As hard as it sounds, Palpatine does have these moments, but they are either done out of pragmatism or in a twisted Sith manner.
    • In his own sick way, it's shown that Palpatine does have a degree of genuine affection for Maul and Anakin. The same still cannot be said for Dooku.
    • That said, when a Talzin possessed Dooku engages Sidious in lightsaber combat during their final encounter, he derides her by claiming she may have his body but none of his skill.
    • Palpatine admits Maul was highly talented and a deeply regrettable loss. When he returns, Palpatine is amused and content to let him do as he pleased until Maul rose to become a legitimate Sith rival.
    • Played with in another twisted way. Palpatine would sometimes present Vader gifts or most of anything he would ask out of him, including planets, but there would always be a deadly Secret Test of Character attached. One infamous occasion was when Palpatine gave Vader ownership of Mustafar and a Sith artifact containing the spirit of Sith heretic Momin. It was given to allegedly help blueprint a nice castle for Vader on Mustafar, but Palpatine was fully aware of Momin's personality and inevitably trying to kill his apprentice.
    • His interaction with Thrawn when he promotes him to Grand Admiral. When Thrawn reveals that he knows at least somewhat about the Death Star and voices his concerns, Palpatine assures him that he has no designs against the Chiss and that the Death Star will remove the need to spread Imperial presence to multiple systems. Considering Palpatine's track record for dealing with subordinates and that he could have easily invoked He Knows Too Much on Thrawn, this is a major step up from his usual behavior. Though it could just be Pragmatic Villainy instead, as Thrawn's concerns ARE legitimate and his competence is too valuable to the Empire to just throw aside. There's also the fact that Thrawn follows the Sith's Might Makes Right line of thinking, so that's a bonus for Palpatine.
    • His treatment of Vader post-Mustafar compared to his other apprentices. True this can also be Pragmatic Villainy as Palpatine needed an apprentice. But there are multiple examples: one, he allows Vader to adjust his suit as he wishes; two, he has more faith in Vader than in the Inquisitors, Cylo's potential replacements for Vader and any of his other apprentices; three, he could easily replace the crippled Vader with any of the Inquisitors but he choose to keep Vader (who is still very powerful despite his injuries) as his apprentice instead; and last, he seems to care about Vader (as much as a Sith Lord could) as when he senses that Darth Vader is in danger in Revenge of the Sith, he immediately departs for Mustafar and thus saves his life (and again, he could have left Vader to die on Mustafar but choose not to). But none of these stops Palpatine to replace Vader if he sees someone more fit as his apprentice as shown in Return of the Jedi with Luke.
  • Playing Both Sides: How he arranged for the Clone Wars to begin before he became Supreme Chancellor.
  • Playing with Fire: As of Rebels he can shoot blue flames using Sith Alchemy. They don't burn anything, though, just grab people across spiritual portals.
  • Poisonous Friend: Often refers to Anakin/Vader as his "friend", even for some time after Vader took up the mantle of Sith apprentice. While he's not completely insincere, it's an understatement to say he had a very negative influence on Anakin's life.
  • Possession Burnout: His clone body on Exegol strains from housing the "immense power" of his dark spirit, per the Rise of Skywalker novelization.
  • Power Degeneration: His body slowly ages and degenerates the longer he uses his Sith powers.
    • In his fight with Master Windu, his face ages rapidly while using Force lightning to block his lightsaber.
    • This trope is dialed Up to Eleven in The Rise of Skywalker. The novelization confirms that Sidious's clone body edges closer to death under the strain of his "immense power."
  • The Power of Hate: He's a huge advocate of this, to the point where he even commends other people for being hateful.
  • Praetorian Guard: Palpatine is always accompanied by the Royal Guard, tall and intimidating soldiers in red armor.
  • Pre-Asskicking One-Liner: "It's treason then..."
  • Prepare to Die: His speech to Luke after the Jedi refuses to kill his father is almost entirely composed of this. The speech ends up being his last words.
  • President Evil: During his stint as Supreme Chancellor. It was his stepping stone to becoming The Emperor. Both the Jedi and some Senators such as Bail Organa had misgivings during this phase, but Palpatine was already too popular to easily challenge.
  • Pride: As Luke surmises, his overconfidence is his weakness — although considering his Invincible Villain status up until that point, Palpatine's smugness wasn't necessarily without justification.
  • Psycho Electro: He clearly has fun whenever he whips out the Force Lightning.
  • Psychopathic Manchild: Palpatine is very giddy when Luke is angry, and his torture of Luke is more childish sadism than anger.
  • A Pupil of Mine Until He Turned to Evil: He served his own master faithfully for many years, ultimately killing him and becoming far worse than he was. Granted, his master was also evil, although Palpatine's tale of him makes him look at least less evil than Sidious himself (not a big feat, but still). Subverted since Palpatine was always evil, and killing his master didn't involve any change in moral alignment whatsoever, being just normal Sith Lord behavior.
  • Put Them All Out of My Misery: He has no desire to have the Galactic Empire outlive him. His contingency plan, should he ever die, is to have his loyalists not only destroy the Rebellion, but the Empire as well for failing to protect him. Gallius Rax is that contingency plan, and he would've taken at least half or two-thirds of the Galaxy down had Rae Sloane not shot him.
  • Pragmatic Villainy: Ironically, despite Darth Vader claiming Palpatine is an even worse boss than him, he scolds Vader on his tendency to kill his subordinates on a whim, implying it will raise mutiny and that he does not wish to rule over a galaxy of the dead. He is also legitimately taken aback by Tarkin blowing up Alderaan, not because of it being immoral, but at how impossibly stupid and illogical such a move is.
  • Pyrrhic Villainy:
    • Almost everything goes his way in Revenge of the Sith except for Darth Vader being burned alive and losing all of his limbs, which weakened his strength in the Force. Had Vader made it through the battle against Obi-Wan unscathed, it's doubtful that anything could have stopped Palpatine. On the other hand, a crippled Vader means he wouldn't worry about being overthrown since a healthy Skywalker would have surpassed Palpatine in power and overthrew him eventually (which Vader was planning to do from the start).
    • In The Rise of Skywalker, he successfully wipes out the Skywalker bloodline posthumously after Ben Solo gives up his life to save Rey, Palpatine's granddaughter. However, his second bid for galactic domination fails and Rey chooses to name herself as "Rey Skywalker" to ensure that the Skywalker family lives on in spirit while Palpatine is forgotten to the sands of time.
  • Rank Up:
    • At the end of The Phantom Menace, he goes from Senator to Chancellor.
    • At the end of Revenge of the Sith, he goes from Chancellor to The Emperor.
  • Reasonable Authority Figure: When he was Chancellor, he listened to the Jedi, believed his allies, and was willing to do what had to be done to stop the droid armies. This was all a ploy to make people trust him and believe he was a good ruler long enough before he could make himself Emperor and get Anakin on his side.
  • Red and Black and Evil All Over: In The Rise of Skywalker, he wears a red shirt under his trademark black cloak, and is the most evil being in Star Wars.
  • Red Oni, Blue Oni: The red to Vader's blue, being an over-the-top cackling sadist, as opposed to Vader's Tranquil Fury.
  • Retroactive Idiot Ball: His decision at the end of Return of the Jedi to brutally torture and murder Luke in front of Vader becomes retroactively moronic when Revenge of the Sith reveals he exploited Anakin's fear of losing his loved ones to turn him to the dark side in the first place, meaning he should have known hurting his son in front of him would be the most reliable way to bring out the good left in him.
  • Returning Big Bad: Returns in The Rise of Skywalker, after being killed in Return of the Jedi, revealing that he created Supreme Leader Snoke via cloning; as a result, he is responsible for the majority of the events in the Sequel Trilogy.
  • Rule of Two:
    • He takes action against Maul and Savage in The Clone Wars episode "The Lawless" because there's only supposed to be one master/apprentice pair, and Maul lost the position of apprentice when he got himself chopped in half back in The Phantom Menace. Furthermore, by taking Savage as his own apprentice, and taking over Mandalore, Maul became a rival in Sidious's book. He even invokes it:
      Darth Sidious: Remember the first and only reality of the Sith: there can only be two. And you are no longer my apprentice. You have been replaced.
    • Ironically, according to George Lucas and Dave Filoni, he actually averted this ideology for a time — he was training Count Dooku to become Darth Tyranus at the same time that Darth Maul was hunting down Obi-Wan Kenobi and Qui-Gon Jinn (though Maul was not aware of this at the time).
  • Running Both Sides: During the Clone Wars, his position as Supreme Chancellor makes him the leader of the Republic, while he also secretly controls the Separatists, as Count Dooku, the Separatists' public leader, is really his Sith apprentice. This is part of his Xanatos Gambit; the Separatists and the War exist to provide a threat that Palpatine can leverage to secure absolute power within the Republic. It works.

    S-Z 
  • Sadist: Palpatine's greatest joy in life is inflicting pain on others, physical or emotional. Observe how he pointedly waits until he is certain Maul is watching him before executing his brother Savage and then takes great joy torturing him with Force lightning.
  • Satanic Archetype: He has many Satanic traits, and Word of God confirms Old Scratch himself to be the primary inspiration for the character (along with Richard Nixon). He's a Consummate Liar and Wicked Cultured Man of Wealth and Taste who deceives numerous genuinely good people into following him in a scheme that ultimately ends with him gaining control of the government to usher in (what he claims will be) a utopia (admittedly, this last part is more The Antichrist's area of expertise, but we all know who that guy reports to). In addition, the order he gives to wipe out all with the power to oppose him? Order 66. The prologue to the non-canon novel Darth Plagueis outright states that The Great Beast poked its head out of the Abyss when he killed his master. Ian McDiarmid, the actor who plays Palpatine, at one point suggested that Palpatine is actually more evil than the Devil. He points out: "At least Satan fell; he has a history, and it's one of revenge." In The Rise of Skywalker, the Satanic influences become even more pronounced. Palpatine's new base of operations, Exegol, is surrounded by a magnetic anomaly full of black holes with a reddish color scheme similar to the traditional Fire and Brimstone Hell. Exegol itself is an icy, tundra-like desert world which can bring to mind the ninth circle of Hell as depicted in The Divine Comedy, a massive, cold lake of frozen water on which Satan himself is imprisoned, similar to how Palpatine is restrained by his massive life support system until he absorbs enough life force from Ben and Rey to break free of it. The planet is inhabited by several Sith cultists who worship Palpatine as some kind of deranged, God of Evil, and its name is likely taken from Algol, a star which has long been associated with Old Nick in folklore and astrology.
  • Scars Are Forever: His face after being disfigured by his own lightning, although it was stated by Ian McDiarmid and implied in the film itself that the "disfigurement" was in fact his true face, previously hidden through secret arts and now unveiled. Palpatine certainly tries to pass his appearance off as scars in his address to the Senate.
  • Screw the Rules, I Make Them!: "I am the Senate!"
  • Screaming Warrior: Palpatine often makes unflattering yells of anger during his serious lightsaber duels. Notably, while starting his duel with Windu and his team of mooks, he starts by leaping into the fray shrieking a bestial war cry clearly not human in nature moments til murdering Kolar.
  • Secret Identity Identity: When Palpatine is doing business with less savory characters (such as the Separatists and bounty hunters) behind the public's eye as Darth Sidious, he wears a simple black robe with a hood that covers his eyes to prevent them from recognizing him as the Supreme Chancellor of the Galactic Republic. However, he views the face-concealing Darth Sidious to be his real face and the open and fair-looking Palpatine to be his mask. After turning the Republic into an Empire and exterminating the Jedi Order, Palpatine discards his public persona completely (save for his name and title as Emperor) and fully embraces the Sidious persona in both thought and action.
  • Secret Test of Character: Palpatine's method of training Darth Vader involves testing the limits of his emotional instability and rage in subtler ways than how he trained Maul.
  • Secret Keeper: Palpatine was one of only two people who Anakin told about his massacre of the Tusken Raiders, the other being Padmé. Unlike Padmé, Palpatine served this role to Anakin for less-than-benevolent reasons.
  • Self-Fulfilling Prophecy: Palpatine ordered Dooku to execute Ventress because he was worried that Dooku might use her to turn against him. Until then, Dooku never considered the possibility, but once he got Savage as a replacement for Ventress, he immediately decided on turning against his Master once Savage was ready.
  • Self-Made Man: Despite all his evils, Palpatine did a great job rising to power. Came from no great background on Naboo, apprenticed to a Sith Lord in secret, and from there, gradually made his way up the ladder of society. Using his shadow influence to move the Trade Federation into action, rising from Senator to Supreme Chancellor, he then engineered a war to get emergency powers, and once the war finished, used his popularity to become Emperor. Say what you will, but he really worked well at promoting himself to the pinnacle of power.
  • Shock and Awe: His signature move is to conjure lightning with the Force.
  • Shoot the Dangerous Minion: In The Clone Wars, Palpatine grows wary of the speed of Asajj Ventress' progress and ordered Count Dooku to kill her before she grew strong enough to aid Dooku if the Count turned against him. Dooku complied, but Ventress survived his betrayal and made herself a powerful enemy to Dooku.
  • Signature Move:
    • His iconic use of Force Lightning, an ability historically more associated with him than lightsabers. In fact, Palpatine is seen using Force Lightning more than his lightsaber.
    • He also seems to have a penchant for acrobatic evasions. He avoids Windu with a backflip/sideflip combo during their duel, and later tries the same by somersault towards his chamber's room in order to try to escape from Yoda.
    • He also makes a wide usage of downward, shoulder-high lightsaber thrusts. He kills Agen Kolar with one and tries a couple more against both Windu and Yoda.
  • Smug Snake: The decades of success he achieved in the Prequel Trilogy has finally gotten into Palpatine's head by the time of Return of the Jedi. Though he does pull a pretty good trick in giving the Rebels the location of the shield generator to lure them into a trap, he has become simply too arrogant to acknowledge the possibility that the Rebels could overcome it. After all, if his previous gambits and plans have worked without a hitch, why would this one fail?
  • The Sociopath: Palpatine is cunning, ruthless, and manipulative — enabling him to be the perfect avatar of the dark Side. Lack of Empathy? Check. Manipulates people like chess pieces and only emitting shallow emotions? Check. Experiences extreme rage and is uplifted when hurting enemies? Check.
  • Sorcerous Overlord: Not only possessing unlimited political power within the Empire, Palpatine also possesses Force powers rooted in the deepest, most arcane arts of the Dark Side, powers that very few who came before him could even dream of mastering.
  • Squishy Wizard: Downplayed and later played straight. His lightsaber skills are undoubtedly among the very top of his era, as he is capable of dueling multiple Jedi or Sith opponents as if it were nothing, holds his own pretty well against Mace Windu (and that's assuming he didn't throw the swordfight to corrupt Anakin), and defends successfully against all of Yoda's attacks whenever they cross blades in their duel. However, he still performs better at sheer Force powers than at sword combat, so much that, upon unexpectedly losing a Blade Lock to Yoda, Sidious ultimately decides to keep him at long range with Force attacks rather than risking himself against the Jedi master's lightsaber. Later, in Return of the Jedi, Palpatine no longer uses his own lightsaber and is helpless when Vader carries him to his death, but he nearly kills Luke and destroys Vader's suit with his Force Lightning.
  • The Starscream: In respect to Darth Plagueis; notice his smile when he tells about Plagueis being killed by his apprentice. Then again, he is a Sith, so backstabbing is par for the course to them.
  • Stereotype Flip: Hailing from the peaceful world of Naboo, he became a genocidal galactic tyrant and in the front running for the galaxy's "most evil person who ever lived" award. In Shattered Empire, it is shown that Sosha Soruna (Naboo's queen at the time following the Battle of Endor and Palpatine's death) and most of Naboo's people dislike this fact, making them very quick to aid the New Republic when Princess Leia asks for it.
  • Strike Me Down with All of Your Hatred:
    • The Trope Namer. In The Clone Wars, while fighting Yoda in an illusion of his creation, he tempted Yoda to let the unconscious Anakin fall to his death, so that the elderly Jedi could focus on and kill him, stopping the Sith's plans once and for all. Yoda, however, refused to drop Anakin, even as he was repeatedly blasted by Sidious's lightning.
    • In Return of the Jedi, he says as a challenge to Luke to turn him to the Dark Side.
    • And in The Rise of Skywalker, he also attempts to invoke it with his granddaughter so as to pass the Sith lineage onto her.
  • Strong Empire, Shriveled Emperor: He's the founder and undisputed leader of the mighty Galactic Empire, far and away the mightiest and largest power in the galaxy — yet in The Empire Strikes Back, he is revealed to be an old man in a simple black robe, and in Return of the Jedi he is shown as being much smaller than his apprentice, Darth Vader. This is a double subversion, as he turns out to be so powerful he still has the ability to shoot lightning out of his fingers that he had in his younger years during the Clone Wars, but beyond that, he is still a frail old man.
  • Stupid Evil: A Fatal Flaw in his otherwise brilliant mind. As someone who completely embraces the Dark Side, he couldn't resist the urge to satisfy his total sadism, even if it risks his own life or plans, and it proves to be his downfall twice. Trying to kill a boy in front of his Papa Wolf father—one he had manipulated into joining him by promising that his teachings could save the boy's mother? Oops. Telling his granddaughter the exact plans he had that would've been successful if he had simply not said anything at all? Double oops.
  • Super Speed: Palpatine augments his swordplay with the Force to both strike and move faster. Although this is not made as apparent in the films, this is widely explored in expanded media and taken Up to Eleven. Described as a phantom, Palpatine is described as being so fast in various novelizations that many see little more than the blur of his lightsaber. Only his apprentice in Maul and the greatest Jedi Masters in Yoda and Windu were ever able to keep up with Palatine's pace.
  • Supernatural Gold Eyes: While his eyes appear blue for the majority of the Prequel Trilogy, they're revealed to be yellow due to his immersion in the dark side after he fries himself with his own Force lightning.
  • Take Over the World: He didn't just take over a world, he took over the galaxy — and he took several measures to make sure he got that far.
  • Taking You with Me: Before he plummets to his doom, Palpatine redirects his Force Lightning upon Darth Vader, short-circuiting his former apprentice's life-support system and thus dooming him to death.
  • Tell Me How You Fight: While he spends most of his time calm and composed, his fight scenes reveal his wild and cruel, even unpredictable side, along with his ability to adapt and manipulate. In The Clone Wars, he uses two lightsabers in his fight against Darth Maul and Savage Opress, and his style there is incredibly elaborate and aggressive at the same time, mixing insane lightsaber maneuvers with overpowering Force attacks. He even scratches up the floor with his sabers a few times in the melee. In his fight with the Jedi Masters sent to arrest him in Revenge of the Sith, he executes a brutal attack from surprise that kills half of them before they even know what's happening, and then proceeds to duel Windu in a pretty technical style before resorting again to lightning when disarmed. In his fight with Yoda in the same film, after some bouts of competent swordplay, he uses the environment to his advantage, cackling with glee as he throws Senate seats and lightning at Yoda.
  • Thanatos Gambit:
    • Subverted in Return of the Jedi. Palpatine challenged Luke to kill him, which would mean that Luke would have become a Sith in his place and would serve as his father's apprentice. While Luke does attack him before Darth Vader came to his defense, he refused to fight once he had disarmed his father. Then Luke pulls a gambit of his own on Palpatine when trying to appeal to his father, who then dies ensuring that Palpatine will meet his end.
    • Almost played straight in The Rise of Skywalker, where he wants Rey to strike him down so he and all of the Sith spirits can be passed down to her, implicitly overriding her personality. But when he realizes that there's a Dyad between Rey and Ben Solo, he decides it'll be easier to drain their life-forces to rejuvenate his broken body instead.
  • They Look Just Like Everyone Else!: Before being disfigured in his fight with Mace Windu, his appearance was really nothing out of the ordinary.
  • This Is Your Brain on Evil: In order to take over the Republic from within, Palpatine has to keep his true nature in check at all times, even when he's Darth Sidious giving orders to the Separatists, as one slip up could expose him to the Jedi Order. This also means he's not prone to becoming arrogant and thus is able to manipulate everyone with ease. But once he turns Anakin and the Republic against the Jedi and thus no longer needs to hide anymore, Palpatine finally embraces the impulses of the Dark Side from within, turning into a cackling Large Ham in the process. This proves to be his undoing in the long run, as the Dark Side clouds Palpatine's ability to think and foresee future events, best seen in Return of the Jedi where he doesn't sense Vader's inner conflict until it's too late.
  • Tom the Dark Lord: The most powerful and evil person in the galaxy, and his first name is Sheev.
  • Too Dumb to Live:
    • Not only did he try to kill Luke in front of his father, who had specifically made it known that he wanted to keep his son alive even though it would be easier to kill him, but he also effectively told Darth Vader that he was ultimately expendable. Even if Darth Vader hadn't made a Heel–Face Turn, it's not likely that Palpatine would have lived very long with his apprentice no longer having a reason to respect his master.
    • Rather than just throwing Rey off the ledge like he did with Ben Solo or stealing all of her lifeforce, Palpatine opts to fry her with his signature Force Lightning. And he somehow forgot how to turn it off when Rey not only manages to block the attack but also deflect it back at him with a second lightsaber. This ultimately kills him.
  • Took a Level in Badass: To a terrifying extent in The Rise of Skywalker. Not only did he come back from the dead, but he can now use his Force Lightning to destroy thousands of ships in one continuous stream that can light up a sizable portion of the sky of Exegol. This is apparently because he has become one with every Sith that ever lived.
  • Took a Level in Jerkass: As impossible as it sounds, Palpatine in the early days of the Empire was more of a pragmatic villain, at one point even scolding Vader's reckless tendencies and saying that he "did not want to rule an Empire of the dead." Come Rise Of Skywalker, he is fully content to use his Sith fleet to raze the entire Galaxy and blow up planets by the hundreds.
  • He also takes one in Issue 6 of Darth Vader (2020). He punishes Vader in a really physically painful way, which is odd since beforehand, he usually avoids that when dealing with Vader.
  • Toppled Statue: On Coruscant, the crowds go as far as toppling a ridiculously oversized statue of the Sith Lord as a way of celebrating news of his demise.
  • Tranquil Fury: Downplayed. Pre-disfiguration, he shows several mean growls and grimaces against Windu and his Jedi, but he ultimately remains fairly focused and keeps a composed, even elegant aggression during their duel. However, once his human mask falls off, he becomes fully Drunk on the Dark Side and spends all the rest of his fighting screentime cackling and/or screaming.
  • Treacherous Advisor: He was acting as a kindly uncle/grandfather figure for Anakin, listening to what he had to say, encouraging his rebellious side, and heaping him with praises. His true motives were to turn him to his side and against the Jedi.
  • Trickster Mentor: He often acts as an evil version of this trope for Darth Vader.
  • Troll: He calls Yoda "my little green friend" after hitting him with Force lightning. He's clearly enjoying the fact that he was responsible for the downfall of the Jedi.
  • Tyrant Takes the Helm: In Revenge of the Sith, he openly seizes the power that he'd been consolidating up until then.
  • The Undead: In The Rise of Skywalker, he is, for all intents and purposes, an animated corpse when Kylo Ren finds him.
  • Undignified Death: For a man of Palpatine's stature and unrivaled powers, simply being lifted up and thrown down a chasm is an embarrassing way to go. Although one could consider this anti climax a highly karmic end to a being that thought himself superior to everyone in the galaxy. Though he got better.
  • Unexplained Recovery: He returns in The Rise of Skywalker, with the only explanation being "Sith science" and his mastery of the Dark Side, but he does note that he had died before.
  • The Unfettered: As we can see in all his appearances nothing can stop him in carrying on his evil deeds. No matter how despicable or cruel his actions might be, that's just fine with him as long as he's satisfied.
  • Unskilled, but Strong: Downplayed; Palpatine is by no means unskilled in lightsaber combat, but he's not quite as technically skilled a duelist as some other Force users, such as Yoda and Mace Windu note  (or even possibly his own apprentice Count Dooku, who was always referred to as Windu's equal). However, he makes up for this by his overwhelming power in the Force, which he uses to augment his dueling abilities. This is best demonstrated during his duel with Maul on Mandalore; the former Sith apprentice actually manages to hold his own when the duel is restricted to lightsabers, but as soon as Palpatine begins actively using the Force against Maul the fight is over in seconds.
  • Uriah Gambit:
    • One of the major reasons Palpatine orchestrated the Clone Wars and manipulated it to continue for as long as it did was to reduce the Jedi's numbers.
    • He does it to Darth Maul and Count Dooku. It's also pretty clear that he had every intention of doing this to Vader.
  • Vetinari Job Security: He intentionally had the Galactic Empire be organized as a huge nonsensical bureaucratic jumble with himself as the only thing holding it together. This is to ensure that no one except his Sith apprentice would dare try to remove him from power out of fear of the galactic anarchy and chaos that would ensue. Ironically, this greatly helps the Rebels win the Galactic Civil War within a year after the Battle of Endor.
  • Victory Is Boring: Once Palpatine successfully destroyed the Jedi and took over the Galaxy...he got bored. Palpatine would leave all political matters to his cronies and would go about doing the mundane like Sith archaelogy and research to pass the time. For these reasons, it is implied once serious opposition rose against his Empire, Palpatine enjoyed the renewed thrill of being back in some action.
  • Vile Villain, Saccharine Show: While Star Wars is pretty family friendly in general, Palpatine is one of the most evil villains in all of fiction, often equated with the very idea of "evil".
  • Viler New Villain: As Darth Vader became a more sympathetic villain, Palpatine was brought out to serve as a wholly evil Dark Lord. Vader may be a bad guy, but he cares for his son and is an Anti-Villain who regrets what he's become. Palpatine by contrast is a despotic Sadist without humanizing traits who enjoys how evil he is and only wants power for its own sake. Even most Sith Lords like Dooku or Maul have understandable reasons or a Freudian Excuse for why they turned to the dark side; Palpatine doesn't have any Start of Darkness behind his villainy and was simply always a horrible person.
  • Villain Ball: His love of Force Lightning for its ability to cause slow and painful deaths has often lead him to make stupid decisions.
    • In Return of the Jedi, after Luke refuses to turn to the Dark Side, Palpatine tries to kill him slowly and painfully with Force Lightning (rather than, say, quickly with a lightsaber or something), right in front of Darth Vader, who has a tendency to go nuts when you target his loved ones. While Vader and Sidious agreed beforehand to kill Luke if he refused to join them, Vader has been slowly turning away from the Dark Side due to the love for his recently discovered son and Palpatine is too deluded to see it and as a result, Vader fully rejects the Dark Side and throws Sidious to his death.
    • After rejuvenating himself in The Rise of Skywalker, Palpatine immediately uses the Force to throw Ben Solo into a Bottomless Pit and unleashes a storm of Force Lightning upon Lando's massive fleet. Said-storm doesn't destroy the ships instantly, only disabling their power grids to send them slowly plummeting to their doom. When Rey gets up to face her grandfather, Palpatine decides to use Force Lightning to kill her rather than throwing her into the pit along with Ben or use any other means (such as a force choke or stealing all of her lifeforce). This backfires spectacularly as Rey is able to deflect back the Force Lightning with two lightsabers and Palpatine, unable to stop the feedback loop, ends up disintegrating into ashes. And because he opted for a less destructive Force Lightning storm, Lando's fleet is able to recover and destroy the remaining Star Destroyers on Exegol.
  • Villain Decay:
    • Thanks to Early Installment Weirdness and retcons, Palpatine's Chessmaster gaming skills in the Original Trilogy are way off over 20 years after he takes over the Republic. Despite his use of the same deceptive tactics and serendipity that led to the destruction of the Jedi and the creation of the Empire in the first trilogy, Palpatine centers only on protection of the Death Star, ignoring the historical tendency for Sith and Jedi to change allegiances like they change their socks and not always to your advantage. note 
    • His first death and resurrection left him as a Dark Lord on Life Support, helpless and nearly blind, relying on Sith cultists to keep himself alive. He knows that he cannot hope to rule the galaxy in this state, so he tries to get Rey to kill him in order for the Sith spirits to be passed down to a younger, healthier vessel. Palpatine's ego gets the better of him when he realizes he can fix his broken body by draining the life-force of the Dyad, and seems to have lost a good chunk of his brain when he tries to kill Rey using his Force Lightning. And unlike the Galactic Empire, Palpatine's Final Order falls before it can even start.
  • Villainous Breakdown:
    • A subtle example. He has a breakdown in The Clone Wars episode "Pursuit of Peace". When his plan to eliminate oversight of the banks is narrowly defeated by an impassioned speech from Padmé, he has a brief moment when his kindly demeanor fails and he is shown to be extremely displeased. He regains his composure before anyone can notice this very out-of-character moment for him
    • He has another breakdown when he finally realizes Luke has Incorruptible Pure Pureness and isn't going to turn to the dark side, he slowly drops his Faux Affably Evil demeanour before assaulting Luke, spurting out insults at the Jedi — all without completely losing his composure, but visibly showing anger at not getting what he wanted, which says something considering how much of a Smug Snake he is.
    • His final moments in The Rise of Skywalker show him lose all sense of sanity, becoming so hellbent on killing Rey with Force lightning, that he winds up killing himself with his own power when she deflects it.
    Palpatine: YOU ARE NOTHING! A SCAVENGER GIRL IS NO MATCH FOR THE POWER IN ME! I AM ALL THE SITH!!
  • Villainous Friendship:
    • He almost always refers to Vader as "my friend" and oddly, in the canon, Palpatine seems to have a tinge of genuine affection for his apprentice, though this being a Sith relationship, Palpatine has no qualms with throwing Vader aside if it benefits him, affection or not.
    • Also, Palpatine's relationship with Darth Vader seems to be better than the one with Darth Tyranus (aka Count Dooku) and maybe Darth Maul. An example is when Tyranus shows himself to be 'clumsy', Sidious Force-choked him as a reminder for failure. This contrasts when Vader fails with the first Death Star, Sidious just chews him verbally (albeit it is still very condescending from the Emperor) and not physically (which he is clearly capable of).
    • In the Darth Vader comic book series, Sidious describes Vader as his one and only worthy apprentice, calling Vader a superior candidate for this position. And openly calling Darth Maul a loss and Darth Tyranus a proton torpedo, a simple tool which had served a purpose and is now gone (also implying that Tyranus is only a placeholder for the position to leave it to his one and true apprentice), is a good step in that direction. And thus, he seems to have the most faith in Vader than in any of his other apprentices, proven by the fact that Vader is still at Sidious' side for two decades.
    • Another point: in Darth Vader: Dark Lord of the Sith, he seems to genuinely want to rule the Empire with Vader at his side as he refers the Galactic Empire as "their Empire". And he advises and teaches him about Sith philosophy.
    • Palpatine never refers to Dooku or Maul as "his friend" like he does with Vader. True, he does call the Grand Inquisitor once as "my friend", but Vader is still the Emperor's right hand and thus has his favor.
    • Sidious seems to tolerate Vader's bluntness towards him: like when he makes Sidious agree on his ultimatum on the Imperial Officer Corps and also when Vader retorts Sidious' arguments about Cylo's replacements' failure.
    • Any of the above is thrown out the window when Sidious can have a more powerful apprentice, which only comes when Luke shows up.
  • Villainous Legacy: The First Order in the Sequel Trilogy is obsessed with reinstating the Empire he forged.
  • Villainous Rescue: He saves Darth Vader on Mustafar once he's realized that his life is in danger.
  • Villain Respect:
  • Villains Blend in Better: In the Prequel Trilogy and The Clone Wars, the Jedi were unable to sense that the Sith had returned due to Sidious' masquerade as Senator, later Chancellor Palpatine, with Obi-Wan only suspicious of him because he was a politician. By the time the Jedi learned the truth, it was too late. Palpatine/Sidious had the Republic army at his bidding, who he had exterminate the Jedi through Order 66.
  • Villain Takes an Interest: Alongside Vader for Luke. Palpatine wants Luke to join The Dark Side and replace Vader at his side.
  • Villain with Good Publicity: Chancellor Palpatine in the Prequel Trilogy and The Clone Wars, where even the protagonists consider him honorable and trustworthy, and are responsible for him rising to the position of chancellor in the first place.
  • Voice of the Legion: When christening Anakin Skywalker as Darth Vader, he speaks with a very demonic voice. It goes away after he puts his hood on.
  • Weapon of Choice: He wields red lightsabers in The Clone Wars and Revenge of the Sith. He relies on Force lightning afterwards.
  • We Have Become Complacent: Sheev has become so accustomed to playing people like violins and always getting the notes that he wants that he became just as complacent and arrogant as the politicians of Naboo, Coruscant, Kamino, Geonosis, etc., that he fooled into building his Empire. The act of letting the Rebels know the exact location of a costly Death Star and its shield generator alone allowed the destruction of both to happen, both of which Luke was a bystander at best in the grand scheme of the battle. Even if he did escape,note  he would still leave the Empire with a crippled Imperial Starfleet and a massive deficit they may never recover from.
  • Where I Was Born and Razed: In life, he never took any particular interest in Naboo, but after his death, it became the first target of the Cinders protocol, meant to turn the galaxy to ashes.
  • White Hair, Black Heart: He's a vicious and genocidal white haired despot.
  • Wicked Cultured: Ian McDiarmid, his actor, considers this the closest thing he has to a redeeming (or at least non-evil) feature. Makes sense, since McDiarmid himself is a theater actor and director, a job which naturally implies being well-read.
  • World's Strongest Man: Sidious is the strongest sith as he focused more on the arcane aspects of the force and using force power in general. His epxeriments and skills even went so far as to let him be able to tap into the veil of the force, The World Between Words, which not even the heroes could do without the force allowing them to. Granted he could only access it to a limited extent but that still meant he had partial access to a realm that allows people to travers and view all of time and space. He could also force choke people from light years away and even manipulate the perceptions of the greatest jedi master Yoda.
  • Worthy Opponent:
    • Subverted with Darth Maul. It was Maul's empire which convinced Palpatine that something serious needed to be done, not his former apprentice by himself. While he does allow Maul to fight him for the sport of it, during their duel, he visibly gets more serious when facing off with his well-trained vengeful apprentice alone.
    • The season six finale of The Clone Wars, when he fails to mentally break Yoda, is when he realizes that the old Jedi Master is this to him. In Revenge of The Sith Palpatine consistently refers to the old Jedi as "Master Yoda," showing a respect for his capability with the Force, and Yoda even has to stop Palpatine from fleeing a fight with him. OOC Is Serious Business, indeed.
    • He considered Mother Talzin, who was once his prospective right hand, someone he and his generals needed to deal with personally.
  • Would Hurt a Child: Sidious was perfectly fine with performing potentially lethal experiments on infants during the Clone Wars.
  • Wounded Gazelle Gambit:
    • Using the Trade Federation to attack his own planet, gaining sympathy and beginning his ascent to power is more or less this trope on a planetary scale.
    • Palpatine pulls this off in Revenge of the Sith to make Anakin side with him against Mace Windu. He's just a tired old man viciously attacked by the ruthless Jedi despite being willing to surrender. He's barely alive, so surely Anakin wouldn't allow a murder to occur? And not only has Anakin been spending a great deal of time alone with Palpatine and beginning to be swayed by his words, but he has good reason to resent the Jedi after they grant him only token representation on the Council and force him into becoming their spy, and sees Mace as an arrogant Rabid Cop who's subverting the laws of the Republic. (He doesn't actually want to kill Mace and his horror at Mace's death is palpable.) Palpatine is a rare example of this trope in that he's both a gazelle and a lion. One moment he's begging for mercy; the next, he's gleefully electrocuting Mace while screaming "POWER! UNLIMITED POWER!"
  • Wrong Genre Savvy: He took his savvyness a bit too far when he ordered Dooku to eliminate Ventress on the grounds of her becoming too powerful to let her remain the Count's apprentice. Up to that point, Dooku had never shown any desire to betray Sidious, but once he had Savage as a replacement, he immediately stated his plans to overthrow him. It all works out in Sidious' favor in the end.
  • Xanatos Gambit:
    • Sidious's plan in The Phantom Menace is a Xanatos Gambit. At the start of the film he wants the Trade Federation to hold Queen Amidala prisoner; when she escapes, he sends his apprentice, Darth Maul, to prevent her from reaching Coruscant. But Amidala does reach Coruscant, and within a couple hours she actually helps Sidious in becoming Chancellor Palpatine.
    • Since he controls both sides of the Clone Wars, he can take over the galaxy and destroy the Jedi Order regardless of which side actually wins, though it's pretty clear that a Separatist victory would be Plan B. His various gambits around his apprentices most truly represent this trope, however — by pitting his current apprentice against the potential replacement, he wins no matter the outcome. Dooku finds this out the hard way. Vader, on the other hand, takes exception to the idea.
    • During the Clone Wars, when Fives started to catch on to the plan to brainwash the clone troopers into slaughtering Jedi, Palpatine does some quick thinking to make it look like the mind control chips in the clone troopers are there for their own good: after a failed attempt to get Fives killed before he could get off Kamino with his story, Palpatine then arranges to speak with the clone trooper one on one — then makes it look like Fives tried to assassinate him in a fit of rage, seemingly proving the Kaminoans' claim the chips are aggression-suppressants rather than mind control tech, while convincing everyone else to write Fives off as insane due to having his own chip removed.
    • The situation Palpatine was in after Anakin warned the Jedi Order that he was the Sith Lord who had assumed the reins of the government is advantageous to him because by that point the Jedi Order were too deep to get out unscathed. If they had publicly accused him, they wouldn't be able to directly prove wrongdoing without citing their own doctrine (which results in it being hearsay) and if they had waited until they could get tangible evidence against him then they wouldn't prevent the vote that would allow him to assume complete emergency power. That leaves the solution that was enacted (use of lethal force to eliminate the Sith threat) and because the Order took action on their own accord, they now look like traitors who attempted an assassination on the Supreme Chancellor. Any outcome from this situation would allow Palpatine to defame the Jedi and enact Order 66.
    • There are two Skywalkers, one's already his apprentice but he's more machine than man now and the other is young, idealistic and a potential threat. So he tries to tempt Luke to the dark side with a duel with his father, or by killing him. If Luke wins, he either gets an upgraded apprentice or becomes Vader's apprentice, if not, he's rid of a potential threat and Darth Vader's loyalty no longer has another possible recipient. It didn't work however, as Luke wouldn't turn to the Dark Side. He then tries to kill Luke but that doesn't work either because Vader is still capable of throwing the Emperor off a balcony.
  • Xanatos Speed Chess: Word of God indicates that he was also very adaptable with his plans. For example, he hadn't intended for Padmé to arrive on Coruscant, but worked it into his plan instead, which turned out better than the original one.
    • Palpatine is this trope so much that people now assume every single aspect of the Canon is his doing, and all went as planned (except dying). They forget that most of The Phantom Menace has him quickly changing his game plan, either because he underestimated the heroes or because X-factors kept popping up. He ends up getting what he wanted, but Word of God says there were enough setbacks that he had to wait a decade to get the ball rolling on the next big step in his plan, including the loss of an apprentice. That he was able to take one of those X-factors and befriend him early so he could turn him into a replacement apprentice is testament to his speed-chess abilities.
    • It's eventually revealed that Palpatine did anticipate and plan for Maul's death. However, the Jedi being sent to deal with the Trade Federation, as well as Amidala's arrival on Coruscant, weren't part of his plans according to supplementary material (Valorum consulted the Jedi without informing the Senate first, and he did expect Maul to succeed in retrieving Amidala). In fact, his original plan was that he and his agents would create turmoil, draw the occupation out for months or even years, and cause enough pressure to cow the Senate into electing him. Almost everything after Padmé turned up on Coruscant was improvisation and moving up the timetable considerably for example, by being elected a decade before the Clone Wars broke out, he was in danger of losing his position as Chancellor by the time of Revenge of the Sith as his legal term had technically expired, and he had to use his emergency powers to extend it.
    • In The Rise Of Skywalker, he's dead set on having his granddaughter Rey kill him so she can inherit the legacy of the Sith by him taking over her body until he discovers that she's part of a Force Dyad with Ben Solo. Once he rejuvenates himself using their link, he decides to reclaim his title as the true Galactic Emperor instead.
  • You Have Failed Me: It's heavily implied in Return of the Jedi that Palpatine was even more horrific in how he punishes those who fail their task than the Trope Namer, Darth Vader. And no one, not even the Galactic Empire itself, is safe from his wrath.
    Darth Vader: I hope so, Commander, for your sake. The Emperor is not as forgiving as I am.
    • Palpatine also expresses Vader's defeat on Mustafar was word for word his greatest failure to his Sith Master. He verbally encourages Vader to continue as his apprentice to make up for it and honor the Sith legacy.
  • You Have Outlived Your Usefulness:
    • At the height of their tensions, Maul captures Dooku and Grievous and dangles their lives over Palpatine's head. Palpatine's response is to flippantly goad Maul into killing them, claiming he has no further use of them if they're so weak.
    • He has virtually everyone who ever helped him with his Evil Plan killed at some point when he decides he doesn't need them anymore, almost including Anakin, Luke, and Rey.


"Nothing will stop the return of the Sith!”
 
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Luke is Shocked by Palpatine

Palpatine loves using Force lightning to torture people. Just ask Maul, Mace, and Luke.

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