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Characters / Star Wars Emperor Palpatine

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Emperor Sheev Palpatine / Darth Sidious
"Everything is proceeding as I have foreseen."
"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 Wars), Tim Curry (The Clone Warsnote ), Sam Witwer (Rebels note , Battlefront reboot series), Ian McDiarmid (Rebels note )

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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    Tropes 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 the poor kid 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.
  • 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 Nice Guy: A very downplayed example. Unlike in the Legends continuity, Sidious in the Canon seems to genuinely care for Anakin in his own really twisted way. Whereas in Legends Sidious took every opportunity to psychologically (and sometimes physically) torture Vader, Sidious in the Canon 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 It even extends to Vader's suit; in Legends, Sidious deliberately made Vader's armor with painfully outdated technology (thus keeping his apprentice in constant pain) as a means of punishing Vader for his failure on Mustafar.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 the Legends continuity, but in the Canon, he's often offering him advice and teaching him Sith philosophy.
  • 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 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 as 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.
  • 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.
  • Asshole Victim: A key reason why his death was so widely celebrated was because his Empire was extremely oppressive by the time he was killed.
  • 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 McCool" Name: 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".
  • Axe-Crazy: For obvious reasons, he's very good at hiding it. He's been sadistic and homicidal since his childhood, and started his trip to the dark Side by killing his own family. He’s also having 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.
  • 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 said claim up.
    • 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!"
  • 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 was content to observe Darth Maul from afar during the Clone Wars, at least until Maul became a threat to his plans. Then the Sith really hit the fan...
  • 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.
    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.
  • 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.
  • 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. He also takes steps to defy this trope with his own apprentices in the Prequel Trilogy, choosing those who were unquestionably loyal to him.
  • 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.
  • Big Bad: He is the definitive main antagonist for the Prequel Trilogy, The Clone Wars, and the Original Trilogy. 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.
    • He 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.
  • Big Good: He posed as this for the Republic during the Clone Wars, while he was also secretly leading the Separatists.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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..."
  • 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.
  • Co-Dragons: He has three. Mas Amedda is his second-in-command in the political sphere, Darth Vader is his apprentice and commander of the armed forces, and Grand Moff Tarkin oversees the Outer Rim, where most of his opposition is located.
  • Cold Ham: Though typically a Large Ham, in The Phantom Menace he 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.
  • 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.
  • Combat Pragmatist: Despite being one of the best duelists and and most powerful Force users in the galaxy, Darth Sidious only fights his foes if he believes he has the upper hand (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.
  • 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 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’s films 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.
  • 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. However, The Clone Wars retroactively reveals that he had a penchant for Dual Wielding, making this a bit more plausible.
  • 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.
  • 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 even then 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).
  • 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.
  • 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 by Adaptation: Played with. In the Legends continuity, he really did die on the Death Star II like in the Canon, but he was constantly resurrected via clone bodies until finally being Killed Off for Real during a failed attempt to take over Anakin Solo's body. In the Canon, his first death at the end of Return of the Jedi is also his last. Or so it would seem...
  • 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.
  • 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 were primarily a Sith-inspired red (though the justification was that the same color of red was one of the Palpatine family's trademark colors), littered with Sith artifacts and statuary, one of which contained 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:
  • 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.
  • The Dreaded:
    • To Count Dooku and Darth Maul, both of whom, it should be said, have been his apprentice.
    • 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.
  • Drunk on the Dark Side: He is prone to this, especially in fights. 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.
    • 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.
  • Dual Wielding: He shows it off in "The Lawless" during his lightsaber duel against Darth Maul and Savage Opress.
  • 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:
    • A production-wise yet canonical example. During the first time (production-wise) we see Palpatine in The Empire Strikes Back, Darth Vader is kneeling before him. Darth Vader, the scary, powerful, takes-crap-from-no-one Dark Lord, is seen kneeling before someone. This firmly establishes Palpatine as an even greater evil in the galaxy.
    • He gets another one in Return of the Jedi, again from Vader, who warns Jerjerrod: "The Emperor is not as forgiving as I am".
  • Everyone Calls Him "Barkeep": In the Original Trilogy, he's never referred to by his last name.
  • 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 Albino: After being disfigured by his own lightning, his skin becomes totally pale white and wrinkled.
  • 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.
  • 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: Part of being full on evil and the major dominance of The Dark Side.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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 (along with The Clone Wars) and his eighties during the Original Trilogy, and is 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: Galactic Conqueror variety — which succeeded for over two decades before his demise. A secondary plan is his continuing search for a better apprentice.
  • Evil Redhead: Palpatine very obviously has ginger eyebrows in Revenge of the Sith, probably because Ian McDiarmid is a ginger in Real Life.
    • 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: Exactly What It Says on the Tin.
  • Exact Words: Why yes, Luke, Palpatine is unarmed... but he does have access to the Force, as Luke very painfully discovers.
  • Eyes of Gold: He possesses them from Revenge of the Sith up to Return of the Jedi.
  • 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.
  • Fatal Flaw:
  • 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.
    "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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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 (and even that was because he seems to feel Palpatine's evil from birth), but canonically 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 even then, Palpatine still always had a ruthless streak and lust for power.
  • Full-Name Basis: The only character to adress Thrawn as Mith'raw'nuruodo. No comment is made on his pronounciation.

    Tropes 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 was involved with 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, then to 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, to 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, to 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, to carry out a war while maintaining the façade of being a kindly old man, justifying the deaths of thousands of Jedi by what appeared to be an attempt to overthrow the Republic, bumping off all of the above collaborators so they wouldn't spill any information, and declaring that the Republic needed to become an Empire to be more efficient, with him as the leader, and finally dissolving 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.
  • 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. It backfired, as the Jedi ended up returning.
  • 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 oftens does a soft amused chuckle.
  • Glorious Leader: 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: 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 Colors, Evil Colors: Palpatine wears all black, indicating his evil nature.
  • 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.
  • 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.
      • 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.
  • 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.
  • Hoist by His Own Petard: 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.
  • 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.
  • Humans Are the Real Monsters: Basically, 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.
    • The closest he ever came to accomplishing this was accessing 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.
  • 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. 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.
  • 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 a 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.
  • 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 comeuppance at the end of Return of the Jedi.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Kick the Son of a Bitch:
    • Subverted with his Curb-Stomp Battle against Darth Maul. While Maul did indeed do his share of incredibly nasty things, Sidious murdering Maul's more sympathetic brother, Savage Opress, in front of him while he's helpless to anything before torturing him to the point of begging for mercy and then imprisoning him on Stygeon is enough to invoke some sympathy for the otherwise sociopathic Maul.
    • Played straight with leaving Count Dooku to die. Dooku's actions, especially in the sixth season of The Clone Wars, destroy any sympathy for him.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Last-Name Basis: He is exclusively known as Palpatine in the Prequel Trilogy and most other installments.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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 even older than he is), 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 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.

    Tropes 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 through out the Prequel Trilogy’s era. Between the Prequel Trilogy (along with 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.
  • 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.
  • 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, likely threw his duel with Mace to bring Anakin to the dark side, 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 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. 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 a patron of the arts, which Palpatine is as well. Also inverted, in that Shiva is an entirely benevolent and paternal god whose other aspects include Life and Rebirth, while Palpatine is a monstrous, murderous tyrant that puts the physical embodiment of the Dark Side to shame, pure and simple.
  • 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 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. 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 Force (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 and gaining the upper hand against Yoda.
  • Modest Royalty: As Emperor, he wears a rather simple black cloak, compared to the elaborate robes he used as Chancellor. Even Wilhuff Tarkin 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 trailer of 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.
  • Mysterious Backer: He portrays himself as one in the Prequel Trilogy’s films 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, may 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.
  • No Name Given: Palpatine was originally just referred to as "The Emperor" before he was officially given the last name of Palpatine. 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 movies, 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 Napoleon 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.
  • 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 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-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 dark Force wielders in the galaxy.
  • Obviously Evil: Darth Sidious has a hideously withered face, yellow eyes, a scary voice, and black robes. His name also sounds like "insidious". Subverted with his Palpatine identity, who looked like a kind politician before getting a face full of lightning.
  • Oh, Crap!: He is only scared/surprised twice in the Canon. The first time is when Yoda briefly overpowers him, knocking him backward and nearly killing him. The second time is when Darth Vader takes hold of him and tosses him into the depths of the Death Star.
  • Old Master: Even during the Prequel Trilogy (along with 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 take out and killed three Jedi Masters when they accompanied Master Windu to arrest the Chancellor for his crimes at Revenge of the Sith.
  • Only One Name: He was only referred to as Palpatine, or Darth Sidious, until his first name was revealed in the 2014 novel Tarkin.
  • O.O.C. 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 in both of his outings.
    • 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.
  • Overarching Villain: He's the one running things in the Prequel and Original Trilogies (along with The Clone Wars), even when he's offscreen.
  • Parental Substitute: Palpatine was this for Darth Maul via having raised him from a young age. Of course, 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.
  • 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. Of course, 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.
  • Pet the Dog: For a sociopath who treats everyone like disposable tools, there are moments where he seems to be genuinely nice and not faking it. However, they are few and do nothing to change perception of his overall character.
    • 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 (which 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.
  • 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.
  • 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..."
  • Predecessor Villain: While he's long gone by the time of The Force Awakens, the effect he had on the Galaxy is still present to a great degree, and the Empire he left behind is still functioning in some capacity.
  • 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.
    • 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.
  • 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 overthrown him eventually (which Vader was planning to do from the start).
  • 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.
  • Rule of Two:
    • He takes action against Maul and Savage during the fifth season of The Clone Wars 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. 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: After he became Supreme Chancellor before and during the Clone Wars.

    Tropes 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 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."
  • 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 being 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!"
  • 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.
  • Self-Fulfilling Prophecy/Prophetic Fallacy: 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.
  • 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: He loves to use Force lightning an awful lot.
  • 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: In Return of the Jedi, Palpatine no longer uses his 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.
  • 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 sadism, even if it risks his own life. Trying to kill a boy in front of his Papa Wolf father? Oops.
  • 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 side. In The Clone Wars, he uses two lightsabers in his fight against Darth Maul and Savage Opress. His style is completely uncontrolled, mixing insane lightsaber maneuvers with overpowering Force attacks. He even scratches up the floor with his sabers a few times. 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. In his fight with Yoda in the same film, 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.
  • 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 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 couldn'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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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 that 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: 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 
  • Villain Decay: 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.
  • 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.
  • 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), unlike with Tyranus.
    • 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.
    • One last note: 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.
    • But of course, 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: He grew to appreciate his master more after he became Emperor.
  • Villains Blend in Better: In the Prequel Trilogy (along with 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 for the first two movies, 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 red lightsaber(s) in The Clone Wars and Revenge Of The Sith. He relies on Force lightning afterwards.
  • 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.
  • 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 battle, 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. Case in point: Yoda has to stop Palpatine from fleeing a fight with him. O.O.C. Is Serious Business, indeed.
    • He considered Mother Talzin, who was once his prospective apprentice, 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 indicate 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.
  • 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.
  • You Have Outlived Your Usefulness: 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 and Luke.


Video Example(s):



A powerful Sith Lord who prefers using the Force over a lightsaber as a weapon, and has access to the most arcane arts of the Dark Side

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Main / EvilSorcerer

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Main / EvilSorcerer