Yoda was a Jedi Grand Master who could sense a shift to the dark side among his own. But he and the rest of the Jedi Order missed Palpatine’s allegiance with the Sith. Even when they interacted with the Supreme Chancellor on many occasions.
Yoda once sensed a void in the Force while meditating, but it did not lead him to suspect Palpatine. Yoda could not sense Palpatine despite this void because the Sith Lord used Force Stealth to block his sensitivity.
Palpatine, able to render himself inactive with his Force Stealth, also did not have Sith yellow eyes. Nor did his apprentice, Count Dooku. The reason is Sith’s eyes often turn in moments when they’re fully tapped into the dark side.
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Did Yoda Suspect Palpatine Before?
Most Sith Lords sat back and observed in the shadows, but Sheev Palpatine dared to take things further. He became an appointed senator from Naboo before the Senate elected him to become Supreme Chancellor.
Between 32 BBY and 22 BBY, he interacted with and formed bonds with the Jedi Council. Yet no one, not even Yoda, sensed the truth.
However, the novel Queen Peril by E.K. Johnson claimed Yoda caught one small clue regarding Palpatine.
Following a meditation session, Yoda informed Mace Windu that, although the light side of the Force surrounded him while the dark side hung back, there was something else. Or, nothing else, and that nothing evaded Yoda.
Confused, Windu walked away, believing Yoda to be overstating things. That absence in the Force was Palpatine concealing his Force-sensitivity on Coruscant.
Yoda, believing the dark side was safely hovering in the background, never considered Palpatine or any potential Sith Lord.
How Come Yoda Couldn’t Sense Palpatine?
Yoda and other Jedi Masters never suspected Palpatine of any wrongdoing until they grew suspicious following Attack of the Clones.
However, they felt something or someone was looking to destroy the Jedi even before rumbling about Palpatine.
Jedi Master Pong Krell had a vision that a power source within the Republic would bring down the Jedi. But Krell’s vision did not point to a specific individual.
Come Revenge of the Sith, Palpatine showed his true allegiance. Force Stealth let him conceal himself from even the Jedi Grand Master, fooling both Yoda and the Jedi Order into believing he had little to no Force-sensitivity.
Also known as Force Concealment and Buried Presence, Force Stealth was not strictly a dark side maneuver. During his exile on Dagobah, Yoda also used this maneuver to conceal himself from Darth Vader and Palpatine.
Palpatine Also Took Advantage of the Rule of Two
The Jedi also did not sense Palpatine because of the Rule of Two. This rule allowed only one Sith Master and one apprentice, such as Palpatine (Master) and Count Dooku (apprentice).
Created by Darth Bane to further conceal the Sith under the Jedi’s noses and someday exert revenge on the Order, the Rule of Two allowed Palpatine to operate in secret.
When the Clone Wars rolled around, the Jedi long believed the Sith to be extinct, something Yoda had a hard time convincing Dooku when the latter was a member of the Jedi Order.
During this time, the Jedi focused on everything except for the Sith. They also destroyed dark side threats when they arose instead of hunting them. This further allowed Palpatine to rise in secret, as even Yoda believed the Sith were extinct.
The Clone Wars served as a magnificent example. When Palpatine secretly launched the Count Dooku-led Separatist Crisis, it forced the Jedi to focus on it. Further, the Jedi were deployed throughout the galaxy, reducing their numbers on Coruscant.
This allowed Palpatine to further operate in secret, gaining access to the Sith shrine under the Jedi Temple. He meditated and further derived power from the dark-sided relic, slowly increasing in strength before he reached the point of no return.
Something that became paramount following Mace Windu’s death in Revenge of the Sith.
Yoda Admitted the Jedi’s Mistake in the Original Trilogy
Further, the Jedi taught their Younglings to stay away from the dark side. Since the Jedi only warned and did not teach Younglings about the dark side, no one, not even Yoda, knew what the dark side looked like come 19 BBY.
Yoda understood the dark side and how self-inflicting it was. He even warned the Jedi about falling to the dark side when they showed emotion and other vices.
However, even he did not recognize the dark side when it stood right in front of him. Nor did Mace Windu, Obi-Wan Kenobi, or any Master on the Jedi Council.
It’s akin to one knowing the signs that lead to a deteriorating relationship. But unknowing what a fractured relationship looks like until they experience it.
Yoda atoned for his mistake in The Empire Strikes Back when he had Luke enter the dark side cave. He realized that, after spending 22 years in exile, for the Jedi to battle the dark side, they had to know what they were dealing with.
Why Does Palpatine Not Have Sith Eyes?
If you watched the entire Prequel Trilogy, you may have noticed Palpatine never had Sith eyes. This has sparked theory and debate among the Star Wars fandom and unfortunately, neither Star Wars Canon nor Legends have given a definitive answer.
But sensible theories exist.
YouTube’s Star Wars Theory studied the differing fan opinions and concluded that the Sith veered their eyes between normal and Sith.
These fluctuations occurred for Sith Lords when they carried out deeds that required them to show Sith emotions. Anakin Skywalker provided a perfect example after killing the Younglings during Order 66 and the Separatists on Mustafar.
Later, when interacting with Padamè, his eyes reverted to blue.
Palpatine further concealed his allegiance to the Sith by playing the nice-guy old man, and wise grandfather figure to Anakin. He also remained calm throughout most of the Prequel Trilogy, preventing his eyes from turning Sith yellow.
However, once Mace Windu disfigured Palpatine’s face by reflecting Force lightning, the Dark Lord of the Sith felt no need to conceal his identity any longer. At this point, he fully tapped into the dark side.
Before, Palpatine wasn’t tapping into the dark side during his meetings with the Jedi or when he played the part of Chancellor, allowing him to keep his eyes from turning Sith yellow.
Yoda, like other Jedi, knew what led to the dark side but he didn’t know what the dark side looked like. If he had, he would have suspected Palpatine long before it was too late.
Palpatine used Force Stealth to conceal himself and he was also able to use the Clone Wars to divert the Jedi’s attention elsewhere. He also took advantage of the Rule of Two, allowing him to remain low-key while Count Dooku led the Separatist Crisis.
Finally, Palpatine, who remained low-key, never revealed his Sith eyes because he didn’t need to. This further allowed him to conceal himself from the Jedi Order that he was the Sith Lord controlling the Clone Wars.
Sion Fawkes has been covering Star Wars since January 2022, expanding his expertise in both Star Wars Canon and Legends. When not writing, you can find Sion in the gym or running trails. He also likes watching sports and listening to audiobooks.