One of the most evil characters in cinematic history, Palpatine’s accomplishments involved rising to Chancellor in The Prequel Trilogy, Emperor in The Original Trilogy, and using Sith magic to transfer his consciousness after death in The Sequel Trilogy to try and retake control of the galaxy.
Palpatine was evil since birth, believing that only a chosen few deserved power. He read the Sith Doctrine and became enamored in it, then found a mentor in Darth Plagueis. The Sith Lord went on to teach Palpatine everything he knew in the dark side.
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How Did Palpatine Become So Evil?
Palpatine was so evil because of his toxic personality. Initially, he had a superiority complex. However, when acting upon that complex did not go his way, he immediately sought revenge and embraced the dark side of the Force.
Sheev Palpatine was born into a prominent family on Naboo in 84 BBY. In his youth, he believed himself to be superior to everyone. His superiority complex extended to his family, and given their prominence, they had the means to enter politics.
If his parents entered the political sphere, it would give Palpatine a vessel to wield power, something he felt he deserved. However, Palpatine’s father, Consinga, was satisfied with the family’s wealth and had no desire to enter political spheres.
Resigned to accept the fact Consinga had zero ambition and that his mother enabled such complacency, Palpatine plotted to someday kill his family, and shortly afterward, he stumbled upon the Sith Doctrine.
With the Sith Doctrine embracing the dark side, Palpatine became a disciple and with his parents’ wealth, he bought a myriad of Sith artifacts. It wasn’t long after when he met a stranger who would later reveal himself to be Darth Plagueis. Plagueis later became Palpatine’s master.
Is Palpatine Completely Evil?
Palpatine embodied the dark side in The Sequel Trilogy, using science and Sith magic he learned from Darth Plagueis to resurrect himself into a flawed vessel that at least allowed him to await an individual who could serve as a host for his consciousness.
The individual in question was his granddaughter, Rey. Palpatine wanted to possess the girl so he could go about ruling the First Order and reclaim his seat as Emperor.
It would take a loveless human being to possess their own grandkid, so yes, Palpatine is completely evil. But was he completely evil before that? He knew Darth Vader’s identity the entire time, but that didn’t stop him from trying to deploy Vader to go after Luke.
Go back to The Prequel Trilogy, where Palpatine executed Order 66 to purge an entire group of people who he falsely accused of trying to take over the galaxy. And even before he became a senator from Naboo, Palpatine aligned himself with Darth Plagueis.
When Plagueis taught Palpatine the ways of the Sith, Palpatine killed the Sith Lord. And before that, Palpatine killed Consinga when his father tried to force him to study for a career that did not involve politics. Palpatine also killed his entire family in response, impressing Plagueis.
Not only was Palpatine completely evil during The Sequel Trilogy, he was completely evil before the events of The Skywalker Saga.
How Did Palpatine Become So Powerful?
When Palpatine embraced the Sith Doctrine, he believed he would eventually cross a Sith Lord. This did not happen immediately, but he soon met an influential businessman named Hego Damask.
Damask traveled to Naboo in hopes of meeting a youthful noble who helped him out of a tight spot, which turned out to be Palpatine.
Palpatine did not immediately know who Damask was and lacked interest in him, but the businessman turned their conversations to the subject of power. When this occurred, Palpatine’s thoughts on Damask changed.
The Famed Rule of Two
The Rule of Two states that only two Sith Lords can operate in the galaxy at any time. One is the apprentice, who will crave the power of their master. The master will embody the power. Ultimately, the master will guide the apprentice to become more powerful than they are.
The entire key is for the apprentice to become powerful enough to kill their master. Plagueis was looking for a suitable apprentice after he killed his master, Darth Tenebrous. During this time, Tenebrous had a vision that a Sith Lord would end up ruling the galaxy.
In the vision, this future Sith Lord was shrouded in mystery, almost like a shadow. And when Plagueis, then disguised as Damask, tried to sense Palpatine, he could not. It was as though Palpatine was not even present.
Plagueis Made Palpatine Powerful
Plagueis did not know it, but Tenebrous’ vision implied Plagueis would fall to Palpatine. However, Plagueis looked to become immortal using both science and Sith magic, something he shared with Palpatine.
Plagueis also looked to stop the Rule of Two cycle from continuing, which would lead to him ruling the galaxy with Palpatine as his permanent apprentice. Plagueis, in teaching Palpatine not just the way of the Sith, but the path to immortality, trusted his apprentice a little too much.
This allowed the apprentice to kill his master, something Palpatine recalled to Anakin Skywalker in Revenge of the Sith. He quipped, “Unfortunately, he taught his apprentice everything he knew, then his apprentice killed him in his sleep.”
Plagueis’ teachings allowed for Palpatine to become the most powerful Sith Lord in galactic history. And Palpatine became so powerful, he ended up ruling the galaxy, an accomplishment the Sith had not achieved in over a millennium.
Did Vader Become More Powerful Than Palpatine?
Darth Vader’s embracing the light side in Return of the Jedi led to Palpatine’s first death. When Palpatine was distracted in torturing Luke Skywalker with Force lightning, Vader reassumed his former identity as Anakin Skywalker and tossed the Sith Lord into a reactor.
While Palpatine had become so powerful that he could just transfer his consciousness, it is possible Vader became the more powerful Sith Lord. Born as Anakin Skywalker in 41 BBY, no one’s midi-chlorian count matched the prophesied Chosen One’s.
This has led to speculation that Anakin, or Darth Vader, would become the most powerful Force-wielding being of all-time. The top villain in television history, Darth Vader even got Palpatine’s endorsement in Revenge of the Sith.
During the film’s climactic moment before he dueled Yoda, Palpatine claimed, “Darth Vader will be more powerful than either of us.” However, Palpatine didn’t necessarily plan for this to happen, which explains the falling action as Revenge of the Sith came to a close.
While Palpatine was a calculating individual who wielded power from political influence, Vader’s power came from his ultra-high midi-chlorian count. Palpatine knew this, and following Vader’s loss to Obi-Wan Kenobi on Mustafar, Palpatine tried to ensure Vader would never become more powerful.
Palpatine placed his mangled apprentice into a suit that tortured Vader for the next 23 years. He also claimed Vader’s anger killed Padme, when in fact Palpatine had been the one to drain most of what remained of her life force.
Following Vader’s injuries, he needed a life support machine to breathe and artificial limbs to move, but it did not sever his Force-sensitivity.
Palpatine wanted Vader to be powerful, but just powerful enough to rule as a right-hand man, and to never usurp him.
Palpatine realized that Vader’s resilience and additional meditation sessions strengthened his apprentice’s connections to the Force. Instead of keeping Vader one rung below him, Palpatine’s actions created an even more powerful Sith Lord.
This led to Palpatine seeking to replace Vader, preferably with Luke Skywalker. This came not because he felt Luke was the stronger of the two Skywalkers, but out of fear that the more powerful Vader would try to overthrow him.
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.