The Sith Lord who seduced The Chosen One to the Dark Side had plenty of memorable moments. Palpatine may have been the senate, but let’s try and narrow down his greatest scenes.
Sheev Palpatine pulled one of the greatest Houdini acts in the history of cinema; the man hid in plain sight from unsuspecting Jedi Masters for years, calculating the Sith’s return to power as Darth Sidious. As a lawmaker, he quickly rose up the political food chain, going from a mild-mannered senator from Naboo to the Supreme Chancellor of the Galactic Republic.
When he was first introduced as simply “The Emperor” in a hologram during The Empire Strikes Back, it was clear that anyone who could bark orders at Darth Vader was a force to be reckoned with. By the time Return of the Jedi rolled around, he made audiences recoil at the sight of his scarred face and piercing yellow eyes while coming oh so close to killing Luke Skywalker.
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Even though his heinous capabilities were on full display in the original trilogy, it was the prequels that gave us a look at how Palpatine became the Emperor. Initially seen as a caring civil servant, he was actually Darth Sidious, a ruthless Sith Lord who trained Darth Maul from birth and corrupted Count Dooku to the Dark Side.
As AOTC and ROTS unfolded, Palpatine solidified his bond with Anakin Skywalker and gradually began morphing the troubled Jedi into Lord Vader.
You could argue Palpatine is the main antagonist of the whole saga – you wouldn’t get any argument from me. The guy was as evil as they come and Ian McDiarmid played the part to its fullest. But what were some of the Emperor’s most memorable moments?
Let’s start with a few honorable mentions.
Fives and the Inhibitor Chips (The Clone Wars)
In this fourth episode of “The Lost Missions” stories, clone trooper Fives meets with Palpatine to discuss a conspiracy surrounding the inhibitor chips found in his fellow troopers. In the scene, the Chancellor is calm under pressure, even though Fives’s revelation could’ve brought an end to his grand scheme of exterminating the Jedi Order. Fives catches on to Palpatine’s plan and Master Shaak Ti bursts into the room as Fives is about to gun down the Chancellor. Ultimately, his cover isn’t blown and Fives is shot down while trying warn Anakin and Rex of their leader’s treachery.
Duel vs. Darth Maul and Savage Opress (The Clone Wars)
Palpatine’s skills with a lightsaber are on full display in this battle between master and apprentice. This duel was featured on the list of the best lightsaber duels in Star Wars; Palpatine’s nonchalant but dominating technique is just one reason why. Maul and Savage never stood a chance, so that should tell you all you need to know about Palpatine’s expertise.
“Execute Order 66.” (Revenge of the Sith)
Here, Palpatine gives out the most famous order in Star Wars history, commanding Cody and the rest of the troopers to turn on their Jedi comrades. It was a somber scene, but it made us realize just how much authority Palpatine had.
5) “Do it.” (Revenge of the Sith)
There are limitless memes surrounding this scene, a quote in Star Wars lore that has lived on among fans of the franchise. It was in this scene where Palpatine began solidifying his chances of bringing Anakin to the Dark Side.
Having bested Count Dooku in a long-awaited rematch, Anakin has Lord Tyranus dead to rights, holding two lightsabers to his throat. After congratulating the Jedi on his victory, Palpatine orders Anakin to kill Dooku where he kneels, causing Dooku to stare at his master in disbelief. Anakin initially refuses and says that it’s “not the Jedi way.” However, he gives in to Palpatine’s urging and gets one step closer to becoming Darth Vader.
4) Duel vs. Yoda (Revenge of the Sith)
After finally seeing his plan for galactic dominance through, the newly anointed Emperor Palpatine gets the chance to duel his “little green friend”, who managed to survive Order 66. In a fight that ended in a stalemate, Yoda and Sidious show off their mastery of the Force and Palpatine is at one time shown to be somewhat overwhelmed by Yoda’s power. Still, the Dark Lord managed to get away, while Yoda retreated into exile.
3) The Tragedy of Darth Plagueis The Wise
In a great bit of storytelling, Palpatine tells the tale of his former master to a conflicted Anakin. This is actually my favorite scene with Sidious, mostly because McDiarmid tells the story so well and also gives us some backstory on Sidious’s training as a Sith. The tragedy of Darth Plagueis was one of the tipping points that led Anakin to the Dark Side as Palpatine was able to convince him Padme’s life could be spared using its powers.
2) “I am the senate” and the birth of Lord Vader
When Mace Windu strides into his office to arrest Palpatine, he casually spins around in his chair. When Windu says that the senate will decide his fate, Palpatine responds in the most Palpatine way possible.
Sidious engages Windu in combat, but loses (intentionally or not, depending on who you ask). Anakin arrives shortly afterward and ultimately chooses Palpatine’s life over Windu’s, banking on his ability to save Padme. Windu is killed, Palpatine rises and a new Sith apprentice is annointed. Here, we see Palpatine’s unmatched powers of persuasion as well as how he became disfigured.
1) Seducing Luke to the Dark Side and the redemption of Anakin Skywalker (Return of the Jedi)
This was a long and tumultuous sequence, but the Emperor’s pure evil and cunning was visible throughout. After luring the Rebel Alliance into a trap, Palpatine makes Luke Skywalker teeter between good and evil and then engage his father in an emotional duel.
After dispatching Vader, Luke stops himself and realizes how close he was to becoming his father. He backs off and talks a little smack to the Emperor, saying that he’ll never turn to the Dark Side. Palpatine responds by rocking Luke with Force lightning, but Vader intervenes and kills his master, marking the return of Anakin Skywalker. Even in his old age, we were able to see Palpatine’s raw power even though it didn’t turn out so well for him.