13. The long cons
Both Game of Thrones and Star Wars had long cons by manipulative, ambitious men. But only one actually saw that long con end the way they intended.
Petyr Baelish, a.k.a. Littlefinger, was a sly, arrogant character who managed to survive seven seasons of Game of Thrones while also being the puppet master behind several characters’ demise. Vanity Fair succinctly describes Littlefinger’s modus operandi in a 2017 article: “Baelish’s entire life philosophy: sew the seeds of mischief, violence, and misunderstanding, then use the confusion to climb up the social/power ladder.”
Unfortunately for him, his deception was revealed by the Stark siblings and Littlefinger was executed by Arya Stark in Season 7.
The master of the long con, however, is Emperor Palpatine. Already a Sith lord, Palpatine, a.k.a. Darth Sidious, gained power as the senator from Naboo, then manipulated his way to becoming chancellor of the Republic and ultimately, “reorganizing” the Republic into the Galactic Empire.
Throughout the prequel films, he lied and deceived characters into trusting him and turning against one another, pulling the strings behind the Clone Wars between the Republic and the Separatists. He even sowed the seeds of fear and anger in Anakin Skywalker, turning him to the dark side and into Darth Vader.
As fans know, Palpatine’s long con went on for years, and the fruits of his manipulative labor lasted for decades. Fortunately for the good guys, Palpatine was finally defeated with the destruction of the second Death Star in Return of the Jedi.
Well, until a corpse-like clone of Palpatine showed up in The Rise of Skywalker, confirming that the real goal of his long con was to reestablish Sith rule through his Final Order.
Finally…finally Palpatine was defeated for good after Kylo Ren came back to the light side as Ben Solo and teamed up with Sidious’s granddaughter Rey to destroy the evil their ancestors built.