Will Palpatine appear in the Star Wars: Obi-Wan Kenobi series?

Ian McDiarmid as Palpatine in Star Wars: Episode III - Revenge of the Sith (2005). © Lucasfilm Ltd. & TM. All Rights Reserved.
Ian McDiarmid as Palpatine in Star Wars: Episode III - Revenge of the Sith (2005). © Lucasfilm Ltd. & TM. All Rights Reserved. /

For decades, Emperor Palpatine — Darth Sidious — has become one of the most iconic villains in sci-fi/fantasy history. Star Wars first introduced the character in Empire Strikes Back and even resurrected him for The Rise of Skywalker. Many are speculating Palpatine will make another appearance in Star Wars: Obi-Wan Kenobi.

According to a recent Reddit post, it’s possible Palpatine could appear in some form in the upcoming Disney+ series. This assumption is based on an interview from 2021 in whch Ian McDiarmid said the following:

"“I think I have to accept that, thanks to my ungrateful granddaughter, my annihilation was finally final…. Vader is back in the new [Obi-Wan Kenobi] television series, so I suppose it’s not impossible that one day his mentor might be discovered once again skulking in the shadows.”"

It was revealed last year that Hayden Christensen would be joining the series as Darth Vader specifically, though Ewan McGregor has teased filming scenes with the actor as Obi-Wan and Anakin Skywalker. The return of Darth Vader makes even a brief Palpatine appearance much more likely, though it’s unclear how his presence would serve the story the series aims to tell.

Even still, the actor who plays Palpatine is undoubtedly having some of the most fun in Star Wars whenever he’s on-screen, and would never pass up the opportunity to return if it was presented to him. And fans probably wouldn’t protest, either.

McDiarmid first entered the Star Wars universe in 1983 in his initial appearance as Emperor Palpatine, though he was later added to TESB in a later digital release of that film. He has since reprised the role many times, including in TROS. It’s very likely he could return again, and it’s likely that if this is the case, it will be one of the show’s expertly kept — but still highly predictable — secrets.

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Star Wars: Obi-Wan Kenobi is directed by Deborah Chow and stars Ewan McGregor and Hayden Christensen. The series premieres exclusively on Disney+ May 25, 2022.