Star Wars 9: How did Emperor Palpatine survive?

How did the terrible Emperor Palpatine, who was thrown into the depths of the Death Star by Darth Vader in “Return of the Jedi”, survive his fall and return in “The Ascension of Skywalker “?

Broadcast tonight on TF1, The Rise of Skywalker, episode IX of Star Wars, begins with a big surprise for all fans of the saga: the evil Emperor Palpatine, main antagonist of the first two trilogies, thrown into the void by Dark Vader at the end of Episode VI, is back!

But how did the Dark Lord of the Sith manage to survive his terrible downfall, immediately followed by the explosion of the Death Star? Simply sketched out in Episode IX, the answer to this big question has been developed in more detail in the film’s official novel (released in March 2020) and in an article from the excellent site


First of all, in order to understand how Palpatine went about postponing his own death, we must go back to Revenge of the Sith, episode III of the saga, and in particular to a scene of discussion between the future Emperor and Anakin Skywalker, who is about to become his apprentice. Seeking to tip the young Jedi over to the Dark Side, Palpatine then tells him the story of his former master, Darth Plagueis:

“His knowledge of the Dark Side was such that he also managed to prevent those whose existence he cared about from dying.”, he explains to Anakin in this way, before revealing to her that Plagueis was finally killed in his sleep by his own apprentice (i.e. Palpatine himself):

Lucasfilm Ltd.

“He had become so powerful that the only thing that still scared him was losing his power, which of course did happen one day.”, he sums up with irony.

From this story (short but central), we can deduce two things:

  • Palpatine inherited the power from his master and therefore learned to conquer death
  • he was undoubtedly terrified at the idea of ​​meeting the same fate as Plagueis, and therefore sought to find an escape route in case his own apprentice betrayed him in turn.


According to, this strategy was called the “Contingency plan” (or “plan B”). It consisted in particular for Palpatine to transfer his spirit in a clone at the time of his death. So that’s what he did at the end of the Return of the Jedi, after being thrown into the void by Vader.

Transported to a new body on the planet Exegol (where his followers were also located), Palpatine had to wait many years before returning to center stage. Indeed, his first clone being much too weak, he was forced to design new ones to survive.

Lucasfilm Ltd.

Through these despicable repeated genetic manipulations, he thus gave life to several copies of himself, and in particular to Supreme Leader Snoke (killed by Kylo Ren in The Last Jedi), as well as to Rey’s father, which in a way makes the latter his granddaughter.

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The ultimate heir to her lineage, the young heroine of Star Wars postlogy was therefore the perfect target for Palpatine. It was indeed supposed to allow him to transfer his spirit to a new body one very last time, and finally to resume his old place as Emperor of the galaxy.

A seemingly infallible plan which, unfortunately for Palpatine, had absolutely not anticipated the determination and courage of the young girl, apprentice of Luke Skywalker and loyal to the Jedi Order.

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