The end of Star Wars: Episode VI – Return of the Jedi saw Darth Vader forsake the dark side and send his mentor, Emperor Palpatine hurtling down a shaft to his apparent death. But as with any good franchise, appearances can be deceiving, and death isn’t always the end.
Fans were certainly a little taken aback to hear the distinctive cackle of the erstwhile Sith Lord over the end of the trailer for Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker. Nevertheless, the prospect of the series’ ultimate villain returning for the final chapter in the Skywalker Saga is certainly a tantalizing one, but the hows and whys are currently up for debate.
After all, no one is quite sure how the Emperor is going to appear again. He was last seen on screen in Star Wars: Episode III – Revenge of the Sith, promising to teach Anakin the secrets to immortality. So, it’s entirely possible that he kept himself alive via these means.
However, a new theory posits that it’s perhaps more likely that he’ll appear as a Force Ghost in the new film, just like Yoda did in Star Wars: The Last Jedi. This is notable because it would be the first time someone seduced by the Dark Side of the Force (who was never redeemed, as Anakin was) was seen on screen in such a manner.
The rumor suggests that the Emperor will appear to counsel Kylo Ren in the lead up to the final confrontation with Rey and her allies, and will perhaps even take a hand in the fight itself, which could lead to opposing Force Ghosts, such as Yoda, Mace Windu or Obi-Wan, appearing to counter him.
The theory might be a little far flung, as there hasn’t been any indication that Force Ghosts can do more that chat with the living, but then again, no one has seen a Sith Force Ghost on the big screen yet, so anything’s possible at this point.
Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker will be released in cinemas on December 20th, 2019.