Ian McDiarmid Confirms Palpatine Is Dead Before Star Wars: The Rise Of Skywalker

Emperor Palpatine

The first trailer for Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker has definitely put fans through a loop as it’s made us question something we’ve thought of as a fact for the past 30 years. The unmistakeable laugh of Emperor Palpatine tells us that the original big bad of the saga is returning in Episode IX, but how can this be when he was plunged to the depths of the Death Star by Vader in 1983’s Return of the Jedi?

Could the Emperor really have survived his fall, been biding his time for all these years and will now re-emerge in the upcoming movie? Well, no, apparently not. On top of all the evidence in the franchise that we’ve had already, we’re still pretty certain that the villain died in RotJ, as actor Ian McDiarmid has confirmed that this has always been the intention of creator George Lucas.

Speaking at the Star Wars Celebration panel for The Phantom Menace, McDiarmid recounted the time he tried to pitch a resurrected Emperor storyline to Lucas but the writer/director wasn’t having any of it.

“‘Is he…?’ And before I could even finish the sentence. ‘Dead, yes.’ ‘Well, couldn’t he perhaps…’ ‘No. He’s dead.’ ‘Well, wouldn’t it be interesting if…?’ ‘Forget it.'”

You might be thinking right now: so what? Lucas doesn’t make these movies anymore, so what does it matter what his plans were? Well, J.J. Abrams has told us that he consulted the franchise’s creator on Episode IX as he wanted it to be the perfect finale for the saga. As such, if Lucas was so dismissive of McDiarmid’s attempts to reverse Palpatine’s death, you’d think he’d have a problem with Abrams doing the same.

If he’s not still alive, then, how is the Emperor back? Well, the most pervasive theory is that his Force ghost will manifest to haunt our heroes. The trailer featured them approaching the ruins of the Death Star II so, as his final resting place, it makes sense for Darth Sidious’ spirit to appear here. Or maybe Lucas consented to the retcon of his original plans and he’s back in the disfigured flesh?

Either way, Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker will reveal the answers when it hits theaters on December 20th.

About the author


Christian Bone

Christian Bone is a Staff Writer/Editor at We Got This Covered and has been cluttering up the internet with his thoughts on movies and TV for a full decade, ever since graduating with a Creative Writing degree from the University of Winchester. He can usually be found writing about anything Marvel or DC. And yet, if you asked him, he'd probably say his favorite superhero film is 'The Incredibles'.