J.J. Abrams Explains Why Palpatine Returns In Star Wars: The Rise Of Skywalker

Palpatine Star Wars

True to his word, director J.J. Abrams looks set to deliver a truly satisfying conclusion to the Skywalker Saga with Episode IX, one which references all three trilogies in the core Lucasfilm franchise.

To do so, he’s plucked characters from all across the Star Wars timeline, but none of them have attracted the same levels of hype and giddy excitement as Emperor Palpatine, the real puppet master pulling the strings in this far-away galaxy. Long thought to be dead after the events of Jedi, Abrams and co-writer Chris Terrio have seemingly figured out a loophole which allows Ian McDiarmid’s cackling maniac to return.

The finer details of said resurrection are being kept firmly under lock and key, but while chatting to Empire – the magazine, not the galactic regime – J.J. Abrams explained why Palpatine’s now returned, and hinted that his mere presence will help bring some closure to the Skywalker Saga.

Some people feel like we shouldn’t revisit the idea of Palpatine, and I completely understand that. But if you’re looking at the nine films as one story, I don’t know many books where the last few chapters have nothing to do with those that have come before. If you look at the first eight films, all the set-ups of what we’re in IX are there in plain view.

From sneering senator to ruler of the Galactic Empire, Palpatine’s journey is fraught with death and destruction (not that he would have it any other way, mind you), but in The Rise of Skywalker, we fully expect that story to come full circle. And while the franchise’s big bad has been strangely absent in recent installments, Abrams and his team are clearly viewing the Skywalker Saga as a single entity, so expect plenty of callbacks come Christmas.

Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker opens big on December 20th. How big, you ask? We imagine it’ll land somewhere in between The Last Jedi ($1.3 billion) and The Force Awakens ($2 billion) at the global box office.