The franchise legend voiced Emperor Palpatine for season 4 of the Disney XD animated series, but for the villain’s sole appearance in season 2 he was voiced by Sam Witwer, who typically plays Darth Maul on the show. In the latest version of the episode, however, the past has been corrected by having McDiarmid redo the lines.
The change was noticed by Reddit user u/darthzepp and is just the latest example of the old Star Wars tradition of performances being replaced to better fit continuity. In fact, it’s not even the first time McDiarmid has redubbed another actor’s lines. In the first version of The Empire Strikes Back, Palpatine was voiced by Clive Terrill and physically performed by Marjorie Eaton.
On this occasion, Witwer actually did a pretty uncanny impression of McDiarmid, and his own standing as a Star Wars fan favorite may make the change a little controversial. Overall, though, most will probably like having the definitive portrayer of the character in the scene, especially as he did later play a major role in season 4.
In some ways, we can consider this Star Wars Rebels cameo a taste of a much more prominent return for McDiarmid’s Emperor Palpatine in The Rise of Skywalker, in which Darth Sidious will have miraculously returned from the dead to no doubt manipulate Kylo Ren and tempt Rey over to the Dark Side. We’ll find out what evil tricks the villain’s got up the sleeves of his robes when the Skywalker Saga concludes on December 20th.