- Palpatine’s resurrection in Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker can be attributed to three components: cloning of his body, the Sith power of essence transfer, and the planet Exegol.
- Exegol is a Sith planet where the boundary between life and death is thin, making a return from death possible. Palpatine discovered this planet and used it to escape death.
- The failed body of Supreme Leader Snoke was genetically engineered as a potential host for Palpatine, but proved unworthy. The Imperial Shadow Council, introduced in The Mandalorian, hinted at a project called “Necromancer” related to Palpatine’s resurrection.
Star Wars tie-ins have revealed x secrets about Palpatine’s resurrection in Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker. Most viewers assumed Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker would explain Palpatine’s resurrection, but instead it was hand-waved away with the comment of “somehow Palpatine returned.” There’s a sense in which this was an understandable decision; a movie isn’t supposed to be a Wikipedia page, after all, and the focus is on telling the story rather than explaining everything. Still, for all that’s the case, the failure to explain Palpatine’s resurrection was widely mocked.
Star Wars is far more than a film franchise, of course. Oddly enough, canon Star Wars novels had (likely accidentally) set up Palpatine’s return back in 2015, even if the movies had ignored the setup. Since then, it’s become clear there are three components of Palpatine’s resurrection: the cloning of the Emperor’s body, the Sith power of essence transfer, and the planet Exegol. Here’s everything Star Wars has revealed about these three components.
6 Exegol’s Force Vergence Made Return From Death Possible
Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker introduced the Sith planet of Exegol, a mysterious world steeped in the dark side of the Force. Situated deep in the Unknown Regions, Exegol has been revealed to be a Force vergence where the boundary between life and death is unusually thin. It was discovered by the ancient Sith, and – according to George Mann’s Dark Legends – for millennia Sith have attempted to unlock the secret of immortality by conducting experiments at Exegol. There’s some contradictory evidence indicating the Sith lost the Wayfinders that led them to Exegol, with Palpatine rediscovering them sometime after Star Wars: Episode III – Revenge of the Sith.
5 Palpatine’s Master Darth Plagueis Discovered The Power Of Essence Transfer
In Star Wars: Episode III – Revenge of the Sith, Palpatine hinted his master Darth Plagueis had discovered the secret of immortality. Rae Carson’s novelization of Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker confirms this was the ancient Sith power of essence transfer, an ability that allowed a Sith Lord to transfer their spirit at the moment of their death – binding it to a geographical location or an object, or potentially possessing a person. According to the novelization, Palpatine used Plagueis’ power to escape death in Return of the Jedi:
“Plagueis had not acted fast enough in his own moment of death. But Sidious, sensing the flickering light in his apprentice, had been ready for years. So the falling, dying Emperor called on all the dark power of the Force to thrust his consciousness far, far away to a secret place he had been preparing. His body was dead, an empty vessel, long before it found the bottom of the shaft, and his mind jolted to new awareness in a new body – a painful one, a temporary one.”
4 Palpatine’s Cloning Experiments Predated The Rise Of The Empire
Palpatine didn’t just want to possess any old body, of course; an egotist to the core, he initially sought to transfer his body into a clone. Darth Sidious had always been interested in cloning, and in Star Wars: The Clone Wars there were hints he’d already established a facility to conduct such genetic experiments. This story continued in Star Wars: The Bad Batch, which has revealed an Imperial cloning facility at Mount Tantiss on the planet Wayland. Dialogue has already hinted the Emperor has a secret purpose for Mount Tantiss, and it is likely he tasked the scientists there with figuring out how to clone Force-powers.
3 Palpatine Sought Out Exegol After Revenge Of The Sith
Chuck Wendig’s “Aftermath” trilogy arguably foreshadows Palpatine’s return in Star Wars: Episode III – Revenge of the Sith, even introducing a Sith cultist named Yupe Tashu who believed the Emperor would return somewhere in the Unknown Regions. In one flashback, Yupe Tashu remembers his master sensing a powerful dark side vergence somewhere in the depths of space, seeking it out as a key to immortality. It’s reasonable to assume Palpatine was searching for Exegol, sensing the planet through the Force.
Timothy Zahn’s novel Thrawn reveals this was the real reason Palpatine recruited Grand Admiral Thrawn into the Empire. One of the few nonhumans to ascend to a high rank in the Empire, Thrawn actually originated from the Unknown Regions; he was an exile from a race who lived there, the Chiss. As pleased as Palpatine was with Thrawn’s military and tactical genius, he was far more interested in exploring the Unknown Regions in search of Exegol.
It’s unclear when Palpatine discovered Exegol. Star Wars comics have revealed he seemed to have established himself there by the time of the original trilogy; Greg Pak and Raffaele Ienco’s Darth Vader tells a story in which Darth Vader visited Exegol after The Empire Strikes Back. Even Darth Vader never suspected the scale of his master’s ambitions, though.
2 Supreme Leader Snoke Was A Failed Body For Palpatine
Lucasfilm’s Star Wars: Secrets of the Sith – an in-universe reference book supposedly written by Palpatine himself – confirms Supreme Leader Snoke was genetically engineered as a potential host for the Emperor. “As part of their genetic experiments, my followers had attempted to create another being that came to be known as Snoke,” Palpatine notes. “Although his body proved unworthy of containing my dark essence, Snoke’s natural sensitivity to the Force would make him a powerful puppet nonetheless.“
1 Star Wars Hints At Project Necromancer: Palpatine’s Resurrection?
Finally, The Mandalorian season 3, episode 7 introduced a group known as the Imperial Shadow Council. Existing after the events of Return of the Jedi, the Imperial Shadow Council – a group of former Imperial leaders – schemed to restore the Empire. Intriguingly, the brief glimpse of a Shadow Council meeting included a throwaway reference to something called “Project Necromancer.” It’s reasonable to assume this is connected to the experiments being conducted at Exegol, given the focus on life after death.
The precise relationship between Palpatine and the Imperial Shadow Council is still something of a mystery. Although it’s possible Palpatine was the secret master of the group, it’s worth noting the leaders who founded the First Order don’t seem to have known about his resurrection. It’s quite possible Palpatine was enjoying operating from the shadows, proving himself the greatest villain of Star Wars once again.