Did Palpatine Want to Die in Return of the Jedi?


In the Star wars films, the fate of Emperor Palpatine divided many. He looked like he died when Darth Vader threw him into the reactor at the end of return of the jedijust to get back in the rise of skywalker via clones was drawn from the Expanded Universe soul transfer arc, but didn’t resonate as much as it wasn’t involved in the new trilogy until then.

Admittedly, that arc felt forced and as if director JJ Abrams was just hoping that tugging at the heartstrings of nostalgia would win over critics and audiences. However, that was not the case at Marvel’s Star Wars: Darth Vadersince certain clues have been sown that suggest that perhaps dying in ROTJ it was part of a long-term plan.

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Emperor Palpatine seems to have a death wish in Star Wars: Darth Vader

Palpatine constantly antagonizes Darth Vader in these stories, irritating the part of Anakin Skywalker that remains below. Sure, it’s understandable that he’s testing the former Jedi for Light within, but he really should embolden the Dark Side of the Force, strengthening the Sith in Vader. In dart Vader #28 (by VC’s Greg Pak, Raffaele Ienco, Carlos Lopez, and Joe Caramagna), takes mental torture a step further by manipulating Sabé into breaking Vader and a governor, Tauntaza.

He then has Sabé working with Vader as an apprentice, but all she does is remind Vader of how he broke his oath to his late wife, Padmé. This goes beyond Palpatine physically assaulting him and rebuilding his armor; this is a punishment that can backfire when Vader rediscovers his humanity. Considering how many times the Emperor has done these things, it sounds like he wants Vader to finish him off at some point.

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Emperor Palpatine seems to have wanted a reboot

As for why Palpatine might have sought a spiritual outlet and rebooted, well, his Empire wasn’t the perfect vision he was hoping for. The Rebellion and other key groups continued to hit key Imperial outposts, including destroying their Death Star, as well as Luke Skywalker rising to really hurt the Dark Side. And since Vader wasn’t the cold, soulless weapon he envisioned, Palpatine might have wanted to rebuild an incompetent army again from the shadows, giving the rebels hope before he could shut it down via the First Order.

Attacking Luke would also have been a win-win: either Vader kills Palpatine and the Master is reborn, or Luke kills him and gives himself over to the Sith way. In the first scenario, Palpatine could have already set up the contingency plan, manipulating a failed clone to go ahead and help bring about Rey’s birth. He does seem clairvoyant, after all, so one can imagine him hatching a new plan that would corrupt Ben Solo into Kylo Ren via Snoke, then use the Dyad with Rey to try to be born into a perfect vessel. Admittedly, it’s wordy, but it’s the kind of proactive, intricate plotting that Palpatine has been capable of since his days in the Senate and the Republic, proving that he truly is the ultimate chess and puppet master.

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