The return of Palpatine is no longer a surprise, but now a perpetual possibility for the future of Star Wars. According to a possible leak from Mr. Palps himself — Ian McDiarmid — there’s a very real chance we could see Darth Sidious in a new Star Wars project soon. But which one? Here’s how Palpatine could return (again) and why, unlike The Rise of Skywalker, these hypothetical comebacks could make sense.
The Palpatine Leak
In a recently resurfaced September 2021 interview with Metro, McDiarmid suggested that it’s possible he could reappear as Palpatine in literally any Star Wars installment set before his demise in The Rise of Skywalker.
“I think I have to accept that, thanks to my ungrateful granddaughter [Rey Skywalker], my annihilation was finally final. [But] of course Vader is back in the new [Obi-Wan Kenobi] television series, so I suppose it’s not impossible that one day his mentor might be discovered once again skulking in the shadows.”
Now, “I suppose it’s not impossible” is by no means a smoking blaster that guarantees McDiarmid is coming back. However, because McDiarmid alluded to Obi-Wan Kenobi, it’s possible he knows something but isn’t getting specific.
Assuming Palpatine is returning for one of the various Star Wars TV shows, which one is he most likely to be in?
Palpatine in Obi-Wan Kenobi
This would be the safest bet, and an easy premise to execute. The Disney+ series Obi-Wan Kenobi is set 10 years after Revenge of the Sith, so obviously Palpatine is alive and well as he builds his Empire. And, as McDiarmid said, because Darth Vader is present it’s not a stretch to think the Emperor could appear too. McDiarmid even voiced Palpatine in Rebels, which also took place in-between Revenge of the Sith and A New Hope. So in terms of an obvious way for Palpatine to “return,” even as a cameo, Obi-Wan Kenobi would make a lot of sense.
That said, it’s probably the least exciting of the options.
Palpatine in Andor
The upcoming Star Wars: Andor is also a prequel to A New Hope. Set roughly two years before Cassian Andor’s demise in Rogue One, the series will likely occur in the heyday of the Emperor expanding his power and trying to crush the Rebellion. Because this is a Rebellion-era show about the battle against the Empire, an appearance by Palpatine might make even more sense than him showing up in Obi-Wan Kenobi.
Palpatine in Ahsoka?
There are a couple ways Palps could crash Ahsoka. The first would be in a Clone Wars era flashback, which could potentially also involve Anakin. But the second way gets a bit more interesting.
Some portion of Ahsoka could address the time she spent in the World Between Worlds. This metaphysical realm, which allows for time travel, was nearly cracked by Palpatine in Rebels. This may seem like a stretch, but if Ahsoka returns to the World Between Worlds, various versions of Palpatine at different points in the timeline are suddenly on the table. We all expect Palps to return, but no one expected time-traveling Palps!
Palpatine in The Mandalorian could fix Rise of Skywalker
Of all of the possibilities for a Palpatine comeback, the one that feels the most like a giant puzzle piece is the notion of him appearing in Season 3 of The Mandalorian. Since Mando Season 1, fans have been drawing links between the conspiracy around Grogu’s capture and the possible cloning of Palpatine.
We know that in the decades between The Mandalorian and The Rise of Skywalker, Emperor loyalists find a way to bring him back to life. But how close is he to that resurrection in the Mandalorian era? In Season 2, Moff Gideon made it clear the Empire only wanted Grogu for his blood, which probably means midi-chlorians, the micro-organisms that make Force-wielding possible. If the Empire was only trying to harvest Grogu’s blood, it stands to reason they wanted it for Palpatine’s clone-body.
For many fans, part of the frustration with Palpatine’s return in The Rise of Skywalker was that the reveal lacked an explanation. It’s retroactively been revealed that Snoke was a pseudo-clone of Palpatine, but it’s not clear how this process unfolded. If Palpatine were to appear in The Mandalorian Season 3, we’d finally have a link between the Palps of Return of the Jedi and the way he appears in The Rise of Skywalker. Because this middle segment hasn’t been depicted, Palpatine’s story feels oddly incomplete. If Ian McDiarmid did appear in Mandalorian Season 3, the Sith saga could finally be finished.
Obi-Wan Kenobi hits Disney+ on May 25, 2022.