Star Wars Explained Exactly How Palpatine Survived His Return Of The Jedi Fall

Palpatine in The Rise of Skywalker

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The Skywalker Saga came to an end with J.J. Abrams' Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker, and the conversation around the blockbuster hasn't slowed down since. In the months following Episode IX's run in theaters, plenty of exciting tidbits have arrived from interviews, comic books, and the movie's novelization. The Rise of Skywalker's book greatly expanded upon the story, and answered the myriad questions that weren't quite answered throughout its 142-minute runtime. Palpatine's resurrection was a bit of a head scratcher, and now we know exactly how he managed to survive that fall in Return of the Jedi.

Palpatine was seemingly killed in the third act of Star Wars: Return of the Jedi, with Darth Vader being redeemed shortly before his death. It was previously revealed that the Emperor we saw in The Rise of Skywalker was a clone, but now we know exactly how his consciousness managed to survive his apparent death aboard the second Death Star. As Episode IX's novel explained:

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 a new awareness in a new body - a painful one, a temporary one.

It looks like Sheev Palpatine has been planning for his unexpected death throughout his life. In addition to crafting clones of himself, he was also prepared in a mysterious Sith ritual which allowed him to catapult his consciousness away from his physical form and into another. The Light Side doesn't practice this type of sorcery, but The Emperor was strong in the ways of the Dark Side.

Star Wars fans can re-watch the Skywalker Saga on Disney+. You can use this link for a free 7-day trial to the streaming service.

The above excerpt from Rise of the Skywalker's book (via Screen Rant) answers one of the final questions about Palpatine's role in Episode IX. The movie didn't go into much detail regarding the how and when of The Emperor's mysterious resurrection. He wasn't seen for a number of years, and it was unlikely that he managed to escape the second Death Star alive before its destruction.

As a reminder, you can watch Palpatine's original death scene below.

Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker didn't show or explain but, it turns out that Palpatine projected his mind outside of his body during that long fall, dying before his body ever hit the ground. Always a planner, The Emperor had already constructed the clone of himself that would ultimately pop up in Episode IX.

J.J. Abrams' decision to bring back Palpatine was originally a controversial one, but it certainly helped The Rise of Skywalker connect to the previous two trilogies. The Emperor is the architect behind all the evil of the franchise, so it stands to reason that he might be behind the events of the sequel movies as well.

Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker is available via video on demand, and will arrive on DVD and Blu-ray on March 31st. In the meantime, check out our 2020 release list to plan your next trip to the movies.

Corey Chichizola
Movies Editor

Corey was born and raised in New Jersey. Graduated with degrees theater and literature from Ramapo College of New Jersey. After working in administrative theater for a year in New York, he started as the Weekend Editor at CinemaBlend. He's since been able to work himself up to reviews, phoners, and press junkets-- and is now able to appear on camera with some of his favorite actors... just not as he would have predicted as a kid. He's particularly proud of covering horror franchises like Scream and Halloween, as well as movie musicals like West Side Story. Favorite interviews include Steven Spielberg, Spike Lee, Jamie Lee Curtis, and more.