Star Wars’ Ian McDiarmid On Whether He Could Return As Emperor Palpatine After Rise Of Skywalker

Ian McDiarmid in Star Wars: Revenge of the Sith
(Image credit: Lucasfilm)

After nine full-length Star Wars movies, fans know that just because a character has died, it doesn’t mean they've necessarily seen the last of them. It’s been true of many fan-favorites over the years, as well as a handful of villains we love to hate. Now, as the franchise expands after The Rise of Skywalker, Ian McDiarmid has some thoughts on whether it’s possible for Emperor Palpatine to make another appearance. 

The Rise of Skywalker saw the demise of a few key characters in the expansive canon. One was the evil Emperor Palpatine, who shockingly survived his Return of the Jedi fall and made a return to the fray in the final film. While the narrative twist was divisive – apparently George Lucas himself did not plan to bring Palpatine back – it left some fans wondering if he’s really dead this time. In a conversation with Metro (via, Ian McDiarmid had an interesting answer when asked if we’ve seen the last of his notorious character: 

I think I have to accept that, thanks to my ungrateful granddaughter [Rey Skywalker], my annihilation was finally final. [But] of course [Darth] 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.

I don’t know, that reference to Obi-Wan Kenobi has me raising an eyebrow. We already know Disney+’s upcoming TV series is going to be bringing back more than just Darth Vader, including one character from the prequels. Does he know something we don’t know yet about what the new Star Wars series has in store for his iconic antagonist? 

One thing is for sure, it sounds like at least where any post-Rise of Skywalker stories are concerned, we can probably count another Palpatine appearance out. Ian McDiarmid does make a good point, though, that there could be a lot more for us to learn about his villainous character. A recent book delved into a huge Palpatine moment from the past and discussed his rise to power. So, as far as his backstory goes, there could be a lot more where that came from. 

Even if we don’t see Palpatine skulking in the shadows in Obi-Wan Kenobi, there are still plenty of reasons to be excited for the upcoming series. Thanks to an update from Ewan McGregor, we know the series wrapped production last fall. Now, some recent news about an upcoming Marvel Comics series has raised speculation about when the TV series will debut

The Star Wars franchise has certainly surprised us before, so I'd say there's at least a chance that Ian McDiarmid dons those black robes again. While you wait to see if that comes to pass, you can check out the character's past appearances in the Skywalker Saga with a Disney+ subscription.

Katherine Webb