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How Emperor Palpatine could return in 'Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker'

Emperor Palpatine (Ian McDiarmid) fills Anakin Skywalker (Hayden Christensen) with stories of power beyond belief.
Emperor Palpatine (Ian McDiarmid) fills Anakin Skywalker (Hayden Christensen) with stories of power beyond belief.
Lucasfilm Ltd.

Warning: Potential spoilers for "Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker" below.

SALT LAKE CITY — The new teaser trailer for “Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker” dropped on Friday, and it looks like Emperor Palpatine is back.

The trailer, which you can watch on, shows our sequel trilogy heroes Rey (Daisy Ridley), Finn (John Boyega), Poe (Oscar Isaac) and Chewbacca (Joonas Suotamo) all back in action and seemingly on a mission together.

But the trailer ends on a rather nefarious note. A voice-over, which sounds a lot like Luke Skywalker (Mark Hamill), says “no one’s ever really gone.” And then comes the haunting and chilling laugh of Emperor Palpatine (Ian McDiarmid), a sign that the villainous character might be back for the final movie in the “Star Wars” universe.

As if we needed more confirmation, McDiarmid appeared at the Star Wars Celebration event right after the trailer aired, where he told the production crew to play the trailer again.

So it sounds like Emperor Palpatine is coming back to the “Star Wars” universe, and that’s totally possible given what we know from the “Star Wars” video games, comic books and Legends expanded universe (which is no longer considered part of the canon or a part of the franchise).

For starters, Palpatine appeared in a trailer for the EA video game “Star Wars Battlefront II” in a weird way. His face was inside what appeared to be a clear helmet.

In fact, that moment becomes an actual cut scene in the game, which you can watch below.

According to, Palpatine once cloned himself in the expanded universe comic book “Shattered Empire” so he could live on after death.

The comics contained characters called Sentinels, which were “dispatched across the galaxy and provide the Emperor’s contingency plans to loyal high ranking officials and officers so that they can continue to exact his will. Their faces are projected holograms of the Emperor’s face, providing pre-recorded messages and instructions to their recipients.”

The Sentinels also appeared in the “Star Wars: Aftermath” novels, which launched ahead of “The Force Awakens” and now, apparently, in the story mode for “Battlefront II.”

The mission of these Sentinels included destroying Naboo, the home planet of Palpatine, and make the people of the galaxy feel unsafe in the Emperor’s absence.

“This was just one part of the Emperor’s Contingency, which was he put in place so that no one could rule the Empire — or the galaxy — after his death. Those loyal to the Emperor would enact a plan that would destroy the Imperial fleet and send the galaxy into disarray,” according to

But there's another storyline that features Palpatine. Apparently, he came back to life during the “Dark Empire” comic book series written in 1991 and 1992, according to

In those comics, Luke Skywalker ran into a reborn Emperor, who “revealed that for many years, he took to transferring his mind and consciousness to clone bodies to attain immortality. However, the clones were one crucial step from long life; they were more ravaged by the dark side than sustained by the Force,” according to Wookiepedia, a fan-sourced site full of “Star Wars” information.

Palpatine said he had multiple clones, which allowed him to rule forever. He then offered Luke apprenticeship. Luke gave in and became Palpatine’s apprentice, according to Wookiepedia.

According to the Wookiepedia report, Skywalker then cloned himself and tried to defeat the Emperor. Palpatine turned Luke into a stooge of the dark side, The Telegraph reports. But Skywalker eventually found the good inside of him and battled Palpatine in a lightsaber battle. Luke defeated the emperor — though apparently his spirit lived on after the fight.

There’s no telling if any of this will happen in “The Rise of Skywalker.” But it does give us a brief glimpse into the possibilities for how his return might occur in the new film.

"The Rise of Skywalker" hits theaters on Dec. 20, 2019.