Rise of Skywalker's Big Palpatine Twist May Come Straight From Harry Potter

All these 'Episode IX' leaks have one thing in common: They remind us a lot of Harry Potter.

An orphaned boy discovers magical powers and his universe opens up dramatically as he’s thrust into a war, eventually fulfilling his destiny as the prophesized hero. The similarities between Harry Potter and Star Wars have always been obvious, relating broadly to the hero’s journey in ways people have pointed out for years.

More recently, however, some of the rumors and supposed leaks regarding Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker feel particularly resonant with Harry Potter’s biggest twists. Could the final chapter of the Skywalker Saga borrow its big twist from the wizarding world it inspired?

From Force ghosts (magic portraits) to Sith possession (parasitic Voldermort), the biggest plot points in The Rise of Skywalker keep overlapping with Harry Potter. What does this mean for Episode IX? Maybe a history book from the Hogwarts library can shed some light on the upcoming movie.

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Yoda as a Force ghost in 'Star Wars: The Last Jedi'.

Hogwarts Headmaster Portraits Were Force Ghosts All Along

Old Ben Kenobi returned from the dead as a disembodied voice at a crucial moment in A New Hope, and the idea of Force ghosts expanded extensively in the four decades since.

Similar to how even after death, Albus Dumbledore secretly provided vital counsel to Severus Snape via a magical portrait in the Headmaster’s Office of Hogwarts, Force ghosts have advised people in most Star Wars movies, but just like in Harry Potter, the biggest moments of Force ghost counseling may have happened offscreen.

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In the Dumbledore's office, the portraits of previous headmasters can advise him.

On August 15, the official Star Wars blog announced the upcoming Star Wars: Secrets of the Jedi novel written from the perspective of Luke Skywalker about the history of the Jedi, their powers and their secrets. In one of the preview pages about Force “Spirits” (typically called “Force ghosts” by fans), Luke confesses to communing with the spirits of the dead in the many years following the original trilogy.

“That knowledge was passed down to a select few, including Obi-Wan, Yoda, and my father,” Luke “writes” of becoming a Force ghost. “Their spirits guided me for many years but vanished when I shut myself off from the Force. It’s a relief to feel their presence after all this time.”

This passage implies that Luke spent years hanging out with all of his dead friends before becoming a spirit himself. Meanwhile, Mark Hamill confirmed in June 2019 that he’d appear as a Force ghost in Rise of Skywalker. These specters seemingly only appear to other Force sensitive people, so who’s Luke speaking with in Episode IX? Another connection to Harry Potter could offer insight.

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Smiling Palpatine in 'Star Wars'.

Palpatine Survived Using Sith Horcruxes

With the right training, Jedi can live forever as part of the Force, manifesting a physical presence that appears as a spectral “ghost” or “spirit.” The evil Sith and other Dark side users, however, cannot achieve a similar kind of immortality by embracing death. When they die, the only means of survival at their disposal is in attaching their essence to an object of great importance and magnitude.

If that sounds familiar, it’s because the concept is pretty identical to the horcruxes in Harry Potter. The noteworthy theory here is that maybe, just maybe, Emperor Palpatine pulled a Voldemort and stored his essence in an object (or multiple objects). That doesn’t sound believable based on what we’ve seen in the Star Wars movie, but in the wider Star Wars canon, it’s totally possible.

The way Palpatine talks about Darth Plagueis in the prequels even feels reminiscent of a young Tom Riddle investigating horcruxes. Palpatine will return to The Rise of Skywalker somehow, and that plot probably unfolds similar to Voldemort infusing fractured pieces of his soul into objects. 

A lot of people grappling with leaks and rumors about Star Wars reference a MacGuffin, a term used to describe an insignificant object that serves as a plot trigger. Star Wars fans will instantly recognize this kind of narrative device with the Death Star plans, Princess Leia’s message, or the map to Luke Skywalker. Every character obsesses over the same thing in their own way, and virtually all of the conflict stems from that.

The well-regarded fan-site Making Star Wars has written extensively about insider reports claiming the MacGuffin for Episode IX is “controversial as an idea” that “evolves as the story progresses,” but it’s also occasionally written as “MacGuffins” in the plural. Could The Rise of Skywalker involve Kylo Ren hunting down one or more Sith artifacts imbued with Palpatine’s essence? The Resistance might pursue the same items without knowing what they are — or to prevent them from falling into the wrong hands.

Harry Potter opens the snitch to reveal the Resurrections Stone.

Ancient relics that resonate with the Force aren’t often referenced in the Star Wars films, but in tangential properties like comics or popular animated series like Star Wars Rebels, Sith Holocrons store information and a great deal of power. Like the Resurrection Stone in Harry Potter, such an object could serve a dual purpose for Palpatine.

Is Palpatine sustaining a sliver of existence because his life force is attached to one or more such objects? How can that “evolve” over time and be “controversial”?

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A very creepy picture of Palpatine in his Sith form.

Rise of Skywalker Will Turn Dark With Palpatine’s Bodily Resurrection

Harry Potter began as a fun-loving, wondrous exploration of a hidden magical world. Voldemort is the primary antagonist in every entry except Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban whether directly or indirectly through his spiritual influence or the influence of a horcrux, but it isn’t until a dark ritual resurrects his body at the end of Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire that the entire series pivots in a much darker direction.

The Rise of Skywalker could follow suit. Assuming we do eventually see a Kylo Ren redemption, it probably won’t be until after he helps to further Palpatine’s dark bidding. We’d wager that Kylo helps in some ritual to resurrect Palpatine outright, but upon realizing his mistake, teams up with Rey once again to unite against the former Emperor for a thrilling final battle.

What’s more is that the first half of Rise of Skywalker could unfold like the first half of the Harry Potter saga.

Voldemort shortly after his bodily resurrection in 'The Goblet of Fire'.

If Palpatine’s essence is split into multiple Force horcruxes of some kind, it’s also possible that he’ll come to control several different people similar to Voldemort possessing Professor Quirrell and Ginny Weasley through separate means. Does Kylo Ren accept his essence but ultimately reject it in a way that more accurately fulfills his grandfather’s legacy of bringing balance to the Force?

A key part of many Episode IX theories involve the not-so-secret casting of Matt Smith in some mysterious role. Variety reported Smith’s casting in August 2018, but by March 2019, Lucasfilm claimed he wasn’t in the movie — or at least omitted him from the formal casting. Why?

One supposed Reddit leak from June 2019 claims that “the Force spirit of Emperor Palpatine … re-emerges from the shadows” and that “he inhabits the willing body of a young Dark Acolyte of Kylo Ren’s.”

Who else might that be person be other than a Knight of Ren? Matt Smith is probably playing an over-eager Dark side user willing to channel the spirit of Palpatine. But it’s also likely that Palpatine will also try to possess Rey and/or Kylo Ren, forcing them to team up to defeat him once and for all.

Could that be the epic conclusion to the entire saga? Everything we know about Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker and Harry Potter says it might just be correct.


Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker will be released December 20, 2019.

Media via Lucasfilm, Warner Bros. Studio, GIPHY, Warner Bros.