Radical 'Episode 9' Theory Suggests Palpatine Altered Star Wars Canon

This galaxy-brained theory actually makes a surprising amount of sense.

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When Disney bought Lucasfilm, it didn’t just mean new movies, it also meant a total reboot of Star Wars canon. The entire, sprawling Extended Universe was officially de-canonized and rebranded as “Legends,” clearing the way for brand new stories without all that extra baggage. But what if Disney’s big canonical reboot wasn’t just a corporate maneuver? What if it was actually the work of Emperor Palpatine, using his unholy Sith powers to tamper with the franchise itself in Episode IX: The Rise of Skywalker and rewrite Star Wars history?

It may sound ridiculous (and it kind of is), but this Galaxy-brained fan theory actually has a precedent in the Star Wars Extended Universe. From alternate timelines to time-bending retcons, there’s evidence to support it all. That’s not to say we believe this Rise of Skywalker theory or think it will come true in Episode IX, but it’s fun as heck to think about. And at the end of the day, that’s all that really matters, right?

star wars 9 theories rise of skywalker
Palpatine voice: "Good"

The Most Meta ‘Star Wars 9’ Theory Ever, Explained

Posted to the Star Wars Speculation subreddit on September 3, this theory basically argues that after Palpatine died in Return of the Jedi, he was able to see into the future and witness the results of the Rebellion’s victory of the Empire. And he didn’t like what he saw.

If you’re familiar with the Extended Universe, you know that after Episode VI, a New Republic is formed and attempts to bring peace to the galaxy. However, that peace is short-lived when a warring race called the Yuuzhan Vong invaded, leading to massive casualties. Some fans have even theorized that Palpatine knew the Yuuzhan Vong were coming and created the Empire and the Death Star in an attempt to ward them off.

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The Yuuzhan Vong

Why does any of this non-canonical nerdiness matter? Well, it doesn’t really, but imagine if Palatine was somehow able to see the Yuuzhan Vong invasion play out, say by looking through a magic portal through space-time (aka, the World Between Worlds). He may have seen the end result and decided to create an alternate timeline where it never happened.

“Knowing what would happen forced him into bringing major changes to the timeline, erasing everything that happened after Star Wars 6 in the old Extended Universe to make it more favorable to his cause,” the theory explains. “Palpatine changed the events so much that it created the new timeline known as the Disney canon.”

In this new timeline, the First Order (basically the Empire, reformed) is doing a pretty good job of conquering the Galaxy. If everything goes according to plan, they might just be prepared when the Yuuzhan Vong show up — especially now that Palpatine is back in action.

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"Search your feelings you know it to be true." — Palpa- ... er ... Darth Vader

Why This Star Wars Theory Actually Makes Sense

Look, I know it’s tempting to shrug this all off as totally dumb, but hear me out, it really does make sense — sort of. There’s actually a lot of evidence to back up this Star Wars theory, starting with the man who’s had more influence than anyone over the sequel trilogy: J.J. Abrams.

It’s no secret that Abrams loves time travel, but he also loves alternate timelines. Remember, in the Star Trek reboot, Spock (Zachary Quinto) practically turned to the camera and said, “Nero’s presence has altered the flow of history, thereby creating a new chain of events that cannot be anticipated by either party…whatever our lives might have been…our destinies have changed.”

You don’t? Well, it was a big moment, establishing an alternate timeline the new Trek movies all take place in. It’s also classic J.J.

The two Spocks in 'Star Trek Into Darkness;
The two Spocks

There’s also a precedent for alternate timelines in (where else?) the Star Wars Extended Universe. Specifically, a short story titled “The Tale of the Wolfman and the Lamproid” from the no-longer-canonical book Tales from the Mos Eisley Cantina revealed that the Force exists outside of time, theoretically confirming that multiple timelines are possible in Star Wars.

Again: Does any of this matter?

Again: Sort of.

There’s both a precedent for alternate timelines and a narrative reason to expect them in The Rise of Skywalker. Still, that doesn’t mean this will ever happen, but if it does, you have to admit it would definitely be the “mind-melting” ending we’ve been promised. And, even more interesting, it might just turn Emperor Palpatine — the greatest villain in Star Wars history — into the galaxy’s ultimate hero.

How’s that for a twist?


Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker hits theaters on December 20.

Media via Lucasfilm, Paramount Pictures