The final Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker trailer confirmed Emperor Palpatine would return in the flesh — or what’s left of it, at least. But long before he appeared onscreen again, fans have been speculating about how he could be resurrected in time for Episode IX.
Some speculated Kylo Ren would stumble upon him while in search of the source of Supreme Leader Snoke’s powers. Others posited that a mysterious “wayfinder” device would somehow locate him in the Unknown Regions. However, it’s possible Palpatine’s been stuck in Sith Hell all this time, and a provocative new theory reveals how he might escape the realm of Chaos in Episode IX.
When Emperor Palpatine famously plummeted to his death in The Return of the Jedi, everyone thought that was the end of the Star Wars villain. But, in the canonical Aftermath novel trilogy, Palpatine revealed he had contingency plans in place. Many theories have hinged upon the notion that Palpatine has been hiding out in the Unknown Regions or, like Lord Voldemort’s Horcruxes from the Harry Potter series, attached his essence to artifacts.
Reddit user MOLOCH2 suggests Palpatine did actually die and wasn’t able to return to his own body. His resurrection would involve a “break out” from Chaos, aka the Sith version of Hell. In Star Wars lore, this is a dark region of the Force Netherworld that serves as the spiritual resting place for all evildoers, including Sith lords and Jedi who turned to the Dark side.
It wouldn’t be the first time Palps has been resurrected from the realm of Chaos, either. In the comic series, Dark Empire, which is no longer considered canon, Palpatine was resurrected from Sith Hell as a group of clones who manipulated Luke Skywalker.
According to the theorist, Palps’ escape from Chaos may involve “a ritual conducted by the Knights of Ren. One of these knights will sacrifice his body and allow the soul of Palpatine to possess it.” This would give Palps a body, since he wouldn’t be able to go back to his old one. This idea also falls in line with a previous theory that suggested Palpatine was hiding beneath the mask of one of the Knights of Ren.
Another possibility involves Palps’ manipulation of midi-chlorians to will himself back to life. Just as he told Anakin Skywalker in Revenge of the Sith, Sheev can force midi-chlorians to begin cell divisions to create life, which is something he learned from his own master, Darth Plagueis. Therefore, Palpatine could very well apply that to his own life and save himself from the Chaos dimension. This would be ideal because it would connect The Rise of Skywalker back to past films and solidify Palpatine as the dominating villain throughout every Star Wars trilogy.
Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker hits theaters December 20.