Palpatine’s Return Was Kathleen Kennedy’s Idea


“I thought I was dead!” declared Ian McDiarmid, aka Emperor Palpatine when he found out he was coming back in The Rise of Skywalker. It turns out that the idea came from Kathleen Kennedy, president of Lucasfilm. 

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When asked if the idea of bringing back Palpatine was always the plan, The Rise of Skywalker’s writer Chris Terrio said ” That was certainly discussed before I ever came on. Kathy had this overall vision that we had to be telling the same story for nine episodes. Although, from the sleight of hand of Episode VII and VIII, you wouldn’t necessarily know immediately that we were telling the same story.” 


It seems like this was the way for the Lucasfilm president to come full circle after 42 years in the making of the Skywalker Saga. 

Chris Terrio explained “There needed to be an antagonist that the good guys could be fighting, and that’s when we really tried to laser in on who had been the great source of evil behind all of this for so long. That’s when we really started aggressively pursuing this idea that there is old evil that didn’t die (…) The entity as Palatine in this version (his body died in Return of Jedi) is patient and has been waiting. He dug his fox hole and has been waiting for his chance to re-establish his total domination”


Kathleen Kennedy “thought it would be a very strong end for the ninth movie.” Academy award screenwriter continued, “when rewatch(ing) the earlier films, things start to make additional sense. Ren and his devotion to the idea of his grandfather. The voice that he’s always heard in his head. The certain similarities between Snoke and Palpatine. The intention was that, by the time you get to Episode IX, you realize that there were real reasons this is all happening. It all shows how this story is being fought cyclically through the series.” 

In an interview given in April 2019, Kathleen Kennedy declared that Palpatine’s return “had been in the blueprint for a long time(…) (they) had not landed on exactly how (they) might do that but it was always [to be in Episode IX].”


However, Colin Trevorrow, who was the designated director for Episode IX ( and was then removed from the project in 2017 over creative differences) claimed otherwise. In an interview given in November 2019, the Jurassic World director declared “Bringing back the emperor was an idea J.J. brought to the table when he came on board (…) This was a tough story to unlock, and he found the key”.

The idea of bringing Palpatine back was not new to the Extended Universe (and surely not unfamiliar to the Lucasfilm family nor to J.J. Abrams) since the Emperor was resurrected in the Dark Empire comic books. Whoever’s idea it was to bring this narrative arc to the big screen (and even if it is dividing the fans) the Skywalker saga in now complete, the galaxy is saved (for now) and it seems like the good guys still have the high ground.


Do you believe Kennedy’s claims? Was Palpatine’s return a good way to tie the knot? Let us know all your thoughts in the comments below!


Maëlle Beauget-Uhl

Written by Maëlle Beauget-Uhl

Reporter and news writer with an educational background in broadcast journalism at the New York Film Academy and a professional background in entertainment reporting and news writing.