Sidious told Vader to go to Mustafar to end the Seperatist movement, but did he know that Obi-Wan would show up and defeat Vader based on his "vision" of future events? Was this Sidious' way of ensuring his power by encumbering (Vader's suit) his only true rival?

5 Answers 5



Here’s a quote from the Revenge of the Sith script, just after his duel with Yoda:

CLONE COMMANDER THIRE: There is no sign of his body, sir.
MAS AMEDDA: Then he is not dead.
PALPATINE: Double your search.
CLONE COMMANDER THIRE: Yes sir. Right away, sir.
PALPATINE: (to Mas Amedda) Tell Captain Kagi to prepare my shuttle for immediate takeoff.
MAS AMEDDA: Yes, Master.
PALPATINE: I sense Lord Vader is in danger.

This menace to his apprentice is new for him, so he cannot have planned it.

As a complement, here a quote from Palpatine’s Wookieepedia article, specifically the Transformation of Vader section, which cites Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith (junior novelization) (emphasis is mine):

The battle between Kenobi and Vader had ended much differently. Kenobi had succeeded in grievously wounding his former apprentice, leaving him for dead. Hurrying to Mustafar with speed only the Emperor of the galaxy could afford (and with vigor that surprised even himself), Palpatine found his apprentice badly burned but alive. Sidious finds Vader's body scorched by lava after losing to Obi-Wan Kenobi on Mustafar.

Even as he made his way to the body, Sidious wrestled with anger and indecision. Part of him wanted to leave what was left of Vader to burn to ashes in the rising lava; even if he had survived, his body would be crippled, as would be his powers. Even the dark side of the Force required living beings to generate it, and too much of Vader's living flesh would have to be sacrificed in the act of saving him. Whatever the outcome, Vader would no longer be the perfect being to continue the Sith legacy, no longer be able to fulfill his promise. However, hobbled as he was, Vader would still be powerful, and there were no more Jedi to oppose him. So Sidious kept walking and, finally reaching his apprentice, placed a hand on Vader's forehead, using the dark side to keep him stable, while his shock troopers prepared a medical capsule for the return to Coruscant.

  • I forgot about that exact line. Answers the question exactly. Feb 16, 2012 at 18:44
  • 2
    How do you know it wasn't his plan all along for Vader to be physically crippled, because he wanted his Force power but also keep him subservient by not letting him be too powerful, not more than the Emperor himself anyway. Maybe his dialog line there was only so the troopers continued to be in awe of his power, and to not raise suspicions if they thought he might have allowed or encouraged it? I don't think that particular dialog proves an argument either way.
    – Mufasa
    Feb 17, 2012 at 2:32
  • 1
    @Mufasa Updated.
    – DavRob60
    Feb 17, 2012 at 3:05
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    +1 Its like Palpatine adopted a puppy "...I sense mister fluffy in in danger"
    – jsedano
    Sep 12, 2013 at 22:56

Vader's trip to Mustafar was twofold: 1) To clean up loose ends with the separatists and 2) to solidify Anakin's loyalty to the Empire and the dark side.

Sidious wanted Anakin to be the one to kill the separatists; this would fuel his hate, rage, ego, etc. He also wanted Anakin to fight Obi-Wan. As long as Anakin survived the encounter it served Sidious's purpose. If Anakin killed Obi-Wan, then it would send him barreling towards the dark side in a flood of hate and self-loathing. If Obi-Wan escaped, the encounter would still drive a large wedge between Anakin and remnants of the Jedi order thereby leaving him no where to turn except to Sidious.

I don't think Sidious expected Obi-Wan to best Anakin and his distress was genuine as Anakin was to be Sidious's most promising apprentice.


No, I didn't get the impression that he did. During Sidious' battle with Yoda, he told him: "Darth Vader will become more powerful than either of us! He sent him to Mustafar so that Vader could be submersed even more in the dark side. After Vader kills the Separatist leaders, his eyes glow yellow (a by-product of using the dark side of the Force).

  • Actually the Sisious quote you give supports the theory in the question: if Vader is going to be more powerful than Sidious he's a threat to him, so encumbering him is definitely something that would be desirable.
    – user8719
    Jan 24, 2014 at 10:50

Before I get into this I just want to state that I'm going off what is shown in the movies and not the books (which I have read and thoroughly enjoyed) because there are many people who have not read any or many of the EU material. So, out of fairness, I'm basing my argument on the films. In the end, however, it is just my opinion.

Palpatine is an opportunist and has the ability to see many possible futures, but that doesn't mean that nothing can surprise him. I believe that he genuinely expected Vader to defeat someone like Obi-Wan (I don't think the fight was part of his plan at all, what with Order 66 and all) with relative ease because he was younger and more powerful in the force than his former master and many if not all the other Jedi. Of course, Vader was handicapped by a couple things.

1.) Arrogance: He assumed that because he was more powerful he had nothing to fear and underestimated Obi-Wan.

2.) Naivety/Ignorance: He assumed that power was more important that wisdom. He didn't pick up on the ridiculous number of clues that Palpy threw at him in ROTS. I mean, it was like he wanted Anakin to figure out that he was a Sith but finally had to be blunt cause the guy wasn't picking up on it. Granted, subtlety was never Anakin's strong suit but still...

Going from those two things, it's not that surprising that he was defeated, but Palpatine probably wasn't expecting Obi-Wan to show up and even if he was he probably figured he'd be unwilling and therefore unable to kill his friend.

I'm also going to assume that in the end he didn't care too much about having Vader around. If he lives, control him. If he dies, good riddance to a potential rival. Betrayal and manipulation are core tenants of Sith philosophy.


Know this question is years old but I was thinking about this myself after watching the movies again.

Just some things to think about; the only reason Palpatine even wanted anything to do with Anakin is because Anakin was the child of prophecy, the one being that could destroy the millennium old revenge plan of the Sith. Had Anakin just been another ordinary Jedi, he most likely would’ve been just another name on the list of deaths under Order 66.

Now that aside, Palpatine needed to turn Anakin to prevent the usurping of his plan, but turning Anakin also created another problem. He knew Anakin would become more powerful than him, and the rule of the Sith is that the apprentice is to kill the master when they had surpassed them. But we all know Palpatine, he loves his power, and he wouldn’t even let his prized apprentice take that from him. So now he has this other matter to contend with, the fact that Anakin will one day grow stronger than him and destroy him.

Now this next part is just speculation, but as Palpatine was a master planner, and was able to see visions in the force with ease, I do believe he saw Anakin battling Obi-Wan on Mustafar, but I also believe that he never foresaw the outcome. So here comes the double standard, with Order 66 nearing completion, he has little need for Anakin anymore. So Palpatine sends him to Mustafar under the impression of destroying the feeble Separatist leaders, knowing that his confrontation with Obi Wan is coming. Here is the double standard I mentioned. Palpatine wasn’t concerned with the outcome. If Anakin killed Obi-Wan, then that is another dead Jedi to add to their list. If Obi Wan were to defeat Anakin, that erases the threat of Anakin killing Palpatine in the future. Now again, this is all speculation.

When he flies to Mustafar, he does consider killing Anakin for a moment. But he chooses not to, because he knows that now, Anakin can never grow powerful enough to defeat him, but that Anakin could still be a useful tool, a pawn that was easy to manipulate as he had been for years, and still powerful enough to enforce his rule. So he made him the suit, but he hid flaws within the suit, reinforcing the idea that Palpatine had made many plans to prevent Vader from surpassing him. Another thing to back up the theory that Palpatine potentially sent Anakin to die is the Vader suit itself. A suit like that, and even the mechanical flaws that Palpatine placed, would take a while to build and plan. So why would Palpatine take the time to build a suit like that and have it ready if he did not foresee it? That is more speculation of course. But the flaws were Palpatine’s final defense. A weakness to force lightning, one of Palpatine’s easiest feats. And the scientist who had the remote to deactivate the suit if need be (albeit another defense that Vader broke when he reactivated it through the force)

Now granted this is all my speculation.

  • 2
    Pure speculation answers aren't really what we do here, especially in a universe as rich with additional information as Star Wars.
    – Valorum
    May 22, 2020 at 12:36

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