I know that Palpatine recruited Anakin solely because he knew how powerful Anakin could become. I also know he was extremely disappointed when Vader's stupidity led him to pick a fight with Obi-Wan and lose shortly after he joined the Sith. And of course, when Luke defeated Vader in Return of the Jedi, Palpatine was delighted, and without any hesitation, he gleefully ordered Luke to finish him off and take his place.

As I said in this answer, Wookieepedia says that when he saw Vader's mangled body on Mustafar, Palpatine considered leaving him to die, but decided that he had invested too much effort into grooming him, and repaired him so his investment wouldn't go to waste. Wookieepedia also claims that Palpatine may have held a tiny bit of affection for Vader, but we all know that Wookieepedia is a less than reliable source of information.

Is there any evidence that Palpatine ever cared about Anakin/Vader as more than a means to an end, or liked him? Have we ever seen hints that Palpatine holds even the slightest shred of affection or fondness for his apprentice? Or does he keep Vader around merely because it is expedient to do so, and he has no better options available to him?

Note: As usual, I would prefer a canonical source, but if canon doesn't provide an answer, Legends/EU will have to do.

  • 5
    The cold hard evidence.
    – Lexible
    Commented Jan 13, 2016 at 21:16
  • Dupe of scifi.stackexchange.com/a/79033/20774
    – Valorum
    Commented Jan 15, 2016 at 0:57
  • @Richard - no, I'm not asking why Palpatine saved Anakin/Vader, and I mention the reasons for saving him in the question. I want to know if he LIKED Vader. I can't help the fact that someone posted the same actor-speculation answer on this question as you did on that one, but I don't consider the answer here to be canon or conclusive - it is an actor's opinion, not necessarily related to the writers' intentions.
    – Wad Cheber
    Commented Jan 15, 2016 at 1:03
  • @WadCheber - My answer explictly confirms that he did indeed care about him. If I wasn't on strike, I'd have closed this already.
    – Valorum
    Commented Jan 15, 2016 at 1:05
  • @Richard - see my revised comment. Your answer says that the actor thinks he cared about him. Actors opinions are not authoritative, and aren't necessarily reflective of the writers' intentions.
    – Wad Cheber
    Commented Jan 15, 2016 at 1:06

4 Answers 4


According to Ian McDiarmid, Yes.

Ian McDiarmid, the actor who portrayed Palpatine, touched on this in the special features of Revenge of the Sith.

He mentioned that throughout Star Wars, Palpatine has no redeeming qualities. All he cares about is power. It almost seems like he doesn't (or can't) love or care for anyone. In Revenge of the Sith, however, there is a moment in which Palpatine seems to show affection. McDiarmid points out that, when he arrives to rescue Vader on Mustafar, Palpatine rushes to Vader's side, kneels down, and places a hand on Vader's cheek. According to McDiarmid, this behavior is more than just a selfish desire to ensure he can keep his apprentice and move forward with his plan, it's the closest we see Palpatine come to caring about or loving someone.

From Becoming Sidious:

MCDIARMID: If you wanted a subtitle for these movies, you could... it could be "fathers and sons". And while Palpatine isn't, we must assume, Anakin's natural father in this film, he's certainly a father figure for him.

From Wookieepedia:

Though he had nearly left Vader to die back on Mustafar, Sidious held, perhaps, the merest sliver of affection for him that he had never held for Maul or Tyranus.

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All that I'm aware of in film canon is these lines from Return of the Jedi:

EMPEROR (to Vader): Rise, my friend.


EMPEROR: Patience, my friend. In time he will seek you out. And when he does, you must bring him before me. He has grown strong. Only together can we turn him to the dark side of the Force.


EMPEROR: It is of no concern. Soon the Rebellion will be crushed and young Skywalker will be one of us! Your work here is finished, my friend. Go out to the command ship and await my orders.

He calls Vader his "friend" a lot throughout the movie. Of course, anything the Emperor tells you is worth about as much as the air it's transmitted through in terms of its truth value, but the fact that he bothered to keep up even that pretense after working with him for ~25 years is the closest thing we see in the films to a shred of fondness post-ROTS.

  • 10
    If I recall correctly, he calls Dooku "my friend" repeatedly through The Clone Wars; see how that turned out Commented Jan 13, 2016 at 4:38
  • 6
    In Lords of the Sith, he calls a Twi'lek senator "my friend" and then laughs when Vader Force-chokes the s#%€ out of him. He's a Sith - he doesn't have friends, and his life is basically a long parade of lies and hatred.
    – Wad Cheber
    Commented Jan 13, 2016 at 4:48
  • @WadCheber Classic Palps! I haven't read LotS, but I think there were some scenes between them in Tarkin, I'll dig it out and check.
    – Milo P
    Commented Jan 13, 2016 at 4:52
  • @JasonBaker One can have friends and still sacrifice them for the greater "good".
    – Raphael
    Commented Jan 13, 2016 at 11:34
  • @Raphael Are you saying that (plot twist!) Palpatine is actually Dumbledore? Commented Jan 13, 2016 at 21:14

To some extent, maybe.

It seems Vader believed that Sidious may have considered him a friend. Wether the Emperor truly did isn't made clear.

From the canon novel Star Wars: Lords of the Sith:

Perhaps Vader would attempt to kill his Master one day. Sith apprentices ordinarily did. They must, if they were trained well. An apprentice was unquestioningly loyal until the moment he wasn’t. Both Master and apprentice knew this.

"But our relationship is different, Master," Vader had said then.

"Perhaps." his Master had said. "Perhaps."


"Your thoughts are troubled my friend," the Emperor said, his voice loud in the quiet. The Emperor often referred to him as a friend, and perhaps they were friends, in some sense, though Vader saw purpose in the use of the term. He thought his Master used a term he might use with a peer to emphasize that Master and apprentice we not, in fact, peers.


~The questioner uses a Wookieepedia quote to illustrate their question, and I am adding this information as an answer only to point out that one illustrative quote is incorrect, even though they did say that Wookieepedia isn't always reliable. At the end, I add the little bit I can think of offhand about how Sidious thinks of Vader.~

Do not rely on one portion of the Wookieepedia "Palpatine" article that you referenced. It is in a paragraph that references the novel, Dark Lord: The Rise of Darth Vader, and there is nothing in the novel about Sidious' relationship with or attitude toward Maul in the book. The paragraph seems to be mostly an opinion piece. Tomorrow, I will edit the following Wookieepedia Legends entry by removing Maul's name:

Though he had nearly left Vader to die back on Mustafar, Sidious held, perhaps, the merest sliver of affection for him that he had never held for Maul or Tyranus...

I will delete Maul's name because we know that, at least in Legends, which this Wookieepedia article is categorized as, that Darth Sidious did place some type value on Maul.

  1. In Legends novel, Darth Plagueis, Plagueis thinks to himself that Sidious has an "almost filial" relationship with Maul.

  2. In the novel, Darth Plagueis, Sidious becomes physically sick when he learns that Maul was killed by Kenobi on Naboo, which we all know now not to have happened.

  3. Darth Sidious became physically sick in another novel, Lockdown, when his master tells him to let Maul die in Cog Hive Seven.

  4. In the novel, The Wrath of Darth Maul, Sidious tells Maul that he values him the most.

Of course the term "value" can be taken literally, and we can say that Sidious placed a monetary value on his apprentice, therefore his apprentice was nothing more than property. This could easily be true and the very closest that Sidious comes to caring about something, but we have what Plagueis thinks about their relationship to help put some type perspective on it. What constitutes "filial" for a Sith is anyone's question, but I think that is the closest we're going to get to a Dark Lord such as Darth Sidious caring about or liking anyone.

Sidious is human, and at least in real life, a human can possibly become physically ill when something happens to someone they care about. A person, however, can also become physically sick when they lose valuable property.

The above are Legends references that I can think of immediately without digging through notes, books, etc, but we have a canon source that may help a little bit:

  1. In the Marvel comic, Darth Vader #20, Sidious tells Vader:

    I learned from the mistakes of my forebears. I used those who were not Sith to achieve my aims. Darth Maul was a loss, but Darth Tyranus... He was a proton torpedo. He served his purpose and was gone...

It seems that Sidious "used" Tyranus to achieve his aims, and possibly we could even infer that Sidious didn't consider Tyranus a Sith if we interpret Sidious' words to be reflective of his exact intent, which I think we can. I'm sure there is argument here, but this reply isn't the place for it. I think this portion provides a nice comparison of how Sidious compared these two apprentices of his. He says he used Tyranus, yet at the same time he says that Maul was a loss, which to me reads that Maul was more to him than an asset to be placed into service. Perhaps this is evidence that Sidious did care about Maul and possibly clarifies the Legends content.

I have no idea how to compare this to Vader. Of what I've read, the child Anakin was of immediate interest to Sidious, and he did treat Anakin in close to a paternal manner. We know that he was manipulating Anakin, though. We have Legends and Canon content that gives us both extremes or at least an appearance of polar emotions toward Vader. In some of what is available, Sidious hated Vader for getting burned and actively sought replacements, which never really worked out for him. We also know that Sidious highly valued Vader. Sometimes they seem to genuinely refer to each other as "friend" and "old friend," but there are plenty instances when the term is sardonic in nature.

One perhaps-canon source that may be of benefit here is something that Dave Filoni and Sam Witwer said in a Hollywood dot com interview about reviving the character of Maul for the television series, The Clone Wars. They confirmed that what they were saying was reflective of what George Lucas wanted, hence why I said "perhaps-canon." No date is given for the interview, but it was published right before The Clone Wars season 5, episode 16, "The Lawless," what aired, which was February 2, 2013, in the US:

So, it’s the perfectionist streak that Palpatine has. And what’s really fun to note is that Darth Maul, having survived his grievous injuries, plants the seed in Palpatine’s head that maybe you don’t give up on these guys so quickly. If they’re dead, or you think they’ve been killed, maybe they’re not. Maybe they can survive, maybe they can amount to something. That’s something we get to see coming up, Sidious realizing that. That ultimately leads to Darth Vader.


Common wisdom would be, you find this guy lying by a volcano, his flesh smoking and burned up, with no limbs, and you’d say, “Hey stormtrooper, put a blaster bolt in this guy. Put him out of his misery.” You don’t rebuild that guy. That’s ridiculous. Unless maybe you’ve already seen a guy getting cut in half and crawling through garbage for ten years, clinging to life with every ounce of determination he has. That’s the nature of the Sith, they don’t see anything beyond their corporeal existence.

It seems that Lucas brought back Maul so Sidious could see that there was a reason to spend time on an apparently broken apprentice; so he wouldn't leave Vader to die. Perhaps this could be understood as Sidious caring about the person more so than caring about immediately finding a replacement. The person is worth the time, but again, is this caring about the person or the investment? Perhaps there is no separating the two. Sidious did exploit Vader and his other apprentices, but that is what Sith do and it is what was done to him by his master. I'll close with this quote from the same interview, and perhaps this can help you make up your mind. I think that this is going to be more personal opinion in the long run because, as said earlier, there are many examples of both extremes that have been represented in the seemingly countless number of publications with Vader and Sidious in them:

The Sith training is nothing short of torture, so there’s always a great deal of hatred built-in to the master-apprentice relationship, an intense animosity. We see that between Vader and the Emperor in the original trilogy.

I ended up spending a lot of time on this and am tired now and will leave it as it is. This is my first SE answer, so I ask for any helpful criticism. I hope we can edit these so I can update content later.

  • 1
    This seems like it may be a good answer, but I'm struggling to actually see where the answer is, it seems like you lost the plot a bit and get sidetracked. You should only really include details specific to the question and not about where various wookiepedia articles may be wrong.
    – Edlothiad
    Commented Sep 12, 2017 at 9:16
  • Thank you for that. I wanted to say that Maul was valued by Sidious and they had an almost filial relationship with one another. I gave a few sources to back this up to prove that the WP quote wasn't correct. We are told to give sources for our statements, & I thought it was important to point out that at least one source referenced to clarify the question was incorrect, and my reasoning is that unreliable sources may possibly hinder a reliable answer. I then just wanted to follow up with my take on the Vader/Sid OP. I'd appreciate any more insight. Perhaps none of my info is even necessary.
    – RedHeathen
    Commented Sep 12, 2017 at 9:38

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