When Mace Windu decides that he has to kill Palpatine, he is holding his lightsaber inches from Palpatine's throat.

Given that a lightsaber can cut metal, he should have easily been able to kill Palpatine by just thrusting the lightsaber forward.

This would finish Palpatine without giving him or Anakin any time to intervene.

Instead however, Windu swings his blade back to slice at Palpatine, allowing Anakin to intervene and save him.

Why does Mace Windu swing back instead of simply slashing forward, when slashing forward would have guaranteed Palpatine's death and avoided any risk of interference?

  • 6
    Windu went a little bit to the dark side ... He was putting anger and frustration into that swing Feb 9, 2016 at 17:04
  • 9
    Because he's a schmuck
    – Valorum
    Feb 9, 2016 at 17:05
  • 7
    To give Anakin a chance to disarm him? Feb 9, 2016 at 17:10
  • 2
    Cos he's Samuel L Jackson and he's mad. I'm surprised (and disappointed) he didn't give him a speech first.
    – ThruGog
    Feb 9, 2016 at 22:16
  • 2
    For reasons of plot. Apr 26, 2017 at 1:53

2 Answers 2


According to the film's official novelisation, Palpatine was using the Force to push Mace's lightsaber around. Swinging it (e.g. rather than simply poking it toward him at low speed) would presumably make it this feat dramatically harder.

Mace’s blade bent so close to his [own] face that he was choking on ozone. “Anakin, he’s too strong for me-“


Mace yanked his arm free. “He’s too dangerous to be left alive. If you could have taken Dooku alive, would you have?”
Skywalker’s face swept itself clean of emotion. “That was different-“
Mace turned toward the cringing, beaten Sith Lord. “You can explain the difference after he’s dead.”
He raised his lightsaber.
“I need him alive!” Skywalker shouted. “I need him to save Padme!”
Mace thought blankly, Why? And moved his lightsaber toward the fallen Chancellor.

Revenge of the Sith: Official Novelisation

  • 7
    It's unclear to me how your quote backs up you claim. Explain like I'm 5 years old. :)
    – RedCaio
    Feb 9, 2016 at 19:39
  • 1
    @Richard I understand that It's harder to push something away if it's moving toward you at high speed. I'm saying that I don't see how you're source supports your claim that "Palpatine was using the Force to push Mace's lightsaber around."
    – RedCaio
    Feb 9, 2016 at 23:30
  • 6
    Yep - that text says the opposite, that Palpy was beaten and cringing, not using Force push or whatever.
    – Oldcat
    Feb 10, 2016 at 1:03
  • 4
    @Richard I don't think your quote supports your answer. It needs to demonstrate Palpatine's use of the Force to hold back Mace Windu's blade at the least. Showing that the swing is necessary to complete the kill is an added bonus, or else the only way to derive that is through inference. Feb 11, 2016 at 5:22
  • 1
    @Timpanus Having the blade farther back allows Windu to swing at a greater variety of angles, making it more likely that he will strike at one the emperor isn't force pushing. Feb 11, 2016 at 10:45

In-universe, Windu was likely trying to behead Palpatine. If Windu stabbed the lightsaber into Palpatine's chest or even heart, the latter could still be alive for at least a few more seconds, and like Windu himself said in the same scene, Palpatine was too dangerous to be left alive. Beheading Palpatine could ensure that Palpatine is dead immediately. Out-of-universe, it's so Anakin could cut off Windu's hand, thus signify Anakin's betrayal to the Jedi.

  • 2
    Pretty sure stabbing him in the head would be faster and just as instantly fatal as a beheading.
    – chepner
    Sep 21, 2021 at 12:50
  • Actually, even in real life a person who got stabbed in the head could still remain conscious for a few more seconds. Chopping off one's head though? He would die instantly, no question about that.
    – user145025
    Sep 21, 2021 at 13:06
  • I don't think you can compare being stabbed with a knife to having a beam of plasma thrust completely through your skull. The lightsaber could likely slice through your skull without the need for any momentum-generating backswing.
    – chepner
    Sep 21, 2021 at 15:06
  • The weapon doesn't matter, one can still remain conscious for a few more seconds with a hole in his head. I'm not an expert on this matter, but it seems to have to do with the brain's connection to the rest of the body.
    – user145025
    Sep 21, 2021 at 15:08
  • A lightsaber through the skull is going to be much more similar to being shot (multiple times) through the head than it is a single stab wound.
    – chepner
    Sep 21, 2021 at 15:13

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