In Revenge of the Sith, how could Palpatine be sure that Anakin would show up at the right moment? Did he have a plan to save himself in case Anakin didn't show up? He had let Windu disarm him, so how did he plan to defeat Mace Windu without a lightsaber? And even if Palpatine did manage to somehow kill Mace, then how would he have completed Anakin's transformation?

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    Because The Force™
    – Luke
    Feb 25, 2016 at 14:18
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    Are you sure he let Mace Windu disarm him? I haven't read any novels (of any canon) that may clarify this, but I've heard that out of universe, Jackson had two stipulations for appearing in Star Wars: 1) the purple light saber, and 2) a memorable death. Being the guy who would've stopped Palpetine if not for Anakin's betrayal certainly meets the second requirement. Also, I don't know if this made it into Disney canon or not, but at least in Legends, Windu was rare for a Jedi in that he practiced Vaapad, which could account for him besting Palpatine.
    – Josh
    Feb 25, 2016 at 16:23
  • I am not really sure, but I thought since Palpatine killed the other three Jedi so easily and could manage not to lose to Yoda, it follows that he was stronger than Mace.... I may be wrong, though... Feb 25, 2016 at 17:05
  • Palpatine didn't count on Mace being a back-up Yoda, he seemed genuinely afraid of Mace killing him. Especially after he countered his usually unbeatable lighting trick. Feb 25, 2016 at 22:06
  • @Josh Most of the answers to the question about whether or not Palpatine threw the fight agree that Palpatine did -- including the top voted answer with quotes from the novelization.
    – Null
    Feb 25, 2016 at 22:59

2 Answers 2


Not only was Palpatine expecting an attack by the Jedi, he was practically inviting it by telling Anakin his true identity in the full knowledge that he'd almost certainly tell Windu and the Council. That all being said, there's no special indication that he was expecting Anakin to be involved in the attack, nor was he expecting to be able to immediately turn him to the Dark Side when the attack occurred.

If anything, Palpatine dramatically overestimated the threat posed by the Jedi masters (killing them easily) and dramatically underestimated the threat posed by Windu (who nearly killed him). In the final analysis, it seems most likely that Palpatine's plan was to provoke a fight with the Jedi Councillors, then shield Anakin from Order 66. The fact that Windu's 'vaapad' fighting style was so unexpectedly strong was a near-fatal setback but the fact that Anakin then killed Windu was a major boost.

At no point in the script or novelisation do we get any indication that Palpatine was anything other than cheerfully surprised when Anakin showed up.

  • Was Palpatine unaware of the individual fighting styles of the Jedi, or at least of the Masters sitting on the council? For passing himself off as an expert behind the scenes manipulator having that information would seem to be important.
    – Xantec
    Feb 25, 2016 at 21:15
  • @Xantec - Palpatine seems to be a master swordsman, well beyond the capabilities of the entire Jedi order, singly or together. It was only Windu's peculiar (and unique) style that gave him an advantage over Palpatine.
    – Valorum
    Feb 25, 2016 at 21:18
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    I doubt Palpatine was unaware of the fact that Windu practiced a unique style. The problem is, Windu was one of only 3 people to truly master the style, so Palpatine had likely never seen it in action, or even gotten a good idea of what it was like. Further, Windu was the best swordsman in the Jedi Order, the problem with someone who is 'the best' is that you don't actually know how good they truly are. You can measure everyone else by 'Better than X, worse than Y,' but because Windu is the best, you have no idea where his limits truly are. Palpatine had to guess at his skill. And was wrong. Feb 25, 2016 at 21:27
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    Palpatine is a master of manipulation. He had manipulated the Senate, Anakin and just about everybody else for decades. He knew exactly how Anakin would react. So yes, while he was surprised by the ferocity of the attack from Mace Windu, I feel his reaction was more guarded than surprise.
    – Jane S
    Feb 25, 2016 at 21:27
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    @Null That is true, but was Maul skillful because of himself or because of his master? And in Dooku's case we never get a fair appraisal of his saber skills. Either he handily beats Anakin and Obi-Wan because the plot demands it, holds his own against Yoda because the plot demands it, or is swiftly defeated by Anakin because, again, the plot demands it.
    – Xantec
    Feb 25, 2016 at 23:09

Palpatine predicted that Anakin would arrive during his fight with Windu. Palpatine waited to allow himself to be disarmed until just as Anakin arrived so that Anakin would be faced with the choice between killing Windu or letting Palpatine die with the knowledge to save Padme (or so Anakin thought). An answer to a related question quotes the Revenge of the Sith novelization to indicate that even Mace Windu realized that Palpatine trusted Anakin to save him:

The key to final victory. Palpatine's shatterpoint. The absolute shatter-point of the Sith. The shatterpoint of the dark side itself. Mace thought, blankly astonished, Palpatine trusts Anakin Skywalker...

Palpatine trusted Anakin to kill Windu for him because Palpatine had long been working on seducing Anakin to the dark side (e.g. by telling Anakin the story of Darth Plagueis). That's why Palpatine freely revealed his Sith identity to Anakin, which precipitated the fight between Palpatine and the Jedi in the first place.

But how do we really know Palpatine had predicted Anakin's arrival ahead of time? Because he did it before, when Palpatine arranged for his "kidnapping" by Dooku. Another answer quotes the Revenge of the Sith novelization in explaining why Dooku went along with the kidnapping:

"It will be," [Dooku] said slowly, meditatively, as though he spoke only to himself, "an embarrassment to be captured by him."

The voice that answered him was so familiar that sometimes his very thoughts spoke in it, instead of in his own.

"An embarrassment you can survive, Lord Tyranus. After all, [Anakin] is the greatest Jedi alive, is he not? And have we not ensured that all the galaxy shares this opinion?"

"Quite so, my Master. Quite so."


Still, though, Dooku had some reservations. This had all come about too quickly; had Sidious thought through all the implications of this operation?

"But I must ask, my Master: is Skywalker truly the man we want?"

Palpatine predicted Anakin in particular -- not just any Jedi -- would "save" him from Dooku. This was all an elaborate ruse on Palpatine's part to tempt Anakin to the dark side by having Anakin execute Dooku, which is "not the Jedi way". But this ruse only made sense if Palpatine knew Anakin himself would defeat Dooku -- any other Jedi killing Dooku would accomplish nothing, and if Dooku was victorious Palpatine would be indefinitely "kidnapped" with no way to escape without revealing his true identity.

In much the same way, Palpatine initiated the showdown between himself and the four Jedi Masters who tried to arrest him, and he predicted that Anakin would not only arrive for the fight but save him. Palpatine did not plan to kill Windu himself -- he wanted Anakin to do it just as Anakin murdered Dooku for him. As you correctly point out, Palpatine would not have been able to turn Anakin to the dark side if Palpatine killed Windu himself -- Anakin just would have attacked Palpatine and Palpatine would have had to kill Anakin himself (or die by Anakin's hands). Palpatine needed to force Anakin to make the decision between killing Windu or losing the knowledge to save Padme -- and Palpatine correctly predicted that Anakin would do just that.

  • I agree that he largely engineered the confrontation with the Jedi Masters but beyond that, I'm struggling to see how any of the quotes you've used justify your assertion that Palpatine wanted (or expected) Anakin's involvement.
    – Valorum
    Feb 25, 2016 at 23:07
  • @Richard Palpatine wanted and expected Anakin's involvement in Palpatine's earlier "kidnapping" by Dooku, and Palpatine used that incident to tempt Anakin to the dark side. Palpatine's fight with Windu worked out the same way as the earlier incident -- Palpatine engineered it and used the outcome to tempt Anakin to the dark side -- so it seems likely (or at the least possible) that he engineered Anakin's involvement against the fight against Windu. If Palpatine did it once he could do it again.
    – Null
    Feb 25, 2016 at 23:16
  • That seems very tenuous. Palpatine was evidently planning to kill the Jedi straight away. If his plan had gone to plan, Anakin wouldn't have gotten a look in.
    – Valorum
    Feb 25, 2016 at 23:18
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    @Richard If Palpatine intended to simply kill all the Jedi he wouldn't have been able to tempt Anakin and (successfully) turn him to the dark side. He would have had to fight Anakin and either kill or be killed.
    – Null
    Feb 25, 2016 at 23:20
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    @Richard Tellingly, though, Anakin wasn't tempted enough when Palpatine revealed himself. He still went back to the Jedi, which started the whole fight. It wasn't until Anakin was faced with the choice of saving Palpatine or letting him die with the knowledge to keep Padme alive that Anakin turned to the dark side.
    – Null
    Feb 25, 2016 at 23:24

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