While it seems pretty obvious from the Original Trilogy that the Imperial commanders and officers were well aware of Vader and Palpatine's Sith affiliations, I never saw much (if anything) to indicate that any of this was common knowledge in the Rebellion. The only people who really make any mention of Vader's adherence to the Dark Side, and his experience as a former Jedi Knight, are Obi-Wan, Yoda, and Luke. Much less is spoken of the Emperor himself.

Considering the fact that one of the leaders of the Rebellion, Bail Organa, helped Yoda escape after Yoda failed to defeat Sidious, wouldn't he have mentioned this to the other Rebel leaders? Again, I recall virtually nothing pertaining to Emperor Palpatine's abilities being mentioned by any of the Rebel characters, despite the fact that it would probably be important to at least make a note of it at some point during the events of the trilogy.

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    Is it really so clear that Imperial commanders and officers were well aware of Vader and Palpatine's Sith affiliations? They never called Vader/Palpatine a Sith. All they seemed to know is that they were in control of the dark side of the force.
    – JK.
    Commented Mar 18, 2016 at 22:30
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    Novels establish that soldiers more distant from Vader don't even know if he really has mystic powers, or if those are just out-of-proportion rumors. Also, in Outbound Flight, Palpatine is so secretive, he has an aide that is pretending to work for him but secretly working on behalf of Darth Sidious, unaware they are the same person.
    – user45623
    Commented Mar 19, 2016 at 9:52
  • I was going by the comments towards Vader from Imperial officers during A New Hope, and also the top answer here: scifi.stackexchange.com/questions/9907/… However, it's worth noting that the novelization for ANH features some of the characters (specifically, the aforementioned Imperial officers) referring to him as a Sith Lord. Here's a quote: "I tell you, he's gone too far this time," the General was insisting vehemently. "This Sith Lord inflicted upon us at the urging of the Emperor will be our undoing..." Commented Mar 20, 2016 at 1:02
  • For the record, I'm aware that the word "Sith" isn't mentioned in the Original Trilogy, but the Imperial officers and commanders knew of his affiliation with the Force (and, presumably, the Dark Side), and the novelizations are generally considered to be canon in areas where they expand upon what we see in the film (unless, of course, what we see in the novelization contradicts something from the film/s). At least, that's how it used to work. I don't know if that standard still applies to the new canon. Nonetheless, that was what I was basing that statement on. Commented Mar 20, 2016 at 1:06

2 Answers 2


The Rebellion probably did not know that the Emperor was Darth Sidious. That appears to be the intention of George Lucas and the Lucasfilm Story Group, at least.

The Emperor took great pains to make sure the public did not know his Sith identity. He did not use his Sith name publicly for political reasons, and almost no one saw the Emperor use his power:

[The Emperor] removed his robe, took the elaborately crafted hilt of his lightsaber in hand, and ignited the blade. Vader looked on in surprise. He seldom saw his Master so publicly demonstrate his power. And he understood what it meant, of course. There must be no survivors who could bear witness. Only the Royal Guards could be allowed to live—only they could be trusted never to reveal what they’d seen, or even to talk about it among themselves.

Lords of the Sith, p. 168

The fact that the Emperor took such pains to hide his Sith identity even from the vast majority of Imperial soldiers suggests that the Rebellion didn't know, either. Even Grand Moff Tarkin did not know for sure that Palpatine was a Sith Lord -- he only suspected, despite being on a first name basis with Palpatine.

That said, you bring up an excellent point that Bail Organa might easily have found out from Yoda or Obi-Wan, and if so Organa would probably have told the rest of the Rebels since he was one of their leaders. The draft script of Episode III on IMSDB does include a mention of Darth Sidious' name in Organa's presence:

Bail Organa: My wife and I will take the girl. We've always talked of adopting a baby girl. She will be loved with us.

Obi-wan: And what of the boy?

Yoda: To Tatooine. To his family, send him.

Obi-wan: I will take the child and watch over him. Master Yoda, do you think Anakin's twins will be able to defeat Darth Sidious?

However, Sidious' name is not mentioned in the actual movie (the same scene can be seen on Youtube), perhaps because the filmmakers realized Organa couldn't have known about Sidious or else the Rebel Alliance would have.

No one in the Rebellion seems to have known that Palpatine was a Sith Lord in Episode IV because, out-of-universe, even George Lucas didn't know the Emperor was Darth Sidious. The Emperor's Sith affiliation wasn't revealed until Episode V. By that time Luke had met Yoda, and Yoda could have told Luke who in turn would have told the rest of the Rebellion.

This leaves us to explain why Bail Organa apparently didn't know the Emperor was Darth Sidious despite the fact that he rescued Yoda from Sidious. The best explanation I can come up with is that Yoda and Obi-Wan decided not to tell Organa because of one or more of the following reasons:

  • the Emperor's Sith identity was Jedi/Sith business, so Organa didn't need to know
  • Organa already opposed the Emperor, so Yoda and Obi-Wan wouldn't really gain anything from telling him
  • it was better for Organa not to know since Organa was raising Vader's daughter Leia yet still worked in close proximity to the Emperor (because he was an Imperial Senator). Telling Organa could increase the risk that the Emperor would find out about Leia's true identity.
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    Given what we know Bail knows, it's unlikely he doesn't know Palpatine = Sidious imo. He knows Yoda is going to confront Palpatine about Order 66. He knows Yoda plans to bring Palpatine to justice. Yet he knows even a Grand Master like Yoda may fail, since he's told to standby as Yoda's escape plan. Given he never believed Palpatine's speech, and other circumstantial facts, it's highly improbable he couldn't connect the dots and figure out, even if not Palpatine's identity, but at least the full extent of the power he wields personally, enough to oppose even Yoda. Commented Mar 19, 2016 at 11:27
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    Additionally, he had already planned to prepare for a rebellion. He would need advice. And being a close friend of the Jedi, knowing Yoda and Obi-Wan, he's not one to question why the two are seemingly abandoning the galaxy to its fate and going into exile. I think he must know something about the Jedi's plans, about the what and why. At this point, the Jedi have no reason to hide anything from a close friend who is planning to overthrow Palpatine one day. He needs to know what he's up against. Commented Mar 19, 2016 at 11:29
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    Finally, after Palpatine moved in to the Jedi Temple-cum-Imperial Palace, he spent most of his days at the Sith shrine beneath it. He formed a Ruling Council to rule in his place, which in turn created an illusion using body doubles that Palpatine is still publicly active. So, if the real Palpatine rarely goes out to work, it's probable he would never have encountered Bail in close proximity ever again. Commented Mar 19, 2016 at 11:31
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    @thegreatjedi I largely agree with your points, but if Bail knew I would think that the Rebellion would have to -- and everyone acts as if the Rebellion doesn't. Thus I have to assume that Bail somehow didn't know.
    – Null
    Commented Mar 19, 2016 at 18:56
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    on that, I believe Bail deliberately kept it a secret from the Rebellion, at best telling only his innermost circle. It's a similar reason why the Jedi didn't inform the Senate the full extent of the Sith's involvement in the Clone Wars - it would have caused general panic and demoralisation with no practical benefit. He didn't even tell Ahsoka, who's as good a Jedi as any in his ranks - if she didn't know about Vader, she definitely didn't know about Sidious. Let the Rebellion rank-and-file worry about fighting the Empire, leave him and the Jedi to worry about fighting the Sith Lords. Commented Mar 20, 2016 at 6:41
  • While clearly a friend to the Jedi and having at least a passing familiarity with their philosophy, the fact of the Emperor's affiliation with the Sith, while undoubtedly disturbing to Bail, is unlikely to have affected him as deeply as the Emperor's fascistic political actions.
  • Most of the galaxy (including, I expect, most rank and file members of the Rebellion) had at best only a passing familiarity with the philosophy of the Jedi and would be very unlikely to have any familiarity at all with the Sith.
  • If, as seems very likely, Bail did know that Palpatine=Sidious, then while I'm sure he discussed it with the leaders of the Rebellion there would have been very little purpose in the Rebels shouting it from the rooftops as most wouldn't have a clue what they were talking about and it would be very unlikely to change the existing allegiances of anyone who did. The fact that the Emperor was a fascist dictator was quite enough to motivate organised dissent without injecting religious argument which would likely be dismissed as bizarre propaganda anyway.

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