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Yes, Anakin threw Palpatine down the shaft but Palpatine was still alive. What exactly killed him, and what was that blast wave that surged upward towards Anakin?

Did Palpatine break his neck at terminal velocity (the most common real life cause of death for falling from great heights)? Did he get impaled on some random sharp object on the way down, whether from the internal structure, some construction scaffolding etc.? Did he get caught in the blast wave of the exploding core? Or did he get in the way of another shot from the superlaser? Or did the Force send the vengeful spirits of ten thousand Jedi to tear him apart?

Exactly what dealt the killing blow?

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The implication seems to be that the reactor core exploded when he hit it.

When at last he reaches the open shaft he hurls the Emperor down into the reactor. It’s a long, long way down and the Emperor fires his lightning upward as he falls.

He might still have used his powers to save himself, but his hate is now so strong his only thought is to cause Vader more pain. So the lightning continues to flicker and flash even after the body is out of sight.

And then comes a great explosion when his body finally reaches the reactor and a poisonous wind races up the shaft, knocking Vader at last to the floor.

Beware the Power of the Dark Side!

Of course, in all likelihood the impact turned him to mush a fraction of a second before the explosion (the core was probably solid, and it was, after all, a very long shaft), but this is a small detail.

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    He was also firing off lightning in all directions all the way down, though. – user40790 Dec 22 '16 at 18:00
  • @Terriblefan - Yeah, I think that indicates he survived until he hit the bottonm. – Adamant Dec 22 '16 at 18:01
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    Right. I'm just thinking that was what caused the explosion, rather than just him hitting the reactor. Otherwise they wouldn't have needed to resort to proton torpedoes in the vent shaft to destroy the first Death Star. – user40790 Dec 22 '16 at 21:23
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After Vader threw him down the Death Star shaft, Palpatine must have used 'essence transfer' with his conscious to clone himself. Only a Sith could do this technique which was mentioned in a canon.

Afterwards, he must have made his way to Exegol, a Sith planet and waited for Ben Solo to find him after The Last Jedi.

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    Do you have any proof you can cite for this? – SpaceWolf1701 Feb 25 '20 at 17:12
  • @SpaceWolf1701 - "Plagueis had not acted fast enough in his own moment of death. But Sidious, sensing the flickering light in his apprentice, had been ready for years. So the falling, dying Emperor called on all the dark power of the Force to thrust his consciousness far, far away, to a secret place he had been preparing. His body was dead, an empty vessel, long before it found the bottom of the shaft" - RoS: Novelisation – Valorum Mar 18 '20 at 0:44

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