In the movies, there is not a lot of gratitude thrown around, in fact, quite the opposite:

Why would I want to get promoted in the Empire if that just meant I would be force choked for any small indiscretion? Surely there was an upside to moving up that high in the ranks, right? Maybe bigger bonuses, discounts on woodo hide, or free vacations on Hoth?

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    But you get promoted so fast!
    – Kevin
    Commented Dec 23, 2016 at 23:58
  • 6
    To add to what Kevin said: In the Zahn trilogy, it's mentioned that serving aboard Darth Vader's ship is a fast track to promotions. One on-screen example is when Captain Piett was promoted to Admiral Piett in ESB because the previous admiral had come out of lightspeed to close to Hoth. Commented Dec 24, 2016 at 6:40
  • 4
    Maybe refusing a promotion was considered insubordination. ;)
    – jpmc26
    Commented Dec 24, 2016 at 9:08
  • 3
    Consider also that Piett stayed alive, and an Admiral, until the end of RotJ. Commented Dec 25, 2016 at 19:59
  • 2
    Some people like being choked. Don't be so judgmental.
    – Régis B.
    Commented Dec 26, 2016 at 13:45

5 Answers 5


I'd like to address a separate part of your query: "Why would I want to get promoted in the Empire if that just meant I would be force choked for any small indiscretion?"

Note that most parts of the Empire were not under the DIRECT control and supervision of the Emperor and Darth Vader, so "force choking" was likely not one of your many concerns.

However, Imperial Intelligence kept an eye on EVERYONE. And your fellow shipmates weren't likely to help you either. The Emperor intentionally encouraged backstabbing and such in his navy; the Tarkin Doctrine was just as effective in the Navy as it was to the universe at large: fear will keep the officers in line.

If you made a big enough mistake that the Emperor or Vader took notice, you basically did a bad job of throwing subordinates under the bus.

So why would anybody attempt to get promoted in this environment? It's safer at the top. Yes, you have a slightly higher chance of Lord Vader showing up and throwing you over a rail for failing to accomplish something, but in 99.9% of mistakes or errors, the higher up you are, the more subordinates you have to prop up your throne, and the fewer peers and superiors you have to worry about.

It's not the Empire, but when I was in a marching band, I asked the Seniors why I should listen to what they say and do all the hard work; they told me they had to do it when they were freshmen, so now it's their turn to give the orders.

  • I'll take it. Were they drafted into the army?
    – Anon
    Commented Dec 25, 2016 at 20:08
  • @Akiva, which "they"?
    – Zoey Green
    Commented Dec 26, 2016 at 9:17
  • 1
    Ahh, I see @Akiva. First off, the Grand Republic Army/Navy were converted, in place, into the Imperial Navy. So most of the founding members were already in place during the early years. Canon doesn't state how the military came into place, but I would surmise that, having been built on vast clone armies, the Empire realized they needed replacement troops, and started press-ganging members into service. This would only enhance their distrust and disloyalty to the ranks.
    – Zoey Green
    Commented Dec 26, 2016 at 19:44
  • 1
    Do it for the Galactic Credits.
    – Hack-R
    Commented Dec 26, 2016 at 20:38
  • 1
    @Akiva to explain why they would stay on, you have to go to Legends. The book Death Star discusses the "IMSLO," the Imperial Military Stop Loss Order. The Tarkin Doctrine requires a vast military; 46,803 crew/troops/officers for a single Star Destroyer. Every Imperial planet required at least a few thousand troops in the garrison; populated planets would need millions of troops. Death Star I had over a million crew itself. Once you were in the army, you were stuck until they were done with you, because they needed warm bodies.
    – Zoey Green
    Commented Dec 26, 2016 at 20:51


COMMANDER: He was armed only with this.

VADER: Good work, Commander. Leave us. Conduct your search and bring his companions to me.

Return of the Jedi


VADER: The Death Star will be completed on schedule.

EMPEROR: You have done well, Lord Vader. And now I sense you wish to continue your search for young Skywalker.

Return of the Jedi


ANAKIN: The traitors have been taken care of, Lord Sidious.

DARTH SlDIOUS: Good . . . good . . . You have done well, my new apprentice. Do you feel your power growing?

Revenge of the Sith


DARTH VADER: The Separatists are taken care of, My Master.

DARTH SlDIOUS: It is finished, then. You have restored peace and justice to the galaxy. You have done well, Lord Vader.

Revenge of the Sith


“Yes, Master.” He risked a glance out the viewport. Most of the council had reached the starship. Gunray should be joining them any second; Grievous had seen firsthand how fast the viceroy could run, given proper motivation. “The ship will lift off within moments.”

“Well done, my general. Now you must turn your hand to preparing our trap there on Utapau. The Jedi hunt you personally at last; you must be ready for their attack.”

Revenge of the Sith: Official Novelisation


His Master lowered his head briefly in acknowledgment. “Welcome home, Lord Tyranus,” Darth Sidious said in his precise, whispery voice. “You have done well.”

“I bring you good news, my Lord,” Dooku said. Though he knew that everyone on Coruscant must already have heard, his instructions had been to return here with the news — and Darth Sidious had a short and unpleasant way with anyone who disobeyed even the smallest part of his orders. “The war has begun.”

“Excellent.” Sidious’s dry voice sounded almost enthusiastic, and his lips — the only part of him visible beneath the deep hood — curved in a slight smile. “Everything is going as planned.”

Star Wars: Attack of the Clones - Official Novelisation


“Queen Amidala is young and naive,” Sidious said dismissively. “Controlling her will not be difficult. You have done well, Viceroy.”

Nute sighed in relief as the hologram faded away. Dealing with Darth Sidious was almost as nerve-racking as that business with the Jedi had been.

Star Wars: The Phantom Menace - Official Novelisation

  • 7
    Okay Okay, but besides good praises, did any of them get like a free space Yacht as a gift?
    – Anon
    Commented Dec 24, 2016 at 2:18
  • 9
    @Akiva They got to stay alive one more day. Maybe even a couple.
    – jpmc26
    Commented Dec 24, 2016 at 9:11
  • 20
    @Akiva your question title is asking whether Palpatine or Vader were ever congratulatory, and this answers it precisely. if you want to ask a different question, one about the perks of promotion, then please post it separately.
    – terdon
    Commented Dec 24, 2016 at 13:23
  • 6
    @terdon - Vader promotes quite a few people, usually by murdering their seniors for incompetence.
    – Valorum
    Commented Dec 24, 2016 at 13:40
  • 6
    @Akiva OK, apart from the praises and the promotions, what has the Empire ever done for us? :-P ;-)
    – Marakai
    Commented Dec 25, 2016 at 11:01



DARTH SIDIOUS : Move against the Jedi first…you will then have no difficulty taking the Queen back to Naboo, where she will sign the treaty.

DARTH MAUL : At last we will reveal ourselves to the Jedi. At last we will have revenge.

DARTH SIDIOUS : You have been well trained, my young apprentice, they will be no match for you. It is too late for them to stop us now. Everything is going as planned. The Republic will soon be in my command.

The Phantom Menace


“Sergeant Crest,” Vader said toward the device. “Are you in the crime lord’s warehouse?”

“Yes, Lord Vader. Ready to bring the entire place down on your command.”

Then you have redeemed yourself, Sergeant.”

“Thank you, Lord Vader.


  • 17
    Just to nitpick (I love to nitpick): To me You have been well trained means more "I did a good job training you" than "You did a good job learning my training".
    – SJuan76
    Commented Dec 24, 2016 at 1:57
  • @SJuan76 still, it's expressing confidence in his skills, which is a "good boss" move. Even if it's a bit self-congratulatory.
    – hobbs
    Commented Dec 25, 2016 at 3:26

I want to add one extraordinary case from the Expanded Universe: Lieutenant Erv Lekauf. In a short story A Two-Edged Sword, Lord Vader paid unheard compliments and even showed compassion for him. He valued the Lieutenant's exceptional loyalty, intelligence, and honesty.

"I apologize for our performance, sir," said Lekauf.

Vader noted the use of the word our. "I won't consider that failure in hand-to-hand combat until I see you fight ordinary men."

"That's very generous of you, sir."

Even the Emperor himself was (at least apparently) positive towards Lekauf.

"Lieutenant," said Palpatine, looking past Vader to where Lekauf stood in patient silence. "What makes you loyal to Lord Vader?"

Lekauf, normally uncomfortable around Palpatine, relaxed a little. Vader could feel it. Lekauf's doubts and passions seldom showed on his face, but he had them, and Vader could always taste them and sometimes relied on them to understand what was happening within the Imperial Army.

"With your permission, sir," said Lekauf, and looked to Vader. "It's because my Lord never asks his men to do anything that he wouldn't do himself."

"Laudable," said Palpatine.

In the end of the story Lekauf suffers severe injuries and is taken care of by Vader.

He leaned over Lekauf and stared into his face, seeing a fraction of the image that Palpatine must once have seen of him. "You are too loyal for your own good, Lieutenant."

"That's my job, my Lord."


"You never disappoint me," said Vader.

enter image description here

Lord Vader holding an Imperial officer. This you don't see often.


Two instances of Vader and Palpatine showing respect for competent suobordinates:

  1. Right at the very beginning of the whole series, after the op to seize Leia's ship has gone as planned, one of the officers is actually arguing with Vader. It's worded as advice, but the officer is clearing telling Vader that this whole deal was a bad idea. But he hasn't effed anything up, and so Vader did what all good leaders do: He listens to his subordinates.

  2. When Vader had just been beated by Obi-Wan, and had significantly fewer arms and legs than he started out with, Palpatine took the time to fetch him from next to the river of lava. Because good leaders invest in troops with potential.

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