Senator Palpatine has a fairly normal voice, but Darth Sidious has a deep raspy voice, even before his disfiguration by his own force lightning. Is there an in-universe explanation for this? (Canon preferred, but a Legends explanation would be interesting too.) Anakin/Vader's voice changes as well, but it may be just his injuries and the suit -- or is it analogous? Dooku's voice didn't change, but then again I'm not sure we ever saw him in a non-Sith "disguise".

A good example of the change is when Mace Windu comes to arrest Palpatine:

  • 2
    Getting his vocal cords irreparably charred by electricity?
    – user57650
    May 9, 2017 at 15:39
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    @Riker I hate when that happens
    – CHEESE
    May 9, 2017 at 16:03
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    His Sith voice is like that even before his disfiguration (and you can see/hear that in the clip)
    – Plutor
    May 9, 2017 at 16:09
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    The Sith are required by their religious beliefs to be dark, brooding and foreboding figures. Otherwise they just sound like silly men in capes
    – Machavity
    May 9, 2017 at 16:10
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    It's like modern Batman, you need the right voice.
    – JAB
    May 9, 2017 at 17:27

3 Answers 3


     Looks like it depends on his emotions, and is not related to supposed injuries or persona (benign senator/chancelor Palaptine or cruel Sith lord Darth Sidious). For example, in Phantom Menance, when he talks with leadership of Trade Federation ("Kill them immediately!" , 0:33 in clip) his voice sounds raspy. Later, when he talks to Darth Maul ( "You have been well trained my young apprentice ... ", 2:24) his voice sounds normal . In both cases he is in his Darth Sidious persona.

    In Revenge of the Sith , even after his supposed injuries, when he begs Anakin ("I'm too weak ...", 3:56 in clip ), his voice seems meek . Only when he assumes full control after death of Windu his voice sounds raspy (".. learn to use Dark Side of the Force, 4:50 in clip ).


You have to immerse in Star Wars Novels Universe. "Darth Plagueis" by James Luceno (2012) focuses on the relationship between Darth Plagueis and his apprentice Darth Sidious. Darth Plagueis says that facial distortion and yellow eyes is from taking in the energy force lightning accepting the pain and power from another. Hence the transformation during the battle between Senator Palpatine and Master Windu.

Read "Darth Bane" (a 3 novel series) it goes hand and hand with "Darth Plagueis" event though they are a thousand years apart on the timeline. "Darth Bane" explains how the Rule of Two and Sith as they are in the cinema timeline:

A Jedi sufficiently strong in the Force can be trained to produce a facsimile, but not true Sith lightning, which, unabated, has the power not only to incapacitate or kill, but to physically transform the victim. Force lightning requires strength of a sort only a Sith can command because we accept consequence and reject compassion. To do so requires a thirst for power that is not easily satisfied. The Force tries to resist the callings of ravenous spirits; therefore it must be broken and made a beast of burden. It must be made to answer one's will. But the Force cannot be treated deferentially. In order to summon and use lightning properly, you will someday have to be on the receiving end of its power, as a means of taking the energy inside yourself.

"Darth Plagueis"

  • Can you clarify how this explains his voice? I can see an explanation for his physical deformities here but not the voice.
    – TheLethalCarrot
    Feb 18, 2019 at 18:09

Simple: That's his real voice. The voice he had as Chancellor Palpatine was a fake one. When he became the Emperor, he kept his Sidious voice for the rest of his life, didn't he? He sounds the same as Sidious in Return of the Jedi:

Compare it to his voice as Sidious in The Phantom Menace:

  • 1
    This answer would be a lot better if you were to edit it to add some supporting evidence. Sep 20, 2021 at 6:16
  • Done. Is it better now?
    – user145025
    Sep 20, 2021 at 6:21
  • It's definitely an improvement, although I wouldn't say you've proved your case conclusively. Sep 20, 2021 at 6:29
  • Hopefully I did now. Sorry, I'm new to this site.
    – user145025
    Sep 20, 2021 at 6:32
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    Thanks for the welcome.
    – user145025
    Sep 20, 2021 at 6:53

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