Why did Palpatine care about Anakin (Vader), especially when considering his powerful "future Force visions"? Palpatine organizes the framework-setting Order 66 to kill the Jedi. It is Palpatine who defeats Yoda.

It is Palpatine who pretty much organizes the whole thing. He organizes the Death Star, his ascension, the destruction of all opposition.

It is Vader who tells Mace about Palpatine being a Sith. It is Vader who gets sushi'd by Obi-Wan.

Vader is the only survivor of the Death Star Mk1, but he was never the commander, the engineer or the saviour of the darn thing. Vader also throws Palpatine off a balcony.

While Vader does manage to murder a bunch of kids... that doesn't really seem that difficult a skillset for Palpatine to find to warrant any of the effort in winning Vader over.

Palpatine seems pretty cognizant of the whole "Sith kill each other", he doesn't appear to even need another Sith, so what? Was Vader just a really really good conversationalist?

To be clear, I'm referring to the prequels - as in, why does Palpatine have interest in Anakin "back then" - not just saving him, but, well, trying to turn him at all?

With all of Palpatine's "future Force vision" powers, Vader doesn't seem to be useful in the future or at the present, although he does throw Palpatine off a ledge... I'm just assuming Palpatine didn't see that, and wasn't, like, really into extreme sports

This related (not a duplicate) question suggested deals with the Sith code of ethics, and the strong ignoring the weak, and effectively asks "why would one Sith help another, junior Sith". It is an interesting question, check it out.

This question asks why Palpatine bothered with Vader, given both Vader's uselessness to the overall story arc (aside from killing Palpatine) and Palpatine's ability to see the future. It also (implicitly) inquires why Palpatine, who is solely responsible for everything that happens in the prequels, even bothered with an apprentice at all.

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    because of the rule of two.
    – phantom42
    Commented Aug 11, 2014 at 12:49
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    I'd like to see this question formalised a bit but it's not a bad question.
    – Liath
    Commented Aug 11, 2014 at 12:56
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    "sushi'd"? Seems to me he was pretty well cooked.
    – Simon
    Commented Aug 11, 2014 at 17:35
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    Can Palpatine see that far into the future though? Obviously he didn't (couldn't?) predict his own demise at his apprentice's hands, he couldn't even predict that Anakin would lose a considerable level of his connection to the Force once his body was damaged on Mustafaar.
    – Monty129
    Commented Aug 11, 2014 at 18:49
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    @Monty129 - I don't think he can necessarily see that far into the future, but Palpatine is like a master chess player. He may not know exactly what choices his opponents will make, but he's experienced enough to know the most likely outcomes of several possible scenarios. Combine that with his ability to "peek" into the future, and he can make some reasonable guesses as to how things will play out and make adjustments accordingly. Like Master Yoda stated, "Always in motion is the future." When dealing with sentient, passionate life-forms, there's always a possibility to be surprised. Commented Aug 11, 2014 at 19:29

10 Answers 10


Both Palpatine and the Jedi council knew that Anakin would "bring balance to the force".

However, none of them knew exactly what that meant. The Jedi council thought it meant that the Dark Side would finally be abolished. I'm not sure if we were ever privy to Palpatine's thought on the matter.

Regardless, if you know that someone is powerful enough to alter an incredible dynamic wouldn't you want them on your side? That's why the council decided to train Anakin and that's why Palpatine put so much effort into bringing him close. If someone is supposed to bring balance, then you want to do everything in your power to ensure it's your side that get's the leg up.

Unfortunately for all concerned, Anakin brought balance by getting rid of all of them. First by decimating the Jedi order then by destroying Palpatine and elevating his own child up to be the last remaining "Jedi". Seems like Palpatine and the council should have eliminated him as a threat on day 1.

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    heh, that's hilarious. Anakin as a supremely inept peace-bringer, if only because after you kill everyone there has to be peace.
    – bharal
    Commented Aug 11, 2014 at 20:16
  • @Chris - But, the Jedi Council initially refused the request to train Anakin when Qui-Gon originally brought him before them. It wasn't until after Qui-Gon disobeyed the Council's decision and Anakin had already been taken under Qui-Gon's tutelage (albeit for a very short time) that the Council rescinded their objection and allowed the young boy to continue training under Obi-Wan's care. Commented Aug 11, 2014 at 21:06
  • @G_Hosa_Phat: The council could still have stopped it. They relented because by that point it was becoming apparent that Anakin was something that needed to be watched and the best way to do that was under their training. Yoda was the only one who voted against; they should have listened to the little dude.
    – NotMe
    Commented Aug 11, 2014 at 21:47
  • @ChrisLively: Absolutely, which is exactly my point. :) The Council didn't choose to train Anakin because he was "the Chosen One". At first, they didn't even believe that he WAS the Chosen One. Although (as per Wookieepedia), they may have changed their mind on that particular point when they realized that Qui-Gon was killed by a Sith. If so, then perhaps that was a major contributing factor in their decision to allow Obi-Wan to continue training him. Commented Aug 11, 2014 at 21:56
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    Anakin did bring balance to the Force - there were two Sith, so he helped kill all the Jedi except Ben and Yoda. As soon as Luke started to wield the Light Side, Anakin killed Ben. Then Yoda died, so of course Anakin had to kill Palpatine. Balance. Not really what Lucas had in mind, I'm sure, but it's at least a curious coincidence. :-) Commented Jun 5, 2015 at 23:24

I think the answer to this changes depending on when you ask it.

If you're asking the question in the prequel trilogy Sidious wants Anakin to be his apprentice because he's on track to become one of the most powerful Jedi ever. If he can corrupt him and seduce him then he would have that power serving the dark side. Sure, it's a risk but if he can manipulate "Vader" to be dependent on him (for example pretending to work together to save his wife) then he should be safe and have a very powerful apprentice to back him up.

Move onto the original trilogy. Vader is a broken man, he loathes the man he's sworn to serve but he has no other choice. He's so irreparably dedicated to the dark side of the force he has no alternative. Sidious has seriously limited his options by executing Order 66, he'd bet heavily on Anakin being the last Jedi and hadn't really got what he'd been hoping for - oh well, Vader is better than no apprentice. That is until they discover Luke.

As soon as they discover Luke, Sidious begins to try and seduce him to take his father's place as his apprentice. All of Anakin's power but without his weaknesses - otherwise why would he arrange the two of them to duel so the last man standing would serve him?

Why does Sidious care about Vader? To begin with he wants his power, later on... because he's the only option - until Luke comes along!

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    I think you have this backwards. Luke was in the first three movies. Commented Aug 11, 2014 at 20:19
  • So basically Sidious always tries to seduce the most promising Jedi/apprentith at any point, and during the prequel trilogy, this guy happens to be Anakin. Did I reword correctly ? Commented Aug 11, 2014 at 20:22
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    @user973810 Luke was in the first movies made - if you're referring to the last sentence I was speaking chronologically (from Sidious' perspective)
    – Liath
    Commented Aug 12, 2014 at 6:42
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    I'd add that if you don't see how great the Vader is, that doesn't mean he isn't. I'm sure that Vader made a great part of the Palpatine's accomplishments. Palpatine accomplished things of great complexity, but that doesn't mean he did this all alone and with his own hands. Also he is a Lord of Sith and an Emperor - he wouldn't let anyone do great things especially greater than he does.
    – Luten
    Commented Aug 12, 2014 at 11:17
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    It's not just that Anakin's on track to be the most powerful Jedi, but also that he's strongly suspected to the Chosen One - Darth Plageius discovered him and in fact he & Sidious suspected he'd inadvertently created him during his experiments with the Force. Of course Sidious would be interested!
    – Shisa
    Commented Aug 12, 2014 at 11:34

I would say it this way. From the standpoint of Ep. I-III, Palpatine sees Anakin as a potentially powerful adversary. If Anakin is fully trained and "indoctrinated" in the Jedi way, he will, as all the other Jedi, be used to defend the galaxy and the Republic from the kind of evil that Palpatine embodies.

But, by planting seeds of doubt and temptation in Anakin's mind, Palpatine can effectively eliminate a great "weapon" for the Light side of the Force. Distractions like those he uses to sway Anakin (the desire for power and respect, the promise to find a way to save his wife's life, etc.) would derail much of the Jedi training that teaches control over emotion and passions. Even if Palpatine wasn't able to turn him to the Dark side, he would have already crippled Anakin's training in many ways.

Of course, Palpatine was a master at manipulation, and knew (through both experience and his ability to see the future) that it was just a matter of time before he would be presented with an opportunity to "push" Anakin over the edge and away from the Jedi. Again, even if Anakin doesn't become as powerful as he could be, he's still much more powerful than many force users. Palpatine (Sidious) would much rather have even a "broken" Anakin (Vader) working for him than a powerful and devoted Jedi Anakin working against him.

One other point is that, even Yoda - one Jedi who was extremely in tune with the force - could not predict the future with any certainty. He could see some of the possible outcomes of certain decisions, but, as he stated:

Difficult to see. Always in motion is the future.

Palpatine was great at playing the "long game", and used his ability to peer into the future to set up all of the circumstances he needed to get what he wanted. Even so, he wasn't omniscient. The future is still in flux, and no amount of manipulation can account for every possible variable and outcome when people and emotions are involved.

  • Not to mention that Anakin was a hero and a great general of the Clone Wars. Being a hero and a powerful Jedi, it would be easier for Palpatine to make people accept the Jedi have assaulted him (and thus, the republic), and it would help explain how he survived the assault (remember, the Senate didn't know he was a powerful Sith). And in fact, Anakin played an important role in Palpatine's survival - while much of it is no longer canon, Mace Windu might have been one of the few who could actually beat Palpatine, and Anakin eliminated him at a crucial point.
    – Luaan
    Commented Aug 15, 2015 at 6:04

Palpatine is a planner, a schemer. He is brilliant with organization, plotting, and bureaucracy. He is not a battle commander or enforcer. Yes, he defeated Yoda in a duel, but that was the extent of his combat abilities.

Palpatine needed a powerful apprentice to lead his crusade against the Jedi. He started with Darth Maul, who was exceptionally good after his decades of training. He was dispatched by Obi-Wan. Palpatine moved on to Count Dooku, an experienced battle commander and former Jedi Master. Dooku was also defeated. His killer, Anakin Skywalker, was the next logical choice. The most powerful Force-user seen in centuries, with training that began too late after a troubled childhood of slavery, and a secret love-child(ren) on the way whose death Palpatine had foreseen.

Not only was Anakin skilled enough in combat and starship operation to hunt down every last Jedi, he was trained in battle tactics and strategy during the Clone Wars. Add in his emotional vulnerability and he is an obvious choice as Palpatine's right hand.

TL;DR: Palpatine required a general/assassin through whom he could execute the Great Jedi Purge while simultaneously consolidating the galaxy into the Galactic Empire. Anakin Skywalker was the best choice.

  • but... why? it's not like the remaining jedi could have posed much of a threat against the entire galactic empire, could they? he could have nabbed... anybody. Anybody at all. It's not like he needed Vader - presumably his plans didn't require an apprentice, because he didn't make use of him once he had him.
    – bharal
    Commented Aug 12, 2014 at 0:37
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    @bharal - You underestimate the power of the force.
    – Rex Kerr
    Commented Aug 13, 2014 at 5:37
  • @RexKerr well, i find your lack of faith disturbing.
    – bharal
    Commented Aug 13, 2014 at 12:45
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    @bharal - More seriously, look at what just two Jedi were able to accomplish in the context of a blockade and invasion of an entire planet.
    – Rex Kerr
    Commented Aug 13, 2014 at 21:48
  • @bharal In the EU, Vader killed many Jedi who actively worked to destroy the Empire (and of course, some who weren't all that active). They would become the next phantom menace over time. And again, he was a skilled commander, a general, a hero of the Clone Wars - and lured easily to the dark side. Not exploiting him would be an unnecessary waste.
    – Luaan
    Commented Aug 15, 2015 at 6:11

The following is entirely speculation, but I would guess a large factor is Anakin's status as a kind of chosen one and the one with the strongest connection to the force ever. Even if Palpatine wasn't to use those properties directly for his purposes (though, a force-aware second-in-command is still better than one unaware of the force), he might still have wanted Anakin (or rather Vader) on his side as a mere status symbol demonstrating his and the Sith's power over the galaxy by having dragged that chosen one onto their side.

  • Is it ever established in the movies that Anakin is The Chosen One (like, in the scrolling text or narrative voices or whatever)? We know Qui-Gon believed so, we heard Anakin whine about it more than once. My guess it that it was Luke that played the Chosen One's role when he defeated the Emperor and got Vader/Anakin to redeem himself. Commented Aug 14, 2014 at 6:19
  • @TobiasWärre Hmm, I always thought so, but now that you ask, I'm not sure. The question is probably what exactly did "bring balance to the force". Was it the Emperor's defeat? Was it Order 66? Was (or will it be) Luke's actions in the new movies? Until that is clear, it's hard to say who the Chosen One is. But fortunately for this answer it's only relevant who Palpatine thought it is, and I guess most people thought it's Anakin (especially due to his abnormal midichlorian values).
    – TARS
    Commented Aug 14, 2014 at 8:25
  • Maybe there are different Chosen Ones depending on when things happen. With the long standing Republic, there might have been a long time since the last CHosen One was living, and during Ep1-3 it might have been Anakin, and when he had played his part in the Order 66 scenario, the role went to the next candidate, Luke. He would bring back the balance yet again by subduing the dominating part, which then was the Emperor/Sith. Commented Aug 14, 2014 at 9:21
  • @TARS gosh one hopes it wasn't Luke's actions in the new movies, unless "milking a sea-cow" brought balance?
    – bharal
    Commented Mar 3, 2018 at 6:21

Strictly speaking, Palpatine didn't NEED Anakin to carry out his plan to become Emperor, or to turn the Republic into the Empire. He more or less took care of that on his own.

But he could tell that Anakin had the potential to become the most powerful Jedi of all. In Episode II, he said this directly. Anakin later proved him right when, as Darth Vader, he hunted down and killed all the remaining Jedi (except of course for Yoda and Obi-Wan).

Taking an early interest in young Anakin, and successfully turning him to the Dark Side, therefore served a dual purpose: first, it eliminated an obstacle to his initial plan of creating the Empire; second, it created an ally who, in the future, could lead the fight to eliminate anyone who might later try to defeat the Emperor, restore the Republic, or interfere with his plans in any other way.


TL;DR: Palpatine failed to forsee Vader's crippling on Mustafar.

While it's true that Palpatine had a knack for Force Vision, he was not omnipotent. His abilities allowed him to see the most likely future(s), but certainly not every possible contingency. He never saw Vader's betrayal coming, nor did he forsee Vader being crippled during his fight with Obi-Wan on Mustafar. If not for that single event, Darth Vader would have potentially been one of the most powerful Sith in the history of the galaxy.

For instance, let's take into account the events of Episode VI. Throughout the years, Palpatine had forseen other attempts by Vader to betray & usurp him. However, with his gift of Foresight, he was always able to deflect the attempts and/or manipulate events so that Vader cancelled his plans. In many cases, he manipulated Vader himself into the position of killing his OWN assassins rather than allow them to attempt (and fail) to assassinate the Emperor. In effect, Palpatine typically turned Vader's own plans against him. Ironically, the one betrayal that worked - Vader throwing him into the pit to save Luke - is the one betrayal that Palpatine never saw coming. This is likely because it was an emotional, spur-of-the-moment decision by Vader.

Likewise, Palpatine knew that Anakin/Vader would face off against Obi-Wan on Mustafar. He knew they would fight, he knew the "betrayal" of Obi-Wan would fuel Anakin's rage and make him stronger. What he failed to see, though, was one minor thing... the same thing that would later result in his death... an emotional decision by Anakin/Vader. Anakin's poorly-thought-out attempt to best Obi-Wan despite the situation is what lead to his crippling. At that point, having already wiped out 99.9% of the galaxy's Force users, Palpatine was forced to save Vader and make the best out of a bad situation. As a result, he was left with a half-man, half-machine apprentice whose Force potential was severely limited by his condition.


To decimate the Jedi order.

The Jedi had a prophecy that Anakin would "Bring balance to the Force." Unlike the Jedi, who labored under the false assumption that 'balance' meant there would be no Dark Side (apparently they couldn't be bothered use a dictionary), Palpatine knew the actual definition of the word. Not only that, but there was the Rule of Two for Sith. This means that there can only ever be two Sith at a time. Combining both rules means that there should only be two Jedi as well.

Palpatine used Anakin/Vader (along with Order 66) to literally fulfill both rules, obliterating the Jedi.

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    Per starwars.wikia.com/wiki/Chosen_One, the prophecy actually states "In the time of greatest despair, a child shall be born who will destroy the Sith and bring balance to the Force." (emphasis mine). While there may still have been a Dark Side to the Force, the Sith would supposedly be eradicated by the "Chosen One". Commented Aug 11, 2014 at 22:00
  • @G_Hosa_Phat The wiki article seems to say that the reference to destruction of the Sith might have been added later (since the prophecy was created before there were any Sith) by Jedi who thought that was what it meant after the Sith Wars.
    – Shisa
    Commented Aug 13, 2014 at 1:44
  • @Shisa: True, but in the time frame associated with both the question and answer, the prophecy would have included the reference to the Sith, and therefore would have most likely been known by the Jedi of the time in that form. Commented Aug 13, 2014 at 4:57

If Anakin was the one spoke of in the prophecy, the one who was destined to destroy the Sith and bring balance to the Force, what greater tactical blow could Palpatine deal to the Jedi than to turn that asset against them? In this sense, it seems to me that Palpatine never needed Anakin/Vader to be an effective ally, he only needed him to be ineffective for the opposition.


This is what I read out of the 3rd novel:

Anakin was of great use to Palpatine. Mace Windu's fighting style (Vaapad) could turn the greatest dark powers directly against their source. So when Palpatine fought Mace, it could have ended in a defeat (instead of the stallmate he could expect against Yoda). So Palpatine needed someone who was capable of fighting Windu. This could not have been another Sith or Dark Jedi. Instead, he used Anakin and during this procedure also brought him closer to his side.

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