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Darth Vader threw Emperor Palpatine to a pit. Well, there are lots of pit falls in Star Wars, but unlike other times, Palpatine wasn't injured or unconscious when he was thrown.

Why didn't he simply prevent his fall using his lightsaber (I have seen such action in Star Wars: The Clone Wars TV series lots of time) and make his way out?

  • What lightsaber? There's no reason to believe he has a lightsaber on him. – Todd Wilcox May 24 '16 at 12:30
  • I felt that my answer to this one was pretty much comprehensive. Is there anything else you'd like me to add before considering an acceptance? – Valorum Jul 2 '16 at 17:04
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Update: Palpatine could very well have used his powers to help himself, but he was so utterly consumed with rage at Vader that he couldn't focus his energies.

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. - Return of the Jedi: Beware the Power of the Dark Side


Palpatine wasn't injured (per se) but it's seen in Revenge of the Sith that using Force Lightning for any period of time is an extremely energy-consuming activity. That combined with the fact that he impacted the sides on the way down, most likely rendered him unconscious before he had much chance to use the Force in any meaningful way.

Palpatine’s body, still spewing bolts of light, spun out of control, into the void, bouncing back and forth off the sides of the shaft as it fell. It disappeared at last; but then, a few seconds later, a distant explosion could be heard, far down at the core. A rush of air billowed out the shaft, into the throne room. Star Wars : Return of the Jedi Novelisation

If you watch the footage in the film, it also looks like some of the lightning hit Vader (who was holding onto Palpatine at the time) so there's a solid possibility that he was also electrocuting himself:

As to the specific question of why Palpatine didn't use a lightsaber to save himself, this answer strongly suggests that Palpatine doesn't actually appear to have a lightsaber on him at the time he fell. Luke's had been "hurled away", Vader's had fallen in the pit and he isn't wearing one of his own.

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    Not only was Palpatine momentarily weakened by such aggressive use of the Force, but who can say that Darth Vader wasn't fighting him invisibly using the Force (a Force field?) while picking him up and tossing him over the edge? – Craig Dec 7 '14 at 21:25
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    @Craig - I also presumed that Vader is pretty strong. Who's to say that Palpatine isn't suffering from multiple arm breakages? It's not in the script though, so it's pure conjecture & I prefer to stick to what's there. – Valorum Dec 7 '14 at 21:35
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    "That combined with the fact that he impacted the sides on the way down" He does? I don't see that, looks like a clean fall all the way to the power thingy. – T.J. Crowder Dec 4 '15 at 18:49
  • @t.j.crowder - He certainly seems to change direction a couple of times. – Valorum Dec 4 '15 at 18:57
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    @Richard: I'm not seeing any indication he hits anything at all. Just some dodgy effects. – T.J. Crowder Dec 4 '15 at 20:10

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