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According to Star Wars: Episode III

MEDICAL DROID: Medically, she is completely healthy. For reasons we can't explain, we are losing her.

OBI-WAN: She's dying?

MEDICAL DROID: We don't know why. She has lost the will to live. We need to operate quickly if we are to save the babies.

Revenge of the Sith : Script

Medically healthy humans don't die for no good reason.

So what did Padmé die of, and how did they even know she was dying?

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  • 69
    the incredibly deadly disease "Because the Smegging Plot Says So"
    – IG_42
    Dec 30, 2014 at 23:33
  • 21
    it's a pretty common trope: tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/DeathByDespair
    – Nacht
    Dec 31, 2014 at 5:02
  • 8
    Spoiler in title?
    – rlms
    Dec 31, 2014 at 14:41
  • 21
    @sweeneyrod - Everybody dies, eventually.
    – Valorum
    Jan 1, 2015 at 10:31
  • 2
    I've just come across another theory, that Palpatine (remotely) drained the life from her to keep Anakin alive. I'm not familiar with the novelisations though, and I haven't seen the film in a while, so I can't vouch for how legit this is. Feb 21, 2015 at 13:09

10 Answers 10

206
+100

Medically healthy humans don't die for no good reason

But she wasn't "medically healthy".

She was suffering from - at the very least:

  1. Twin birth. That's a pretty stressful thing to happen to a human body, especially if it was premature, possibly caused by, or at least correlated with...

  2. Injuries from Anakin force-choking her in a fit of jealous rage. She was unconscious at the end of it (when you lose consciousness, it can indicate Bad Things are happening in your brain):

    Padmé lies unconscious on the ground behind a glowering Anakin

  3. Also, psychosomatic effects from pure psychological shock does have a capacity to cause major physiological issues.

  4. To top that off, we don't know what the exact state of medical science/technology in TGFFA is. For all we know, they don't know how to help someone who's in cardiac arrest - meaning a heart attack could be written off as "broken heart, can't help here". Or, more likely, an aneurism (I didn't notice them scanning her brain at all).

    Remember, you (well your question) just trusted the opinion of a medical droid that declared a woman who just gave birth to twins a clean medical bill of health.

    Having said that, canon simply doesn't give an unambiguous answer that would be scientifically plausible, anymore than it cares about lasers and ion engines making sounds in a vacuum, or the ability of midi-chlorians to somehow cause a virgin birth in absence of DNA from a male reproductive cell in a species emphatically NOT designed to work that way. So,

  5. Complications from severe plot failure. She died of Lucas writing the scenario.

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  • 39
    The droid explictly states that she's medically healthy. The novelisation seems to concur; "“All organic damage has been repaired.” The droid checked another readout. “This systemic failure cannot be explained.” Not physically, Obi-Wan thought."
    – Valorum
    Dec 29, 2014 at 16:36
  • 19
    @Richard - yeah, Palpatine generally tends to be 3 steps ahead technologically. Comes with the position. Also, if you keep pushing me, I'll change the answer to "Midichlorian Gom Jabbar" :) Dec 29, 2014 at 16:40
  • 122
    5. Complications from severe plot failure. She died of Lucas writing the scenario. Damn you Lucas... damn you. Must every tragedy in the SW universe be rooted in your incapabilities as a creative writer.
    – RLH
    Dec 29, 2014 at 18:14
  • 14
    Midichlorian Gom Jar Jar what? Just what we need... Brian Herbert and Gorge Lucas to combine their world building skills to be a movie for J.J. Abrams....
    – user12183
    Dec 29, 2014 at 22:19
  • 16
    @T.Verron - Electric shocks don't 'restart' a heart per-se, they stop it. Shocking a heart helps when the heart is beating irregularly - it stops the movement temporarily so when the impulses kick back in it should beat normally again. It does nothing for 'flatlining' patients, despite Hollywood's insistence of the contrary.
    – Robotnik
    Jan 1, 2015 at 10:48
59

Life force is a proven thing in Star Wars, remember what was said in ANH about all living things, apparently distinct from physical bodies - see the ghosts like Ben Kenobi. Maybe the droid was saying her body was fine but her soul was drifting away. Since they can detect the Force potential with instruments (midichlorian counts), maybe they can detect the presence of a life force soul with instruments too.

Why would it do that? She was just the victim of evil magic.... the droid doesn't really get it and explains it as "lost the will to live", but it could be some after effect of Palpatine or Anakin's Force stuff, or a direct murder. Palpatine isn't above rigging up a self-fulling prophesy, after all.

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  • 9
    Eviiiiiil magic. Stay away from da voodoo, mon.
    – Omegacron
    Dec 29, 2014 at 20:10
  • 7
    This isn't a bad idea. If you lose all your force, do you die?
    – Valorum
    Dec 29, 2014 at 20:14
  • Yeah, something like that. I don't have any proof, this is a wild speculation, but I thought it was supported enough to throw out there. Dec 29, 2014 at 20:29
  • 4
    I envision an old-style 8-bit HP bar in the upper left corner of the screen, labeled "Force Energy". Don't let it run out, or it's "Game Over"!
    – Omegacron
    Dec 30, 2014 at 14:33
  • 3
    @DVK - That's true, but you can't cross the streams.
    – Valorum
    Jan 1, 2015 at 19:23
42

According to the (Disney Canon) "Star Wars in 100 Scenes" book, she died from losing the will to live. Apparently that's a thing you can die of in the Star Wars universe. The book also mentions that the medics are largely incompetent so that may have been a contributing factor towards her baffling diagnosis.

LEAVING MUSTAFAR, Obi-Wan takes Padme to the planet Polis Massa, where Yoda and Bail Organa are waiting. Medical droids try to save her life, but their efforts are in vain - she has lost the will to live. The droids deliver not one baby but twins, and the dying Padme names them Luke and Leia. Yoda, Obi-Wan and Bail Organa know Anakin Skywalker's children will be strong with the Force. They must find a way to prevent them from being found by the evil agents of the new Sith Emperor.


The Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith (junior novelization) gives us some additional information from Obi-Wan's perspective

“Medically, she is completely healthy,” the droid said. “For reasons we can’t explain, we are losing her.”

“She’s dying?” Obi-Wan said, horrified. No, no! He couldn’t take another loss like this.

But the medical droid bobbed its head. “We don’t know why. She has lost the will to live.”

I know why, Obi-Wan thought. Anakin has broken her heart.

Obviously this identifies why she lost the will to live, but not necessarily how this resulted in her death.


And in the Revenge of the Sith novelisation, Obi-Wan comes to the conclusion that her death isn't the result of physical damage, suggesting that there's something metaphysical happening to her:

“All organic damage has been repaired.” The droid checked another readout. “This systemic failure cannot be explained.”

Not physically, Obi-Wan thought.

Unfortunately, he doesn't complete this thought...


The scene in Star Wars : Revenge of the Sith - Illustrated Screenplay has an additional line. Evidently, her "energy" was depleted:

OBI-WAN: You have twins, Padme They need you...hang on.
PADME: I can't...

Padmé winces again and takes Obi-wan's hand. She is holding Anakin's japor snippet.

OBI-WAN: Save your energy.
PADMÉ: Obi-Wan...there...is good in him. I know there is...still...

A last gasp, and she dies. Obi-Wan studies the necklace.


The film's VFX Supervisor John Knoll ascribes her death to "a broken heart"

After Padmé dies of a broken heart, her body is taken back to her home planet for a state funeral

Creating the Worlds of Star Wars: 365 Days


Moving down the canon scale, the Star Wars novel "Coruscant Nights II : Street of Shadows" states that Padme's cause of death (at autopsy) recorded her cause of death as strangulation:

There were conflicting reports, of course, but all the autopsy reports were in agreement on two things: that she had been strangled, and that the child had died with her.

But exactly how the former had been accomplished, no one was quite sure. The evidence of strangulation had been there, and obvious: the fractured hyoid bone, damage to the larynx, and compression of the trachea were all clear indications of fatal throttling. But... There were no signs of bruises on her neck, no scratches or signs of congestion... no indication of exterior trauma at all. Her throat had been pristine. It was as if she had somehow been choked to death without physical contact. And there was only one power in the galaxy that Typho knew of that could accomplish such a thing.

The Force.

That being said, in-universe it's made clear that her autopsy has been tampered with and falsified. The results may be incorrect on a number of counts. Out-of-universe this conflicts heavily with the film canon. The medical droid clearly stated that her body was physically healthy whereas broken bones and a compressed trachea would be instantly obvious on even the most cursory of medical inspections, as well as preventing her from speaking.

We also have confirmation from the (now canon 2016 Edition) Star Wars: Character Encyclopedia, which relates that the official reason for her death was that she was attacked by one or more rogue Jedi.

Padme had supported Apailana's bid for election. Although the official explanation for Padme's death is that she died at the hands of renegade Jedi, Apailana privately believes otherwise.

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  • 6
    Considering that the report also stated that she died while pregnant, it was clearly made up, which is why I explicitly decided to exclude that source from my answer. Dec 29, 2014 at 21:26
  • 3
    @DVK - I was merely including it for completeness. Note the major caveats at the bottom of the answer.
    – Valorum
    Dec 29, 2014 at 21:27
  • Of course the records would say that. Palpatine DID tell Vader that he had killed Padme. The least he could do was make it look so on paper.
    – Nigralbus
    Dec 30, 2014 at 17:00
  • 1
    @nigralbus - It was Yoda and Ben who arranged for the fake autopsy.
    – Valorum
    Dec 30, 2014 at 17:29
  • 11
    I have always assumed that Anakin was an untrained but powerful user of the Dark Side of the Force, and he was very angry at Padme... and his anger killed her in some way more subtle than a Force Choke. It's something he would never have consciously chosen to do. If I'm right, it is yet another way that the Dark Side messes up your life ("forever will it dominate your destiny" as Yoda said). Sadly, I think I have given this more thought than George Lucas did.
    – steveha
    Jan 1, 2015 at 7:14
19

A broken heart. Remember in Episode 3, she tells Anakin that he's breaking her heart. That's what killed her, to know that the man she loved could so easily destroy what both she and he worked so hard to protect, and to just throw away their lives the way he did. There have been perfectly healthy people in the real world that have died from broken hearts.

It could also be attributed to the fact that she actually lost the will to live. Her life had just been obliterated, she no longer had anything to live for or any reason to live. She didn't want to continue living, so she just gave up.

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  • 3
    Although stress-related cardiac conditions are real, there would be a ton of other symptoms.
    – Valorum
    Dec 29, 2014 at 16:42
  • 6
    True. I'd have to reiterate what DVK said. Perhaps Organa's droid was unable to detect the other symptoms. I highly doubt, though, that a woman about to give birth wouldn't have high blood pressure, chest pain, or shortness of breath. So chances are, the droid was a horrible, horrible doctor who needs to have its medical license revoked..... Then again, we could always resort to 'blaming it on the midichlorians'
    – Robert
    Dec 29, 2014 at 16:48
  • 9
    I quite like the idea that her medical droid is just really rubbish.
    – Valorum
    Dec 29, 2014 at 16:49
  • 2
    I actually like this answer. I like to believe that the droid is not referring to the medical conditions explaining why she died, but merely the fact that there are those conditions but we can't explain why they are happening. +1
    – MAF
    May 27, 2015 at 20:40
14

The answer is clear:

She has lost her will to live.

Free Will of humans has always been considered independent of the physical body (sometimes it is attached with soul even by scientists like Descartes, Laplace, Newton), so your material physical health can't ensure your survival if you don't have will to live. In other words, you always have some amount of will to live and you can willingly die (Death at Will isn't easy thing and it is considered achievement in some religions. Check Nirvana).

Such things arose because scientists in old times, who believed in the deterministic nature of nature, couldn't explain our free will. Modern scientists like Stephen Hawking believe that human behavior is deterministic and can be solved by mathematical equations (Source: The Grand Design book). But, non-deterministic free will guided by true self (soul) is still in influential existence thanks to religions (and, Will to Live medical things and miracles). And, nobody can deny it scientifically. One can only give opinion.

So, out of universe, it has influenced Star Wars for sure. And, in-universe, such thing is scientifically valid (which shouldn't be surprising since we have Force Ghosts and Death at Will by Kenobi).

8

Who's to say that "humans" who lived in a galaxy far far away, long long ago, are the same as the humans watching the films? Do we have midichlorians? So maybe their physical health was more sensitive to psychological or emotional states than ours is.

I took medically healthy to just mean that her body didn't have any physical damage, defect, or infection that could explain her condition. A person's psychological state can alter their physical well-being, and that's what the implication was.

0
4

A broken heart. Her connection with Anakin was on a much greater scale than just love. When Anakin was starting to sway towards the dark side, Padmé became ill because their love for each other was so strong.

When Anakin was being seduced by the dark side her sickness began.

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    I don't disagree with this point, but I'm not sure it adds anything to the answers above.
    – Valorum
    Jan 1, 2015 at 21:16
4

Medically healthy humans don't die for no good reason.

Takotsubo cardiomyopathy (does have some symptoms)

Is It Possible?

Elderly who die soon after their spouse.

Elderly who pick their time of death.

And somewhere, but I don't have a citation, heard about a spy in WWII, under torture who willed himself to death.

But it's not common, nor easy (at least for depressive / suicidal people). Or very few people would make it through junior high.

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  • 1
    As I've said on multiple occasions, while I accept that you can die of heart conditions related to stress, they're always accompanied by a veritable boat-load of symptoms that only an incompetent could miss; elevated blood pressure, unconsciousness, etc.
    – Valorum
    Jan 3, 2015 at 11:22
  • Also, the case you've quoted; Sam Londe is a textbook example of occam's razor. Is it more likely that he died of cancer (and had a botched autopsy, one of dozens that occur each year) or that he died of condition so rare that it's not been seen before or since?
    – Valorum
    Jan 3, 2015 at 11:24
  • 1
    Well, if every contra-example is going to be ignored / dismissed with an attack on the investigators (incompetent) or a hypothetical (made-up?), unknown and unseen condition - then of course you're obviously correct! More power to you. Class dismissed: you obviously know what you need to know already - no need for school. Simply put, if you're not looking for it - you're going to be unable to find it.
    – anon3082
    Jan 4, 2015 at 23:18
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    "the more extraordinary a claim, the heavier is the burden of proof demanded". A single case that shows that a man can die of a purely psychosomatic condition is something that defies (present) medical understanding and hence would require more than a single example to provide proof that such a thing exists, especially when an the person in question already had a previously diagnosed terminal condition. Your comment above suggests that you view any skeptical assertion as a personal attack, please rest assured that this isn't the case
    – Valorum
    Jan 4, 2015 at 23:24
  • Medically healthy humans don't lift large rocks or spaceships around with their minds either. You can't apply real world logic to a fantasy world.
    – JamesRyan
    Jun 20, 2017 at 16:27
0

She died of a broken heart she gave up her will to live a form of suicide.even in space love is really the only thing worth living for.It goes to show without love we are lost

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    Very poetic. Not really an answer though .
    – Valorum
    Jan 1, 2015 at 8:46
0

There's an article out there called, "Padme Didn't Die Of A Broken Heart." The gist: Palpatine used his ability to manipulate life force to steal Padme's, in order to keep Anakin alive. It's a neat and tidy theory, and very well explained.

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  • 2
    Fan theories are fun, but don't make a good basis for sensible answers
    – Valorum
    Nov 14, 2017 at 8:25
  • Nor do they make the basis for sensible films :-)
    – Valorum
    Dec 31, 2019 at 9:32

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