I'm trying to keep this spoiler free-ish, just in case.

Disregarding the prequel trilogy not holding many surprises when the saga is watched in release order (such as spoiling the major reveal in The Empire Strikes Back), when taken in chronological order, is the viewer intended to know the true identity of Palpatine?

I remember watching The Phantom Menace at release and it seemed the movie took pains to keep the characters separate. At the same time, it was obvious to me given the actor is the same in both trilogies.

Incidentally, I think I can count on one hand the number of times in The Clone Wars that any hint was given as to Sidious' civilian alter ego.

Is there word from Lucas that this was intentional?

  • 1
    Interestingly, when Ep 1 first came out, there were some people running with the theory that Palpatine/Sidious were not the same exact person, and that one was either a clone/twin/relative. This was made possible, at the time, by the fact that while the connection is greatly implied, it's not explicit.
    – phantom42
    Jan 20, 2015 at 20:51
  • My recollection is that the actor playing Sidious was deliberately omitted from the Phantom Menace credits, although I don't have a citation to back that up, and my recollection could be flawed. We certainly did know that Palpatine would become the Emperor.
    – user8719
    Jan 20, 2015 at 20:53
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    just watching 4,5,6 as a child and then going to see 1,2,3 reading no outside or extra information, i did not know that palpatine and sidious where the same person. Nothing in the episode 1, or 4, 5, 6 told you about this. I did have suspicions after the first movie, after hearing book reading fans who already knew, but for your average american i believe that we were supposed to learn as the movies progressed.
    – Himarm
    Jan 20, 2015 at 21:11
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    I remember this being blindingly obvious to me and some of my friends, but not at all certain/possibly not true/no way can it be true to some other friends. We each couldn't fathom how the others could hold such a nonsensical opinion.
    – Martha
    Jan 20, 2015 at 21:26
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    I remember being 8 or 9 when I saw The Phantom Menace and I immediately recognized Sidious and Palpatine as the same person. I don't think it was explicitly stated, though, just painfully obvious.
    – user44330
    Apr 23, 2015 at 15:56

3 Answers 3


Yes and no. The blurb on the back of the DVD cover certainly suggests that it wasn't a big secret...

"Obi-Wan Kenobi, the wise old Jedi from the original series, is a determined young apprentice and Palpatine, well known as the evil Emperor, is an ambitious Senator in the Galactic Republic..."

But at the same time, there's no explicit confirmation that the two characters are connected within Phantom Menace film, assuming you're willing to overlook the fact that they're played by the same actor.

There's also a scene where Yoda asks if Maul was the master or the apprentice which then features an immediate pan to Palpatine but again, this doesn't outright tell you anything.

YODA : Always two there are....no more...no less. A master and an apprentice.

MACE WINDU : But which one was destroyed, the master or the apprentice?

enter image description here

Where the novelisation is concerned, the answer is a qualified yes. Although there are scenes with both Palpatine and Sidious, they're never mentioned (or named) together in the same chapter.

  • 1
    I would also point that - as far as I can remember - the older trilogy (Ep4-Ep6) never mentions Palpatine as "[Dart] Sidious". (I also can't recall EU references to the name "Sidious", but I have only read a few of those books, so I could easily miss that.) But feel free to correct me.
    – mg30rg
    Jan 22, 2015 at 15:23
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    @mg30rg - He was referred to as Emperor Palpatine in the original trilogy novelisations.
    – Valorum
    Jan 23, 2015 at 9:11
  • Well exactly what I said. Since he is not mentioned as "Sidious" there is a chance that the viewer is not aware of them being the same person. There is a chance (based on the original trilogy and Ep1 only) for example that Palpatine is just an apprentice of Sidious. D@mnit there is even a chance that they are not connected! (Because the "there are only two Siths" rule does not seem to be too strict. You see there is at least Sidious, Doku and Maul are present at the same time - not to mention the other spin-off and EU Sith.)
    – mg30rg
    Jan 23, 2015 at 9:32
  • @mg30rg You're wrong with your comment. The rule of two IS strict and Palpatine is enforcing as much as he could. He trained Darth Maul, telling him he was his apprentience (Which wasn't the optimal solution, he didn't want to keep him as such for too long.) and AFTER he was killed, he started to influence Dooku who became a dark jedi first and after killing Sifo-Dyas was named Darth Tyranus and by this accepted as Palps new apprentience. They are around at the same time, but theres always been one, max two Siths.
    – Devaron
    Aug 19, 2016 at 9:01

Came here after wondering this while watching the Phantom Menace. There are some hints that make it obvious in hindsight. I wonder what people thought at the time of release.

The dialogue between Sidious and the trade federation at the beginning of the movie makes it clear that Sidious is able to manipulate the senate. For example,

Sidious: Begin landing your troops.

Trade Federation Leader: My lord, is [invading Naboo] legal?

Sidious: I will make it legal. [4:48]

I have the senate bogged down in procedures. [18:50]

This is coupled with Palpatine being introduced as a senator around [9:08].

After Palpatine is elected chancellor:

I will see to it that in the senate things stay as they are. [1:37:08]

Not to mention that Sidious is meant to be the Phantom Menace.


It's a Dramatic Irony so yes. However Darth Jar Jar unlike Darth Sidious/Palpatine was a twist and wasn't supposed to be known until it happened. But the backlash prevented that. But Yes The Audience was supposed to know Senator/Chancellor Palaptine was Darth Sidious/Emperor Palpatine but the Jedi was blinded and stupid to the fact. Even though Dooku told them the truth they refused to believe it and it was their downfall.

  • 1
    Hi, welcome to SF&F. While it's true that for many people it was obvious that Sidious was Palpatine, do you have any confirmation from the creators that this was intentional?
    – DavidW
    Jul 4, 2021 at 13:57
  • There are some strong assertions here but no evidence to back them up. As it stands, this reads more like a rant than a fully fleshed-out answer
    – Valorum
    Jul 4, 2021 at 18:17

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