Anakin Skywalker was known as Darth Vader (this was already his Sith name) after the creation of the Galactic Empire.

So why did Palpatine remain "Emperor Palpatine"? Why didn't he embrace his persona as Darth Sidious?

I started wondering after reading one of the answers to "Why was Count Dooku not given word “Darth” in his name?"

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    "Yes, public, I am a Lord of this ancient death cult! No, public, please don't revolt!" Commented Feb 14, 2012 at 22:10
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    Actually, he became Darth Vader just before Palpatine announced that the Republic would become the Empire. I just watched RotS last night.
    – Anthony
    Commented Feb 14, 2012 at 23:22
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    Palpatine named him Vader before the creation of the Empire, but it was only when he got put into the armour/life-support that he was no longer using the name Anakin Skywalker and everyone called him Vader
    – HorusKol
    Commented Feb 16, 2012 at 1:32
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    According to Leland Chee, the entire Senate were given an audio recording of Windu's attempt to arrest Palpatine. That included his accusation that Palpatine is a Sith Lord. Apparently he refused to confirm or deny it (in the Revenge of the Sith novelization); web.archive.org/web/20080618003401/http://blogs.starwars.com/…
    – Valorum
    Commented Dec 9, 2014 at 18:19
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    @HorusKol I've just posted a new answer which includes some canon quotes (including from the new canon novel Tarkin) which provide greater support for the claims given in the existing answers. Please consider my answer for upvote and/or acceptance.
    – Null
    Commented Jun 11, 2015 at 18:52

6 Answers 6


A lot of politics is perception hiding what is really going on. Yes, those close knew well that Palpatine was a Sith, but to much of the general public, those were just stories and rumors of a far away place that had very little to do with them. What happens in the capital isn't their problem or their concern. And people say all kinds of different things about far away people and places. Who's to say what's true and what isn't?

In the end, Sith or not, Palpatine is still a politician and realizes that as long as most of the people think things are relatively the same as always, then far fewer of them will openly rebel against the order of things. So there's more soldiers about? Just means better security and less crime to the people. And for that, they're willing to dismiss a great deal as rumor and speculation by those who don't care for the status quo.

But people still knew what the Sith were from legends and wars of the past. Were he to openly declare himself in a way that validated it to the public at large, there would be far more rebellion than just the Alliance's small force. So by maintaining the public perception that he was just Emperor Palpatine, more of the public will keep in line. It's all about the show.

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    While I agree with this line of thinking, it doesn't explain why Palpatine would have an Obvious Sith Lord as a right-hand man if he's trying to maintain a clean image. Commented Jan 28, 2012 at 15:09
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    A military commander is not a well known figure. I think it might be different if Vader was constantly there on Coruscant and in the public eye, but commanding fleets and Death Stars across the far flung reaches of the empire does not really bring one into the general public eye. I think again that would fall under rumors of far away people and places. Here in the USA, I can't name a single fleet commander, senior general or member of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and I know very few people that could.
    – BBlake
    Commented Jan 31, 2012 at 13:09
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    @BBlake on the contrary, a great many people could name General Petraeus, but that is likely due to the media exposure. If Palpatine did not want the exposure of Vader, it would not have happened
    – The Fallen
    Commented Jun 22, 2012 at 15:25

Palpatine became Emperor after the Jedi attempted to arrest him and he issued Order 66. This also marked the close of the Clone Wars. As a result, the Republic was transformed into the Empire. The reason for the transformation was given by Palpatine in a speech to the Senate:

In order to ensure our security and continuing stability, the Republic will be reorganized into the first Galactic Empire, for a safe and secure society which I assure you will last for ten thousand years.

Since the Republic had just narrowly defeated the Confederacy and avoided a Jedi takeover (or so the public believed), the Senate thought that this transformation for their "security" was necessary. Palpatine's story that the Jedi had attempted to take over depended greatly on the public perception that Palpatine was an old man viciously attacked and deformed by the Jedi attempting to seize power. But Palpatine's story and hold on power would be undermined if he revealed himself as a Sith Lord:

  1. He would not be viewed as a defenseless old man attacked by the Jedi.
  2. The Jedi attempt to arrest him would appear far less traitorous.
  3. Order 66 would not be viewed as an emergency order to save the Republic from a takeover by the Jedi, but as an opportunistic order given on Palpatine's part to exterminate his ideological enemies.

Needless to say, Palpatine publicly revealing that he was a Sith would severely weaken his hold on power and the legitimacy of the Empire. The public perception of the Jedi Order would probably improve as well. Furthermore, Palpatine was always much more effective as a political ruler than an overt Force-user. He did kill a few Jedi in personal combat during the Clone Wars, but politically he engineered the destruction of the entire Jedi Order.

The canon novel Tarkin contains an interesting excerpt regarding the public knowledge about the Jedi attempt to arrest Palpatine and his identity as a Sith -- namely, that the public did not really know anything. Even Grand Moff Tarkin did not know exactly what happened when the Jedi attempted to arrest Palpatine, nor that Palpatine and Vader were Sith (he only suspected it):

There were many stories about what had occurred that day in the chancellor’s office. The official explanation was that members of the Jedi Order had turned up to arrest Supreme Chancellor Palpatine, and a ferocious duel had ensued. The matter of precisely how the Jedi had been killed or the Emperor’s face deformed had never been settled to everyone’s satisfaction, and so Tarkin had his private thoughts about the Emperor, as well. That he and Vader were kindred spirits suggested that both of them might be Sith.


Only a few knew that Darth Vader was in fact Anakin Skywalker, and those few had no reason to publicize that fact. Prior to the duel on Mustafar and Padme's death, Anakin may have considered his Sith name to be a working title (had Padme lived, he likely would have still let her call him "Ani" in private), but after his own near-death, disfigurement, confinement to the breath suit, but, worst of all, the belief that he'd murdered his "Angel" and their unborn child, all memory of his life up to that was sheer agony. Hence why Vader was angry with his own son for being reminded of the family name. Vader, though to the rest of the Galaxy a powerful figure, second only to the Emperor himself, was behind the mask a sad, lonely, grieving man, in physical and emotional anguish. To most, Palpatine's Sith abilities were unknown. They saw him as the man whose leadership had led the Republic through the Clone wars and who raised the Empire out of its ashes (never mind that Darth Sidious himself lit the fire!). There was EVERY reason to publicly always be Palpatine.


It was never a goal of Darth Sidious to have Sith glorified/famous.

It was his goal to rule the galaxy.

Therefore anything which would have jeopardized the latter goal - such as people starting to be wary about his rule due to remembering last Sith Wars - was subordinated.

As far as Vader, very few people in the general population knew him/of him. He wasn't a public figure.


He was crafting an image of a weak old man being scarred by the Jedi:

Revealing his Sith identity would blow that cover and thus not only risk the galaxy being unable to trust him anymore, but also create many more enemies now that they know the Emperor is a Sith Lord. Keeping the facade of a weak, scarred old man would lower his enemies' guard down. It's one thing to gain power, it's another thing to maintain it.


You seem to be under the impression that once Palpatine was Emperor, he immediately and magically had an irreversible seat of power and could suddenly do whatever he wanted without risk.

This is, of course, nonsense. Just declaring an empire, and declaring himself Emperor, doesn't mean it's now a good idea to turn around and announce to all of your subjects that you're an evil dark Lord.

He still has to maintain power, which doesn't just happen by itself.

  • Is it all that much better to declare your first lieutenant to be an evil dark Lord?
    – HorusKol
    Commented Jun 11, 2015 at 23:17
  • @HorusKol: No, that was really silly :) Commented Jun 11, 2015 at 23:33
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    "I think we might be the bad guys" - "Don't be silly, now let's get back to the Death St.. I mean ship"
    – kylieCatt
    Commented Aug 31, 2015 at 12:33

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