The Rise of Skywalker Novelization Reveals Palpatine Was a Clone: Good or Bad Idea?

The Rise of Skywalker's novelization revealed that Palpatine was indeed a clone in the final film. The Illuminerdi wonders about the wisdom of that choice.
palpatine star wars novelization

A major question that was left unanswered during The Rise of Skywalker was how did Palpatine survive all this time? It seems that the novelization of the film has finally revealed that Palpatine was a clone all along.

The novelization doesn’t officially release until March 17, but Lucasfilm sold advanced copies to attendees at C2E2 in Chicago, with various passages showing up online. One of those leaked passages seems to reveal that Palpatine’s spirit has been transferred into a clone’s body.

“All the vials were empty of liquid save one, which was nearly depleted. Kylo peered closer. He’d seen this apparatus before, too, when he’d studied the Clone Wars as a boy. The liquid flowing into the living nightmare before him was fighting a losing battle to sustain the Emperor’s putrid flesh.

“What could you give me?” Kylo asked. Emperor Palpatine lived, after a fashion, and Kylo could feel in his very bones that this clone body sheltered the Emperor’s actual spirit. It was an imperfect vessel, though, unable to contain his immense power. It couldn’t last much longer.”


The Truth About Palpatine

rey and palpatine

The Emperor being a clone has been a theory amongst Star Wars fans ever since the movie came out. The fact that this is being confirmed in a novelization of the movie and not the movie itself is kind of annoying, however.

The revelation of the Emperor being a clone should have been a huge plot point in the movie, but it was left completely unmentioned until now. This is coming from someone who generally enjoyed The Rise of Skywalker. The movie definitely was not perfect and had some issues, but I found it to be a fun a ride and a fitting end to the sequel characters. That being said, the decision not to reveal the fact that the Emperor was a clone throughout the entirety of the movie was a huge mistake from a storytelling standpoint.

I think Palpatine being revealed as a clone makes sense considering when we last saw him he feel down a shaft in the second Death Star which was then blown to smithereens so survival seemed unlikely. Quite frankly, anything would have been better than the non-answer we got in The Rise of Skywalker. I’m hopeful that future films in the Star Wars franchise will take time to explain these important plot points as opposed to leaving them to the books to explain.

It will be interesting to see if the novel reveals how Palpatine was able to clone himself. Did he always have a clone of himself just in case? Or were one of his followers able to bring him back after his demise in Return of the Jedi?

The concept of the cloning of the Emperor is not foreign to Star Wars fans, as it was previously explored in Legends miniseries Dark Empire by Tom Veitch. The miniseries saw Palpatine return, his spirit migrating to a clone body, and he constructed a vast army that incorporated sophisticated superweapons. The difference between this and what we got is the fact that the clone’s body was actually able to contain Palpatine’s spirit.

It has been said the George Lucas loved Dark Empire. He called it the closest thing to what he would have wanted his sequel trilogy to be. He even went as far as to give copies of Dark Empire to Lucasfilm employees for Christmas one year. For somebody as protective of the source material as George Lucas, this is a pretty significant fact.

What do you guys think about Palpatine being a clone in The Rise of Skywalker? Let us know in the comments below. Also, be sure to keep up to date with us at The Illuminerdi for more updates regarding Star Wars!


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Bryce West

Bryce West is a writer/producer and a grad student at the University of Southern Indiana. West created his first television program at the age of 18 titled, The Film Reel. The Film Reel is a movie and TV talk show that has ran from 2019-present on News Channel 15 in Mt. Carmel, IL.