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Star Wars' Force Storm: Palpatine's Deadliest Sith Power, Explained

When he's fully introduced in 1983's "Star Wars: Episode VI – Return of the Jedi," the villainous yet more evil than you think Emperor Palpatine (Ian McDiarmid) doesn't seem like much of a threat. He's old, shriveled, and walks with a cane, after all. However, by the film's end, he makes it clear that he's one of the most powerful Sith in the "Star Wars" universe. He shoots lightning from his fingers, accelerating Darth Vader's (James Earl Jones, David Prowse) death and dealing immense damage to Luke Skywalker (Mark Hamill). The "Star Wars" prequel films expand on his dark side strength, but no canon project has displayed his greatest Force feat.

In the non-canon "Star Wars" Legends continuity, Palpatine — revived through cloning following his demise aboard the Death Star II — is seen using dark side entities known as Force storms to his advantage. These are hyperspace wormholes created by way of the Force, which are capable of vast amounts of planet-wide destruction once formed. They're even able to move objects from one location to another in the blink of an eye. Force storms are incredibly unruly and difficult for even the most dedicated Force-user to control, as evidenced by the fact that Palpatine was engulfed in one and ultimately killed during the "Star Wars: Dark Empire" storyline.

Speaking to the unpredictability of Force storms, one of the central creatives behind their "Star Wars" introduction and "Dark Empire" has shared that there's more to them than the story explains.

Force storms require highly specific circumstances to exist

In both "Star Wars" canon and Legends, Emperor Palpatine's Force abilities are well-documented. Force grip, telekinesis, and the aforementioned Force lightning are among his most frequently-used, knowing when and how to implement them as a master of the dark side. The main aspect of these skills to bear in mind is that they're able to be used whenever Palpatine sees fit. He merely has to make them happen using his connection to the Force. As it turns out, Force storms work a bit differently and aren't so easily accessed.

The writer behind "Star Wars: Dark Empire," Tom Veitch, explained in 2016 that there's more to Force storms than the story lets on. Speaking with Star Wars Underworld, he revealed that, despite his immense power, Palpatine can't simply summon a Force storm whenever he feels like it. "They are in fact a phenomenon that occurs rarely, when the minds of two great Force users meet and struggle with each other at a distance," Veitch said. In the case of "Dark Empire," Palpatine was in battle with Luke, his sister, Leia Organa (Carrie Fisher), and, technically, the son of her and Han Solo (Harrison Ford, who was almost killed by a "Star Wars" movie), Anakin.

As the canon understanding of the Force continues to evolve as the "Star Wars" franchise expands, one has to wonder if Force storms will appear in continuity someday, or if they'll remain an oft-forgotten Legends concept forevermore.