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How Emperor Palpatine Was Even More Evil Than You Think

There's no denying that the "Star Wars" universe contains some of the most beloved heroes ever created. From brave Jedi Knights to swashbuckling smugglers with hearts of gold, the galaxy far, far away is filled with inspiring protagonists. At the same time, it's important that we're all honest with ourselves here and admit that, for as cool as the good guys of "Star Wars" are, they can't quite measure up to the IP's host of unforgettable villains. Fans can't get enough of Darth Vader, Boba Fett, General Grievous, and more, with the granddaddy of them all being Darth Sidious — aka the Emperor.

Debuting in 1980's "The Empire Strikes Back," actor Ian McDiarmid's Emperor Palpatine has managed to take a prominent role in every big-screen "Star Wars" era to date. He ruled the galaxy with an iron fist and pit father against son during the original trilogy, went from corrupt politician to zealous dictator in the prequel trilogy, and most recently returned from the grave as the living embodiment of the dark side in the sequel trilogy. Between him featuring heavily in these projects and his presence looming large over several others, Palpatine is clearly the epitome of evil.

The Emperor is recognized as a villainous presence for a handful of reasons, including his devotion to the Sith belief system, the near-complete eradication of the Jedi, and his hostile takeover of the former Galactic Republic. However, there are a few lesser-talked-about things of note that he has done directly or through his Imperial underlings that make him eviler than most give him credit for.

Emperor Palpatine's abduction of Force-sensitive children

At the time of "Star Wars: The Clone Wars," Darth Sidious (voiced by the late Ian Abercrombie) had not yet taken full control of the Republic and was known to the people as Chancellor Palpatine. Although, this facade didn't prevent him from committing horrific acts behind the scenes, such as hiring bounty hunter Cad Bane (Corey Burton) to kidnap Force-sensitive children. Thankfully, Anakin Skywalker (Matt Lanter) and Ahsoka Tano (Ashley Eckstein) put a stop to this scheme, but the soon-to-be Emperor didn't give up on this horrifically immoral practice.

"Star Wars Rebels" furthered this storyline, with Tano saving a Force-sensitive kid, this time from Imperial Inquisitors. "The Star Wars Book" (via Screen Rant) explains that this entire operation was a small part of Project Harvester: an initiative Sidious put together to "identify and capture Force-sensitive children and turn them into agents of the dark side." The book explains that the children are trained by his dark side agents and made into spies capable of helping him root out dissidents from across the cosmos. Luckily, at least a handful of his targets were rescued, but it stands to reason the majority weren't so lucky.

All in all, this was among Palpatine's worst plans, one that's evil nature speaks for itself.

Slavery under Palpatine's Empire

Slavery is a touchy subject in the "Star Wars" universe, one that has been thoroughly explored for some time. It most notably served as the basis for a "Clone Wars" arc set on the planet Kadavo where a race of cat-like humanoids called Zygerrians had established a slave empire. Thankfully, the Galactic Republic shut this operation down and made great strides to abolish others like it, but only got so far by the time Emperor Palpatine took power. As one could imagine, his thoughts on slavery were far less compassionate.

Slavery flourished under the Empire, particularly when it came to alien species, which the regime didn't hide its prejudice toward. Not only did the Zygerrians begin rebuilding their "business" with the Jedi and the Republic gone, but the practice spread to other planets as well. One of the most well-known examples is Kashyyyk, where, as seen in the "Jedi: Fallen Order" video game, innumerable Wookiees were forced to become laborers for the Empire — their uprisings swiftly squashed every time they attempted to break free.

Palpatine had no respect for anyone, seeing all others as mere pawns. His indifference toward the galaxy-wide slaving epidemic says a lot about the kind of person he was.

Palpatine's abuse of Darth Vader

A central element of Emperor Palpatine's plan throughout the original "Star Wars" trilogy was to turn Luke Skywalker (Mark Hamill) against his father, Darth Vader (physically played by David Prowse and voiced by James Earl Jones). At first glance, it may seem as though he just wanted Luke as his apprentice because of his monumental potential in the Force, but in reality, it's because he hoped to ditch Vader in favor of someone "better" — a goal he'd worked to achieve for a long time but never successfully pulled off.

In "Revenge of the Sith," Anakin's (Hayden Christiansen) status as the Chosen One made him the perfect candidate to become Palpatine's Sith protégé. That all changed when he lost his duel to Obi-Wan Kenobi (Ewan McGregor) on Mustafar, resulting in extensive bodily injuries that labeled him as damaged goods in the eyes of his new master. In the years that followed, the Emperor displayed a calloused disinterest in Vader, trying to replace him and using his relationship with Padme Amidala (Natalie Portman) as emotional leverage. Nevertheless, Vader struck down anyone seeking his spot at Palpatine's side and drowned his sadness by delving deeper into the dark side.

It takes a special kind of evil to lie to someone about being able to save their loved ones from death, only to turn around and abuse them physically and emotionally. Yet, Palpatine felt no remorse.

The Emperor's mass murder of the Kaminoans

As we know, the clone army was the backbone of the Galactic Republic throughout the clone war, but it was also an important tool for Emperor Palpatine's annihilation of the Jedi Order. His execution of Order 66 was carried out with minimal resistance from the troops, resulting in most becoming violent, mindless drones for the new Empire. Despite this loyalty, Palpatine and other high-ranking Imperials went ahead with Project War-Mantle as depicted on "Star Wars: The Bad Batch," leading to the abandonment of the cloning program in favor of Stormtrooper recruitment. 

What should have been a simple disbanding of a business agreement turned into a calculated genocide in short order. After forcing the Kaminoans to stop production of clone troopers and destroying Tipoca City with excessive force — preferring to sink years of research into Kamino's ocean as opposed to leaving it for someone else to find down the road — Palpatine was at least partially responsible for the death of several key Kaminoan officials. Presumably, most of the species are wiped out post-clone war, meaning the Emperor was indirectly to blame for their borderline extinction.

Palpatine's interest in cloning is well-documented, and it's plain to see that he would go to murderous lengths to ensure such information was his alone.

Palpatine's temptation of Ben Solo

Emperor Palpatine was killed at the end of "Return of the Jedi" and didn't fully reemerge until "The Rise of Skywalker," but he played a heavy hand in the galaxy's trajectory all the same. Specifically, he found a way to turn Ben Solo (Adam Driver) into the sinister Kylo Ren without so much as meeting him face-to-face. In doing so, he ended a brief era of peace in the galaxy, sent Jedi Master Luke Skywalker into hiding, and partially motivated Ren to kill his father, Han Solo (Harrison Ford), in cold blood.

The "Star Wars" prequel trilogy gives us the broad strokes of Palpatine's influence over Ben via the creation of the First Order and his puppeteering of Supreme Leader Snoke (Andy Serkis). Meanwhile, ancillary media such as the "Star Wars: The Rise of Kylo Ren" comic story fills in the blanks by expanding on Ben's turn to the dark side in vivid detail. In fact, issue four shows a reanimated Palpatine communicating with the former Jedi through Snoke, giving him the push he needed to complete his turn, become the leader of the Knights of Ren, and leave his old life behind (via Comic Book).

Whether he's manipulating political bodies, wiping out entire populations, or preying on lost, confused Force users, one thing is abundantly clear: Emperor Palpatine is one evil being.