'Star Wars' Rumors: Obi-Wan Kenobi & Emperor Palpatine as Ghosts?

August 16, 2013
Source: Latino Review

Emperor Palpatine / Obi-Wan Kenobi

It's been awhile since we had a juicy Star Wars: Episode VII rumor, and a couple eyebrow-raising bits just popped up on the Internet, so let's explore them shall we? While there are no story details that have surfaced regarding the anticipated sequel to one of the most highly regarded trilogies of all-time, director J.J. Abrams has kept things even more hush-hush then usual, and not even Disney's D23 Expo unveiled any tidbits (SlashFilm's Germain Lussier does a great write-up on Lucasfilm's absence right here). But now two rumors have surfaced regarding the return of two iconic characters. But these characters are dead. Read on!

First up, there's been a rumor swirling that Ian McDiarmid, who played the scheming senator and secret Sith Lord Darth Sidious, who would become Emperor Palpatine at the end of Revenge of the Sith. With this rumor, there came an assumption that there was a clone of Palpatine that no one knew about, and considering his hand in creating the clone army from Jango Fett (not to mention the use of a clone in the books and comics), that didn't seem unreasonable. However, Latino Review has word that McDiarmid will return in another capacity, and that information comes with potential plot details, so if you don't want any spoilers, you should stop reading now.

Supposedly, Palpatine would be returning as a Force Ghost, not unlike the presence of Obi-Wan Kenobi in The Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi. However, along with this little detail, Palpatine apparently had a new apprentice before he was killed, which doesn't necessarily jive with the Sith's rules of only having two members at any given time. But perhaps Palpatine felt that Darth Vader might betray him for his son Luke, and made a back-up apprentice so that he wouldn't completely lose power. This is all just a big rumor right now, so take it with a grain of salt. But there's another…

As we said, at the end of Return of the Jedi, Luke Skywalker waves to a trio of ghosts in the form of Obi-Wan Kenobi, Yoda and his father, Anakin Skywalker. In the special edition DVD and Blu-Ray releases of the film, Hayden Christensen was added in as Anakin as opposed to Sebastian Shaw, the man who was unmasked on the second Death Star and became a ghost after his death. Now there's a rumor that Obi-Wan Kenobi's presence might also be felt in the sequels as his ghost will still be around in some capacity. However, what's causing a bit of skepticism on our part is that this presence would now be played by Ewan McGregor, who played Kenobi in the prequels. And that's just silly.

Now we all know that Sir Alec Guiness is dead, so he can't exactly play Obi-Wan Kenobi. But unless the plan is to make McGregor look very old like Alec Guiness, that plan seems a little far-fetched. And if their plan is to have McGregor play a young ghost version of Kenobi, that doesn't make sense either since the reason Lucas switched out Shaw for Christensen in the later releases of Return of the Jedi was because of who Skywalker was before he turned to the dark side and that's who he became when he actually died on the second Death Star. Honestly, it all sounds ridiculous when you type it out like this, and we're not sure we buy this rumor either. One other thing this story says though is that McGregor is keen on doing a standalone film as Kenobi, so we'll see if that ever happens. But for now, let's hope we hear something official soon.

Find more posts: Movie News, Rumors, Star Wars



That sounds stupid, I wish they would just keep the world and the themes, but get new people and a new story.

MattPeloquin on Aug 16, 2013


Anakin could be used as a force-ghost, but using Obi-wan would be plain stupid. I have no issue with Palpatine as a force-ghost or with a previous unknown apprentice. The law of only two Sith is in the novels, not the films, plus Vader was attempting to seduce Luke to the dark side while Palpatine was getting ready to replace Vader with Luke. No reason why Palpatine didn't have another apprentice in the pipeline to replace Vader until Luke showed up and became his priority. Using Palpatine also enforces his role as the main nemesis throughout all the films

Steven on Aug 16, 2013


What? The two-Sith rule has been movie canon since Episode 1 - Yoda's line: "Only two there are, no more, no less. A master and an apprentice." It was never mentioned in the books, as far as I recall... on the contrary, the EU novels and comics have been chock full of Sith / Dark Jedi characters that would violate this rule. The Palpatine-as-Force-ghost rumor feels like bull to me, because the whole point of Anakin becoming a Force ghost was that he was redeemed. Sith don't get the luxury of returning as a spirit - and while you *could* fudge with this aspect of canon if you really wanted to, you'd risk undermining Anakin's redemption arc as the Chosen One: if he didn't REALLY defeat Palpatine and bring balance to the Force, what gives? However, having an apprentice lined up might still make sense if they tied it in with the hints about Darth Plagueis "creating life" from midichlorians - perhaps he passed this knowledge onto Palpatine and ol' Palpy was able to conjure something up before he left. Eh, I just really hope that whatever they do, they're mindful of the finer points of saga continuity. People bash Lucas but this is why I'm glad he's still consulting.

Ali Miller on Aug 16, 2013


Totally forgot about that line in TPM 🙂 That being the case and forgetting the video game, Vader didn't have an apprentice .... In regard to the Chosen One, it was once said by Lucas the films were about Anakin's rise, fall and redemption, but that's pretty much out of the window now with new films.

Steven on Aug 16, 2013


The video game "Force Unleashed" is considered actual event's that happened after episode 3 so Vader did actually have a an apprentice after all and that rule that was mentioned about only being two that was something philosophized by Darth Bane back in the Old Republic storyline where he observed when the Sith band together against the Jedi and conquer their rule the Sith suddenly turn on each other for selfish gain where the Jedi gain from this flaw and rise again. After realizing this trait amongst the Sith pact he made the rule where there can only be two or else the Sith can drive themselves into instinction. So, there can only be two as long as the third remains in the shadows. In the Novel of Darth Sidious he trained Darth Maul secretly to over take his Master Darth Plagues after realizing his master created a new life (Anakin) through midichlorian manipulation. Darth Sidious betrayed his master out of jealous knowing that his creation will replace him so instead he acted fast in destroying his master first. Darth Sidious was only aware of this new skill his master showed him but didn't fully learn the skill to use it on his own but he used this information as a way to seduce Anakin to the darkside of the Force. There can be more than 2 Sith because the only way to kill a master is if the apprentice has his own pupil help to destroy the Master which is something Darth Vader tried to do because his nearly tarnished body can't handle Darth Sidious alone.

BinaryChaos on Aug 17, 2013


Darth Plagueis didn't pass the knowledge onto Palpatine he was only aware of Darth Plagueis' midichlorian manipulation Force power. Darth Sidious grew eager to learn more about the darkside but decided to take upon an apprentice named Darth Maul while his growing ambitions to build his empire was becoming a reality as he grew allied with Count Dooku whom grew frustrated with the failures of the Jedi. There were more Sith present than what it seemed in the movies but if you read the novel there were more happening but you come to realize that Palpatine was pulling all the strings ever since he came across Darth Plagueis whom fell into his trap after helping Palpatine get more political gain.

BinaryChaos on Aug 17, 2013


Actually, in the novels that deal with an older luke teaching a younger generation, it states that the force doesnt always provide clarity, that luke still struggled with the dark side influences, and that the vision of the force on both sides -light and dark- is wrong or incomplete, there are other aspects not seen by ppl in the humanoid galaxies. Re vergere/yuzaan vong.

aceb on Aug 18, 2013


I see what you mean, I mean General Grievous was a sith but I don't believe it counted as he was a droid. The only thing I've ever seen disturb the two sith rule is video games(Star Wars games rule) and those clone wars cartoons(which I don't like at all, giving Anakin an Apprentice when he was not even a master, not even when he was put on the council).

Fidel Reyes on Aug 16, 2013


These are just rumors but if they are planning on keeping with canon (sorry people who hate George and/or The Clone Wars) the Sith cannot become force ghosts (please do not look at examples from the expanded universe, they do represent the true star wars story). I also expect them to be dealing with a left over regime from the empires final days (No, not Thrawn, stop looking at the EU). Palps should not be the baddy. Obi-Wan could definitely be in the sequels..if Alec Guinness were still alive, if they want to use Ewan (which I do not have a problem with, especially if they do a Kenobi stand alone picture from between Ep III and IV) then they should probably retcon it by explaining that force ghosts can appear however they wish and perhaps after Anakin regressed to his earlier look perhaps Obi decided he would to? I honestly vote for Obi-Wan (and Anakin)to be at rest with CG Yoda ghost being at the forefront with Qui-Gon coming into the fold, explaining the greater aspects of the force to an elderly Luke and/or Luke's apprentice, whoever that may be.

Dresden on Aug 16, 2013


Where is it said in the films that the sith can't become force-ghosts ? This could be what Palpatine means by immortality when talking to Anakin in the Opera. IMO Palpatine should always been the shadowy force behind any new baddy, he was in the prequels and the original so its keeps with the legacy of Star Wars. Suggesting it could be explained that Obi-wan can now look younger as a force-ghost would be really lame. Though I would love to see Ewan do a stand-alone film between Episodes 3 & 4.

Steven on Aug 16, 2013


It'sin George's notes (forgive me for not finding an exact source, holding an infant and typing with one hand) that the reason sith try to hold on forever andtheir attachment issues and their fearis because they believe all that matters is now. They try to control death to hang on to it all. The Dark Side has also corrupted them to the point where their spirit is destroyed before they even die. I know the younger look explanation would be lame but there's only so much that can be done if they bring obi-wan back.

Dresden on Aug 16, 2013


I know the problem of typing with an infant 🙂 I'm not sure on the source either, but it sounds familiar. TBH I think it might be better not to bring either back unless its done very, very well.

Steven on Aug 16, 2013


This rumor is lame. Let's hope it's not true. If you're going to have ghosts popping up all the time, you might as well have Qui Gon Ginn, Nick Fury and that dude with the cone head appear too.

TheOct8pus on Aug 16, 2013


Kenobi appearing young as a force ghost could be worked out in the script easily. If Luke is still alive, teaching new Jedi's, then why wouldn't he still be communicating with Kenobi, his mentor? Doesn't seem that far fetched to me. Remember, this is a fantasy universe where the script writer can go in numerous directions. However, I think readers are getting too caught up in this rumor. By the way Ethan, even though I love rumors, this one seems a little weak to report...I seem to remember Alex reminding me that reporting rumors, unless verifiable through more than once credible source, aren't worth reporting. Just sayin'. (Referring to the question I posted in an earlier article about Orlando Bloom playing Batman rumor, which appears to be false)

Quanah on Aug 16, 2013


I think Luke should not appear, and not even be mentioned, and then briefly return later in the series. Just use Han as the tether to the previous three, if you must do that.

OfficialJab on Aug 16, 2013


I'm up for that. Bringing Palpatine back full-on would sort of under-mind Return of the Jedi. But using his ghost to set up/transition to the next big bad would be very organic. I'm also up for McGregor returning as ghost Kenobi...heck, I'd also be cool with Christensen returning for ghost Anakin. OBVIOUSLY McGregor would be made to look as similar to Guinness as humanly possible...I doubt they would have playing a ghost of Obi Wan that was all of a sudden young again.

Chris Groves on Aug 16, 2013


Jar Jar Binks and Jar Jar Abrams in one movie? Awesome.

cobrazombie on Aug 16, 2013


"And in the time of greatest despair, there shall come a savior, and he shall be known as THE SON OF THE SUNS."―Journal of the Whills, 3:127[src]

Michael Jon deMo on Aug 16, 2013


As it stands right now, I don't think Palpatine should return as a Force Ghost. While I realize that The Clone Wars series isn't the films [spoilers] Darth Maul comes back via the dark side as flesh and blood in the series, because "the dark side is a pathway to many abilities some consider to be unnatural," as Palpatine said in Ep. III. The dark side doesn't believe in anything but preserving their own flesh and blood, and the dark side can provide that ability if enough of the body is preserved after death. Lucas was very hands on with the series, so to negate what was clearly establish there wouldn't be right. Palpatine's body was incinerated at the end of ROTJ, so it would be impossible for his body to be preserved, and to return as a force ghost would not only negate what was established in The Clone Wars series, but also cancel out the victory at the end of ROTJ.[end spoiler] He's been dead in our minds for over 30 years. Give us a new villain. Perhaps Ian McDiarmid could play him as a hologram recording left over from before he died, but other than that, leave Palpatine out of the new films. As far as Ewan McGregor returning as a force ghost, I have no problem with this. Alec Guiness is dead, and McGregor can be made up to look old. He's a great actor, and did a great job with him in the prequels. Totally welcome this, as well as Yoda returning as a force ghost, which, in my opinion would be the best choice.

dangeer on Aug 17, 2013


It would be severely dumb and disappointing if Palpatine was brought back in any form. I hope it's just a rumor. If it isn't just a rumor, it's obvious we're going to be left with a half-ass storyline more suited for a video game as opposed to a unique and layered story.

Drew on Aug 23, 2013

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