There is no doubt that Palpatine was always the hungriest for power in the world of Star Wars, as he did everything possible to make sure that he rose to power as the emperor while bringing the Jedi Order down in the process of doing so. Of course, recruiting Anakin as his new apprentice was a huge part of his plan to destroy the Jedi Order. Then again, after the rise of the Empire and Anakin’s injuries, Palpatine merely used Anakin/Darth Vader as a guard dog that he ordered around to kill Jedi survivors and Rebels. So, what was Palpatine’s original plan for Anakin?
It has been speculated that Palpatine originally wanted to somewhat take over Anakin’s body so that he could continue to live in a younger and more powerful body. This theory came about when it was revealed in Star Wars Episode IX: The Rise of Skywalker that Palpatine wanted to take over Rey’s body.
Palpatine had access to dark and unnatural powers, so he could take over a person’s body and transfer his life essence into them. In that regard, he might have planned to take over Anakin’s body as well because he knew that the Chosen One had the potential to become more powerful than any other Force user in history. Now, let’s look at the reason why Palpatine wanted Anakin.
Why Was Palpatine So Obsessed with Anakin?
Throughout the storyline of Palpatine in Star Wars, it is clear that he is a power-hungry Sith Lord who uses everything at his disposal to get what he wants. In that regard, he manipulated the entire galaxy to go to war so that he could use this as a way for him to rise as the top dog of the entire galaxy while bringing the Jedi Order down in the process of doing so. But before bringing the Jedi down, he focused on Anakin Skywalker.
In Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace, Anakin is revealed to have a midi-chlorian count higher than anyone in the history of Star Wars. That prompted Qui-Gon Jinn to believe he could be the prophesized Chosen One that would bring balance to the Force. Of course, being the cunning manipulator that he always was, Palpatine also set his eyes on Anakin after sensing his innate talents.
The fact that Anakin had higher raw potential than anyone else’s made Palpatine obsessed with him. While he followed the Rule of Two by taking on an apprentice in the form of Count Dooku, it was always within their plans to force Anakin down the path of darkness and make him Palpatine’s new apprentice. That was why Dooku was goading him into using his inner darkness in their duel in Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith, as he knew Palpatine wanted Anakin to be his new apprentice. But what Dooku didn’t know was that Palpatine wanted to completely eliminate Dooku from the equation.
Palpatine wanted Anakin because doing so would have allowed him to secure his place as the galaxy emperor. After all, Anakin’s innate potential exceeded that of Yoda’s own powers. And it was customary for the Sith to seek out a stronger apprentice to continue the line of Sith for generations to come. The apprentice needed to be stronger than the master to ensure that the Sith could remain powerful.
What Was Palpatine’s Original Plan for Anakin?
During the events of Revenge of the Sith, Palpatine boasts about how Anakin is steadily becoming more powerful than him and Yoda. Of course, a master would always want an apprentice to be stronger. And this has always been what the Sith practiced for several generations ever since the Rule of Two was created by Darth Bane.
As the last remaining Sith Lord, more than a thousand years before Palpatine’s time, Darth Bane realized that the Sith had lost to the Jedi due to the infighting within the Sith Order. That was because the Sith Lords were naturally selfish and power-hungry. As such, they often fought one another in pursuit of power, only to lose to the Jedi due to the infighting within the Sith.
That was when Darth Bane created the Rule of Two, which mandated that only two Sith Lords should exist at any given time. The master embodied the dark side of the Force, whereas the apprentice embodied the hunger to seek the power that the master possessed. And the Rule of Two was created to make sure that the Sith could operate under the Jedi’s noses without getting caught while becoming more and more powerful.
The Rule of Two also required the apprentice to eventually overthrow the master by becoming stronger than them. But if the apprentice was weaker, the master could always find a new apprentice that could eventually become stronger. And that was what Anakin seemingly was to Palpatine, as he might have wanted Darth Vader to take his place as the new master of the Sith in the future.
This explains why Palpatine boasted to Yoda that Darth Vader was becoming stronger and stronger as his hatred and darkness grew. He might have wanted Vader to eventually succeed him as the master of the Sith Order but also the emperor of the galaxy.
But the events of Star Wars Episode IX: The Rise of Skywalker changed all that when Palpatine returned as a frail clone that didn’t have the same powers that he once had. He wanted Kylo Ren to take Rey to him so that he could take over her body and rule as the empress of the galaxy. And Rey’s innate talents and ties to the Palpatine bloodline made her the prime candidate for Palpatine’s new body.
In that regard, it was more than possible that Palpatine was grooming Anakin to become strong so that he could eventually take over his body by transferring his essence to him. While it may be true that he was following the Rule of Two and was seemingly grooming Anakin to eventually replace him, Palpatine was always hungrier for power than anyone else in the entire galaxy and was not about to give up his power to Anakin.
As such, if he could find a way to rule as the emperor of the galaxy and the master of the Sith forever, he would have done so. We know he might have found the means to do so due to the experiments and research he and Darth Plagueis presumably conducted. As Palpatine once told Anakin, the dark side is the gateway for abilities many consider unnatural. And the ability to transfer one’s spirit to another body could be one of the abilities that he was talking about.
Why Did Palpatine Change His Plans?
Of course, we all know that Palpatine never tried to take Anakin’s body over. Anakin lost to Obi-Wan Kenobi and nearly died on Mustafar if not for Palpatine’s arrival. But after Anakin lost, he was no longer the same because he lost all his limbs and had them replaced with cybernetic parts. Moreover, he had to wear a life-support suit the entire time.
Anakin’s potential weakened due to what happened to him. While Darth Vader was still much more powerful than almost any other Jedi at that time, the ceiling of his powers drastically dropped because his midi-chlorian count also went down when he lost his limbs and became more machine than man.
As such, Palpatine never tried to take over Vader’s body and didn’t even try to groom him as the next emperor of the galaxy. Instead, he kept Vader around to be his glorified bodyguard and enforcer because he knew he could manipulate him by tapping into the anger he built up through time. But after Anakin lost to Obi-Wan, Palpatine never intended for Vader to become anything more than just his enforcer.
That was why it was so easy for Palpatine to discard Vader after he saw just how strong Luke Skywalker was when he defeated his father. Palpatine saw another potential apprentice that he could groom and probably possess in the future. In a sense, he was just waiting for someone stronger than Vader to come.