The canon storyline of Star Wars has always had one overarching villain in the Skywalker Saga. We are talking about Sheev Palpatine, who was secretly Darth Sidious the entire time and was able to manipulate the entire galaxy to become the emperor while destroying the Jed Order in the process. Of course, he wasn’t only cunning and manipulative but was also immensely powerful. So, just how strong was Palpatine, and how did he compare to other powerful Sith and Jedi?
Palpatine was arguably the strongest Force user in the current Star Wars canon and was much stronger than most Sith and Jedi. However, he was only marginally stronger than Yoda and Mace Windu. Anakin had the potential to become more powerful than Palpatine but wasn’t able to reach his full power.
Because of how the Rule of Two of the Sith was designed, Palpatine was supposed to be incredibly powerful and was also the strongest Sith in a thousand years as far as the current canon is concerned. So, with that said, let’s look at just how powerful Sheev Palpatine was and how he compares to the other powerful Force users in Star Wars.
How Powerful Was Palpatine Exactly?
The world of Star Wars is full of incredibly powerful individuals that are gifted in the Force. In fact, the strongest characters are all capable of using the Force. However, as strong as some other Force users may be, only a few stand head and shoulders above the rest. One such character was Palpatine, who was always the overarching antagonist of the nine main Star Wars movies.
While we’ve seen our fair share of antagonists in Star Wars, Palpatine was always the one that was working behind the shadows as the master manipulator that determined the outcome of every single event in the storyline. That was how he eventually became the most powerful being in the galaxy as far as his political and military power was concerned. But what about his actual power?
We can’t argue that Palpatine’s power was supreme regarding his political pull and military prowess because he influenced the entire galaxy as the Supreme Chancellor before rising to become the emperor. However, he was also incredibly powerful in the Force and one of the best lightsaber duelists in the storyline.
Palpatine’s ability to use the Force was highlighted in the fact that he could keep himself hidden from the senses of the Jedi, who were known to be strong enough to sense if someone was powerful in the Force. But because he was incredibly gifted in the Force and was a master of the dark side, Palpatine could mask the fact that he had the power to use the Force even when there were Jedi Masters in the same room as him. His power in the Force was so great that he could cloud it and make it harder for the Jedi to use their gifts of foresight to see things about to come.
Palpatine was a masterful user of telekinesis, as he could overwhelm Yoda in their fight. Although Yoda was strong enough to match Palpatine’s sword skills, he certainly saw how futile it was to fight the emperor when he realized that Darth Sidious’ power in the Force was greater. In fact, in the novelization of Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith, Yoda realized that Sidious was so much more powerful in the Force when their powers clashed.
It was also suggested in the same novelization that Darth Sidious might have had a good chance to defeat Mace Windu with his Force lightning if he didn’t pull back to allow Anakin to see that he had become “weak and deformed.” We certainly saw how Windu struggled to try to block and deflect Palpatine’s lightning in that duel.
There’s also his ability to use the lightsaber. Palpatine was so gifted in sword skills that he could cut down three fully-trained Jedi Masters with his lightsaber combat skills in a few seconds before battling Windu in a hard-fought duel. We saw he was strong enough to match Mace Windu and Yoda in lightsaber combat on separate occasions.
Of course, Palpatine’s strength and immense power were the products of nearly a thousand years of preparation on the part of the Sith. For nearly a millennium, the Sith practiced the Rule of Two to ensure they could stay hidden from the Jedi while they planned to bring the Jedi Order down. However, the Rule of Two had one more purpose.
Because the Rule of Two required the Sith to have only two members—a master and an apprentice—the Sith Lords were designed to become stronger than the previous generations. The master was meant to represent the full power of the dark side, while the apprentice craved this power. As such, the apprentice was supposed to work hard enough to become stronger than the master. This ensured that every apprentice would eventually become powerful enough to overthrow the master and become the new master before a new apprentice ended up overthrowing them.
Since Palpatine was the culmination of around a thousand years of apprentices becoming strong enough to overthrow their masters, he was the most powerful Sith Lord in a thousand years. He was far stronger than any of his predecessors. And when he acquired the power of all of the Sith during the events of Star Wars Episode IX: The Rise of Skywalker, his strength in the dark side was the combination of all of the Sith Lords that came before him, such that he could use his Force lightning to cripple the fleet of Resistance ships that tried to bring down the Final Order armada.
How Palpatine Compares to Other Jedi and Sith?
Let’s look at how Palpatine compares to the other powerful Force users in Star Wars.
Anakin Skywalker/Darth Vader
Because Palpatine and Darth Plagueis presumably acquired the knowledge to transfer their essence from one body to another, it was suggested that Sidious wanted Anakin to fall to the dark side so that he could eventually take over his body. In a sense, he never wanted Skywalker to become his successor as the emperor. Still, he was looking to take over Darth Vader’s body because Anakin had the potential to become twice as powerful as Sidious.
But because Anakin’s body became weaker due to his injuries after the battle with Obi-Wan Kenobi, his potential in the Force diminished. While Vader was still a lot stronger than most Jedi and Sith, he wasn’t strong enough to overthrow his master during the reign of the Empire. Had Anakin never gotten injured, he would have been stronger than Palpatine.
Darth Maul was Palpatine’s first apprentice, meaning that Darth Sidious saw the immense potential in him as a user of the dark side. However, Maul lost to Obi-Wan Kenobi in their duel in Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace and had presumably peaked in terms of his power because he never got to continue training under Palpatine due to his failure.
Of course, losing to Obi-Wan is one thing, but losing to Palpatine is entirely different. As such, we saw how wide the gap between Maul and Sidious was when they fought in Star Wars: Clone Wars. Maul and his brother, Savage Opress, were thoroughly outclassed by Darth Sidious, who didn’t even break a sweat in that fight.
While he may not have been the strongest duelist in the Jedi Order (that acknowledgment probably belongs to Mace Windu), Yoda’s powers in the Force were second to none in the Jedi Order. As such, no one was stronger than him in the Jedi Order regarding overall capabilities, as he lived for 900 years and had grown far stronger in the Force than most of the other Jedi that came before him.
Yoda matched Palpatine’s prowess with the lightsaber during their duel, and many would argue that he might have beaten the emperor in a strict sword fight. However, Yoda acknowledged the gap in their power in the Force when Palpatine started to effortlessly use telekinesis on him and outmatched his opponent. That was why Yoda went into exile and never tried assassinating the emperor again.