50 Best 'Star Wars' Characters of All Time

From Mos Eisely aliens to the most dangerous Jedi ever, our updated ranking of the heroes and villains in a galaxy far, far away

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The Emperor
Everett Collection19/50

19. The Emperor

The one story the prequels tell particularly well doesn't really involve the corruption of Anakin Skywalker; rather, it's the one about how the shadowy leader of a religious cult dismantled the republic from within. Senator Sheev Palpatine, a.k.a. "Darth Sidious," only registers in the original trilogy as "Darth Vader's boss," but in Phantom through Sith he's the evil no one recognizes until it's too late. He starts out as a deceptively conscientious politician, who then provokes a war, convinces his colleagues to build him a clone army, gets himself named Supreme Chancellor as an emergency measure, and forges an Empire — all legally. In one of the most loaded images of the whole series, Palpatine flings congressional box-seats at Yoda, showing how he uses democracy as a weapon while simultaneously destroying it. NM

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