‘Star Wars’: Does Emperor Palpatine Have a First Name?

Emperor Palpatine might be in charge of the galaxy — but does he have a first name? In the Star Wars films, he’s variously called “the Emperor,” “Chancellor Palpatine,” and “Darth Sideous” (his Sith lord name), but no first name is ever given. Let’s look through Star Wars films and literature to see if “Palpatine” is his full name.

An Emperor Palpatine cosplayer by the Colosseum
A Palpatine cosplayer | Ernesto Ruscio/Getty Images

When the ‘Star Wars’ fans learned Palpatine’s first name

In the dialogue of The Empire Strikes Back, Palpatine is simply referred to as “the Emperor.” It wasn’t until 19 years later that moviegoers heard the name Palpatine in the dialogue of The Phantom Menace. In that film, it’s unclear if Palpatine is a last name or if Palpatine only had a single name. 

The other films from the prequel trilogy didn’t clarify whether Palpatine was the character’s full name. However, a novel finally did. Tor.com reports James Luceno revealed Palpatine’s first name is Sheev in his novel Tarkin.

The trailer for Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker

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In an interview with Den of Geek, Luceno opened up about his feelings on Palpatine’s name, comparing his last name to the word “palatine” — a term for high-ranking Roman officials. Luceno didn’t feel the first name Sheev fit well with the last name Palpatine. “Palpatine is certainly close enough to Palatine to conjure thoughts about the Roman Empire, patrician life, and power. Even if the name [Sheev] seems [an] odd fit for Palpatine, it does confer the wink, suggesting … sheave, and of course, shiv, which is a slang term for an improvised bladed weapon.”

The religious significance of Palpatine’s name

In addition, Luceno said the name Sheev was designed to recall Shiva, the Hindu god of creation and destruction. It’s very easy to give characters unique and meaningless names in science fiction and fantasy movies. After all, odd names are a hallmark of both of those genres. However, Palpatine’s first name is imbued with deep meaning that relates to his character.

An Emperor Palpatine cosplayer by the Colosseum
Palpatine | Ernesto Ruscio/Getty Images

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It makes sense that Palpatine is named after Shiva. In Hindu mythology, Shiva destroys the world in order to recreate the world. This is similar to Palpatine destroying one world (the Republic) in order to create a new one (the Galactic Empire). In addition, Palpatine had godlike powers. The main difference between Shiva and Palpatine is that Shiva is revered by Hindus while Palpatine is pure evil.

Palpatine’s first name also ties into his origins on the planet of Naboo. Characters from that planet have names derived from Indian words. For example, Padmé Amidala’s name is derived from the padma — a lotus sacred in Hinduism and Buddhism.

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Why Palpatine’s first name isn’t widely known

Interestingly, Palpatine was the main antagonist of Star Wars: The Rise of Skywaler yet his first name was never used onscreen. We’ll have to see if the name Sheev is ever used in one of the movies. If not, Palpatine’s full name will remain an interesting bit of Star Wars trivia.