The Death of Padmé Amidala

A friend recently shared an article with me which speculates on why Padmé Amidala dies at the end of Revenge of the Sith. In this article, author Joseph Tavano goes to great lengths to argue that Padmé did not die from a “broken heart.” Instead, Tavano presents the thesis that the reason for Padmé’s death is that Darth Sidious was quite literally ripping the Living Force from her. For the sake of brevity, and because I do not want to take it upon myself to rehash the entire article, I suggest you read the piece for yourself to have a fuller appreciation for Mr. Tavano idea. You can find the article here: Padmé Didn’t Die of a Broken Heart. And, in case you want to re-watch the scene in which Padmé dies, here it is:

When my friend – Michael Miller from the blog My Comic Relief – shared the article with me, it was actually the second (or third, or fourth) time I had been presented with this particular answer to Padmé’s curious death at the end of Revenge of the Sith. In fact, I had already read this particular article before and had also engaged in similar conversations about this possibility in the past with other friends. Still, even though I had already read the piece and reflected on this possibility, since Michael was sharing the article with me, I thought I would re-read it and give him my thoughts. And, because I love talking Star Wars (I am the Imperial Talker after all), I figured I would share these same thoughts with y’all.

As I told Miller, I really have no problem with this particular theory regarding Padmé’s death. In fact, I find it entirely plausible and perhaps likely. The thought that Darth Sidious – a powerful Sith Lord with arcane abilities that go beyond reason – could, from a galactic distance, siphon the Force from a living being is a tantalizing thought. After all, in The Clone Wars episode “The Lost One” Sidious is able to Force choke his apprentice, Darth Tyrannus, although they are separated by many light-years. In turn, when one also throws into the conversation the tale of Darth Plagueis the Wise- the Dark Lord of the Sith who we know was Sidious’ Master – and Plagueis’ ability to manipulate the Force to keep individuals from dying, the possibility that Sidious did the same with thing with Vader, at Padmé’s expense, grows stronger. It is true, of course, that Sidious tells Anakin Skywalker (after the young Jedi pledges allegiance to the Sith Lord) that “to cheat death is a power only one [Plagueis] has achieved.” However, it is also perfectly reasonable that this is yet another moment in which Sidious manipulates Anakin, withholding the truth that Sidious, having learned from his own Master, already knows how to keep individuals alive. In this vein, while on the surface Sidious purports to be ignorant of the ability, this would merely serve as misdirection, pointing blame for Padmé’s death away from Sidious and placing it squarely on Anakin/Vader’s shoulders. Sidious does, after all, tell the newly minted Sith Lord that “in your [Vader’s] anger, you killed her,” yet another possible example of Sidious toying with the mind of the already tormented man.

youkilledher
Sidious looks at Vader after telling the new Sith Lord that Vader’s anger killed Padmé.
Photo Credit – Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith

I would suggest, though, that alternative possibilities exist regarding Padme’s death, possibilities that stray from Mr. Tavano’s piece. For example, while Tavano adamantly opposes the notion that Padmé died from a broken heart, I actually have no personal qualms with it. Broken heart syndrome is a real medical issue, and while it is often not fatal, it can in some instances lead to complications which might result in death. This is not to suggest that Padmé actually died from broken heart syndrome, merely that it is a possibility I am not opposed to entertaining.

Further, I have also wondered whether Padmé died as a result of her connection with Anakin through the Force, a connection built upon the love the two shared. This is not to suggest Anakin-turned-Vader willingly or knowingly killed Padmé, but instead that as Anakin was on the cusp of death, the Living Force in Padmé flowed away from her to her beloved. While Padmé may not be a “Force-user” in the way Anakin is, she is never-the-less intrinsically connected to the mystical energy field; she is, as Yoda would say, a “luminous being.” And so, I cannot help but wonder if the reason Padmé lost the will to live, as the medical droid explains in the scene, was because in her final moments she was quite literally willing Anakin to live, intentionally passing the Living Force within her to him. In this way, it was Padmé – and not some outside presence like Sidious – who chose to sacrifice herself to sustain Anakin. Like I said, it’s an idea that I have considered, and perhaps it’ll be one I develop as a post down the road. 

In the end, when it comes to Padmé’s death, I am perfectly fine with no official or objective explanation ever being given. While I am sure there is some very clear “Star Warsie” reason for her dying, I find it personally unnecessary to know with any certainty why she died. Honestly, I think it is better this way. Leaving her death unresolved opens the door for the imagination to fill in the gaps, allowing individuals like Tavano – and you and I – to come up ideas and theories about why Padmé died. That being said, leave a comment and tell me what idea(s) and theories you have about Padmé’s curious death in Revenge of the Sith


Check out these other posts about Padmé Amidala:

The Funeral of Padmé Amidala

Star Wars: Padmé

13 comments

  1. Great stuff here. I always kind of figured it to be a culmination of things. Choked to the point of passing out, child birth, heart break, and the imbalance in the Force. Dave Filoni explained it a while back and I love it:

    “They aren’t just Jedi because they’re force intuitive. Everybody is force intuitive. Han is, he just doesn’t realize it. He just calls it luck, right? But when he is in the moment doing what he loves best — flying, out on the edge — well, he’s probably tapped into the force. Not per se, how Luke is, he doesn’t have that level of control. But the whole point of it, George would say, is that we’re all connected to it in some way.”

    Padme, I believe, was like this. A luminous being, as you quoted from Yoda. She has that air about her, similar to Leia, and her children certainly have that power too. There are moments throughout the prequels, particularly in RotS, that support this too. She is always poised for the moment and has a sense of what is happening to Anakin as it happens, despite her not wanting to admit it.

    So yeah, that’s how I see it: all things factoring into her demise. I agree that I’m okay with not really knowing, though. It is more powerful that way. We don’t really need an explanation for that sadness.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I love that you mentioned the Filoni quote. It is so easy to forget that literally everything in Star Wars is connected through the Force, and since Life creates the Force, all Life has a sacred connection to it. I love that in the first episode of TCW first season, Yoda explains to the three clone troopers that each are unique individuals in the Force, and that even they can call upon the Force to calm their minds. And, in Catalyst, we see glimpses of this – whether intentional or not – when Lyra Erso is reflecting on and thinking about the Force. She clearly senses something, even if she cannot directly identify what that something is.

      So yeah, I totally agree with you, Padme is definitely a luminous being who has her own connection with the Force, a connection distinct to her that she could, I believe, call upon in small ways even if she was not doing so consciously.

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    2. Yes, she and Anakin seem to share a deeper connection via the Force as seen when they seem to look at each other through the windows in ROTS. She knows something bad is happening.

      Clone Wars in interesting as is this idea of ‘luminous beings’. There are two instances of ‘luminous beings’ in Clone Wars. First, the Angel of Iego which is what Anakin describes Padme as in episode one. They literally are luminous. Its also voiced by Cat Taber who played Padme in the series. Second the Daughter on Mortis. Whereas the Son was designed to incorporate many connections to sith users from the EU, the daughter looks remarkably like Padme, down to the twin buns. Anakin drains her life force to resurrect Ashoka. I wonder if Anakin could instinctively see Padme’s ‘light’. If, to him, when he was 9 she looked luminous due to his high level Force intuition.

      Or perhaps, as I’ve seen argued before, the theme of Episode 1, symbiotic relationships is true with Anakin and Padme. They have a connection that can’t be replicated. If the force guides us all, is the light made stronger by love? That would seem to be the theme of episode 6. Their love made the symbiotic force bond stronger. Anakin says ‘I can’t live without her’, she literally can’t live without him. The same way the Gungans and Nubians need each other and are stronger together. Padme thinks in 3 her love will guide him out of the darkness but they are interrupted by Obi Wan and Anakin’s hate takes over. There is no such problem for Luke in 6.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Great stuff here. I always kind of figured it to be a culmination of things. Choked to the point of passing out, child birth, heart break, and the imbalance in the Force. Dave Filoni explained it a while back and I love it:

    “They aren’t just Jedi because they’re force intuitive. Everybody is force intuitive. Han is, he just doesn’t realize it. He just calls it luck, right? But when he is in the moment doing what he loves best — flying, out on the edge — well, he’s probably tapped into the force. Not per se, how Luke is, he doesn’t have that level of control. But the whole point of it, George would say, is that we’re all connected to it in some way.”

    Padme, I believe, was like this. A luminous being, as you quoted from Yoda. She has that air about her, similar to Leia, and her children certainly have that power too. There are moments throughout the prequels, particularly in RotS, that support this too. She is always poised for the moment and has a sense of what is happening to Anakin as it happens, despite her not wanting to admit it.

    So yeah, that’s how I see it: all things factoring into her demise. I agree that I’m okay with not really knowing, though. It is more powerful that way. We don’t really need an explanation for that sadness.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I have always struggled with Padme’s death, for it didn’t ring true to me. Of course we KNEW she would die, for Luke & Leia were “orphans”, and we knew Darth Vader had no wife. But the problem I had was that Padme and Anakin’s romance never felt true to me. So how could she die of a broken heart when I didn’t buy the relationship in the first place! Plus, as a mother myself, I was upset that she couldn’t summon the will to live for her children’s sake. Due to all that, I am very open to her death being attributed to another sinister reason.

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    1. I am with ya, their love didn’t always feel genuine on screen. Plus, Attack of the Clones really stretches why Padme even falls for Anakin. He doesn’t really set himself up in the film as the lovable type. Buuuuut the story is what it is and at least there are a handful of redeeming moments here and there in AoTC and RoTS. Plus, I appreciate that The Clone Wars series at least gave us more about their relationship, and even allowed Padme to shine in her own episodes w/out Anakin at times (that isn’t necessarily relevant here but I always felt Padme got shafted in the movies by always being tied to men).

      Personally, I hope there is some plan to do a Padme novel or comic series that gives us more insight into why she fell for Anakin. Perhaps that could shed some light on how she rationalized falling for a guy who was a child when she met him and who admitted to killing women and children.

      That all said, I honestly wish she hadn’t died in RoTS. I wrote my very first posts many moons ago on how awkward it is that she dies while Leia talks about her in RoTJ, a fact that Lucas just straight-up ignored. I think Padme living for a short time after the events of the film would have been better but that ship has sailed. Oh well.

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      1. Why did Lucas go against what he had written himself? I understand when authors make errors in their character bios esp when it is a long ongoing series, but SW was no little movie that people wouldn’t remember a key detail like that! It’s just sloppy storytelling, and I liked the orginal story of Leia’s mother being “very beautiful. Kind but…sad”. The death scene was lame, and the idea of her surviving for awhile could have been a great plot point. Sigh…missed opportunities…

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      2. You are absolutely right, it is sloppy storytelling. I honestly cannot figure out why he would create such an obvious contradiction but there it is, out in the open for all to see. I dunno, perhaps he was just presuming that since Star Wars is rooted in so many mythic elements that the stories could contradict and that would be okay. I just don’t know how to justify it (which is why I attempted, in my first two posts, to find a fix for it that made sense).

        And I totally agree with you, the original story was beautiful in it’s tragedy. It is so easy to forget that with RoTJ alone, Leia is describing a mother she knew who – unknown to Leia – was “sad” because her husband, Leia’s father, became Darth Vader! Plus, her mother had given up her other child – double the sadness! There are so many rich and incredibly sad layers to THAT woman and I want to know more about her!!! GAH!!!!!!!

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  4. I love the article. I like that idea more than a broken heart, which I always just went with. But hear me out here for a sec…When reading Nancy’s first comment about the romance not feeling real, I agree. But I had an idea pop into my head. What if Anakin was unknowingly (?) Influencing Padmé’s feelings torwards him, enthralling her like Dracula to Mina. Maybe he didn’t realize or he did that his force rippled off of him, giving him the one thing he’s wanted since he was a child, Padmé. So when Anakin was “dying” the link breaking between drained/hurt her? Like a uncontrollable, force broken heart. Half-baked idea, I know. Sorry and thank you 🙂

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    1. All ideas are half-baked at first, so no need to apologize! It is certainly an intriguing idea, one I have definitely never considered and am going to have to think about now. And, given Anakin’s incredible power through the Force, it is conceivable that he could have unconsciously or subconsciously been manipulating the Force and, by extension, others around him.

      I am going to think on this some more and see what rattles around the mind. Thanks for sharing the idea!

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  5. I like that this is one of those elements of the Star Wars story that we don’t truly have an answer for, especially since a lot of the answers to the then age-old Star Wars questions we did get from the prequels were less than satisfactory (for example, Force ghosts: “oh, Qui-Gon just kinda figured it out lol” – Yoda to Obi-wan, paraphrased). Anyway, my head-canon version is actually a twist on Padme intentionally sustaining Anakin with her Living Fore: I think Anakin is subconsciously stealing it from her. He’s shocked to find that she’s dead when he emerges as the mechanical Vader because, as he says, “I felt her.” I think his “feeling” her is actually him tapping into her Living Force and using their connection to siphon it from her. I think he was more willing himself to live so he could get back to her, so he could fix everything, and his determination to do so inadvertently took away his chance. And perhaps Palpatine is aiding the process via whatever dark power he learned from Plagueis (because he does say that Plagueis taught his apprentice everything he knew), but I can either take or leave that.

    I’ll agree with other commenters, and the Imperial Talker himself, that what’s most disappointing about the whole scenario is that it happens in the first place; although, to be honest, if Padme didn’t die then you know Vader would scour the galaxy to find her, so to make the story less convoluted, and to secure the notion that Anakin lost everything, including his “unborn” children, she sort of had to die. As for Leia’s recollections, I just take those to be Force visions rather than true memories, and that sits just fine with me.

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    1. I like your head-canon idea! I can definitely imagine Anakin-turned-Vader siphoning off her Living Force without consciously being aware of doing so. In fact, I mentioned to another person who commented that I can certainly imagine Anakin (and other Force-users) subconsciously using the Force, period. I can’t really say with any sort of certainty how that would work, I am no expert on the psyche by any means, but I just have this general feeling that it could happen. Then again, perhaps that is just one more area where the mystery can remain open to interpretation. Everything need not be objectively explained. Like you, I enjoy when things are left open, allowing us to go deeper without any need for absolute certainty. Plus, like you said, attempting to insert an objective explanation into the stories can create some odd and unsatisfactory explanations. I have always felt, for example, that the midi-chlorians would not have been a problem if Lucas hadn’t just thrown them randomly into TPM and had, instead, developed the concept more thoroughly/thoughtfully in the PT. Their mention/explanation in TPM is understandable, but that is one thing I felt needed more of a satisfactory, objective explanation. At least they were developed a bit more in TCW…

      Anywho, I agree with you that given the way the PT unfolds, it is understandable why Padme ends up dying. Still, it is interesting to imagine a scenario where she survived and died later on, having raised Leia for a while.

      As always, thanks for the comment! Appreciate it good sir!

      Liked by 1 person

  6. Something in the original article doesn’t seem correct. This idea that Vader hates Padme. He does not, he hates himself. By telling Vader he killed her, he directs that loathing inward. It makes his darkness stronger. However because Palpatine DOESN’T taint Padme for Vader as we see by her being the first thing he asks about in the suit, Vader is forever tainted with love. Something Luke then uses as his son. In the return of the Jedi novelisation from decades ago this is expressly stated. His last thoughts are of his wife. Luke is successful because he is a part of her.

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