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Was Dooku older than Palpatine?

In the opening paragraphs, we’ll provide some quick answers to key questions to hook the reader before diving deeper into the full analysis. Dooku and Palpatine were both powerful Sith Lords in the Star Wars universe. Palpatine, also known as Darth Sidious, was the Dark Lord of the Sith who served as Supreme Chancellor of the Galactic Republic and later as Emperor of the Galactic Empire. Dooku, also known as Darth Tyranus, was the second Sith apprentice of Darth Sidious and a prominent Separatist leader who led the Confederacy of Independent Systems during the Clone Wars.

Quick Answers

Yes, Dooku was older than Palpatine. While their exact ages are not definitively stated in Star Wars canon, there is enough contextual evidence to deduce that Dooku was likely at least 10-15 years older than Palpatine.

Some key points:

  • Dooku was once a Jedi Master who trained Qui-Gon Jinn, who in turn trained Obi-Wan Kenobi. This suggests Dooku was likely a generation above Palpatine in age.
  • Dooku left the Jedi Order around 32 years before the events of the Clone Wars, while Palpatine was rising to power in galactic politics. This also implies Dooku was older.
  • Dooku is portrayed by 80+ year old actors like Christopher Lee, while Ian McDiarmid was in his 50s/60s when playing Palpatine. The casting choices suggest a sizable age gap between the characters.

While we don’t have 100% definitive ages, the weight of the contextual evidence strongly points to Dooku being notably older than Palpatine. Now let’s explore this topic in more detail.

Dooku’s Background

Count Dooku was born into a noble family on the planet Serenno. As a child, he was identified as gifted in the Force and recruited into the Jedi Order. He trained under Jedi Master Yoda as a Padawan learner and eventually attained the rank of Jedi Master himself. Dooku was respected as one of the most skilled duelists and scholars in the Jedi Order prior to his departure.

One of Dooku’s own Padawan learners was Qui-Gon Jinn, the Jedi Master who later trained Obi-Wan Kenobi. This clearly establishes that Dooku was at least a generation above both Kenobi and Anakin Skywalker in age and experience. He was an established Jedi Master while Kenobi and Skywalker were still young Padawans.

Key Events in Dooku’s Background

  • Trained as a Jedi from early childhood
  • Rose to rank of Jedi Master and trained Qui-Gon Jinn
  • Left the Jedi Order around 32 years before the Clone Wars
  • Became Darth Tyranus, apprentice to Darth Sidious
  • Founded the Confederacy of Independent Systems
  • Led the Separatist alliance during the Clone Wars

Palpatine’s Background

Sheev Palpatine was born on the planet Naboo and eventually became involved in politics from a young age. He was elected as Senator of Naboo in the Galactic Senate and later ascended to the highest office of Supreme Chancellor of the Republic. This path from Naboo senator to Chancellor took many years to achieve.

Behind the scenes, Palpatine had embraced the dark side of the Force and taken on the Sith identity of Darth Sidious. He orchestrated the Clone Wars in order to gain more power and eventually transformed the Republic into the tyrannical Galactic Empire, declaring himself Emperor.

Key Events in Palpatine’s Background

  • Elected as Senator of Naboo
  • Became Supreme Chancellor of the Republic
  • Revealed as Darth Sidious, Dark Lord of the Sith
  • Manipulated the Clone Wars from both sides
  • Transformed the Republic into the Empire
  • Declared himself Galactic Emperor

Comparing Timelines

By comparing the key events and timelines of Dooku and Palpatine’s backgrounds, we can start to get a sense of their relative ages. Here is a simple timeline:

Year Dooku Palpatine
102 BBY Born on Serenno
82 BBY Leaves Jedi Order
32 BBY Becomes Darth Tyranus Elected Senator of Naboo
22 BBY Leads Separatists Becomes Chancellor
19 BBY Killed by Anakin Declares Empire

Based on this timeline, we can make some estimates about Dooku’s age relative to Palpatine’s:

  • Dooku was already an established Jedi Master when Palpatine was a young Senator
  • Dooku left the Jedi Order around 32 years before Palpatine became Chancellor
  • Dooku turned to the Sith around the same time Palpatine was rising to power

This suggests Dooku was likely already middle-aged or older when Palpatine was still a young politician.

Supporting Evidence for Dooku’s Greater Age

In addition to their timeline, other contextual evidence supports the notion that Dooku was significantly older than Palpatine:

  • Actors’ Ages: Christopher Lee was over 80 when portraying Dooku, while Ian McDiarmid was in his 50s and 60s when playing Palpatine. The casting choices suggest a generational gap between the characters.
  • Leadership Roles: Dooku took on leadership of the Separatists when Palpatine was still building his power base as Chancellor in the Republic. This implies Dooku was already an established elder statesman.
  • Relationship: As Dooku’s Sith Master, Palpatine would likely be younger and more vigorous to dominate his apprentice. Dooku’s advanced age may have fueled his discontent with the Jedi Order.

Though not definitive proof, these contextual clues support portraying Dooku as notably older than Palpatine, potentially by 10-15 years at a minimum.

Palpatine May Have Used the Dark Side to Prolong His Life

One counterargument is that Palpatine seemed remarkably vigorous and energetic despite his age. Some fans have speculated that Palpatine may have used the dark side of the Force to prolong his natural lifespan and slow the aging process.

We know the Sith sought ways to extend life unnaturally and avoid death. Darth Plagueis experimented with influencing midi-chlorians to create life and prolong his own lifespan. As Plagueis’ apprentice, Palpatine may have learned similar abilities that allowed him to outlive a normal human lifespan and retain his vitality despite his chronological age.

This may explain how Palpatine retained his physical and mental acuity despite being canonically older than characters like Dooku and Mace Windu. However, even with slowed aging, Palpatine was still portrayed as at least a generation below Yoda, so he still could not have been older than Dooku.


Based on a careful analysis of timelines, character backgrounds, and contextual clues, Dooku seems very likely to have been notably older than Palpatine in the Star Wars saga – possibly by 10-15 years or more.

Dooku trained Qui-Gon Jinn and became a respected Jedi Master long before Palpatine entered galactic politics. He left the Jedi Order around 32 years before Palpatine became Chancellor. The casting of the characters also implies a generational gap between the actors playing Dooku and Palpatine.

Palpatine may have used the dark side to prolong his lifespan and retain his vitality. However, even accounting for slowed aging, the contextual timeline strongly implies Dooku was older than Palpatine when they became Sith Master and Apprentice prior to the Clone Wars.