As one of the only villains to appear in nearly every Star Wars movie, one might argue that Palpatine should be number one on this list. However, while Palpatine’s power cannot be denied, he has been defeated twice because of his ego. Similar to Tarkin, Palpatine was a longtime bureaucrat who used political strategy to gain power in public while quietly dragging the Sith behind the scenes. Palpatine’s rise to power began with his political career – he was simply a senator before making his way to the title of Chancellor, Emperor, and beyond.
The Emperor’s power can be largely attributed to his intelligence, as he foresaw a Sith ascension for years while grooming Anakin as a future apprentice. Additionally, Palpatine was also the only Sith Lord in the movies to possess Force lightning powers, making him an almost unstoppable foe. Of course, once Vader and Palpatine assumed their roles within the New Empire, the Emperor’s power increased exponentially until he was betrayed by his former apprentice. As a brilliant strategist, however, the Emperor was not gone forever; he cloned himself and returned years later to take over the First Order, before being defeated again.