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40K Grimdark Theories: The Emperor and Malcador Are One

6 Minute Read
Dec 2 2021
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Let’s take a look at another crazy 40K theory, unsolved for over 10,000 years.

We’ve talked about theories concerning the Emperor before. As one of the central figures in Warhammer 40,000, He sits at the confluence of most major events and is arguably the most mysterious part of the whole setting. Due to this, there are a TON of theories concerning him and today we take a look at yet another one concerning Him and His partner in crime Malcador the Sigilite. Now we’ve looked at the theory that Malcador was really the one in charge before; this one is a little different. This theory has been going around for a while; it posits that the Emperor and Malcador are the same person. Let us take a look at the three variants this theory comes in.

Malcador is a Projection

As I said before, the theory that Malcador and the Emperor are the same person has three variations you will here out there. One of them is that either Malcador or the Emperor is a psychic projection created by the other person. That there is only one being and the other isn’t there at all. Now we know that the Emperor, in theory, has this power, His own appearance is a psychic projection that changes from person to person, and even simply at this whim. We also know He can project himself into the minds of others over a great distance and manifest powers at a distance.

Given that the two were often seen together, it wouldn’t even be a great distance. Since they split up neither has been seen much and only by a few people. So, this might be possible.

That begs the questions of why? Well, having two people to play off of would work well for building and running an empire. The Emperor could, in essence, play good cop/bad cop by Himself, something we know the Emperor and Malcador often did. If  Malcador is the real one and the Emperor a projection, we have an even clearer motive, the old man would want to create an influential symbolic leader for others to follow. So I think there are reasons that one would create a projection of the other, and it might even be possible. However, I don’t find this particular variation of the theory very compelling. For one we’ve had conversations between the Emperor and Malcador where no one else was around, why have a conversation with your own psychic projection? It also seems a bit of a stretch for how well it works.

Malcador is a Clone

The second variation of the theory makes a little more sense to me. This one states that Malcador is a clone of the Master of Mankind. We know that the Emperor uses cloning and gene tech extensively so it is not impossible that He would have tried to make a clone of Himself. Having more people on the Emperor’s level would benefit the species a lot (assuming they worked together), and it’s also possible that the Emperor was lonely. Why not create a clone of Himself to have a perfect partner for the coming war?


There are the questions then of why Malcador isn’t as powerful as the Emperor. It’s possible that the cloning process failed, only making an incomplete clone, powerful yet not on the level of He-of-Terra. It would make sense that you couldn’t clone the Emperor, and the failure would explain why there was only one Malcador. Alternatively, the Emperor could have purposefully made a weaker clone; He might not have wanted to create a rival, so instead formed a weaker version of Himself. Both would be incredibly powerful, yet the original would always be in charge. This would perhaps help make sense of the trust shown to Malcador, more than any other, and also Malcador’s clearly paternal feelings towards the Primarchs. The Emperor would trust Malcador so much because it was merely trusting Himself, and Malcador would feel paternal towards the Primarichs because, in a way, he was their father (and also brother?). This theory is certainly plausible, Malcador’s background is hidden so we can’t disprove it, so yet there another version I like even better.

Malcador Split Off From the Emperor

OK, the third version here is a bit crazy, but I love it. Now Malcador is a Perpetual, but as of the Horus Heresy, he was only about 6,700 years old and claimed to remember the exact moment of his birth. These facts are a little weird for a couple of reasons. First off, it makes Malcador much younger than most of the other Pupetuals we know. The majority of them tract their history back to sometimes in the BCEs, with a couple sometime in the 20th century. Most of the ones made later, such as Vulkan, where created Perpetuals, not natural born. It’s also an odd claim to say he remembered the moment of his birth, generally not a power associated with either Perpetuals or psykers, who are all born babies and then grow into their abilities. Of course, it’s possible that Malcador was turned into a Perpetual, something we know is possible, and that he considers that act to be “his birth” and what he remembers.


This still leaves us with the interesting questions of his birth being about 6,700 years before the Horus Heresy. This is a pretty random number and could mean nothing, as we have very few records from that period. However, there is one thing that we know happened roughly around that period; the Emperor visited Molech and went through a warp portal. While we don’t have a solid date for the visit, we know it was sometime during the Dark Age of Technology, which puts it anywhere from 15,000-5,000 years before the Horus Heresy, which would mean that Malcadors birth falls into the frame.

So the theory goes that somehow during His trip through the warp portal, the Emperor split in two, into the Emperor we know and Malcador, becoming two distinct beings. It’s possible He did this for the same reason he might create a clone, or that it was some side effect of the trip, or perhaps even the purpose of the trip. Now here is the interesting thing, we know from things the Emperor has said that He thinks His path leads Him to being less than human. We also know from others, including Guilliman, that the Emperor seems to be losing his humanity. So the theory goes that Malcador was, in fact, the Emperor’s humanity, his goodness, and kindness, that was split off or perhaps cut off, into its own being. That together, they were two halves of a whole, and that it was Malcador’s death that caused the Emperor to lose His connection to His own humanity. This could explain not only why Malcador is the kinder of the two, the one able to love the Primarchs, but again why he remembers his own “birth.” It’s a crazy theory, but fun to think about.

Let us know what you think of this crazy theory, down in the comments! 

Author: Abe Apfel
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