The Order of the Sith Lords, also known as Bane's Sith Order, the Banite Sith, or simply Sith, is a fictional ancient kratocratic organization. They are the primary recurring antagonists in the Star Wars universe. Its members were dedicated to Sith philosophy and to mastering the dark side of the Force. The Sith members, known as Sith Lords or Dark Lords of the Sith, traditionally use the title Darth before their Sith name. The Sith are the archenemies of the quasi-religious Jedi and, like them, their main weapon is the lightsaber. By the events of both trilogies, there exist only two at a time: a master and an apprentice.
The first use of the word "Sith" was in the novelization of Star Wars: Episode IV - A New Hope, as a title for Darth Vader, the "Dark Lord of the Sith". The Sith were not formally introduced or mentioned on-screen until the release of Star Wars: Episode I - The Phantom Menace, in 1999, though they had been named in some Expanded Universe works before that time.
The Star Wars saga began with the film Star Wars: Episode IV - A New Hope, which was released in 1977. Since then, films, books, computer games and comics have been released, all set in the fictional universe of Star Wars which has expanded the history of the Sith within their stories.
The history of the Sith was officially described for the first time by George Lucas himself in the novelization of Star Wars: Episode I - The Phantom Menace, written by Terry Brooks. There, it is explained that the Sith were established two thousand years before the events of The Phantom Menace by a rogue Jedi who believed that the true power of the Force lay in its dark side, and that denial of power was a waste. The Jedi Council of the time disapproved of such beliefs, and the dissident Jedi left the order, swearing vengeance against them.
He soon gained many followers, some of whom were Jedi who agreed with his views and beliefs. However, the greed and hunger for power from its members was so great that the Sith order was destroyed from the inside. Weakened by infighting, the Sith were easily wiped out by the Jedi. Still, in the midst of destruction, one member was able to survive: Darth Bane. Learning from the order's past mistakes, Bane restructured the Sith so that there could only exist two members at a time: a master and an apprentice. Bane also adopted cunning, subterfuge, and stealth as fundamental tenets of the Sith.
Centuries later, the Sith Master Darth Sidious carefully schemed to exact revenge against the Jedi and restore the Sith control over the galaxy, which led to the Clone Wars, the destruction of the Jedi Order, and the transformation of the Galactic Republic into the Galactic Empire. The Sith were not completely victorious; Darth Vader, the last apprentice of Darth Sidious, was redeemed by his son Luke Skywalker, a Jedi Knight. Vader's killing of his master and subsequent death meant the destruction of the Sith order.
Notable Sith Lords
Darth Bane (Dessel) renewed the Sith order and established the Rule of Two. This rule stated that there must be only two Sith Lords at a time: a master to embody power, and an apprentice to crave it and eventually overthrow his master and adopt an apprentice of his own.
Darth Caedus (Jacen Solo) is the son of Han Solo and Leia Organa Solo and the nephew of Luke Skywalker. He is a major character in several Star Wars novels, particularly the New Jedi Order and Legacy of the Force series. Events during the Legacy of the Force lead the young Jedi to embrace the dark side, and become Darth Caedus. Around 40 years after the Battle of Yavin, after a prolonged conflict with his former brethren, Darth Caedus was killed in combat by his own twin sister, the Jedi Jaina Solo.
Darth Krayt (A'Sharad Hett), The main antagonist of the Star Wars: Legacy comic series. He served during the Clone Wars, but managed to survive the early stages of the Great Jedi Purge and exiled himself to Tatooine, but fled Tatooine after encountering Obi-Wan Kenobi. He fled to Korriban, where he was trained as a Sith Lord. After several hundred years in an extended periods of stasis, Krayt formed the One Sith and overthrew the Galactic Federation of Free Alliances, forming a new Sith Empire in its place.
Darth Maul (---) was the first apprentice of Darth Sidious. In Star Wars: Episode I - The Phantom Menace, Darth Maul is sent by his master to find and capture the escaped Queen Amidala. Later on, he ends up dueling Qui-Gon Jinn and Obi-Wan Kenobi, the Jedi sent to protect Amidala. Wielding a double-bladed lightsaber, Maul is able to defeat Kenobi's master and friend, Qui-Gon Jinn, before falling to Obi-Wan Kenobi in the same duel. Decades later, during the Clone Wars, his brother Savage Opress found him dumped in the junk world of Lotho Minor, where it was revealed that Maul was able to survive the injuries from his last duel due to his strength with the dark side of the Force, which was fueled by his anger against Kenobi.
Darth Nihilus appears in The Sith Lords and in the Star Wars: Legacy comic series. Darth Traya found and trained Nihilus; Nihilus and Darth Sion later betrayed her. The player's character eventually defeats Nihilus. IGN also put the character as their 56th top Star Wars character.
Darth Plagueis (Hego Damask) was a powerful Sith Lord mentioned by Palpatine in Star Wars: Episode III - Revenge of the Sith in a conversation with Anakin Skywalker. He was the master of Darth Sidious and, as the latter tells Anakin, became so powerful that he was able to overcome death and create life. The novel Star Wars: Darth Plagueis reveals his name and identified him as a Muun, one of the race that headed the Intergalactic Banking Clan and which joined the Separatist Alliance during the Clone Wars. Plagueis was eventually killed in his sleep by Darth Sidious.
Darth Revan (Revan) declared war on The Old Republic. A Famous Jedi Hero, Revan led the Republic to victory in the Mandalorian Wars. After the conflict, however, he and his friend Malak unwittingly discovered the Sith Empire in the Unknown Reaches of Space. The Sith Emperor turned Revan and Malak to the Dark Side, but the two broke free from the his control and formed their own Sith Empire to wage war on the Republic, with Revan as the Dark Lord and Malak as his Apprentice. As the Dark Lord of the Sith prepared to battle with the Jedi who boarded his flagship, the apprentice Darth Malak, in the hopes of destroying both Revan and Bastila Shan, betrayed his Master, ordering the ships under his command to fire on Revan's flagship's bridge. Revan was critically injured and taken by Bastila Shan to the Jedi Council Enclave. The Council chose to wipe Revan's memory, and imprint him with a false identity. Knights of the Old Republic begins with Revan awaking on a starship under attack. Revan eventually encounters Malak, who tells Revan that he is the former Sith Lord. Later, Revan defeats Darth Malak, claiming victory for the Republic.
Darth Sidious (Palpatine) rose to power from being a Senator of Naboo, to Supreme Chancellor, to self-proclaimed Emperor of the Galactic Empire. This was achieved through double agents and a cleverly orchestrated sequence of events done under his alternate identity, Palpatine, who gained respect in the Old Republic while secretly participating in Sith practices and planning an end to the Jedi Order. He had three known Sith apprentices: Darth Maul, Darth Tyranus and Darth Vader. He was eventually killed by the latter, Anakin Skywalker, at the end of Star Wars: Episode VI - Return of the Jedi.
Darth Tyranus (Count Dooku) was a fallen Jedi and the second apprentice of Darth Sidious. It is revealed in Star Wars: Episode II - Attack of the Clones, that Tyranus had a prominent role in engineering the Clone Wars, recruiting bounty hunter Jango Fett to become the template for an army of clones to be used by the Galactic Republic. Tyranus led the Separatist Alliance during the Clone Wars until he met his demise while dueling Anakin Skywalker in Star Wars: Episode III - Revenge of the Sith.
Darth Vader (Anakin Skywalker) was the first Sith Lord shown on-screen, appearing in Star Wars: Episode IV - A New Hope. As a Jedi Knight, he was known as Anakin Skywalker and fought in the Clone Wars against the Separatist Alliance. He slowly turned to the dark side with the help of Darth Sidious. After helping Sidious kill Jedi Master Mace Windu, he swore allegiance to the Sith and became his third apprentice. As the Galactic Empire was established and continued to grow, Darth Vader became the Emperor's greatly feared second in command and was given the task of finding the Rebel Alliance's base. After the destruction of the Death Star, Vader was charged with tracking down the Rebel Alliance and destroying their headquarters. However, the actions of Luke Skywalker, Anakin's son, eventually turned Vader against his master, resulting in both Sidious' and Vader's deaths.
Expanded Universe novels
The first Expanded Universe novel was Splinter of the Mind's Eye, written by Alan Dean Foster and published in 1978. The setting for this novel takes place between Episode IV: A New Hope and Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back. It provides a new adventure that includes Princess Leia, R2-D2, C-3PO, Luke Skywalker and Darth Vader. In the story, Darth Vader tries to get the Kaiburr Crystal to use it for his evil schemes.
Other novels that depicted Sith characters were Darth Maul: Saboteur and Cloak of Deception by James Luceno. Cloak of Deception describes the political background surrounding the Republic in the time period before The Phantom Menace, as well as Darth Sidious' plans to rule the galaxy, starting with the blockade of Naboo. In Darth Maul: Saboteur, the Sith Lord Darth Sidious sends Darth Maul to destroy InterGalactic Ore and Lommite Limited.
Darth Maul: Shadow Hunter, by Michael Reaves, also showed insight into the Sith. This story is about how Darth Sidious brings his plan into action; however, he soon finds out about a traitor who knows of his plan. He sends his apprentice, Darth Maul, to scope out the traitor who leaked the secret of his plan to take down the Republic.
Star Wars comics
Dark Horse Comics purchased the copyrights to several Star Wars stories. With their publication of Star Wars: Dark Empire #1 in 1991, they initiated what has become a large line of Star Wars manga and comics. The Sith appear as major antagonists throughout this story's plot. Many of the comics that were published helped expand the backstory of the characters and followed the rise and fall of the Dark Lords of the Sith.
Star Wars TV series
Star Wars: The Clone Wars first aired on Cartoon Network in 2008. This series took place between Episode II: Attack of the Clones and Episode III: Revenge of the Sith. During this time, Anakin Skywalker is a full fledged Jedi Knight and the series shows how he progresses into his fall to the dark side of the Force. Count Dooku is the active Sith Lord and leader of the Separatist Alliance. The series also explores Dooku's attempts at training secret apprentices like Asajj Ventress and Savage Opress in order to eventually defeat Darth Sidious and become the ruling Sith Lord.
Star Wars video games
Star Wars video games have also been adapted from the plots of the films, novels, and TV shows. The games follow the basic plot of the story, but they can also include alternative, non-canonical, endings depending on which character is being played.
Some of the video games that have a heavy focus on Sith characters and lore are Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic, released in 2003, Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic II - The Sith Lords, released in 2004 and Star Wars: The Force Unleashed, released in 2008.
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- Luceno, James (2001). Darth Maul:Saboteur. New York: Random House. ISBN 978-0-345-44735-7.
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- Further reading
- Book of Sith: Secrets from the Dark Side (Chronicle Books, © 2013) ISBN 1452118159
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Sith.|
- Sith in the Official StarWars.com Encyclopedia
- Order of the Sith Lords on Wookieepedia: a Star Wars wiki
- The Sith Explained (Howstuffworks.com)
- Who's Who of the Sith on SithOrder.com