The Sith are a monastic organization in the Star Wars universe whose members dedicate themselves to the dark side of the Force. Their individuals, 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 Jedi, and like them, their main weapon is the lightsaber. They only exist two at a time: a master and an apprentice, and are the main antagonists in the Star Wars film series as well as in many other Expanded Universe works.
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. And 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.
However, 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 created two thousand years before the events of The Phantom Menace, when 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. With the Jedi Council of the time disapproving such beliefs, the dissident Jedi left the order, swearing vengeance against them.
Although alone at the beginning, he soon gained many followers. Some were Jedi who agreed with his views and beliefs, while others were recruited. 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, Darth Sidious, the latest Sith Master in existence, carefully planned a scheme 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. However, the Sith were not completely victorious; Darth Vader, the last apprentice of Darth Sidious, was redeemed by Luke Skywalker, a Jedi Knight and son of Anakin Skywalker, making him destroy his master, and with him, the Sith order itself.
Notable Sith Lords 
Darth Bane 
In a time where Sith Lords existed in legions, Darth Bane 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 Plagueis 
Darth Plagueis 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 real name as Hego Damask and is identified as a Muun, a race that headed the Intergalactic Banking Clan, which joined the Separatist Alliance during the Clone Wars. Plagueis was eventually killed by Darth Sidious during his sleep.
Darth Sidious 
Darth Sidious rose to power from a Senator of Naboo, to Supreme Chancellor, to self-proclaimed Emperor of the Galactic Empire. This was achieved through 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 Sith apprentices: Darth Maul, Darth Tyranus and Darth Vader. He was eventually killed by Anakin Skywalker at the end of Star Wars: Episode VI - Return of the Jedi.
Darth Maul 
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 an 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 Tyranus 
Mostly known as Count Dooku, Darth Tyranus was a fallen Jedi and the second apprentice of Darth Sidious. It's 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 
Darth Vader 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 enforcer and was given the task of finding the Rebel Alliance's base. After the destruction of the Death Star, Vader was charged to track down the Rebel Alliance and to destroy their headquarters. However, the actions of Luke Skywalker, Anakin's son, eventually turned Vader against his master, resulting in both Sidious' and Vader's death.
Sith appearances 
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-3P0, 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 takes 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 that leaks 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 an 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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- Star Wars: Episode I - The Phantom Menace. LucasBooks. Retrieved 2013-03-20.
- "Darth Bane". StarWars.com. LucasFilm. Retrieved 22 November 2011.
- "Darth Sidious". StarWars.com. LucasFilm. Retrieved 22 November 2011.
- "Darth Maul". StarWars.com. LucasFilm. Retrieved 22 November 2011.
- "Darth Tyranus/Count Dooku". StarWars.com. LucasFilm. Retrieved 22 November 2011.
- "Darth Vader". StarWars.com. LucasFilm. Retrieved 22 November 2011.
- "Splinter of the Mind's Eye". tvtropes.org. Retrieved 18 November 2011.
- Luceno, James (2002). Star Wars: Cloak of Deception. Random House Publishing Group. ISBN 978-0-307-79570-0.
- Luceno, James (2001). Darth Maul:Saboteur. New York: Random House. ISBN 978-0-345-44735-7.
- Reaves, Michael (2001). Darth Maul: Shadow Hunter. Ballantine Publishing Group. ISBN 0-345-43541-9.
- "Timeline". www.darkhorse.com. Dark Horse. Retrieved 18 November 2011.
- Lavin, Michael R. (1998). "A Librarian's Guide to Dark Horse Comics". Serials Review 24 (3/4).
- "Star Wars: The Clone Wars". Retrieved 18 November 2011.
- "Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic". Retrieved 20 March 2013.
- "Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic II - The Sith Lords". Retrieved 18 November 2011.
- "Star Wars: The Force Unleashed". Retrieved 21 November 2011.
- 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