Sith

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Sith Order
Emblem of the Sith Order
Emblem of the Sith Order
UniverseStar Wars
Type
Foundedc. 5,000 BBY or prior (canon)
c. 6,900 BBY (Legends)
Location

Legends

Leader
Key people

Legends

Affiliates

Legends

Official languageBasic, Old Tongue

The Sith are the main antagonists of many works in the fictional universe of the Star Wars franchise.[2] The Sith Order are depicted as an ancient monastic and kraterocratic cultist organization of supernaturally gifted Force-wielders driven by a machiavellian-imperialist agenda of galactic domination and revenge against their arch-rivals, the Jedi Order.

Sith are ruthless and totalitarian by design, in which a supreme autocratic authority is concentrated in a single individual granted the honorific Dark Lord of the Sith. Sith culture is of perpetual self-destruction and reinvention; transfer of power is conducted through state-sanctioned assassinations: when a Sith Lord grows complacent and begins to show weakness, they are eventually killed and their property and authority transferred to the apprentice who killed them. Robberies, betrayal, and sabotage are commonplace; murder is acceptable so long as the culprit is not caught. Sith teach their apprentices to revere the dark side of the Force and to believe that the galaxy was theirs to rule by cosmic right. This kraterocratic system ensures that Sith society nurtures some of the most vicious and competitive individuals in the galaxy and is only governed by those strong enough to seize control.

Etymology[edit]

The word Sith was first used in the 1974 rough draft of Star Wars[3] with the first published use being the 1976 novelization of Star Wars as a title for the key villain Darth Vader, the "Dark Lord of the Sith". Sith characters had also been portrayed as such in some Star Wars Legends works prior to the release of The Phantom Menace, and in archived footage for the original Star Wars.[4] The term "Dark Jedi" was sometimes used for characters who would be later identified as Sith, or had goals and practices similar to the Sith. In his novel series The Thrawn Trilogy, author Timothy Zahn labeled Sith Lord Darth Vader and Emperor Palpatine as "Dark Jedi", and the term "Sith" was never mentioned in the series until later reprints of the novels. "Dark Jedi" is also the name given in the Star Wars universe to antihero fictional characters attuned to the Force and adept in its dark side. However, the concept of "Dark Jedi" is not referenced anywhere in any of the theatrical Star Wars films, and they exist by that name only in non-canonical Star Wars Legends media, including video games such as Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic and the Star Wars: Jedi Knight series. The Sith were not mentioned by name in canonical movies until the prequel trilogy used the word on film starting with 1999's The Phantom Menace.

Influences[edit]

George Lucas acknowledged that the Jedi, Sith, and other Force concepts have been inspired by many sources. These include: knighthood, chivalry, paladinism, samurai bushido, Shaolin Monastery, Feudalism, Hinduism, Qigong, Greek philosophy and mythology, Roman history and mythology, parts of the Abrahamic religions, Confucianism, Shintō, Buddhism and Taoism, and numerous cinematic precursors. The works of philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche and mythologist Joseph Campbell, especially his book The Hero with a Thousand Faces (1949), directly influenced Lucas, and was what drove him to create the 'modern myth' of Star Wars.[5][6] In particular, the contrasting narrative relationship between the dark side-using Sith and light side-using Jedi mirrors several modern and classical literary tropes.

Most prominently, the conflict between the Sith and Jedi employs the classic trope of black and white moral dualism—an elemental contrast between evil (the "darkness") and good (the "light") first postulated and elaborated in Zoroastrianism, from which the core mythos of Star Wars is much influenced.[7] The ongoing struggle of the humanistic "light side"-affiliated Jedi to permanently defeat the egoistic "dark side"-affiliated Sith is framed not only as a contest of values, but as a deep metaphysical conflict: The dark side of the Force is viewed by the Jedi, and generally represented within Star Wars media, as not only a dangerous expedient but as a form of existential corruption which must be purged for the universe, or a person, to attain spiritual balance.[8] Jedi are often depicted as imperfect individuals, but their cause of selfless heroism is ultimately on the right side of an inexorable cosmic struggle against evil, embodied in the power-hungry Sith and the dark side of the Force.

The dualistic relationship between the Sith' and the Jedi' concepts of "purity" mirrors the philosophical and literary concept of "Apollonian and Dionysian": the Jedi are portrayed as embracing purity, reason, temperance, altruism and other humanistic virtues; the Sith, by contrast, embrace curiosity, emotion, conflict, power, instincts, unfettered self-interest and other hedonistic vices. However, whereas the classic Greek concept did not necessarily view the Apollonian and Dyonisian principles as opposed, Star Wars frames the Jedi and Sith as opponents in a dire moral struggle, with the Sith cast as corrupted villains apparently destined to defeat or self-destruction in the end.[9] Although a path to temporary power, the Sith way inevitably leads to ruin.

Within the Star Wars narrative, the Jedi and Sith naturally have different self-understandings. In Sith rhetoric, the relationship between the philosophies of the Jedi and Sith closely mirrors Nietzsche's concept of master–slave morality. Sith value "master" virtues, such as pride and power, whereas the Jedi value altruistic virtues like kindness and empathy. The goal of the Sith is tangible greatness: the ability to shape and destroy the world according to one's will alone. The goal of the Jedi is moral goodness: freedom from inner, and outer, turmoil and suffering. However, the Sith consider the Jedi's aspirations to be either hopeless or pathetic. To the Sith, greater power is the only authentic goal.

Development[edit]

Originally, George Lucas conceived the Sith as a group that served the Emperor in the same way that the Schutzstaffel had served Adolf Hitler. In developing the history for The Empire Strikes Back, Lucas condensed this into one character in the form of Darth Vader.[10]

Fictional backstory[edit]

Sith Ideology[edit]

Sith philosophy lionized conflict as a catalyst for growth and as a tool for purging the weak, disloyal, undisciplined and unworthy. Sith academies were structured with rules, lectures, and classes, with an underlying "kill or be killed" mentality amongst the apprentices. Sith emphasize "survival of the fittest" and view restraint as a weakness. Members adhere to master morality, are characterized by the desire to seize power by any means necessary, leveraging force (both physical and supernatural), social maneuvering, and political cunning to their advantage. The Sith cultivate a connection to the dark side of the Force, which provides them with easy access to superhuman power and arcane knowledge; however, the trade-off is the severe cost of adopting a dark triad personality that corrodes their basic capacity for empathy, kindness, and love.

Throughout Star Wars media and in popular culture, the Sith are infamous as the dualistic antagonists to the Jedi, an affiliation of altruistic warriors who strive to use their own martial training and connection to the "light side" of the Force to promote peace and the common welfare throughout the galaxy. The Sith have a philosophical framework that "justifies" their ruthless and self-serving actions, but their agenda are considered appalling by society in general, and the Jedi who actively oppose them. To counteract the Jedi's benevolent influence, the Sith were responsible for secretly instigating many small regional conflicts as part of their larger plan to destabilize the Republic and eventually take control of the galaxy. Hiding in the shadows, their fingerprints are everywhere, in every conflict in the galaxy, and their subversive influence reaches far and wide.

Over their long storied history, the Sith have established great empires, come close to realizing their ambitions of galactic conquest, and nearly eradicated the Jedi. Ultimately, however, they are self-defeating, their grand plans undone time and again by internal strife, rebellion inspired by their vicious tactics, and the psychologically noxious effects of their dark arts and philosophy.

The Dark Side of the Force[edit]

The Sith are dedicated to the "Sith Code" and to mastering the dark side of the Force.[11] The Sith Code identifies conflict as the fundamental dynamic of reality, and holds that the search for lasting peace, within or without, is both quixotic and misguided. Rather, Sith embrace strife and dark passion as salutary and emancipatory forces, as they believe that violent struggle purges the decadent and weak, and that emotions such as aggression and hate provide the strength and resolve to secure freedom through victory.

The Sith Code:

Peace is a lie. There is only passion.
Through passion I gain strength.
Through strength I gain power.
Through power I gain victory.
Through victory my chains are broken.

The Force shall free me.[12]

Although Sith seek dominion, Sith philosophy stresses that power belongs only to those with the strength, cunning, and ruthlessness to maintain it, and thus "betrayal" among the Sith is not a vice but an endorsed norm. Accordingly, the Sith reject altruism, self-abnegation and kindness, as they regard such attitudes as founded on delusions that fetter one's perceptions and power. In connection with their philosophy, the Sith draw on the dark side of the Force through severe negative emotions, a technique antipodal to that of their archenemies, the Jedi, who rely on the Force's "light side," i.e., the Force as experienced through disciplined states of quietude and compassion. Notably, both the Jedi and Sith shun romantic and familial love, as the Jedi fear such love will lead to attachment, and thus selfishness, and the Sith fear it will compromise their ruthlessness and connection to the dark side of the Force. Although the Sith are intimately linked to the dark side, not every user of the dark side is a Sith, nor is every user of the light side a Jedi.

Yes, a Jedi’s strength flows from the Force. But beware of the dark side. Anger, fear, aggression; the dark side of the Force are they. Easily they flow, quick to join you in a fight. If once you start down the dark path, forever will it dominate your destiny, consume you it will, as it did Obi-Wan’s apprentice.

The dark side of the Force is stigmatized as seductive, corruptive, and addictive by the Jedi, who view it as evil,[13] whereas the Sith consider the dark side of the Force to be its most powerful manifestation, and regard the abstemious Jedi as blinded by false virtue. As portrayed in all Star Wars-related media, the dark side provides users with powers similar to those of the light side-using Jedi, but as it leverages passion and violence, its use is enhanced by negative raw and aggressive emotions and instinctual feelings such as anger, greed, hatred, and rage. By deciding to learn the ways of the dark side of the Force, the Sith may also acquire powers and abilities considered by some in the Star Wars universe to be unnatural.[14] A notable example is a form of directed dielectric breakdown called "Force lightning," infamously used by the Sith Lord Darth Sidious to torture Jedi-initiate and rebel Luke Skywalker. Darth Sidious claimed that his own master, Darth Plagueis, could even use the Force to avert the natural deaths of those whose lives he wished to save. Being uninhibited in their use of the Force, Sith could also repurpose abilities shared with the Jedi, such as telekinesis, to new and terrifying effect: Darth Vader was infamous for his use of telekinetic strangulation, or "Force choke," as a means of execution or intimidation. Kylo Ren was able to stop blaster bolts mid-air with the Force and also used it to activate lightsabers remotely to kill enemies.

Beneath anger is always fear. Fear is the path to the dark side. Fear leads to anger, anger leads to hate, hate leads to suffering. I sense much fear in you. Train yourself to let go of everything you fear to lose.

Extended indulgence in the dark side reshapes the user's psychology, resulting in a loss of humanity, morality, empathy, and the ability to love, leaving every Sith, to varying degrees, amoral, cruel, sadistic and violent. Considering this dark change in personality to be a transformation into a different person altogether, some who turn to the dark side take on a different name, as they regard their former persona as dead and destroyed. Sith Lords, in particular, adopt a new name upon their initiation into the Order, prefixing it with the title Darth (e.g., "Darth Vader"). Severe saturation in the dark side may even lead to physical degradation. Although Sith are deeply affected by the Machiavellian methods and dark arts they practice, they are not portrayed as necessarily irredeemable: Some Sith, most famously Darth Vader in the final moments of his life, have renounced the Order and the dark side of the Force, as has Kylo Ren.

The dark side is generous... It is patient and it always wins – but in the heart of its strength lies its weakness: one lone candle is enough to hold it back.

— Yoda, in Revenge of the Sith novelization

Martial arts are a core part of the Sith tradition, and Sith featured in the Star Wars film series have all been highly trained warriors who further augment their abilities with the Force. Like the Jedi, the Sith's signature armament is an extremely lethal focused energy melee weapon known as a lightsaber, which (generally) only those trained in the ways of the Force can use effectively, although General Grievous, a non-Force user, was able to murder numerous Jedi and seize their lightsabers as weapons. Sith use lightsabers in combination with Force-derived powers, such as telekinesis, enhanced dexterity and precognition, to achieve superhuman combat prowess. A fully trained Sith is depicted as being at least a match for a well-trained Jedi Knight, and either can handily defeat multiple ordinary attackers armed with projectile weapons. In matters of dress, Sith may adopt any attire consistent with their plans or guise; they commonly favor black robes, armor and gis when presenting themselves authentically.

Fictional backstory (Legends)[edit]

In the no longer canonical Legends continuity, the Sith Order began around 6,900 BBY, during a period known as the Hundred Year Darkness. A series of conflicts began between the rebellious dark Jedi, a faction of the Jedi Order, and the rest of the Order. The dark Jedi were defeated and cast out, exiled to the unknown regions. These Exiles came across the planet Korriban, and its native species, the Sith. The strongest among the Exiles, Ajunta Pall, became the first to hold the title Dark Lord of the Sith. His contemporaries, such as Karness Muur and XoXaan became Sith Lords. The human Dark Jedi interbred with the Sith species, who also had an affinity for the Dark Side. They would become the original Sith Empire.

One of the earliest leaders of this Sith Empire was Tulak Hord. He expanded the Sith territories and conquered the Dromund System, home to Dromuund Kaas, later the capital of the Sith Empire. He was eventually followed by Marka Ragnos, the last ruler of a period known as the Golden Age of the Sith. Upon the passing of Ragnos, two contenders for the throne of Dark Lord, Naga Sadow and Ludo Kressh, dueled at his funeral. Eventually, after a series of conflicts, Sadow was victorious, and Kressh apparently killed.

Sadow began the Great Hyperspace War, invading the Republic and laying siege to its planets. Sadow's efforts were initially met with success, his forces amplified by illusions that Sadow projected from his meditation sphere. Unfortunately, the Dark Lord's concentration was broken when his apprentice turned on him. With his illusions dispersed, Sadow's forces were forced to retreat. Upon returning to Sith space, they found that Kressh had not been killed, and engaged him in a space battle. Sadow was victorious again, but they were soon attacked by Republic forces. Sadow escaped by causing the Denarii Binary Star to go supernova.

The Sith Empire would eventually rise again, with the rise of Exar Kun and Ulic Qel-Droma. The spirit of the deceased Dark Lord, Marka Ragnos, declared Kun Dark Lord of the Sith, and made Qel-Droma his apprentice. Allying themselves with warriors such as the Mandalorians, Kun and Qel-Droma declared war on the Galactic Republic. During a raid on the Jedi Library at Ossus, Qel-Droma dueled and killed his brother, but was captured. Qel-Droma was redeemed and was instrumental in Kun's downfall, when the latter retreated to Yavin 4.

At some point following the Mandalorian Wars, the individuals known as Revan and Alek declared themselves Sith Lords, and became Darth Revan and Darth Malak respectively. Their brutal campaign against the Republic was hugely successful. Revan was eventually betrayed by Malak, allowing a Jedi strike team to capture him. Malak continued his conquest without Revan's tactical leadership until a redeemed Revan defeated him, and the Star Forge, the source of the Sith Fleet was destroyed.

Remnants of Revan's Sith Empire, led by the Sith Triumvirate, consisting of Darth Traya, Darth Nihilus, and Darth Sion, began a shadow war against the Jedi. This First Jedi Purge, brought the Jedi Order to the brink of extinction. Their downfall came about when Meetra Surik, a Jedi who was exiled after the Mandalorian Wars, returned to known space. She defeated the three Sith, and without the Sith leadership, and the destruction of their base of operations on Malachor V, the remaining Sith forces faded into obscurity.

Around 300 years later, the original Sith Empire, now under the leadership of Emperor Vitiate, emerged from the Unknown Regions and declared war on the republic. This war, dubbed the Great Galactic War, was halted when Vitiate, on the cusp of victory, was restrained by the telepathic prowess of Revan. After a period of non-fighting, called the Galactic Cold War, tensions boiled over, and the Galactic War began. The Sith empire eventually fell to infighting and mostly disappeared. Occasionally, a Dark Lord such as Darth Rivan or Darth Ruin, would rise and fall, but the Sith did not become a major threat again until around 2,500 years later.

At this point, the Brotherhood of Darkness arose, led by the Sith Lord Skere Kaan. They focused on controlling the infighting between the Sith. This policy allowed them to make great progress in their war against the Republic. Ironically, one of their own, a Sith Lord by the name of Bane turned on them, because he disapproved of their methods. He manipulated the Brotherhood into extinction, and they were defeated. Bane started the Rule of Two, which evolved into the Sith as they are seen in the films.

Fictional history[edit]

The Star Wars saga began with the film Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope, which was released in 1977.[15] 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 schemes of the Sith are key to the overarching plot of the Star Wars films and much other fictional material in the franchise. Their background has varied among depictions, but the Sith have always been insidious archenemies of the Jedi leveraging dark arts in pursuit of power and revenge. The Sith were first mentioned in A New Hope in a scene ultimately cut from the film. They were expanded upon heavily in the following years in books, comics, games and other multimedia. The Sith were formally introduced on-screen with the release of Star Wars: Episode I – The Phantom Menace in 1999 as a shadowy martial order manipulating the movie's political factions into a galaxy-spanning civil war.

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.[16] 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.

Emergence of the Sith Order[edit]

The origin, agenda, abilities and philosophy of the Sith are intertwined with their relationship to the Force. With proper training, the Force may be called upon by rare individuals capable of "sensing" or "touching" it to achieve extraordinary feats such as telekinesis, precognition and mental suggestion. Not all psychological states are conducive to employing the Force; discipline is required. However, both quietude and focused, intense passion alike can be effective. The Sith originated in a species of Force-sensitive warriors who discovered the efficacy of passion as a tool to draw on the Force at least 5,000 years prior to the events of the first Star Wars film.[17] Fully embracing this approach, they became defined and corrupted by it.

The warriors who would become the first Sith were apparently heterodox members of an older martial order of Force-sensitive sapient beings in the Star Wars universe: The Jedi. The Jedi served as a space-faring knightly order within the Galactic Republic, a representative democracy encompassing most developed worlds. The Jedi Order sought to use the powers of the Force to help defend the weak and advance the rule of law across the galaxy, in keeping with their ethics of self-sacrifice and service to the common welfare. The Jedi creed mirrored their method of utilizing the Force, and Jedi doctrine favored states of serenity, detachment, compassion, and humility as the proper means of accessing its power. When members of the Jedi Order began to experiment with passion as an alternative, controversy emerged. The Jedi establishment saw these innovations as a threat to the ethos of the Jedi, opening members to the seduction of aggrandizement and cruelty. Eventually, this controversy led to a sectarian conflict in which the heterodox Jedi were defeated and exiled.[18]

In exile, the dissident Jedi were free to explore the relationship between passion and the Force. They concluded that the martial and ethical disciplines of the Jedi establishment were foolish and misguided: Passion, not quietude, was the most potent means of accessing the Force, and conflict, not peace, was the natural and healthy state of the universe. Rejecting the self-abnegation of their forebears, the exiles now embraced ruthless personal ambition, believing that power belonged to those with the cunning and strength to seize it. In their training, the dissidents would seek to master the Force by cultivating dark passions such as anger and hate, a practice anathematized by the Jedi as taking recourse to the Force's "Dark Side." Guided by their kratocratic and egoistic philosophy and armed with taboo Dark Side techniques, the former Jedi exiles would reemerge to menace the galaxy as the Sith Order, aiming to conquer the Galactic Republic and exact revenge against the Jedi.

A succession of Sith-led regimes would arise to challenge the Jedi and the Galactic Republic.[19] However, internal power struggles would prove decisive in thwarting the Sith's designs. The paradox of reconciling endless personal ambition with corporate action would become a great practical and philosophical concern for the Sith. Ultimately, this paradox would be “resolved” through a drastic reorganization effected by a leader named Darth Bane, who recast the Sith in an esoteric lineal master-apprentice tradition known as “The Rule of Two.”[20] Thereafter (at least, as a matter of orthodoxy) there would be only two Sith at a time: One to embody power, and another to crave it. While concealing their identity as Sith, a succession of Sith masters and apprentices would work through the centuries to inveigle or force themselves into positions of power and undermine responsible government, preparing the Galactic Republic for eventual usurpation. The Banite tradition encouraged each apprentice to eventually challenge and slaughter his or her master, and take an apprentice in turn. In this way, Darth Bane guaranteed the conspiracy remained a secret for a thousand years; he believed that the kratocratic essence of Sith philosophy could be reconciled with a sustained project of galactic domination and revenge against the Jedi. The first six Star Wars films chronicle the consummation, and eventual undoing, of this ancient scheme.

Ascent to power of the Sith[edit]

Darth Bane's plan would come to fruition through Sheev Palpatine, a Naboo Senator, later Supreme Chancellor, of the Galactic Republic, and secretly a Dark Lord of the Sith (“Darth Sidious”). By manipulating disgruntled factions within the Galactic Republic, Palpatine orchestrated civil war. This conflict, known within the Star Wars universe as the "Clone Wars", provided a justification for consolidating power in the Galactic Republic's chief executive and assembling a large army of hastily cloned soldiers—surreptitiously conditioned to obey certain key commands issued by Palpatine. Although the Jedi eventually discovered Palpatine's identity as a Sith Lord and attempted to arrest him, this action was anticipated by Palpatine, who framed their actions as an attempted coup, providing in turn a pretext for annihilating the Jedi by activating “Order 66,” one of the clone soldiers’ embedded protocols. In the course of effecting his designs, Palpatine also manipulated the Jedi's most powerful initiate, Anakin Skywalker, into his service, by promising to teach Skywalker dark side techniques that could save the life of Padmé Amidala, a Galactic Senator to whom Skywalker was secretly married in violation of Jedi rules, and whose death in childbirth Skywalker had preternaturally foreseen. In a tragic irony, Amidala's sheer horror at discovering Skywalker's collaboration with Sidious in destroying the Jedi would itself be the cause of her death during childbirth, though Sidious would trick Skywalker into believing that an episode of Skywalker's physical abuse of Amidala had been the actual cause of her death. Skywalker's subsequent emotional collapse would lead him to fully embrace the dark side of the Force and assume the persona of Darth Vader, Lord of the Sith. With Darth Vader at his side, the Emperor would rule the newly styled Galactic Empire for approximately 20 years as its Emperor. Initially unknown to Vader and Sidious, two children were delivered by Padme before her death.

Sith temples[edit]

The Rebels episode "Twilight of the Apprentice" features a forbidden planet called Malachor,[21] home of an ancient Sith temple.[22] The temple contains a superweapon, and can only be activated by placing a special Sith Holocron[23] in an obelisk at the summit of the pyramid inside the temple. Thousands of years prior, a battle was waged on Malachor that resulted in the deaths of its inhabitants. Somewhere between the events of his last appearance in Solo: A Star Wars Story and this Rebels episode, Darth Maul had become stranded on the planet. When Ahsoka Tano, Kanan Jarrus and Ezra Bridger arrive, Ezra is separated from them. He is discovered by Maul, and together, they use the Force cooperatively to solve a series of tests, and retrieve a Sith Holocron. With the help of Kanan and Ahsoka, they fought three Inquisitors, all of whom are killed by Maul. Maul then betrays his allies, blinding Kanan, and proceeds to activate the superweapon.

Maul is defeated by a sightless Kanan, and Darth Vader arrives with the intention of retrieving the holocron, but is challenged by Ahsoka, his former Padawan. While the superweapon is preparing to fire, Kanan and Ezra retrieve the holocron and escape, preventing the weapon of mass destruction from being used. Even though the temple is destabilized, Ahsoka and Vader keep fighting to the death within the rapidly crumbling building, until it eventually explodes, wounding Vader.[24]

The Star Wars Resistance episode "The Relic Raiders" depicts a Sith temple hidden underneath a later Jedi temple.[25]

End of the Sith[edit]

Anakin's children, Leia, and Luke Skywalker would become key members of the Rebel Alliance to restore the Galactic Republic. Luke would be secretly tutored in the ways of the Force by Vader's own former Jedi master, Obi-Wan Kenobi, and a powerful elder Jedi, Yoda, who also survived Palpatine's purge. Ironically, during a final confrontation between Luke Skywalker, Darth Vader and the Emperor aboard a mobile battle station known as the Death Star, the Sith lineage would end as Darth Bane prescribed that it proceed. Darth Sidious offered Skywalker an ultimatum to enter his service or die, and proceeded to use his Force-derived powers to torture and kill Skywalker when the latter refused to embrace the dark side of the Force. Experiencing a crisis of conscience at the imminent death of Skywalker, whom Vader now knew to be his son, Darth Vader chose to intervene and kill his former master, Sidious, fulfilling the prophecy of the Chosen One. Vader would die of his own injuries shortly thereafter, thus apparently bringing an end to the Sith and their ancient vendetta.

The 2019 film The Rise of Skywalker depicts the climax of the conflict between the Sith and the Jedi,[26] and features the group known as the Sith Eternal, led by a resurrected Darth Sidious. When Sidious meets his final demise at the hands of his granddaughter, Rey, the moment also marks the definitive end of the Sith.

Overview[edit]

Timeline[edit]

Members[edit]

Darth Sidious[edit]

Darth Sidious (Sheev Palpatine) was a human Dark Lord of the Sith who appeared in each trilogy of the Skywalker Saga. Originally the eldest son of an aristocratic family from the planet Naboo, he rose to power within the Galactic Republic's government system starting from Senator of his homeworld, then to Supreme Chancellor of the Republic, and finally to self-proclaimed Emperor of the Galactic Empire. This was done by cultivating a public image as a humble and competent politician while secretly mastering dark Sith arts studying under Plagueis, and planning the destruction of the Jedi Order and Republic. Eventually, by manipulating disaffected political groups and using double agents to sow discord, Palpatine fomented a civil war that provided an opportunity for him to seize absolute power. He had three known Sith apprentices: Darth Maul, Darth Tyranus, and Darth Vader. He was eventually betrayed and killed by his last, Vader, at the end of Return of the Jedi.[27] He returned more than 30 years later in The Rise of Skywalker, having managed to cheat death through powerful mastery of the dark side of the Force.[28] He attempted to reclaim control of the galaxy through an armada of Star Destroyers armed with planet-destroying weapons, but was finally killed by his granddaughter, Rey, who deflected his Force lightning back at him using the Skywalker lightsabers. Darth Sidious' final death marked what appears to be the definitive end of the Sith.

In Legends continuity, Darth Sidious would return using clones and ancient Sith powers, returning in several clone bodies over the course of several novels and comics. During this time he would briefly turn Luke Skywalker to the dark side of the Force through sheer power as much as by guile, though Luke would later be redeemed by his sister Leia and restored to the light side of the Force and defeated Palpatine once and for all. Shortly before his first death, Palpatine had sent a psychic command through the Force to Mara Jade, planting in her the need to kill Luke. She eventually fulfilled this command by slaying a clone of Luke called Luuke Skywalker, whom Palpatine had made in an attempt to use him against the original, though this plot ultimately would fail due to Mara's fatal attack on the clone.

Darth Maul[edit]

Darth Maul was a Dathomirian Zabrak Sith Lord who served as the first apprentice of Darth Sidious. He first appeared in Star Wars: Episode I – The Phantom Menace, where he was ordered by his master to capture Queen Amidala of Naboo in order for her to sign a treaty that would legalize the Trade Federation's invasion of the planet. During a duel with Jedi Master Qui-Gon Jinn and his Padawan apprentice Obi-Wan Kenobi, who were assigned to protect Amidala, Maul killed the former, but was sliced in half by Obi-Wan and fell down a shaft. Although presumed dead, he survived his injuries and ended up on the junk planet Lotho Minor, where he would become a cyborg and be driven to insanity. He was eventually rescued by his brother Savage Opress twelve years later, during the Clone Wars. After being provided with a pair of new robotic legs by the Nightsisters, led by Maul's mother, Talzin, he sought revenge against Obi-Wan. This culminated with Maul allying with various crime syndicates, taking over the planet Mandalore, and killing Duchess Satine Kryze, whom Obi-Wan loved. Although he was then captured by his former master, Sidious, who came to see him as a rival, he managed to escape and rebuild his criminal empire. Following his overthrow and capture by the Galactic Republic, Maul escaped once again and went into hiding. During the reign of the Galactic Empire, Maul resurfaced as a crime lord and ran his syndicate, the Crimson Dawn, from the shadows, but is eventually stranded on the Sith world of Malachor. He escaped years later, after meeting Ezra Bridger, whom he then forced to assist in locating Obi-Wan. Finding him to be hiding on Tatooine, Maul fought his old nemesis one last time and was mortally wounded. Before dying, Maul took comfort in the fact that Obi-Wan was looking after who he believed to be the "Chosen One", who would one day avenge them by destroying the Sith.

Darth Tyranus[edit]

Darth Tyranus (Count Dooku) was a human Dark Lord of the Sith and the second apprentice of Darth Sidious, first appearing in Star Wars: Episode II – Attack of the Clones. Born to the royal family of the planet Serenno, Dooku was rejected by his family as an infant upon the discovery of his connection to the Force, which his father in particular feared and, as such, abandoned him after contacting the Jedi Order to come and take him to Coruscant. During his training under Yoda, Dooku proved himself to be both strong with the Force and a skilled duelist, regarded by many as one of the best in the Order. Upon becoming a Jedi Master, he left the Order and returned to Serenno to reclaim his title and heritage as a nobleman. He later fell to the dark side and became a Sith Lord and Darth Sidious' puppet. Dooku helped Sidious with his galactic conquest plans, recruiting the bounty hunter Jango Fett as the template of the clone army that would be used by the Galactic Republic, and forming the Confederacy of Independent Systems from various planets and systems that wanted to become independent from the Republic, resulting in the Clone Wars. Dooku served as the figurehead of the Separatist Alliance throughout the Clone Wars, until meeting his demise at the hands of Anakin Skywalker in Star Wars: Episode III – Revenge of the Sith. In his final moments, Dooku realized that Sidious had merely used him to aid his schemes, and had planned to have him killed and replaced by someone more powerful all along.[29]

Darth Vader[edit]

Darth Vader (Anakin Skywalker) was a human-cyborg Dark Lord of the Sith and the third and final apprentice of Darth Sidious, who first appeared in the Star Wars original trilogy, and later in the prequel trilogy. As the Jedi hero Anakin Skywalker, he fought alongside his master Obi-Wan Kenobi during the galaxy-wide Clone Wars, but was slowly seduced to the dark side by Darth Sidious. After helping Sidious kill Jedi Master Mace Windu, he swore allegiance to the Sith and was given the name Darth Vader before setting out to destroy all Jedi left on Coruscant. After being sent by Sidious to assassinate the Separatist council members on Mustafar, Vader was badly injured in a duel with Kenobi, resulting in the loss of his remaining organic arm, both legs, and severe burn injuries. He was saved by Sidious, and encased in a black suit of armor with extensive cybernetics which kept him alive. As the Galactic Empire was established and continued to grow, Vader became the Emperor's immensely feared second-in-command and was given the task of finding surviving Jedi and the Rebel Alliance's base. After the destruction of the first Death Star, Vader was charged with tracking down the Rebel Alliance and destroying their headquarters. However, the actions of his son, Luke Skywalker, eventually turned Vader against his master, resulting in both Sidious' and Vader's deaths, as well as the fulfilment of the Chosen One prophecy.[30]

Darth Plagueis[edit]

Darth Plagueis was a Muun Dark Lord of the Sith and Darth Sidious' master, first referenced in Star Wars: Episode III - Revenge of the Sith. In the film, Sidious (as Palpatine) uses Plagueis' story to seduce Anakin Skywalker to the dark side, claiming that Plagueis' abilities in the Force grew to such an extent that he could create life by influencing microscopic Force-sensitive entities called "midi-chlorians," and even save people from dying. According to the Rule of Two, Plagueis was eventually killed by Sidious in his sleep, who subsequently became the new Sith Master and would later take on an apprentice of his own.

Plagueis is the main character of the Legends novel, Star Wars: Darth Plagueis, which explains much of his backstory, including his training under Darth Tenebrous, mentorship of Palpatine, and early plans to undermine the Galactic Republic and drive the Jedi Order into ruins. The novel also reveals that Plagueis' public identity was Hego Damsk II, a member of the Intergalactic Banking Clan.

Darth Bane[edit]

Darth Bane (Dessel) was a human Dark Lord of the Sith and the sole survivor of the Sith Order in the aftermath of the ancient war between the Jedi and the Sith. He is best known for establishing the Rule of Two, which was considered the beginning of the modern Sith within the Star Wars canon. 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/her master and adopt an apprentice of his/her own.[31] He is the main character of the Darth Bane Trilogy by Drew Karpyshyn, which part of the Legends continuity.

In the Star Wars canon, Darth Bane's backstory as the only Sith surivor of the Jedi-Sith war and the creator of the Rule of Two is mostly unchanged, though not much else is known about him. His only canonical appearance was in the episode "Sacrifice" of Star Wars: The Clone Wars, where his spirit was encountered by Yoda on the Sith homeworld of Moraband.

Darth Momin[edit]

Darth Momin was a humanoid Dark Lord of Sith who appeared in the comic book Darth Vader: Dark Lord of the Sith and briefly in Lando. Once a sculptor, he was imprisoned at a young age for his creations, which scared most people who saw them. Momin was eventually rescued by a Sith Lady named Shaa, who trained him in the dark side of the Force until he became more powerful than her and killed her. Momin then built a superweapon to destroy a city and perished when the Jedi intervened to stop him, losing control over the energy he wielded and causing his physical body to be destroyed, leaving behind only his mask with his spirit inside. Many years later, the mask was retrieved from the Jedi Archive vault by Darth Sidious, who gave it to Darth Vader as a gift for his journey to Mustafar, which Vader sought to make his personal stronghold. After Momin's spirit killed some of his personnel, Vader examined the mask and learned of Momin's past, before letting him possess the body of a Mustafarian and build a fortress for him. Shortly after Momin finished building of the fortress, Vader was distracted by an invasion of Mustafarians, which Momin took advantage of to open the door to the Dark Side and resurrect himself. However, after challenging Vader to a duel, Momin met a quick demise by being crushed with a giant rock. Despite Momin's death, his dark essence remained in the mask for several more years. At one point, Momin's mask was aboard the Imperial yacht Imperialis, when a group of thieves led by Lando Calrissian attempt to rob the ship. After Momin's spirit possessed the bodies of two thieves, the others were forced to abandon them and blow up the ship, seemingly destroying Momin's mask, and his spirit with it. Luke Skywalker later learned about Momin and his history during his travels across the galaxy, and described the Sith Lord's role in building Vader's fortress in his book, titled The Secrets of the Jedi.

Other canon Sith Lords[edit]

  • Darth Atrius - Ancient Dark Lord of the Sith who lived before Darth Bane and the modern Sith. He owned two crossguard lightsabers, which were found and given away by the smuggler Sana Starros after the Battle of Yavin. The anger possessed by Atrius when wielding both these crossguard lightsabers at the same time, carried over to the weapons themselves, and can transfer over to their new owners. These lightsabers were eventually destroyed by Darth Vader and Luke Skywalker, thus possibly erasing all knowledge about Atrius himself.[32]
  • Darth Caldoth - Duros Dark Lord of the Sith mentioned in the 2019 novel Myths & Fables. He lived at an unknown point in time before Star Wars: Episode I – The Phantom Menace and wrote a book titled The Bestiary of Darth Caldoth, which mentioned various Sith warbeasts. According to the legend, Caldoth eventually gained a Sith apprentice, the Twi'lek Ry Nymbis, and they were considered the two most powerful individuals in the galaxy at the time. Caldoth killed his own apprentice with a Sith ritual that turned the person's body into stone when he felt Nymbis was going to betray him. With the ritual, Nymbis was trapped in an eternal nightmare.
  • Darth Krall - Dark Lord of the Sith born as Radaki, who lived at an unknown point in time before Star Wars: Episode I – The Phantom Menace. He was first mentioned in the 2019 audiobook Dooku: Jedi Lost. Krall was seduced to the dark side after losing his faith in the Jedi Order, believing that the Jedi should retain their family ties and wealth. During his life, he fought in the Battle of Wasted Years, where the Sith emerged victorious, and tamed the Nightmare Conjunction. His lightsaber would later be stored in the Bogan Collection at the Jedi Temple on Coruscant.
  • Darth Skrye - Dark Lady of the Sith mentioned in the audiobook Dooku: Lost Jedi. She lived at an unknown point in time before Star Wars: Episode I – The Phantom Menace. Her voice was heard by Count Dooku during his time as a Jedi Padawan, in a Force vision that he had after encountering the Presagers of Hakotei on Asusto. In this vision, Skrye claimed that the Sith were reborn and activated a superweapon called the Cauldron, which destroyed a planet. She also owned an artifact called the Hand of Skrye, which would eventually be found by the Jedi Lene Kostana and Sifo-Dyas on Rishi.
  • Darth Wrend - Dark Lord of the Sith mentioned in the novel Master & Apprentice. He lived at an unknown point in time before Star Wars: Episode I – The Phantom Menace, and was best known for coming back to life after being killed by the Jedi Order, in order to fight them once again. The legend of Darth Wrend would come to Qui-Gon Jinn's mind during his time as a Padawan, who opened the holocron of prophecy, which contained numerous prophecies, many of which dated from ten thousand years ago. One of the prophecies said that evil would disappear yet appear again once the righteous had lost its light, which many believed that was referring to the return of the Sith. At that time, Qui-Gon believed that the prophecy talked about Darth Wrend's return from the dead and that it had already been fulfilled; it would later be revealed that the prophecy was actuallly about the return of the Sith after living in secrecy for almost a millennium.
  • Darth Tanis - Ancient Dark Lord of the Sith who lived at least 4000 years before Star Wars: Episode IV – A New Hope, as Sith accounts from the year 3966 BBY describe kyber weaponry developed by him on the planet Malachor. Darth Tanis is only mentioned in The Rise of Skywalker: The Visual Dictionary, where it is revealed that Darth Sidious' Sith Eternal cult named the 17th Legion of Sith Troopers after him.
  • Darth Revan - Ancient Dark Lord of the Sith mentioned in The Rise of Skywalker: The Visual Dictionary, as the namesake of the 3rd Legion of Sith Troopers from Darth Sidious' Sith Eternal cult. Darth Revan is a more important figure in the Legends continuity, where he is main protagonist of the video game Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic, and a major character in related works. Once a Jedi hero of the Old Republic who led the Jedi to victory in the Mandalorian Wars, Revan later searched for the secret Sith Empire and was captured and tortured by the Sith Emperor, turning him to the dark side. After breaking free of the Emperor's control, Revan and his friend and Sith apprentice, Darth Malak, created their own Sith Empire using the ancient Star Forge to wage war on the Republic, but Malak eventually betrayed Revan and ordered his soldiers to fire on his ship during a battle against the Jedi. The wounded but still alive Revan was then captured by the Jedi, who erased his memories and gave him a new identity so that he could fight on their side once again. In the end, Revan defeated Malak and his Sith Empire and was seen as a Jedi hero once again, but was later captured by the Sith Emperor again and his psychic broke into a lighter half and a darker half. After being rescued by his descendant Satele Shan 300 years later, Revan's darker half sought to resurrect the Emperor's physical form so that he could kill him for good, but was defeated by the combined efforts of the Jedi, Sith, and his lighter half. The two halves of Revan then merged in peace and died for the final time.
  • Darth Andeddu - Ancient Dark Lord of the Sith mentioned in The Rise of Skywalker: The Visual Dictionary, as the namesake of the 5th Legion of Sith Troopers from Darth Sidious' Sith Eternal cult. Darth Andeddu is a more important figure in the Legends continuity, where he is one of the first known Sith Lords to have lived, as the preceded he creation of the "Darth" title. After being forced to flee from Korriban, Andeddu created the world of Prakith, which he ruled as a deity for several centuries, before tombing himself to prevent his followers from stealing his secrets after his death. During his life, he created the first ever Sith holocron to store his knowledge, and discovered the ability to cheat death by transferring one's essence into another vessel.
  • Darth Tenebrous - Dark Lord of the Sith mentioned in The Rise of Skywalker: The Visual Dictionary, as the namesake of the 26th Legion of Sith Troopers from Darth Sidious' Sith Eternal cult. Darth Tenebrous is a more important figure in the Legends continuity, where he was Darth Plagueis' master and possessed an unusual ability to foresee the future, including his own death. He maintained a public persona as Rugess Tome, a legendary artisanal starship designer, and was forced to wear a breathing apparatus. Tenebrous hoped to possess the Chosen One once they would be revealed and gain immortality, but he was eventually betrayed and killed by Plagueis. Although Tenebrous managed to cheat death by entering his apprentice's body, he couldn't do anything when Plagueis was killed by his own apprentice, Darth Sidious. Unable to return to his original body or possess another person, Tenebrous was cursed to remain a vague spirit for the rest of eternity.
  • Darth Phobos - Ancient Dark Lady of the Sith mentioned in The Rise of Skywalker: The Visual Dictionary, as the namesake of the 39th Legion of Sith Troopers from Darth Sidious' Sith Eternal cult. Darth Phobos also exists in the Legends continuity, where she was a seductive Theelin Sith with mind manipulation abilities. She killed many of her fellow Sith in a bid of power and formed a cult to worship her, but was ultimately killed by the combined forces of the Jedi and Sith. Her image was later incorporated in the training simulations at the Jedi Temple on Coruscant. This virtual representation of Phobos was fought by Starkiller in Star Wars: The Force Unleashed.
  • Darth Desolous - Ancient Dark Lord of the Sith mentioned in The Rise of Skywalker: The Visual Dictionary, as the namesake of the 44th Legion of Sith Troopers from Darth Sidious' Sith Eternal cult. Darth Desolous also exists in the Legends continuity, where he was a Pau'an warrior expelled from the Jedi Order due to his violent nature. He trained an army of fellow Pau'ans to fight them, but ended up falling into a trap set by the Jedi and perished in battle. His image was later incorporated in the training simulations at the Jedi Temple on Coruscant. This virtual representation of Desolous was fought by Starkiller in Star Wars: The Force Unleashed.

Legends Sith Lords[edit]

Following the 2012 acquisition of Lucasfilm by The Walt Disney Company, Lucasfilm rebranded most of the licensed Star Wars novels, comics, and other fictional media published since the original 1977 film (previously identified as the Star Wars Expanded Universe) as Star Wars Legends and declared them non-canonical to the franchise in April 2014.[33][34][35]

The Sith feature heavily in many stories of the Star Wars Expanded Universe (EU), appearing in a variety of media created prior to the advent of the 2015 feature film Star Wars: The Force Awakens.[36] Future authors and screenwriters are not required to honor all of the events depicted in this material, but the Expanded Universe has remained a source of creative inspiration. The EU thoroughly details the schism between the dissident “Dark Jedi” and the Jedi establishment that led to the creation of the Sith Order, as well a series of conflicts between the Sith, Jedi and the Galactic Republic spanning the millennia prior to the events of the Star Wars motion picture series, and certain events thereafter.

In the EU, the Sith trace their origins to the followers of a dissident Jedi named Ajunta Pall, who endorsed the use of the Dark Side of the Force, contrary to Jedi orthodoxy.[37] After Pall and his “Dark Jedi” followers were exiled for their practices, they eventually settled on a planet named Korriban, which was occupied by the "Sith," a red-skinned humanoid race with a high prevalence of Force-sensitives. Over the course of centuries of intermingling between the ethnic Sith and Dark Jedi, the name "Sith" would come to apply to the martial philosophy and political affiliation created by the former Jedi exiles on Korriban, rather than a specific race. This Sith regime would strike out at the Galactic Republic and Jedi on numerous occasions. Notable conflicts between the Sith and the Galactic Republic include the "Great Hyperspace War," in which the Sith would launch a massive invasion of the Republic but succumb to infighting, and the “Sith Holocaust,” in which the Galactic Republic failed in its attempt to exterminate the Sith from known space, leading the Sith survivors to take a vow of eternal vengeance on the Galactic Republic. The EU also describes the exploits of Sith characters following the collapse of Emperor Palpatine's Galactic Empire and the restoration of the Republic, such as the attempt by “Darth Krayt” to establish a New Sith Order on Korriban.

The first Expanded Universe novel was Splinter of the Mind's Eye, written by Alan Dean Foster and published in 1978. The setting for the 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 Kyber Crystal to use it for his evil schemes.

Other novels that depict Sith characters are Darth Maul: Saboteur and Cloak of Deception by James Luceno.[38] 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.[39]

In Darth Maul: Shadow Hunter, by Michael Reaves, Darth Sidious sends his apprentice, Darth Maul, to investigate the traitor who leaked the secret of his plan to take down the Republic.[40] Shadow Hunter provided insight into the Sith while detailing how Darth Sidious brought his plan of usurpation into action.

Dark Horse Comics purchased the copyrights to several Star Wars stories.[41] 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.[42] The Sith appear as major antagonists throughout this story's plot.[42] 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.[42]

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,[43] Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic II – The Sith Lords, released in 2004[44] and Star Wars: The Force Unleashed, released in 2008.[45]

Darth Caedus[edit]

Darth Caedus (Jacen Solo) was a Dark Lord of the Sith born as the oldest son of Han Solo and Leia Organa Solo. A Jedi hero of the Yuuzhan Vong War, he eventually fell to the dark side years later and masterminded the Second Galactic Civil War. He was eventually killed by his twin sister Jaina for his actions.

Marka Ragnos[edit]

Marka Ragnos was an ancient Sith-human hybrid, who lived during the time of the first Sith Empire, and seized the title of Dark Lord of the Sith, serving as the ruler of the Empire. After his death, two Sith Lords, Naga Sadow and Ludo Kressh, fought to occupy his throne, only for Ragnos' spirit to appear before them and claim that only the most worthy should succeed him. Ragnos lived on as a Force spirit after his death, trapped within his tomb in the Valley of the Dark Lords on Korriban. A thousand years after the Dark Lord's death, Exar Kun summoned Ragnos from his grave through the use of talismans. Ragnos crowned Exar Kun as the new Dark Lord, with Ulic Qel-Droma as Kun's apprentice, as an attempt to resurrect the lost empire thousands of years prior. Several thousands of years after that, in the video game Star Wars Jedi Knight: Jedi Academy (set during the New Republic era), a cult dedicated to Ragnos, led by the Dark Jedi Tavion Axmis, intended to resurrect the Sith Lord using an old artifact called the Scepter of Ragnos. After absorbing Force energy from numerous locations across the galaxy using the scepter, Tavion and her cult traveled to Korriban and almost succeeded in resurrecting Ragnos, but were stopped by Luke Skywalker's New Jedi Order. Inside Ragnos' tomb, the Jedi Knight Jaden Korr defeated Tavion, before Ragnos' spirit possessed her body, attempting to kill the Jedi himself. However, Jaden was able to defeat Ragnos, whose spirit left Tavion's body and returned to the depths of the Force, swearing revenge against the Jedi.

Darth Malak[edit]

Darth Malak (Alek) is the main antagonist of Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic. Once a Jedi Knight and Revan's best friend, he fought alongside in the Mandalorian Wars. Later, Alek and Revan unwittingly discovered the Sith Empire in the Unknown Regions and were captured by the Sith Emperor, who, using Sith sorcery, turned them to the dark side, but the two broke free from his control and formed their own Sith Empire using the Star Forge to wage war on the Republic, with Revan as the leader and Alek, now Darth Malak, as his Sith Apprentice. At some point, Malak attempted to kill Revan and take over the Sith Empire for himself, but was defeated and had his entire lower jaw cut off, forcing him to don a prosthetic jaw instead. Later, when Revan prepared to battle the Jedi who boarded his flagship, Malak betrayed him, ordering the ships under his command to fire on Revan's flagship's bridge, so that he could take over the Sith Empire for himself. However, Revan survived the ordeal and was taken to the Jedi Council Enclave, where he had his memory wiped, so that he would become a Jedi once again. Eventually, Revan faced off against Malak, who revealed the truth of his identity, but was ultimately killed by him, which also led to the downfall of his Sith Empire.

Darth Traya[edit]

Darth Traya (Kreia) is a mentor to the "Jedi Exile" and the hidden main antagonist of Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic II – The Sith Lords.[46][47] She is revealed to have been a Sith Master at the end of the game, and is ultimately killed in battle.

Darth Sion[edit]

Darth Sion, also known as the Lord of Pain, is an antagonist in Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic II – The Sith Lords. Alongside Darth Nihilus, he served as one of Traya's apprentices, until ultimately betraying her and driving her into exile. Sion managed to achieve immortality by calling on his pain, anger and hatred every time he was facing certain death, at the expense of all-consuming agony, which also led to his extremely disfigured appearance. The player's character eventually defeated Sion, and was then given the option to turn him back to the light side. Regardless, upon being shown the price he paid for immortality, Sion finally let go of his hate and allowed himself to die permanently.

Darth Nihilus[edit]

Darth Nihilus, also known as the Lord of Hunger, is an antagonist in Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic II – The Sith Lords. Alongside Darth Sion, he served as one of Traya's apprentices, until ultimately betraying her and driving her into exile. Nihilus imbued his dark soul into his mask and robes and had the power to drain the life force out of any living thing. Following the betrayal of his master, Nihilus used the might of the Sith Armada not to conquer planets, but to contain them so that he could "feed" off the Force energy of each planet's lifeforms, wiping planets of life. However, Nihilus was later drawn out and tricked into launching an attack on Telos, believing it to contain the last Jedi. The Exile confronted Nihilus on his ship, and Nihilus was killed either after his former slave Visas sacrificed herself due to their shared link in the Force, or after his attempt to feast on the Exile's connection to the Force backfired and weakened him. Despite his death, Nihilus' soul would continue to live in his mask and robes for millennia to come, as well as inside his own Sith holocron.

Lord Vitiate[edit]

Known for much of his 1300-year life as "the Sith Emperor", Lord Vitiate was a sociopathic young lord in one of the earliest iterations of the Sith Empire. When that empire fell, he led an exodus of survivors to the other side of the galaxy to establish a continuation of it, with himself as Emperor. It was Vitiate who corrupted Revan and Malak, but Revan's redemption and Malak's defeat seemingly derailed his plans. Three hundred years after Revan's disappearance, the Emperor launched a surprise attack on the Republic, setting the stage for the video game Star Wars: The Old Republic.

Darth Malgus[edit]

Darth Malgus (Veradun) is a major antagonist in Star Wars: The Old Republic. A human Dark Lord of the Sith who trained under Vindican, Malgus served the Sith Empire during the Great Galactic War against the Republic. Following the recapture of Korriban from the Jedi, Malgus killed his master and later led a surprise assault on Alderaan, only to be defeated by his nemesis and former opponent from Korriban, Satele Shan. Malgus was severely injured in the fight against Shan, forcing him to wear a respiratory apparatus for the rest of his life. Sometime later, Malgus was tasked by his superior, Darth Angral, with leading an assault team on the Jedi Temple on Coruscant, which Malgus and his forces destroyed, disgracing the Jedi Order in the eyes of the Republic. Although Malgus believed that the Battle of Coruscant was the first step of destroying the Republic, it only served as leverage in the peace negotiations that took place on Alderaan. While the Alderaanian summit progressed, the Sith settled into an occupation of Coruscant. Malgus was placed in charge of orbital security, but the Sith Lord defied his orders and traveled back to Coruscant's surface to strike against the renegade Jedi Aryn Leneer, who wanted to avenge her master Ven Zallow, killed by Malgus during the attack on the Jedi Temple. Although Leneer ultimately failed, the conflict caused Malgus to become disillusioned with the Empire and to kill his lover Eleena Daru, seeing their relationship as a weakness that prevented him from preserving his own power, which he later used to cleanse the Empire of the politicians whom he blamed for allowing the Republic to survive. During the Cold War years that followed the successful peace negotiations, Malgus led Sith forces into the Unknown Regions, claiming previously-unknown territories for the Empire. Towards the end of the war, following the presumed death of the Sith Emperor and his service on the Dark Council, Malgus formed his own Empire, free of the infighting of the Dark Council. However, the Republic and the Sith Empire forces soon teamed up to fight against Malgus' Empire and managed to track him down to his secret base, where they defeated him. Despite his apparent death, Malgus later resurfaced during the Invasion of Ossus at the start of the Third Galactic War, once again serving as a commander within the Sith Empire. However, following the Battle of Corellia, Malgus went rogue, determined to expunge all physical and mental restraints used to keep him under control. Thousands of years after his death, Malgus was still remembered as one of the most powerful Sith Lords to have ever lived. At one point, Darth Sidious acquired some surviving excerpts of Malgus's journals, which he bounded into his Book of Sith, an anthology of Sith historical writings.

Sith Affiliates[edit]

Dark Side Force-wielders who use the dark side of the Force, but don't follow the Sith ideology and, therefore, are not considered official Sith. Some can be trained by a Sith master as an informal apprentice or assassin, in which case they are called Sith Shadow Hands.

Canon[edit]

Asajj Ventress[edit]

Asajj Ventress was a Dathomirian Sith Shadow Hand trained under Darth Tyranus (Count Dooku) and an antagonist of the Star Wars: The Clone Wars. She first appeared in the 2003 microseries Star Wars: Clone Wars, in which Darth Sidious assigned her to kill the then-Padawan Anakin Skywalker. After tracking the young war hero to the planet Muunilinst, Ventress engaged Anakin's Republic fighter forces fighting above the Separatist-occupied world and baited him in a chase to Yavin 4, where a fierce battle from the forest to the Massassi temple took place. Though she initially gained the upper hand in the ensuing lightsaber duel, Anakin called upon his immense connection to the Force to brutally overpower her, causing the Dathomirian to fall over the edge of a cliff. However, survived the landing and continued to serve her master throughout the Clone Wars on several occasions.

In Star Wars: The Clone Wars, Ventress was a recurring antagonist during the first seasons, as she assisted Dooku with several schemes, most of which were thwarted by the Jedi. After being replaced with Savage Opress for her failures, Ventress returned to the Nightsisters until General Grievous led a massacre against them, which only she and Mother Talzin survived. From there, she helped Boba Fett's team of bounty hunters on a dangerous mission, which thus marked the start of her own bounty hunting career. Ventres later appeared in the novel Star Wars: Dark Disciple, which was intended for a story arc in the TV series. In the novel, she teamed up with Jedi Quinlan Vos to assassinate Dooku, and, along the way, the two fell in love. However, their attempt to kill Dooku failed, and Dooku captured Vos, turning him to the dark side. Ventress managed to turn Vos back, but died saving him from Dooku. She was buried on Dathomir, amongst her fallen sisters.

Savage Opress[edit]

Savage Opress was a Dathomirian Zabrak Sith Shadow Hand first trained under Darth Tyranus (Count Dooku) and later under his own brother, Darth Maul, as well as a major antagonist in Star Wars: The Clone Wars. Originally a Nightbrother under Mother Talzin on Dathomir, he was handpicked by Asajj Ventress as part of her scheme to kill Dooku for the attempt on her life. His mind was eventually altered by the Nightsisters, making him more of a berserker on Ventress' call to the point of killing his brother Feral without remorse. Opress managed to become Tyranus' new Shadow Hand and learned only a little about the ways of the Sith before Ventress had him help her fight their master due to his actions under him getting unwanted attention from the Jedi. However, in the heat of the moment and provoked by both of them, Opress tried to kill both Tyranus and Ventress before escaping back to Dathomir. There, he was instructed by Mother Talzin to find Maul so that he could complete his training to defend himself against the numerous enemies he had made. After finding his long-lost brother as a shell of his former self on a junk planet, Opress managed to stir up Maul's grudge with Obi-Wan Kenobi to aid him in his revenge against the Jedi. From there, the two Zabrak brothers were able to set up a Confederacy against the Republic separate from the Separatists, and soon took over Mandalore. However, Darth Sidious, who considered Maul's sudden rise to power a threat to his rule, arrived on Mandalore and fought Maul and Opress. The latter met a quick demise as he was stabbed by Sidious' two lightsabers and died in his brother's arms moments later.

Quinlan Vos[edit]

Quinlan Vos was a Kiffar Jedi Master during the Clone Wars. Near the end of the war, he partnered with Asajj Ventress (who was working as a bounty hunter at the time) to assassinate Count Dooku, and ended up developing feelings for her. After being captured by Dooku, Vos willingly turned to the dark side and became his apprentice, in hopes he could discover the identity of Dooku's master, Darth Sidious. During his time as an agent for the Confederacy of Independent Systems, he became known as "Admiral Enigma". Vos was eventually turned back to the light side by Ventress, at the cost of her own life. After respectfully burying Ventress on her homeworld, Dathomir, Vos was reinstated into the Jedi Order and continued fighting in the Clone Wars on the Republic's side. He later presumambly survived the Great Jedi Purge.

Inquisitors[edit]

The Inquisitors were an organization of Force-sensitive warriors in the service of the Galactic Empire who became defunct at some point before A New Hope. Most of them were former Jedi, who had lost their faith in the Jedi Order and succumbed to the dark side, during or shortly after the Clone Wars. They were all trained by Darth Vader, who tasked them with hunting down other survivors of the Great Jedi Purge, as well as other Force-sensitive individuals, mostly children, to prevent them from becoming future Jedi.

  • The Grand Inquisitor - the individual who would become known as the Grand Inquisitor was a originally Pau'an Jedi Temple Guard during the Clone Wars. Afte losing his faith in the Jedi Order and falling to the dark side, he came into service of the Empire and worked his way up its ranks to become the leader of the Inquisitors. The Grand Inquisitor was introduced as the main antagonist of the first season of Star Wars: Rebels, where he was assigned to hunt down Kanan Jarrus and Ezra Bridger. He was eventually defeated by Kanan and chose to commit suicide rather than face the infamous wrath of Darth Vader for his failure. His light side essence later helped Kanan pass his final trial to become a Jedi Knight. In the Star Wars comic series, it was revealed that the Inquisitor's spirit was somehow tied by Darth Vader to an abandoned Jedi outpost on Tempes, where it briefly fought Luke Skywalker and where it was cursed to stay forever, unable to pass on and become one with the Force.
  • The Second Sister - Trilla Suduri was the Padawan of Jedi Knight Cere Junda and one of the few survivors of the Great Jedi Purge. After Cere was captured and interrogated by the Empire, she betrayed Trilla's location, leading to her being captured and tortured by the Empire as well, until giving into the dark side and becoming the Second Sister Inquisitor. She initially made a cameo appearance in the comic book Darth Vader: Dark Lord of the Sith, and later served as the main antagonist of the video game Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order, where she was tasked with hunting Jedi Padawan Cal Kestis, as well as a holocron containing a list of Force-sensitive children. Although she succeeded in securing the holocron, she was eventually defeated by Kestis and Cere at the Inquisitor headquarters on the planet Nur. Cere then attempted to make amends with her former Padawan, but Darth Vader appeared and killed Trilla for failing her mission.
  • The Fifth Brother - the Fifth Brother was a former green-skinned humanoid member of the Jedi Order who eventually lost his faith in the Order and became an Inquisitor sometime after the rise of the Empire. He was introduced in the second season of Star Wars: Rebels, where he and the Seventh Sister were tasked with hunting the Ghost crew after the Grand Inquisitor's death, during which they also competed against each other to become the next Grand Inquisitor. The Fifth Brother was eventually defeated after dueling Kanan Jarrus, Ezra Bridger, Ahsoka Tano and Maul on Malachor, being disarmed by Ahsoka and subsequently killed by Maul.
  • The Sixth Brother - Bil Valen was a former humanoid Jedi Knight who eventually lost his faith in the Jedi Order and became the Sixth Brother Inquisitor sometime after the rise of the Empire. He was described as tall with unnatural-looking grey skin, piercing ice-blue eyes, broad shoulders, and distinctive scar/tattoo-like marking, and was also shown to have lost an arm to Darth Vader during one of his training sessions. The Sixth Brother was first introduced in the Ahsoka novel, where he was tasked with hunting Ahsoka Tano, but was ultimately defeated by her after she caused his lightsaber to overload and explode, killing him.
  • The Seventh Sister - the Seventh Sister was a former Mirialan member of the Jedi Order who eventually lost her faith in the Order and became an Inquisitor sometime after the rise of the Empire. She was introduced in the second season of Star Wars: Rebels, where she was shown to be using small droids to help her track down her targets, and was also working closely with the Fifth Brother, as they were both tasked with hunting the Ghost crew after the Grand Inquisitor's death, during which they also competed against each other to become the next Grand Inquisitor. The Seventh Sister was eventually defeated by Maul on Malachor and subsequently killed by him, after Ezra Bridger refused to do so.
  • The Eighth Brother - the Eighth Brother was a former Terrelian Jango Jumper member of the Jedi Order who eventually lost his faith in the Order and became an Inquisitor sometime after the rise of the Empire. He was introduced in the second-season finale of Star Wars: Rebels, where he was tasked with hunting the former Sith Darth Maul, eventually tracking him down to Malachor. He dueled Maul, Kanan Jarrus, Ezra Bridger, and Ahsoka Tano alongside his fellow Inquisitors, the Fifth Brother and the Seventh Sister, but the latter two were ultimately killed by Maul. Cornered, the Eighth Brother then attempted to escape, but his lightsaber had been damaged during battle and exploded in his hands when trying to use it to fly away, causing him to fall to his death.
  • The Ninth Sister - Masana Tide was a former Dowutin Jedi Knight who eventually succumbed to the dark side and became the Ninth Sister Inquisitor after intense torture at the hands of the Empire. She first appeared in the comic book Darth Vader: Dark Lord of the Sith, where she assisted Darth Vader, the Sixth Brother and the Tenth Brother in hunting the Jedi Ferren Barr on the planet Mon Cala. After Barr used the Force to turn the Imperial stormtroopers present against them, the Ninth Sister was betrayed by the Sixth Brother, who severed her right foot and left her behind to die so that he could escape, although she managed to survive. She later appeared as an antagonist in the video game Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order, where she joined the Second Sister in the hunt for Cal Kestis. The Ninth Sister was ultimately defeated by the Jedi Padawan on Kashyyyk, who severed her right hand. However, she survived the ordeal once again.
  • The Tenth Brother - Prosset Dibs was a former Miraluka Jedi Master during the Clone Wars who eventually became disillusioned by the Jedi's role as protectors of the galaxy. He first appeared in the comic book Jedi of the Republic - Mace Windu, where he tried to kill Mace Windu during a mission on the planet Hissrich. He was defeated and subsequently expelled from the Jedi Order for his actions. Dibs later became the Tenth Brother Inquisitor in the service of the Empire and appeared in the comic book Darth Vader: Dark Lord of the Sith, where he assisted Darth Vader, the Sixth Brother and the Ninth Sister in hunting the Jedi Ferren Barr on the planet Mon Cala. After Barr used the Force to turn the Imperial stormtroopers present against them, the Tenth Brother was killed in the ensuing fight.
  • Red-skinned Inquisitor - An unnamed red-skinned Inquisitor appeared in the comic book Darth Vader: Dark Lord of the Sith, where she assisted Darth Vader, the Fifth Brother and another black-skinned Twi'lek Inquisitor in hunting Jedi Master Eeth Koth. While Vader dueled and killed Koth, the female Inquisitor found his wife and baby daughter, but refused to kill them, instead taking the latter and bringing her to Vader, who then left her in the care of some nursemaids. Later, the Fifth Brother informed Vader of her actions and, believing it to be an act of treason, he tried to kill her in front of the other Inquisitors. She managed to escape with the help of her fellow Twi'lek Inquisitor, but they were both eventually caught following a chase through Coruscant and chose to commit suicide rather than face Vader's wrath.
  • Twi'lek Inquisitor - An unnamed black-skinned Twi'lek Inquisitor appeared in the comic book Darth Vader: Dark Lord of the Sith, where he assisted Darth Vader, the Fifth Brother and another red-skinned female Inquisitor in hunting Jedi Master Eeth Koth. Later, when Vader tried to kill the female Inquisitor for treason, he helped her escape, but they were both eventually caught following a chase through Coruscant and chose to commit suicide rather than face Vader's wrath.
Snoke[edit]

Snoke was a Force-sensitive artificial being created by Darth Sidious and his Sith Eternal cult on Exegol, and a major antagonist in the Star Wars sequel trilogy. After Sidious' death and the fall of the Empire, Snoke became the Supreme Leader of the First Order and seduced Ben Solo to the dark side, training him to become his apprentice, Kylo Ren. He was also behind the destruction of Luke Skywalker's Jedi Temple and the deaths of most of his students, in an attempt to wipe out the Jedi Order once and for all. He was ultimately killed by Kylo, after failing to foresee his betrayal. Following Snoke's death, Kylo took over as Supreme Leader of the First Order.

Kylo Ren[edit]

Kylo Ren (Ben Solo) was a former Jedi and powerful dark side wielder, and the central antagonist of the Star Wars sequel trilogy. He was born as the son of Leia Organa and Han Solo, and trained under his uncle, Luke Skywalker, to become a Jedi, but was seduced to the dark side by Snoke. Adopting the alias Kylo Ren, he helped eliminate his uncle's new generation of Jedi and became the leader of the Knights of Ren and a high-ranking member of the First Order. He trained under Snoke to become a powerful dark side wielder, and later proved his loyalty by killing his father when he tried to help him get redeemed. However, Kylo eventually betrayed and killed his master after siding with the Jedi Padwan Rey, with whom he shared a unique connection called a "dyad in the Force". However, instead of turning back to the light side, he took over as the new Supreme Leader of the First Order, and invited Rey to join him, but she refused. Later, Kylo had a confrontation with Luke, only to discover that he was a Force projection, meant to distract him and allow the Resistance to escape; nonetheless, Luke died as a result of the effort to create the projection, leaving Rey the only living Jedi. Eventually, Kylo discovered that Darth Sidious was still alive and plotted to kill this potential rival, but instead sided to him after he revealed the Final Order, a massive fleet of Xyston-class Star Destroyers equipped with axial superlasers capable of decimating entire planets, which he promised to give Kylo control of in exchange for killing Rey, revealed to be his granddaughter. However, Kylo planned to have Rey join him so that they could kill Sidious and take over the galaxy for themselves, but she refused and attacked him. During the duel, Kylo was distracted by his mother reaching out to him through the Force (at the cost of her own life), allowing Rey to defeat him. After a conversation with a memory of his late father, Ben Solo was redeemed and came to Rey's aid in defeating Sidious. After Rey died to kill the Sith Lord, Ben revived her using the Force, at the cost of his own life.

Knights of Ren[edit]

The Knights of Ren were an organization of masked Force-wielding warriors, who serve as antagonists in the Star Wars sequel trilogy. The Knights were neither Sith or Jedi, but a new generation of dark side warriors that emerged to fill the void left by the supposed demise of the last Sith Lords, Darth Sidious and Darth Vader. They had a code, to which they were flexible in the following: living life the way they wanted, taking what the galaxy gave them, and consuming what the dark side sent them. Their name came from a lightsaber called "Ren", which was at the base of their code and could only be wielded by their leader. The Knights consisted of six indivudals named Vicrul, Ap'lek, Cardo, Kuruk, Trudgen, and Ushar, and were originally led by a man named Ren, who knew Supreme Leader Snoke. After Ben Solo's fall to the dark side, they allowed him to join and demanded that he get one "good kill" to prove himself. Ben eventually killed Ren himself and became the new leader of the Knights, Kylo Ren. In The Rise of Skywalker, the six Knights join Darth Sidious' Sith Eternal following Kylo's redemption, and are killed by the latter on Exegol.

Legends[edit]

Starkiller[edit]

Starkiller (born Galen Marek) was the informal apprentice of Darth Vader, and the protagonist of the Star Wars: The Force Unleashed video games and literature. Born to a fugitive Jedi Knight after the Clone Wars, he was unnaturally strong in the use of the Force. Vader realized his potential when he came to kill his father, and subsequently raised him as his secret apprentice, giving him the code-name "Starkiller". When he reached adulthood, Starkiller was sent to eliminate several fugitive Jedi, only to then be betrayed by Vader. Eventually, Starkiller turned to the light side and assisted in the formation of the Rebel Alliance, before defeating his former master and sacrificing himself for the Rebellion in a fight against Darth Sidious. Vader later cloned Starkiller in hopes of creating the perfect apprentice, but the clone followed the same path as the original Starkiller: turning to the light side and joining the Rebellion.

Tol Skorr[edit]

Tol Skorr was a human former Jedi Knight that was trained under Darth Tyranus (Count Dooku). He served as Dooku's bodyguard during the Clone Wars, and was very much disliked by Quinlan Vos. When Vos was revealed to have been spying on Dooku, Skorr and Asajj Ventress were sent to kill Vos. Skorr was ultimately killed by Vos, who Force-pushed him into lava.

Sith Eternal[edit]

The 2019 film Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker depicts thousands of Sith cultists and loyalists known as the Sith Eternal.[48] They are the hidden main antagonistic faction of the Star Wars sequel trilogy. They are located on the Sith planet Exegol, which is described in the film as the "hidden world of the Sith".[1] The film depicts the Sith loyalists as having built the Final Order, a massive fleet of Xyston-class Star Destroyers, at the behest of Emperor Palpatine (Darth Sidious). They are also revealed to have artificially created and cloned Snoke,[49] whom Palpatine used as a puppet to control the First Order and seduce Kylo Ren to the dark side.[28] At the end of the film, the Sith Eternal cultists are present during Palpatine's rejuvenation through the Force and his demise at the hands of Rey, the last Jedi and Palpatine's granddaughter.[48][50] The Sith Eternal cultists are disintegrated in the explosion following Palpatine's death.[48][51]

The novelization of The Rise of Skywalker goes into more detail about how Palpatine transferred his consciousness into the cloned body the Sith Eternal prepared for him.[52]

In popular culture[edit]

Prominent Sith Lords Darth Vader and Emperor Palpatine / Darth Sidious have become iconic villains in popular culture. Their personae are frequently used as exemplars of Machiavelianism, authoritarianism, brutality and evil in serious,[53] humorous[54] and satirical[55] settings. Palpatine is archetypal as the "Evil Emperor"—a cunning tyrant who rules through deception, propaganda, fear and oppression.[56] Although usually considered as a villainous "enforcer" of such power, Darth Vader has also been regarded as a tragic figure and cautionary study in the corruption of a hero who loses sight of the greater good and resorts to evil practices out of fear and desperation.[57] A "turn to the Dark Side" has become a popular idiom to describe an (often misguided) individual or institution's embrace of evil out of a desire for power.[58]

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Further reading[edit]

  • Book of Sith: Secrets from the Dark Side (Chronicle Books, © 2013) ISBN 1-4521-1815-9

External links[edit]