The Sith, collectively known as the Sith Order, was an ancient organization of dark side Force users. Emerging as a divergent faction of the ancient Jedi Order, the Sith became mortal enemies with the Jedi and fought against them in numerous wars. The Sith were devoted to the dark side of the Force and enlisted its aid in gaining power and control over the galaxy. Constant infighting led to the destruction of the Sith, and its sole survivor, Darth Bane, enacted the Rule of Two. After a thousand years of peace under the Galactic Republic, the dormant Sith would come to briefly control the galaxy once again through the Galactic Empire when Darth Sidious, the new Galactic Emperor, implemented the thousand year plot of revenge and return to power. However, the Sith would ultimately be destroyed by the redeemed Jedi Knight Anakin Skywalker, the apprentice to Sidious and last Sith Lord, as foretold in an ancient prophecy that predicted their final destruction. Nonetheless, their ancient legacy would continue to be felt in the galaxy in the decades that followed.
- "Anger and pain are natural and part of growth. They give you focus. They make you strong."
- ―Darth Vader
The Sith focused on anger, fear, and pain to gain power from the dark side of the Force. They followed a code that encouraged the strong to destroy the weak, and insisted on the importance of struggling and striving. The relationship between a Sith Master and their apprentice was not one of trust. Indeed, both the master and the apprentice constantly searched for any sign of weakness in the other, for a weak master deserved to be overthrown by their pupil, just as a weak pupil deserved to be replaced by a worthier, more powerful recruit. This philosophy was embraced by the Sith, who saw it as a way to purify the weak and remain as strong as possible.
- "Once we were brothers in the Force. But from the Hundred-Year Darkness were born the Sith."
- ―Unidentified Jedi
Formed thousands of years prior to the Clone Wars, the Sith were the ancient enemies of the Jedi Order. Established by a rogue Jedi during the Hundred-Year Darkness, the Sith sought further knowledge and power through learning the dark side of the Force. Eventually, this Jedi was able to amass a sizable following, all of whom adhered to this new philosophy that embraced the dark side. This schism in the Jedi Order led to a civil war where the Jedi and the newly-founded Sith Order, once brothers and sisters in the Force, fought against one another for power. The war ended in the defeat of the Sith, who fled from known space. Unbeknownst to the Jedi however, the Sith settled on Moraband, a world of red sands, where they rebuilt in secret to wait for another chance to strike.
As the Sith Order grew, they constructed massive temples and tombs on Moraband in a location known as the Valley of the Dark Lords. The Sith built empires on the backs of their slaves and fought wars against the Jedi for control of the galaxy. During these wars, they built massive superweapons powered by giant kyber crystals.
At one point, nearly five thousand years before the rise of the Galactic Empire, the Sith waged a war against the Jedi and Old Republic. This was done after many years in exile on the planet Moraband after the Hundred-Year Darkness. During this war, the Sith attacked the Republic capital Coruscant. This allowed the Sith to build a shrine on the planet, which became a place of immense dark side power. Eventually, the Jedi were able to repel the Sith from Coruscant. Around this time, the Massassi, a slave race controlled by the Sith, constructed the Great Temple on Yavin 4. Roughly a thousand years after the war, the Jedi raised their own temple over the Coruscant shrine, in an attempt to contain and eliminate its power.
Over many years, the Sith continued to expand their empire, erecting temples on multiple planets. One such temple was built on the world Malachor. At the heart of this temple, was a superweapon powered by a giant kyber crystal. The Jedi eventually found out about this and launched an assault on the temple. A savage battle was then waged between the Sith Empire and the invading Jedi Knights. During the battle, the temple was activated, killing and petrifying everyone on the planet. This would result in the planet being forbidden from Jedi and becoming a legend for millennia to come.
During a period of time known as the Dark age, the Jedi–Sith war broke out. Early on in the war, the Sith attacked the Republic capital world of Coruscant. The Sith then successfully captured the planet as well as the Jedi Temple. The Liberation of Coruscant in 1032 BBY was one of the last battles of the Jedi-Sith war and resulted in the Sith being driven from Coruscant.
Their quest to gain power was ultimately the undoing of the Sith, as the dark side made them turn against one another. Within a year, the Jedi managed to defeat the infighting Sith, bringing what was left of the dark order to its knees. As it turned out, one Sith, Darth Bane, survived. His fellow Sith Lords destroyed, he reformed the order by establishing the Rule of Two, mandating that only two Sith—a master and an apprentice—could exist at any given time, lest they fall prey to infighting. The Sith abandoned their traditional homeworld of Moraband after it was scarred by many wars. Eventually Darth Bane was killed and was buried in the Valley of the Dark Lords on its surface, but the Rule of Two continued on through his apprentice.
The Phantom MenaceEdit
- "At last we will reveal ourselves to the Jedi. At last we will have revenge."
- ―Darth Maul to Sidious
The Sith stayed in hiding for a thousand years, their survival unknown to the Jedi, as they plotted their revenge against the Jedi Order. The Sith remained a distant memory until the rise of Darth Sidious, a Dark Lord of the Sith, and his apprentice, Darth Maul, in the last days of the Galactic Republic. Sidious had killed his own master, Darth Plagueis, in his sleep and seized the status of master for himself, as is the way of the Sith. He hid in plain sight as the unassuming Senator Sheev Palpatine of Naboo, while secretly orchestrating with the Trade Federation for the invasion of the planet. This allowed the Dark Lord to make a play for the galaxy’s highest office in his civilian persona and sow the seeds of Sith revenge. Maul attacked Queen Amidala of Naboo and later killed Jedi Master Qui-Gon Jinn, but fell to his padawan, Obi-Wan Kenobi. Despite this setback, the Sith had returned, clouding the Force with the power of the dark side. The arrival of Anakin Skywalker, a young boy especially strong with the Force, offered a potential new recruit for the Sith with Darth Sidious in the public persona of Palpatine, who had become Supreme Chancellor of the Republic.
The Clone WarsEdit
Fulfilling the Grand SchemeEdit
- "I have good news for you, my Lord. The war has begun."
"Excellent. Everything is going as planned."
- ―Darth Tyranus and Darth Sidious
With the loss of Darth Maul, Darth Sidious took on a new apprentice, a former Jedi, named Count Dooku. Adopting the Sith name Darth Tyranus, Dooku became the face of the Confederacy of Independent Systems against the Republic and pushed the galaxy into war. Jedi, once peacekeepers, now became generals and warriors, a rank they were formerly denied due to the Jedi Code. During this time, Count Dooku took on an apprentice of his own named Asajj Ventress, despite a third Sith being forbidden by the Rule of Two. Ventress however, mainly served Dooku as his personal assassin. Ventress, as well as Dooku's other recruits, also benefited the Sith by concealing the fact that Dooku was merely an apprentice to Darth Sidious. For at least two years into the Clone War, many Jedi believed that Dooku was the master of the Sith Order, and Sidious was able to continue manipulating the Republic without arousing suspicion.
Ventress engaged Anakin Skywalker, Obi-Wan Kenobi, and Ahsoka Tano in lightsaber duels on numerous occasions. While loyal, she was ultimately betrayed by her Master on the orders of Darth Sidious. Dooku soon after traveled to Dathomir to meet with the Nightsisters in hopes of finding a new apprentice. Dooku and the Nightsisters eventually decided on a young Zabrak named Savage Opress, brother of Darth Maul. However, Asajj Ventress sought revenge for Dooku's treachery and used Opress as a means of attaining her goal. Torn between two demanding masters, Opress eventually turned on both Dooku and Ventress. Returning to the Nightsisters, Opress found that his brother, Darth Maul, had not been killed as previously believed. Maul had survived his injuries on Naboo because of his sheer reliance on the dark side, and was living in the junk heaps of Lotho Minor. However, Maul's tragic events had driven him to insanity. He remembered only one word: "Kenobi." Guided by an Anacondan named Morley, Opress was able to return Maul to the Nightsisters for treatment. Now fully healed by the Nightsister's magic and given a pair of new robotic legs, Darth Maul began a hunt for the man who had nearly destroyed his life, Obi-Wan Kenobi. His revenge scheme eventually ended with Maul's control of Mandalore and the death of Kenobi's true love. However, Darth Sidious sensed his former apprentice's action, and traveled to Mandalore to put an end to it. He killed Opress and took Maul captive, locking him away in an old mountaintop prison known as the Spire, in an elaborate Sith gambit to settle a longstanding and deadly dispute with the Nightsisters.
Later during the war, Yoda visited Moraband, the Sith homeworld. The Jedi Master encountered an illusory spectre of the ancient Sith Darth Bane, who was buried on the barren planet and battled Sidious on a spiritual plane as the result of an ancient, arcane Sith ritual. Through his experience, Yoda gained a new enlightenment about the Force that the Sith did not foresee.
Revenge of the SithEdit
After three years of the Clone Wars, Darth Sidious' grand scheme was almost complete. He sacrificed Count Dooku to a violent killing by Anakin Skywalker in order to manipulate the young Jedi. As Palpatine, he told Anakin a Sith legend about Darth Plagueis the Wise. Plagueis, through the dark side, had gained the ability to keep people from dying until his apprentice killed him in his sleep. This story entranced Anakin, who was desperate to learn this power in an effort to save his wife, Padmé Amidala.
Eventually, Palpatine revealed himself as Sidious, and converted Anakin to the dark side. Jedi Master Mace Windu tried to arrest the Dark Lord but was killed after Anakin's late intervention, after this Anakin became a Sith called Darth Vader. He executed Order 66, the slaughter of all Jedi, with Vader leading the attack on the Jedi Temple. He then ordered Vader to go to the Mustafar system to wipe out the Separatist Council and thus ending the Confederacy. In the political arena, he reorganized the Republic using the powers given to him as a result of the Clone Wars to transform the Galactic Republic into the Galactic Empire, installing himself as Emperor. Once more, the Sith ruled the galaxy, unbeknownst to all but the few surviving Jedi.
Rise of the EmpireEdit
- "And my apprentices? Darth Maul was a loss, but Darth Tyranus…he was a proton torpedo. He served his purpose and was gone. I had a…superior candidate in mind. We did it, Vader. The Jedi destroyed! The Republic a shattered corpse for me to resurrect as a puppet! And you, Vader--the boy transformed into the man you were destined to be…"
- ―Darth Sidious to Darth Vader
Following the reorganisation of the Republic and purging of the Jedi Order, Darth Sidious and Vader ruled over the Galactic Empire for over twenty years until the Battle of Endor. The two Sith Lords established a cadre of Dark Side wielders known as the Inquisitorius. The Inquisitors were tasked with hunting down Jedi Purge survivors and preventing Force-sensitive children from becoming Jedi. The leading Inquisitor was a Pau'an Grand Inquisitor, who was a former Jedi Sentinel and Knight. The Inquisitors were trained by Vader and wielded double-bladed spinning lightsabers.
Five years after the end of the Clone Wars, the Free Ryloth movement led by Cham Syndulla embarked on a large-scale operation to assassinate the Emperor and Vader. Cham wanted to kill the two Sith Lords in order to bring about the demise of the Empire. However, Sidious had anticipated Cham's move and the two Sith eluded Cham's attempts to assassinate them. This operation dealt a major blow to the Free Ryloth rebels, who were forced deeper underground, and also led to the exposure of Colonel Belkor Dray as a traitor. Despite Sidious' hopes, he failed to stamp out the sparks of the growing rebellion.
After the outbreak of the Lothal insurgency about four years before the Battle of Yavin, Sidous dispatched Vader to hunt down the Spectres, who were part of the growing rebellion. Vader lured the Spectres into a trap on Lothal in an attempt to track down the Phoenix Squadron. Vader led an attack on the Phoenix fleet which destroyed the rebel flagship Phoenix Home but failed to destroy the rebellion. During the skirmish, Vader discovered that his former apprentice Ahsoka Tano was still alive. Under Sidious' orders, he dispatched more Inquisitors to hunt down the Jedi Purge survivor Kanan Jarrus and his apprentice Ezra Bridger.
Struggle on MalachorEdit
- "The power within will soon serve the Emperor."
- ―Darth Vader, to Ezra Bridger regarding the Malachor superweapon
A year later, Vader visited the Lothal Jedi Temple where the Fifth Brother and the Seventh Sister had attempted to capture Ezra, Kanan, and Ahsoka. Vader remarked that the Emperor would be pleased with their discovery. When the Fifth Brother remarked that the power of the Jedi was growing, Vader responded that it would be their undoing. The Sith Lords later took an interest in the Sith temple on Malachor, which was reputed to be home to a weapon capable of destroying all life. Vader sent another Inquisitor called the Eighth Brother to hunt down a "shadow" and to obtain a Sith holocron.
Ezra, Kanan, and Ahsoka encountered the former Sith apprentice Maul in the Malachor Sith temple. Maul had become stranded on Malachor several years prior. Maul had discovered a secret inside the Sith temple that would allow them to destroy the Sith. However, he lacked the strength to do so on his own. Maul managed to befriend Ezra and the two Force-wielders succeeded in obtaining the Sith holocron. Maul later helped the Jedi drive several Inquisitors away. Despite Kanan and Ahsoka's distrust, Maul managed to convince them to help him by teasing the opportunity of destroying the Sith once and for all.
Maul convinced Ezra to place the Sith holocron in the obelisk at the top of the temple complex. He then helped Kanan and Ahsoka kill the Inquisitors before turning on Kanan, blinding him. Meanwhile, Ezra discovered that the Sith holocron was the key to reactivating the Sith temple, which was a powerful superweapon capable of destroying life. Shortly later, Darth Vader arrived to claim the temple's power for the Sith. Darth Vader fought with Ahsoka while Kanan and Ezra removed the holocron; triggering the temple's implosion. Ezra and Kanan escaped the temple but Vader and Ahsoka were trapped inside when the Temple began to implode. Vader and Ahsoka survived and parted company.
Later, Ezra came under the influence of the Sith holocron, which was inhabited by an entity called Presence. Under the holocron's guidance, Ezra learned more aggressive combat techniques including forcing an AT-DP walker driver to attack his comrades and walk his machine off a bridge. Ezra's use of the Sith holocron strained relations with his master Kanan, who confiscated it. Kanan later met a powerful Force-wielder called the Bendu, who formed a middle ground between the light and dark sides. He advised Kanan that an object could be use for both good and evil and that only the person had the power to change it. Kanan left the Sith holocron in the Bendu's care.
Maul later captured Kanan and Ezra's rebel friends and used them as hostages to force the two Jedi to bring him the Sith holocron and Kanan's Jedi holocron. Kanan and Ezra recovered the Sith holocron from the Bendu, who warned them that Maul planned to combine the power of the holocrons in order to provide clarity of vision. After rendezvousing with Maul, Ezra and the former Sith combined the two holocrons. Ezra wanted to find a way to destroy the Sith while Maul was looking for hope. The holocrons projected a vision of twin suns, an old enemy of Maul, and offered to show Ezra the "key" to destroying the Sith. However, Kanan convinced his apprentice to look away and the two holocrons separated. Maul took the opportunity to escape into space.
Using the fragments of Ezra's memories in his mind, Maul tracked the rebels down to their base on Atollon. Using the dark side of the Force, Maul manifested in Ezra's visions. Maul managed to convince Ezra to follow him to Dathomir by offering to keep Chopper Base a secret. At the Nightsister lair, Maul and Ezra underwent a ritual to uncover the remaining fragments of the holocrons in each others' minds. After drinking a magic potion, Maul learnt that Master Kenobi was still living on the planet with twin suns while Ezra learnt that Kenobi held the key to destroying the Sith. The two were then attacked by the spirits of the Nightsisters, who demanded payment in flesh and blood for their services. Kanan and the Mandalorian weapons expert Sabine Wren arrived to confront Maul but were possessed by the spirits. Ezra and Maul managed to flee outside the lair. When Maul offered Ezra a place as his apprentice, the young Jedi refused to abandon his friends. After exorcising Kanan and Sabine, the three resolved to find the planet with twin suns and to reach Kenobi before Maul could kill him.
Galactic Civil WarEdit
Tension within the SithEdit
- "We kept the skeleton of the Republic for nearly twenty years while the Death Star was constructed. Twenty years, my apprentice. All that planning is now a layer of dust orbiting around Yavin... Now, we no longer have the Senate to hold order. We do not have the Death Star to force it. Our greatest weapon is gone. Our production is in ashes. We are besieged. In all these years, we have never skirted closer to disaster."
- ―Darth Sidious' anger at Darth Vader's failure.
In the years leading up to the Battle of Yavin, the Empire faced a growing rebellion that had grown into the Alliance to Restore the Republic. In secret, the Emperor commissioned the building of the Death Star, a massive superweapon capable of destroying entire worlds. After rebel elements stole the Death Star plans, Vader led a secret mission to Tatooine which ended with the capture of Princess Leia Organa, the adopted daughter of Senator Bail Organa and one of the offspring of Anakin Skywalker. Shortly thereafter, the Emperor dissolved the Imperial Senate and ordered Alderaan's destruction.
Lord Vader and Grand Moff Wilhuff Tarkin presided over Alderaan's destruction in the presence of Princess Leia. Before they could terminate Leia, she was rescued by a group of travelers including Anakin's son Luke Skywalker, the smugglers Han Solo and Chewbacca, the droids C-3PO and R2-D2, and the Jedi Master Kenobi. While the other rebels escaped aboard the Millennium Falcon, Kenobi sacrificed his life to delay Vader. Leia and her rescuers retreated to the rebel base on Yavin 4. The Death Star traveled to Yavin base in a bid to destroy the Rebel Alliance once and for all but this plan was ruined by a rebel starfighter force. During the Battle of Yavin, Vader sensed that the Force was strong in the rebel pilot Skywalker; who fired the missile that destroyed the Death Star, Vader however survived the destruction.
Search for Skywalker Edit
- "We have a new enemy. The young Rebel who destroyed the Death Star. I have no doubt this boy is the offspring of Anakin Skywalker."
- ―Darth Sidious, to Darth Vader
Three years after the events on Yavin and following the Battle of Hoth, the Emperor disclosed that Luke was one of the offspring of Anakin Skywalker, though this was something Vader already knew. Vader believed that Luke would be a powerful ally if he could be turned. The Emperor charged Vader with winning Luke over and destroying him if he refused to turn to the dark side. During that time Luke had traveled to Dagobah, where he had been trained by Yoda, a Jedi Master who was once the leader of the Jedi Order. Vader managed to capture Leia, Han, C-3PO and Chewbacca in Cloud City on Bespin. Sensing the danger that his friends were in, Luke left his training and traveled to Cloud City where Vader was waiting for him. During their confrontation, Vader severed Luke's right hand and revealed that he was Luke's father. Despite the pain, Luke refused to join Vader, threw himself down a vane and escaped.
Demise of the SithEdit
- "Now, fullfil your destiny and take your father's place at my side."
"Never. I'll never turn to the dark side. You failed, Your Highness. I'm a Jedi, like my father before me."
"So be it, Jedi."
- ―Darth Sidious and Luke Skywalker
In secret, the Emperor directed the building of a second Death Star above the forest moon of Endor. In an attempt to destroy the rebellion once and for all, the Emperor arranged for intelligence on the second Death Star to be leaked to Bothan spies. Using this information, the Rebel Alliance made preparations to launch an attack on the second Death Star. Prior to the Battle of Endor, Vader traveled to the second Death Star to warn Moff Tiaan Jerjerrod to accelerate construction. Shortly later, Sidious traveled to the battle station to oversee the final construction stages.
After learning about Vader's true identity as his father—Anakin Skywalker—from Yoda and the Force spirit of Kenobi; Luke decided to face Vader on his own. He traveled with the rebel strike team to Endor and then surrendered himself to Vader. Luke hoped to turn his father back to the light, sensing "conflict" within him. Likewise, the Emperor sought to turn Luke to the dark side and replace his father as his new apprentice. On the second Death Star, Luke confronted Sidious. Sidious wanted to provoke Luke's anger by having the Imperial Navy engage the Rebel fleet, thus putting his friends' lives at risk, and ordering Vader to attack him personally. Luke, however, steadfastly refused in turn. Realizing Luke was a true Jedi, and would not be swayed, Sidious attempted to kill him through torturing him with Force lightning. However, Vader, torn between his loyalty to his master, his old Jedi connections, and his own son, ultimately threw the Emperor down a reactor, killing him and returning balance to the Force. Badly damaged from the Emperor's Force lightning, Darth Vader died, but his selfless act allowed him to rejoin the Force as a Force spirit, and be "reborn" as his old self, Anakin Skywalker. Thus, the Sith Order, along with their tyranny, was no more, as foretold by the ancient prophecy that predicted their downfall.
- "Through the ages... I've seen evil take many forms. The Sith. The Empire. Today, it is the First Order."
- ―Maz Kanata
While the Sith Order was defeated, it was merely one of many denominations of Force-worshiping religions that existed throughout galactic history. It's ancient legacy as enemies of the Jedi and, at times, rulers of the galaxy, would continue to be felt in the decades that followed it's extinction. The demise of the Sith left behind a vacuum that others sought to fill; namely, the Knights of Ren, led by Kylo Ren, grandson of Darth Vader, and Snoke, the dark Supreme Leader of the First Order, the successor of the fallen Galactic Empire. Thus, while the ancient prophecy that foretold the destruction of the Sith came to pass, it did not foretell the destruction of the darkness, for as long as there existed light, there would be its shadow.
Immediately following the deaths of Darth Sidious and Darth Vader, many individuals and groups still adhered to their philosophy. Yupe Tashu, an advisor to the late Sidious, was an admirer of the Sith interrogation methods, as well as their teachings and cunning. He believed that the remaining Imperial Military had to retreat "beyond the veil of stars," to the Unknown Regions, to search for the source of the dark side that Sidious had come to feel reaching out to him. The Acolytes of the Beyond, who worshiped the Sith, collected Sith artifacts, such as what they believed to be Darth Vader's lightsaber, to destroy them, believing this returned the relics to their deceased owners. Kylo Ren and the Knights of Ren held some of the beliefs of the Sith with Kylo even pledging to finish what his grandfather Darth Vader had began, although Supreme Leader Snoke scorned the sentimentality of Vader, which he believed had led to the Empire's downfall. Ultimately Ren hoped to build an immunity to the light, and succeed where Vader failed.
Luke Skywalker, the last Jedi, used the rise of Darth Sidious to power as an example of the blindness of the Jedi Order during his training of Rey. After usurping his dark side master Snoke, who himself was not a Sith, during the attack on the Resistance fleet, Kylo Ren implored Rey to join him in building a new order for the galaxy and to let go of the past, including both the Jedi and the Sith.
Behind the scenesEdit
The Sith first appeared as the primary antagonists of George Lucas' Original trilogy and the Prequel trilogy. The Phantom Menace, which premiered in 1999, established key concepts including the Rule of Two. In addition, the origins and history of the Sith was explored by several non-Canon Star Wars Legends works including the 1991 Dark Horse Comics Dark Empire story arc, the mid-1990s Star Wars: Tales of the Jedi comics, the 2003 BioWare game Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic and its sequels, Drew Karpyshyn's Darth Bane trilogy, the futuristic Star Wars: Legacy comic series, and John Jackson Miller's Lost Tribe of the Sith novellas. More recently, the Canon television series Star Wars: The Clone Wars and Star Wars Rebels have touched upon the origins and history of the Sith.
Sam Witwer, who has voiced Maul and Sidious in animation, opined the Sith do not believe in life after death. That is why they go to such extreme lengths to survive. However, the Jedi will sacrifice themselves as they believe their deaths can inspire others. "You have Darth Vader, who lives a terrible life, he lives a pathetic, tortured existence but it’s still preferable to having nothing, which is how he views death. Same thing with Darth Sidious, you look at him in Return of the Jedi. He's over 100 years old and is a bent, old man. But that's better than the alternative, which is nothing." An appearance from the Force spirits of Darth Bane and Revan in "Ghosts of Mortis" was removed at the last minute by George Lucas due to the disconcerting notion that the Sith could return.
- William Shakespeare's The Phantom of Menace: Star Wars Part the First
- Star Wars Epic Yarns: A New Hope
- Star Wars Epic Yarns: The Empire Strikes Back
- Star Wars Epic Yarns: Return of the Jedi
- LEGO Star Wars: The Freemaker Adventures
- LEGO Star Wars: Droid Tales Episodes I-III (Appears as Force spirit and in flashbacks)
- LEGO Star Wars: The Force Awakens
- Star Wars: Galaxy of Heroes
Notes and referencesEdit
- Sith on Wikipedia