Star Wars teaches us that there is balance in all things. For every selfless act of kindness, there’s a selfish act of cruelty to counteract it. Just so, for every Jedi tasked with protecting the galaxy, there is a Sith determined to conquer it. For both the galaxy and the viewing audience at home, the Sith Lords are a source of terror and fascination. Sith value strength and power, and they will go to any lengths to obtain them. They’re so imposing and powerful, it seems impossible for the good guys to defeat them. That is, until the light side of the Force eventually triumphs through love, friendship, and teamwork.
Today for May the Fourth, Geek Girl Authority takes a look at Star Wars‘ most powerful Sith Lords. Also, this article is only considering Sith Lords, so Kylo Ren and Snoke will not appear here.
15. Darth Malak (Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic)
Alek “Squint” Squinquargesimus came to the Galactic Republic as a refugee from his homeworld of Quelii. The Outer Rim planet had been one of many attacked beyond the borders of the Republic, prior to the Mandalorian Wars. When he was discovered to be Force-sensitive, he began training as a Jedi at the Jedi Enclave on Dantooine. It was as a Padawan to Master Zhar Lestin that Alek first met Revan. Both Padawans instantly became close friends over their shared desire for knowledge. When Revan fell to the dark side, it was inevitable that Alek would be overwhelmed by such power. He became Darth Revan’s apprentice as “Darth Malak.” During a Jedi raid on his master’s flagship, Malak sensed opportunity and betrayed his former friend by ordering his fleet to destroy Revan’s ship.
Though Revan survived and was taken away by the Jedi, Malak became the new Dark Lord of the Sith and he ruled the Sith Empire ruthlessly. Though Revan would eventually return to the light side and defeat Malak, Malak had a masterful control over the dark side. Especially when channeling the energies of the ancient Star Forge, Malak could choke multiple opponents at once and conjure a storm of Force lightning that would incapacitate anyone unlucky enough to be caught in it.
14. Darth Maul (Star Wars: Episode I – The Phantom Menace)
Though Darth Maul didn’t get much time to shine in Star Wars: Episode I – The Phantom Menace, there is much more to this Zabrak than meets the eye. As a young child on Dathomir, Maul was taken in by Darth Sidious as an apprentice. Already praised at a young age for his strength and fighting skills, Maul became even better under Sidious’s training.
Regarded as one of the best lightsaber duelists in galactic history, Maul also possessed a cunning that made him a far deadlier opponent than his bestial appearance would suggest. Unfortunately, his emotion and revenge served as his greatest weaknesses. Time and again, Obi-Wan Kenobi used Maul’s pride and overconfidence against him.
13. Darth Vader (Star Wars: Episode IV – A New Hope)
The story of Anakin Skywalker is one of tragedy. The young slave got his dream of leaving to become a Jedi, only for that unbridled power to be his undoing. Through the temptation of Darth Sidious, Anakin fell to the dark side and became the legendary and infamous Darth Vader.
As a Sith Lord, Vader became the opposite of all the Jedi stood for. Where the Jedi instructed to show restraint, Vader had none. Fully embracing his more terrifying skills, Vader’s Force powers could devastate entire starships (as seen during his killing spree in Rogue One: A Star Wars Story). Anakin’s skills with a lightsaber continued as Vader. An expert duelist, Vader led the charge to hunt down any surviving Jedi. There may have been Sith more powerful, but there have been no Sith as frightening or wicked as Vader.
12. Ulic Qel-Droma (Star Wars: Tales of the Jedi – Dark Lords of the Sith)
Another former Jedi turned Sith, Ulic Qel-Droma has since become a legendary figure among Sith. As a Jedi, Ulic was notable for requiring very little training as a Padawan. His gifts with the Force were largely natural. However, the lack of sufficient training ensured that Ulic was an overconfident Jedi. Believing himself capable of resisting Force abilities that were off-limits to Jedi, Ulic became more and more corrupt as he explored his new “gifts.”
Ulic’s two greatest skills were mind control and increased agility. In skirmishes as a Sith, Ulic used the Force to confuse and keep his opponents off-balance.
11. Darth Tyranus (Star Wars: Episode II – Attack of the Clones)
Dooku was once a Jedi and one of the Order’s best. Dooku was considered the best lightsaber instructor in the Jedi Order for his mastery of the Form II – Makashi dueling style. However, over time Dooku began to grow disillusioned with the Jedi Order and their role in guarding the increasingly-corrupt Galactic Republic. Darth Sidious had already been eyeing Dooku as a replacement for Darth Maul, due to Dooku’s galactic connections and combat experience. After the death of Qui-Gon Jinn, Dooku left the Jedi Order. The former Jedi was quickly recruited as a Sith Lord.
As a dark side villain, the new “Darth Tyranus” was powerful. Capable of dueling multiple Jedi at once without breaking a sweat, even Master Yoda could only fight Tyranus to a draw. Tyranus also had access to Force lightning. This impressive power is noted for being difficult for all but the most powerful Sith to conjure.
10. Darth Malgus (Star Wars: The Old Republic)
An important figure in the history of the Old Republic, it was Darth Malgus who led the resurgent Sith Empire to obtain revenge against the Republic. In addition, he claimed the galaxy for the Sith.
After receiving severe injuries and scars from Satele Shan during the Battle of Alderaan, Malgus required a specialized mask to support his breathing. Malgus used his anger at the Republic and the Jedi to draw on a variety of dark side abilities. Malgus was noted for being especially proficient with telekinesis.
9. Darth Plagueis (Star Wars: Darth Plagueis)
Have you ever heard The Tragedy of Darth Plagueis the Wise? This tale about Darth Sidious’s master is what begins Anakin’s first steps into the dark side of the Force. Known for his fascination for knowledge, Plagueis spent most of his tenure as Dark Lord of the Sith focused on his research. While Sidious craved power and conquest, Plagueis sought to master the Force itself. Plagueis’s crowning achievement was learning to use the Force and midi-chlorians to create life. This excelled to the point where Plagueis could prevent a life form from dying.
Plagueis was no slouch in combat either: his opponents were easily subdued by his saber skills and Force abilities. However, the power that Plagueis craved above all, immortality, was forever beyond his reach. Only the light side of the Force could unlock true immortality. Despite his powers, Plagueis was eventually killed in his sleep by Sidious. For Sidious had recognized Plagueis’s one fatal flaw – “…he could save others from death, but not himself.”
8. Darth Revan (Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic)
Though his canonical status is still undetermined, Darth Revan remains a strong and imposing figure in the Star Wars mythos. There’s a reason that he’s the namesake of the Sith Eternal 3rd “Revan” Legion. Once the savior of the Galactic Republic during the Mandalorian Wars, Revan returned a year later as a Sith Lord to conquer that same Republic.
Revan’s true power was knowledge. As a Jedi, Revan thirsted for knowledge of the Force. That knowledge of the light side and the dark side gave Revan power and understanding beyond most Sith Lords. Darth Revan was a master of many Force techniques, but he was best known for his ability to corrupt Jedi to the dark side. Though Darth Revan eventually met his end, Revan’s knowledge is often sought by other Sith for advice and power.
7. Emperor Vitiate (Star Wars: The Old Republic)
Though no longer canon, Lord Vitiate (more commonly known as simply the “Sith Emperor”) was an incredibly powerful figure. His evil was already apparent as a child, when he massacred thousands on his home world of Medriaas. But this wasn’t even the full measure of the power wielded by the now Sith Lord and ruler of the newly-renamed “Nathema.”
At the end of the Great Hyperspace War, Vitiate gathered the surviving Sith Lords in a ritual that he claimed would destroy the Jedi. Instead, Vitiate drained their power. And by “their,” we mean everything on Nathema. Every person, animal, and plant was killed as Vitiate literally drained the Force from them to increase his own power and lifespan. For the next thousand years, Vitiate would rule the remaining Sith subjects as the Sith Emperor. Until his eventual demise, the Sith Emperor’s reign was a threat to not just the Jedi, but to all life in the galaxy.
6. Marka Ragnos (Star Wars: Tales of the Jedi – Dark Lords of the Sith)
Not all Sith Lords pass into oblivion when they die. Some are so strong in the dark side and so desperate to cling to their lives that they continue existing as Sith spirits. Unlike the Jedi who pass peaceably into the Force and can still wield the Force with great power, Sith spirits are trapped between life and death. They can only howl in anger or whisper temptation to those they encounter. Marka Ragnos was one such Sith Lord. As a living Sith, Marka Ragnos was a Dark Lord of the Sith over the Old Sith Empire. He presided over what is widely considered to be the Sith’s “Golden Age.”
Marka Ragnos was both a skilled fighter and a talented sorcerer. Wielding a Sith sword, his mastery of the Force made him nearly invulnerable in battle. Up until the reigns of Darth Bane and the Sith belonging to the Rule of Two, Marka Ragnos was considered the most powerful Sith in history.
5. Darth Bane (Star Wars: Darth Bane – Path of Destruction)
Returned to Star Wars canon in Season 6 of Star Wars: The Clone Wars, Darth Bane shaped the Sith Lords as film-goers know them today. A thousand years before the Clone Wars, Darth Bane sought to destroy the Jedi. However, he concluded that such a feat could only be done through cunning and manipulation. Knowing that such a plan could never be accomplished by the Sith, Darth Bane created the Rule of Two. “Two there should be; no more, no less. One to embody the power of the dark side, and the other to crave it.”
Not only did the Rule of Two allow the Sith to survive their apparent extinction at the hands of the Jedi, it also paved the way for the Sith to rise to power in secret. Darth Bane’s legacy lived on in his apprentice Darth Zannah, and every Sith that followed them until Darth Sidious. Sidious fulfilled Bane’s dream and finally destroyed the Jedi Order.
4. Darth Traya (Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic II – The Sith Lords)
Like so many other Sith Lords, Darth Traya began life as a Jedi. Kreia was the Jedi Master to Revan himself. When Revan disobeyed the Jedi Council and joined the war against the Mandalorians, Kreia followed suit. She longed to discover where she went wrong with her former Padawan. Like Revan, she fell to the dark side. Darth Traya eventually formed the Sith Triumvirate with Darth Sion and Darth Nihilus after the collapse of Revan’s Sith Empire.
One of the most powerful female Sith the galaxy would ever know, Darth Traya could wield her lightsabers via telekinesis. Using the Force power of “shatterpoints,” Traya could see far into the future. She could see to the point where she had visions of the fall of the Republic thousands of years into the future.
3. Exar Kun (Star Wars: Tales of the Jedi – Dark Lords of the Sith)
Like Dooku, Exar Kun was once a powerful Jedi and regarded as the best duelist in the Jedi Order. When the Jedi learned of Exar Kun’s fall to the dark side, they were rightfully afraid. As a Sith Lord, Exar Kun waged war on the entire Jedi Order. He used his staggeringly vast knowledge of the Force to give himself the upper hand in every battle.
Exar Kun was a master duelist. Infamous for being unbeatable by any opponent, he cut down any Jedi he came across. An expert in Sith alchemy, Exar Kun used the Force to craft horrifying monsters for his army. At the end of the war, he discovered a power that would allow himself to separate his spirit from his corporeal body while retaining all his Force powers. The ritual cost many innocent lives. However, the attempt was thankfully thwarted by the Jedi and Exar Kun’s powerless spirit was entombed in one of the temples of Yavin 4.
2. Darth Nihilus (Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic II – The Sith Lords)
The dark side changes all who fall into it. Some fall so far into that pit they become impossible to recognize. The very name “Darth Nihilus” was enough to strike terror into the hearts of the galaxy. For Nihilus’s hunger for power was so great that the dark side began to consume him. Just as Vader became “more machine than man,” Nihilus became a “wound in the Force.” He was like a vampire – draining the Force energy out of anything and everything.
Some Sith Lords hungered for power, but Nihilus was more voracious than any of them. He hungered for the Force itself. Nihilus used his mask to contain his spirit, even as the dark side ate away at his flesh. Nihilus’s mastery of the dark side was nothing short of legendary. So strong was Nihilus’s connection to the dark side that his voice caused immense pain to any who heard it. Capable of draining entire planets, Nihilus was a risk to the galaxy. Nihilus’s only weakness was his need to feed on the Force or he would simply fade away. The Jedi Exile used this to orchestrate Nihilus’s downfall, stimulating his appetite to such that the only thing left for Nihilus to feast upon was himself.
1. Darth Sidious (Star Wars: Episode I – The Phantom Menace)
Truly, the most powerful Sith Lord was Darth Sidious, better known in his public persona of Chancellor (later Emperor) Palpatine. Through cunning and manipulation, Sidious killed his master to claim the mantle of Dark Lord of the Sith. In addition, he counseled the Jedi as Chancellor (even as he orchestrated their destruction) and controlled the entire galaxy through the Empire. Most Jedi didn’t begin to suspect the beloved Chancellor Palpatine was a Sith Lord until it was already too late.
Darth Sidious had almost god-like Force powers. Sidious could create a storm of Force lightning so powerful it could destroy entire fleets. In addition to his skill with Sith sorcery, Sidious was also a gifted lightsaber duelist. In Star Wars: Episode IX – The Rise of Skywalker, we learn that Palpatine has even mastered death through the use of Sith sorcery and cloning. In the end, the only thing that could finally kill Darth Sidious was the energy of all the past Jedi (ironically, energy channeled through his granddaughter).
May The Fourth Be With You
What do you think of our list? Are there any Sith you wish we included? Who do you think is the most powerful Sith Lord in the galaxy? May the Fourth be with you today and every day!
Originally posted May 4, 2020.
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