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The Five Greatest Sith Lords of All Time

By Edited Nov 13, 2013 2 0


Star Wars
Star Wars is a rich franchise not just confined to the films.  There is a wealth of material out there that details the lives of characters that existed long before and after the Star Wars films. So it shouldn't be surprising that some of the characters in the vast lore of Star Wars are villians.  It should be said that are definition of villians is merely that and a definition is not set in stone. Not that I am advocating that they are nice people because they aren't, but in Star Wars character's motivations and lifestyles are often dictated by how they were raised and what their planatary culture is. 

Also, the people that we are dealing with in this article are all members of what we on Earth would define as a cult.  Their cult craves power of the individual above all else.  They are selfish, power hungry, ruthless, and ambitious.  They often will do anything to meet their goals even if it means killing.  They are the Order of the Sith Lords.

The point of this article is to rank each individual on a scale of one to five and to determine who is the greatest and most powerful Sith Lord of all time.  This article will explore these (five) individuals, their powers, and contributions to the saga that we all know so well.  We will begin with the fifth most powerful Sith Lord and work are way down to the most powerful Lord. 

Fifth Greatest: Darth Revan

Some people, especially KOTOR fans, will be upset with this ranking, but first let's go over Darth Revan and explain why he is the fifth greatest Sith Lord of all time. 

Darth Revan was first Revan, a Jedi Knight of the Old Republic.  He was a hero of the Jedi Order before and after his fall to the dark side.  During the period known as the Mandalorian Wars he defeated Mandalore the Ultimate and utterly destroyed the Mandalorian invasion of the Galactic Republic.  However, he also fell to the dark side and became a Sith Lord.  With his friend and apprentice Darth Malak the two would search out and find the Star Forge.  The Star Forge was a device that could make machines with the dark side of the force.  They used this machine to build an infinite fleet that would sweep across the Galactic Republic and destroy it.  However, before this could happen a strike team led by Jedi Knight Bastila Shan captured Revan. 

When Revan was captured the Jedi decided to wipe his mind and program him to be loyal to the Republic, but his memories came back to him and so did his force powers.  With Bastila at his side he would defeat his old apprentice Malak and lead the Republic to victory during the Battle of Lehon.  The Star Forge would be defeated and Revan was redeemed and became a Jedi Master once again.  Like Vader, Revan was also redeemed at the end and died a hero of the Republic.  This makes him a controversial Sith Lord because Sith are not supposed to embrace the light before they die.  This is not part of their cult. 

The main reason why Revan is ranked number five is because of his redemption to the light and his crusade against the Sith during the time period of the Old Republic video game.  If you want to know more about Revan the best resource is the video game:  Knights of the Old Republic.  Check it out here.[5]


Fourth Greatest: Vader

Darth Vader is a slightly greater Sith Lord than Revan primarily because he did not lead a life of redemption after he was redeemed.  Vader died a redeemed soul, but this redemption was his death.  Revan went on to live for hundreds of years and worked against the Sith for these years.  Vader did not and since he lived a life more atuned to the Order of the Sith Lords than that is the reason for his ranking at number four.  Let's review his accomplishments as a Sith Lord.

Darth Vader was not always Darth Vader.  He was first a Jedi Knight named Anakin Skywalker and father to Luke and Leia Skywalker.  During the period of the Clone Wars he defined himself as a hero of the Republic and worked for the citizens of the Republic and his close friend the Chancellor Palpatine.  He was close friends with many Jedi Knights including Obi Wan Kenobi. 

Anakin fell to the dark side out of his love for Padme.  He loved his wife so much that he was willing to convert to the dark side to save her from death. 

After his conversion and the death of Padme, (due to a broken heart) he became the Emperor's chosen apprentice and hand.  Vader would purge the Jedi Order and kill many of his friends including Obi Wan Kenobi.  For over twenty years he was the enforcer to the Emperor's will and subjugated many star systems and killed countless civilians who opposed the Empire. 

However, in the end it would be his love for Padme and their family that would break the spell of the Emperor.  He chose to save Luke and fulfill the prophecy that he would bring balance to the force.  When he killed Palpatine and then died the force was brought back into balance.  The order of the Sith Lords was finished -for a time (we know there will be an Episode 7). 

His accomplishments as enforcer and ruthless suppression of dissidents which included the Jedi Knights made him number four on my list as the most powerful Sith Lords of all time.  His redemption is what placed him at the bottom of the list.  If you want to know more about Vader and his turn to the dark side then I recommend you watch Revenge of the Sith.[4]

Vader's "No"

Third Greatest: Darth Nihilus

Darth Nihilus is a Sith Lord who is not very well known mainly because he was a villian in Knights of the Old Republic 2 by Obisidan Entertainment.  Obisidan was hired by Lucas Arts to make a follow up to Knights of the Old Republic 1 and the game was rushed, however it is still a very good game.  

Darth Nihilus was a human male who was part of Revan's war against the Madalorians.  During the final battle of the war on Malachor V his body was ripped apart by a superweapon activiated by Revan known as the mass shadow generator.  This killed tens of thousands of soldiers on both sides and decimated both the Republic and Mandalorian fleet -yet Nihilus would survive and become a Sith. 

His body was long gone, but his spirit clad itself in a cloak and mask.  He became a symbol of dread preying from the shadows on the remaining Jedi Knights during the Jedi Civil War and the period that followed. 

Ultimately he would be killed by the hero in Knights of the Old Republic 2 known as the Jedi General.  A human female who activiated the mass shadow generator on Malachor V and was exiled from the order.  During the events of KOTOR 2 she was the last Jedi Knight and was responsible for the rebirth of the Jedi Order.  She would defeat Nihilus and other Sith Lords in a shadowy period following the Jedi Civil War. 

Nihilus ranks third on this list (above Revan and Vader) because he was a ruthless monster who clung to the tenets of the Sith Order.  He was not redeemable and never sought redemption. His spirit was scared following the activation of the mass shadow generator and simply wanted to gain more power (like all Sith) and to do this he needed to absorb force essence.  Nihilus was a wound in the force, one of several along with Darth Sion who also existed in this period. 

One of his greatest achievements was following the Jedi Civil War and Revan's departure for the Unknown Regions to confront his memories was the destruction of an entire planet through his mastery of the force.  The planet was hosting a Jedi conclave to restart the order.  There were only a couple hundred Jedi left at this point.  His attack destroyed 99% of them.  This as one stroke that almost ended the Jedi once and for all and with it the Galactic Republic would have soon followed.  This command of the force was something that neither Vader or Revan possessed and he may have been the most powerful force wielder the Sith Order has ever seen, but he is not the greatest.  Simply because he lacked vision of a world that would come after his demise.  He took no steps to preserve the order, but simply used it for his ruthless pursuit of power.  Nihilus didn't dream of building an empire or to train new apprentices.  He wanted to consume them and to consume the universe.  Since he failed in his primary objective to consume everything then we have to chalk his primary objective up to a failure, but this doesn't undermine his previous accomplishments.  Most notably the destruction of a planet through the force.  If you want to learn more than play KOTOR 2.[5]

Nihilus Falls

Second Greatest: Darth Bane

Darth Bane is the second greatest Sith Lord of all time and he lived one thousand years before the Battle of Yavin and Emperor Palpatine's rule of the Galaxy.  Darth Bane was a human male who served during the New Sith Wars as part of the Brotherhood of Darkness, but this is not the reason for why he is ranked second on this list.  He is ranked second for restarting the Order of the Sith Lords and for building a plan that will end with the Galactic Empire and the reign of Emperor Palpatine.

Darth Bane was a trainee during the first Six battles of Ruusan it would be during the final battle that his vision for destroying the current Sith so that he might be able to rebuild the order would come into fruition.  He used cunning, deceit, and surprise to get the leader of the Brotherhood Kaan to initate a powerful force ability called the thought bomb.  The bomb would destroy any force user in the vacinity and this one action took out all of the remaining Sith in the Brotherhood and a hundred Jedi Knights.  It produced a wound in the force that existed for over a thousand years and trapped the souls of both the Jedi and Sith witin it's void. 

After destroying the Sith and a sizable chunk of the remaining Jedi.  Bane went on to restart the Sith Order and came up with the Rule of Two.  This new tenet of the Order of the Sith Lords called for one apprentice and one master.  And for the most part this theory was followed by subsequent Sith Lords for up to a thousand years.  His new policy influenced the Sith more than Vader, Revan, and Nihilus. 

Furthermore he initated the grand plan of the Sith which would ultimately end with Emperor Palpatine's rise to power.  It called for taking over the republic from the inside.  If you want to read more about Bane then check out these books.[1]


The Greatest: Sidious

Darth Sidious or more commonly Emperor Palpatine was a human male who fulfilled Darth Bane's grand plan to destroy the Jedi Order and Galactic Republic.  It took over a thousand years for the plan to be fulfilled, but when it did it destroyed the order and reduced it to under a dozen surviving members of the Jedi Order.  It also transformed the Galactic Republic into the Empire with no notable enemies for almost twenty years -until the Rebel Alliance started to become a major problem.  The genius in Palpatine's plan was to divide the Republic in half and to control both sides in the conflict.  He did this by controlling the Confederacy of Independent Systems during the Clone Wars and also controlling the Galactic Republic.  Additionally, a built in command in the Republic clone troopers allowed him the sole power to access a hidden ability for the troopers to turn on their commanders, the Jedi, at any time. 

With one stroke the troopers turned on their leaders, the Jedi, and massacred them just as the Republic had won the war with the Confederates.  Since the galaxy was in dissaray and many blamed the Jedi for what Palpatine called the "Jedi Rebellion" there was no resistance to his Empire for many years.  This allowed him the time and leisure to use Vader to hunt down and kill the surviving Jedi and to squash any planatary rebellions to his rule.  New super weapons even greater than the mass shadow generator were built, the Death Star, which could destroy entire planets with a push of a button. 

Palpatine's rise to power embodied everything that Bane hoped his successors would use to climb to power.  He used cunning, deceit, deception, and secrecy to climb the ranks of the Galactic Senate while playing politician against politician from the shadows until he was finally Chancellor.  At that point all he had to do was widdle away at the Jedi Order bit by bit until they were small enough to take out in a final stroke.  He did this during his chancellorship by sponsering great progects to "glorify" the Republic.  One of these projects was Outbound flight were almost thirty Jedi were sent beyond the Galaxy.  It cost billions of credits to build the ship and almost half of the Jedi Council went with it.  Unknown to the known galaxy, Palpatine arranged for its destruction. 

When the Clone Wars arrived he controlled both sides and arranged for mass destruction across the Galaxy.  People were in fear and craved a stronger government and while this was happening the Jedi were being executed in stage piece battles bit by bit.  Palpatine was the perfect Sith Lord and his death came at the hands of his apprentice just like Bane said it should.  However, his apprentice died with him and was redeemd in the process.  This does reduce Palpatine's standing by a small margin because, to our knowledge, he had trained no other successor. 

This may change with Episode 7 though as their are rumors he will return as a force ghost to guide his secret apprentice.  All and all Palpatine/Sidious's achievements are unmatched by Revan, Vader, Nihilus, or Bane.  He was a monster and the perfect Sith.  Check out this book for further information on his rise to power.[3]

Rise of the Emperor

Honorable Mention: Darth Maul

Darth Maul deserves his mention because of his presence in Episode One.  While he was not a great Sith Lord he was a master of lighsaber combat and a ruthless villian in the prequel trilogy.  If he would have more screen time and development in the prequels then he would have been on this list, but due to his demise then it is hard to justify placement.  There are great books of dubious canon that claim he survived Episode One.  You can check them out here.[2] 

Maul Kills Qui Gon Jinn


The Sith Lords are the villians of Star Wars and any good Star Wars comic, game, movie, or book needs to include one.  They are just as essential to the story as the Jedi Knights and in my opinion any piece of art that fails to include one is not a Star Wars piece.  This article has examined the greatest of the order and it is my hope that you will agree with the findings and have learned a bit about what makes Star Wars, well Star Wars. 



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  1. "Darth Bane." Amazon. 5/10/2013 <Web >
  2. "Darth Maul." Amazon. 5/10/2013 <Web >
  3. "Darth Plagueis." Amazon. 5/10/2013 <Web >
  4. "Revenge of the Sith." Amazon . 5/10/2013 <Web >
  5. "Knights of the Old Republic 1 and 2." Amazon. 5/10/2013 <Web >

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