- "Always two, there are; no more, no less. A master and an apprentice."
Darth Plagueis' apprentice, Darth Sidious, conspired to restore the Sith to power roughly a millennium after the death of Darth Bane, the Dark Lord who reformed the Sith. During the Clone Wars, Darth Maul and Savage Opress claimed the mantle of Dark Lord despite the presence of Sidious and Darth Tyranus. Sidious killed Opress and chastised Maul, reminding his former apprentice that there could only be two Sith Lords at any given time.
After the Galactic Republic fell, the galaxy was ruled by two Dark Lords—Galactic Emperor Darth Sidious and his apprentice, the fallen Jedi Darth Vader—during the era of the Galactic Empire. Their reign ended when Vader sacrificed himself by destroying his master, rendering the Sith extinct through the deaths of the final Dark Lords.
Despite the Sith's prophesied destruction, their legacy endured through Sidious, who was revived through cloning and the dark side of the Force, as well as Supreme Leader Kylo Ren, Vader's grandson. During the First Order's war against the Resistance, Ren aspired to rule all the galaxy as the new Emperor and Dark Lord of the Sith. Following Ren's redemption, Sidious perished along with his followers in the Battle of Exegol as the very last Dark Lord of the Sith remaining.
- "I am a lord of the Sith. They are the ones who should be running."
- ―Darth Vader
The Dark Lord of the Sith, alternatively known as a Sith Lord, was a title in the Sith Order. In the distant past of the Old Republic, the Sith were led by the Dark Lords during their constant wars against the Jedi Order. The Sith later fell victim to infighting because of their greed for power, weakening the Sith Order to defeat and near-destruction by the Jedi. However, the ancient Sith Order had one surviving member: Darth Bane. Bane assumed the mantle of Dark Lord and established a philosophy known as the Rule of Two, declaring that only two Dark Lords could exist at any time—a Sith Master and a Sith apprentice.
The Dark Lords that succeeded Darth Bane would adhere to his teachings, maintaining the Sith Order's ranks at two members throughout the millennium-long reign of the modern Galactic Republic. Darth Sidious, publicly known as Sheev Palpatine from Naboo, became the Dark Lord of The Sith after murdering his Sith Master Darth Plagueis. Sidious was the Dark Lord of The Sith during the last years of the Republic and the rise of the Galactic Empire. At the time of the Clone Wars, Sidious' former apprentice Darth Maul sought to reclaim his status as a Sith Lord while training his brother, Savage Opress. Having replaced Maul with Darth Tyranus, Sidious confronted the Zabrak Sith claimants on Mandalore. There, he killed Opress and subdued Maul. The Dark Lord castigated Maul, informing the Dathomirian that he had been replaced in an Order that permitted only two Sith Lords. However, Sidious informed Maul that he still had uses for his former apprentice, using him to draw out Mother Talzin.
Sidious would later betray Tyranus and have him killed by Jedi Knight Anakin Skywalker, as he desired to make Anakin his apprentice. Not too long after killing Tyranus, Skywalker fell to the dark side and became Darth Vader, Sidious's third apprentice. Sidious proclaimed himself Galactic Emperor after destroying the Jedi Order. The Dark Lords ruled the galaxy for a generation until the Battle of Endor in 4 ABY, when Sidious betrayed Vader and tried to make Luke Skywalker his new apprentice. Previously, Vader had tried to do the same, but he gave up on his quest to make his son his apprentice after the mission to Exegol.
During the Battle of Endor, Luke refused to kill his father, however, declaring his allegiance to the Jedi. Enraged by Luke's refusal to turn to the dark side, Sidious tortured the Jedi Knight with Force lightning. Luke begged Vader to save him; unwilling to see his son die, Vader sacrificed his life by destroying the Emperor.
The deaths of Sidious and Vader marked the end of the lineage of Dark Lords going back to Darth Bane, and the beginning of the New Republic Era. Vader died as Anakin Skywalker having returned to the light side through an act of selflessness and sacrifice, which allowed Yoda to preserve Anakin's identity when he became one with the Force. As a result, Anakin joined Yoda and Obi-Wan Kenobi in death as a Force spirit. With his death, Anakin brought balance to the Force and his destiny as the Chosen One was fulfilled.
Unbeknownst to the galaxy at large, Sidious was revived when he used the dark side to move his spirit to a cloned body. Aided by his followers on Exegol, the Sith Eternal cult, the fallen Emperor engineered the strandcast Snoke to groom Vader's grandson, Kylo Ren, into an heir that was worthy of inheriting the Sith legacy. Ren, who coveted the power of his Sith grandfather, sought to rule all the galaxy as the new Emperor and Dark Lord of the Sith.
Sidious' plan to restore his Order through the creation of a new Sith Empire ended at the Battle of Exegol. Kylo Ren had returned to the light side of the Force, renouncing the dark side and his claim to the Sith mantle, while Sidious' granddaughter, the Jedi apprentice Rey rejected the Emperor's entreaty to succeed him. Ultimately, Rey used the power from all the past deceased Jedi to destroy Sidious and Sith for good.
List of Dark Lords of the Sith
Pre-Rule of Two
|c. 4000 BBY|
Rule of Two
|Period||Sith Master||Sith apprentice|
|After 1032 BBY–||
|Prior to 32 BBY||
|Prior to 32 BBY||
|c. 32 BBY–19 BBY||
|20 BBY–19 BBY||
Darth Maul (claimant)
Savage Opress (claimant)
|19 BBY–4 ABY||
|After 4 ABY–35 ABY|
- Star Wars Epic Yarns: Return of the Jedi
- LEGO Star Wars: Droid Tales Episodes I-III (Appears as Force spirit and in flashbacks)
- Star Wars: Galaxy of Heroes