The dark side of the Force, called Bogan or Boga by ancient Force-sensitives on Tython, was an aspect of the Force. Those who used the dark side were known as either Darksiders, Dark Side Adepts, or Dark Jedi when unaffiliated with a dark side organization such as the Sith. Unlike the Jedi, who were famous for using the light side of the Force, darksiders drew power from raw emotions and feelings such as anger, hatred, greed, jealousy, fear, aggression, megalomania, and unrestrained passion.
- "Evil began in a time before recorded history, when magicians made themselves into kings…and gods…using the powers of the dark side of the Force. The weak-minded have ever been ready to obey one who wields great power. Those who learned the powers of the dark side were quick to exploit this weakness—to make war. Again and again the dark side has surged forth, like a storm…devouring whole worlds and entire star systems. Those who mastered dark power became dark power. They unleashed destruction, for no other reason than for selfish gain. They despoiled nations…destroyed whole civilizations. Some of them, I am ashamed to say, were Jedi."
- ―Ood Bnar
The dark side was an aspect of the Force, a metaphysical power that bound the galaxy together. The first known users of the dark side were the ancient Rakata, an alien species that conquered a large portion of the galaxy around 30,000 BBY. These aliens were able to harness the dark side to create engineering feats unheard of in their time, such as the hyperdrive and the Star Forge. However, the Rakatan Infinite Empire eventually collapsed when the Rakatans lost their connection to the Force.
In 25,053 BBY, long after the fall of the Infinite Empire, the galaxy was creating a new government, the Galactic Republic. Prior to the dawn of this new era, scientists, philosophers, priests, and warriors gathered on the planet Tython to discuss and investigate an anomalous energy present throughout the galaxy. The group was able to discover Ashla, what became known as the light side of the Force. Eventually however, members of the group discovered and began to advocate the use of Bogan, or what would later become known as the dark side. At first the group founded the Je'daii Order, the predecessor to the Jedi Order. The Je'daii Order advocated using both sides of the Force and placed heavy emphasis on maintaining balance between the two.
However, during a Rakatan invasion of Tython, the effects and demands of the war forced the Je'daii to cast aside the balance in exchange for the power of the dark side to defeat their enemies. After the Rakata had been defeated, the main Je'daii group wanted to return to the balance. However, after seeing the horrors of the dark side–wielding Rakata, some Je'daii wished to forbid the use of Bogan and only focus on Ashla. Meanwhile, other Je'daii saw the dangers of the galaxy and claimed they needed Bogan to survive and defend themselves. This impasse split the order and led to a civil war. These two groups clashed on the planet in a decade-long conflict known as the Force Wars of Tython. In the aftermath of the war, the followers of Ashla developed the Jedi Order, while the followers of Bogan seemingly faded from history.
The dark side did not present a significant threat again until 24,500 BBY during the First Great Schism of the Jedi Order. Once again, however, the followers of the dark side, including the first known Dark Jedi Lettow General Xendor, were defeated by the members of the Jedi Order. Those who followed Xendor came to be known as the Legions of Lettow, and embraced combat in place of meditation, and focused their emotions on battle rather than peace. Several members of the Jedi Order would eventually take up these teachings and embrace the dark side in 7000 BBY, sparking the Hundred-Year Darkness. Although the Dark Jedi were again defeated and eventually exiled, it was this conflict that allowed for the creation of an enduring dark side organization, as these Exiles were the predecessors to the Sith.
Nature of the dark side
- "Evil is a word used by the ignorant and the weak. The dark side is about survival. It's about unleashing your inner power. It glorifies the strength of the individual."
- ―Darth Zannah
The difference between the dark and light sides appeared to be in how they feel to those who are aware of them. The light side at times was described as a flowing river: soothing, constant, with hidden strength. In contrast, the dark side was described as a roaring fire: obviously powerful, seductive, and potentially dangerous. Darth Revan and Darth Bane mentioned the difference between the two sides of the Force. They claimed that while the light side represented the compassion and tranquility of all beings of the galaxy, the dark side focused on individual passion and strength. They also mentioned that while the light side was about maintaining the status quo, the dark side was about change and evolution.
The dark side was seen as having been used for selfish purposes, although many darksiders who were accused of such selfishness claimed that the dark side was simply a means to achieve an end. One of the most notable examples was Anakin Skywalker, a Jedi who embraced the dark side with the intentions of saving his wife after seeing her die in a vision, even at the expense of the Jedi Order. Many found the dark side to be addictive, unable to resist its pull the more they were subjected to it. Even as their physical bodies slowly decayed, Dark side users became more powerful in the Force. However, some users, like Mara Jade, noted that the use of the dark side was a practical matter, as the power it granted was more efficient when performing destructive Force powers like telekinesis. Like the light side, the dark side was often treated as a semi-sentient entity with purposeful designs.
It has been theorized by some (notably Vergere) that there is no such thing as the dark side but only malevolent intent in the user, since most dark-side users already possessed negative intentions or else fell victim to the temptations of absolute power and domination. Darth Sidious also hinted that there was truly only one Force that was above such things as "positive and negative, black and white, good and evil." He stated that the only difference was that the Jedi saw the Force as a power in itself, while the Sith believed it was a means to power. This theory was fervently opposed by the Jedi Master Yoda. Additionally, Darth Plagueis believed that there were distinct differences between the energies of the light and dark sides as well as distinct differences in how one drew upon each.
Allure of the dark side
- "That ship is alive with the dark side, Master Yoda. I can feel it clinging to my robes. And worse, it still tempts me, calling me back with promises of fantastic journeys to the far reaches of the galaxy."
- ―Saesee Tiin
The Sith call it enlightenment; however, no records explain exactly how a conversion to the dark side takes place. For some, the dark side was extremely attractive and almost impossible to reject. Every time a person in tune with the Force called on the dark side, they became more addicted to the power it brought them. The dark side's corrupting influence could take control of a Force user in certain moments. Although the Jedi primarily characterized the dark side as little more than a dangerous shortcut to power, those who embraced the dark side did so for various reasons.
Some believed the dark side to be more generous than the light, as it provided power, strength, and determination. Many of the original Dark Jedi in the Great Schisms of the Jedi Order held this idea and believed it foolish of the Jedi to restrict themselves to a lesser interpretation of the Force. Some fell to the dark side for the sake of knowledge, such as Anakin Skywalker in his fight to discover a way to save the lives of his wife and children.
Some fell to the dark side because of a natural connection with it. In some cases, Jedi who had had limited control over the light side found their power and natural talent massively stronger in the dark side. Others fell because they saw the light side and the endless rules that the Jedi demanded to maintain it as too much to follow, as well as too limiting to their influence on the galaxy. They saw the dark side and its tenets of free passion, action, and emotion as a much better alternative to a life of sterile servitude under the light. Some also converted because they felt that the dark side at least got things done, instead of the patience and pacifism of the light. Among these people were Darth Karrid, Darth Vader and Yuthura Ban.
Others believed that it was a necessary evil in dire times, such as Darth Caedus and Darth Revan, while Darth Traya embraced it so she might be able to find a way to destroy the Force as a whole. She also believed that the contrast of the dark side was necessary for a lightsider to truly understand the Force. Some embraced the dark side not out of personal desire, but as a means to battle the Jedi, as Aurra Sing did. For many, like Darth Talon, Irek Ismaren, Darth Bane, Darth Nox, Vestara Khai, Starkiller, and Mara Jade, the dark side was the first side of the Force to which they were introduced and thus they did not succumb to it. Often the call of the dark side was felt following a personal tragedy, as Shaela Nuur, Obi-Wan Kenobi, and Anakin Skywalker experienced following the death of loved ones. Others turned to it in times of need or distress, such as Exar Kun, Darth Krayt, and Komari Vosa. In addition, it was possible to be drawn to the dark side by proximity to a nexus of dark side energy, such as Malachor V or the Valley of the Dark Lords on Korriban.
Though their pasts and situations were varied, almost all who turned to the dark side did so because they faced challenges and difficulties that they felt the light side was incapable of helping them overcome. The changes these individuals underwent that led them to the dark side were clearly a result of their life experiences up to that point, and their willingness or unwillingness to resist the emotive forces that pulled one over the threshold of its allure and power. Among the most powerful of those emotive forces—which lightsiders were ever cautioned to resist and darksiders were ever admonished to embrace—are fear and anger, for both can lead to hate, which, as Yoda was quick to caution, ever lies only a stepping-stone away from the realm of the dark side.
Fear was most often the starting point in a slide to the dark side—for, like a plague, it could quickly and rampantly affect individuals, groups, entire populations of cities, and even planets; and like a stream that becomes a raging river, it led naturally to anger, chaos, and unbridled power, if left unabated. When fear was thus allowed to fester and go unchecked, it could take hold and create a concentration of dark side energy that bordered on being something that approached a vergence or nexus in the Force. Those who were Force-sensitive could, often with great facility, detect such concentrations. Such detection occurred, for example, by a young Anakin Skywalker and his Master Obi-Wan Kenobi when they arrived on the planet Radnor: "Anakin reached out to the Force to feel what he could about the mission ahead. He exchanged a glance with Obi-Wan. The Force was dark here. Fear had gripped the population of both cities—and with fear came desperation, anger, and chaos."
Corruption of the dark side
- "Will I eventually be physically transformed?"
"Into some aged, pale-skinned, raspy-voiced, yellow-eyed monster, you mean. Such as the one you see before you. Surely you are acquainted with the lore: King Ommin of Onderon, Darths Sion and Nihilus. But whether it will happen to you, I can't say. Know this, though, Sidious, that the power of the dark side does not debilitate the practitioner so much as it debilitates those who lack it. The power of the dark side is an illness no true Sith would ever wish to be cured of."
- ―Darths Sidious and Plagueis discuss the physical signs of dark side immersion.
The dark side, much like a strong, addictive narcotic, affected not only the mind of the user but the appearance as well. As one immersed oneself deeper within the dark side of the Force, its malevolent power took a toll on the body. Darth Bane explained that the reason for this physical degradation was because flesh and bone lacked the endurance to channel the immense power of the dark side indefinitely. Revan also explained that while the light side and Jedi teachings were devoted to preventing physical change through the Force, the dark side changes had to be accepted by the Sith, or they would fail due to their attempts at moderation.
Many darksiders experienced a change in the pigmentation of their eyes, as their normal eye color would transform into luminous, sulfuric yellow, a blood red or dark orange, usually with fiery red rims around the irises. Further transformations could also occur could also turn the white of the eyes black or reddish in color, as well as the skin around the eyes. The most severe transformations would cause the darksider to appear to be aging rapidly, as the skin would lose pigmentation, becoming pale and mottled while veins became increasingly visible and hair would lose color. At some point, the user's voice could also be altered, becoming a few pitches lower and raspier.
The effects generally progressed over time and immersion in the dark side, and would not immediately affect one's appearance. Darth Tyranus and Galen Marek, for example, did not suffer any of the physical degeneration of the dark side, and their eyes only assumed the yellow hue during moments of anger. Luke Skywalker suffered none of these effects during his brief bout of intense anger that allowed him to disarm Darth Vader, nor did Kyle Katarn during either of the times that he was (at least partially) driven by the dark side against Jerec and later Desann. In contrast, Teneniel Djo, after calling on the dark side to kill a Nightsister in the Battle of Dathomir, instantly acquired a burst blood vessel in her face, something common to the Nightsisters. Of those that embraced the dark side, different individuals would experience different symptoms: Darth Malak, for example, experienced a change in eye color and acquired a slight pallor, but no other effects that could be explained naturally (although he required a vocabulator after his jaw was severed). Only those that devoted almost all of their being to the dark side, such as Darth Sidious, would have their appearance radically altered. It should be noted that Sidious's most drastic physical alterations occurred during the lightsaber duel with Jedi Master Mace Windu; Windu using his own lightsaber to deflect Sidious's Force lightning caused the uncontrolled energy to radically alter Sidious's physical features. Darth Caedus had his eyes change hue, but after a year of using the dark side, nothing else had occurred.
In time, the corruption could go beyond mere cosmetic details and directly impair physical abilities. King Ommin of Onderon was a proficient Sith sorcerer for most of his life, and the dark side held him under its decaying influence until he eventually became incapable of movement and needed support from a cyborg exoskeleton in order to survive. Another extreme case of dark side corruption was Darth Zash, whose extensive study of the dark side led to immense physical degradation and eventually a fatal terminal condition. The worst case of this transformation would be Darth Nihilus, who was completely consumed by the dark side both mentally and physically. Eventually, he became an aberration of the dark side that existed only to consume life.
The dark side could have an even greater effect on the mind, as the user often stopped trusting people and become quick to anger. Following Anakin Skywalker's transformation into Darth Vader, he believed his wife was plotting to kill him with Obi-Wan Kenobi. His paranoia and anger lead him to strangle her through the Force. Continued immersion in the dark side could even result in insanity, as in the case of Dark Jedi Boc Aseca, Alema Rar, and Joruus C'baoth. It should be noted however, that the individuals who went insane were all disturbed or traumatized even before their conversion, and the dark side simply exacerbated their conditions.
It was possible for these corrupting powers to be potent enough to affect those who were simply near a nexus of dark side energy. Colonel Tobin of Onderon, a man who had no known sensitivity to the Force, was so affected by the presence of Darth Nihilus and the Ravager that he fell into madness and exhibited the appearance of one who had immersed themselves in the dark side.
While the dark side could destroy a body, it was also capable of sustaining one. The hateful, passionate, determined energies of the dark side were so powerful that it could prevent death for a body that was far past the point of death for a normal being. King Adas of Korriban survived for almost three centuries. Darth Sion, who suffered grievously in the Great Sith War and the Jedi Civil War had the appearance of a walking corpse. His flesh was "cracked and scarred" and he had "several thousand fractures in his skeleton," according to a Republic medical officer. He survived through the power of hate, according to Darth Traya, and called upon the dark side to make him near-immortal. After Darth Maul was cut in half by Obi-Wan Kenobi on Naboo and fell down a reactor shaft, he should have died. However his rage and desire for revenge fueled the dark side to keep himself alive, to the point when he returned twelve years later. However this severe use of the dark side might have caused his descent into insanity. Darth Vader had his legs and arms amputated shortly before having his lungs seared as he was burned alive on Mustafar. His life was saved only after intervention by his master, Darth Sidious, and his dark side healing abilities. After his transformation into a cyborg, Vader called heavily upon the dark side to marginalize his wounds so he could again be self-sufficient.
Fear of the dark side
- "Don't threaten me. Children are frightened by spirits—Jedi are not."
"Mmmm. But Jedi are frightened by the dark side…or at least they should be. Your fascination with the dark side will get you into grave trouble."
- ―Exar Kun and Freedon Nadd
As the dark side was often associated with darker emotions, darksiders were portrayed to the galaxy as savage and evil. The Jedi Order disagreed so strongly with the purpose of the dark side of the Force that they distanced themselves from anything possibly related to the dark side. They also made it part of their mission to neutralize any and all practitioners of the dark side by whatever means necessary, though killing them was usually a last resort. After the Ruusan Reformation, the order placed many limitations on Jedi to protect order members from temptation by dark side influences. For the most part, the Jedi Order forbade members romantic attachments, relationships with their families, and any type of action based on anger. These limits came from the belief that those Jedi who had deep personal attachments with loved ones also had motivation to use the power of the Force selfishly for protection, personal enrichment, or the pursuit of more power. Anakin Skywalker fell to the dark side in large part because then-Chancellor Palpatine knew of his secret marriage to Padmé Amidala, and he was able to prey upon that vulnerable emotional connection.
Many—especially those who had embraced the dark side—believed this to be a result of fear. Often those who held this belief looked down upon the Jedi and other lightsiders, criticizing them for cowardice and inaction. Many Sith and even a few Jedi mocked the Jedi Order for claiming to strive to understand the Force while refusing to study everything it had to offer. They claimed that the Jedi scrutinized a single layer of the Force, while they dug beneath layer after layer, understanding and evolving. Many Sith Lords have expressed this viewpoint. Darth Malgus claimed that the Jedi refused to accept that the Force encouraged conflict, allowing those who survive to understand it better. Darth Sidious claimed that the Sith embraced all aspects of the Force, not just "the dogmatic view of the Jedi." And Darth Nox stated that the thing that united the Sith was that they "did not repress their emotions, and they embraced everything that the Force allowed."
As the dark side was often associated with infamous historical figures, such as Exar Kun, Darth Revan, and Darth Sidious, it is unsurprising that many throughout the galaxy would harbor such animosity to its users. Many expletives were also associated with the dark side, including "By the Dark Side!," "Chaos take me!," "Holy Sith!," "Sith Blood/Spit!," and "Minions of Xendor!"
Death of dark side users
- "Too bad we don't have a Dark Jedi handy we could kill. Remember that big blast when C'baoth died?"
- ―Mara Jade
Certain dark side users, upon being killed, would explode in a blast of blue energy. Darth Sidious exploded in this way in 4 ABY after being thrown down a reactor core shaft in the second Death Star by a redeemed Anakin Skywalker. In 9 ABY, Joruus C'baoth also exploded in a blast of blue energy after being stabbed by Mara Jade's lightsaber. Darth Nihilus and Dark Jedi Jerec did not explode, but rather dissolved into dark side energy upon their death, leaving no remains of their bodies. It remains a mystery why these individuals died in this manner while other dark side users, such as Darth Tyranus, did not.
Mysteriously, when Shaak Ti was struck down by Galen Marek and thrown into the mouth of a giant sarlacc, she died in a way similar to the explosions mentioned above, but was in no way a dark side user. The reason her death occurred in the manner it did has yet to be clarified. It may be that this occurred when a more powerful Force-user was killed and thus Force "side" affiliation may be irrelevant.
The Four Stages of the dark side
- "To those of you who believe they are immune to any of these stages…I say you are already victim to the dark side's seductive tendrils, and urge you to listen as you have never listened before."
- ―Tolaris Shim
The Four Stages of the Dark Side was a thesis presented by the Jedi Master Tolaris Shim that outlined her beliefs on what constitutes a complete fall to the dark side. Based on the events surrounding the fall of Ulic Qel-Droma, Master Shim studied deep into the histories of those Jedi whose personal motivations drove them to the dark side for one reason or another. Sometime shortly after the end of the Great Sith War, Master Shim presented her findings to the Jedi assembly. These findings would be the standard by which Masters identified the signs of one's potential corruption by the dark side.
Stage 1: Temptation
- "Anakin, if one is to understand the great mystery, one must study all its aspects, not just the dogmatic, narrow view of the Jedi. If you wish to become a complete and wise leader, you must embrace a larger view of the Force. Be careful of the Jedi, Anakin. Only through me can you achieve a power greater than any Jedi. Learn to know the dark side of the Force, and you will be able to save your wife from certain death."
- ―Darth Sidious to Anakin Skywalker
Tolaris Shim believed that because a Jedi was in tune with the Force and could use it to whatever ends they saw fit, situations would arise that tempted the Jedi toward selfish applications of the Force. Rushing to help friends, facing obvious perils, and ending disputes quickly were all acts of haste that according to Master Shim would result in steps onto the dark path should the individual act first and contemplate later.
Knights like the charismatic Exar Kun were less "honor-bound." Intrigued with tales of the dark side told by Master Vodo-Siosk Baas, Kun was easily seduced by what he perceived as unrestrained power—power that was his for the taking.
Stage 2: Imperilment
- "Like you, he believed the dark side could be conquered from within. Such was not to be. The dark side seduced him utterly…and anger became his path!"
- ―Odan-Urr, warning Ulic Qel-Droma
According to Master Shim, a hasty, indecisive Jedi can be quite a catastrophe to themselves. Also, any Jedi who believes that a "shortcut" through the path of the dark side will be lined with signs redirecting him back toward the light is only deluding himself. Shim felt that a Jedi cannot be blinded by the idea of doing what they perceive to be right, by any means necessary. She also believed that if one accepts the darkness by which they are surrounded as a means to power, then the next stage has no bearing on their concerns. Jedi Knight Anakin Skywalker was conflicted in this manner. To save his wife from impending death, Skywalker believed that he could do so through the power of the dark side, while remaining uncorrupted by it. Because he accepted the dark side as the power necessary to bring about good, he was completely given over to it. He too, like Exar Kun and Ulic Qel-Droma before him, succumbed fully to the power of the dark side, yet as Darth Vader, Anakin did not realize that he may have had to turn in order to bring balance to the Force.
Stage 3: Submission
- "To cheat death is a power only one has achieved. But if we work together, I know we can discover the secret."
"I pledge myself…to your teachings."
"Good…Good. The Force is strong with you. A powerful Sith you will become. Henceforth, you shall be known as Darth…Vader."
- ―Darth Sidious anoints Anakin Skywalker as Darth Vader
Master Shim believed that once a Jedi accepts the dark path, the end justifying the means becomes irrelevant. Situations like attempting to destroy the Sith through infiltration, or trying to save loved ones from death have caused several famous Jedi to explain away their actions based on the desired outcomes. At this point, their fall to the dark side is nearly complete.
On occasion, Jedi who wander away from the light suddenly become aware of their poor decisions. According to Master Shim, these Jedi are not so far beyond redemption. Jedi Master Atris, having succumbed to the dark side influence of Sith holocrons in her possession, was restored to the light following a fierce confrontation with the Jedi Exile. Some Jedi, such as Exar Kun, found the power of the dark side intoxicating and so fully surrendered themselves to it. To Master Shim, these individuals are no longer orthodox Jedi but twisted perversions of their former selves. It is then the responsibility of the Jedi to either bring the dissenter back into the fold, or eliminate them.
Stage 4: Redemption/Atonement
- "The Dark Lord Revan is dead. I am a servant of the light now."
Tolaris believed that a Jedi who is only slightly tainted by the dark side could atone for their actions through meditation, reflection, and absolution. She also believed that a Dark Jedi was beyond atonement, and therefore only eligible for redemption. According to Master Shim, a redeemed Jedi is one who has performed a selfless act of heroism without using the dark side to obtain results. Such acts include saving the life of another through completely selfless action (such as Darth Vader saving his son from death by destroying Emperor Palpatine), or helping to right a wrong one has helped to create (such as Ulic Qel-Droma assisting in the defeat of Exar Kun). This happens from time to time, but on many occasions Dark Jedi were beyond redemption, some outright refusing to be returned to the light side. To this effect Master Shim noted that a Dark Jedi who does not want to relinquish his powers cannot be saved.
While pondering the ideas behind Master Shim's dissertation, Tionne Solusar was interested in how Tolaris would view certain Jedi of more recent times, Jedi who were corrupted, restored, and believed redeemed by their colleagues. Tionne provided an account of the dark side journeys of Anakin Skywalker, Luke Skywalker, and Kyp Durron, but Tolaris' interactive holorecording passed the same judgments on all three: that any Jedi who kills innocents while under the influence of the dark side cannot be redeemed.
Manifestations of the dark side
- "There are spots where continued dark-side use for ages, or the presence of creatures instilled with that energy, can cause the places themselves to radiate with the power of the dark side."
- ―Luke Skywalker
The dark side was known to manifest itself in many different ways, even in the absence of life, which was the supposed source of the Force. Locations where the dark side ran strong were sometimes called dark side nexuses, and could be the result of many different occurrences. These locations were so potent that they could imbue nearby objects with a dark side aura.
The Valley of the Dark Lords on Korriban became a nexus of dark side power as a result of the long-term presence of the Sith, as well as their lingering spirits. The tombs within the Valley were especially saturated with dark side energy, causing the relics within to have a permanent dark side aura. Within these tombs, as well as Freedon Nadd's on Dxun, the dark side was known to coagulate into visible pools of energy. These pools would tempt passersby to bathe in the dark energies, pulling them closer to the dark side.
Other dark side nexuses include the planet Vjun, which was the result of horrors attributed to the widespread insanity that gripped the planet in 29 BBY. After research into Midi-chlorian manipulation resulted in their madness, the populace of Vjun proceeded to slaughter one another, tainting the planet. Byss became a dark side nexus due to the presence of the clones of Darth Sidious and his alchemical experimentations. Jedi Master Yoda used the Dark Side Cave on Dagobah to test Luke Skywalker, as the dark energies would produce visions of possible dark futures.
The dark side could also center itself around people and objects. The Sith Lord Darth Sidious was so powerful in the dark side that a nexus of darkness followed him wherever he went. Darth Vader was also known to exude a similar aura. Indeed this was true for many Dark Lords, such as Darth Malak, whose dark energy was felt by Bastila Shan as he approached the Leviathan. Sith artifacts carried with them potent dark power as well, such as Sith holocrons and the Scepter of Ragnos.
Wounds in the Force
A wound in the Force was the result of a massive and sudden loss of life. As the Force is derived from life, it would become traumatized and wounded, affecting the places and people involved. The wound would never heal, and always hunger for life to fill the hole where life once existed. Such wounds could cause great harm to any life that came in contact, corrupting it or devouring it. Proximity to these wounds could often cause a rapid fall to the dark side or worse. Well-known Force wounds included Malachor V, the Jedi Exile, and Darth Nihilus.
Malachor V was once an agricultural world in the possession of the old Sith Empire. During the Mandalorian Wars, Jedi General Revan massed his fleet of Republic warships over the planet, which was a taboo world for the Mandalorians. Unable to resist battle, the Mandalorian fleet attacked, and fought savagely. However, the Jedi General in charge of the Mass Shadow Generator, a superweapon designed by Bao-Dur, gave the order to activate it, crushing both fleets in the gravitational forces of the planet, and sending thousands of vessels crashing into the surface of the planet. The world's crust shattered, leaving a dead planetoid floating in space, surrounded by wreckage.
The same Jedi General, unable to bear experiencing thousands of deaths through the Force—deaths that she caused—shut herself off from the Force, and thus created a wound within herself. When later standing trial before the Jedi Council, the Masters would comment on how empty she felt, as if they were staring into the death of the Force.
Darth Nihilus, yet another product of Malachor, would become such a powerful wound that the dark side would completely devour his mind and body. He would roam the galaxy, hunting Jedi and other Force-sensitives to feed on. He was able to wipe all life off the planet of Katarr, and cause anyone near him to be slowly drained of life. His constant pursuit of Force-sensitives to consume earned him the title "Lord of Hunger."
Force wounds like Malachor V could also be used to break the will of Jedi, corrupting them and turning them to the dark side. Revan's widespread use of this technique was one of the primary reasons he was able to amass such an enormous army of dark siders so quickly, as virtually all of them were former Jedi that he had corrupted.
Strength of the dark side
- "It has been said that anyone who knows the ways of the Force can set her- or himself up as a King on any world where only she or he knows the ways of the Force. Any Jedi could do this. But the Jedi, fools that they are, adhere to a religion in which the Force is used only in the service of others. How shortsighted of them. Is that not why they lost the galaxy to the dark side?"
- ―Palpatine, in The Weakness of Inferiors
A common point of debate among Jedi and their dark counterparts was the strength that laid behind the dark side. A major claim of darksiders was that the stronger, darker emotions that fueled their power also lent them an edge over other Force users. The Jedi, and other groups who held to the light often claimed that the dark side was a shortcut to power, but also to suffering and destruction. It is true that many darksiders noticeably advanced in their command of the Force following their conversion, like Darth Caedus. Many were in fact capable of incredible feats of destruction, such as causing stars to go supernova, the Devastation of Katarr and Force storms, powers that seemed incomprehensible for a single being to wield. The Sith often claimed that the Jedi were weak and foolish for not tapping into the dark side, which they considered to be the stronger side of the Force. While the dark side did provide for a more visual display of power, such as Force Storms, the Jedi were capable of the same amount of power, but could not apply it in such terrible, destructive ways. However, these powers came with a price. Abilities such as Force storm and the unique variant of Force drain employed by Darth Nihilus required extraordinary immersion in the dark side, and the practitioners of such dark powers invariably suffered terrible physical degradation. Darth Sidious for example aged very poorly as the dark side consumed him from within. When Sidious returned from his death at the hands of Anakin Skywalker, his power in the dark side was seen to be so potent that the cloned bodies he inhabited were quickly consumed by the simple act of housing Sidious's spirit. His incredible power, combined with the fact that the clones were not as suitable for housing his essence as his original body had been, meant he had to transfer his spirit into fresh clones very frequently. Darth Nihilus presented what was perhaps the most extreme example of this issue. As his power grew, he became so consumed by the dark side that his physical form was eventually destroyed, forcing him to encase his spirit in his armor.
Conversely, while the dark side could provide its practitioners with destructive capabilities beyond that of light side practitioners, it fell short of the light side when it came to biologically sustainable healing. While the dark side could be used to improve one's vitality and repair one's body as the light side could, the results of utilizing the dark side in such a manner were almost always temporary. Nearly all dark side-based healing powers worked only so long as the practitioner actively channeled the dark side, and whatever malady the power was meant to treat often returned in full force the moment they ceased to do so. Darth Bane's and Darth Vader's use of dark side healing abilities present a few good examples. In Bane's case, while he was at one point able to hold off the effects of a deadly poison by strengthening himself through the pain and suffering of others, he still required the assistance of the healer Caleb to actually cure himself. Vader was capable of using the dark side to heal the necrotic and useless tissue of his lungs to the point where he could operate in standard atmospheric conditions, but he had to maintain intense concentration on the dark side to do so. If his hate abated or his concentration slipped, his lungs returned to their injured state. The case of Darth Sion presents the most extreme usage of this power, with both its greatest strengths and weaknesses showcased perfectly. Sion was capable of using the dark side to hold his broken, clinically dead body together by feeding off the extreme pain that such an existence constantly caused him. This pain fueled his rage, and as such his strength in the dark side, which permitted him to hold his body together through increasingly violent traumas. If near to a dark side nexus like Malachor V, he became essentially unstoppable. However, the instant he was convinced to let go of his hate and anger by Meetra Surik, his body gave out and he died. The light side, on the other hand, could provide accelerated healing in a permanent, biologically sustainable fashion. However, there are a few dark side practitioners who have demonstrated the ability to heal themselves in a more permanent fashion. Count Dooku, for instance, was able to purge his body of a deadly biological weapon during a negotiation with Jango Fett after the latter attempted to use it to extort him. Darth Plagueis was able to use his midichlorian manipulation technique to permanently regenerate nearly all of the wounds he sustained at the hands of Maladian assassins, even decades after the incident. However, Plagueis was the only known user of this ability, which did not use the energies of the dark side to directly heal the subject in any case. Additionally, it is not known whether Dooku utilized the dark side specifically to heal himself, or if he drew on his Jedi knowledge to do so.
It was also noted by Jedi Master Yoda that the dark side was quick to aid a Force-user in combat, often to great effect. Asajj Ventress, a young Dark Jedi, was able to fend off three Jedi, kill one, and pull another to the dark side during the Deception on Ruul. During her rescue of Viceroy Nute Gunray from Republic custody, Ventress was able to kill numerous clone troopers, cripple the Tranquility, and escape both Luminara Unduli and Ahsoka Tano. Darth Sidious called upon the dark side and was able to quickly slay three Jedi Council members and persuade Anakin Skywalker to assist him in killing the fourth. Skywalker himself, as Darth Vader, was able to kill many Jedi single-handedly during Operation: Knightfall and the subsequent Great Jedi Purge. Luke Skywalker utilized the power of the dark side to defeat Darth Vader during their final duel, drawing on his rage to bolster his combat effectiveness for a short time. Jacen Solo, after his transformation into Darth Caedus, proved able to essentially stalemate Grand Master Luke Skywalker during a lightsaber duel, despite Skywalker's overwhelming power in the Force. The combat prowess exhibited by these individuals may have been the result of a lack of moral restrictions darksiders placed on themselves. When in battle, however, the dark side itself lent to their ferocity and determination.
One weakness that apparently lay in the dark side, which could be seen as giving the Jedi the upper hand, was the strife inescapably associated with it. The Sith Lords could never ultimately destroy their foes because they were bound to, sooner or later, turn upon each other, with each one constantly striving for more power at the expense of others, and seeking to dominate everything around him. This flaw became particularly pronounced if there was no reigning Dark Lord to keep the lesser ones in check. The Rule of Two, introduced by Darth Bane, drastically limited the number of true Sith in an attempt to turn this weakness into a strength. However, this too caused problems due to two possibilities it failed to make note of:
First, Bane never accounted for the possibility of a failed apprentice's training taking up most of the master's lifespan, precluding the training of a new pupil. Bane himself scrambled to attain immortality and buy more time to train another apprentice when he believed Darth Zannah to be a failure. In this case, Bane's fears were unfounded, as she successfully killed him shortly thereafter, though it did highlight this primary problem with the Rule of Two. As demonstrated by Darth Tenebrous, a Sith Master of Bane's Order could circumvent this problem by concurrently training two apprentices in secret, though this was rarely done. Secondly, the possibility of one of the two Sith Lords converting to the light side and killing the other was never considered. This was seen in the life of Darth Gravid, who turned to the light side and destroyed several Sith artifacts and treasures before his apprentice killed him. This particular problem also brought an end to the original incarnation of the Order of the Sith Lords when Darth Vader renounced the dark side and killed his Master, Darth Sidious. An additional flaw with the Rule of Two was that Bane created it in the hopes that each Sith Master would be forced to kill their master to claim the title. Bane hoped this would ensure that each generation of Sith was stronger then the last. However the rule was flawed in that many Sith apprentices killed their master's through trickery or ambush, rather than a direct challenge. Also unlike previous Dark Lords, who fought hundreds of potential rivals for their power. The Rule of Two made it so that each Dark Lord claimed the title simply because they were the only candidate. For these reasons, the Rule of Two was abolished by the One Sith.
Another fatal weakness that has been repeatedly illustrated in the dark side is a lack of focus that seems to stem from a reliance on emotions such as pride, anger, and fear, which heighten powers but also lead to clouded judgment. This issue often leads to darksiders being brought low by their hubris, even in situations where victory would otherwise seem assured. For example, Obi-Wan Kenobi defeated both Darth Maul and Darth Vader, despite the fact that he was the less viable combatant in both situations. Darth Malak was similarly defeated by Revan during their final duel despite drawing on the massive dark power of the Star Forge (though Revan may have simply been more powerful than Malak even when taking the Star Forge's energies into account). Count Dooku felt threatened by Anakin Skywalker and allowed his pride to blind him to Skywalker's true power, leading to Dooku's demise. As such, it would seem that the dark side may offer it's adherents a more tangible sort of power: one that is direct and physical, while the light side provides a more subtle kind of power, that of focus and understanding. To their detriment, the power of the light side is one which darksiders often fail to understand and tend to underestimate.
However, this weakness was not absolute, and it was indeed possible to wield the dark side without succumbing to one's own pride or rage. In a manuscript entitled The Book of Anger, Darth Sidious stated that while he believed that anger was the most potent catalyst for drawing on the destructive energies of the dark side, he realized that it could impair one's judgment. As such, he cautioned that keeping one's anger under control was vital to mastering the dark side, emphasizing that a strong will and high levels of intelligence were needed to exercise this control. In keeping with this sort of philosophy, advanced practitioners of the dark side could, even in the heat of combat, keep their emotions in check as their Jedi counterparts could. Darth Vader was a prime example of a darksider with this capability.
It also should be noted that the training methods of darksiders were often brutal, as exemplified by the Sith. One common result of this tendency was that the weaker darksiders often died before ever getting the chance to fight a Jedi, which may help to explain their high success rate against Jedi–more weak Jedi survived their training to fight the strongest of the Sith. Despite this disparity, the followers of the light proved victorious in the majority of large scale conflicts with dark side adherents. This trend was due almost exclusively due to the infighting that inevitably occurred between the various darksiders during said conflicts. However the Jedi were not always victorious in their war against the Sith. A number of times the Jedi Order has been defeated in galactic conflict, such as the Great Galactic War against the reconstituted Sith Empire. Also the Jedi Order and the Republic has been brought to the brink of destruction on at least three occasions, such as the Jedi Civil War aftermath, the Jedi Purge of Palpatine and later of Darth Krayt.
Dark side powers
- "The dark side of the Force is a pathway to many abilities some consider to be…unnatural."
- ―Supreme Chancellor Palpatine, to Anakin Skywalker
Those who wielded the dark side found many abilities of the Force easier to use, with some Force powers available only to Dark Jedi. Light-side Jedi could use some dark-side abilities, but most preferred not to since dark-side abilities had aggressive, destructive, or perversely manipulative tendencies. Luke Skywalker, for example, used Force Choke at Jabba's Palace, which was almost unheard of for a Jedi to use, unless unarmed. Luke was also known to use Force lightning, one of the dark side's most iconic abilities. Powers commonly associated with the dark side of the Force are:
- Consume Essence
- Deadly Sight
- Enhance Force Sensitivity
- Force corrupt
- Force lightning
- Force choke
- Force crush
- Force drain
- Force Destruction
- Force phantom
- Force net
- Force shadow
- Force Slow
- Force insanity
- Force scream
- Force rage
- Thought bomb
- Memory Walk
- Transfer essence
- Midi-chlorian manipulation
- Sith Emperor's ritual
Powers of the Sith
- "A rare few have a natural affinity for the dark side itself. They can delve into the depths of the Force and summon arcane energies to twist and warp the world around them. They can invoke ancient rituals of the Sith; they can invoke power and unleash terrible spells and dark magics."
- ―Darth Bane, on Sith sorcery
As the Sith were a cult not only devoted to the dark side, but the accumulation of power by way of the dark side, many dark-side powers were known exclusively to them. Their ancient and infamous practices of Sith alchemy allowed for the creation of monsters and other terrors, while Sith magic focused more on mental manipulations and physical manifestations of the dark side.
Sith Alchemy was the source of monsters and other creatures that terrorized the galaxy for millennia. Pioneered by some of the first Dark Jedi to leave the Jedi Order, such as XoXaan, Karness Muur, and Ajunta Pall, Sith Alchemy resulted in the creation of the Behemoth from the World Below, Leviathan monsters, battle hydras, rakghouls, and Sith war behemoths. This ancient knowledge was later used to create the Technobeast, monsters that brought Belia Darzu to fame and characterized the Sictis Wars. Exar Kun was also a master of this power, using it to mutate the remaining Massassi warriors on Yavin 4 and create the terentatek. Thousands of years later, Darth Plagueis mastered this ability and was able to create life. His apprentice, Darth Sidious, was also extremely proficient in Sith Alchemy, creating the Chrysalide and authoring The Creation of Monsters, the third manuscript of the Dark Side Compendium.
Sith Magic was used throughout the ages as a way to manipulate and intimidate opponents. Unlike regular Force powers, Sith Magic required incantations, rituals, or specific hand gestures, and the individual powers were referred to as "spells." These spells were often employed to create illusions, used to confuse or attack an enemy. Aleema Keto was extremely capable in this aspect, and used it to create an entire herd of space grazers to attack a Republic fleet at Koros Major. Zannah was also a practitioner of Sith Magic, and often summoned her victims' worst fears to torture them. Sith magic also involved the use of amulets and talismans to enhance the power of the caster. Sith magic may have been involved in the creation of the Muur Talisman, which housed the spirit of Karness Muur for many millennia. This magic also aided in the summoning of ancient dark-side spirits, such as Freedon Nadd's ghost.
Dark side organizations
The oldest dark side cult, Dark Jedi were considered dangerous heretics by the orthodox Jedi of the time for giving in to the dark side of the Force. However, the earliest Dark Jedi left the order not out of a desire for power, but because they believed that the Jedi Code was too limiting in its tenets. The earliest of these individuals organized themselves into the Legions of Lettow, formed by ex-Jedi Xendor. The Legions were exterminated by the Jedi Order 500 years after the formation of the Republic. Millennia later, the Dark Jedi arose again to fight the order in the Hundred-Year Darkness, armed with alchemic knowledge this time. The conflict ensued for a full century, resulting in the last of them becoming exiles of the Holy Order. A second resurgence occurred when a gang of Dark Jedi attempted to gain control of an ancient superweapon called the Cosmic Turbine. The incident resulted in the destruction of the Vultar system. During the Jedi Civil War, Dark Jedi joined Revan's empire as Sith-in-training. Throughout the post-Ruusan galaxy, Dark Jedi continued to be a problem, some trying to claim themselves as Sith, though they were merely pretenders seeking greater power. The true Sith made their presence known hundreds of years later, though the pretenders continued their claims. A group of Dark Jedi, called the Dark Acolytes, served the Order of the Sith Lords during the Clone Wars as a counter to the Jedi Order. An amalgamation of Dark Jedi, called the Dark Side Adepts, served the same Sith Order as the replacement of the Jedi during the reign of the Galactic Empire. Dark Jedi would later serve Lumiya's Sith in Lord Caedus's takeover of the Galactic Alliance. During the Galactic Empire's era, a group of Darksiders from Byss, loyal to the Empire, intended to integrate their Guard's ranks.
- "Those who use the dark side are also bound to serve it. To understand this is to understand the underlying philosophy of the Sith."
- ―Darth Revan's holocron
The most infamous dark side cult, the Sith were a sect of Force-sensitives bent upon the destruction of the Jedi and domination of the galaxy. Originally a species native to the planet Korriban, the cult was formed from the Dark Jedi survivors of the Hundred-Year Darkness. Following their exile from known space, these Dark Jedi landed upon the uncharted world and were worshiped by the Sith species for their powers and "magic." They were proclaimed the Lords of the Sith, and established an expanding Empire. The Empire would eventually fall but the Sith religion would survive, taking on numerous forms over the years. These included the Sith Triumvirate, the Order of the Sith Lords, and the One Sith.
The Sith were also seen as the masters of the dark side, and the pinnacle of dark-side power. They perfected the art of dark-side mutations, allowing for the use of Sith alchemy and other Sith magic. The leader of the cult, the Dark Lord of the Sith, was considered the embodiment of the dark side itself, and all power of the dark side would flow from them.
With such great influence, the Sith religion inspired many cults that weren't technically part of the Sith Order, nor were they composed of actual Sith. Instead, they were founded and made up of Sith devotees and other Force-sensitives dedicated to prolonging the teachings and the memory of the Sith. Such cults included the Naddists, the Disciples of Ragnos, Revanites, and the Krath, all of whom sought the annihilation of the Jedi and the rise of the Sith to ultimate domination over the entire galaxy.
The Infinite Empire, established by the Rakata of Lehon, was the earliest known galactic government. The Rakata were finally able to traverse the galaxy following their invention of the hyperdrive, which utilized the power of the Force. When exploring the stars, they came across several more primitive species, and saw this as an opportunity for domination rather than galactic cooperation. The Rakata conquered many planets and enslaved their native species, including the Duros, Kumumgah, Selkath, Wookiees and Humans. Their influence and reach seemed infinite and their temples could be found on planets such as Honoghr all the way into the Clone Wars. They taught the Sith King Adas to create holocrons and attempted to usurp his control of the planet Korriban. Although they were driven off-world, the battle resulted in the death of Adas, who had once seemed invincible. The Rakata also had great influence on the natural history of the galaxy, being the cause of the Wroshyr Trees and other massive flora on Kashyyyk, as well as the Tusken Raiders and Jawas of Tatooine (their violent response to the Kumumgah rebellion caused a deviation of the species and the transformation of Tatooine into a desert world).
At the pinnacle of their power, the Rakata created the Star Forge, a massive space station-factory that fed off the power of the dark side and churned out fleets of warships and war droids. The Star Forge further corrupted its builders and the Empire began to fracture, straining from huge slave revolts and a plague that killed only the Rakata. Soon the plague robbed them of their sensitivity to the Force and the Infinite Empire crumbled. After retreating to their homeworld, their relics were left throughout the galaxy for a future conqueror to find.
Prophets of the Dark Side
The Prophets of the Dark Side were the leaders and clergymen of the Dark Force religion, which was founded by renegade Sith Lord Darth Millennial on Dromund Kaas. Headquartered in the Dark Force Temple on Dromund Kaas, the Prophets searched deep into the dark side of the Force in order to divine future events. The group was discovered by Palpatine before the Clone Wars and made subservient to him and his future Empire. The Sith Lord installed Kadann as Supreme Prophet, and titled his new servants as the Emperor's Mages. The group became extremely influential following the rise of the Galactic Empire and served as close advisors to Palpatine.
However, the Prophets splintered as a result of their closeness to Palpatine, with some remaining loyal to him and the Empire and others joining Kadann on Bosthirda. The schism occurred after Palpatine dismissed Kadann's visions of the Battle of Endor and the Emperor, along with Imperial Intelligence and several renegade Prophets, created the propaganda religion, the Church of the Dark Side, in direct response. Following Palpatine's death at Endor, former Emperor's Hand Lumiya became the Dark Lady of the Sith. She, along with her apprentice, Carnor Jax wished to eliminate the remaining Prophets, and sent Azrakel to slaughter them on Bosthirda.
The Bando Gora were a cult of dark-side worshippers who terrorized the Outer Rim Territories in the time around the Battle of Naboo. Eventually they launched an onslaught against the planet Baltizaar, and were on the verge of victory when the Republic requested aid from the Jedi. A task force soon arrived on planet, but the Jedi mission was ultimately a failure.
During the fighting two Jedi were killed and the Bando Gora was able to capture three Jedi as prisoners of war. One of the hostages was Komari Vosa, the Padawan of Jedi Master Dooku who had just been passed over for knighthood. Already on the dark path following her rejection, Vosa succumbed to the dark side during her torture in captivity. She was able to free herself and kill her captors and fellow Jedi captives, gaining control of the Bando Gora. Making her headquarters on the graveyard moon of Kohlma, Vosa set into action a plan for galactic domination. She would use one of the galaxy's most popular narcotics, death sticks, to brainwash beings into devotion to the cult. Unfortunately for Vosa, the Bando Gora caught the attention of Darth Sidious, who saw the cult as a threat to his plan for galactic domination. His apprentice, Darth Tyranus, the new identity of Vosa's former master, put a bounty on her head. The bounty hunter Jango Fett was able to defeat Vosa and destroy the Bando Gora, thus proving himself worthy to be the Prime clone of the Grand Army of the Republic.
The Witches of Dathomir were Force-sensitive women who organized themselves into clans on the planet Dathomir. Although there were many different clans with different rules and laws, all of the laws forbade the use of the dark side. Those who utilized the dark side of the Force were banished from their clans, sent into exile in the wilds of Dathomir. In the waning days of the Old Republic, two exiles, Gethzerion and Baritha began to gather other outcasts to form a new clan of Witches devoted to the dark side. This new clan would come to be known as the Nightsisters, a feared sect of female warriors and sorceresses.
Nightsisters in the galaxy were rare, as it was unlikely for any to obtain passage off Dathomir; however, it was not unheard of. Mighella served Black Sun Vigo Alexi Garyn as a bodyguard, Charal was able to make her way to Endor, and several sisters allied themselves with the CIS during the Clone Wars. During the reign of the Empire, Gethzerion allied herself with Palpatine, hoping to attain transport off Dathomir. Palpatine, fearing her power, wouldn't allow her or any other Nightsisters to escape the planet, and so began to imprison the witches and quarantine the planet. Although many escaped their prisons, none were able to escape the planet following the blockade. Gethzerion later tried to broker a deal with Imperial Warlord Zsinj, but he double-crossed her, resulting in the destruction of the clan.
Sorcerers of Tund
The Sorcerers of Tund were a sect of Force-sensitives on the planet Tund who were descended from Sith mages banished there. The mages were under the belief that all sentient beings were Force-sensitive, as the only other species they had come into contact with as of yet were the Rakata of the Infinite Empire. The Sorcerers rarely left Tund and were recognizable by their all-concealing outfits. They called the Force the "Unity," and although they had contact with the Jedi, they refused to join their order. Their explorations of the Force were known to drive them to madness, but their mastery of Force "magic" was undeniable, as seen in their ability to create intricate illusions and shapeshift.
Eventually the sorcerers came under the leadership of Karnak Tetsu, who unleashed a reign of terror following the Great Sith War. Following this, the Jedi took it as their responsibility to ensure that the sorcerers didn't descend into darkness, however they were forced to abandon their vigil during the Republic's twilight. Rokur Gepta was able to join the group, learn their secrets, and then destroy them, becoming the last of the Sorcerers.
Behind the scenes
Bogan was the name given to the dark side of the Force in early drafts of A New Hope and was established as canon in the Expanded Universe by the The New Essential Chronology. It was also said to be what the ancient Jedi and Sith called the dark side in Darth Bane: Rule of Two and called Boga.
Those who subscribe to theory of the Unifying Force believe that there is no dark side of the Force, nor is there a light side.