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"He was trained in the Jedi arts. My only conclusion can be that it was… a Sith Lord."
―Qui-Gon Jinn, after the duel with Darth Maul[src]

The Duel on Tatooine was fought between the Sith Lord Darth Maul and Jedi Master Qui-Gon Jinn during the Invasion of Naboo. Maul had been sent by his master, Darth Sidious, to capture Queen Amidala of Naboo, who had managed to get through the Trade Federation's Sith sponsored blockade of her home planet and take temporary refuge on Tatooine under Jinn's protection.

By tracing transmissions from the Queen's royal starship, Maul managed to successfully track the starship and its crew to Tatooine, where he dispatched a probe droid to confirm their presence there. Maul ambushed Jinn as he prepared to load a newcomer to their party, Anakin Skywalker, onto the Queen's starship, which was due to depart for the galactic capital of Coruscant.

The duel was a brief but fierce skirmish, with Maul gaining the upper hand as soon as he leapt into action. Maul's terrifying combination of agility, anger and ferocity surprised Qui-Gon Jinn, who seemed to tire as the battle went on. He was unable to sufficiently counter-attack Maul's lethal lightsaber technique, as the Zabrak relished in a first duel with a Jedi Master. Although Maul would go on to wield a double-bladed lightsaber, he was still equally skilled with a single blade, and this was the factor that nearly cost Jinn his life.

Jinn managed to hold off Maul long enough for the ship to launch. The sudden appearance of Maul revealed to the Jedi Order the reemergence of the Sith, who were thought to have been destroyed for almost a thousand years.


"Tatooine is sparsely populated. If the homing trace is correct, I will find them quickly, Master."
"Move against the Jedi first. You will then have no difficulty in taking the Queen back to Naboo to sign the treaty."
"At last we will reveal ourselves to the Jedi. At last we will have revenge."
"You have been well trained my young apprentice. They will be no match for you."
―Darth Maul and Darth Sidious[src]

During the Trade Federation's invasion of the planet Naboo, the Sith Lord Darth Maul tracked the vessel of Queen Padmé Amidala to Tatooine, where it landed for repairs after escaping Naboo. After the Boonta Eve Classic 'podrace and the acquisition of the hyperdrive parts for the Queen's starship, Jedi Master Qui-Gon Jinn and young Anakin Skywalker were making their way to the ship. When Maul discovered the escapees' location, he hurried to intercept.[1]

The duel[]

"Qui-Gon's in trouble."
Quarsh Panaka[src]

The first encounter between a Jedi and Sith in over a thousand years begins.

As Anakin and Qui-Gon ran for the ship, mere yards away, Jinn sensed Darth Maul's approach. Turning around to encourage Anakin to pick up the pace, he saw Maul bearing down on them on his speeder bike. Anakin quickly obeyed Qui-Gon's command to drop, just in time to avoid being skewered by Maul's speeder. As the speeder closed in on Qui-Gon, Maul leapt off the bike at the Jedi, attacking before his feet even touched the ground. Jinn barely managed to block the attack. As Maul landed, he quickly followed up with an overhand, which Jinn deflected before attacking himself. As Maul blocked Qui-Gon's blow, Jinn ordered Anakin to get onboard the ship and to tell them to take off.[1]

As Anakin did so, Qui-Gon attempted to launch his own offensive, but Maul easily brushed off his overhand and unleashed his own frenzy of attacks. Jinn was viciously driven back, barely able to protect himself, as the terrifying combination of agility, anger and ferocity of Maul's lethal lightsaber technique surprised him.[1]

Maul watching his quarry escape

When Anakin boarded the ship and told the crew of the situation, they attempted a rescue, flying low towards the duel with the boarding ramp lowered. As Qui-Gon blocked a slash from Maul and countered, he saw the ship approaching. Disengaging from the fight, Qui-Gon leapt aboard, getting inside just as the hatch closed and the ship sped off. As the ship streaked for the heavens, Maul was left fuming on the desert floor.[1]


"Go with the Queen to Naboo and discover the identity of the dark warrior. This is the clue we need to unravel this mystery of the Sith."
―Mace Windu[src]

Later, Qui-Gon told his apprentice, Obi-Wan Kenobi, that the mysterious stranger was definitely after the Queen. He also mentioned that the attacker was well trained in the Jedi arts, leading the Jedi Master to believe he was a Sith Lord. Qui-Gon later reported the incident to the Jedi High Council, and after the Invasion of Naboo was over they realized that this warrior must have been a Sith.[1]

Jinn is mortally wounded by Maul.

Darth Maul later avenged his loss at the duel when he killed Jinn in a lightsaber duel on Naboo during the retaking of Theed Royal Palace. Maul was later defeated by Kenobi and believed to have died in the process, having been sliced in half and fallen down a seemingly bottomless put.[1] However, his hatred of Kenobi kept him alive and he somehow escaped Naboo, ending up on Lotho Minor and staying there for twelve years until he was found by his brother, the Nightbrother Savage Opress.[3]

Despite Maul's defeat and disappearance at the end of the Naboo conflict, his ominous emergence at such a time marked a subtle imbalance in power between the Jedi and the Sith, one that had not been experienced for centuries. Although it was a tactical stalemate, the duel represented the first known encounter between the Jedi and Sith for a millennium. The Jedi had believed that the Sith were extinct, and it was the duel on Tatooine when the Sith finally revealed themselves to their ancient enemies. The event coincided with the discovery of Anakin Skywalker, believed to be the Chosen One, and thus helped catalyse a series of events that, over the next several years, led to the fulfillment of millennia-long Sith goals: the collapse of the Galactic Republic and the destruction of the Jedi Order.[1]

In 2 BBY, Maul faced Kenobi for a final time on Tatooine, a duel Kenobi ultimately managed to win by cutting Maul's lightsaber, fatally wounding the Zabrak. Maul passed away, but not before learning that Obi-Wan was protecting the "Chosen One" who would avenge them and destroy the Sith.[4]

Behind the scenes[]

"The scene where we first get a confrontation between a Jedi and a Sith― I wanted it to be very abstract, you know, not deal with it. The end of the movie― The climax of the movie is the confrontation between these two characters, so I didn't want to give it away at this point. So I did it with a lot of swirling robes and flashing swords and kicking up a lot of dust but not actually seeing the fight."
―George Lucas[src]

The first on-screen lightsaber duel, in chronological order

The Duel on Tatooine first appeared in the 1999 film Star Wars: Episode I The Phantom Menace, the first installment of the Star Wars prequel trilogy.[1]

An early sequence included in the script for The Phantom Menace had Darth Maul jumping into the ramp of the Naboo Royal Starship after Qui-Gon Jinn only for Jinn to swing his lightsaber and cut the ramp, knocking Maul off the ship and onto the ground.[5]

This lightsaber duel was also the first fight showing both the Jedi and Sith in their prime. One of George Lucas' major objectives for the prequel trilogy was to make the lightsaber fights "faster and more intense." This duel was shown early on in The Phantom Menace and was made short to give the viewers a small taste of what was to come in the film's climax.

A deleted scene just prior to this duel involves Qui-Gon striking down one of Maul's probe droids that is tracking him as he and Anakin are leaving Mos Espa. However, its removal from the theatrical release results in a slightly disjointed transition showing Qui-Gon and Anakin running toward the Queen's ship before Maul attacks them (as Qui-Gon realizes after his encounter with the probe droid that they are being hunted), when they had earlier been seen walking calmly to their destination.[6]



Notes and references[]

Invasion of Naboo
Galactic timeline

Previous: Skirmish on the moon of Drazkel

Concurrent: Open-Closed War

Next: Separatist Crisis

Conflicts of the Naboo Crisis
Saak'ak · Theed · Otoh Langua · Otoh Gunga · Tatooine · Naboo
Related topics and articles
Galactic Republic · Jedi Order · Judicial Forces · Sith · Trade Federation · Supreme Chancellor Election

External links[]