Let’s face it, we’ve all been tempted by the Dark Side. While the Jedi jump around in their stuffy monk robes acting all high and pious, the Sith get to do cool things like have horns, talk like vacuum cleaners, and shoot lasers out of their fingers. For thousands of years, they’ve been Force choking their way across the galaxy, churning out some of the greatest villains known to man, Wookie, and Ewok. Sure the Jedi have a few treacherous tricks up their oversized sleeves and a Yoda, but it’s hard to compete with a group of guys (and girls) that enjoy destroying entire planets with their minds and wear capes.
While we’ve already recounted the most powerful Jedis from a long, long time ago, let’s see what the other half has to offer. For those who’ve never ventured further into the Star Wars galaxy than the films, many of these names may be unfamiliar. But if you thought Darth Vader was badass, then you’re going to love the other Dark Lords of the Order that paved the way. In determining our rankings, we’re taking into account mastery of the Force, dueling abilities, and evil masterminding in equal measure. And on that note, sit back, relax, and give yourself over to the power of the Dark Side.
Here are the 15 Most Powerful Sith In The Star Wars Universe.
15. Darth Maul
Darth Maul was arguably the best thing to come out of Episode I. Which is why it was such a shame he split so soon. Sure, he returned in the The Clone Wars with those ridiculous metallic centaur legs, but being one of the coolest Star Wars villains of all-time, he deserved better. Moviegoers never got to see what this spiked Dathomirian was truly capable of.
Trained as an assassin, Darth Maul preferred to rely more on his impressive fighting prowess than the Force, despite an above average understanding of it. Ultimately, this desire capped his full potential for being a truly powerful Sith Lord. While he has never shown the abilities of others that follow, the fact that Darth Maul was trained by Darth Sidious and has a natural talent for jumping around like a madman makes him a force to be reckoned with. After all, how many people can say they killed Liam Neeson? No one else on this list, that’s for sure.
14. Darth Zannah
Darth Zannah’s rage and early displays of the Force attracted the attention of the sage Sith Lord, Darth Bane. Eager to put his Rule of Two (more on that in a bit) in action, he took the young girl as his apprentice and trained her in the ways of the Dark Side. From the start, Zannah showed signs as a telekinetic savant adept at using a double bladed lightsaber. Though her reliance on defense rather than being the aggressor made her weak against more powerful duelists, her use of sorcery allowed Zannah to easily overcome far stronger opponents, including her master.
Able to pull off a spell in a split second that could drive even the most formidable of foes insane and leave them a shell of their former self, Zannah more than made up for her faults. She was equally as skilled at using her Sith magic to mask her presence in the Force, cover herself in a false Light Side aura and unleash Dark Side tendrils, a pure manifestation of Force energy capable of instantly disintegrating flesh and bone. While she lacked the ingenuity, physical strength, and well-roundedness of the truly great Sith lords, few could withstand her devastating illusions.
13. Darth Krayt
From a Tusken Raider to Jedi, bounty hunter, and, eventually, Dark Lord of the Sith, Darth Krayt definitely got around. Born A’Sharad Hett, he was a general in the Clone Wars and one of the few Jedi to survive Order 66. After growing disillusioned with the state of the galaxy following the deaths of Sidious and Vader, he went off to find himself in the outer rim, only to be captured by an alien race known as the Yuuzhan Vong and tortured relentlessly. Ultimately, he freed himself by accepting the Dark Side and unleashing the full extent of his powers, after which he proclaimed himself the new Dark Lord of the Sith.
Darth Krayt instituted the Rule of One as the sole leader of the New Sith Order, a move that brought him atop the throne of the second Sith Empire a century after the first had fallen. He learned to prolong his life using the Force, allowing him plenty of time to gain a massive knowledge of its inner workings. Most effectively, he utilized Force lightning to incinerate his foes, and Force visions to predict their every move before they could pull it off. He was skilled in dueling using two lightsabers, cutting down any and all who attempted to overtake his throne. During his time in power, Darth Krayt was the most powerful Sith in existence, with a presence in the Dark Side that was strong enough to be felt by every other Sith in the galaxy.
There’s a lot we miss from the Star Wars Expanded Universe. (Like grey Jedi and seeing Leia fight with a lightsaber.) Perhaps most of all, though, we miss the villains and antiheroes. For those who don’t know, the Expanded Universe (aka Star Wars Legends) consists of officially licensed stories, books, comics and video games outside the seven major films, The Clone Wars, Rebels, and post-Disney buyout literature. Although the EU is now considered outside official canon, there’s way too many powerful Sith to not include here. Namely, Galen Marek.
Known by the codename Starkiller, Galen first appeared in The Force Unleashed video game. He was created to show what would have happened if Luke had joined his father. As the story goes, Galen was abducted by Darth Vader and trained as his secret apprentice. Adept in the seven forms of lightsaber combat with advanced telepathic abilities, Emperor Palpatine believed Galen’s strength could one day rival his own. As proof, this Force wrecking ball handily defeated Darth Vader (albeit one far from 100%) and held his own against Darth Sidious. Understandably, and controversially, the character is often considered far too overpowered, but Starkiller had the potential to be one of the most powerful Force-users in history. Instead, he was wiped from it, thanks to the elimination of EU from canon, and refashioned as a massively impractical death base in The Force Awakens.
11. Darth Traya
Darth Traya controlled lightsabers with her mind. That’s pretty much all you need to know about this deadly female Sith. Also known as Kreia, this one-time Jedi Master and historian was exiled by the High Council after her Padawan Revan turned into one of the most feared Sith Lords around. The Jedi’s loss was a Sith gain when she eventually turned to the Dark Side as well and ended up nearly destroying her former Order by kickstarting the first Jedi Purge.
As a Sith Dark Lord, she reigned during the Dark Wars as the head of the Sith Triumvirate alongside her two apprentices, Darth Sion and Darth Nihilus. They eventually also gave her the boot, stripped her of her Force powers, and took over the Jedi annihilation she masterminded, but only after Traya had given them the know-how to do so. Most notably, she taught Nihilus how to drain the life force of others, a skill she was particularly adept in. And of course, there’s the fact she could telekinetically combat her foes with three lightsabers at once, each seemingly fighting with a will of their own. Now that’s awesome.
10. Darth Nihilus
Darth Nihilus had the power to consume entire planets and was basically the ethereal embodiment of the Dark Side. Also, he had a kickass mask that makes Darth Vader’s helmet look like a bonnet. It’s not hard to see why this Sith Lord was one of the most powerful ever in existence. Born a normal human, he was exposed to a catastrophic superweapon that left him with an insatiable need to feed on the Force. This condition eventually consumed his physical body, eroding it until nothing but a spirit remained, which he later bound to armor and a mask so as to have a visible presence. Realizing his potential, Darth Traya trained Nihilus in the ways of the Dark Side, which culminated in his nearly single-handedly exterminating the entire Jedi Order to fuel his power.
Nihilus is what you get when you combine Marvel’s Galactus with that crazy ghost from Spirited Away. So vast were his abilities that he could drain a planet of life and render it forever uninhabitable. Eventually, he lost all domain over his hunger, involuntarily devouring everything in his path and earning him the ominous title of Lord of Hunger. Of course, power doesn’t solely come from the ability to destroy, which is why his utter lack of control keeps Darth Nihilus from reaching the top spot. But rest assured, there are few Sith more deadly.
9. Darth Tyranus
Darth Tyranus may look like an old man more likely to invite you in for a cup of tea than slice your arms off with a lightsaber, but don’t let his immaculately trimmed gray beard fool you. This dude can hand lightning with the best of them. Better known as Count Dooku, he has taken on Obi-Wan and Anakin at the same time while still having enough in the reserves to survive Yoda’s ninja freakout. And that’s just in 10 minutes of screen time.
Dooku was a former Jedi Master drawn to the Dark Side after growing disillusioned with government corruption. If there was any question of his abilities, he was trained by both Yoda and Darth Sidious. While a Jedi, he was considered one of the Order’s greatest swordsmen, equal to Mace Windu and surpassed only by Yoda. While a Sith, he helped form the Separatist Alliance and engineered the Clone Wars. While he may be the most boring Sith to ever live, his strong showing as a dueler, strategist, and Force wielder, most notably against Yoda, deserves a tip of the cap.
8. Darth Bane
The modern era of Sithing started with Darth Bane. Before he appeared on the scene, the Sith Order was basically just a lawless cult of crazy people fighting one another for power. (Kind of like the Kardashians, only less evil.) There were numerous Sith Lords and apprentices, all of whom turned against one another thanks to the Dark Side, allowing the Jedi to swoop in for the win. However, one survived and reformed the Order into the galactic powerhouse we know and fear today.
Basically, Darth Bane is the evil George Washington of Star Wars. The Rule of Two is his legacy, and that by itself is enough to warrant a spot on this list. This mandate allows there to ever only be two Sith — a master and an apprentice — at any given time; “one to embody power, the other to crave it.”
But he didn’t get to a place where he could make up his own rules without killing his fair share of Jedi and Sith alike. Equally as capable with a lightsaber as the Force, this Sith Lord is as well-rounded as they come. For the longest time, Darth Bane lived outside canon as part of Star Wars Legends. Thanks to The Clone Wars, where Bane’s creation of the Rule of Two was established, he’s now back in as proof of how easily aspects of the Expanded Universe can be brought into the fold. Hopefully, future films will continue the trend.
7. Darth Vader
And now we come to the Man. The one we love to love, love to hate, and love to impersonate. The voice that launched a thousand toy lines. A dude who knows how to make one kickass entrance, and then torture princesses. The hand-chopping, prolonged no-ing, cape draping, finger choking, easily disturbed, occasional jokester that made being a Sith cool before we even knew what a Sith was. He’s the greatest villain of all-time and one of the most recognizable movie characters ever created. An icon with no equal, and our unanimous favorite of the lot. Which is why we placed him at number seven on our list.
If this were a ranking of coolest sounding Sith or most famous Sith or Sith we’d most like to meet at a party, then Darth Vader would be the undisputed champ. However, as far as power-wielding goes, he never quite reaches the levels others here have possessed. This is largely due to the fact he was turned into a cybertronic shell of his former self on account of choosing the low ground. But also because he was Darth Sidious’ puppet, kept on a tight leash and manipulated into never realizing his true potential. Despite all that, though, Darth Vader has still shown some amazing powers. He sported the highest midi-chlorian count (sigh) of any Jedi ever, wiped out his fair share of Jedi (although most of them were children) during the second Great Jedi Purge, and then followed it up by ending the Sith for good by killing the Emperor. You know, because he’s the chosen one. Not bad for a guy that grew up saying yippee and once sported a mullet.
6. Darth Revan
Darth Revan is the most popular Star Wars character you never heard of. Unless you’ve played the video game Knights of the Old Republic and are well versed in the Expanded Universe, in which case you’re probably all about this master of the Force. A tragic symbol of the conflict between light and dark, Revan lived over 4,000 years before Luke blew the Death Star to Smithereens. He was a charismatic leader and brilliant military strategist with the unique talent of bending any Jedi to his will and effortlessly turning them to the Dark Side. Furthermore, through a mystery of precognition, he was renowned as one of the galaxy’s most powerful combatants, earning him the moniker of “Revan the Butcher.”
Revan’s ascension as a Sith Lord led to the Jedi Civil War, during which he and an army of Dark Jedi converts brought the Republic to its knees. Just before he could conquer it, he was captured and brainwashed into the Light Side. In this reformed role, Revan killed his former apprentice, Dark Lord Malak, and was ironically heralded as a hero of the Republic. Many consider him the best character outside Star Wars canon. As a nod to him, Kylo Ren’s mask is an homage to Darth Revan’s, and it maybe even hints at the possibility of introducing this fan favorite, or at least his legacy, in upcoming films.
5. Exar Kun
Like many of the greatest Sith, Exar Kun was first a great Jedi. Drawn to forbidden teachings at an early age, he soon left the Order in pursuit of darker knowledge, which led him to the planet of Onderon and the awakened spirit of Freedon Nadd. After being trained by Nadd, he destroyed his master’s spirit and set off to dominate the galaxy, waging a destructive onslaught against the Republic known as the Great Sith War.
A legendary duelist, Exar Kun invented the dual bladed lightsaber, thousands of years before Darth Maul was falling down reactor shafts. Once in power, Kun used his mastery of this newly created weapon to eliminate any Sith that might oppose his rule. At the height of his power, Kun raided the planet of Coruscant, convinced young Padawans to turn on their Jedi masters, murdered the Galactic Republic’s Supreme Chancellor, and skillfully killed the Grand Master of the Jedi Order. It took the combined effort of thousands of Jedi to finally defeat Exar Kun by eternally trapping his spirit in a temple on the historic Yavin 4. Thousands of years later, in what is all now part of defunct Extended Universe story lines, Luke Skywalker chose the site of the temple as the home of his new Jedi Academy. Refusing to be forgotten, Kun’s spirit made one last stand by trying to corrupt Skywalker’s students and nearly ripping Luke’s own spirit from his body. Not bad for a dead guy.
4. Darth Plagueis
Most know the phallic-headed Darth Plagueis by name only from a brief mention in Episode III. Simply put, he is the master of Darth Vader’s master. That fact alone earns him some serious respect. Unlike most Sith, who were solely driven by their pursuit for power, Plagueis valued knowledge above all else. Through this scholarship, he learned how to manipulate the Force to create life and even keep people from dying. In the Extended Universe, it was implied that Plagueis even caused the immaculate conception of Anakin Skywalker. But in the end, he was unable to apply these abilities to himself. His apprentice, Darth Sidious, killed him in his sleep, though perhaps taking the cowardly route by not doing so in open combat (because he knew he would be hard pressed to stop his master one-on-one).
Since Darth Plagueis operated in the shadows, unbeknownst to the Jedi and rest of the galaxy, he had little need of lightsabers. That isn’t to say he wasn’t adept; rather, he regarded dueling as a tedious affair. His greatest contribution was bringing to fruition Darth Bane’s Grand Plan. He operated publicly as the banker Hugo Damask II, which allowed him to deviously influence intergalactic politics and finance from behind-the-scenes. It was Plagueis that orchestrated the fall of the Republic and made it possible for Palpatine to rise as Emperor. While he never ruled on the scale of his successor or was even considered a threat by the Jedi, his impact is undeniable and his cunning unmatched. If knowledge is true power, no Sith had more of it than Darth Plageuis.
3. Marka Ragnos
Ruled for over a century. The best duelist of his time. Liked big swords and even bigger horns. Created the Golden Age of the Sith. Marka Ragnos was the Sith to end all Siths back in the day. Over 5,000 years before Luke was bulls-eyeing womp rats on Tatooine, Ragnos reigned supreme throughout the galaxy. Just as likely to kill a Sith as a Jedi, he refused to let anyone stand in his way or threaten his throne. As a testament of his success, he died of natural causes rather than being killed in combat. Even after death, his spirit wandered the galaxy for thousands of years, influencing Sith leadership and helping shape the future of the galaxy.
What Marko Ragnos may have lacked in the Force, he more than made up for in fighting prowess. Known for the massive, magic-imbued, He-Man-esque sword he kept by his side, we only wish we could have seen him go up against the likes of fellow duelists Darth Maul and Exar Kun. Under his rule, the Sith empire flourished, regaining a glory lost long before. However, even more impressive is the legacy he left behind in the young boy named Tenebrae….
2. Lord Vitiate
Tenebrae, Valkorion. Sith Emperor. Dark Lord. The David Copperfield of Sith. No matter which of his many names you know him by, Lord Vitiate was one of the most powerful Force-sensitive beings to ever live. After killing his father at age 10 with only a thought, Tenebrae was mentored by Marka Ragnos and soon after granted the title of Sith Lord. Over the next century, he amassed an overwhelming knowledge of Sith magic and alchemy, which he put to good use during a complex ritual to dominate the minds of eight thousand Sith Lords, bind them to his will, and use their combined powers to absorb the life force of an entire planet, killing everyone on its surface and gaining immortality.
The longest reigning Sith Lord, Vitiate ruled for over a thousand years. Even when his body started to decay, he was able to use essence transfer to jump his immortal consciousness from one host body to another. He was even known to imbue portions of himself in infants, forming an army known as the Children of the Emperor. We never saw a true testament of his skills with a lightsaber, but his mastery of Force lightning and the ability to warp reality are bar none. As muse for Darth Plageuis and the one to turn Revan to the Dark Side, Lord Vitaite’s legacy is as epic as they come. The only fault in his impressive resume is that his power was mostly derived from relics, rituals and random trinkets — a fact that keeps him from vanquishing our number one Sith.
1. Darth Sidious
We have to give credit where credit is due — Sheev Palpatine had Death Star-sized balls. As an unassuming fuddy-duddy politician, Palpatine swindled his way up the ranks of the Galactic Senate to the very top. He violated the Rule of Two by taking an apprentice while his master was still alive. He violated the Rule again by killing Darth Plagueis in his sleep. He engineered the Invasion of Naboo, masterminded the Clone Wars, initiated Order 66 to legally exterminate all the Jedi, and turned Anakin Skywalker into Darth Vader by throwing his dead wife in his face. He pulled all of this off while convincing the Senate that these were good ideas, even boldly going so far as to renounce his public persona and reveal himself as Sidious. The Empire Darth Sidious created was like nothing the galaxy had ever seen. And made the Jedi look like the bad guys to boot.
On top of being one of the most conniving Sith to ever exist, he is arguably the best duelist and Force user to come out of the Order. Even disregarding the god-like powers the Expanding Universe bestowed upon him, such as telepathically creating Hyperspace wormholes, teleporting beings across the galaxy, Force draining entire planets, and mind-wiping billions of people, Darth Sidious is the best of the best. Just ask Yoda. Throughout the franchise’s extensive literature, compendiums, and chronologies, he is routinely referred to as the greatest Sith of them all. Famed Star Wars author Kevin Anderson has said all other Sith are lower tier compared to Palpatine. Lucas himself is cited as calling Sidious the strongest Sith ever to exist. It’s kind of hard to argue with that.
Honorable Mention: Darth Jar Jar Binks
Jar Jar Binks certainly has more than his fair share of WTF moments, but they would all easily be topped if the awesomely insane theory that he is secretly a Sith master proved to be true. First posited by Reddit user Lumpawarroo, it claims that the Gungan goof is actually a Dark Lord, and everything in the prequels onwards, including The Force Awakens, was orchestrated by Jar Jar.
In the same way that Luke stumbled upon the seemingly annoying and insignificant Yoda during The Empire Strikes Back, could history have repeated itself when Qui Gon toppled over Jar Jar on Naboo? Could Count Dooku being randomly inserted into the prequels be because Lucas had to lessen Jar Jar’s role due to the overwhelming backlash over the character? Was Yoda meant to battle his big eared, nonsensically speaking equivalent at the end of Attack of Clones? Could it be that when George Lucas said, “Jar Jar is the key to all of this?” he was referring to more than just creating a comedic foil whose face makes you throw up in your mouth and want to jump off the highest building in sight?
As the theory goes, it’s possible that not only is Palpatine working with Jar Jar, but he could even be either an apprentice or unknowing pawn to the masterful Gungan, with some going so far to speculate Jar Jar is none other than Darth Plageuis reincarnated. You have to admit, it is a little suspicious that both Palpatine and Jar Jar are conveniently both from Naboo and Jar Jar was the one to grant Palpatine totalitarian control over the galaxy. Add in all the other incidentals and the idea that his clumsiness is all a clever ploy, and we might just be looking at the most powerful Sith the galaxy has ever known. Or maybe he is just as ridiculous as we’ve always thought and we’re hopelessly trying to find something that isn’t there. Either way, he’s still pretty evil.
Did we leave out any of your favorite Sith Lords? Have we gotten the order all wrong? Let us know in the comments.