In the Star Wars universe, the Sith Order has produced some of the most evil characters and formidable adversaries to their Jedi counterparts. With their trademark red colored lightsabers, powerful Force abilities and manipulative cunning, the most powerful Sith throughout the ages have shaped the course of galactic history on their quest for ever more power and domination.
Star Wars fans often passionately debate – who was the strongest Sith to have ever lived? While there are no objectively right or wrong answers, a select few are consistently top of mind when viewed by their Force powers, ability to wield a lightsaber and other special abilities.
Who Is The Strongest Sith?
In this article, fans will gain insight into each Sith Lord and learn some facts about what made them so powerful.
10. Darth Maul
The menacing Zabrak was born in 54 BBY and taken as an apprentice by Darth Sidious from a young age to be groomed for an instrument for his sinister agenda to eventually rule the Republic. As a youngling, his master treated him with cruelty and instilled a singular hatred for the Jedi, while teaching him the ways of the dark side.
The Phantom Menace
Darth Maul was a gifted warrior and was one of the first Sith Lords in over a thousand years to sport a double-bladed lightsaber – which demanded more skills from its user. This combination of acrobatic abilities, fierce attitude, and Force mastery made him deadly foe. In the Clone Wars era, Maul also demonstrated his Force abilities on multiple occasions such as Force push, telekinesis, and mind probe on unfortunate opponents.
When the Sith revealed themselves to the Jedi and Darth Maul encountered Jedi Master Qui-Gon Jinn for the first time on Tatooine, the latter was taken aback by the deadly warrior and began to tire as their duel progressed before escaping. During a duel during the Battle of Naboo, Darth Maul ferociously fought Qui-Gon Jinn and Obi-Wan Kenobi simultaneously and scored a critical hit on Qui-Gon, ending the Jedi Master’s life.
After being cut in half by Obi-Wan and presumed dead, Maul channeled his hatred and will to live in order to survive. He later resurfaced during the Clone Wars and demonstrated tactical cunning and political savviness by building the Shadow Collective and ruling Mandalore for a short time. As the ruler of Crimson Dawn, he fought against both Jedi and Rebels. Ultimately, his pursuit for revenge finally ended when Obi-Wan killed him during a duel on Tatooine.
9. Darth Tyranus (Count Dooku)
As a former Jedi Master who left the Order, the Count of Serenno was born in 102 BBY and already an accomplished swordsman by his teenage years. He was personally trained by Jedi Grandmaster Yoda himself and gained a reputation for his skills with a lightsaber. As a practitioner of Form II lightsaber combat (“Makashi”) who wielded a specialized lightsaber with a curved hilt, Dooku struck with elegance, precision, and deadly accuracy. Aside from training the legendary Qui-Gon Jinn before leaving the Order, Dooku was said to have no other equal in lightsaber combat other than the powerful Jedi champion Mace Windu.
After leaving the Order, Darth Sidious seduced Dooku to the dark side and made him an apprentice – it was then that the Count adopted his new Sith title. As Darth Tyranus, he worked in secrecy for many years while maintaining his charismatic, pro-Republic public persona. This allowed him to sow the seeds of galactic civil war by fostering animosities and building alliances with star systems that grew disenchanted with the Republic.
Furthermore, he recruited Jango Fett and secretly began breeding a Clone Army with the help of the Kaminoans – which would later be used to execute Order 66 to purge the Jedi.
A Sith Revealed
At the Battle of Geonosis, Darth Tyranus revealed his true identity and fought both Anakin Skywalker and Obi-Wan Kenobi – cutting off the former’s arm and defeating the latter before the arrival of Master Yoda. Dooku was such a skilled duelist that he fought Yoda to a stalemate before fleeing the scene. He demonstrated the ability to use Sith lightning, telekinesis and would use other skills such as Force choke throughout the war.
As a Sith Lord, he also trained powerful warriors such as General Grievous to lead military campaigns and Assajj Ventress to assassinate foes. He fought Jedi during the conflict, including multiple encounters with Skywalker and Kenobi. Unfortunately, Darth Tyranus met his end onboard the Invisible Hand at the hands of Skywalker who had grown more powerful.
At the behest of Sheev Palpatine, the Sith treachery was revealed to a shocked Tyranus when the former instructed Skywalker to kill Dooku rather than show mercy. The Jedi did as he was told and beheaded the once Dooku on the path to becoming a Sith Lord himself.
8. Darth Bane
Born approximately one thousand years before the formation of the Galactic Empire on the Sith ancient home world of Moraband, Darth Bane was a human male and the Sith Lord who created the Rule of Two during the Old Republic. The Rule mandated that there could only be two Sith at any given time – a master to hold all the knowledge and power of the dark side, and an apprentice to crave it.
Existing in secrecy, the master would teach the apprentice everything he or she knew, ensuring the survival of the Sith while plotting the downfall of the Jedi Order from the shadows. The apprentice would learn all the teachings until he or she became more powerful than the master before killing them to become the new Dark Lord of the Sith. This cycle of treachery would continue until the Sith would one day grow powerful enough to defeat the Jedi.
A Sith Pioneer
This rule was considered ground-breaking and spawned a new era for the Sith, as they previously engaged the Jedi unsuccessfully in open warfare via an army and organized themselves with hundreds of Sith lords and apprentices at any given time. This caused infighting and fracture within their ranks. The legendary Darth Bane saw the inherent flaw of this structure and realized that the dark side was most powerful only if it was concentrated in one or two select individuals.
As the last survivor from the Brotherhood of Darkness – an order that he himself helped to destroy, Darth Bane learned from the best swordsman and Force users of the era to ascend its ranks before betraying them. He also sought out lost Sith temples, ancient holocrons and other vessels of knowledge to learn as much about the dark side as he could. Consequently, he was a powerful warrior who also possessed terrifying abilities such as Force crush and even consciousness transfer – an ability later perfected by Darth Sidious.
Ironically, Darth Bane was slain by his own apprentice as guided by his own rule. Nonetheless, Darth Bane was considered a visionary and respected by later Sith such as Darth Sidious for his insight and even acknowledged by Jedi Master Yoda for the cunning of the new Sith approach.
7. Darth Nihilus
Born sometime around 3900 BBY, the human male later known as Darth Nihilus survived the activation of the Mass Shadow Generator superweapon which changed him forever. It was used by the Jedi during the final battle of the Galactic Republic against the Mandalorian Neo-Crusaders at Malachor V. The experience dealt him with great emotional pain and rendered him a wound in the Force.
The Lord of Hunger
After surviving the ordeal, the future Sith Lord felt a great hunger within him – a craving he would only satisfy by draining the life force of those around him, particularly other Force sensitives. After learning the ways of the dark side from Darth Traya, Nihilus became a terrifying Sith Lord in his own right. While he sported the title of Darth, he cared little for Sith teachings or ideology – only hunger and death.
Nihilus’ dark side energy and hunger became so strong that his body began to decay, which forced him to rip his own spirit outside of it in order to “survive.” He then used sheer will and the power of the dark side to cheat death by embedding his consciousness into his mask and robe, allowing him to continue existing in the physical realm. However, this turned him into a being of pure intent, evil and hunger for life – devoid of any human emotions.
Darth Nihilus’s adversaries greatly feared both his warrior capabilities and terrifying Force abilities to feed upon other beings. Sporting a red lightsaber, Nihilus dueled fiercely with one hand on his blade. His reputation became legendary as he consumed entire planets, Jedi knights and Sith Lords alike, drawn to their life force. He could Force Sever other beings’ connections to the Force, use Force lightning and use powerful telekinesis on massive objects.
Even after his defeat, Darth Nihilus’ consciousness was partly preserved within his mask – albeit without any true powers and his teachings lived on in a holocron he had learned to craft.
6. Exar Kun
Born sometime around 4000 BBY, Exar Kun was one of the most powerful Sith Lords to have waged open war against the Galactic Republic and the Jedi Order. Trained by the formidable Jedi Master Vodo-Siosk Baas, Kun was gifted and confident even as Padawan. He eventually fell to the dark side after seeking out the secrets of the Sith.
After declaring himself a Sith, Kun eventually took Ulic Qel-Droma – another fallen Jedi, as his apprentice who would eventually betray him. Kun was appointed as Dark Lord of the Sith and raised an army named the Brotherhood of the Sith for a bloody conflict against the galaxy. He also obtained ancient Sith holocrons and learned many great powers.
Amongst his long list of terrifying dark side powers, Kun could transform living beings into monstrous creatures, enhance himself with superhuman strength, dominate the minds of others and drain the life force of others in order to heal himself.
A Champion in Combat
Exar Kun was credited as being the Sith Lord to invent the double-bladed lightsaber, revealing it in a duel against his former master and slaying the latter with its use. Kun made modifications to the weapon so that each blade can be adjusted individually both by intensity and length. Combined with his tactical savvy and dueling abilities, this made him without equal in combat. During his reign, Kun did not sport the crimson red lightsaber traditionally wielded by other dark side users and instead opted for a blue blade.
Some of Kun’s most notorious feats included openly murdering the Supreme Chancellor in the Senate chambers, destroying the Great Jedi Library on Ossus, and ending the lives of millions during this period which came to be known as the Great Sith War.
In 11 BBY, Kun was finally defeated for good when Luke Skywalker’s apprentices banded together to banish his spirit.
5. Darth Vader
Born as Anakin Skywalker in 41 BBY on Tatooine, Darth Vader was believed by the Jedi to be the Chosen One to bring balance to the Force. By the time he was seduced to the dark side by Darth Sidious at the end of the Clone Wars, Vader was already a renowned war hero, the best pilot in the galaxy and accomplished Jedi knight.
As a swordsman, Darth Vader was incredibly gifted and continued to fight with the Form V (“Shien” / “Djem So”) and Form IV (“Ataru”) styles of lightsaber combat, combining both incredible strength and acrobatics – demonstrated by killing Count Dooku in an epic duel.
The Hand of the Emperor
After suffering life-altering injuries during his duel against Obi-Wan Kenobi on Mustafar, Vader was augmented by his signature black helmet and obsidian armor that served both as protection and an advanced life-support system.
These cybernetics greatly limited Vader’s agility and led to a more brutal, direct style of lightsaber combat. Nonetheless, his inner rage deepened his connection to the dark side of the Force and allowed him to attack with incredible power, efficiency, and ruthlessness.
As Vader led troops across the galaxy, his red lightsaber and black cybernetic suit gave a terrifying appearance that struck fear into enemies and subordinates alike while he served as Emperor Palpatine’s Commander-in-Chief of the Imperial Military and personal enforcer. This position also gave him the responsibility of training deadly assassins and agents such as the Inquisitorius.
A Vergence in the Force
Even as a child, Vader’s midi-chlorian count of over 27,000 exceeded that of Master Yoda – one of the most powerful Jedi of the era. This suggested a uniquely strong connection to the Force. Vader’s anger and pain, combined with deep meditations into the dark side further enhanced his Sith powers. This included: the Force choke, powerful telekinesis that can crush or move objects as large as small starships, and the ability to create a protective Force shield around himself. Moreover, it enabled him to mind probe and sense the presence or emotions of others.
As one of the most naturally gifted and well trained Sith Lords in galactic history, Vader’s ability to actualize his full potential was limited only by his physical injuries and the scheming manipulations of his master, Darth Sidious.
4. Darth Plagueis
Born sometime between 147 and 120 BBY on Mygeeto, the extremely intelligent Munn was the “creation” of Darth Tenebrous, who instructed a force sensitive female disciple to seduce another Force-sensitive Munn named Caar Demask. The predictably powerful and Force sensitive child was trained by Darth Tenebrous and became obsessed with achieving immortality.
Plagueis paved the path for galactic domination by his future apprentice through manipulation and secret assassinations, rather than open warfare. Through his public persona as Hego Demask II of Demask Holdings, Plagueis advanced his political influence while secretly subverting the interests of the Republic. After learning of many Sith secrets and judging himself power enough, Plagueis betrayed his master and killed him during a joint mission. As his master laid dying, Plagueis studied Tenebrous’ midi-chlorians through the Force to learn more about its manipulation.
The Pursuit of Immortality
Eventually, Plagueis discovered a young Sheev Palpatine on the planet Naboo and took him as an apprentice, setting the stage for the coming galactic chaos. Aside from training his powerful apprentice, the cerebral Plagueis studied as much as he could on how to manipulate midi-chlorians and explored the idea of a Force dyad in order to cheat death.
He conducted unnatural scientific experiments and eventually discovered the dark side technique of Transference – the ability to transfer one’s consciousness to a different body. Darth Sidious later used this knowledge to further advance his own agendas and to guard against the unlikely event that his body would be destroyed.
In time, Plagueis became so powerful and knowledgeable that he could use midi-chlorians to create life and prevent the ones he loved from dying – later earning him a moniker “the Wise” by Sidious. Unfortunately, Plagueis suffered an injury at the hand of assassins, leaving him so paranoid that he did not sleep for over twenty years.
Betrayal and Legacy
True to the cycle of betrayal and the Rule of Two, Darth Sidious manipulated his aging master to get drunk and fall asleep. Sidious then ambushed Plagueis, attacking him with Force lightning before killing him. Despite his knowledge and wisdom, Plagueis failed to make any clones of himself and died before achieving the immortality that he desired.
For his insights into the dark side and advances on achieving immortality through the use of another vessel, Darth Plagueis the Wise achieved great power through the depths of his vast knowledge.
3. Darth Revan
Born in 3994 BBY in the Old Republic, Revan was an extremely gifted Jedi prodigy who had learned the ways of the Force from multiple masters before becoming a full-fledged Jedi Knight. During the Mandalorian Wars, Revan led a group of Jedi Crusaders to counter the Mandalorians’ violent spread across the galaxy, initially against the wishes of the Jedi Council.
Revan was such a proficient tactician and warrior that he was eventually named the commander of the Republic’s forces. After learning of their opponent’s atrocities on Cathar, he picked up and wore a Mandalorian helmet – vowing to never remove it until they were defeated. He eventually defeated the vaunted Mandalore the Ultimate in a duel onboard the latter’s flagship, who revealed the existence of a Sith Emperor before his death.
During the war, Revan’s ideals became compromised, and he learned of ancient Sith teachings after a journey to the Sith home planet of Korriban. After locating and confronting Darth Vitiate, both Revan and his companion Malak were defeated and turned to the dark side.
The Greatest Warrior of the Age
A master in multiple forms of lightsaber combat, Darth Revan wielded a red and violet lightsaber in each hand, overwhelming his opponents with deadly skill. He also further enhanced his abilities with a robe crafted in the depths of the Star Forge. Darth Revan was so skilled that he also bested Darth Malak in single combat twice – killing him the second time.
As a Sith Lord, Darth Revan possessed powerful abilities and left a legacy for future dark side users to follow, including Darth Bane who had discovered his holocron. Revan had the ability to use Force lightning, powerful Force telekinesis, and Force sense even across the galaxy. His mastery of both the light and dark sides of the Force enabled him to fight numerous opponents simultaneously.
A Mastery of the Light and Dark
Darth Revan’s will was so strong that he was able to subtly manipulate the mind of Darth Vitiate even while under torture. While Revan’s memory was wiped and he eventually converted back to the light side of the Force by multiple Jedi masters, he was responsible for the horrors of the Jedi Civil War. Even after the death of his body, Revan willed his spirit to survive before becoming one with the Force. Consequently, he would be remembered as one of the most powerful Sith to have ever lived.
2. Darth Vitiate
Born with a powerful affinity toward the dark side in 5113 BBY as the son of a Sith Lord, Tenebrae killed his parents with the Force and butchered thousands by the time he was ten years old on the planet Medriaas of the Old Sith Empire.
In 5100 BBY, he was christened Darth Vitiate by Lord of the Sith Marka Ragnos and spent the next century cruelly dominating his subjects while studying the secrets of the dark side. This gave him knowledge to perform ancient Sith magic and rituals powerful enough to distort reality and the Force itself.
After Ragnos’ death, Vitiate lured the remaining eight thousand Sith Lords across the galaxy to the planet of Nethema, where he dominated their minds and betrayed them to feed his power. Using an ancient Sith ritual he had learned, Vitiate drained the life force of the planet itself and all the living beings on it – achieving near immortality and a level of power previously unimaginable.
Becoming the First Sith Emperor
Vitiate then renamed himself simply as the Emperor, rallied the remaining Sith and discovered the Eternal Fleet on Zakuul. He eventually transferred his consciousness and essence to a human host body known as Valkorion and ruled over the Eternal Empire. This allowed him to plot and patiently maneuver against the Old Republic and the Jedi over the span of a millennia.
In combat, the Emperor was lethal with a lightsaber but seldomly wielded one, as he could dominate the strongest of minds, including Malak and Revan. He could perform powerful telekinesis without a gesture and invoke Force shields to counter even lightsaber blows. Moreover, his mastery of Sith Lightning and Force Storms made him the most powerful being in the galaxy as a demi-God.
In 3626 BBY, after a long series of events, the Emperor was finally killed when the champions of the age, including Outlander, Revan and the spirits of many Force beings combined to destroy his body and spirit. This ended his near 1500-year reign of terror. For his knowledge of the dark side, the damage inflicted upon the galaxy and having actually achieved power over such a long lifespan, Darth Vitiate ranks amongst one of the most powerful Sith Lords of all time.
1. Darth Sidious
Born in 82 BBY on Naboo as Sheev Palpatine, Darth Sidious had a strong connection to the Force and was trained by Darth Plagueis in the ways of the Sith – enroute to becoming one of the most powerful Force users in history. After learning of his master’s secrets to achieving immortality, Sidious murdered his master and took on Darth Maul as his first apprentice.
The Master of Manipulation
Living a double life as a politician and Sith Lord, Sidious advanced his agenda to become the Emperor of the new Galactic Empire from 19 BBY to 4 BBY, wielding absolute political power. As his public persona and career rose from that of a Senator to the Supreme Chancellor before declaring himself Emperor, he precipitated the downfall of the Republic and the Jedi Order by orchestrating the events of the Clone Wars.
Sidious was able to conceal his true nature from even Master Yoda and clouded the Jedi’s ability to detect his plot by shrouding the Force with the dark side. By the time Order 66 was executed at his command to destroy the Jedi, it was too late to stop the betrayal.
Sidious was also able to manipulate and seduce Anakin Skywalker to the dark side, naming his new and powerful apprentice Darth Vader. Together, the Sith master and apprentice ruled the galaxy for fifteen years before Vader sacrificed himself to destroy Sidious onboard the second Death Star. Prior to this event, Sidious had defeated Vader’s previous attempts at betrayal.
However, Sidious cheated death by transferring his consciousness to a clone body and secretly ruled the First Order and the Sith Eternal. From the Unknown Regions, he patiently waited until the time was right to strike again. It was not until he encountered his granddaughter Rey and Ben Solo, who together produced a Force-dyad and Rey turning his powers against him that Sidious was finally defeated in spirit and body.
Extraordinary Lightsaber and Force Abilities
During his life, the Dark Lord of the Sith demonstrated a nearly unparalleled mastery of lightsaber combat by cutting down three Jedi masters sent to arrest him during the Clone Wars with blinding speed, precision, and ferocity before engaging champion Mace Windu. Later against Master Yoda, they duelled to a stalemate before the Sith won through the Force. Sidious also wielded two blades with ease against Maul, Savage Oppress and once bested Darth Vader in a sparring match.
With his knowledge of dark side secrets, Sidious had many powerful abilities, including: attack with extremely powerful Force lightning against multiple opponents, move large objects and beings with telekinesis, generate a Dark Aura to torture those caught in it and Force choke people across the galaxy. Further, he had an ability to foresee the future, detect the thoughts and feelings of powerful individuals and dominate the minds of lesser opponents to control them.
The Crown of Evil
Overall, no Sith Lord accomplished as much power, control and wrought as much pain to the galaxy in such a relatively short time span than Darth Sidious. Through manipulation, use of the dark side and rule-through-fear, Darth Sidious achieved a level of a power most Sith Lords could only dream of. It was not until his destruction at the hand of Rey with the powers of all the past Jedi did the galaxy finally rid itself of true evil.
Over thousands of years, the galaxy has seen many powerful Sith Lords come and go. Their sinister plans to achieve power and galactic domination left a trail of destruction, pain, and chaos. While their personalities, abilities and methods differ, all of them relied on the dark side of the Force to feed their never-ending quest for more power and for some – immortality.
Each of these Sith Lords contributed to the rich Star Wars lore by acting as worthy antagonists to the Jedi and other forces of good. With their red lightsabers and evil plots, some of these villains will no doubt remain favourite villains amongst fans for a long time to come.