Why Can There Be Only 2 Sith? Rule of Two Explained

palpatine and vader

One of the things that we always knew about the world of Star Wars is that there have only been two Sith Lords at any given time. Of course, we’ve seen a few times that more than two characters use the dark side of the Force, but only two characters belong to the Sith Order at any given time due to the Sith doctrine called the Rule of Two. So, what is the Rule of Two in Star Wars?

The Rule of Two is a Sith doctrine that states there should only be two Sith Lords at any given time. This rule was established by Darth Bane around a thousand years before the events of the Skywalker Saga. The purpose of the Rule of Two was to strengthen the Sith and allow them to operate in secret.

We all know that the Jedi Order and the Sith Order have always been enemies, but the problem was that the Sith could never completely defeat the Jedi. That was when it became clear that things needed to change, and the Rule of Two was established. Now, let’s look at what the Rule of Two is and what its purpose is.

The never-ending Jedi-Sith war

Since the Sith Order branched off from the Jedi Order thousands of years ago, both orders were always at war. That’s because their ideals were always contrasting, as the Jedi believed in peace and harmony, whereas the Sith relied on passion and emotions to pursue true power. The wars went on for thousands of years in the Legends Old Republic storyline that is yet to become canon.

jedi vs sith

While we don’t know much about the Jedi and Sith conflicts in the canon side of the lore, we do know that the wars between the two orders were seemingly never-ending. Most battles were so devastating that the death toll was catastrophic. That happened on Malachor V when the Jedi attacked this Sith planet to prevent the Sith from using a devastating weapon that could petrify everyone within its range. This battle happened nearly 4,000 years before the events of the Skywalker Saga.

Of course, in the end, the Jedi eventually triumphed over the Sith. That’s because the Jedi believed that the Sith had been extinct for a thousand years after defeating them on Ruusan. That’s why the Jedi Council couldn’t believe that Maul was a Sith Lord, as it was believed that the Sith had been extinct for a thousand years.

But the truth was that the Sith Lords were still around but were operating in secret through the Rule of Two, established by Darth Bane around a thousand years before the Skywalker Saga. And it was the Rule of Two that ultimately allowed the Sith to finally triumph over the Jedi.

Darth Bane’s Rule of Two

After countless battles between ancient enemies, the Sith Order was defeated on Ruusan by the Jedi Order. While the Jedi thought that the Sith had been totally annihilated, Darth Bane survived as the only living Sith Lord at that time. And he realized that what led to the Sith Lords’ constant failures was the Sith Order’s very nature.


All 16 Darth Vader Apprentices, Ranked by Power

The Sith Lords were power-hungry Force wielders that focused on obtaining power more than anything else. That’s why the Sith relied on their negative feelings, as these allowed them to tap into the dark side of the Force to become stronger. In that regard, the Sith were supposed to be more powerful than the Jedi. The problem was that they were too hungry for power that they often fought one another for complete power.

In that regard, the Sith Lords’ greed and lust for power became the architect of their defeat. Darth Bane realized this, and that’s why he understood that it was best for the Sith Lord to operate in minimal numbers because the very essence of the Sith Order required them to betray and fight one another. That was when Darth Bane established the Rule of Two.

darth bane

The Rule of Two required that there should only be two Sith Lords at any given time. There must be a master tasked with taking in an apprentice. As such, they could operate in secret because two Sith Lords hiding in the shadows would be more difficult for the Jedi to detect. But there was a better purpose for the Rule of Two.

As mentioned, the Sith Lords are known for betraying one another because they were mandated to seek power above anything else. In that regard, the Rule of Two assured that there would always be one Sith remaining after one betrayed the other. Ideally, the role of the master was to be the one holding the power, whereas the apprentice was supposed to seek this power from the master.

So, because the apprentice wants the power of the master, they would work hard to pursue greater strength to overthrow the master and gain his power. If that’s the case, that would mean that the apprentice has become stronger than the master. But if the apprentice failed to overthrow the master, the master would now be free to look for another apprentice that could eventually become stronger than the master.

This endless cycle of the apprentice trying to overthrow the master assured that every generation of Sith was stronger or more cunning than the previous one. The master would never be defeated if the apprentice wasn’t stronger. After the apprentice had become the master, they would now take a new apprentice tasked to seek the same power that their master possessed.


How Powerful Is Darth Vader? Compared to Other Sith & Jedi

This continued for a thousand years after Darth Bane created the Rule of Two. Eventually, it reached Palpatine’s era, where he overthrew Darth Plagueis and took in Darth Maul as an apprentice. After that, he took Count Dooku in as an apprentice and was able to manipulate the events of the Clone Wars.

The fact that Palpatine operated secretly with his apprentices assured that the Jedi wouldn’t be able to discover him. On top of that, he was the product of a thousand years of apprentices killing their masters for power, and that’s why Palpatine became the most powerful Sith Lord of the last one-thousand years. And because he manipulated the events of the Clone Wars in secret, he could finally defeat the Jedi Order without engaging them in an all-out battle.

Is every Sith a Darth?

One of the things that we know about the Sith Lords is that they all have “Darth” in their Sith names. Basically, “Darth” is short for “Dark Lord of the Sith,” which is the official title of any Sith Lord. And this predates the Rule of Two, as all of the Sith Lords before that time were already called Darth.

As such, only the Sith Lords had a “Darth” in their names, as this was the mark of a true Sith Lord. There were other users of the dark side of the Force, such as Asajj Ventress and the Inquisitors. But they were never Sith Lords because they were never indoctrinated into the Sith Order. Even Maul was no longer a “Darth” after Obi-Wan Kenobi defeated him.

In Ventress’ case, she was supposed to be Dooku’s apprentice if he had successfully overthrown Palpatine. But she was never a Sith Lord because Dooku never replaced Palpatine as the master. At the same time, Savage Opress was supposed to be Maul’s apprentice, although he never became the master because Palpatine was the true master of the Sith Lord then.

Have something to add? Let us know in the comments!

Notify of
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments