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The 'Star Wars' Galaxy's Biggest Bads: The 15 Most Powerful Sith Lords to Ever Exist

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In the Star Wars galaxy and lore, wherever there exists Jedi, there must be those that oppose them. In most cases, those people are the Sith. The most powerful Jedi go up against the most powerful Sith in a seemingly never-ending battle for the fate of the Galaxy.

As a future Emperor would say, the Dark Side is a pathway to many abilities some consider to be unnatural. These 15 characters tapped into those abilities better than anyone else, leading them to become the most powerful Sith to ever exist.

15. Darth Sion

most powerful sith lords darth sion 1
LucasArts

  • Appears In: Star Wars Knights of the Old Republic: The Sith Lords

A "living" embodiment of the "man literally too angry to die" meme, Darth Sion, also known as the Lord of Pain, fought for the Sith Lord Exar Kun until Kun's death. Despite defeating numerous Jedi, he was eventually struck down in battle but found that if he called upon the power of the Dark Side and surrendered himself to a life of pain and agony, he would never die. By doing this, he would become one of the most powerful Sith of his era.

Sion survived the fall of Kun's Sith Empire, eventually forming the Sith Triumvirate with Darth Traya and Darth Nihilus. After he and Nihilus stripped Traya of her Force powers, they searched for the Jedi Exile, Meetra Surik, to bring about the downfall of the Jedi and the Republic.

On the world of Malachor V, Sion would eventually meet his end during combat with Surik. After a conversation with Surik, he lost their duel and surrendered himself to death.

14. Darth Malak

mostpowerfulsithlords darth malak
LucasArts

  • Appears In: Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic

The primary villain of the first game in the Knights of the Old Republic series, Darth Malak, began as the apprentice of Darth Revan. As is tradition with the Sith, he eventually betrayed Revan and took the mantle of Dark Lord of the Sith for himself.

He began his life as Alek, a Jedi who followed his friend and future Master Revan into battle during the Mandalorian Wars, a decision forbidden by the Jedi council. This decision ultimately corrupted both of them, with Revan being redeemed but Malak embracing the Dark Side fully. Malak would continue his quest to try and conquer the galaxy but was stopped by his former master Revan.

13. Darth Tyranus (Count Dooku)

most powerful sith lords count dooku
Lucasfilm

  • Appears In: Star Wars: Attack of the Clones, Star Wars: Revenge of the Sith, Star Wars: The Clone Wars

Despite all the chaos and destruction that he was ultimately responsible for, Count Dooku, aka Darth Tyranus, is a bit of a tragic figure. Corrupted by Palpatine to serve his own needs,

Dooku helped Darth Sidious orchestrate the Clone Wars, plunging the galaxy into chaos. Masquerading as the head of the Separatists, Dooku only worked to serve his master's needs. However, Palpatine had no plans for Dooku post-Clone Wars, merely using him as a tool to corrupt Anakin Skywalker.

Despite all that, Dooku was an extremely powerful Sith, both in the Force and with a lightsaber. He defeated both Obi-Wan Kenobi and Anakin Skywalker in combat and went toe to toe with Yoda, holding his own with the Jedi Master.

12. Exar Kun

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LucasArts

  • Appears In: Star Wars: Tales of the Jedi, Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic (mentioned only)

Although he and many of the Sith's stories on this list are no longer canon (they've since started to slowly be reintroduced due to fan interest,) Exar Kun's tale is an interesting one.

Fighting thousands of years before A New Hope takes place, Kun was a fallen Jedi Knight who went on a long journey to the Sith homeworld of Korriban to become the most powerful Dark Side user in history. After conspiring with the spirit of another Sith Lord, Freedon Nadd, he established a base on Yavin 4 and enslaved the Massassi people, forcing them to build temples for him and the Dark Side. In fact, one of these temples would become the Rebel base we see in A New Hope.

In case you needed evidence as to how he was so powerful, I feel the need to reemphasize that he used the Force to enslave an entire species.

Oh, and did I mention he also created the double-bladed lightsaber? Not too shabby.

11. Darth Maul

most powerful sith lords darth maul
Lucasfilm

  • Appears In: Star Wars: The Phantom Menace, Star Wars: The Clone Wars, Star Wars: Rebels

I might take a little heat for ranking Darth Maul this low but let's face facts—Maul's entire life was one line of taking L after L.

First, it was Obi-Wan chopping him in half; then, it was being forced to live on a junkyard planet where he became half cyborg, getting betrayed by Palpatine again, and on and on.

However, much like Darth Sion, Maul is another great example of the "man too angry to die" meme. He used his anger and hatred of Obi-Wan to fuel his power, leading him to almost as many victories as losses. He was found by his brother Savage Oppress and brought back to full strength by the Witch Sisters of Dathomir. Eventually, he became powerful enough that he took control of the planet Mandalore before his overthrow at the hands of Ahsoka Tano.

His power over the force, lightsaber skills, and talent for manipulation were almost unparalleled during that era. He learned well from his Master, Darth Sidious.

After being cut in two by Obi-Wan, he dedicated his life to hunting down his former adversary and killing him. They would fight a few times again, but Obi-Wan defeated him in one final duel on Tatooine. By the end of his life, he could certainly be named amongst the most powerful Sith ever.

10. Darth Traya

most powerful sith lords darth traya
LucasArts

  • Appears In: Star Wars Knights of the Old Republic: The Sith Lords

Another member of the Sith Triumvirate, Darth Traya, was Darth Sion's Master, teaching him in the Dark Side along with Darth Nihilius. She began her life as a Jedi historian, but after becoming too radical and unorthodox for the Order, she was exiled. Following her ousting, she turned to the Sith teachings as a way of life.

After her betrayal at the hands of Sion and Nihilus, she turned away from the Sith entirely. She adopted the moniker of Kreia to exist outside the influence of both Jedi and Sith.

Due to this constant cycle of betrayals, she grew to hate The Force itself, attempting to literally destroy it by using the Jedi Exile, Meetra Surik. Kreia/Traya would fail, obviously, but put her full powers on display on her mission to do so.

She drained three Jedi Masters of their Force powers and severed their connection to it, killing them all. She also possessed an ability to see far into the future, predicting the rise and fall of the Galactic Empire, which would occur 3000 years after she was alive.

9. Darth Vitiate

most powerful sith lords darth vitate
LucasArts

  • Appears In: Star Wars: The Old Republic

Most Sith Lords and evildoers tend to start good or with good intentions and then turn evil; Not Vitiate.

Vitiate, who would eventually become the Emperor of the Old Sith Empire, massacred people by the thousands when he was ten years old. He was, as they say, not a great guy.

As his power grew, other Sith Lords began to see him as a threat, but he managed to lure them to a meeting on the planet Nathema to decide who would rule the Sith next. Instead of conferring, he drained their life essence and that of the entire world to increase his power.

Like many people on this list, Vitiate was as evil as it gets and desired nothing more than to dominate all life.

8. Darth Revan

most powerful sith lords darth revan
LucasArts/Aspyr Studios/Sabre Interactive

  • Appears In: Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic, Star Wars: The Old Republic

The player-character of Knights of the Old Republic, Revan began as a Jedi Knight who went rogue to fight in the Mandalorian Wars alongside Malak. After the Wars, Revan fell to the Dark Side, embracing his new role as Dark Lord of the Sith. Malak betrayed him, and his memory was lost during the attack leading the Jedi to reprogram his mind as someone loyal to the Republic.

During the player's journey as Revan, they learn to control their Force powers again, becoming an extremely powerful warrior that can destroy entire squads of troops at once and defeat even the most skilled of enemies. After vanquishing Malak and his forces during the events of Knights of the Old Republic, he journeyed into the Unknown Regions of the Galaxy. He would encounter the Sith Emperor and make it his mission to defeat him and the Sith Empire.

While Revan would return to the light side, there's no questioning that he was one of the most powerful Sith ever to exist.

7. Marka Ragnos

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LucasArts

Appears In: Star Wars: Legends, Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic (mentioned)

One of the most powerful Sith and among the most important, Marka Ragnos was a Sith (the species)-Human hybrid who wrestled control of the Sith from Darth Simus. He was able to manipulate his enemies into fighting each other rather than him, ensuring that their focus was always on the other.

He was so powerful that he could manifest himself as a Force ghost to attend his own funeral, where he would pit Naga Sadow and Ludo Kressh against one another for the right to call themselves Dark Lord of the Sith.

As a force ghost on the planet Korriban, he would interact with future Sith Lords Exar Kun and Ulic Qel-Droma, where he could ensure the Sith Empire was in good hands.

6. Darth Tenebrous

most powerful sith darth tenebrous
LucasArts

  • Appears In: Star Wars: Legends

Master to Darth Plagueis, Tenebrous was a Bith Sith warrior who sought the means to cheat death and worked with his apprentice to try and accomplish this goal. He was an extremely powerful warrior skilled in lightsaber combat and could generate red Force lightning, a rarity amongst the Sith.

His precognitive abilities were also unparalleled in power, as he developed the ability to determine the exact moment of his death.

5. Darth Plagueis

most powerful sith lords Darth Plagueis copy
LucasArts

Appears In: Star Wars: Darth Plagueis (book), Revenge of the Sith (mentioned only)

"Have you ever heard the tragedy of Darth Plagueis the Wise?" Although the tragedy has become more of a meme than a Sith Legend at this point, Plagueis was nonetheless one of the most powerful Sith ever.

Plagueis was the master of Darth Sidious and taught the future Emperor everything he knew about the Dark Side. Like his apprentice would as well, Plagueis was obsessed with finding a means to immortality. He sought to combine science with the dark mysteries of the Sith to accomplish this, but before he got a chance to learn what he needed to, Sidious killed him and took the mantle of Dark Lord of the Sith.

Plageuis was powerful enough to literally create life from the Force and prevent death. Sidious would also use these techniques to influence and corrupt Anakin Skywalker, his apprentice, and the Sith Lord Darth Vader.

4. Darth Bane

most powerful sith darth bane
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Appears In: Star Wars: Legends, Star Wars: The Clone Wars

Darth Bane was not the most powerful Sith ever, but his influence over the future of the Sith order was undeniable.

One thousand years before the formation of the Galactic Empire, the Jedi-Sith fought their final war, which ended with a Jedi-Republic victory. Darth Bane was the lone Sith survivor of the final battle of that war, and he realized that there needed to change for the order to survive.

Bane established the "Rule of Two," which stated that rather than massive armies of soldiers, the Sith would have no more than two members at any given time—a Master and an apprentice. The Master would teach the apprentice everything until they grew strong enough to defeat their Master.

This rule would continue for thousands of years, but some Sith definitely played fast and loose with it. For example, Count Dooku was Sidious' apprentice, but Dooku also had Asajj Ventress as a learner. Ventress was a Sith in all but name, a powerful Dark Side user that went toe to toe with Obi-Wan Kenobi and Anakin Skywalker regularly during the Clone Wars.

3. Darth Vader

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Disney

Appears In: Star Wars: Legends, Star Wars: Revenge of the Sith, Obi-Wan Kenobi, Star Wars: A New Hope, Star Wars: Empire Strikes Back, Star Wars: Return of the Jedi, Star Wars: The Clone Wars, Star Wars: Rebels, Star Wars: Rise of Skywalker

This might be a bit of a controversial pick at just number three, but Darth Vader, perhaps the best-known Dark Side user, is not the most powerful Sith ever.

Born Anakin Skywalker, Vader became an extremely powerful Jedi Knight, one who was prophesized to be the "Chosen One" who would bring balance to the Force. Instead of destroying the Sith, he would join them, becoming Darth Sidious' apprentice to save his wife, Padme Amidala, from death.

He became corrupted by the Dark Side, dueling his former Master, Obi-Wan Kenobi, who defeated and nearly killed him. Vader was left without any limbs and with extensive burns across his body, leading Palpatine to fit him with cybernetics that would keep him alive, although in constant pain. Vader used his pain and anger to fuel his Dark Side powers, becoming one of the most powerful Sith ever and perhaps the most feared. He was the enforcer of the Empire, using his red lightsaber and black armor to strike fear into his enemies, becoming an instrument of terror to fight the Rebels.

Vader could take on entire companies of Rebels by himself, dispatching them with ease. For as powerful as he was, he was also a useful propaganda tool. The mere mention of his name being an effective weapon in and of itself.

2. Darth Nihilus

most powerful sith darth nihilus
LucasArts

Appears In: Star Wars Knights of the Old Republic: The Sith Lords

The last member of the Sith Triumvirate, Darth Nihilus, was one of the survivors of the Battle of Malachor V, which saw the use of a Mass Shadow generator weapon (think something similar to a space nuke.) The weapon made him crave Force energy to such a point that it ravaged his body and turned him into a shadow and a wound in the Force.

Known as the Lord of Hunger, Nihilus worked with Darth Sion to overthrow Darth Traya. They then worked together to try and exterminate the Jedi, nearly destroying the Order entirely. He was defeated by the Jedi Exile, his former apprentice Visas Marr, and Mandalore the Preserver, who managed to sever his connection to the Force long enough for him to be slain.

What made Nihilus so powerful was that he lacked any sort of humanity that he once had, becoming a creature fueled by the Force and nothing else. After he and Sion began their purge, a large gathering of Jedi met on the planet Katarr where Nihilus drained the planet of its Force energy.

The. Entire. Planet.

It devastated the planet, killed nearly everyone on it, and cemented Nihilus' place amongst Sith legend.

1. Darth Sidious

most powerful sith darth sidious
LucasFilm

Appears In: Star Wars: The Phantom Menace, Star Wars: Attack of the Clones, Star Wars: Revenge of the Sith, Star Wars: The Clone Wars, Star Wars: Rebels, Star Wars: A New Hope, Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back, Star Wars: Return of the Jedi, Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker

The one that towers above all the others and the villain of the entire Skywalker Saga, Darth Sidious was unparalleled in his strength in the Force, talents with a lightsaber, and skills with manipulation.

He was able to orchestrate the Clone Wars, secretly controlled both sides, and successfully created the first Galactic (essentially Sith) Empire in generations. Not only was he able to accomplish this, but he also managed to keep his plan hidden from the Jedi the entire time. It wasn't until Anakin Skywalker discovered his true identity that things nearly came unraveled, but by then, it was too late.

The rule of the Galactic Empire started and ended with Palpatine brutally controlling everything and did not possess an ounce of humanity or compassion for those living under his direction. Palpatine's only goal was to achieve more power and, through that, immortality.

Through the years, his abilities became so strong that he could not only generate Force Lightning but use it to destroy entire fleets, as seen in Rise of Skywalker. His power also grew to such a point that, as he alluded to in Revenge of the Sith, he was able to cheat death.

When Darth Vader threw his body into the Death Star reactor, he could transfer his consciousness into a clone body on Exegol, a planet across the galaxy. From there, he used his scheming skills again, orchestrating the rise of the First Order, the creation of Supreme Leader Snoke as a puppet, and the Final Order, nearly conquering the galaxy again.

His power was seemingly incalculable, and if he were to face off against any other Sith Lord, he would likely defeat them with ease.

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