Star Wars couldn’t have asked for a more foreboding cabal of villains than the dreaded Sith, many of whom vary in power in both Legends and canon. These nefarious individuals wield the immense power of the dark side of the Force, in direct antithesis to their Jedi competitors. As a result, the two factions have fought relentlessly for thousands of years, building up a series of pivotal moments in the history of the Sith Order.
Over time, the Sith have become more powerful as they unlock secrets of the dark side, and certain practitioners have gone down in legend as the best of the best. These fearsome foes channeled all their hatred, malice, and passion into the dark arts, wreaking havoc across the galaxy in both continuities. It is worth noting that many of the more powerful Sith Lords are reserved for Star Wars Legends, but many impressive feats are accomplished in canon, as well. Here are 20 canon and Legends Sith, ranked by their dark power.
20 Darth Malgus
Darth Malgus may be familiar to those who know the history of the Old Republic Star Wars era. Physically, he resembles Darth Vader in many ways, right down to his choice of attire. Malgus was singular in his goals and immensely powerful in the dark side of the Force. After receiving severe injuries in battle, Malgus did as many Sith do, relying on a special mask to help him breathe. He wielded a variety of Force abilities with frightening ease, driven entirely by his anger. Yet, for all his hatred, Malgus was rather pragmatic, as opposed to cruel, like many other Sith.
Malgus’ main appearances in Star Wars come from the video game, Star Wars: The Old Republic. The canon status of this game is unclear, to say the least. While never confirmed as canon, the game takes place so far before the Skywalker saga began that it could easily be part of the official continuity. If this was the case, Darth Malgus would be canon also, after appearing in the game and its many expansion packs.
19 Marka Ragnos
The first Sith Empire had a lot of legends, and one of its most fearsome was the dreaded Marka Ragnos. This dark side practitioner was one of the most infamous and powerful Sith Lords of old, helping to forge the direction of the Sith movement as the centuries rolled on. As such, he’s one of the most fabled figures in Sith lore and was said to be even more powerful than the wisest and most skilled Jedi. So powerful was his dark side training that Ragnos was able to maintain his spirit many millennia after his death, awakening during the time of the New Republic to try his hand again.
Like Darth Malgus, Marka Ragnos was mentioned plenty of times in the Star Wars: The Old Republic video game. However, Ragnos’ first appearance came in the sixth issue of Tales of the Jedi – Dark Lords of the Sith, a Legends comic book miniseries. The comic was written by Tom Veitch and Kevin J. Anderson and centered on the exploits of other Sith Lords, including Ragnos.
18 Kylo Ren
Manipulated from a young age by Darth Sidious via Supreme Leader Snoke, Ben Solo was enamored by the dark side of the Force and the power he could draw from it. A seeming act of betrayal by his uncle Luke Skywalker was all that was needed for Ben to take the final plunge into darkness, drawing upon his rich bloodline in an attempt to emulate his grandfather, Darth Vader. Although having redeemed himself before death, Kylo Ren demonstrated a range of abilities that many Force users have not been known to use, including freezing blaster bolts in mid-air for a prolonged period of time.
Despite this, Kylo Ren was not technically a Sith, though it could be argued that his manipulation by Darth Sidious put him in the same category. Ren’s power with the dark side of the Force could easily see him ranked as a Sith Lord, without ever officially earning the title. His apprenticeship of Snoke – and therefore Sidious – certainly positions him as a Sith apprentice as part of Star Wars’ Sith Rule of Two. Kylo first appeared in Star Wars: The Force Awakens before playing a big role in the next two movies of Disney’s Star Wars sequel trilogy.
17 Asajj Ventress
Asajj Ventress was once the trainee of Count Dooku until she realized she’d never be able to rise the ranks due to the Rule of Two that Darth Sidious adhered to. She was also blessed with a streak of goodness that eventually overcame her evil ways, prompting her to change her life around for the better. She turned to bounty hunting, but her background as one of the Nightsisters meant that she was more powerful in the Force than many realized. Her people drew on ancient Force powers resembling witchcraft and darkness in order to fuel their rage and strength.
Similar to Kylo Ren, Ventress was never officially initiated into the Sith during Star Wars: The Clone Wars, where she first appeared in Star Wars canon. However, her role as an apprentice of Count Dooku/Darth Tyranus meant that she was taught in the ways of the Sith. As a result, she can be classified as a Sith during her darkest point in the Clone Wars, though her somewhat redemption can make her inclusion in the Sith category somewhat murky.
16 Ulic Qel-Droma
A former Jedi, Ulic fell to the dark side of the Force and has since become a storied member of the Sith religion. Qel-Droma’s gifts were largely natural, as his training was minimal during his younger years. Nevertheless, he rose to become one of the most profound Sith in history. His corruption opened the door to many Force abilities that had been off-limits in the past. Mind control and increased agility are two that he often used during his skirmishes. In the end, Qel-Droma abandoned the Sith ways and reverted to the light side, until he was slain by a vengeful Jedi.
Similar to Sith Lords like Marka Ragnos, Qel-Droma first appeared in the Tales of the Jedi comic series, specifically Star Wars: Tales of the Jedi — Ulic Qel-Droma and the Beast Wars of Onderon. This was during Ulic’s Jedi days, before going on to appear in the miniseries of Tales of the Jedi – Dark Lords of the Sith after falling to the dark side. Due to his natural power in the Force, Ulic Qel-Droma ranks among some of the most powerful Sith Lords in Star Wars Legends.
15 Darth Maul
Darth Maul represents the epitome of elite Sith physical training, tied directly into the dark side of the Force. Raised from a young age by Darth Sidious, Maul was forged in the fires of hatred and destruction, becoming a living Sith weapon with a frightening degree of power. As a Sith Lord alongside Sidious, Maul worked clandestinely from the shadows to undermine his master’s opponents and pave the way for his Order’s ascension. After being vanquished in a fight with Obi-Wan Kenobi, he lost his master’s favor and became a renegade seeking to undermine the Sith, all while amassing power for himself.
Had Maul continued as Sidious’ apprentice, he may very well have succeeded in taking his place. Maul debuted in George Lucas’ first prequel film, Star Wars: Episode I – The Phantom Menace. After his supposed death, the character’s rage-fuelled journey continued in Star Wars: The Clone Wars and Star Wars Rebels, making him one of Star Wars’ most powerful canon Sith Lords.
14 Freedon Nadd
One of the key figures in Old Republic lore, Freedon Nadd was Exar Kun’s master and a major player in the galaxy for generations after his physical death. He ruled Onderon for a hundred years after having subjugated the world, but his true power extended far beyond that simple reign. Originally a member of the Jedi Order, Freedon Nadd abandoned their teachings and went on to lay the groundwork for the ascension of the Sith. He would even serve as master to future Sith Lord Exar Kun, a being so powerful that he was able to haunt the Massassi Temples on Yavin 4 thousands of years after his demise.
Freedon Nadd was a Legends Sith Lord, who first appeared in the aforementioned Tales of the Jedi comic series. Going on to appear in the miniseries spinoff – Tales of the Jedi: Dark Lords of the Sith – as well as being mentioned in Legends games such as Star Wars: The Old Republic and Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic, Nadd was an exceptionally powerful Sith. Like the other Legends Sith on this list, Nadd could easily be made canon due to his reign early on in the Star Wars timeline.
13 Exar Kun
Exar Kun was introduced in the same Star Wars Legends comics as his master, Freedon Nadd, as an ancient Sith Lord who haunted the Massassi Temples on Yavin 4 which were used by the Rebellion in their fight against the first Death Star. He managed to corrupt one of Luke Skywalker’s Jedi disciples and turn him into a weapon before his influence was broken. It took the combined efforts of Skywalker’s entire academy to overcome Kun’s will and banish him back into the darkness. In his prime, Kun was unbelievably powerful, to the point where even his lightsaber was imbued with enough dark side energy to corrupt stalwart Jedi Masters.
12 Darth Revan
Revan was an ancient Sith who started as a powerful Jedi, becoming disillusioned by the death and destruction wrought during the Old Republic’s war with the Mandalorians and deciding to forge a new path for himself. Revan was seduced by the dark side and intended to use his power to bring order and peace to the galaxy, by any means. The Jedi managed to wipe his memory, giving Revan a second chance to redeem himself, eventually leading to him averting a galactic catastrophe by confronting his former pupil, Darth Malak, and defeating him in combat.
Revan was first introduced as the playable character of the role-playing game Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic. Since then, Revan has become an immensely popular Old Republic-era character, going on to appear in a vast amount of stories be it in comic or novel format. While much of the Old Republic is still classed as Star Wars Legends, Revan actually appeared in a deleted scene during Star Wars: The Clone Wars and was the namesake for a Sith Eternal legion in Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker, meaning the powerful Sith Lord verges closest on being canon out of his Legends counterparts.
11 Darth Tyranus
Darth Tyranus represents a typical being corrupted by the dark side through the desire to do good. Count Dooku was once a predominant member of the Jedi Order before he became frustrated with its inefficiencies. He ended up leaving the Order to expose the Republic Senate’s corruption and pave the way for change. This led Dooku down a secretive and complicated path towards Sith ascension. This story was hinted at during Dooku’s first appearance in Star Wars: Episode II – Attack of the Clones. Since then, Dooku has appeared in many other canon projects including the animated miniseries Tales of the Jedi and Star Wars: The Clone Wars.
Darth Sidious capitalized on this desire to turn Dooku to the dark side, and Darth Tyranus was born. He mistakenly believed that he could bring the galaxy together by doing away with galactic corruption, but in truth, he was just a pawn for Sidious to assume absolute power and crown himself Emperor of a new Galactic Empire. Even in his advanced years, Dooku’s main source of power was his incredible skill as a lightsaber duelist, often ranking among the best seen in the Jedi Order or among the Sith Lords.
10 Darth Bane
Darth Bane is a historical figure in the Star Wars universe, having existed a thousand years before the Clone Wars. His power took on many different forms, from being the only Sith to survive the Jedi-Sith war to single-handedly establishing the Rule of Two, which was designed to circumvent the competitive nature of the Sith. This change allowed the Sith to remain cloaked in the shadows for a thousand years while the Republic and the Jedi Order became complacent. Darth Sidious would eventually affirm Bane’s faith in the belief when he successfully orchestrated a plot to give himself ultimate power and create a Sith-based Galactic Empire in the process.
Originally, Darth Bane was a character from the Star Wars Expanded Universe, introduced around the time of Lucas’ prequel trilogy. However, Bane was implemented into Star Wars canon much in the same way Darth Revan was. An appearance in Star Wars: The Clone Wars officially cemented the powerful Sith Lord as canon in the eyes of Lucasfilm after the studio established the animated series as part of the Star Wars franchise’s canon.
9 Darth Nihilus
Few Sith were as haunting and terrifying as Darth Nihilus, a Sith Lord who was almost an apparition, rather than a man. He barely spoke, preferring instead to communicate through the Force, which made him almost impossible to reason with. He was also monstrously powerful and capable of incredible feats of dark side prowess.
Nihilus had an inexhaustible hunger that drove him to drain the life force of other beings to satisfy himself. When the ravages of his affliction became too much to handle, Nihilus was forced to bind his spirit to a ceremonial mask and a suit of armor in order to remain pinned in physical form. He was regarded as a “wound” in the Force; a dark anomaly the galaxy had never before seen.
Nihilus was first introduced in the same era as Darth Revan, Darth Bane, and many other notable Sith Lords: the Old Republic. Nihilus’ first appearance came in Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic II – The Sith Lords. This, along with many other Old Republic stories, fleshed out his backstory. While this story has since become Legends under Disney, Nihilus as a being is canon, though his history remains at Disney’s mercy to retell or re-canonize.
8 Darth Caedus
The twins Jacen and Jaina Solo featured heavily in Star Wars Legends. Jacen Solo was shown as a gifted youngster who grew into a capable young man and powerful Jedi Knight. Shortly after the Yuuzhan Vong invasion of the Galactic Core had been thwarted, the galaxy found itself unstable, and under threat of collapse. Jacen embraced the dark side in an effort to save it, taking on the mantle of Darth Caedus. With his power amplified, he slew his own aunt, Mara Jade Skywalker, and waged a war against the remnants of the government before he was finally put down by his twin sister Jaina.
Jacen Solo, and therefore Darth Caedus, was first introduced in Heir to the Empire, the first book in Timothy Zahn’s Thrawn trilogy. This trilogy outlined a sequel story to Lucas’ original trilogy that was made Legends by Disney. Since then, Jacen Solo inspired the character of Ben Solo from the canon Star Wars sequels. While Dave Filoni’s recently announced The Mandalorian movie is presumed to be a soft adaptation of Heir to the Empire, it is unlikely Darth Caedus will be canonized due to the story told beginning with Star Wars: The Force Awakens.
The character of Vergere was introduced in the “New Jedi Order” series of Legends novels as a strange bird-like humanoid in the company of the ruthless Yuuzhan Vong race. When Jacen Solo was captured by the Vong, it was Vergere who presided over his indoctrination into their culture, including the use of pain as a psychological tool. Though she claimed to be a former Jedi, Vergere was in fact a double agent working for the Sith, who intended to drive Jacen toward the dark side.
For all intents and purposes, she succeeded. Thanks mainly to her innate Force powers and clever use of Sith manipulation tactics to achieve her goals, Jacen Solo became Darth Caedus. Still, for all her scheming, Vergere was a rather neutral character who let the chips fall where they may.
6 Darth Vader
Anakin Skywalker was one of the most powerful Jedi ever to have existed, and the “Chosen One” of the Jedi prophecy who was prophesied to restore balance to the Force. This ended up being true, but the manner in which the prophecy would be fulfilled was something the Jedi couldn’t possibly have expected. After being defeated by Obi-Wan Kenobi, Skywalker turned himself over fully to the dark side of the Force and became the scourge of the Jedi Order known as Darth Vader.
Vader could tap into his own hatred in a way that not many Sith ever managed, and few who stood against him lived to tell the tale. Despite lacking the mobility and health of his former body, Vader was capable of razing entire structures to the ground with relative ease. Vader ranks among the most powerful Sith Lords in Star Wars canon, first appearing in A New Hope. His backstory as Anakin was explored in Lucas’ prequels, leading Vader to become one of the most iconic film villains of all time.
5 Darth Tenebrous
The Bith known as Tenebrous was one of the most powerful Sith ever to have existed, and he possessed a number of Force abilities that even the strongest did not have. He was also master to Darth Plagueis, and his Bith science acted as the precursor to that Sith Lord’s eventual meddling with midi-chlorian research. Skilled in lightsaber combat, Tenebrous could also harness rare red Force lightning, and his precognitive capabilities were astonishing. He could even pinpoint the time of his own death, which was practically unheard of among Force users. It was perhaps for this reason that his experimentation with midi-chlorians became such an obsession.
Tenebrous was first introduced in the “Darth Plagueis” novel which is now classed as Legends. However, Tenebrous has been referenced in Star Wars canon multiple times. Similar to Darth Nihilus, his status as a canon Sith Lord is cemented, though it is in Disney’s hands whether his backstory will ever be explored.
4 Darth Plagueis
If the stories are to be believed, Darth Plagueis was an extremely powerful Sith Lord who attained mastery over the Force, enough to resurrect the dead. This was a remarkable feat, though he wouldn’t live long enough to attain the immortality that he no doubt sought. Darth Sidious seized the moment to slay Plagueis, thereby taking the mantle of Sith Lord for himself. It is possible that Plagueis had simply outlived his usefulness to Sidious, who was preparing to make his move on the Republic senate. Whatever the case, he ended up slaying one of the most powerful Sith Lords ever to have lived.
Also part of Star Wars canon, Plagueis was mentioned directly by Palpatine during Star Wars: Episode III – Revenge of the Sith. As a result, Plagueis is canon to Star Wars, though his backstory remains shrouded in mystery. Whether Disney will ever delve into this story remains to be seen.
3 Darth Traya
The woman known as Darth Traya did not showcase her affinity for the dark side in obvious ways. Rather, she was a schemer and a manipulator who straddled the gray area between light and dark to fool her opponents and achieve her goals. As such, many underestimated her and fell victim to her silver tongue. Pragmatic in nature, Traya waged a campaign of destruction against the Jedi Order, but her true purpose was revealed only shortly before her death. She came to view the Force as a manipulative blight on existence itself and sought to eradicate it by wounding it irreparably.
Like Darth Nihilus, Traya first appeared in Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic – The Sith Lords. This means Traya is part of Star Wars Legends. With Lucasfilm acknowledging the era of the Old Republic at Star Wars Celebration 2023, the possibility remains for Darth Traya to become canon, as it does for all Old Republic-era Sith Lords.
2 Darth Vitiate
Darth Vitiate, otherwise known as the Sith Emperor, appeared in the Knights of the Old Republic games and was widely regarded as one of the most deadly Sith ever to have taken up the mantle. Before the age of adulthood, Vitiate had already massacred thousands, gaining him enough notoriety for Marka Ragnos to take notice. He was able to gather the remaining Sith Lords, drain their power–alongside that of an entire planet–and use a combination of both to increase his own power and lifespan. He proclaimed himself Emperor and enjoyed a very destructive reign before his eventual demise.
1 Darth Sidious
No other Sith Lord managed to accomplish so much through the dark side of the Force than Darth Sidious. The child of a moderately influential family on the planet of Naboo, young Sheev Palpatine rose through the ranks of the Republic Senate, eventually representing his homeworld as an influential Senator. In truth, he was biding his time, and orchestrating a series of events that would lead to the downfall of the Republic, and the ascension of the dreaded Galactic Empire.
Sidious had incredible powers of foresight, was a master strategist, and could best the most powerful Jedi and Sith in combat sometimes simultaneously. Despite his elderly appearance, Sidious could have toppled the most powerful Sith in history with relative ease. His combination of a keen mind, a pitiless personality, and overwhelmingly deadly Sith powers was too much even for the entire Jedi Order to stand against. Sidious is immortalized in Star Wars canon as the main villain of the Skywalker saga, appearing in six of the nine core movies, cementing his place as the most powerful Sith Lord in Star Wars history, be it Legends or canon.