Star Wars

There are Sith Lords, Then There’s The Sith Emperor

Some people think that Darth Sidious is the most dangerous Sith Lord in Star Wars. But there's another: the Sith Emperor. A monster so powerful, that if left unchecked, he would have left the Galaxy an empty shell.

An Abridged History of The Most Dangerous Sith Lord of all Time

The Sith. For more than forty years, the Sith have been cultural symbols of evil personified. With his terrifying armor and mask, Darth Vader’s one of the most famous villains in all of fiction. And his master, Darth Sidious, is so bad that his actor considers him more evil than the Devil himself. However, for all their power, they’re not the strongest Sith who have ever lived. That honor may fall to an ancient Sith Lord that stood above all other Sith Lords. He was known by many names and bore many titles in his life. But for the sake of expediency, most people refer to him by his most famous title: the Sith Emperor.

It’s not exaggeration when I argue that the Sith Emperor may have been the most dangerous Sith Lord in Star Wars history. The atrocities he committed make Darth Sidious look like a schoolyard bully in comparison. The Sith Emperor was so powerful that he became a threat to all life in the Galaxy! In other words, if Sidious was a demon, then the Sith Emperor was the Devil!

Sith_Emperor
Source-Star Wars: The Old Republic, LucasFilm, Bioware, EA, Wookiepedia

The Birth of Evil

5,100 years before the events of the films, and far from the borders of the Republic, there existed the ancient Sith Empire. And on an unassuming farm world, a child was born. The product of an affair between a poor farmer and the planet’s ruling Sith Lord, this child was pure evil from the moment he was born. By the time he was six, his strength in the Force emerged. He used it to murder his mother and stepfather before going on a warpath, conquering all he saw. By the age of ten, he confronted his biological father and proceeded to strip him of his power, his sanity, and finally, his life. Three years after that, the boy had conquered his home planet, and the Sith that ruled the Empire acknowledged him as its lord.

A Lord No Longer, But An Emperor

For the next century, the new Lord remained in solitude. While other Sith sought power and glory, he sought knowledge in the Dark Side. Then one day, the Republic stumbled upon the Sith Empire by accident. The war that followed saw the Sith defeated by the Republic and Jedi, and the Empire began to collapse. Thus, the Lord made his move. He summoned many of the surviving Sith Lords to his world, luring them with the promise of unlocking the power to destroy their enemies. However, all that awaited them was a fate worse than death.

This Sith Lord, in his century of studying the Force, discovered the secret that Sith would seek out for millennia to come: immortality. Using the full power of the Dark Side to enslave his followers, the lord conducted an unprecedented ritual and began to drain the planet. Every living thing, from the highest of Lords to the tiniest blades of grass, had their life energy ripped from them. The Force itself was torn from the planet, until finally, all that was left an empty rock. And on that rock stood a single being, ageless and possessing power the likes of which the Galaxy had never seen. He was no longer a lord. He was now, and forever, the Sith Emperor.

Building an Empire

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Source-Star Wars: The Old Republic, LucasFilm, Bioware, EA, Wookiepedia

Having obtained near-immortality and unlimited power, the new Sith Emperor led what was left of the Empire on an exodus beyond known space. For years they traveled uncharted systems until they finally settled on a jungle world. Here, the Emperor proclaimed that the Sith would rebuild. And one day, they would return to the galaxy and get revenge on the Jedi and the Republic they fought to protect. Over the next thousand years, the rebuilt Sith Empire would bode its time, gathering its strength in the depths of space. And all throughout it, the Sith Emperor continued to grow in power. In addition, he secretly orchestrated wars meant to weaken the Republic and speed up his eventual conquest. However, this came close to costing him everything.

The Rise of Revan

Source-Star Wars: The Old Republic, LucasFilm, Bioware, EA, Wookiepedia

The Emperor’s initial attempt to weaken the Republic backfired. A young Jedi knight known as Revan defeated the forces the Sith had used as puppets. And when he learned of the Sith’s survival, Revan came looking for them. The Emperor broke him and his allies to the Dark Side before turning them on their former comrades. However, not only did this fail due to Revan redeeming himself, but it made the Jedi Knight stronger than ever. Fortunately for the Emperor, Revan was betrayed by someone he thought he could trust, and the Emperor imprisoned him. As for the traitor, he became his instrument, his immortal undying Wrath.

Failure or not, Revan’s threat was enough to terrify the Emperor. He knew that one day, someone with the strength to oppose him could appear. Thus, he found a way to divide his mind between multiple host bodies. Destroy one, and he could jump to another. Death would not claim him.

Galactic Genocide

Three hundred years later, the Emperor made his move. The Sith Empire launched a massive invasion, letting the Galaxy know that they had returned. The armies of the Sith washed over system after system, swallowing them in a tide of darkness. Caught completely unprepared, the Republic and Jedi could do little to stop the Sith. They could barely slow them down. Ultimately, after two decades of fighting, the Sith sacked Coruscant, forcing the Republic into a humiliating surrender and treaty that gave them control of half the Galaxy.

None of this mattered to the Sith Emperor, though. Unlike other Sith, the Emperor didn’t care about building a Galaxy wide empire. He didn’t care about destroying the Jedi or the Republic. In his mind, he had transcended such mortal concerns. He considered himself a god in all but name, and not even that would elude his grasp.

The war against the Republic was meant to be a distraction while he would enact his true plans. By feeding off all the death and destruction, the Sith Emperor would recreate the ritual that first made him immortal. However, this time, it would be on a galactic scale. If he succeeded, he would become a god with an entire universe for him to do with as he pleased. While the peace treaty had ended the war, everyone knew it was only a respite before the next round. And the Emperor’s plans would not be stopped.

First Defeat

All was not lost, though. For the Emperor’s Wrath, known as Lord Scourge, was not as loyal as he seemed. There was a reason why he had betrayed Revan centuries ago. This Sith had a vision of the future. A future in which a Jedi that had yet to be born would destroy the Sith Emperor once and for all. So he did what he had to do to survive, seek out this Jedi, and warn them of what his master had planned.

Three hundred years would pass, and sure enough, the one Scourge sought appeared. A young Jedi who had joined the Order after the war had ended, made themselves known as a great hero. They saved the Jedi from being destroyed at the hands of the Sith. And for the first time in centuries, the Sith Emperor was afraid.

The Jedi was captured and imprisoned, their mind bent to the Emperor’s will. However, not even he could control them, and thanks to Scourge, they were able to flee back to the Republic and warn them of the Emperor’s mad plans. With war having resumed, the Jedi and Scourge wasted no time in stopping the Sith Emperor’s plans across the Galaxy. As a result, he grew weaker. Taking this chance, the Republic launched a surprise attack on the Sith capital, giving the Jedi a chance to face him. In an ancient Sith fortress, this Knight struck the Emperor down.

Source-Star Wars: The Old Republic, LucasFilm, Bioware, EA, Wookiepedia

Due to the Emperor using multiple bodies by this point, though, he didn’t die. But his defeat proved to be enough to force him into a deep sleep until he could regain enough strength to use one of his other bodies.

Return of Revan, Eternal Empire, and Downfall

Remember Revan, the Jedi that first stepped forth to oppose the Emperor? He was still alive; the Emperor kept him in stasis for centuries to feed off his power. Until, that is, a Republic strike team busted him out. Revan wasted no time in trying to build an army of battle droids to wipe out the Sith for good. Thanks to an Imperial strike team, though, that also failed. Now desperate, Revan built another army of Republic and Sith followers to force the Emperor to retake a physical form so he could kill him himself.

You should know the pattern by now. Revan lost thanks to a truce between the leaders of the Jedi and Sith. And worse, the fighting was enough to revive the Emperor, who promptly devoured an entire planet before leaving for unknown space while Revan became a Force Ghost.

The Eternal Empire and Downfall

It turns out, the Sith weren’t the only empire the Sith Emperor had ruled. Centuries before, the Emperor felt the ways of the Sith were too restrictive, so he decided to start fresh. Traveling into the unknown regions, he found a fledgling civilization of humans and became their god-emperor, Valkorion. He then seized a fleet of unstoppable ships and used it to build a new empire, an Eternal Empire. Said Eternal Empire then invaded and crushed the Republic and Sith Empire to become the supreme power in the Galaxy. However, in the process, Valkorion allowed his new body to die.

This was part of his new plan. During the events that led up to the renewed war, several heroes emerged on both sides. Heroes that had come to impact the Galaxy in ways few ever would. Valkorion sought that power, and thus tried to make one of those heroes, known as the Outlander, as their new host.

Instead, the Outlander turned the tables on the former Sith Emperor. Assembling an alliance of Republic and Sith heroes, the Outlander bested Valkorion’s Eternal Empire, even as they fought Valkorion within their own head. Thanks to some unexpected help, though, the Outlander was able to banish the Emperor for good. At the same time, Scourge and another Jedi found the Emperor’s original body, and slew it. Without anymore bodies to jump to, the Sith Emperor died, seemingly for good.

Source-Star Wars: The Old Republic, LucasFilm, Bioware, EA, Wookiepedia

Final Death

The Sith Emperor still had one last trick up his sleeve. Centuries ago, he rigged his original body with an imprint of himself that would awaken if he were to die. That imprint would then infect anyone unlucky enough to be in its range, drawing on their life force until it could use one as a new host to resurrect himself. And unfortunately for everyone, the Emperor chose one of the strongest Jedi alive. Satele Shan, Grandmaster of the Jedi and Revan’s own descendant.

Seeking to stop the Emperor for good, the Outlander, Scourge, and their allies journeyed into deep space to find Satele. There, in the depths of her mind, the Outlander had one final encounter with the Dark Side entity. As the monster proclaimed himself to be the master of the Force itself, the Outlander stood firm. Backed by an army of their many friends and allies, and assisted by the spirits of Revan and all those whose lives the Emperor had destroyed, this army of the Force. The battle was long and arduous, but for all his power, not even the Emperor could best the light and dark sides of the Force. In the end, the Sith Emperor, the would-be god and master of the Force, was nothing. Nothing but dust.

Everything Darth Sidious Wanted to be.

Everything that I just said is all true; in one timeline, at least. Like far too many things in Star Wars, the Sith Emperor and the other people in his story were created under the original Expanded Universe. And thanks to Disney resetting the franchise, that makes the Sith Emperor, and everything I just mentioned, non-canon. Which is a shame, because this is really one of the most interesting villains in Star Wars.

As a character, the Sith Emperor can be both compelling and new, yet also feel like a repeat of what we’ve already seen in the franchise. Like the more infamous Darth Sidious, the Sith Emperor had a lust for power and was terrified at the prospect of dying. Unlike Sidious, though, the Emperor came dangerously close to achieving immortality and godhood. Had he succeeded, then the universe itself would be his to do with as he pleased. Essentially, the Sith Emperor is everything that Darth Sidious wanted to be, but fortunately, was never able to accomplish.

In addition, I cannot help but point out just how much more exciting the Sith Emperor’s demise was in comparison with that of Darth Sidious. Facing down all those whose lives he had hurt, both those still living and those who were already dead, and seeing them send him off to the depths of Hell where he belongs? You cannot help but think that whoever wrote that was basically saying “take that!” to The Rise of Skywalker. And they’re right. J.J. Abrams did a terrible job killing Darth Sidious!

If you want to learn more about this insanely powerful, insanely evil Sith Lord, go check out his page on Wookiepedia. Or better yet, go play the MMO game Star Wars: The Old Republic. Most of what I said is either explained or occurs in the game itself.

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