Jeremy hopes the Force is with him as he pursues a forensics career in the swamps of Louisiana.
Are Any Star Wars Sith Good?
"Good is a point of view, Anakin" —Darth Sidious
While many characters both in and out of the Star Wars universe consider Jedi good and Sith evil, things aren't always so clear-cut. Just as some Jedi suffer from corruption or menace, several Sith have shown compassion and affection.
While Jedi tend to be much better for their environment than Sith, throughout the years, we've encountered a surprising number of sympathetic "villains" whose conflicted natures may throw your entire perspective of the Force into question. Is dark always evil? Can a Sith be good? You be the judge as we explore ten surprisingly noble Sith throughout Star Wars! Spoilers ahead.
10. Darth Plagueis
Appears in: Episode 3: Revenge of the Sith (mentioned), Darth Plagueis
The alien who instructed Palpatine (aka Darth Sidious), Plagueis was more than willing to sacrifice lives when necessary, but he deviated from Sith norms in multiple ways. Plagueis, as much scientist as warrior, learned to master midi-chlorians and sustain life indefinitely. Thus, he believed he and his apprentice could break Darth Bane's long-standing Rule of Two and live forever.
Because of this mindset, Plagueis wasn't concerned about Palpatine betraying him (as Sith apprentices inevitably do), and harbored an unusual affectionate for his student; the Star Wars wiki even states Plagueis "developed a genuine bond with his apprentice". Sure, Plagueis wanted to overthrow the Jedi, but he was more concerned with preserving life than ending it. He's also believed to be responsible for Anakin's miracle birth, so without Plagueis, the Chosen One couldn't have brought balance to the Force.
9. Kel'eth ur
Appears in: The Old Republic
"It's a lie. Fear is a lie. Passion, a lie. Fear gives only temporary powers, and passion is easily manipulated. Real strength in the Force comes when one is no longer afraid."—Kel'eth ur
We know little of Kel'eth ur's life, but he belonged to the ancient Sith Empire depicted in the Old Republic video games. The Sith Code preaches that passion and fear are strengths, but Kel'eth eventually converts to the Jedi view of peace and acceptance. His warnings about potential manipulations of passion and fear foreshadow Anakin Skywalker's fate many years later, but his peaceful teachings eventually caused the Sith Emperor to kill him.
With his unusual teachings and mysterious past, this character is absolutely screaming for more backstory.
Appears in: Star Wars: The Force Awakens (1 and 2)
Galen Marek is lower on our countdown because he was never technically a Sith, but he was trained as one by Darth Vader to (supposedly) help him overthrow the Emperor.
Galen begins gathering the Rebellion as a distraction to help Vader's coup, but in time, he grows genuinely attached to the cause, augmented by his love for Juno Eclipse. Despite his Sith upbringing, Galen eventually sacrifices himself in a selfless act, and his clone Starkiller later follows a similar path, slowly but surely abandoning dark for light.
7. Count Dooku
Appears in: Episode 2: Attack of the Clones, Episode 3: Revenge of the Sith
Count Dooku, or Darth Tyranus, long served the Order as a Jedi Master and was even trained by Yoda himself. He eventually turns dark, but even this was an act he deemed necessary to split away from a failing government. Honestly, it's hard to blame him—wouldn't learning the Chancellor's true identity make any Jedi question his allegiance?
Prideful and cunning, Dooku certainly isn't without his faults, but he's trying to achieve a good end with questionable means. Unlike most Sith apprentices, he doesn't turn on Palpatine (in fact, Palpatine betrays him), he legitimately warns Obi-Wan in Episode 2 that Sith control the Republic, and in the Clone Wars animated episode "Dooku Captured", he attempts to inform Anakin and Obi-Wan of their Weequay allies' upcoming treachery. Plus, in the legends-timeline novel Yoda: Dark Rendezvous, Dooku's former mentor almost manages to bring him back to the light.
6. Darth Vader
Appears in: Basically everything, but most notably Episodes 4-6
Anakin Skywalker served the Jedi Order for many years, but was eventually manipulated by Chancellor Palpatine into turning on the Order in an effort to save his wife Padme. Anakin's dark deeds fail to protect her, and he's ultimately left alone and caged in a black suit.
Vader's list of atrocities include child murder, numerous instances of torture, and advancement of the brutal Empire, but even before his climatic redemption, Vader wasn't as hard as most Sith. Like Dooku, his sins are aimed at guiding the galaxy to peace, and many of his underlings considered him a great commander for his willingness to lead from the front. He occasionally displays acts of mercy, like when he (off-screen) orders C-3PO be returned to the captured Rebels in Episode 5. Before his death, Vader gives his life to save Luke from Palpatine, finally rejoining the light.
5. Darth Traya
Appears in: Knights of the Old Republic 2: The Sith Lords
In KOTOR 2, Kreia serves as your mysterious Jedi mentor for most of the game, but is ultimately revealed as the Sith Darth Traya and serves as the final boss. However, a close look shows she's not as malicious as she appears. Traya's endgame is to destroy the Force, not out of cruelty, but because she believes people have started using it as a crutch and thus discarded their inner strengths.
In other words, she's trying to help mankind. More than that, while Kreia turns on and kills the Jedi you gather throughout the game, they (believing you dangerous) were about to strip the Force from your character. Kreia saves you with her treachery, and after defeating her, you make amends before she dies. Even had she won, Kreia's plan wasn't world domination, but to sacrifice herself for her goals, making her all the more sympathetic.
4. Darth Gravid
Appears in: Darth Plagueis (mentioned)
Existing after the KOTOR games but centuries before the films, Darth Gravid was a powerful darksider who lived during a time of Sith secrecy and concealment from the reigning Jedi Order. However, Gravid felt an unusual pull to the light and began incorporating Jedi values of altruism into his beliefs.
Driven to the brink of insanity by his conflicting moralities, Gravid began destroying the Sith's collection of lore and holocrons. He was stopped and killed by his female Twi'lek apprentice Darth Gean, but his rampage set the Sith Order back several hundred years. Despite his death, Gravid's view that total adherence to the dark side would be the Sith's undoing eventually proves correct—Sith seek immortality, but the secret to eternal life ends up being a light side technique (as Qui-Gon shows Yoda in Episode 3) that requires the capacity to love.
3. Darth Revan
Appears in: Knights of the Old Republic, The Old Republic
Big spoiler: your KOTOR 1 protagonist turns out to be a brainwashed Darth Revan. While the game lets you pick your morality, Revan canonically returns to the light even after this revelation, helping rid the world of Darth Malak's invasion.
Plus, Revan's initial split from the Jedi was because he disagreed with their avoidance of the Mandalorian Wars and sought to help the Republic fend off its attackers. While Revan and Malak used questionable means in their war, they didn't truly fall until captured and corrupted by Sith Emperor Vitiate, whose lingering mental influence they construed as their own desires. Thus, Revan never really sought conquest, and were merely an unknowing puppet to an actual villain's scheme.
2. Darth Vectivus
Appears in: Betrayal (first book in Legacy of the Force)
In the legends Legacy of the Force series, Dark Lady Lumiya relates the tale of Darth Vectivus to Jacen Solo in an attempt to convince him that not all Sith are evil. If her words are true, Vectivus was a shrewd but fair businessman who retained his morals even after taking the mantle of Sith Lord. Lumiya claims he died peacefully, "surrounded by friends and family".
Later in the same book, Vectivus's spirit attempts to persuade Jedi Nelani Dinn to kill him, stating it would save many lives. She refuses, but it turns out Vectivus's spirit was connected to Lumiya's life, and had Nelani slain him, Jacen may never have fallen. Vectivus mocks Nelani's inability to take a life other than her own for the greater good, but illuminates a tunnel for her to leave through and warns her against interfering in upcoming events.
So, assuming he had no ulterior motives, Vectivus wanted to sacrifice himself to save lives, showed Nelani an exit even when she refused to kill him, and tried to warn her against her imminent demise (which she unfortunately ignores). Doesn't sound like such a bad guy, eh?
1. Darth Caedus
Appears in: The New Jedi Order, Legacy of the Force, etc.
Kylo Ren didn't make the cut due to his lack of being a Sith, but his legends counterpart Jacen Solo picks up the slack. Throughout decades of novels, we see a young Jacen Solo grow into a powerful Jedi Knight who plays a pivotal role in saving the universe during the Yuuzhan Vong invasion.
However, in the LotF books, Lumiya slowly but surely convinces Jacen that he can do more good for the galaxy as a Sith, and he slowly succumbs to the dark. Still, for each cruel action Jacen, or Darth Caedus, undertakes, he balances it with a surprisingly noble one. Throughout the series, he repeatedly saves friends and family from danger despite his new allegiances, and his ultimate goal was always peace. This nine-novel series remains a personal favorite, and I highly recommend checking out the first entry, Betrayal, to see if you enjoy exploring Jacen's complex morality as much as I do.
Are There Other Good Darksiders?
Even if you don't relate to these complex characters, you may sympathize with other dubiously-motivated individuals like Darth Scourge, Vergere, or the Gray Jedi. Plus, even Sith like Darth Maul, who never really join the light, have shown a stunning degree of loyalty, and Sith apprentice Asajj Ventress peacefully abandons her quest for Sith dominance.
Complex darksiders offer more character development and uncertainty than one-sided tyrants, and I hope to see additional multi-layered villains in both the legends and canon timelines. But for now, as we eagerly await more adventures in the galaxy far far away, vote for your favorite Sith and I'll see you at our next Star Wars countdown!
© 2018 Jeremy Gill
Darth Malgus on February 13, 2019:
Whats your favorite sith mine is alwase going to be Darth Malgus hence the name
Liz Westwood from UK on October 14, 2018:
I am in awe of your Star Wars knowledge.