In 19 BBY, Order 66 purged the Jedi Order. However, some Jedi survived the attack and went into hiding. Some, like Ahsoka Tano, survived the Imperial Era, but many more did not. A group that hunted down and killed them were dark siders known as the Inquisitorius.
A Sith Inquisitor was a former Jedi who had either become disillusioned with the Order before the Great Jedi Purge or a survivor forced into embracing the dark side. While Inquisitors were loyal to the Sith, they were not Sith Lords and did not hold the Darth moniker.
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What Is a Sith Inquisitor’s Role?
The Sith Inquisitors made their first appearance in Star Wars Rebels. They were fallen Jedi who trained under Darth Vader following Order 66 to find and kill surviving Jedi.
Despite receiving training from one of the most powerful Sith Lords in galactic history, a Sith Inquisitor was not particularly well-versed in the dark side of the Force even if they embraced the dark side through torture or voluntary means.
One reason the Inquisitors did not match Darth Vader or Darth Sidious in ability was that they were nothing more than stooges. Once the Inquisitors completed their jobs or were killed off, they held no further use for the Empire.
This is why they were disbanded before the events of Star Wars: Rogue One.
Despite their lack of power and the fact they were not in the Imperial Military, the Sith Inquisitor held a respectable ranking within the Empire. They had the power to command Imperial forces, and Imperial commanders were ordered to report to them.
What’s the Difference Between a Sith and an Inquisitor?
Staying true to the Rule of Two, Darth Vader and Darth Sidious remained the only two Sith Lords in the galaxy after the Galactic Empire’s founding. And while we know of over a dozen Inquisitors, none of them ascended to Darth Vader’s rank.
While Darth Sidious saw a great need for the Inquisitors, he also grew wary if they became too powerful. So it should come as no surprise that many of the Inquisitors died before the Original Trilogy’s events.
Name remains the most distinguishing difference between a Sith and an Inquisitor. True Sith Lords go by the Darth moniker, like Darth Vader, Darth Sidious, Darth Tyranus, and Darth Maul. None of the Sith Inquisitors received such an honor.
Instead, most Inquisitors went by generic names like Second Sister and Fifth Brother. While the Inquisitors were trained in the dark side of the Force, they also did not boast the same connection to the dark side as their Sith Lord counterparts.
Darth Vader and Darth Sidious were the only two Sith who intended to rule the galaxy. Other Force-sensitives that they trained, like the Inquisitors, were pawns set to perform a specific role.
Can an Inquisitor Become a Sith Lord?
Technically, an Inquisitor could become a Sith Lord. Had Darth Vader continued the Rule of Two by murdering Darth Sidious and becoming the master, he could have easily chosen someone like Second Sister to become his apprentice.
In this hypothetical, Vader would have gotten rid of Sidious long before he redeemed himself in Return of the Jedi. While you might say that Sidious had his backup plan in place on Exegol, neither Vader nor anyone other than Sith cultists on the planet would know of Sidious’ survival.
While the short answer is yes, an Inquisitor could become a Sith Lord, it’s also important to realize Darth Sidious and Darth Vader went to great lengths to prevent the Inquisitors from growing too strong.
So the hypothetical thought of Vader killing Sidious before the events of A New Hope is null and void.
Before the Rule of Two, the Sith buried themselves in a deep hole when weaker factions of Sith killed off their stronger counterparts. This resulted in the Order weakening and eventually falling to the Jedi, who reigned for a millennium.
Since Vader had no intent to kill Sidious until Return of the Jedi, either he or Sidious would have instead killed off any Inquisitor who grew too powerful.
Is Darth Vader a Sith Inquisitor?
Darth Vader trained the Sith Inquisitors in the dark side of the Force. However, he was not a Sith Inquisitor himself. Instead, Vader was the squad’s governing arm. He neither led the Inquisitors nor took part in their investigations unless they needed him.
Suppose the Inquisitors crossed Yoda on Dagobah. None of them would have survived him. They would have needed Vader for such an encounter.
However, if your only experience and knowledge in Star Wars involves just the Skywalker Saga, it is easy to believe that Darth Vader was the single Sith Inquisitor.
Consider this quote from Obi-Wan Kenobi:
“A young Jedi named Darth Vader, who was a pupil of mine until he turned evil, helped the Empire hunt down and destroy the Jedi Knights. He betrayed and murdered your father. Now the Jedi are all but extinct.” – Obi Wan Kenobi, Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope.
Star Wars Rebels showed us otherwise. Set between the events of Revenge of the Sith and A New Hope, the show portrays the Grand Inquisitor leading the squad to hunt down and kill Jedi that survived Order 66.
A Potential Plot Hole?
Kenobi’s quote to Luke Skywalker seemingly contradicts the need for the Grand Inquisitor or any Inquisitors. However, it is possible Obi-Wan wanted to put things into layman’s terms, simplifying things for Luke.
While we saw Vader duel former Jedi like Ahsoka Tano in Star Wars Rebels, there were also so few Jedi in the galaxy following Order 66 that someone of Vader’s ranking could not realistically waste his time shunting himself from planet to planet to kill off the Jedi’s remnants.
Instead, Vader would undertake missions the Emperor saw as more taxing than hunting the few Jedi that remained in the galaxy.
Sion Fawkes has been covering Star Wars since January 2022, expanding his expertise in both Star Wars Canon and Legends. When not writing, you can find Sion in the gym or running trails. He also likes watching sports and listening to audiobooks.