When you go back and view the Skywalker Saga, you may notice that the term Sith does not appear in the Original Trilogy. The Original Trilogy also does not cover too much history in the saga apart from the Clone Wars and the implication that the Empire purged the Jedi.
Sith is first mentioned in The Phantom Menace. However, the term traces its origins to 1974 when George Lucas wrote the original film’s first draft.
The very first Sith in the galaxy’s history was a rogue Jedi. However Darth Maul was the first Sith mentioned in the Star Wars films. They were nearly first mentioned in A New Hope but the mention was cut from the film’s final product.
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When Is Sith First Mentioned?
Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace brought us plenty of new terms in the Star Wars franchise. Over two decades after its release, the franchise continues to build on concepts first introduced in the 1999 classic.
The movie was also the first in the Skywalker Saga to mention the Sith, a term Qui-Gon Jinn used when he stated his concerns to the Jedi Council that a Sith Lord ambushed them as Obi-Wan Kenobi, Queen Amidala, and Anakin Skywalker tried to leave Naboo.
And while some casual fans believe The Phantom Menace was the time the term was ever mentioned, they need to go back to 1976 to find the first time George Lucas introduced the term to the public.
Star Wars novelization ghostwritten by Alan Dean Foster and credited to Lucas mentioned the word. Using concepts from Lucas, Foster stumbled across Lucas’s description of Darth Vader, describing him as the “Dark Lord of the Sith.”
Who Was the Very First Sith in Star Wars?
The first Sith in Star Wars is up for debate, and it depends on your view of the franchise. If you’re looking for whom the very first Sith mentioned in the films is, you will get one answer.
But you will get a different answer when looking for the first Sith Lord George Lucas created. Finally, if you’re looking at the timeline in Star Wars Canon to the Sith’s founding, you will get a third answer.
Darth Maul gets the nod in the Skywalker Saga when both Sheev Palpatine and Qui-Gon Jinn refer to the Jedi assassin as such.
Following Qui-Gonn’s duel with Darth Maul, he approached the Jedi Council and stated, “my only conclusion can be that it was the Sith Lord.”
The Jedi Council denied this, reminding Qui-Gon the Sith had been extinct for a millennium.
Mace Windu even replied, “I do not believe the Sith could have returned without us knowing.”
Darth Sidious also mentioned Sith in The Phantom Menace when he stated, “not for a Sith,” before introducing Darth Maul, whom he sent after Qui-Gon and Obi-Wan.
Darth Vader was the first Sith created in the franchise, with Palpatine being the second. However, Sheev Palpatine was never referred to as Darth Sidious or by his real name in the Original Trilogy. Instead, they called him the Emperor.
Darth Vader was also the only character in Star Wars Canon with the Darth moniker until The Phantom Menace.
The First Sith in Star Wars Canon
As for the history in Star Wars Canon, an unnamed rogue Jedi and his followers became the very first Sith millenniums before the Clone Wars.
Exiled from the Jedi Order after studying the forbidden dark side of the Force, this individual believed the Jedi could not maximize their connection to the Force unless they embraced the dark side.
Where Did Sith Originate?
Sith originated when George Lucas wrote his rough draft of Star Wars in 1974. While Sith was not first mentioned in film until The Phantom Menace, it was used in several books in what is now called Star Wars Legends.
Some works in Star Wars Legends are also called the Sith Dark Jedi. While the term Dark Jedi persisted in later works, not all Dark Jedi become Sith, but characters who gravitated toward the dark side.
Where Did the Sith Originate in Star Wars Canon?
In Star Wars Canon, shortly after the Sith’s unnamed founder was exiled, he and his followers traveled to Moraband, where they would evolve into the Jedi’s sworn enemies. A conflict that persisted into the Skywalker Saga.
The Sith’s Jedi roots remained following their departure. Jedi influences were found in their robes, except they’re black and not white. And the lightsaber remained their chosen weapon, except they “bled” their kyber crystal by pouring negative emotions into it, creating a red blade.
Is Sith Ever Mentioned in the Original Trilogy?
The term Sith nearly appeared in A New Hope. However, it did not appear, and Luke Skywalker only learned some nominal information about the Jedi.
Collectively, the Jedi’s enemy is referred to either as the Empire or the dark side. The same terms were used throughout the Original Trilogy including The Empire Strikes Back and Return of Jedi.
How close did the Original Trilogy come to using the term Sith?
General Tagge called Vader a Sith Lord in a deleted scene. The term would not appear again until 1999.
In hindsight, Lucas was smart to have cut the term from A New Hope. Doing so kept things simple in the franchise’s early days, featuring the classic good v. evil, or Jedi v. Empire trope.
While fans have since embraced the Sith concept plus others like midi-chlorians, they initially weren’t pleased with the additions.
Had Lucas introduced these concepts in 1977, critics may have accused him of getting too complex too early.
This is common in many franchises, such as Harry Potter, whose first two books were relatively short before Books III-VII eclipsed the 100,000-wordmark. The same concept applied to Star Wars.
While Sith wasn’t first mentioned until The Phantom Menace, it traces its roots back to 1976 in the Star Wars novelization.
The first Sith in the Star Wars Canon timeline was a rogue Jedi. However, Darth Vader was the first Sith that George Lucas created, while Darth Maul was the first Sith mentioned in the Star Wars films.
Sith originated thousands of years before the Skywalker Saga on Moraband, a world also known as Korriban, when a rogue Jedi and his dark side followers split from the Jedi Order.
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.
Sunday 15th of January 2023
This is incorrect. On the Burger King Star Wars glasses from 1977 it identifies Darth Vader as the "Lord of the Sith". It is the first and only time that it is used during the OT. Most young folks dont know about it as there are very few of those old Burger King glasses stil around.
But you can find original glasses from that time and see the writing on the back. Nice article though.