Thousands of Jedi existed throughout the galaxy compared to just two Sith. Given their differing goals, with the Sith seeking power and the Jedi seeking peace, it made sense for the Sith to drastically reduce their numbers if they were to survive as an organization.
The Sith craved power, and with larger numbers in the Sith Order, it led to internal conflict that weakened them over time. This necessitated Darth Bane to institute the Rule of Two, which reduced the number of Sith Lords to just two in the galaxy.
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Why are There So Few Sith?
In the Skywalker Saga and Star Wars Canon, you may notice the Sith’s numbers pale compared to the Jedi’s.
While the Jedi’s strength rested in its numbers for their common goal, the Sith needed smaller numbers to recognize their goal.
Unlike the Jedi, who sought peace, the Sith sought power. And given their power-seeking mentality, the Sith’s goals grew more individualistic.
This caused conflict within the Sith Order. And it was why they could never fully supplant the Jedi thousands of years before the Clone Wars.
A Sith Lord named Darth Bane realized their numbers should not match the Jedi to regain that power. The fewer the Sith, the stronger the Sith Order, since their small numbers could share power.
Their smaller numbers also allowed the Sith to remain concealed as they slowly sought and achieved more power. It was a process that took a millennium. But the smaller numbers allowed the Sith to achieve enough power to challenge and eradicate the Jedi.
Why Is There Only Two Sith?
The Rule of Two limits the number of Sith Lords in the galaxy. The two Sith comprised one master and one apprentice.
The current master always had strength over their former master. The master sought an apprentice who could become strong enough to kill them.
The cycle continued, with the current master seeking their apprentice until they found one powerful enough to threaten their own. If the master deemed the apprentice too weak, they sought a new one.
After killing his master, Darth Sidious had three apprentices.
The first, Darth Maul, proved himself unworthy following his loss to Obi-Wan Kenobi during the climax in The Phantom Menace.
Sidious sought Count Dooku next. However, Dooku’s failure to defeat Yoda in Attack of the Clones led Sidious to believe his newest apprentice was unworthy of the dark side.
This led him to court Anakin Skywalker, the Chosen One who’s higher concentration of Force-sensitivity brought about the fall of the Galactic Republic and the Jedi Order.
Sidious even told Yoda during their climactic duel that Darth Vader would eclipse both of them in power. Which would further strengthen the Sith Order.
What is the Rule of Two?
The Rule of Two states only two Sith Lords can exist at any time. This is important for the Sith’s survival in the galaxy as if more of them existed, it could lead to their demise, which nearly occurred millennia before the Clone Wars.
Throughout their history, the Sith Order craved power. This attracted Force-sensitive beings into their ranks from all over the galaxy.
And while these Force-adepts sought guidance from the Sith Order to attain power, it also created internal conflict. Sith Lords craved power for themselves, and to gain such power; they needed to eliminate others in the Order.
This mentality weakened the Sith and led to the Rule of Two, and we can credit two dark side wielders to its creation.
Darth Revan Era
While Darth Bane instituted the Rule of Two, its roots began with Darth Revan. Revan floated between the light and dark sides, allowing him to become critical of and show no bias toward either.
During Revan’s time, the Sith’s numbers matched the Jedi. However, Revan realized, given the Sith’s arrogance and hunger for power, the larger their numbers, the worse off they were.
The Jedi had a common goal to defend peace and justice in the galaxy. The Sith looked after themselves and would go to great lengths to achieve the power they sought, even if it meant killing their own.
Revan believed the Sith’s strength lay in smaller numbers, to deter conflict amongst themselves, giving the Sith a chance to achieve a common goal of attaining power and knowledge.
However, Revan did not live long enough to see his philosophy at work. But his fears that a larger number of Sith would fight amongst themselves came true when their numbers increased and infighting became a common theme.
Darth Bane Era
Bane embraced Revan’s philosophy that the Sith could only survive using smaller numbers. However, Bane believed in minimizing the number of Sith in the galaxy to a minute level and introduced the Rule of Two following the Jedi-Sith War.
This rule called for one Sith master and one apprentice. This isolated power between them, and it allowed the Sith to conduct business in secret, steering clear of the Jedi, who believed the Sith were extinct.
How the Rule of Two Applied to Star Wars?
The Rule of Two called for the master who harnessed the power to seek an apprentice who rivaled and craved power. The master also craved more power, seeking it to stay ahead of their apprentice.
The power struggle that both Sith Lords would endure also meant the master needed to be comfortable with their apprentice, someday challenging and perhaps killing them.
If the apprentice succeeded, they became the master, and sought an apprentice. If the apprentice died fighting their master, the master would seek a new apprentice.
However, the master could also have their apprentice killed. This was the case in Revenge of the Sith when Palpatine ordered Anakin Skywalker to kill Count Dooku.
Years before Anakin killed Dooku, Palpatine killed his Master, Darth Plagueis. The Popular YouTube channel The Stupendous Wave asserted that the apprentice killed their master, in most cases, allowing the Rule of Two cycle to continue.
After thousands of years of seeing the apprentice grow strong enough to kill their master and the master vetting to find stronger apprentices, the Sith took control of the galaxy in 19 BBY.
Strength doesn’t always rest in numbers, and sometimes, less is more. This was the case for the Sith, who would have gone extinct had they not drastically reduced their numbers to just two Sith Lords in the galaxy.
Darth Bane instituted the Rule of Two, and the plan worked, allowing the Sith to operate in secret while a Sith master continually sought an apprentice to match and ideally eclipse their power.
While the master knew their power-craving apprentice would kill them, it also ensured the Sith Order would grow stronger and become powerful enough to overthrow the Jedi.
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.