When casual Star Wars fans — and even many well-versed fans, for that matter — think of the Star Wars franchise, the Jedi Order and the Sith immediately come to mind.
After all, the battle between the light side and the dark side of the Force has raged for as long as George Lucas’s Star Wars universe has existed — just ask Sheeve Palpatine (Ian McDiarmid) and Mace Windu (Samuel L. Jackson). Oddly enough, however, Star Wars movies were around for over two decades before the word “Sith” was actually uttered in a Star Wars film.
Although the most famous Sith Lord of them all, Darth Vader, is prominently featured in the Star Wars original trilogy — James Earl Jones even uttered his iconic, “No, I am your father” line as Vader battled Luke Skywalker (Mark Hamill) in Star Wars: Episode V – The Empire Strikes Back (1980) — he is never actually referred to as a Sith at any point during the trio of films.
As CBR pointed out:
In 1977’s A New Hope, Emperor Palpatine and his protege, Darth Vader, used their dark powers to strangle the last gasps of freedom from the galaxy. But these two aren’t actually declared Sith in film canon until 1999’s The Phantom Menace, when the word is finally said onscreen.
The Sith make their first appearance in the first page of the 1974 rough draft of A New Hope. Alan Dean Foster’s 1976 novelization also uses the term, referring to Vader as a Dark Lord of the Sith. It’s a detail that carries through into the first issue of the 1977 Marvel Comics adaptation, written by Roy Thomas and penciled by Howard Chaykin.
The closest we come to hearing the term “Sith” spoken in the original trilogy is in Star Wars: Episode IV – A New Hope (1977) when old Ben Kenobi (Alec Guinness), exiled on Tatooine, tells young Skywalker that Dark Lord Vader — formerly, of course, Anakin Skywalker — was “seduced by the dark side of the Force.”
As noted in CBR’s article, it isn’t until Star Wars: Episode I – The Phantom Menace (1999) that “Sith” is actually uttered outside of Star Wars Legends materials like the Tales of the Jedi.
The Star Wars canon scene in which Emperor Palpatine/Darth Sidious says “Sith” for the first time is not as elaborate as one might expect for the official introduction of such an iconic term.
Queen Amidala (Natalie Portman) has seemingly vanished — with a little help from the Gungans and the Jedi Order — before signing a treaty that would allow the Trade Federation to occupy her home planet of Naboo.
Viceroy Nute Gunray (Silas Carson) feared that looking for the royal’s ship would be a lost cause. Sidious, however, said, “Not for a Sith. This is my apprentice, Darth Maul. He will find your lost ship.”
And, thus, a new era, of sorts, began in the Star Wars universe.
What’s next for the Sith?
Even though the Skywalker Saga officially ended with Star Wars: Episode IX – The Rise of Skywalker (2019), there is still plenty more of the Sith Empire left to explore.
The next confirmed project that will explore the Sith is OBI-WAN KENOBI: An Original Series. Slated to debut in 2022, the Deborah Chow mini-series will showcase Ewan McGregor and Hayden Christensen reprising their prequel trilogy roles as Obi-Wan Kenobi and Darth Vader, respectively. There are also rumors that Jar Jar Binks (Ahmed Best) will be back in this series.
Lucasfilm President Kathleen Kennedy even promised fans the “rematch of the century,” so we’re probably in for an epic lightsaber showdown.
Furthermore, many Star Wars fans believe that upcoming Disney+ series, The Acolyte, will feature the rise of Darth Plagueis. The character was Darth Sidious’s Master — and murder victim.
There’s quite a story to be told if Leslye Headland and her creative team decide to feature this storyline in the High Republic show.
What do you think about the fact that the term “Sith” wasn’t said in a Star Wars movie for 22 years?