The Sith are a sect of Force sensitive individuals that gain their abilities from the Dark Side of the Force. Where once they were known as an alien race, inbreeding with Dark Jedi that were banished from the Jedi Order made them distinguishable in later centuries only by their dedication to obtaining power. According to Master Yoda, the Dark Side is not stronger, it is “easier” and “more seductive”, and its promise of incredible abilities by succumbing to emotions like anger and fear have proven the downfall for many an unfortunate Jedi.
The Sith believe that conflict is the seed of evolution, and that only through chaos and destruction can growth occur in individuals and societies. This is in direct opposition to the beliefs of the Jedi Order, which focus on harmony and serenity, concepts that the Sith believe do nothing but promote stagnation and cultural decline. The difference between the abilities of the Jedi and the Sith comes down to morality. Technically, they can both do the same things, but the Jedi choose not to, leaving certain abilities only accessible to a student of the Dark Side. Behold, 25 of all the things the Sith can do and the Jedi can’t!
26 CAN FALL IN LOVE
One of the tragic aspects of Anakin Skywalker’s young life was that he couldn’t openly court the woman he was in love with. To fall in love in the first place, to espouse “attachment”, was forbidden by the Jedi Code. It competed against the doctrine of the Jedi Order. If he was attached to anyone, he might be motivated to protect them in lieu of protecting the covenant he made to being a guardian of peace and justice in the galaxy.
Anakin did choose to protect Padme over the Jedi Order, and his desire to prevent her death in childbirth ultimately led to his corruption by the Dark Side. Would he have fallen if the Jedi Order had not prohibited marriage and attachment, and consented to using the powers of the Light Side to save her life? Not even Master Yoda could predict.
25 FORCE LIGHTNING
One of the most formidable attacks utilized by the Sith is Force Lightning. The powerful electrical current discharged from a Sith’s fingertips was almost always fatal, if not completely disfiguring should a victim survive. While there are rare cases of Force Lightning being utilized by Light Side users, it is considered an extremely aggressive form of attack, and therefore a weapon of evil.
The first time Force Lightning is seen is in Return of the Jedi, when the Emperor nearly kills Luke Skywalker with its merciless power. We see it again when he attempts to use it against Mace Windu in Revenge of the Sith, though the Jedi Master is able to block it with his lightsaber. Some Jedi can even internalize it, using their body as a conduit of the Force to absorb it and dispel it, but only for a short time.
24 BE MATERIALISTIC
Flying the latest ships. Wearing the latest fashion collections. Collecting fabulous art. Erecting statues of themselves. The Sith are allowed to be materialistic in a way that the Jedi never could. To commit to the Jedi Order means to commit to an ascetic lifestyle similar to a monk. Requiring only the simplest robes, a few nutrition cubes, and sleeping in the most meager accommodations, the Jedi consider material possessions attachments and the root of gluttony.
The Emperor had castles, compounds, and estates. He took in the opera and the theater. Battlefront II reveals hidden vaults of countless treasures and artifacts he stole from numerous systems. Somehow, having stuff doesn’t make Sith any less able to tap into their Force powers. Perhaps their possessions simply feed into their jealousy, envy, and greed, only serving to reinforce them.
23 HAVE A CHILDHOOD
When Luke Skywalker traveled to Dagobah to begin training with Master Yoda, he was considered “too old” to begin it. Pretty strange talk, considering it’s not like Jedi were exactly plentiful anymore and the good old Jedi Order should take what it could get. When his father, Anakin Skywalker went before the Jedi Council a full ten years younger than Luke, he was also dubbed too old to train.
The principles of the Jedi Order clearly hinge on training children early so they won’t question them, and accept a life of abstinence. Palpatine was already a young man when he trained under Darth Plagueis, and Anakin didn’t become a Sith until he was nineteen. In short, Sith are allowed a childhood if need be, because there’s always time enough to get good and angry at the galaxy.
22 HAVE RED LIGHTSABERS
The first lightsaber color to appear on screen was blue, belonging to Anakin Skywalker, then passed down to his son Luke. The second was red, belonging to Darth Vader, arguably one of the most famous Sith in Star Wars canon. Jedi were not allowed to have red lightsabers, due to the process by which the hue of the blade is generated.
When a Jedi constructs their lightsaber as one of the last components of their training as a Padawan, they are required to locate a Force crystal, or Kyber crystal, that they will utilize to power the energy beam. The Kyber crystal is a living entity which, when channeled with aggression, “bleeds”, causing the hue of the blade to become red. Sith are also the only Force users to be able to use synthetic lightsaber crystals, which they can select to be red, a color associated with anger.
21 OWN PROPERTY
Due to the fact that there are only ever two Sith at any given time, and their identities aren’t always known, knowledge of the properties they have can’t always be accurately gained. However, after it being referenced in several novels, Rogue One finally showed the impressive castle that Vader called home on Mustafar, the very planet that made him the plodding cyborg he was.
The Emperor had several citadels, some secret, some not. While the Jedi have to dwell in the temple of whatever planet they’re on (or a tiny hut on a swamp planet), the Sith are able to own properly and live in comfort and style as their needs demand. When they’re in space, they live on the largest and most awe-inducing spacecraft available (like the Death Star).
Imagine the long game that a young Sheev Palpatine had to play in order to become the first Galactic Emperor. Not only did he have to remain studious in his training as a Sith, eventually murdering his Master in the common practice of ascension for all Sith apprentices, but he had to carefully navigate the political climate of the Galactic Senate at the same time. Becoming Emperor was the climactic apex of a plan a thousand years in the making, when the Sith would once again rule the galaxy after being all but wiped out by the Jedi Order.
As Darth Sidious, he orchestrated a blockade of his homeworld, which would ignite a galactic civil war. At the same time, posing as Naboo’s ambassador in the Senate, the conflict allowed him to take on the political power that would ensure his appointment as Supreme Chancellor, and then Emperor.
19 MAKE THEIR OWN CHOICES
The Jedi Order only functions because it is dependent on those that follow it to not think for themselves. Free thinking is dangerous to the Order because it means the doctrine is questioned. When Anakin Skywalker questioned its fundamental principles, he was labelled as hostile, rebellious, and a threat.
Perhaps some of his opinions were rooted in aggression, but more often than not his ideas were simply shut down. Neither Master Kenobi, nor Master Windu, nor even Master Yoda entertained his ideas, whereas Chancellor Palpatine/Darth Sidious did. Over intricate and thought provoking conversations with the boy, he was able to sway him to the Dark Side with the promise of more free will. Given the opportunity to wield his powers for himself rather than for the greater good of the Jedi Order, he believed he would be able to save his wife’s life.
18 COMMIT CRIMES
In some ways, the best thing about being a Sith is that treason is fair game. Commiting a robbery, arson, vandalism, or the like only makes a Sith more in touch with the Dark Side of the Force because they are causing innocent people pain and suffering. Since their interests are put above the interests of all others (unlike the Jedi, who put the interests of all others above themselves), they stand to benefit the most from commiting crimes.
This doesn’t mean that Sith are petty criminals, but it does mean that they will lie, cheat, and steal to get their way. However their ends justify their means is the Sith way. Whether it’s Vader “altering” the deal with Lando in The Empire Strikes Back, or Palpatine leading his own apprentice to the slaughter in the hopes of upgrading in Revenge of the Sith, it’s all business as usual.
17 CAN KILL
A Sith kills without conscience, without warning, and without mercy. Sometimes they “play with their food”, and engage in a little pithy banter before the death stroke, but for the most part a Sith murder is considered a crime of passion. Since the Sith are greatly influenced by their emotions, taking strength from their most negative, their taste for blood can range from the most petty to the most deeply vengeful.
When a Jedi strikes down a galactic citizen, it’s considered self defense. The Jedi do not condone bloodshed, and will find a peaceful resolution to a conflict if they can. The Sith revel in it, and like the samurai, only draw their blade when they intend to use it for violence. A Sith can commit murder and feel completely justified, whereas a Jedi would feel anguish and remorse if they had to resort to taking a life.
16 FORCE CHOKE
Besides Force Lightning, one of the most salient uses of the Force for a Sith is choking the life out of someone. Our first glimpse of this occurs in A New Hope when a Moff questions the power of the Force at a briefing of the Death Star’s capabilities. Darth Vader is greatly displeased by the disparaging remarks and raises a gloved hand. With a subtle pinching of his thumb and forefinger the man is gasping for breath and clutching at the invisible, vice-like grip around his throat.
The maneuver is considered crude and highly manipulative, since it forces individuals to subject themselves to a Force user’s will. While Jedi have been known to use telepathy to read someone’s mind or use the Force to affect games of chance (such as in The Phantom Menace) they draw the line at causing physical harm to influence a person’s decision.
15 CAN PUSH THE LIMITS OF INTERROGATION
Whether they’re using mind probes, as Vader did against Princess Leia in A New Hope, or using painful telepathic probing techniques, as Kylo Ren did to Poe Dameron in The Force Awakens, the Sith will use any and all means necessary to get what they want. When dealing with Jedi, members of the Rebel Alliance, or galactic citizens sympathetic to either, they will employ any painful means of torture at their disposal to break the individual and retrieve valuable information.
When someone refuses to break, such as Han Solo in The Empire Strikes Back, more creative methods are employed. He wasn’t killed, merely frozen in carbonite presumably for all eternity. If Princess Leia, disguised as a bounty hunter, hadn’t gone after him in Return of the Jedi, he’d be a permanent art installation in Jabba’s Palace.
14 GAIN POWER FROM PAIN AND SUFFERING
Both the Jedi and the Sith gain their abilities from the Force, letting it flow through them and entering into a symbiotic state. One of the most distinguishing characteristics of the Sith is that they will always strive for more power, whereas a Jedi on principle is against anything that might result in the pain and suffering of others.
Jedi do not feed off of the emotions of others. They do not try to manipulate others into states of being that they can prey on. The Sith gain Dark Side energy from those around them that are in agony, which gives them an added influx in the strength of their abilities. This is interesting, since the Jedi don’t get any such “Force boost” from the positive emotions of others around them.
13 HAVE EMOTIONS
The first lines of the Jedi Code read “There are no emotions, only peace”. Emotions are wide ranging and varied, and to cut them off means the Jedi Temple would be full of a bunch of sociopaths. Having emotions aren’t the problem; having emotions that lead to homicidal killing sprees are the problem.
The Sith are encouraged to have emotions because if they’re easily accessible, they can make a person easily volatile. A volatile Force user is much more likely to use the Dark Side because fear and anger are the easiest emotions to access quickly. They are part of a human’s “fight or flight” response to a threat and put us in touch with our most primal selves. The Jedi, knowing this, decided eliminating all emotions was better than risking padawans being seduced by the Dark Side.
12 BE SELFISH
The Sith derive most of their power from serving their own self interests. By being selfish, they become more powerful in the Dark Side of the Force. This is inherent in the structure of their Master and Apprentice relationship, whereby the apprentice only reaches their full potential by killing their Master and assuming their rank. The lives of noted Sith like Darth Vader and Kylo Ren were shaped by narcissism and self-absorption.
It’s not far fetched to say every Sith has an agenda, and it’s not for the greater good of the Sith Order. While they may utter that out loud to lull each other into a false sense of security, a true Sith is motivated solely by self gain, whereas a Jedi puts the needs of others prominently before their own.
11 LOSE THEIR PATIENCE
While it can’t be said with certainty whether the Emperor or Darth Vader saw Imperial officers as disposable, incompetency was not tolerated, and Vader killed them at the first signs of it. When Admiral Ozzel came out of light speed to close to the Hoth system in Empire Strikes Back, alerting the Rebel Base to the fleet’s presence, he was instantly Force choked.
“There is no chaos, only serenity” states the Jedi Code, requiring Jedi to achieve a sense of inner peace and calm symbiosis with the world around them. When they quiet their minds, they can hear the communication of the midichlorians inside themselves, and channel the Light Side of the Force. To be impatient or intolerant would disrupt this, and indicate a level of anger Jedi aren’t supposed to have. The Sith can give into their anger (or annoyance) at a moment’s notice.
10 WEAR COOLER CLOTHES
Darth Vader. Asajj Ventress. Kylo Ren. Darth Maul. When you think of these Sith, the first thought that comes to mind is that they each wear vastly different styles of clothing. This is done for aesthetic reasons as well as a means of intimidation. Vader wears a combination of a tunic, robes, and suit of armor based on the garb of Ancient Sith warriors, while Asajj Ventress wears sleek, form fitting robes with exposed arms that highlight her extreme athleticism and silhouette. Kylo Ren favors a simple tunic with a large cowl of fabrics that drape around his shoulders. Darth Maul’s robes highlight his fierce movements and aggressive lightsaber technique.
Due to the fact that the Jedi are essentially ascetic monks, their clothing all looks nearly identical. They may interchange a tunic here or there, but they aren’t permitted nearly the level of self expression a Sith does.
9 BE INDIVIDUALISTIC
While the term “Sith” most often refers to a sect of Force sensitive individuals that use the Dark Side of the Force to gain their strength, it was once a race of alien beings from the planets Korriban and Ziost. Dark Jedi that were banished from the Jedi Order for using the Dark Side discovered the planets and after inbreeding over centuries, the Sith were simply known for their affiliation with the religious philosophy.
The Sith believe the truest test of one’s abilities and the capabilities of worlds is through conflict. They believe that growth and evolution are born from the chaos they create. The avoidance of conflict (a cornerstone of the Jedi religion) creates stagnation and a decline in progress. Therefore individual thought and expression is encouraged in Sith ideologies.
8 BE WEALTHY
The lust for power often goes hand in hand with the desire for wealth. With great wealth often comes influence. It’s no coincidence that often Sith are successful and wealthy because it ensures their control over certain situations. Whether through direct force or less aggressive means, they acquire wealth to secure a privileged status in the societies where they dwell.
The Emperor was notably wealthy, via taxation throughout the Empire, as well as trade, stocks, tribute, and repossession of priceless art and artifacts throughout the galaxy. Vader similarly wanted for nothing, and Count Dooku was of the aristocratic class with ample means. The Jedi eschewed wealth because the attachment to it often clouded the judgment of individuals who needed to care about others rather than themselves. The Sith had no such qualms.
7 HAVE A PROFESSION
Since the point of the Sith is to conceal their presence from their enemies, they are often forced to lead double lives. While they practice their Sith philosophies in secret, they often hold positions in government or society to deflect from their activities. Emperor Palpatine’s former master, Darth Plagueis, was a Munn businessman masquerading under the name Hego Damask. Palpatine, before he became Emperor, had been masquerading as a senator from Naboo, and no one knew he was in fact Darth Sidious. Count Dooku was an aristocrat from Serenno, but went by Darth Tyranus in secret.
While it’s true that some Sith, like Darth Vader, didn’t need to “conceal” their identity as a Sith any longer, that was only because he, along with his master, had finally managed to rule the galaxy in the way the Sith had always desired to do since the Jedi Order wiped them all out.
6 USE FORM VII IN LIGHTSABER COMBAT
Of the seven forms of lightsaber combat the Jedi and Sith engaged in, they could train in all save one; the seventh form, known as Juyo or later Vaapad. Known as an aggressive lightsaber style, it was technically practiced by Master Mace Windu, who sought to wield the darkness within himself as a weapon of the Light Side of the Force. Long before the events of A New Hope, Juyo was considered the most aggressive form, but Windu built upon its principles by introducing the philosophy of “enjoying battle”. This put him, and anyone he taught the technique to, in danger of turning to the Dark Side. In time, it became restricted within the Jedi Order.
Talented duelists such as Darth Sidious’s apprentice Darth Maul employed Juyo/Vaapad without hesitation and without mercy, getting an unparalleled thrill from lightsaber combat and feeding off the lust for violence it could instill.
5 CLOAK THEIR POWERS USING THE DARK SIDE
The very nature of the Dark Side is secretive and malevolent. The Sith can use it to conceal its very presence, though only the most masterful of their order have the ability. Darth Sidious was able to conceal not only his true nature to the Jedi Order, but also seemingly that of his apprentices as well. When conversing with one another in the Jedi Temple in Revenge of the Sith, Master Yoda and Master Windu acknowledge they have been “blind” to the Sith threat the entire time.
In the Legends canon, the Star Wars Roleplaying Game alluded to a form of Sith Alchemy called “Mask”, utilized by Senator Palpatine to conceal his true Sith form, which became apparent when he used Force lightning against Master Windu and his appearance was severely altered. Whether or not that was his true form or a result of the Force Lightning is unknown.
4 POSSESS SOMEONE AFTER DEATH
A powerful and macabre use of the Dark Side is to transfer a Sith’s consciousness into someone, or something, after their demise. Ancient Sith Lords, especially those buried in the Valley of the Sith, used this ability to possess unsuspecting visitors to their tombs. It took great concentration and fortitude to override the mind of a living being, and later Sith Lords decided that simple cloning was an easier way to cheat death.
Exar Kun, Darth Bane, and Darth Sidious all used this power to varying degrees of success. In the case of Exar Kun, the Jedi he sought to possess was too strong willed and, failing to possess her mind, ended up disintegrating his own physical body. According to Legends canon, Darth Sidious transferred his essence into clones after the failed attempt to kill him by Darth Vader, but his Dark Side powers caused them to degenerate too quickly.
3 LINK OTHER PEOPLE’S MINDS
The ability to create a “mind bridge” or “Force Bond” between two Force users is a machination that takes enormous effort, and is usually only ever done by a powerful Dark Side user. While it’s true that both Sith and Jedi can read each other’s thoughts at times, linking their minds across vast expanses of the galaxy had only been accomplished by Supreme Leader Snoke of the First Order. He linked the minds of his apprentice, Kylo Ren, to the Jedi trainee Rey, in the hopes that she would reveal the location of Luke Skywalker.
Their bond was so strong, that they were actually able to interact with each other in a physical environment. Though they could see each other, Rey was the only one that could see Kylo Ren in his present location. Their Force bond made Rey believe their destinies were entwined.
2 FORCE FREEZE PEOPLE
Many see Kylo Ren as a Dark Side user that is not in complete control of his powers. He is prone to throwing tantrums when he doesn’t get his way, as well as lashing out in emotional bursts of anger when his bidding isn’t done. This is in sharp contrast to the collected affectations of Darth Vader or Darth Tyranus. However, he does exhibit powers not seen used by any other Sith on film, such as the ability to “freeze” individuals by rendering them immobile without harming them.
The ability, called Force Stasis, is one of his “signature” moves. Vader often used Force Choke, while Palpatine often used Force Lightning, whereas this maneuver is closely associated with him. He does it several times to Rey in both The Force Awakens and The Last Jedi.
1 FREEZE BLASTER BOLTS
Like the Jedi, the Sith can manipulate objects around them with concentration and connection with the Force. During the opening scenes of The Force Awakens, when Resistance pilot Poe Dameron is in the custody of the First Order and facing Kylo Ren, Kylo Ren is able to stop a blaster bolt intended to hit him. It hovers in mid air, its energy crackling and sputtering, while he demands Poe hand over the BB-8 droid in his position that is the key to finding Luke Skywalker.
This manipulation of matter via the Force hadn’t been seen on film before, and it instilled the concept that Kylo Ren was an extremely powerful user of the Dark Side. Darth Vader had been known to absorb blaster fire directly into his gauntlet, as he did when Han Solo fired on him in Cloud City in Empire Strikes Back.