In the world of "Star Wars," the Light and Dark Sides of the Force are constantly at war with each other, and the force-sensitive, lightsaber-wielding Jedi and Sith are at the forefront of those wars. Through the course of seven films, two animated series and a number of books within the new "Star Wars" canon, fans have been blessed with witnessing some of the best Jedi and Sith the Force has to offer. But which were the best we’ve seen or heard mention of?
Fortunately, we’re here to help out, as we will be taking a look at some of the best Jedi and Sith we’ve seen in Star Wars stories up to this point. All of the characters on our list have to be proven to Force sensitive and demonstrated some sort of ability with it. With that said, let’s take a look into these powerful, devoted followers of the Force.
Rated as one of the minor figures on this list, Asajj Ventress wouldn't be someone most would think of when talking about Jedi or Sith. After all, she could be considered as more of a “Sith substitute” thanks to the Rule of Two.
A former Jedi who fell to the Dark Side following her Master’s death, Ventress became something akin to an assassin for the Empire. Being trained by Count Dooku, she tried to walk that path, but it was for naught, as she was rejected and almost killed by her Master. After that, she turned to the life of a bounty hunter, making use of her Dark Force powers without serving the Empire. In many ways, she acted as a foil of sorts for Ahsoka Tano, with both leaving their Masters behind and gaining independence from the warring Light and Dark Sides of the Force.
Whether as a former lightsaber wielder or a bounty hunter, Ventress proved she could more than hold her own in a fight, clashing with Anakin and Obi-Wan multiple times throughout the "Clone Wars.". Ventress’ strength and potential was even acknowledged by Emperor Palpatine himself, who saw the type of Sith apprentice she could become were it not for the Rule of Two or Count Dock’s presence.
Every Jedi has to at least have a cool name, and Kit Fisto fits the bill in that regard. However, there’s little more to this Jedi Master aside from the cool name and design.
Fisto plays a small role in Attack of the Clones, taking part in the battle on Geonosis in order to rescue Obi-Wan, Anakin and Padme Amidala. However, Fisto’s skill can’t truly be appreciated until “The Clone Wars,” when he faces off against General Grievous. During their fight, he easily cuts off the Android’s hand and shows off some impressive dual-wielding skills while dropping some wise Jedi wisdom on the wheezing Grievous.
Fist’s calm demeanor and disciplined focus in combat easily made him one of the Jedi Council’s most reliable and trustworthy members. His skill was even acknowledged by Windu, who chose him to aid in detaining Emperor Palpatine. While he ended up being one of the first causalities at the Sith Lord’s hands, Fisto’s importance to the council shouldn’t be understated, and his devotion and battle prowess can’t go unrecognized.
One of the new-school Sith to join the fray, Kylo Ren is still out to prove himself as a Sith Apprentice.
Born as Ben Solo, the only son of Han Solo and Leia Organa, Ren found himself in his grandfather’s predicament: stuck between the warring Light and Dark sides of the Force and existentially pinned beneath the pressure of living up to his family name. Eventually, the dark side won over, and he stands at the head of the First Order. While we haven’t seen the full extent of his powers, there is no doubting his vast potential. After all, freezing a blaster should net plenty of Sith street cred. Leading the Knights of Ren, whomever they are, is a pretty good resume booster.
While he doesn’t have Vader’s meditating habits, he does share his grandfather and fellow Sith lord Darth Maul’s stylistic verve, wearing a Vader-esque helmet and wielding a broadsword style lightsaber, making him one of the few Force-users who don’t use the traditional version of their elegant weapon. With more training left to complete, Kylo Ren is still very much a work in progress, so there is no doubt he could be higher on this list in the fullness of time. For now, all we can do is sit back and watch his progress... or his further fall, whichever comes first.
Everybody knows that one person who acts like a rebel or maverick against the established order. When it came to Jedi who did not leave the order, Qui-Gon was that one person, at least in the films.
Unlike stark traditionalists like Windu, Qui-Gon played the Jedi Code much more liberally than most, willing to break or disobey it if he felt it necessary to act on something. He played an instrumental role in labeling Anakin as the Chosen One to bring balance to the Force and was hell-bent on training him, despite his initial rejection by the High Council. In addition to his rebellious side, Qui-Gon also showed a more thoughtful, composed side that reflected in his apprentice Obi-Wan.
The wily Jedi knight will be most well-known for not only having a direct hand in Anakin’s future as a Jedi, but for also discovering the means behind immortality. This took the limits and understanding of the Force further than many before him. While the specifics of this immortality remain unknown, there is no doubt that Qui-Gon’s presence will continue to be felt within the Force itself.
A very welcome addition to the “Star Wars” canon, Ahsoka Tano quickly became one of the leading icons within the “Clone Wars” and “Rebels” series. Introduced as an eager, yet inexperienced Padawan assigned to Anakin, she was, in many ways, a foil to the rebellious Jedi during the Clone Wars. Though the two grew closer, her decision to leave the Jedi Order played its part in Anakin’s increasing pull towards the Dark Side.
As a strong, dynamic character, Ahsoka was a breath of fresh air in a galaxy far, far way lacking in an abundance of strong female characters. Seeing her growth from her departure in the “Clone Wars” to her return in “Rebels,” where she is instrumental in aiding the Rebellion’s cause, speaks volume to her characterization and independence. Her skills as a Jedi speak for themselves, as well. Her growing talent as a Padawan allowed her to match General Grievous in combat, and by “Rebels” she is able to match her former Master in their famous duel. Coupled with the duel-wielding lightsabers (which is always nice to see), Ahsoka has made her mark as a (former) Jedi.
The prequel trilogy may have done some (okay, plenty of...) things wrong, there are others that it got right. Chief among these, perhaps, was their treatment of the Sith apprentice, Darth Maul.
Trained and molded by Palpatine at a young age, Maul was a perfect apprentice. Dedicated, swift and loyal, he made great gains under the Emperor’s tutelage. His role would increase thereafter, such that he was tasked with the assassination of Queen Padme Amidala of Naboo. This led him to crossing paths with Qui-Gon and Obi-Wan several times before their final climatic battle on Naboo. It would be later revealed in “Clone Wars” that the former Sith apprentice did not meet his end, and would be around to grace the fandom with his ferocity many times over.
Trained to be the ultimate weapon, Maul is agile and aggressive in battle. Wielding a double-sided lightsaber in the manner similar to a bo staff, he excelled at both attacking and defending. He also made use of Force jumps and pushes to maximize his speed. Arguably the fan favorite of all Sith apprentices (other than Vader, obviously), Maul has made a name for himself and is never one to be underestimated by any.
An old-school Jedi trained in the standard ways of the Force at the Jedi Temple on Coruscant, Obi-Wan Kenobi is very much akin in nature to his Master Qui-Gon, who preached about the concept of restraint. With much of his early past and background largely unknown prior to his days as a Jedi, Kenobi gradually rose through his order's ranks, becoming one of its leading generals. A battle-hardened veteran, Kenobi has taken down some top-notch opponents, including the likes of Darth Maul, General Grievous and even his former apprentice, Darth Vader. It was due to his battle with the veteran Jedi that Vader was forced to live on what amounted to constant life support.
A more than capable lightsaber duelist and skilled user of the Force, Kenobi can often be forgotten in lieu of cooler, more memorable Jedi like Vader or Luke Skywalker. He may not be remembered, however erroneously, for the battle prowess of the Skywalkers, but his intellect and quick thinking in battle often made up for his perceived weaknesses elsewhere, and is without question one of the all-time Jedi greats.
One of the more notable Jedi Masters on the council, Mace Windu was famed for his prowess in battle with a lightsaber. Normally a calm, reserved and stoic type in the Jedi chambers, he was an absolute demon on the battlefield. Whereas Jedi like Obi-Wan and Yoda were well-known for their intellect and wisdom in addition to their skills, Windu was revered as arguably the strongest lightsaber duelists when the Jedi Order was at its most powerful during the Clone Wars. Wielding a rare, purple lightsaber just makes him that much cooler.
A staunch traditionalist in maintaining the way of the Jedi, Windu was the only one of his order to defeat Emperor Palpatine in a one-on-one contest, with the latter killing three other Jedi Masters in the process. Were it not for Anakin Skywalker’s untimely interference, Windu would have accomplished something no one else had: taking down Palpatine in single combat. An aggressive, unpredictable warrior trained in the Force to his very core, Windu is the model for what many Jedi hope to become in the field of battle.
An iconic figure during the Clone Wars, Dooku was yet another noble warrior who left the Jedi Order after questioning its motives and goals. The former Master of Qui-Gon and the last student Yoda mentored prior to Luke a couple of decades later, Dooku succeeded Maul after his defeat at the hands of Obi-Wan. He then proceeded to follow the ways of the Sith, becoming the face of the Galactic Empire during the Clone Wars, facing off with the Jedi on numerous occasions.
When it comes to lightsaber wielders, Dooku was easily among the best duelists the Jedi had ever seen, easily able to overpower Obi-Wan on two separate occasions. In fact, it seems that only the likes of Yoda or Windu could match him in combat. He was also the only Sith Lord not named Palpatine to actually be seen making use of Force Lightning, a technique which often gave him an advantage in battle. His connection to the Force also matches that of his former Master. Despite his planned end at the behest of Palpatine and at the hands of Anakin Skywalker, Dooku made for an engaging and unquestionably lethal Sith Lord.
A figure shrouded in mystery, this particular Sith Lord had his entire history erased as a result of Disney's rebranding in the Star Wars universe. However, the mention of his name in “Revenge of the Sith” signifies that he remains canon, in some form or another. Based on the bits of information provided so far, Plagueis was the master of Palpatine at some point before the events of the original or prequel trilogy. Stated to have a fear of losing his loved ones, Plagueis apparently found the secret to extending his life, and apparently lived (however unnaturally) for many years. Little else is known about the Sith Lord, other than the fact that he was killed by his student, as the aforementioned Rule of Two dictates. He was thus succeeded by Palpatine, who had a rotating door of his own apprentices.
As such an enigmatic figure with an even more mysterious past (especially given the retcons to continuity), Plagueis remains a highly-debated topic within the Star Wars fandom, particularly when it comes to his significance in past and future events. Despite all of this, the Master of Palpatine is fearsome enough in his own right, and that’s enough to place the Sith Lord among the most fearsome on this list. Not knowing more about him just makes him that much more feared.
Like Plaguies, Darth Bane has worlds of mystery surrounding him, and was even not considered canon until his introduction in “Clone Wars.” While not the creator of the Sith, Darth Bane is credited with saving them from outright destruction. Foreseeing how the large numbers of Sith resulted in too much internal strife, he instituted the now-infamous "Rule of Two," which states that there must only be one Sith Master and Apprentice at any given time. Since then, every Sith pairing has adhered to this rule. It is, in every sense, their most important law. This is seen in effect when people like Ventress aren’t allowed to become official Sith Lords.
While much is not necessarily known about Bane from a skills or Force-wielding perspective, his ruling saved the Sith’s perilous future and his shadow -- canonical or not -- looms heavily on the deeper, darker corners of the Star Wars universe. The fact that his rule is adhered to speaks volumes to his power, which is acknowledged by Yoda himself. He can effectively be considered the “Godfather” of the Sith, as many of his teachings are passed from Master to Apprentice. That, in itself, is power enough.
Caught between light and dark in the process of becoming the most ruthless face of the Galactic Empire, few live to face Darth Vader and tell of it (unless you happen to be his long-lost son). Once lauded as the Chosen One foreseen to be the savior to the galaxy from the mighty Sith, Vader, in his past life as Anakin Skywalker, didn’t go unseen by the likes of Qui-Gon and Obi-Wan Kenobi. The epitome of starting from the bottom after being born into slavery, Anakin was talented as both a pilot and a lightsaber duelist, with abilities matching even those of Masters on the Jedi Council.
Of course, corruption by Emperor Palpatine and the ever-present temptations of the Dark Side conjured the Lord Vader persona from deep within the recesses of Anakin's mind. With it came a deep-breathing cyborg who had little patience for failure. While he didn’t have access to the Sith lightening in the films, his presence, skill and connection to the Force -- not to mention his pop culture cache -- altogether make him more than worthy of one of the greatest Sith of all-time; and almost certainly the most beloved.
When you’re close to 900 years old, you’ve seen a lot, and this little green alien has seen plenty during his illustrious career, serving at the peak of the Jedi's power. There’s not much to say about the ancient and wizened Jedi that hasn’t already been said. Having helped train a number of Masters on the Council, including Windu and Obi-Wan, he was the glue holding the Jedi Council together for centuries since attaining the rank of Master.
There is no doubt that Yoda is easily the most powerful Master on the Council prior to the execution of Order 66. His connection to the Force was so great that he felt the death of every single Jedi when they were turned on and killed. He also demonstrated the ability to absorb and/or redirect Sith Lightning, a feat unseen by other Masters. However, what sets Yoda apart from most others was his immense wisdom and patience (being 900 will do that for you), particularly when it came to his training both the minds and bodies of his students, be they padawan or venerable Jedi masters, themselves. Yoda is, in every sense of the word, the ultimate Jedi Master.
The Sith Lord we all know and love to hate, Emperor Palpatine saw a long and successful reign over his years. Born Sheev Palpatine on the planet Naboo, he quickly rose through the political ranks en route to becoming Chancellor of the Galactic Republic. In addition, he also knew how to hide in plain sight, overseeing both a massive Empire bent on taking over the galaxy while amassing influence within the Senate and fostering public dissent towards the Jedi. This all culminated in the great Jedi Purge and the effective rise of the Galactic Empire; no small feat for just one man.
In addition to being a terrifying yet calculating politician, Palpatine was a powerful Sith Lord, despite a revolving door of Sith Apprentices. A firm believer in the Rule of Two, the Emperor was especially skilled with Force Lightning, one of the most outwardly visible manifestations of Force mastery. His skill with the Force as a whole was clearly immense, as he was able to levitate multiple seating pods in the Senate Chambers with relative ease during his final battle with Yoda. A brilliant combination of long term planning and Force-wielding abilities, Darth Sidious is undoubtedly the most powerful Sith Lord to date.
The son of Darth Vader born in the wake of the Empire’s Jedi purge and galactic takeover, Luke Skywalker quickly went from a quiet farm life on Tatooine to becoming a Jedi Knight capable of matching the all-powerful Darth Vader in combat.
Besides becoming one of the most powerful and iconic Force users within the Star Wars universe, he is also a skilled pilot and marksman, capable of taking womb rats and Death Star ports in a single shot. Before his training with Yoda, Luke was largely self-taught after Kenobi’s death, proving to be a quick and open-minded learner despite his lack of proper instruction. He was so far along that after only a year, he was vastly proficient at multiple Jedi maneuvers, including Force jumps and making multiple objects levitate.
His flexibility as a Force-wielder coupled with his versatility in other areas outside of lightsaber dueling made the young Skywalker one of the best Jedi in the business. His nature and patience matured into the kind of individual best suited to lead in the revival of the lost Jedi Order.
Who do you think is the best Jedi or Sith in the galaxy? Let us know in the comments!