I am talking about actions, not propaganda.

They both exert undue influence on the ruling classes, outside the democratic process.

They are both full of themselves.

They are both dynastic, based on heredity: you are either born with the Force or you're out of luck, never to join the exclusive club. If anything, the Sith seem less dynastic.

The Jedi seem just as cavalier about shrugging off civilians deaths, whether collateral or intended. Anakin's slaughter of the sand people was shrugged off by almost everybody. Thousands of innocents died on the Death Stars and

on the new planet killer in Episode VII (whatever its called).

So, stripping away the propaganda, there's not much difference between these two dynastic, elitist, undemocratic cabals.

  • 5
    Pretty red sabers and black unis, rather than blue/green and creme/brown.
    – Oldcat
    Commented Dec 22, 2015 at 23:32
  • 14
    Hard to call a monkish celebate caste "Dynastic"
    – Oldcat
    Commented Dec 22, 2015 at 23:32
  • 27
    A Jedi won't choke you for having a disturbing lack of faith.
    – Valorum
    Commented Dec 22, 2015 at 23:42
  • 3
    One group never successfully overthrew a lawful government and established a tyrannical dictatorship in its place while the other sorta did, but other than that, I guess not.
    – Alarion
    Commented Dec 22, 2015 at 23:48
  • 3
    IIRC, Anakin's slaughter of the sand people wasn't shrugged off, he just never got found out. Commented Dec 23, 2015 at 8:56

6 Answers 6


The differences are mostly thematic -- until they aren't.

You're right that there isn't much of a difference between Sith and Jedi... ...Except the Jedi aren't trying to destroy planets, don't slaughter anyone who disagrees with them, don't have a history of devouring all life off a planet, and don't weaken the very fabric of the Force.

From the uninformed masses in a galaxy so large that you can't even find a planet when given the names of surrounding planets and star systems, however, it's easy to see how the distinction could be lost.

  • 15
    Let's not forget murdering children, and prosecuting a war where the sith are the leaders of both sides at the same time.
    – Alarion
    Commented Dec 22, 2015 at 23:52
  • 2
    @Alarion The common man wouldn't know about the younglings or the secret alliances, but I'm sure they'd know about destroying a major planet.
    – user40790
    Commented Dec 22, 2015 at 23:54
  • 3
    The difference is evolution. Sith are a more developed breed of jedi, capable to handle the force like no jedi could. Just remember: Two sith against the entire Jedi Order means a balance of the force. What does it tell? You might say sith are "evil" because they "harm people", but put that into perspective! If you are not one of those aggressive vegan activists, you don't consider me evil for setting up a mousetrap or breaking the neck of a chicken I wish to eat. Those things are the same. From the sith point of view regular people are animals.
    – mg30rg
    Commented Dec 23, 2015 at 14:11
  • 4
    @mg30rg "Two sith against the entire Jedi Order means a balance of the force" - No, they were waiting for the prophesied one to bring balance. Which he did by killing off (almost) all of the Jedi and turning to the Dark Side... Obi-Wan & Yoda on the light side, Vader & Sidious on the dark side. Balanced! ;)
    – Adeptus
    Commented Dec 24, 2015 at 2:17

The main differences are:

  1. How they access the Force.

    Jedi's access to the Force is more passive. They let the Force guide them.

    Sith's access is far more active. They make the Force do their bidding.

    This becomes especially clear with Plagueis and Sidious, as shown in Legends novel Plagueis and Disney canon novel Tarkin.

    It's also very much stressed in the better parts of EU/Legends canon, especially Zahn's Mara Jade related books (a large part of the character arks for Mara and Luke are issues stemming from Luke being Way Too Active as a Force user).

    For a more canon example, let's see ROTS novelization by Matthew Stover. Here's how the narrator describes Count Dooku's interactions with the Force:

    He called upon the Force, gathering it to himself and wrapping himself within it. He breathed it in and held it whirling inside his heart, clenching down upon it until he could feel the spin of the galaxy around him.

    Until he became the axis of the Universe.

    This was the real power of the dark side, the power he had suspected even as a boy, had sought through his long life until Darth Sidious had shown him that it had been his all along. The dark side didn’t bring him to the center of the universe. It made him the center.

    He drew power into his innermost being until the Force itself existed only to serve his will.

    and his musings about Anakin and Obi-Wan confronting him:

    They didn’t even comprehend how utterly he dominated the combat. Because they fought as they had been trained, by releasing all desire and allowing the Force to flow through them, they had no hope of countering Dooku’s mastery of Sith techniques. They had learned nothing since he had bested them on Geonosis.

    They allowed the Force to direct them; Dooku directed the Force.

    And for contrast, here's how Obi-Wan's combat use of the Force is described:

    He doesn’t even need to reach into the Force.

    He has already let the Force reach into him.

    The Force flows over him and around him as though he has stepped into a crystal-pure waterfall lost in the green coils of a forgotten rain forest; when he opens himself to that sparkling stream it flows into him and through him and out again without the slightest interference from his conscious will. The part of him that calls itself Obi-Wan Kenobi is no more than a ripple, an eddy in the pool into which he endlessly pours.

    There are other parts of him here, as well; there is nothing here that is not a part of him, from the scuff mark on R2-D2’s dome to the tattered hem of Palpatine’s robe, from the spidering crack in one transparisteel panel of the curving view wall above to the great starships that still battle beyond it. Because this is all part of the Force.

    Why is meaningless; it is an echo of the past, or a whisper from the future. All that matters, for this infinite now, is what, and where, and who.

  2. Jedi (at least since Ruusan reformation) try to make their Force use and connection emotionless.

    Sith base their connection to the Force on emotions, typically negative ones.

  3. Jedi have inherent respect for life.

    They try not to kill unless it is necessary.

    Sith have no issues with killing anyone, and see it as fundamental to their nature both as Sith (especially as evidenced in mechanics of Rule of Two), but also in terms of acquiring power - which ultimately often is all about the fact of, or a threat of, or ability to, inflict death on others.

  4. Jedi see the purpose of themselves as serving. Serving the Force, or serving the society.

    Sith see the purpose of themselves as acquiring power - either intrinsic (mastery of the Force) or extrinsic (power over other beings).

  5. Morals/ethics seems to be in line with #4 and other prior points.

    Jedi morals and ethics are all about serving, helping, not doing harm.

    Sith morals and ethics are all about the strongest dominating everyone else.

Also, please remember that the Universe isn't divided into Jedi and Sith. There are all sorts of other Force users, all over the spectrum - including other Light side, Dark side, Gray, and other-shade).

Sources: Novelizations (especially ROTS, ROTJ, TPM, and AOTC). New Disney novels (especially Tarkin and Lords of the Sith). A bunch of assorted EU/Legends material too numerous to mention (some are Plagueis, Darth Maul books, Old Republic books, Kenobi).

  • 4
    @BenitoCiaro - I agree, the films definitely do NOT go into any of those details, for obvious reasons. Nobody comes to the theater to watch a master's thesis in Philosophy :). However, film novelizations do and they are 100% fully canon under Disney's new canon rules. Commented Dec 23, 2015 at 2:36
  • 8
    @BenitoCiaro each side could claim these qualities for themselves, however the point is that the Sith do not make a Jedi-like claim for 1,2,4 and explicitly have the opposite policies.
    – Peteris
    Commented Dec 23, 2015 at 12:22
  • 2
    @BenitoCiaro - if you notice, my sources are novelizations. Specifically, the passages that describe internals of using the Force - NOT just statements made by Jedi. And Jedi statements are teaching, so they aren't propaganda as they aren't meant to create positive impression, but to tell the student to do somthing in a specific way. Commented Dec 23, 2015 at 18:11
  • 3
    @BenitoCiaro None of the things you just said were in any way contradicted by the contents of this answer. It seems like the real question you're asking is if there is any good pro-Sith propaganda out there, which I'm sure there is. Commented Dec 24, 2015 at 2:48
  • 1
    @BenitoCiaro I'd challenge point 3 most actively. Commented Dec 24, 2015 at 3:33

The difference between them is how they treat The World around them. The Jedi try to work with the world and listen to where the Force leads them. The Sith try to control their world and try to harness the power of the force.

From what I can tell, the Jedi want a peaceful world where they have their place, and they're comfortable to listen to the Force to find out where that place is. The Sith also want a peaceful world, but they want to make sure their place is at the top, unopposed, maintain peace because nobody dares oppose them.

  • In a word, Sith are coercive in a way that Jedi are not.
    – chiggsy
    Commented Mar 23 at 18:01

The TL;DR version is that the Jedi, at least generally, respect laws and life. The Sith will do anything to get their way, including murdering people unnecessarily.

Let's address their actions with examples and counter-examples in the order you've chosen and incorporating your examples(I'll stick to the movies):

They both exert undue influence on the ruling classes, outside the democratic process.

The Jedi are seen in the prequel trilogy consulting with and advising senators Amidala and Palpatine. There is no indication that the Jedi forced these senators to submit to an audience, and in fact, we know that Palpatine was definitely a willing participant as he was using these audiences to influence events and Anakin. On the Dark Side, we see the Sith (again, Palpatine) manipulating the entire senate into abandoning the democratic process altogether to start his empire.

They are both full of themselves.

I won't contest this. :)

They are both dynastic, based on heredity: you are either born with the Force or you're out of luck, never to join the exclusive club. If anything, the Sith seem less dynastic.

Neither is dynastic in the traditional sense as this implies a family line (But as was stated previously above, the Jedi are a celibate order, which is about as far from establishing a dynasty as you can get). However, you're right that they do both require you to be Force sensitive to join. This is akin to a book club requiring you to read books to join.

The Jedi seem just as cavalier about shrugging off civilians deaths, whether collateral or intended. Anakin's slaughter of the sand people was shrugged off by almost everybody. Thousands of innocents died on the Death Stars and the new planet killer in Episode VII (whatever its called).

There is no indication that Anakin reported his slaughtering of the sand people to the rest of the Jedi order, from what I recall. Only Padme is told directly. Further, at this point Anakin has strayed drastically from the teachings of the Jedi, so counting him as a representative of theirs is specious at best. It's true that thousands died on the destruction of Empire death weapons, but:

  1. The Jedi did not plan or implement the destruction of these machines. The Jedi order was hunted down and killed (by the Sith) before the destruction of them. You could make the case that Luke and Obi-Wan were remnants of the Jedi involved in destroying the Death Star, but Luke never received training by the Jedi order prior to this event, and further:
  2. The Empire (run by the Sith) had just demonstrated they were casually and flippantly willing to slaughter billions with these weapons.

Further illustrations of the Sith disregard for life and the Jedis generally affirmative regard for life are not needed after that last one, but:

-When Jedi seniority is displeased with subordinates (Yoda to Qui-Gon, Qui-Gon to Obi-Wan, Obi-Wan to Anakin), they scold them and instruct them. When Sith are displeased (Vader to many poor Imperials, Kylo Ren to machinery everywhere), they destroy them.

-When Jedi enter a hostile scenario (Mace Windu approaching leaders of the Separatists on Geonosis, Mace Windu and others arresting Palpatine in his chambers), they attempt to arrest or otherwise end conflicts without violence. When Sith enter hostile scenarios (Kylo Ren on Jakku, Palpatine responding to his arrest), they murder people.

  • @BenitoCiaro, elitist may be a better fit. Commented Dec 24, 2015 at 0:06
  • 1
    @BenitoCiaro that sports and physical fitness analogy is definitely better than my book club.
    – GorkTi200
    Commented Dec 24, 2015 at 2:38

The Jedi Code

There is no emotion, there is peace.

There is no ignorance, there is knowledge.

There is no passion, there is serenity.

There is no chaos, there is harmony.

There is no death, there is the Force.

Oath of the Jedi Council

With all of us may the Force be, and may the peace of this temple be ours, a place open to thought and speech, a realm of mutual respect, and a haven of shared noble purpose. Let us take these seats together, with no one above the others. May we work together, free from the restraints of ego and jealousy, at this gathering and all others to come.

Code of the Sith

Peace is a lie, there is only passion.

Through passion, I gain strength.

Through strength, I gain power.

Through power, I gain victory.

Through victory, my chains are broken.

The Force shall free me.

Rule of Two

Two there should be; no more, no less. One to embody power, the other to crave it.

You could list a hundred incidents and debate the ethics of the (imperfect) people involved. Ultimately, though, the doctrine itself shows the core ideological difference:

  • Jedi use the Force without emotion for cooperation.
  • Sith use the Force with passion to gain power.

The Sith supposedly have powers of necromancy - being able to prevent and/or reverse death. Or at least, that's what Palpatine told Anikin in Episode III:

Anikin: Where can I learn these powers?

Palpatine: Not from a Jedi...

Now, I don't think we ever saw these powers used in the series, though it's possible that's the only reason Anikin/Vader is still alive after his defeat on Mustafar. Also, Jedi don't seem to use force lightning or chokes either. Basically, the Sith don't mind using the Force in any way available to them, whereas the Jedi specifically avoid a lot of the cooler things you can do with it.

Seriously, about the only use of the light side of the Force we ever see is stuff like mind control, levitation and marksmanship (shooting a small vent without the targeting computer). Oh, and coming back as a ghost when you die - though even Vader managed that, so apparently being a Sith doesn't completely prevent that.

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.