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In the end of Return of the Jedi, all of the known Sith are dead and utterly defeated. So how did Snoke, who looks very old, manage to turn Kylo Ren to the dark side? And Snoke couldn't be alive at the time of Darth Sidious because of the Rule of Two. I mean, is it possible for the dark side to just appear in someone?

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    The dark side is not synonymous with the Sith, see this answer. – Hypnosifl Jan 26 '16 at 19:07
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    Snoke is not a Sith that we know of. And the Sith frequently disobey the Rule of Two. – Null Jan 26 '16 at 19:13
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    Sith != dark side. The Knights of Ren are dark side but not Sith. – Null Jan 26 '16 at 19:22
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    @Jack - Why does heading a large organization and bringing others to the dark side suggest he's a Sith? The dark side seems to lead people to be power-hungry even if they're not Sith, and Snoke is made more powerful by having a large army of non-Force-using followers as well as a smaller number of powerful Force-using followers, both groups can be used to help carry out his will. – Hypnosifl Jan 26 '16 at 19:24
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    See my answer regarding non-Sith dark siders. And Kylo Ren admires Darth Vader because of his connection to Vader. – Null Jan 26 '16 at 19:34
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The dark side of the Force is a continuously existing aspect of the Force. It exists whether or not there are any Force-sensitive individuals who use their anger for their power (i.e. the "dark side").

There are dark side practitioners who are not Sith, such as the Inquisitors, Nightsisters, and the Knights of Ren. Thus, the apparent extinction of the Sith does not mean that the dark side of the Force no longer exists nor that there are no living masters of the dark side.

We have no confirmation that Snoke is a Sith, so he apparently belongs to some other dark side organization -- either one we already know about or a new one. We don't know how he became skilled with the dark side, but he learned how to use it somehow and that's how he was able to seduce Kylo Ren to the dark side.

Any Force-sensitive individual can become skilled with the dark side of the Force. The first Sith were Jedi who rebelled and turned to the dark side.

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I believe this Rule of Two is often taken too literally.

And Snoke couldn't be alive at the time of Darth Sidious because of the Rule of Two

Although the Sith follow some sort of philosophy, you can't imagine that a selfish, murderer, insidious, cold hearted Dark Lord would feel obliged to obey some rule.

Take for example the theory that Snoke could be Palpatine's former master, Darth Plagueis. If he was indeed hiding in order to make Palpatine think he was dead, can you imagine him deciding: "Oh, well, Palpatine just took an apprentice... Damm, now I've got to stop hiding because I cannot disobey the Rule of Two.

Of course we can make no assumptions before Episodes VIII and IX. Neither can we be sure that he is indeed a Sith. But even if he is, that doesn't mean he was not around during or before the events of Return of the Jedi, or even longer than that.

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    Wait, bad guys don't always follow the rules?! – Erik Jan 27 '16 at 21:05
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    Wait - you are saying that the Sith don't deal in absolutes? – Oldcat Jan 27 '16 at 21:38
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    Dooku, Maul, and Sidious were active at the same time, so you're right - the rule of two isn't a rule so much as an observation of the norm. – Wad Cheber Jan 28 '16 at 3:36
  • I think people are focusing too much on the term "Rule" to see the big picture. The Rule of Two isn't so much a rule but a strategy: Bane felt infighting and power struggles contributed to the Sith's downfall, so as the sole survivor, he decided to preach the Rule of Two to his apprentice. It's not so much a commandment, but an advice "if we want to defeat the Jedi, this has the best chance of success". And apparently, every Sith Lord agrees. United against a common foe across generations, I guess. – thegreatjedi Jan 28 '16 at 5:43
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    @WadCheber Also, Sidious approached Dooku to offer apprenticeship only after Dooku left the Jedi Order, which is sparked by Qui-Gon's death, which is at the same time Maul "died" in Palpatine's eyes. So technically, Palpatine did not violate the Rule of Two. – thegreatjedi Jan 28 '16 at 5:45
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The Sith and the Dark Side

Two separate things. All Sith are dark side, but not all dark siders are Sith. As mentioned in the other answers, and answers to other questions, Kylo Ren is neither Sith nor Jedi. Snoke may or may not be a Sith; we don't know yet. But we have seen hints that Snoke isn't a Sith either:

The Supreme Leader [Snoke] believes Ren to be the ideal embodiment of the Force, a focal point of both light and dark side ability.
- The Visual Dictionary

The previous leader of the Sith, Emperor Palpatine, seemed to be devoted exclusively to the dark side, so by comparison, Snoke doesn't seem to be very Sith-like at all.


The Rule of Two

Not so much a rule as it is an observation of the way things usually work. We know that Darth Tyrranus (Count Dooku), Darth Maul, and Darth Sidious were active at the same time, so there is canonical precedent for the "rule" of two being broken.


The Idea That The Dark Side Ever Went Away:

In the Star Wars movies, no one ever says that the dark side is the Sith. Quite the contrary, in fact. The dark side is variously associated with:

  • Anger

  • Fear

  • Aggression

  • Jealousy

  • Greed

  • Hatred

  • Passion

  • Attachment

  • Lust for power

  • Etc.

None of these things ceased to exist when the Empire was destroyed, and chances are, none of them will ever cease to exist. The dark side didn't come back, because it never went away. These things are insuperable parts of human experience. The Force Awakens isn't about the return of the more regrettable aspects of human nature, it is about the rise to power of people consumed by these negative aspects of human nature.

  • These things are insuperable parts of human experience - In Star Wars universe, these things are part of alien existence as well :) – LcSalazar Feb 2 '16 at 12:23

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