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From Attack of the Clones:

Only twenty Jedi have ever left the Order.

The Lost Twenty. And Count Dooku was the most recent and the most painful. No one likes to talk about it. His leaving was a great loss to the Order."

In both continuities, it is mentioned that only 20 Jedi left the Order voluntarily.

However, it seems like we see far more than 20 Jedi leave the Order in the Legends continuity. The KotOR games, for example, include armies of many dark Jedi who left the order.

So does the "Lost 20" list not include multiple former Jedi for some reason? Am I mistaken about the number of Jedi we see leave the Order?

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    KOTOR was always a lower canon. If the movies said only 20 left the order, then KOTOR was "wrong". – phantom42 Jan 28 '16 at 2:45
  • @phantom42 It's apparently from a canon deleted scene, so that could change things somewhat. – Rogue Jedi Jan 28 '16 at 3:22
  • KOTOR is Legends, and I'm not aware of anything from KOTOR ending up in the mainstream movies. In addition to those 20 masters, Ahsoko Tano left the Jedi Order as a Padawan in The Clone Wars and Barriss Offee became a Dark Jedi. – Jack B Nimble Jan 28 '16 at 3:28
  • see: Are deleted scenes considered canon? but the point still remains: the latest version of the movies are always right. it was the responsibility of the lower canon materials to rectify themselves to the g/t canon material, not the other way around. this sort of mess is exactly why the EU was completely demoted to "legends". – phantom42 Jan 28 '16 at 3:35
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    @JackBNimble, the question is tagged for Legends, so I think that the OP is asking for an explanation that at least includes whatever in-universe justification was used to explain mass-Jedi exoduses such as the one from KotOR. My guess is that it's probably 20 Jedi leaving since the Ruusaan Reformation, since the galaxy was pretty much at peace for the next thousand years before the movies, but I don't have info on hand to back that up. – Thunderforge Jan 28 '16 at 6:16
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Answer heavily drawn from the Wookiepedia article for the Lost Twenty in Legends.

Given the apparent discrepancy of numbers, the idea that the Lost Twenty only represent Jedi Masters who left the Jedi Order during the thousand-year peace after the Ruusan Reformation may seem to make sense - a new, modern chapter in the history of the Jedi, during the Golden Age of the Old Republic. A time when the Sith is apparently no more, so the departure of any Jedi Master would be an even bigger deal than in the dark times before. However, that is clearly not the case:

One of the earliest members of the Lost Twenty was the Umbaran Jedi Master Phanius, who eventually became Darth Ruin, the first Dark Lord of the Sith in the New Sith Empire. Over time more would leave; twelve by 990 BBY, and ending with the twentieth member, Master Dooku.

A quick history of the Sith as a backdrop:

  • 7000 BBY: The first group of fallen Jedi to call themselves Dark Jedi is formed. Defeated, they were exiled and later discovered the Sith race.
  • 6900-5000 BBY: Sith Empire
  • 4980-before 2000 BBY: Sith Empire (Restored) - SWTOR is set during this period
  • 2000-1100 BBY: New Sith Empire (Founded by the earliest named Jedi Master counted among the Lost Twenty)
  • 1010-1000 BBY: Brotherhood of Darkness
  • 1000 BBY: Commencement of the Rule of Two by Darth Bane

What we can tell from here is 1) Jedi Masters are already being "Lost" since before the Ruusan Reformation 2) Darth Ruin does not appear to be the first.

We don't know exactly when the first Lost Master left - he may or may not be a major character in the EU. It is possible that the Lost Twenty is indeed a list of all Jedi Masters who have ever left the Jedi Order in all of their recorded history, but we cannot say so conclusively.

Nonetheless, why are there only Twenty when we know so many Jedi left the order? The answer is because the Lost Twenty only count Jedi Masters. That much is obvious. A more complex question would be: Are there really just Twenty Jedi Masters who left the Jedi Order? If not, why are only these Twenty honoured by the Order? There is no direct answer available from Legends sources, but the following excerpt offers a hint:

Along with the most venerable Masters, the Lost were remembered in the form of busts in the Jedi Archives; a reminder of the Jedi's greatest failures, though the Jedi did not fault the individuals for leaving, regarding the statues as a reminder that the Jedi were not perfect and that sometimes they might fail to provide what a Jedi might seek out of life. On each bust's pedestal, the great deeds of the Master it commemorated were listed, though it gave no mention of why he or she left the Order.

Jocasta Nu also had this to say during the movie:

"The Lost Twenty. And Count Dooku was the most recent and the most painful. No one likes to talk about it. His leaving was a great loss to the Order."

This suggests that, for you to be counted among the Lost, the following general conditions should be met (not verified as 100% correct):

  • You are a Jedi Master
  • You are leaving on your own accord
  • The Jedi really doesn't want you to leave
  • Your departure is considered a great tragedy to the Order

It is possible that there really are just Twenty Jedi Masters who have ever left since the Jedi started keeping track. We cannot conclude decisively. But if there are Jedi Masters who voluntarily leave the Order but aren't added to the Lost, it's probably because the Jedi don't love you enough.

Why, then, did Obi-Wan say

"Only twenty Jedi have ever left the Order."

as opposed to "twenty Jedi Masters"? Well...maybe to him the existence of anyone lesser than the rank of Master does not even register in his eyes after they are dead and gone?

  • The play on words between your nick and the OP's is, surely, completely accidental. – Deer Hunter Jan 28 '16 at 12:43
  • He's probably upset he wasn't added into the list. – thegreatjedi Jan 28 '16 at 12:46

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