7

We know that Sith masters were frequently challenged by their apprentices at some point. For example, Palpatine killed his master, Darth Plagueis, in his sleep. Vader killed Palpatine too, of course, but I'm not sure if that counts.1

In all the known cases, in canon and Legends, in which a Sith master and his or her apprentice fought to the death, how many times did the master come out on top, and how many times did the apprentice emerge victorious?

Consider all Sith Lords from the Bane line. Names are not required, and results only (without the actual fight) are fine.

1I'm also not sure if Revan and Malak's conflict counts - when both were Sith, Revan (the master) was defeated in a space battle by Malak (the apprentice), but both survived; Revan was only truly overcome by a Jedi. Later, they fought again, and Revan killed Malak, but by then, Revan had returned to the light side, so it wasn't a master/apprentice conflict any more.

  • To preempt any potential claims that this question is too broad, I would like to point out that we are only talking about known cases in which a Sith master fought his or her apprentice to the death and the results were recorded - my knowledge of legends is sketchy at best, but I know of only two clear cut cases like this: Darth Plagueis vs Palpatine, and Darth Tenebrous vs. Darth Plagueis. – Wad Cheber Feb 21 '16 at 3:50
  • The first and easiest part is to count the number of Sith Masters from Bane to Sidious: the number of Masters challenged by their apprentices, defeated and replaced as the new Sith Master according to the Rule of Two. Although the Rule deals with what to do if the Apprentice fails, there doesn't seem to be any known instance of that happening. – thegreatjedi Feb 21 '16 at 8:15
  • Some clarifications are needed. 1. Are we only to consider named Sith Lords? For example, we don't know Tenebrous' master's name so do we include Tenebrous' assumed victory over that Sith Lord? 2. Are we to consider fights which were not depicted but for which we know the victor (e.g. Darth Zannah was succeeded by her apprentice Darth Cognus, so presumably Cognus won -- but that fight was not depicted in any source... – Null Feb 22 '16 at 15:35
  • 3. Do we need to consider Sith beyond the Order of the Sith Lords (i.e. the Bane line)? For example, Lumiya's Sith was the successor Sith organization after the deaths of Sidious and Vader (Legends only). Lumiya sort of followed the Rule of Two but she obviously was not of the Bane line. There's also the One Sith, which did not follow the Rule of Two (also Legends only). – Null Feb 22 '16 at 15:39
  • @Null - Bane line, names not required, results only (without the actual fight) is fine. – Wad Cheber Feb 22 '16 at 21:06
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Note: duels are formatted as "Master v. apprentice", with the victor in bold. Darth Bane's Sith Order is the one that followed the Rule of Two (which required a duel to the death between Master and apprentice), so only Sith from Bane's Order are considered although there are Sith from before (e.g. the Brotherhood of Darkness) and after (e.g. Lumiya's Sith). Revan and Malak, mentioned in the question, lived long before Darth Bane's time and are therefore not included here.

Darth Bane's Sith Order starts with the reign of Bane himself and ends with the reign of Darth Sidious (Palpatine).

Legends

  • Darth Bane v. Darth Zannah (980 BBY): These two initially fought in the Stone Prison on the planet Doan, but that duel ended in a draw. They then dueled again on Ambria. The text is ambiguous as to the outcome because Bane attempted to transfer his essence onto Zannah and at least partially imprinted himself onto her, but the author of the source novel clarified that Zannah won.1
  • Darth Zannah v. Darth Cognus: Their duel is not recorded in any source, but Cognus was recruited by Bane and Zannah shortly before their duel on Ambria. She pledged her loyalty to the victor before the duel started. We only know that Cognus succeeded Zannah because she became the Sith Master of Darth Millennial. Millennial did not believe in the Rule of Two, so he broke away from Darth Cognus and the two did not have a duel to the death.2
  • Darth Gravid v. Darth Gean (c. 500 BBY): Gravid was notable for causing the Sith Order to lose the knowledge of essence transfer. He was drawn to the light side of the Force and went insane, so he started to destroy Sith artifacts before he was killed by his apprentice. Gean was severely injured as a result of this duel and was forced to wear prosthetics for the rest of her life.3
  • Darth Gean v. Darth Gean's unnamed Sith apprentice: Gean's Sith apprentice is only mentioned in passing and his/her name is unknown. We can only assume the apprentice won since Gean was succeeded, but we do not know if Gean's first apprentice was the one to succeed her.3
  • Darth Tenebrous' unnamed Twi'lek Sith Master v. Darth Tenebrous (c. 167 BBY): Tenebrous' Master is notable for opening a "small rend in the fabric of the Force" which allowed the Jedi to sense the dark side for the first time since Bane's life. Not much else is known about this Sith Lord other than that he was succeeded by Darth Tenebrous.3
  • Darth Tenebrous v. Darth Plagueis (c. 67 BBY): These two did not have much of a duel because Plagueis surprised Tenebrous while the two were attempting to escape a mine on Bal'demnic. Notably, Tenebrous did have a secret apprentice named Darth Venamis, but Venamis never dueled Tenebrous. Plagueis and Venamis later met and dueled each other, and Plagueis defeated Venamis. Plagueis forced Venamis to ingest a poison that put him in a coma, and Plagueis experimented on Venamis in order to learn how to resurrect others (and he succeeded in repeatedly killing and resurrecting Venamis until Venamis' organs gave out).3
  • Darth Plagueis v. Darth Sidious (Palpatine) (32 BBY): On the night before Palpatine's election to the Supreme Chancellorship, Palpatine and Plagueis celebrated their success together. Plagueis became drunk with wine and started to fall asleep, at which point Palpatine attacked and killed him. It wasn't much of a duel, but Palpatine reasoned that he had already surpassed Plagueis and thus didn't need a true duel (besides, Plagueis surprised his own master when he killed him).3
  • Darth Sidious v. Vergere (c. 29 BBY): Vergere attempted to kill Sidious, but she failed. She did escape, however resulting in a draw. Although no one died as a result of this duel, both combatants intended to kill each other.4
  • Darth Sidious v. Darth Vader (4 ABY): This was Sidious' well-known death at the hands of Darth Vader.5 This also was not really a duel since Vader took Sidious by surprise, but the deaths of both master and apprentice spelled the end of Bane's Sith Order. Sidious of course had other apprentices before Vader -- the aforementioned Vergere, as well as Darth Maul and Darth Tyranus (Count Dooku), Lumiya, Luke Skywalker, and some other less well-known apprentices. However, not all of these apprentices were true Sith apprentices and many of them did not duel Sidious. Aside from Vader, only Maul and Luke dueled with Sidious. However, Maul had been replaced as Sidious' apprentice by the time they dueled and it was not a duel to the death (Sidious allowed Maul to live). Luke dueled a clone of Darth Sidious in 10 ABY when he briefly turned to the dark side. The duel ended in Sidious' victory, but Sidious did not kill Luke. Luke later turned back to the light and killed Sidious' clone.

There are large gaps in the thousand year history of Bane's Sith Order. Some known Sith Lords in this history have an unknown master and apprentice, so no duel can be recorded.

In summary: every known duel between Sith Master and apprentice resulted in the apprentice's victory or, in a very few cases, a draw. However, our knowledge of Sith history is very incomplete and the information available to us is heavily biased toward apprentices who succeeded in killing their Masters. Any apprentices who failed to kill their Masters were not notable enough to be remembered by history.

Canon

  • Darth Bane v. Darth Bane's unnamed Sith apprentice (c. 1000 BBY): Neither the name of Bane's apprentice nor their duel is recorded in canon. We only know that Bane lost because he's dead.
  • Darth Plagueis v. Darth Sidious (unknown date): Canon only weakly establishes that Plagueis was actually Sidious' Master, but Sidious killed Plagueis "in his sleep". This was hardly a duel, perhaps even less so than as depicted in Legends.6
  • Darth Sidious v. Darth Vader (4 ABY): Sidious' death at the Battle of Endor, which was not much of a duel since Sidious was taken by surprise.5

In canon we only know of a few conflicts between Sith Masters and their apprentices, and most of them aren't even truly duels. Presumably, Bane's apprentice actually killed Bane in a true duel since Bane instituted the Rule of Two. In all known cases the apprentice won. Again, we must note that our knowledge is heavily biased toward successful apprentices, with failed apprentices lost to history.


1 Darth Bane: Dynasty of Evil

2 Darth Bane: Dynasty of Evil (establishes Cognus' apprenticeship to Zannah), Jedi vs. Sith: The Essential Guide to the Force (establishes Millennial's apprenticeship to Cognus)

3 Darth Plagueis

4 Legacy of the Force: Betrayal

5 Star Wars: Episode VI Return of the Jedi

6 Star Wars: Episode III Revenge of the Sith

  • A Brief History of Darth Bane's Sith Order... – Null Feb 23 '16 at 6:27
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    Tangentially, don't forget Darth Sidious's canon duel with his former apprentice Darth Maul (and Maul's brother). Though he let Maul live, he clearly dominated him (Savage was not so lucky). – Michael Itzoe Feb 23 '16 at 14:43
  • @MichaelItzoe That was not a duel to the death, and Maul had been replaced by that time. I'll add a short note about it, though. – Null Feb 23 '16 at 15:36
  • Darth Bane's apprentice is also Darth Zannah in canon, although Disney put Zannah through a sex change... – thegreatjedi Feb 25 '16 at 6:23
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    @thegreatjedi Really? In what source do they do that? – ncalmbeblpaicr0011 Feb 26 '16 at 21:37

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