From both Canon and Legends we know that the Sith are egocentric and selfish, lusting for power for themselves. The last line of the Sith Code says:

Through victory, my chains are broken. The Force shall free me.

Emphasis on "me" and "my", no consideration for others. Things like friendship, loyalty, mercy, and compassion are considered as weakness by the Sith.

Therefore, any true Sith would simply not believe in a cause higher then himself. A true Sith would not sacrifice himself for anything, especially not for some abstract ideal like the victory of the Dark Side, the future of the Sith Order, the defeat of the Jedi Order after his death, etc.

Yet, according to the Rule Of Two, any Sith Master is obliged to spend a large part of his life (approximately at least 10 years) in training his apprentice, his potential killer. The apprentice would naturally want to kill the master, but if the master kills the apprentice then all that time spent training him would have been wasted. And all that the Sith Master gains from his effort is the possibility that some future Sith would defeat the Jedi and rule the galaxy.

Personally, I find this belief in a "higher cause" quite contrary to Sith nature. Wouldn't it be more logical for each prospective Sith to first work on his own immortality (or at least prolonging life), so that he has more time to gain more power? And if he cannot do that, at least conquer some remote world and rule there for the rest of his days (actually many Sith did that)? Any other Force sensitive would be seen as a potential threat, especially those with higher Force potential. It would be prudent for our Sith to eliminate them if he can (reducing competition) and not to train them so they could kill him.

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    I've never been certain that the "Rule of Two" got nothing but slavish respect, nonstop, for many centuries, even though that is what some of the Star Wars novelists apparently want us to believe. A galaxy is, by definition, a huge place; all sorts of crazy things (and "splinter groups") can co-exist within it at any given time. I can easily imagine a "rogue Sith" doing his own thing, on the far side of the Galaxy from whatever Master was currently living by the "Rule of Two," with the rogue Sith training multiple apprentices without insisting any of 'em must kill him to graduate!
    – Lorendiac
    Dec 1, 2016 at 1:05
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    There are certainly some logical flaws with the Rule of Two, which you point out. However, if a Sith Lord never takes an apprentice, then the ways of the Dark Side will die out with him. If he fails in his inevitable quest for immortality, that is (which cold logic dictates is more likely than success.) Living forever is hard, because there will always be things that might kill you. Being unable to die of old age or illness really just guarantees you'll die violently, eventually.
    – Steve-O
    Dec 1, 2016 at 2:50
  • @Steve-O Why would Sith Lord even care what happens after his death ? 'Honor is for the living. Dead is dead.' - to quote Darth Bane himself ? Or "After us, the deluge" - to quote character from real world, Madame de Pompadour :) Besides, if Sith really cares about his legacy (something unworthy of real Sith, IMHO) he could just leave holocron, instead spending so much time training his own killer .
    – rs.29
    Dec 1, 2016 at 7:40
  • The sith are be definition egotistical and above all psychopathic. There is no such thing as honor with the sith. it is pure self gain and power. Ultimately this will always lead to that ego wanting to be #1. Its just a case of when. Again though the nature of that size of ego they will also be searching for their "student" to teach and in-reciprocation build their ego through the selfish neediness of a their narcissistic nature. There are no feelings past what they need now, and that is power and recognition. This is why there is always the rule of two, They are simply psychopaths.
    – DubMan
    Dec 2, 2016 at 14:52

2 Answers 2


This is the Sith Code:

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.

Does the Rule of Two follow this code?

Peace is a lie, there is only passion.

Definitely. In the Rule of Two, violence is encouraged. Through this violence, the Sith perpetuate; without it, they would not exist. The passion, if you look at it as the teaching and learning how to be a Sith, works as well.

Through passion, I gain strength.

Totally. The teaching of Force abilities, lightsaber fighting, and other things Sith do is only to bolster the strength of the apprentice.

Through strength, I gain power.

Of course. The strength in the Force and dueling learned by the apprentice leads to more power and more influence with the master, and ultimately the apprentice challenges the master to a duel.

Through power, I gain victory.

If the apprentice has truly followed the Code--gaining power from strength and strength from passion--then this duel is the victory that comes from the power. This is how, according to the Rule of Two, the apprentice becomes the master.

Through victory, my chains are broken. The Force shall free me.

Definitely. When the apprentice defeats the master, s/he is no longer the apprentice, and his/her chains are broken. When the master wins the duel, the master's chains--having to teach and care for the apprentice--are broken. The last line could refer to any of this or to the eventual death of the master by the hand of the next one, who will inevitably be more powerful.

And why do Sith masters care about perpetuating the Sith Order?

Because if they don't, the Jedi win. They have been at war with the Jedi for countless years and they would abandon that so they could uphold values of selfishness? The Sith Code does not explicitly mention selfishness anywhere; just many Sith have that as an inherent quality.

Sith know that someday, they will die; why not make that death a fulfillment of the Sith Code for the master that takes over?

So no, the Rule of Two is not contrary to Sith nature.

  • To paraphrase your answer: either Sith Apprentice kills Master, or Master kills Apprentice. Chains are broken. Why would remaining Sith want to recreate those chains with another person (new apprentice) ?
    – rs.29
    Dec 1, 2016 at 17:48
  • @rs.29 Because peace is a lie, there is only passion.
    – CHEESE
    Dec 1, 2016 at 18:01
  • @rs.29 And to perpetuate the Sith so they don't die out.
    – CHEESE
    Dec 1, 2016 at 18:08
  • As I said in my original question, why would any true Sith care what would happen to Sith Order, if that conflicts his own interests ? As for the passion, any Sith would have more then enough of that . Galaxy is filed with antagonists (Jedi, political and business rivals, criminals, bounty hunters, other Force users etc ... )
    – rs.29
    Dec 2, 2016 at 2:30
  • @rs.29 I will edit my answer to answer the question in your comment in about 7 minutes. Give or take
    – CHEESE
    Dec 2, 2016 at 2:33

Your view seems to be that the Master gains nothing from training an Apprentice and so would have no incentive to do so. If that were the case then the Rule of Two would be contrary to the selfish nature of the Sith. However, the relationship between the Master and Apprentice is one of using each other for mutual gain. The Rule of Two is not contrary to the nature of the Sith.

Soon after destroying the Jedi, the Emperor had told Vader that he would one day be tempted to kill him. He’d said that the relationship between Sith apprentice and Master was symbiotic but in a delicate balance. An apprentice owed his Master loyalty. A Master owed his apprentice knowledge and must show only strength. But the obligations were reciprocal and contingent. Should either fail in his obligation, it was the duty of the other to destroy him. The Force required it. Since before the Clone Wars, Vader’s Master had never shown anything but strength, and so Vader intended to show nothing but loyalty. In that way, their mutual rule was secure. Perhaps Vader would attempt to kill his Master one day. Sith apprentices ordinarily did. They must, if they were trained well. An apprentice was unquestioningly loyal until the moment he wasn’t. Both Master and apprentice knew this.

Lords of the Sith, p. 27 (canon)

The relationship between Sidious/Palpatine and Vader demonstrates what the Master can gain from an Apprentice: Vader killed many of the Jedi himself and was Sidious' enforcer, allowing Sidious to hide his true identity and study the dark side without having to hunt down Jedi himself.

As long as both Master and Apprentice fulfill their end of the bargain the Rule of Two works. If the Master fails to show strength then the Apprentice must kill and replace him. If the Apprentice fails to show loyalty then the Apprentice is of no use for the Master and will be killed.

The Master also needs the Apprentice in order to (selfishly) gain power:

In the intervening years [Sidious] had actually come to appreciate Plagueis for the planner and prophet he had been. Such perilous machinations required two Sith, one to serve as bait for the dark side, the other to be the vessel. Success would grant them the power to harness the full powers of the dark side, and allow them to rule for ten thousand years.

Tarkin, p. 101 (canon)

Bane did consider a Sith Order composed of only one Sith Lord, but rejected it. His conception of the Rule of Two involved an Apprentice who served the Master along with lesser "minions and servants":

At first [Bane] had thought the answer [to avoid Sith in-fighting] might be to replace the order of the Sith with a single, all-powerful Dark Lord. No other Masters. No apprentices. Just one vessel to contain all the knowledge and power of the dark side. But he had quickly dismissed the idea. Eventually even a Dark Lord would wither and die; all the knowledge of the Sith would be lost. If the leader grows weak, another must rise to seize the mantle. One alone would never work. But if the Sith numbered exactly two … Minions and servants could be drawn into the service of the dark side by the temptation of power. They could be given small tastes of what it offered, as an owner might share morsels from the table with his faithful curs. In the end, however, there could be only one true Sith Master. And to serve this Master, there could be only one true apprentice. Two there should be; no more, no less. One to embody the power, the other to crave it.

Darth Bane: Path of Destruction, p. 237 (Legends)

Of course most Masters attempted to gain immortality in order to selfishly retain their power indefinitely. Bane, who created the Rule of Two, attempted it via essence transfer, and both Plagueis and Sidious famously attempted it by manipulation of midi-chlorians. There's no guarantee that a particular Master will acquire that power, but the Rule of Two ensures that each succeeding Master is more powerful and thus closer to the goal. Each Master has the hope that he will be the one to gain the power of immortality and avoid death at the hands of his Apprentice. A lone Sith would not have any previous knowledge to build upon and would likely die (either at the hands of a Jedi, another dark side user, old age, etc.) before he could learn to cheat death.

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    Obviously, Master uses Apprentice, but it would be far less risky to use lesser minions for same job (ex. Clone Troopers killing Jedi instead of Vader) . As for Bane, he is full of contradictions in trilogy . He doesn't care for Sith in his age, but somehow cares for future Sith. He says "Honor is for the living, dead are dead" yet wants his own legacy after death. He wants immortality, but not for selfish reasons but to preserve his own Sith Order . You could almost say "there is still some good in him " :)
    – rs.29
    Dec 2, 2016 at 21:33
  • Whatever u said is true but this leaves no motivation for the Master to teach all his knowledge of the dark side to the Apprentice - just some bit so that he could do his job. And with the Jedi all seemingly defeated and killed after episode 3, there is even lesser motivation. And that will eventually lead to weaker and weaker siths as Masters will die mostly out of old age rather than because of more knowledgeable and competent Apprentices, defeating the whole purpose of 'Rule of two'.
    – amsquareb
    Dec 26, 2019 at 3:17

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