I read on Wookieepedia that Darth Plagueis was still plotting with Darth Sidious during "The Phantom Menace".

If Plagueis is Sidious' Master and Maul is Sidious' Sith Apprentice doesn't that violate the Sith's Rule of 2?

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  • 4
    possible duplicate of If the Emperor and Vader agree to recruit Luke, doesn't that violate the rule of 2?
    – Izkata
    Commented Jul 17, 2013 at 11:42
  • I never understood the point of this "rule of two". How can it possibly be a good thing to kill off your allies? With such a restriction on the sith, they could never ever in a million years hope to compete with the jedis.
    – TLP
    Commented Jul 17, 2013 at 18:17
  • @TLP, it was less about defeating the Jedi's and more about reducing in-fighting within the Sith Order.
    – phantom42
    Commented Jul 17, 2013 at 20:21
  • @phantom42 Yes, the only way up from there is the "rule of one", or the "rule of none".
    – TLP
    Commented Jul 17, 2013 at 20:42
  • 8
    To be fair, Yoda was the only one to state the "rule of two" on screen, and his track record on who is or isn't a Sith isn't that great.
    – user20155
    Commented May 5, 2015 at 6:13

5 Answers 5


Too many people seem to take the Rule of Two far too literally.

Wookieepedia explains the rule:

The Rule of Two states that there would be only two Sith at one time, a Master and an Apprentice, guaranteeing that when the Apprentice becomes powerful enough in the ways of the Dark Side to take the title of Master, only then would they be worthy of the title. This transfer of power would only take place when the Apprentice takes their Master's life and finds a worthy student to repeat the cycle. Both Master and Apprentice were considered to be Sith Lords.

But even here, there is a problem. If we follow this rule as described we have the following order of events:

  • Sith Master + Sith Apprentice (2 Sith)
  • Sith Apprentice kills Sith Master (1 Sith)
  • Former Apprentice becomes Master (1 Sith)
  • Sith Master finds new Apprentice (2 Sith)

If we take the "Rule of Two" to be so specific as Yoda's quote "Always two there are, no more, no less" and never deviate from this exact specification, the order of events as described cannot ever happen as it defies the supposed rule.

Similarly, if we follow an alternate chain of events (as we see here), we still violate the rule.

  • Sith Master + Sith Apprentice-1 (2 Sith)
  • Sith Apprentice-1 finds and takes on a secret Apprentice- (3 Sith)
  • Sith Apprentice-1 kills Sith Master (2 Sith)
  • Sith Apprentice-1 becomes Sith Master (2 Sith)

But let's go back to the actual conversation Yoda's quote is from.

MACE WINDU : There is no doubt. The mysterious warrior was a Sith.

YODA : Always two there are....no more...no less. A master and an apprentice.

MACE WINDU : But which one was destroyed, the master or the apprentice?

It can be interpreted that Yoda isn't saying that there are only two Sith ever, but that there are always two Sith working together: a master and an apprentice. If one Sith shows up, there is "always" another one involved.

The real takeaway regarding the Rule of 2 should be that Sith are too power hungry to allow more than one other to exist. They need to be the most powerful being. Palpatine/Sidious, however, is more than just ambitious and power hungry, he's also incredibly patient and conniving. He's willing to let things play out long term in an effort to gain everything he wants - even allowing three Sith to exist for a time.

  • 2
    I almost brought up the point about Ventress myself, but when I looked her up, she was listed as a Dark Acolyte underneath Dooku. Ventress' page has a quote about how she was never a full Sith despite wanting to become one.
    – phantom42
    Commented Jul 16, 2013 at 16:18
  • 12
    The Rule of Two is as much a rule as Moore's Law is a law. In other words, this is just an observation which is usually true, but doesn't always have to be.
    – Malcolm
    Commented Jul 16, 2013 at 21:13
  • 4
    @phantom42 Only a Sith deals in absolutes. You'd think people would learn.
    – Nigralbus
    Commented Jul 17, 2013 at 11:54
  • 9
    +1 for pointing out that the 'Rule' is taken to seriously by people. That annoys the hell out of me. The Rule of Two is by no way a binding and unbreakable law. Also, it's practically in the nature of the Sith to defy and break rules, as long as the gain outweighs the consequences. They take every advantage they can get and would never let a simple rule stand in their way to victory. Commented Jul 17, 2013 at 14:03
  • 23
    It can be interpreted that Yoda isn't saying that there are only two Sith ever, but that there are always two Sith working together: a master and an apprentice. I have always understood the rule like this. Commented Jul 18, 2013 at 6:07

In the novel Darth Plagueis, part of the unfolding plot is exactly your question: what is to become of the Rule of Two? Plagueis recruits Palpatine as a child and throughout their training he indoctrinates him with the idea that Bane's Rule of Two will end with him (Plagueis) and they will be the start of a new galactic order of Sith. This is their 'grand plan'; that Palpatine would weasel his way to the Chancellor seat and as his first act make Plagueis the co-chancellor (on equal footing). The rule of two can arguably be said to have ended with Plagueis' own master, Darth Tenebrous, because it is revealed that Tenebrous had another apprentice besides Plagueis, Darth Venemis.

Another thing to consider is that Plagueis knew of Maul since he was a child. Palpatine asked permission to train him. Part of the novel speaks about how Maul was never intended to become an actual Sith lord; he would be merely a tool, and attack dog, of both Plagueis and Palpatine until they took over the Senate. Then they would bring Maul into the public arena, if he made it that far alive. They often spoke about Maul dying during his missions.

The thing to take away is the Rule of Two is not something that is integral to the Sith religion. It is merely one person's (Darth Bane's) interpretation of how best to master the force. So, to paraphrase a quote from everyone's favorite pirate, it's not really a rule so much as it is a guideline.

  • 1
    Just to add a little detail, Plagueis gave Sidious permission to train Maul as a Sith Assassin; he was never considered to be a Lord and eventually worked this out. Sidious appears to have given him the name "Darth" to make Maul think he was a bigger part of the Grand Plan than he actually was. In fact, Maul worried about how he would carry on the Sith legacy if Sidious died and this led to him figuring out that Sidious had a living master as well.
    – Stephen
    Commented Jul 17, 2013 at 17:40
  • Now wait just one moment... Barbossa is everyone's favorite Pirate? Commented Feb 1, 2017 at 19:16

There must always be two. If you read the Darth Bane series of books, Zannah takes on her own apprentice before Bane is dead. The apprentice she takes on is not a Sith anything because she is an apprentice and cannot have an apprentice herself. So that person, Zannah's apprentice, is just a person who practices the Dark Side of the Force. When Zannah becomes the master. That person becomes an apprentice. I know I'm late on this.

  • You should edit this answer to add in any relevant quotes and also directly answer the question. Whilst you hint at what the answer is you don't directly answer whether or not there are too many Sith in TPM.
    – TheLethalCarrot
    Commented May 14, 2019 at 14:41

Yes, it does violate.

For those who don't understand the purpose of the Rule of Two:

  • The only target of the Rule of Two is to grant the Sith Order's power growth.
  • The only way to grant the growth is that every Sith is stronger than the previous one.
  • The only way to grant the strength of successive Sith is that each would defeat the master one-on-one.
  • The only way to grant the one-on-one confrontation is for there to be only these two Sith existing.

"Grant power growth" means that the power will keep on the same level or rise, never decrease.
Of course there are a bunch of minuses and pitfalls in this approach, but it works and works well.

Also I'd emphasize some maybe not so obvious details:

  • Master is mortal, so he must pass his power to someone at least to minimise losses, so he always must have an apprentice
  • Master must preserve his own life, and minimise the risks - and because of that everything dangerous should be done by the Apprentice. As a consequence, when anybody sees an openly-acting Sith almost certainly it is the Apprentice. So, answering Mace Windu's question "But which one was destroyed, the master or the apprentice?" - "Apprentice most likely was"
  • Apprentice accumulates power from two sources - from Master, and from applying it in the field. So in some way we can say that apprentice takes higher risks for sake of fast power growth, while Master minimises risks for keeping power and increasing it by low-risk means.
  • As a result comes the strategy of Rule of Two Sith Lords - to act from the shadows

The Rule was first implemented by Darth Bane (inspired by ideas of an ancient Sith Lord, if I'm not mistaken).

starwars.fandom.com/wiki/Darth_Bane:_Path_of_Destruction starwars.fandom.com/wiki/Darth_Bane:_Rule_of_Two

  • @Richard, It IS literally "rule of two". It IS a restriction of no more than two Sith to exist at one moment. Read the books: starwars.wikia.com/wiki/Darth_Bane:_Path_of_Destruction starwars.wikia.com/wiki/Darth_Bane:_Rule_of_Two
    – Luten
    Commented Aug 12, 2014 at 11:08
  • 1
    The rule states that only two Sith Lords should exist at one time, one Master and one Master-Apprentice. There's no restriction on junior (non-master) Sith Apprentices or else how could there be a Sith Academy with Sith tutors? Yoda is assuming they encountered a Sith Lord, hence Sith-Master or Sith-Master-Apprentice.
    – Valorum
    Commented Aug 12, 2014 at 11:15
  • @Richard, Read my post carefully and thinkfully. It describes what this rule is for. No it states that there only one Sith Lord at any time. And the purpose of rule is to only the mightier Sith could become the new Lord without any help. Sith Academy was before the rule of two was actively implemented. To be more specific the academy was figuratively destroyed by first "true" rule implementor - Darth Bane.
    – Luten
    Commented Aug 12, 2014 at 11:34
  • @Luten "Apprentice accumulates power from two sources - from Master, and from applying it in the field." OMG, it's the same as Academia! Also, "thinkfully" isn't a word. Commented Jun 1, 2019 at 15:45
  • @RubelliteFae, really? =) It should be thoughtfully, thanks =))
    – Luten
    Commented Jun 4, 2019 at 5:17

Darth Maul was never a Sith Master, just an apprentice. Darth Bane believed it was a good choice for only two Sith because you never knew if you killed the master or apprentice and most of all, Bane saw how there were Jedi everywhere and it would be easy to take out a group at one time. It was easy to find the Jedi because they were spread everywhere. With only two Sith, it was hard to track them down or know were they hid. You could not take out a group of Sith if they kept their numbers low and Bane learned from passed killings that his idea would prevent this from happening again. I always thought Bane used this as a guide line and not a rule set in stone. The Sith are adaptable to situations and Darth Bane would realize that changes would be needed in certain situations.

  • You cite no sources for your speculations, and do not answer the question satisfactorily. Commented Jan 12, 2014 at 8:11

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