At the very end of Star Wars Episode 1: The Phantom Menace movie, Mace Windu and Yoda had this conversation:

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.

As I think, a Force-sensitive guy using a red lightsaber attacking a Jedi couldn't necessarily be a part of Sith order established by Darth Bane. For example, Darth Maul wasn't a Sith during the events of Star Wars: The Clone Wars TV series which was clearly stated by Palpatine.

How did Mace Windu conclude that the mysterious warrior was a Sith?

  • Unless there is something in the novelisation of The Phantom Menace that I have missed, it is never conclusively stated how he reaches the conclusion. Any answer on my part would require conjecture. It would seem safe to assume that a Force-user of Maul's ability and aggression was a Sith, especially given Qui-Gon's previous statements in support of that view. Qui-Gon was known to jump to conclusions, but Master Windu had recently accepted his opinion of Anakin Skywalker. Why not accept his opinion on Darth Maul as well? In conclusion, there is no way to conclusively answer the question. Jan 23, 2014 at 11:29
  • Lucas did come up with the idea for Bane and had him inserted into the novelisation of The Phantom Menace. Jan 23, 2014 at 12:10
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    force-sensitive guy using a red lightsaber attacking a Jedi couldn't necessarily be a part of Sith order established by Darth Bane Really? That's pretty much the first thought that should come to mind.
    – phantom42
    Jan 23, 2014 at 12:11
  • It's worth noting that Windu did not know Bane started the Rule of Two. Bane (if I remember correctly) never fought the Jedi in close combat, so the Jedi may have never known he existed. If they did, they assumed he died in the Thought bomb.
    – Tomari7
    Jan 28, 2014 at 2:59
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    You know, it is quite obvious. 1) The NAME. Siths ALWAYS name themselves a Darth. 2) Even without the name, a Jedi can sense the dark emotions coming from a Sith, unless said Sith was as skilled as Darth Sidious, who used the Force to cloak his Sith-ness. May 15, 2018 at 13:12

5 Answers 5


Windu probably assumed Maul was a Sith because he knew he wasn't anything else. I'm sure the Jedi kept tabs on all of their members who leave the Order, and they knew none of them had on rogue (or perhaps it is as simple as none of them were Zabraks).

It was probably a combination of factors that made Windu think Maul was a Sith as opposed to a member of one of the various other Force-using organizations in the galaxy.

First of all, Maul was able to beat Qui-Gon in a lightsaber duel. Obviously, Jedi are killed from time to time, but not in a lightsaber duel like that. In addition, Qui-Gon was a very powerful Jedi, on the level of a Council member. (The only reason he wasn't on the Council was his unorthodox methods.) Besides the Jedi, the only Force-using group that trained in the use of lightsabers were Sith or Sith-affiliates.

The red lightsaber would have been a factor, too. As far as I know, there had not been any red lightsaber users who were not Sith/Dark Jedi at that time. Obviously, no Jedi would make a red lightsaber, and just as only the Sith were the only others capable of wielding a lightsaber, the Sith were also the only others capable of constructing a lightsaber.

In addition, the existence of Sith would explain the increasing darkness in the Force that the Jedi were already feeling. The Jedi could observe that none of the other Force organizations were increasing in power.

It's important to remember that there would have been very little distinction between "Sith" and "Dark-side user" in Mace Windu's mind. So far in the history of the Sith, more or less all Dark-side users were Sith. It was only after the establishment of the Rule of Two that the definition of Sith became more discriminatory.

See also: When & How did Yoda come to know about rule of two?

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    I have to disagree very strongly with the assertion "More or less all Dark-side users were Sith". In the canon that we have, very few Dark Side users were Sith. Most obviously there are the Nightsisters of Dathomir, and their associated Nightbrothers - who were Zabrak. Indeed, Maul was a Nightbrother. It would have been a far more obvious guess that a force-wielding Zabrak was a Nightbrother than a Sith.
    – Werrf
    May 16, 2018 at 17:12

The answer comes from earlier in the film, when Qui-Gon meets with the council after his brief confrontation with Maul on Tatooine.

Qui-Gon: He was trained in the Jedi arts. My only conclusion can be that it was a Sith Lord.

Unfortunately, we've come in at the end of the report, rather than the beginning, so we don't know what other signs (if any) Qui-Gon might have presented before drawing this conclusion, but clearly he thought that he had enough evidence from a single brief encounter with Maul to conclude that he was a Sith. Speculatively, we might include:

  • Maul's facial tattoos. These have in various media been described as Sith tattoos, so their patterns may have been recognisable by Qui-Gon.

  • Maul's technology. In a deleted scene, Qui-Gon encountered one of Maul's probe droids; we can also assume that Maul's ship was left on the planet after his defeat by Obi-Wan, and was available for the Jedi to examine. Design features of these devices could have been compared to earlier Sith designs.

  • Maul's clothing. Black Jedi robes are apparently a thing for Sith.

Any of these, plus I'm sure other things that I'm not thinking of, could all have added up in Qui-Gon's mind to "Sith". However, the council weren't ready to agree with their renegade member on such an important issue on the basis of said renegade's brief fight with an unknown person.

However, after the Battle of Naboo, the council have more evidence. They have Obi-Wan's independent report of his fight with Maul, of Maul's fighting style and his power, they have independent reports from the soldiers who were with them at the time of Maul's appearance, and as mentioned above they have his leftover equipment. This should be enough to confirm Qui-Gon's earlier conclusion - that the mysterious assailant was a Sith.


It was Qui-Gon Jinn who guessed that Darth Maul was a Sith. It was Qui-Gon who had first briefly fought against Maul on Tatooine. It was he who made the guess that Maul was a Sith . . . and presented his assumption to the Jedi Council.

Mace Windu did not come to the conclusion about Maul out of thin air. Nor was he a "Grey Jedi". And Obi-Wan was not the one who told the Council that Maul might be a Sith.


The answer to this question isn't really given to us in the film, at least not in a straight-forward way. The fact is that we, the audience, aren't ever really told who the Sith are, where they come from, or what their history with the Jedi is. So how can we possibly understand what gave Darth Maul's identity as a Sith away? Jedi force sensing techniques maybe?

Also, you mentioned Darth Bane and the Clone Wars TV show; George Lucas' Star Wars films have no relation to the expanded universe of Star Wars, not in the real world, anyway. Yes, they're technically called "canon" but Lucas didn't make the films with the expanded universe in mind. A lot of it was made up as he went along, with very little reference made to a canon universe. The Clone Wars TV show was made to fit in with the film series after the latter was "completed" (not counting the upcoming episodes 7,8 and 9).

Here's the best I can do for your question, though: Perhaps it was simply Obi-Wan's account of his fight on Naboo, along with the fact that his and Qui Gon's opponent wielded a red-bladed lightsaber, that convinced Mace and Yoda that Maul was a Sith?


Mace Windu was a grey jedi. He could actually use certain aspects of the dark side of the force. But he wasn't consumed by the Dark Side. From this power he could sense what Darth Maul was!

  • It is true that Mace Windu was a master of Vaapad. Indeed, in Legends it is established that he in fact created the style. And it is also true that Vaapad draws close to the Dark Side in using the opponent’s own Dark Side strength against them. But was he canonically referred to as a Grey Jedi? And did it say somewhere that it was this power that allowed him to sense Maul?
    – Adamant
    Sep 23, 2016 at 20:47
  • Very interesting Adamant 17, did not know about Vaapad. I do know Mace Windu had the same efficancy with a light saber as Yoda. Its controversial, but Mace BEAT Palpatine in his chambers until Anakin showed up! Not sure if this is canon. This is my interpretation!
    – mmcubb
    Sep 23, 2016 at 20:56

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