At the very end of Star Wars, episode 1: The Phantom Menace, Mace Windu and Yoda had this discussion :

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.

Within the movie series, this principle is respected. The only exception I see is Grievous, but I don't think he counts as an apprentice only because he can wield some lightsabers, he does not appear to be a force user which is a major part of the apprentice description.

But in expanded universe, this rule seam the be broken fairly often. One notable example is Asajj Ventress from the Clone Wars animated series. How she (and others) could be a Sith if there is already two of them with Sidious and Dooku?

  • 13
    Since when did evil ever play by the rules?
    – BBlake
    Commented Oct 12, 2011 at 16:35
  • 1
    @BBlake Then please explain why they break their own rule, there must be a reason.
    – DavRob60
    Commented Oct 12, 2011 at 18:02
  • 5
    They are EEEEEEEVVVVVVIIIILLLLLLLLLLLL. That's the only reason evil ever needs to not go by the rules. And whoever said that was a Sith rule. That is the Jedi assumptions of what the "rules" are.
    – BBlake
    Commented Oct 12, 2011 at 19:03
  • 9
    'Tis more of a guideline than a rule Commented Dec 2, 2011 at 15:36
  • 2
    @JustinTime-ReinstateMonica: Sith lords respected the Rule of Two because for the most part it worked. Commented Jan 10, 2020 at 17:02

9 Answers 9


There are only two Sith, one master and one apprentice. One to embody the power and the other to crave it. This decree came from Darth Bane.

In the case of Asaaj Ventress, she is a dark jedi/ Sith aspirant. Another term is that she is a dark side adept. Ventress is also Dooku's "secret" apprentice. She is Dooku's assassin, not a Sith. Dooku/Darth Tyranus hopes to use her to beat Palpatine/Sidious. Only then could Dooku make Ventress his true apprentice. However, she is no secret as Sidious realizes that Dooku is training her in a future attempt to kill him. Darth Sidious orders Dooku to kill her, but she survives.

I highly recommend Jedi Vs. Sith: The Essential guide to the Force.

  • Secret or not secret, an apprentice having an apprentice breaks the Rule of Two.
    – Oldcat
    Commented May 20, 2015 at 22:17
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    @Oldcat: That depends upon your point of view. There is a difference between the Apprentice (Tyranus at this point) and an apprentice. I prefer the term "trainee" in that case; a prudent Sith Lord (Master or Apprentice) ought to have at least one trainee at all times, in case the position of Apprentice becomes open. Commented Feb 1, 2016 at 21:16
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    If it can be the Rule of Two Dozen, then it isn't really the Rule of Two, is it?
    – Oldcat
    Commented Feb 1, 2016 at 21:52

The Rule of Two, which Mace Windu and Yoda are talking about in your question, is a rule setup by Darth Bane to consolidate the power of the Sith order and basically make the master stronger. At the same time there is also a push/drive for the apprentice to become the master. If there are only two the stronger of the two, the master or the apprentice, would survive their ultimate confrontation.

This model also was to keep the Sith hidden from the Jedi. The Jedi eventually found that this was happening and why they believe that there are only two at any time.

Also, Dooku most likely thought that she was hidden from his master, but if Sidious, in his eyes, found it to his personal advantage to let Dooku have an apprentice there would be no reason for him to stop it.

It basically comes down to the fact that if the master believes themselves to be superior and they can bend the situation to their benefit then they can let it happen and manipulate the situation.

Also, even in the Darth Bane books at the end Zannah, Bane's apprentice, had just recruited her own apprentice. Although the apprentice was order not to interfere with the battle between master and apprentice.

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    The rule is just that a rule not a law of nature. Though the Jedi seem to believe that it is a forced constraint.
    – Chad
    Commented Oct 17, 2011 at 20:45
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    He probably didn't think she was hidden, given that he immediately introduces her to Sidious in the original Clone Wars cartoon.
    – Milo P
    Commented Dec 31, 2015 at 17:29

Technically, Ventress is Count Dooku's apprentice. However, Dooku was Palpatine's apprentice at the time...

A lot of this is covered in The Rule of Two entry on Wookieepedia. TL;DR - Palpatine considered it more like what you'd call "guidelines" than an actual rule, really.


She wasn't a Sith, she was a Dark Jedi. She was never indoctrinated into the ways of the Sith, and therefore did not know their secrets. As long as she did not sport the "Darth" title, it was fine.


I think they took the use of the word Sith rather deliberately to make it easier to draw the lines. Ventress was trained in the Sith arts and would count as Sith apprentice but she's not a true Sithlord as Doku and Palpatine understand themselves. She's not Darth Ventress, because as I understand it only a true Sithlord is given that Title and there are always only two, at least known during that time. If there appears another "Darth" I think the real Sithlords might indulge him/her but a simple title does not yet make you a true Lord unless you beat your predecessor.


Asajj Ventress was not a Sith. From the canon reference book Star Wars: Absolutely Everything You Need to Know:

enter image description here

[Emphasis Theirs']

Q: Is Ventress a Sith?

A: Ventress draws her power from the dark side of the Force and is mentored by Count Dooku, yet she is not fully trained in the ways of the Sith. Her skills are undisciplined and not perfect.

Keep in mind that the Rule of Two was never an enforced law or biological constraint. Dooku likely intended for Ventress to be his apprentice after he overthrew Palpatine, but she was never an official Sith. In fact, Palpatine ordered Dooku to kill her to prevent that from happening. There is no hard limit on the number of Darksiders that can exist at a given time.

  • Did you take that picture with your fridge?
    – Valorum
    Commented Jul 2, 2018 at 23:27
  • @Valorum Hmm?
    – Rogue Jedi
    Commented Jul 2, 2018 at 23:30
  • Feel free to splash out £30 on the book and show me up.
    – Valorum
    Commented Jul 2, 2018 at 23:41

Could be a lack of distinction between THE Sith, the two, and the sith being used as a general term for any others (force-wielding or not) who may follow the Sith ways.

Also, there is always also the idea of the original RACE of Sith, the beings, not the ideologues. Perhaps she had actual Sith blood? I don't know enough of her character, but that could be another possibility.

  • 3
    Nope. Not that. Commented Oct 13, 2011 at 4:20
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    Not the answer, but a good point about the distinction between the race of Sith and the "Sith ways" ("Sith religion"?).
    – Mufasa
    Commented Oct 13, 2011 at 15:03

I thought it simply meant that they come in pairs. So there might be hundreds, but they don't group together more than two at a time. Nor are they loners.

  • This is incorrect. The Rule of Two is very explicit that there should only be two Sith Lords at any one time.
    – Rogue Jedi
    Commented Jan 21, 2018 at 21:18

Allow me to provide a different (and far more likely) view, because you're all forgetting Mace Windu's line:

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.

Up until this point, the Jedi had thought the Sith were gone. But here, they discovered one still around. Yoda was simply noting that a Sith master always had an apprentice (or nearly, he may be between them at the moment..).

This particular line makes no reference to a limit of two Sith, just the knowledge that an unknown Sith was still around.

While I can't say for sure about the expanded universe and the Rule of Two that was established, this line seems to be the basis of the assumption by fans and those authors that there were always only two sith in existence, since it's nearly always referenced... When it just looks like a misunderstanding.

  • 3
    "Yoda : Always two there are.... no more...no less . A master and an apprentice." Or if you prefer (Not(X<2) And Not(X>2)). This fit well the "reference to a limit of two Sith" since the only valid answer is X=2.
    – DavRob60
    Commented Dec 7, 2011 at 12:59
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    @DavRob60 Or simply that the Master only has one Apprentice (because two could overpower him), and an Apprentice has only one Master. It doesn't speak of other pairs. Not always speak simple, Yoda does...
    – Izkata
    Commented Dec 7, 2011 at 13:40
  • Then how would it apply to the case of Asajj Ventress?
    – DavRob60
    Commented Dec 7, 2011 at 13:46
  • @DavRob60 He's using that quote as the basis of his question... So my answer would invalidate the question, since more than two sith can exist at the same time.
    – Izkata
    Commented Dec 7, 2011 at 14:50
  • This is not simple as this ("He" is me). 1- The question is also about the specific case of Asajj Ventress. 2- Your answer state that there could have more than one Sith pair, it does not "invalidate the question"; how a group of more than 2 could exist with this rule? If the apprentice (Doku) could have an apprentice(Ventress), it break the "no more" part.
    – DavRob60
    Commented Dec 7, 2011 at 15:22

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