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This question already has an answer here:

When Qui-Gon encounters Darth Maul and the Jedi realise he was a Sith, they are amazed, having believed that they had been extinct for a long time.

On the other hand, at the end of Episode I, Yoda says "always two there are, the master and the apprentice", so they knew about the Rule of Two.

How can this be explained?

EDIT (given the answers)

Let's list the things that happened, which apparently the Jedi were aware of:

1) 1000 years ago the Sith were almost wiped out (became "extinct")

2) 1000 years ago, because they were almost extinct, the Sith started existing through a single pair (master and apprentice)

Given these two facts, why are they surprised? Yes, the Sith were extinct for 1000 years as a civilisation, but there are always two !

marked as duplicate by James Sheridan, Stan, Anthony Grist, DVK-on-Ahch-To star-wars Aug 1 '14 at 10:46

This question has been asked before and already has an answer. If those answers do not fully address your question, please ask a new question.

  • If they didn't know there was one sith, what makes you think they'd know there were two? – Valorum Jul 27 '14 at 9:01
  • @Richard That is exactly my question :) – Bogdan Alexandru Jul 27 '14 at 9:21
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    It looks like you've misunderstood the quote. Yoda doesn't know that the Sith are alive but as soon as he hears that there's one, he immediately jumps to the conclusion that one sith is going to be half of a pair. – Valorum Jul 27 '14 at 9:38
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I think the first answer to When & How did Yoda come to know about the Rule of Two? pretty much addresses your question as well--Yoda and other Jedi had heard about the Rule of Two through Kibh Jeen, but they didn't yet know whether they should believe that it was true, there was no direct evidence of any remaining Sith since they had all seemingly been killed at the Battle of Ruusan. So when new evidence surfaced that the Sith were still around, Yoda remembered Jeen's dying words and deduced that he had been telling the truth. As it says at the end of the Kibh Jeen article on the Star Wars wiki:

In 2006, Jeen was mentioned by Abel G. Peña in the StarWars.com Hyperspace article Evil Never Dies: The Sith Dynasties, as a means of resolving a continuity conflict regarding the Rule of Two. While the movie Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace established that the Jedi Order knew about the Rule of Two, later material indicated that the tenet was created by the Sith Lord Darth Bane in secret, and Jeen's testimony shortly before his death provided an explanation for how the Jedi could know of the rule.

As they point out there, it was only after The Phantom Menace that it became established in EU material that the Rule of Two had been created in secret by Darth Bane, so as Richard suggests, the real-world explanation for why Lucas didn't see a conflict may be that he was thinking of the idea of Sith coming in twos as a publicly-known rule followed by Sith even before their seeming extinction.

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Master Yoda isn't saying "Well, there's always a couple of Sith lurking about", he's making an observation that Siths have historically tended to come as a paired set, one master and one apprentice.

Up until the moment that they encounter Darth Maul, the Jedi have no special reason to assume there are any Sith (paired or otherwise) left in the galaxy. Once they know about Maul, they have reason to suspect that there may be another.

For the record, it's not clear whether Lucas even bought into the whole "rule of two" mythos. That was invented and codified much later, in various non - canon fiction novels.

  • "Historically" is an incorrect term. 1000 years ago the Sith became "extinct" and they started to exist as "a paired set". So looks like the Jedi knew both these things. Then why are they surprised to encounter a Sith, since they knew that in the last 1000 years there are "always" two? – Bogdan Alexandru Jul 27 '14 at 9:23
  • Yoda is making a general comment about his knowledge of Sith behaviour prior to their (supposed) extinction a thousand years ago. – Valorum Jul 27 '14 at 9:36
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    Actually, the status of post-Ep III novels is clearly (for now) non-Disney canon, but the status of pre-Ep III novels is not necessarily non-canon. Disney needs to formalize their canon – The Fallen Jul 27 '14 at 11:46
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    @Richard That is incorrect: prior to their "extinction" 1000 years ago, there were many Sith. So, they started the Two Rule just at the same time. – Bogdan Alexandru Jul 27 '14 at 12:50
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    @Richard Sorry, but that is exactly what Darth Bane's Rule of Two means. There can only ever be exactly two Sith, the Master, who has the power, and the Student, who craves it. In killing the Master, the Student becomes the new Master and takes on a new Student. His reason was, that the Dark Side cannot be shared, if there ever again were more than two at the same time, factioning and opportunism would arise, lead to infighting and weakening of the Dark Side against the hated Jedi. Since many weak people could overpower one strong master, the whole Sith Order would weaken itself. – BMWurm Aug 8 '14 at 14:01

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