I don't remember any mention of the Sith in the original trilogy. The few expanded universe books I've read (which predate the prequel trilogy) refer to "Dark Jedi."

When were the Sith first mentioned in Star Wars canon? (Real time, not in-universe time.)

  • possible duplicate of When Did George Lucas Make Up the Stuff About the Sith and Midichlorians? Commented Dec 5, 2011 at 21:32
  • 10
    That question asks about rule of two and midiclorians, but not about the concept of the sith in general. There is certainly no answer there to this question. Commented Dec 5, 2011 at 21:35
  • 2
    @OghmaOsiris - The problem is that the other question has a misleading title (as Sean said, "the sith" part was specifically "about the rule of two") - it is not a duplicate Commented Dec 5, 2011 at 22:50

7 Answers 7


Wookieepedia - Star Wars: Sith - Behind the scenes:

An issue of Star-Lord, published by Marvel Comics in 1973, featured a villain, Rruothk'ar, who was described as a "Sith-Lord".

As far as SW canon:

BlueHarvest.net Scoops! - Star Wars: A New Hope script:

Star Wars: A New Hope script


From the JOURNAL OF THE WHILLS by George Lucas

Revised Fourth Draft January 15, 1976




The awesome, seven-foot-tall Dark Lord of the Sith makes his way into the blinding light of the main passageway.

  • 6
    So in summary, this concept of the Sith dates all the way back to Lucas' Star Wars novel, and the related script. As far as fleshing out exactly what the Sith were... that comes later.
    – KeithS
    Commented Feb 17, 2012 at 1:28
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    Just want to mention that Lucas did not write the novel. It was written by Alan Dean Foster based on George's script and treatments. Commented Oct 12, 2013 at 6:31
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    Lucas's original Rough Draft written in 1973-4 mentioned the Knights of Sith. Not canon, but it makes it clear that the fact that they were the principal baddies was Lucas's idea: scifi.stackexchange.com/a/175381/1973
    – Plutor
    Commented Dec 1, 2017 at 20:11
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    He was also called a "Dark Lord of Sith" in the Star Wars Storybook, a reduced novelization for kids released in the late 70's after the movie became popular. Commented Dec 1, 2017 at 23:23

I remember Darth Vader being referred to as a "Dark Lord of the Sith" before the prequel trilogy came out, probably before Episode V was released. I don't think the Episode IV movie uses the phrase, but I think the novelization does. (The novel is canon, right?)

But there was no explanation of what the word "Sith" means.

  • According to an annotation in the anniversary re-release of Heir to the Empire, Zahn intended to make the Sith the species that eventually became the Noghri. (Obviously, he was instructed otherwise.)
    – Cadence
    Commented May 6, 2018 at 21:51
  • Yeah, the original Star Wars trading cards captioned Darth Vader as Lord of the Sith.
    – Dronz
    Commented Oct 23, 2019 at 19:17

I believe Vader was called the Dark Lord of the Sith around the time of the initial movie's release, though I don't think mention of it was made in the film. I believe there was mention in the original novel, though.

As Keith said, that concept wasn't expanded upon.

  • If it wasn't in the movies, it was in other material, since I knew Vader was "Dark Lord of Sith" during the original trilogy. (And, I think, at that time, it was not "Dark Lord of the Sith," but just "Dark Lord of Sith.")
    – Tango
    Commented Dec 5, 2011 at 21:58
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    Sounds like a gigantic Lord of Sith to me. Commented Jan 6, 2012 at 15:59

The question asks for 'real time' as to when people would have known the term 'sith'

DVK mentions the ANH scripts, but as far as I can tell these were not (officially) available until around the time of the special edition releases in 1997.

However, the official novelisation Star_Wars: From the Adventures of Luke Skywalker published November 12, 1976, does mention the Sith. (and notably Palpatine's name for the first time)

Wikipedia notes:

The novel also refers to Darth Vader as a Sith Lord. Although he was referenced as such in various merchandising tie-ins at the time of the original film, he is not referred to as a Sith Lord in the movie. In fact, the term Sith Lord is not mentioned in the films until 1999's Star Wars: Episode I – The Phantom Menace

I've looked through the star wars vault but the earliest mention I could see of Sith was on a lolly wrapper from 1980.

So I think the earliest 'canon' mention was in the novelisation in November 1976, but there would have been some unknown PR or merchandising that mentioned it before then possibly before the original film was even released.

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    It's worth noting that the novel doesn't mention Palpatine as Sith, and implies he was simply a politician who was being controlled by people he thought were his lackeys.
    – Machavity
    Commented Jun 26, 2018 at 12:15

Sith were in the initial scripts for the original Star Wars, as a honorable (tho dark) knightly order opposed to the Jedi (who were, at that time, called "Jedi Bendu", IIRC). This was from before the movies were even made.

Their visible representative was a warrior called Prince Valorum (later, the unused name was recycled by Lucas for the chancellor of the Republic) who assisted the New Imperial general Darth Vader (yes, DV was the name of a repugnant, honor-less general, originally) to deal w/the protagonists of that early draft, tho Vader's vile behavior convinced him to join the heroes, instead.

  • Can you give some sources for this?
    – HDE 226868
    Commented Jun 6, 2015 at 23:48
  • @HDE226868 I've added some quotes from The Secret History of Star Wars to the answer, which hopefully provide enough justification, but if you have acess to a copy there's a longer summary of the relevant first draft screenplay on page 72. It's an interesting story, especially as the many unused ideas from it ended up being reused in other Star Wars films (e.g. it includes various plot elements from Return of the Jedi - only with 'Wookees' rather than Ewoks - as well as ones that ended up being used in A New Hope).
    – Jules
    Commented Feb 26, 2018 at 14:18

I first heard the term "Dark Lord of the Sith" when I was like six or seven. I saw Episode 4 in the Drive-In theater. Yeah I just dated myself - LOL! Anyway, I was a huge Vader fan after seeing Episode 4 as a kid, and was even him for Halloween 5 straight years before choosing Han Solo because a friend was Chewbacca. But all things Vader, I had toys, comics and books, story 33 record albums, and trading cards and stickers. In all the books and even on his original trading card, he is referred to as "The Dark Lord of the Sith". Also in one of the story books he is referred to as a "Sith warrior". And as said out here earlier, it's in the novels. Everything I stated is from the original 70's releases. However, nobody ever said what the Sith was in any of these original materials. Oh, I just remembered asking my father what the Sith was, and he said it is probably "Vader's religion". I guess my Pop was ahead of his time back in 77' - LOL :-)

  • 1
    It would be a significant improvement if you cited from WHICH books etc... you think the info is from. Otherwise, we have zero way of determining if the information is correct or someone mis-remembered or you are George Lucas in disguise doing ret-conning <g> Commented Oct 8, 2014 at 23:48
  • I believe they are Topps made, but the trading card copyrighted 1977 20th Century Fox and Lucasfilm (I have a pic of the actual Sith card). Also, Ballantine/Del Rey Books original A New Hope novelization. The Star Wars Storybook purchased from the Scolastic Book Club 1978 (I will get publisher details in the AM). I do have photos of all these original 1977 Lucasfilm copyrighted materials. More to come...
    – Tony B
    Commented Oct 9, 2014 at 3:17
  • The Scolastic Books Star Wars Storybook is from Random House - 1978.
    – Tony B
    Commented Oct 9, 2014 at 3:25

I remember reading the phrase on an info card on cardboard that came with the Darth Vader toy (c. 1997), which listed his title as "Dark Lord of the Sith"

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