The Rule of Two holds that there are only ever two Sith Lords; one master and one apprentice. When the apprentice becomes powerful enough to defeat the master, the apprentice slays the master and becomes the new master. At any point in time, there would only ever be two (or one) Sith Lords.

What would happen if the master were to die before the apprentice was strong enough to defeat them (either from an accident, or slain by a Jedi, or by some other means besides the apprentice slaying them)? Would the apprentice, weak as they are, become the new master but never complete their training?

Were there any (canon or Legends) contingency plans that the Sith order laid out to keep this from happening or to recover from this happening?

Going further, what would happen if both master and apprentice were slain?

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    The Master and Apprentice both being slain will likely play a big part in the upcoming film, considering the two were both killed at the end of the final film.
    – user44330
    Commented Apr 29, 2015 at 18:21

3 Answers 3



Although Kylo Ren is not a Sith, he managed to find a Sith-ish Master to teach him the ways of the Dark Side. Where this Master learned what he knows is not explored in The Force Awakens, but any of the explanations I explore below are plausible.


At least once during the time of the Rule of Two, the Master was killed by someone other than the Apprentice. What ended up happening was that the Apprentice took on the mantle of Master, and took an Apprentice of his own.

In Legacy of the Force, the Dark Lady Lumiya is killed by Luke Skywalker. Her apprentice, Darth Caedus went underground before emerging as the new Dark Lord; from Wookieepedia.

The other thing, with both the Master and Apprentice being killed, sort of happens shortly afterwards; Caedus is killed, but his apprentice (Tahiri Veila) was merely redeemed, and turned away from the Dark Side. Although she wasn't slain, she exiled herself and played no part in the re-emergence of the Sith.

That re-emergence was thanks to Darth Krayt, who actually created a Sith Empire that ran concurrently to Lumiya and Caedus' reign. While Lumiya learned from Darth Vader, Krayt went directly to the source: the ghost of XoXaan, an ancient Sith Lady, and her holocron.

It's important to remember than, in Legends, the Sith Order has been around for a very long time, with their origins (at least in a form we would recognize) dating back 7000 years before the events of the movies. There have been dozens, if not hundreds of Sith Lords; many of them made holocrons, and some of them remained as malevolent Force ghosts after their death. There is plenty of ancient Sith lore lying around, waiting for a disillusioned Jedi to ask the right questions (or the wrong ones, depending on your perspective).

As Omegacron reminds me in comments, Lumiya herself is an interesting version of this point; Lumiya had been trained by Darth Vader and served as an Emperor's Hand, a Force-sensitive assassin (Mara Jade was also one). Some time after the death of Palpatine and Vader, Lumiya just declared herself to be the new Dark Lady of the Sith.

Sith finds a way.

  • I do recall there being plenty of explanation for this in Legends canon, with the Sith essentially making sure every base was covered in the case of any eventuality (Holocrons being a big part of their survival). I'm more interested in how only two managed to exist. Did the "main two" kill off anyone who tried to become a Sith Lord, or hire them on as acolytes but not full-on Sith?
    – user44330
    Commented Apr 29, 2015 at 18:45
  • @Rhettorical Typically the second one. Both Dooku and Vader had secret apprentices at different times; Palpatine had his Hand, and a couple other agents with similarly hilarious names. In the case of Krayt, he and Lumiya/Caedus just didn't recognize the other as Sith. Just as the Sith do, writers find a way Commented Apr 29, 2015 at 18:49
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    Sometimes, Sith happens?
    – CBredlow
    Commented Apr 30, 2015 at 0:37
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    +1 for the last line. Sith, uh... well, um... Sith finds a way. And, um... well, there you have it.
    – Omegacron
    Commented Apr 30, 2015 at 15:31
  • @JasonBaker: you may want to mention that Lumiya is also an example - she declared herself Dark Lady of the Sith once all potential masters were dead. Obviously, she didn't know about Darth Krayt but still...
    – Omegacron
    Commented Jul 10, 2015 at 20:34

There isn't really much about this in the movies, but in some of the EU now Legends books Darth Bane who started the rule of two had some Sith holocrons and other dark side research materials. If the master died the apprentice would be able to complete their training using these materials.

If both of them died that would get pretty awkward the Sith... Someone would surely attempt to become a Sith Lord eventually but they would not have any of the materials and passed down knowledge. The chain was never broken until Sideous and Vader though so not much to go on. In Legends Vader was secretly training an apprentice (Lumiya) and she continued it.


The Rule of Two is probably done in these future films. Well, there is a chance that the apprentice could become as powerful as the master as we see in Darth Bane Rule of Two. But the Rule of Two makes sure that will happen.

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