Are there too many Sith in The Phantom Menace?

I read on Wookieepedia that Darth Plagueis was still plotting with Darth Sidious during “The Phantom Menace”.

If Plagueis is Sidious’ Master and Maul is Sidious’ Sith Apprentice doesn’t that violate the Sith’s Rule of 2?




possible duplicate of If the Emperor and Vader agree to recruit Luke, doesn’t that violate the rule of 2?
– Izkata
Jul 17 ’13 at 11:42



I never understood the point of this “rule of two”. How can it possibly be a good thing to kill off your allies? With such a restriction on the sith, they could never ever in a million years hope to compete with the jedis.
Jul 17 ’13 at 18:17



@TLP, it was less about defeating the Jedi’s and more about reducing in-fighting within the Sith Order.
– phantom42
Jul 17 ’13 at 20:21



@phantom42 Yes, the only way up from there is the “rule of one”, or the “rule of none”.
Jul 17 ’13 at 20:42



To be fair, Yoda was the only one to state the “rule of two” on screen, and his track record on who is or isn’t a Sith isn’t that great.
– Lego Stormtroopr
May 5 ’15 at 6:13


4 Answers


Too many people seem to take the Rule of Two far too literally.

Wookieepedia explains the rule:

The Rule of Two states that there would be only two Sith at one time, a Master and an Apprentice, guaranteeing that when the Apprentice becomes powerful enough in the ways of the Dark Side to take the title of Master, only then would they be worthy of the title. This transfer of power would only take place when the Apprentice takes their Master’s life and finds a worthy student to repeat the cycle. Both Master and Apprentice were considered to be Sith Lords.

But even here, there is a problem. If we follow this rule as described we have the following order of events:

Sith Master + Sith Apprentice (2 Sith)
Sith Apprentice kills Sith Master (1 Sith)
Former Apprentice becomes Master (1 Sith)
Sith Master finds new Apprentice (2 Sith)

If we take the “Rule of Two” to be so specific as Yoda’s quote “Always two there are, no more, no less” and never deviate from this exact specification, the order of events as described cannot ever happen as it defies the supposed rule.

Similarly, if we follow an alternate chain of events (as we see here), we still violate the rule.

Sith Master + Sith Apprentice-1 (2 Sith)
Sith Apprentice-1 finds and takes on a secret Apprentice- (3 Sith)
Sith Apprentice-1 kills Sith Master (2 Sith)
Sith Apprentice-1 becomes Sith Master (2 Sith)

But let’s go back to the actual conversation Yoda’s quote is from.

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

MACE WINDU : But which one was destroyed, the master or the apprentice?

It can be interpreted that Yoda isn’t saying that there are only two Sith ever, but that there are always two Sith working together: a master and an apprentice. If one Sith shows up, there is “always” another one involved.

The real takeaway regarding the Rule of 2 should be that Sith are too power hungry to allow more than one other to exist. They need to be the most powerful being. Papaltine/Sidious, however, is more than just ambitious and power hungry, he’s also incredibly patient and conniving. He’s willing to let things play out long term in an effort to gain everything he wants – even allowing three Sith to exist for a time.



It’s also important to note that several Sith Apprentices had secrect apprentices of their own. Even Sidious himself had at one time Tyrannus, and Asajj Ventress both under his tutelige. It could even be argued that Anakin was already his apprentice while he was still Count Dooku’s master.
– Monty129
Jul 16 ’13 at 16:15



I almost brought up the point about Ventress myself, but when I looked her up, she was listed as a Dark Acolyte underneath Dooku. Ventress’ page has a quote about how she was never a full Sith despite wanting to become one.
– phantom42
Jul 16 ’13 at 16:18



The Rule of Two is as much a rule as Moore’s Law is a law. In other words, this is just an observation which is usually true, but doesn’t always have to be.
– Malcolm
Jul 16 ’13 at 21:13



+1 for pointing out that the ‘Rule’ is taken to seriously by people. That annoys the hell out of me. The Rule of Two is by no way a binding and unbreakable law. Also, it’s practically in the nature of the Sith to defy and break rules, as long as the gain outweighs the consequences. They take every advantage they can get and would never let a simple rule stand in their way to victory.
– Sebastian_H
Jul 17 ’13 at 14:03



It can be interpreted that Yoda isn’t saying that there are only two Sith ever, but that there are always two Sith working together: a master and an apprentice. I have always understood the rule like this.
– sm4
Jul 18 ’13 at 6:07

In the novel Darth Plagueis, part of the unfolding plot is exactly your question: what is to become of the rule of two? Plagueis recruits Palpatine as a child and all throughout their training he indoctrinates him with the idea that Bane’s rule of two will end with him (Plagueis) and they will be the start of a new galactic order of Sith. This is their ‘grand plan’, that Palpatine would weasel his way to the Chancellor seat and as his first act make Plagueis the co-chancellor (on equal footing). The rule of two can arguably be said to have ended with Plagueis’s own master, Darth Tenebrous, because it is revealed that Tenebrous had another apprentice besides Plagueis, Darth Venemis.

Another thing to consider is that Plagueis knew of Maul since he was a child. Palpatine asked permission to train him. Part of the novel speaks about how Maul was never intended to become an actual Sith lord; he would be merely a tool, and attack dog, of both Plagueis and Palpatine until they took over the Senate. Then they would bring Maul into the public arena, if he made it that far alive. They often spoke about Maul dying during his missions.

The thing to take away is the rule of two is not something that is integral to the Sith religion. It is merely one person’s (Darth Bane’s) interpretation of how best to master the force. So, to paraphrase a quote from everyone’s favorite pirate, it’s not really a rule so much as it is a guideline.



+1 for Star Wars Pirates
– The Fallen
Jul 17 ’13 at 13:28



Just to add a little detail, Plagueis gave Sidious permission to train Maul as a Sith Assassin; he was never considered to be a Lord and eventually worked this out. Sidious appears to have given him the name “Darth” to make Maul think he was a bigger part of the Grand Plan than he actually was. In fact, Maul worried about how he would carry on the Sith legacy if Sidious died and this led to him figuring out that Sidious had a living master as well.
– Stephen
Jul 17 ’13 at 17:40

Yes, it does violate.

For those who don’t understand the purpose of the Rule of Two:

The only target of the rule of two is to grant the Sith Order’s power growth.
The only way to grant the growth is that every next Sith is stronger then the previous one.
The only way to grant the strength of the successive sith is that it would defeat the master one-on-one.
The only way to grant the one-on-one confrontation is to be only these two siths exists.

P.S: “Grant power growth” means that the power will keep on the same level or rise , never decrease.
P.S.S: Of course there are a bunch o minuses and pitfalls in this approach, but it works and works good.



@Richard, It IS literally “rule of two”. It IS a restriction of no more than two Sith to exist at one moment. Read the books:
– Luten
Aug 12 ’14 at 11:08



The rule states that only two Sith Lords should exist at one time, one Master and one Master-Apprentice. There’s no restriction on junior (non-master) Sith Apprentices or else how could there be a Sith Academy with Sith tutors? Yoda is assuming they encountered a Sith Lord, hence Sith-Master or Sith-Master-Apprentice.
– Valorum
Aug 12 ’14 at 11:15



@Richard, Read my post carefully and thinkfully. It describes what this rule is for. No it states that there only one Sith Lord at any time. And the purpose of rule is to only the mightier Sith could become the new Lord without any help. Sith Academy was before the rule of two was actively implemented. To be more specific the academy was figuratively destroyed by first “true” rule implementor – Darth Bane.
– Luten
Aug 12 ’14 at 11:34

Darth Maul was never a Sith Master, just an apprentice. Darth Bane believed it was a good choice for only two Sith because you never knew if you killed the master or apprentice and most of all, Bane saw how there were Jedi everywhere and it would be easy to take out a group at one time. It was easy to find the Jedi because they were spread everywhere. With only two Sith, it was hard to track them down or know were they hid. You could not take out a group of Sith if they kept their numbers low and Bane learned from passed killings that his idea would prevent this from happening again. I always thought Bane used this as a guide line and not a rule set in stone. The Sith are adaptable to situations and Darth Bane would realize that changes would be needed in certain situations.



You cite no sources for your speculations, and do not answer the question satisfactorily.
– Meat Trademark
Jan 12 ’14 at 8:11