This article explores the theory that the Sith may actually be the “good guys” in Star Wars. It tackles the story of Anakin Skywalker and his experiences with the Jedi order. It also draws from the now non-canon Extended Universe, as well.
Everyone knows that there must be a balance to The Force in the Star Wars universe. May the 4th was Star Wars Day, so May 5th must be Revenge of the 5th (Sith).
Though many Sith exist in the Extended Universe, only two Sith masters can exist at any one point in the film franchises. Or at least…that’s what we’ve been told.
But newest films showed us that Snoke wields The Force with great ability despite not being a Sith or Jedi member. The First Order and Kylo Ren carry out HIS will and not necessarily a Sith’s will.
But even beyond all of that, you have the very basic rivalry between the Jedi and the Sith.
It all revolves around the way in which Force-sensitive people wield or interact with The Force. But no person’s story exemplifies the inherent flaws in the system better than Anakin Skywalker’s.
Are the Sith actually the “good guys” in the Star Wars universe?
First Piece of Evidence: The Dark Side vs The Light
While there are differing approaches to Force practices, most people know the Jedi and Sith as “Dark vs Light”. But it isn’t as simple as good vs evil in the world of The Force.
The “Dark Side” represents things like power, ambition, and self-preservation. Think a Slytherin from the Harry Potter Hogwarts houses.
Now think of a Gryffindor: brave, less selfish, and more socially accepted as “good”. That’s the Jedi Order…except you have to throw some really rigid rules and cloak and dagger tactics.
The good vs evil dichotomy really falls apart in how each “side” approaches information.
As we have covered before, information is almost a currency in the Star Wars universe.
The Sith, while perhaps biased, are generally very forthcoming about a situation or history. The Jedi actively obstruct trainees from learning certain things.
Furthermore, the Jedi just straight up abduct little kids and indoctrinate them. They would take them as early as infancy sometimes. That’s essentially what the Empire does with Storm Troopers, as well.
Sith practices in the Star Wars films seems limited to what we see in the prequel movies. But in the extended universe, there are Sith academic institutions and Sith masters often choose apprentices very selectively.
Though the training methods can be lethal, there is an element of agency involved in Sith training. A Jedi trainee may choose it, but you have plenty of younglings like Anakin.
They are young, impressionable, and from a lower station in life. They are the ideal candidate to be molded into an obedient and effective Jedi weapon.
Inflexibility in the Jedi Ranks led to Anakin’s Defection
Though Qui-Gon Jinn practices a more holistic Force study, not all Jedi share this discipline. Yoda, especially, is much more strict in the prequel films than later movies.
He and other Jedi Masters preach the teachings in the “sacred texts”, but we never really learn anything concrete about those texts. We get cryptic sayings like “search your feelings” in tandem with the advice to “bury your feelings”.
But the Jedi also don’t allow those who want to leave the Jedi Order to do that.
As mentioned, they literally abducted infants sometimes to build their order. But they also semi-brainwashed them to make them more Force sensitive. After that, the children could not return to their families due to their Force sensitivities.
But that isn’t even the most hypocritical part of the Jedi Order. They talk about controlling your emotions and giving up worldly interest. But do you know how Jedi Council member and Master Mace Windu became one of the best Jedi duelists?
By channeling his love of fighting and, thereby, the Dark Side itself. How is this totally allowed, never talked about, and not allowed for other Jedi?
That leads me, sadly, to my next point.
The Jedi Kind of Aren’t Very Good at Being Good Guys
One of my favorite YouTube channels is the one linked above: Auralnauts. Apart from silly commercial dubs, they do Star Wars recuts that are pretty hilarious.
But they really dig into the concept that the Jedi are just giant jerks. The running joke about Jedis in the Auralnauts series is that they are drug (midichlorian) addled party boys with no oversight. Hmm…that does sound a little familiar, doesn’t it?
Though they do have rules in the Jedi Order, most Jedi can act without government sanction. They operate similarly to the Spectres in the Mass Effect games. Reddit user Yunners sums it up pretty well:
Count Dooku stands out as one of the most prominent examples of how cloistering the Jedi Order can be. After all, he defected to the Dark Side just like Anakin, but only after being rebuffed by nearly everyone about his Darth Sidious theory.
His own zealotry as a Jedi led to attempts on Padmé Amidala’s life and Obi-Wan’s imprisonment. But he was trying to do all of this to save everyone from Darth Sidious a.k.a. Supreme Chancellor Palpatine.
This also ties into the inflexibility leading to defection theory outlined above.
After being totally rebuffed by the galactic council and having my Jedi apprentice die, I might defect to the Dark Side, too.
Misinformation and Cloaked Motives Hurt the Jedi Order
One of the main reasons Anakin began to turn to the Dark Side involved Palpatine’s influence. His story about Darth Plagueis sparked the fire in Anakin that would eventually lead to his downfall.
There was no Jedi lore about this event and Obi-Wan Kenobi wouldn’t tell Anakin anyway. It would go against his strict code of Jedi ethics. After all, he wasn’t like his Jedi Master Qui-Gon Jinn who practiced a more naturalistic version of The Force.
But perhaps it was Qui-Gon’s death that catalyzed Obi-Wan into being so rigid. Yoda softened after the events of the prequel movies. Or perhaps he just got old and cranky living in that swamp all by himself.
Regardless, so much of the conflict in Star Wars involves information (or the lack of it). Rogue One is solely about information and so is A New Hope. This also extends into the dramatic irony present in all of the Star Wars films.
The audience finds out early that Luke and Leia are siblings before they learn this. We know that Anakin becomes Darth Vader, but we don’t know how until we watch the prequels. We know who Rey’s parents are — well, maybe we don’t, but you get the idea.
The difference is that we, the audience, aren’t weapon wielding dudes with space powers and unlimited license to destroy things/people.
A Cult of Toxic Masculinity vs Meritocracy
Ignoring anything about prominent female Jedi, just look at how Anakin is treated when he expresses emotion.
Obi-Wan scolds him, saying that emotion will lead to the Dark Side, but never explaining why. Since he was a child, the Jedi Order repeatedly punished Anakin for being “too emotional”. After all, the main value for a Jedi is to be emotionally detached above all else, right?
This is the seed that leads Anakin down the path to Darth Vader. It is what makes him fear for the life of his love and family. And it is the poison that destroys his relationship with Obi-Wan and the rest of the Jedi Order.
This concept plays on real-world biases and prejudices about what “being a man” means.
Contrasting this, anyone who is strong enough to survive Sith training can eventually ascend to being a Sith lord themselves. This is why Luke Skywalker represents the best of the Jedi and the best of the Sith.
Luke is not made vulnerable by his emotions; he is fueled by them, channeling his will through discipline into action. In fact, Luke trained with Yoda without really touching the “sacred texts” Obi-Wan forced Anakin to study so fastidiously.
Perhaps this was why he could help Darth Vader redeem himself before he died.
So yeah…the Sith might not be bad guys and the Jedi might not be so “good”. As in real life, the truth is much more nuanced, grey, and — if you will — balanced.
Why else is the Jedi Order a less positive group than the Sith in Star Wars?