“Always two, there are. No more, no less.”
This truism, revealed at the end of Star Wars: The Phantom Menace, aligns perfectly with the greed that defines the Sith. Once an apprentice feels that they have mastered the ancient order’s ways, they slay their mentor and take a student of their own. This is how the Sith remained hidden until the time was right, after a cataclysmic schism consumed all but Darth Bane a thousand years before the events of the films. (I think that’s also how learning a skilled trade works, and that’s why I’m a hack writer instead of a carpenter. Sorry, Dad.)
This limitation also meant that only a few Sith would appear in the saga. The Star Wars films only show us four Sith Lords: Darth Maul, Darth Tyranus, Darth Sidious, and of course Darth Vader. Kylo Ren is not truly a Sith Lord as he was primarily trained by Snoke and not Palpatine directly, and he can die mad about it. Well, he didn’t die mad about it at all, but you know what I mean.
In the case of Maul and Tyranus (better known as Count Dooku), latter-day Sith Lords (but also earlier, because Star Wars is strange), concept designers for The Phantom Menace and Attack of the Clones had their work cut out for them, designing the next of the iconic lineage of designs that began onscreen with the imposing Vader and continued with the fearsome Emperor. The final results of the vicious Maul and the aristocratic Dooku are no doubt memorable in their own right, but some of the other ideas proposed along the way found a life of their own. It’s often said that Star Wars may reject concepts, but it never truly discards them. Here’s a few Sith designs from the first two Star Wars prequels that didn’t quite make the cut, but popped up elsewhere.
The Jedi Master with a broad grin slightly less creepy than Anakin Skywalker’s lakeside advances first seen in Attack of the Clones was actually designed by longtime Star Wars artist Dermot Power as a possible new Sith apprentice for that film before Dooku’s character was locked down. It was later decided that perhaps the new antagonist should instead be female, which led to…
Yet another Dermot Power art piece created during the process of defining Attack of the Clones’ primary villain was a samurai-inspired bald woman wielding twin curved lightsabers in a striking black and white ensemble. This design would be nixed when director George Lucas decided to cast screen legend Christopher Lee in the principle Sith role, but it quickly found new life later that same year as Dooku’s own apprentice and assassin Asajj Ventress, who would go on to appear in countless comics, novels, and both animated series Clone Wars and The Clone Wars, because why just recycle concepts when you can recycle titles?
An interesting note: this character was originally named Juno Eclipse, but was renamed by Dark Horse Comics on the grounds of the Eclipse name not having a dark enough sound to it. Fans of the 2008 video game The Force Unleashed will know that that name found new life just like the concept art, of course, in the form of an Imperial pilot just as morally complex as the “hairless harpy” herself.
Mother Talzin, matriarch of Dathomir introduced in The Clone Wars, was heavily based on a well-known Iain McCaig design for a “Sith witch” in The Phantom Menace. She appears in The Clone Wars almost unmodified from the original design, which was for a character that would eventually become Darth Maul. This is appropriate, given that she is his mother.
Luminara’s ornate robes, prominent headpiece, and well-tooled leatherwork are atypical of the ascetic Jedi Order of the prequels, so it is no surprise to learn that her design originated as something else entirely. Yet another of Dermot Power’s explorations for a female Sith Lord in Attack of the Clones went on to ironically become the ultimate stoic and serene Jedi Master. In this interesting artwork, the idea of Sith twins was explored. The other side of the Force would ultimately get its own set of powerful twin sisters with…
The ill-fated twin Jedi Master could be considered the first victim of Order 66 after her death at the hands of clone trooper Tup in “The Unknown” in The Clone Wars’ sixth season. Even before that, though, Tiplar was designed for Attack of the Clones by Iain McCaig as a possibility for the female Sith Lord planned for that film.
Jar Jar Binks
I’m kidding, but I hope I had you for a second there.