Dark Jedi vs Sith explained: Why Star Wars fans are so divided

Darth Vader and Baylan Skoll in Star WarsDisney+

Fear leads to hate, hate leads to suffering, suffering becomes a transcendent pathway to the ways of the Sith – but what about Dark Jedi? This is the question Star Wars fans have been debating amid Ahsoka’s release.

Ahsoka Tano once rejected the distinction of Jedi. Yet, in the Disney+ series, everyone refers to her as one, and she never once corrects them. Of course, we know her past: she was Anakin Skywalker’s Padawan, and despite leaving the order, she still operates under its tenets in everyday life.

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Some characters are simple: Ezra Bridger, Luke Skywalker, Kanan Jarrus, Mace Windu, and Yoda are all Jedi, and Anakin aka Darth Vader, Emperor Palpatine, Darth Sidious, Darth Maul, Darth Sidious – basically anyone with the Darth prefix – is a Sith.

But what about the space in between, if there is such a thing? What if somebody doesn’t follow the light, nor have they succumbed to the temptation of ultimate power – could they be a Dark Jedi?

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Star Wars: What is the Sith?


The Sith Order is the antithesis of the Jedi: they’re an ancient religious order of Force-wielders who are totally devoted to the dark side.

The Sith is the ultimate representation of the dark side of the Force; they’re driven by absolute power (even though it corrupts absolutely, eventually), and fuel themselves via negative emotions. These aren’t just notions, but steadfast beliefs, which is an important element: members of the Sith are indoctrinated into the order and enforce its doctrines and aims.

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Star Wars: What is a Dark Jedi?

Kylo Ren in The Rise of SkywalkerLucasfilm

A Dark Jedi is a Force-wielder who relies on the dark side of Force without fully committing to the Sith. They may have been trained as Jedi in the order or possess abilities that they’ve tapped into and honed with anger, rather than the light.

The term was first coined by Timothy Zahn in 1991’s Heir to the Empire, in reference to a Jedi who’d fallen to the dark side, but this was due to the term “Sith” not being officially defined. It soon became “squishy” and fell out of favor at Lucasfilm, especially after the story was bundled into the de-canonized Legends universe.

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Tionne Solusar, an in-universe Jedi scholar, earlier explained: “Those who embrace the dark side have either claimed or been ascribed various titles. Perhaps the best known is Dark Jedi, something of a blanket term to describe anyone who is skilled at using the dark side of the Force.

“Dark Jedi are historically distinguished from Sith and dark side Force-users by heritage and experience; more specifically, Jedi of the Old Republic regarded Dark Jedi as Jedi-trained individuals who had abandoned their Order’s way to pursue a selfish and malicious agenda of their own design, and only those with direct Sith influence might be considered as Sith or Sith Lords.”

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Star Wars: Is a Dark Jedi the same as Gray Jedi?

Qui-Gon Jinn in Star WarsLucasfilm

No: a Dark Jedi relies on the dark side of the Force, while Gray Jedi walk the line between the light and the dark without subscribing (or surrendering) to either side.

Gray Jedi was a term first introduced in Star Wars: Republic: The Stark Hyperspace War, originally to describe Qui-Gon Jinn. “Jinn always does things his own way, always sure he is right, always incredulous if we do not see it his way. Some think he is a Gray Jedi,” Tyvokka explained.

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Funnily enough, the way of a so-called Gray Jedi best aligns with the first Je’daii Order, an ancient outfit unified by its observance of the Force without committing to one side or the other. “In the light, there is a darkness and in the darkness, a light. It is the way with us all. Be a prisoner of neither Bogan nor Ashla. Strive to live in balance. As Tython itself teaches us, it is dangerous to do otherwise. And the danger is there – always,” it was explained in Dawn of the Jedi: Force Storm.

However, it wasn’t popular behind the scenes, with Lucasfilm’s Matt Martin believing it to contradict George Lucas’ original vision. “It doesn’t really make sense in the way the Force works. That sort of goes against what Star Wars is all about. The dark side corrupts,” he tweeted.

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Yet, the debate persists, and it resurfaced around Andor’s release after people spotted Luthen Rael’s lightsaber, yet his words never echoed the holier-than-thou approach of the Jedi Order. Perhaps he’ll be revealed as a Gray Jedi in Season 2.

Why are Star Wars arguing about Dark Jedi and the Sith?

Ahsoka features two new characters: Baylan Skoll and Shin Hati, two Force-wielders who use the dark side of the Force – but they’re not technically part of the Sith. So… what do we call them? That’s what’s got fans talking.

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“Jedi means you follow the religion. You cannot be a grey Jedi, a dark Jedi, etc. You are either a Jedi or you are not. Baylan is not a dark Jedi, he’s just a Force user who’s an asshole,” one user argued.

“There’s a debate over #darkJedi and why it’s incorrect. First, both ‘Sith’ and ‘Jedi’ are religions, not occupations. Thus, ‘fallen’ Sith or Jedi. Second, it’s the same reason Satanists aren’t called ‘dark Christians’. Third, even if ‘dark Jedi’ was correct, the ‘d’ is lowercase,” another wrote.

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“‘Dark Jedi’ is like saying a ‘carnivorous vegan’ or an ‘evil saint’. It contradicts. ‘Fallen Jedi’ just means someone who used to be a Jedi but no longer is. You don’t have to be a Sith to be a Fallen Jedi, but you aren’t truly a Jedi,” a third wrote.

Arguing the other side, one wrote: “He’s a Jedi who has gone dark. Dark Jedi. Dark Jedi does not imply that he remains a Jedi, it’s a contrast to Sith. You could equally say Fallen Jedi. Really not super super complicated.”

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“I don’t understand the hate for it. Gray Jedi are stupid, but Dark Jedi make sense, it’s former Jedi who don’t necessarily utilize the dark side to further the goals of the Sith but they have unsavory motives,” another tweeted.

“Let me be clear, I see you people that hate Legends and I think this is sad. The term Dark Jedi predates the actual usage of the word Sith in anything official beyond the production stuff. Getting hung up on the word ‘Jedi’ just makes me not take you seriously,” a third wrote.

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Ahsoka Episodes 1-7 are available on Disney+ now, which you can sign up for here. You can see our predictions for the finale here, and check out our other coverage below:

Episode 1 review | Episode 2 review | Episode 3 review | Episode 4 review | Episode 5 review | Episode 6 review | Episode 7 review | Ahsoka cast and characters | Who plays Grand Admiral Thrawn? | Who is Captain Enoch? | Who is Marrok? | What time does Ahsoka come out? | How many episodes are there? | When does Ahsoka take place in the Star Wars timeline? | How long are the episodes? | Where was Ahsoka during the original Star Wars trilogy? | Darth Sion and the Eye of Sion explained | Who is Jacen Syndulla? | What are purrgil? | The World Between Worlds explained | Why does Anakin call Ahsoka Snips? | Ahsoka budget: How much did it cost? | Dark Jedi vs the Sith | How old is Ahsoka? | The Siege of Mandalore explained | When does Ahsoka die? | Night Troopers explained | Dave Filoni divides Ahsoka fans with Thrawn casting

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