Despite what George Lucas likes to say, the Jedi aren’t exactly the most innocent life forms in the galaxy far, far away. The Sith are sure to pick apart their teachings, mirroring the real-world Christianity/atheist debates that tend to rip into the contradictions of one another in an attempt to make them look inferior. We aren’t here to talk about religion. We’re here to talk about something far more important, and that is how the Light Side of the Force and the Dark Side compare.
Perhaps one of the many lies told to Luke during his training (don’t start on that nonsense about how it was “point-of-view” because I will not stand for such things), came from Yoda himself when Luke inquired about the Dark side, directly asking Yoda if it was stronger than the Light. His response: “No, no, no. Quicker. Easier. More seductive.” While it’s easy to point out that Yoda does not emphatically state that the Light Side is therefore stronger, but merely that they may actually be equal, it’s worth pointing out that Yoda was in on the “Your dad was a great Jedi warrior killed by Darth Vader” lie that is actually 100% responsible for Luke beginning his training in the first place. How is that a “heroic” way to draft someone to your side? It also calls into question his credibility regarding pretty much anything he says now. I would say, “I wouldn’t trust him as far as I could throw him,” but with him being so small and everything I can’t even really say that because that’s probably still a pretty good distance.
Since the Star Wars canon has essentially eliminated a majority of the aptly named “Expanded Universe,” that makes only the films and Clone Wars TV show, as well as a couple other little gems like Shadows of the Empire still technically canon (An argument for the likes of Darth Bane and therefore the events of Knights of the Old Republic can be made on another day) it’s only fair that I back up this stance using only canon sources, AKA: The six films that we now have to go off of.
Here are seven (canon) reasons that the Dark Side is, in fact, stronger than the Light Side.
7: Episode III: Anakin Faces Obi Wan
In what you’ll notice is a trend, it’s very rare that a Jedi stands over a Sith once fully besting them in combat. Episode III: Revenge of the Sith is one of the very few times where just that happens, when Anakin is left stricken down and mutilated beyond repair after facing down his former mentor in battle. Yet, analyzing the characters of both Anakin and Obi Wan may tell a different story.
The truth is, Anakin was falling to the Dark Side, but his plunge was only complete with Sidious’ final line to him, claiming that, in a fit of rage, Anakin himself had killed his lover Padme. That was the final kick that completed Anakin’s decent, fully immersing him in the Darth Vader persona. So it is, going into that climactic battle with Obi Wan, Anakin was severely conflicted, acting on whatever impulse he could in order to save his beloved Padme. This, of course, backfired on him pretty severely, but the beginning stages of that fight were more a very tortured, frustrated, and desperate man doing the bidding of his newfound master and taking on the man who had basically raised him from childhood and nurtured him into a warrior.
Despite how barbaric the battle became, it’s safe to say that Anakin had not fully slipped into the abyss when fighting his mentor. Needless to say, Anakin had been a “Sith” for all of a few days by this point? Yes, the Dark Side is most definitely a faster path to learning, solely because it lends no energy toward caution and is based on “do whatever you can to become stronger.” Despite that, could Anakin possibly have any measure of mastery over the Dark Side of the Force as a more seasoned Sith would have?
This battle ends less with a recognition of the strength of the Sith, and more with the most glaring weakness and biggest mistake made by the Jedi. Obi Wan had defeated Anakin, wounding him and leaving him near death. But, he did not kill him. He allowed his feelings to get the better of him, and, in doing so, created the single most iconic villain of all time in the process.
It goes without saying that their next meeting didn’t end quite as well for Obi Wan, though that entire battle could be debated in a post all by itself.
6: Episode II: Count Dooku faces down Anakin and Obi Wan
Episode II: Attack of the Clones kicked off with a teenage Anakin and a more matured Obi Wan working together. After a bunch of events that I don’t feel like listing here, it culminates in a hangar where they face down Darth Sidious’ newest apprentice, Count Dooku. Dooku, for whatever reason, doesn’t get a “Darth” moniker and is therefore nowhere near a true Sith, but still very much a student of the Dark Side. Labels are everything, and if you ain’t a Darth then you ain’t nothing.
Inevitably, though Anakin had put up a good fight before it was said and done, Dooku bested both Anakin AND Obi Wan, leaving them in a heap together. Only the interference of Yoda managed to save both of them. Of course, Yoda came in with his cane and all wibbly wobbly, so it’s obvious to me that he’s in some sort of insurance scam because he totally does not need that cane. Either way, he comes in and him and Dooku enter yet another battle, this time one less one-sided than Dooku’s previous encounter.
Of course, that particular fight can be chocked up to a draw, or possibly with Yoda being given the upper-hand. There’s no denying that. But, Yoda, by this point, is like THE Jedi. He’s not some peon who goes out and does nonsense fetch missions for XP. Yoda is the guy sending the Knights out to get XP because he already has ALL THE XP. He’s like the XP master. So, this fight was almost like Darth Sidious fighting eight year old Anakin from Episode I because that’s the difference between a Jedi Master who has been around for nearly a millennium and trained himself to near-perfection and a guy who’s merely the apprentice to another, more powerful master.
5: Episode III: Dooku takes on Anakin again
So here we are, a few days and a lot more angst later. Anakin is a bit more seasoned and he again faces down Count Dooku as Palpatine looks on. Despite how hard we are on the prequel trilogy, there’s no denying the sheer level of artistic irony behind this fight, as Palpatine’s apprentice takes on the man who he wishes to be his apprentice in the future. Despite being on the same side as Dooku, Palpatine wants Anakin to cut his head off and leave him dead before him, exactly as he will do with Luke and Anakin years down the road. That’s just…that’s just fine, George.
Sure, the fight was nowhere near as emotional as that fight that would ensure above Endor years later, but Anakin faced down Dooku at the urging of Palpatine. In the end, by listening to Palpatine, Anakin tapped into his more primal instincts and lopped Dooku’s head off with his own super sweet lightsaber. What a dick.
Yet, how did Anakin beat him? Did he stay true to his Jedi teachings of not acting out of arrogance or anger? Definitely not the case. In fact, he was still bitter about losing his arm in the previous duel with Dooku and, with Palpatine fueling the fire, acted on his anger, aggressively attacking and finally pummeling Dooku to the ground and finishing him off, which is ALSO not the way of the Jedi, who are not supposed to kill a foe but instead bring them to justice for their misdeeds. Like Batman, but with more mystical powers and lasers. Same amount of dead parents all over the place, though.
Despite Anakin’s victory, it wasn’t a case of a good guy beating a bad guy by remaining true to his laurels, ala Luke later in the series (more on that in a bit). Instead, this is the story of a good guy stooping to the level of the bad guy and proving that his “righteous” teachings just weren’t enough to get the job done.
4: Episode III: Darth Sidious tangos with Yoda
By this point you’ll probably notice that most of this list does, in fact, take place in the prequels. Whether we like it or not, that’s when most of the Jedi vs. Sith happenings get to happening.
In this particular meeting, Jedi Master Yoda comes face to face with Darth Sidious for the first, last, and only time in their lives as known enemies. Up to this point they had met with Yoda having been mostly blind to Sidious’ true nature. How ironic it is, then, that that’s what set this encounter up. Sidious’ mastery of the Force is so much that he is able to fully blind not only the 900 year old Jedi badass, but also EVERY SINGLE OTHER JEDI IN THE GALAXY. That’s like…that’s pretty much unheard of no matter what canon of this galaxy you go looking into.
Aside from the fact that Sidious’ influence was so massive that he was effectively able to make complete fools of the “wisest” people in the galaxy, it’s also the first time we truly see the diabolical strength of Palpatine, as, to this point, he relied on his frail appearance. His encounter with Mace Windu earlier in the film starts with him laying waste to two Jedi masters in seconds, only to face Windu one on one. This leads to Palpatine losing to Windu? Or so it would seem, anyway. Anakin showed up at exactly the right moment to see Windu defeating the “frail” old man Palpatine had been gallivanting about as. He was so weak that he couldn’t fight Windu for even a second longer, but the moment Anakin realized that Windu was in the “wrong,” Palpatine somehow mustered the power to basically completely destroy him in a matter of seconds. So much clever, Palpatine. So much clever.
This finally leads to the battle of Yoda and Palpatine, in which the one creature with almost full mastery of the Light Side of the Force meets a creature with at least a very solid mastery of the Dark Side (by his own admission Palpatine still had a thing or two he wished to learn). It ends with Yoda being defeated so badly that he literally goes into hiding for years. Why? Who knows. It’s actually really cowardly when you think about it. “I lost. I’m going to go hide cuz I’m so ashamed.” Total weaksauce, Master Yoda. Palpatine never hid. He was right under your nose for years and you were just mad that, not only did he make you into a fool and crush your pride, but then he crushed your body and your spirit, sending you running with your tail between your legs.
3: Episode V: Luke meets Vader
Despite having gone through almost two entire films being mortal enemies, it wasn’t until The Empire Strikes back that Luke Skywalker and Darth Vader meet for the first time face to face. It’s every bit as dramatic as we could have dreamed and then some. The thing about the Sith is that a lot can be said about their lies, considering how much Palpatine does it to get what he wants, but it’s so much sweeter that the lies of the Jedi came full circle in this climactic battle that served to be arguably the greatest twist in cinematic history as Darth Vader proclaimed he was the father of Skywalker.
Up to this point, the battle had already been lop-sided as Vader swiftly and easily fended off the young and naïve Skywalker, who was clearly ill-prepared to take on the Sith Lord at this point in his young career. It comes as no surprise then that Vader bested him with such ease, cutting his hand off (which actually held his own lightsaber that he had crafted years before for even more poetic elegance) and forcing him to take drastic measures to ensure his own survival.
It wasn’t so much that Vader had physically bested his young son. That was the only conclusion that could come of their duel at this point. It was more that Vader toyed with Skywalker throughout the entirety of the battle. No matter how true to his teachings Luke remained, there was no way to gain the upper-hand in this battle. The final blow wasn’t the strike that removed Luke’s hand, but instead it was the strike that tore Luke’s soul out and flushed it down the space toilet. That was a complete victory over Skywalker. One that destroyed him both physically and emotionally in one move. The revelation that had been planted in Luke’s head on that day would fester for years until their next battle, and, in that way, tie both number 3 and number 2 together on this list.
2: Episode VI: Luke takes on Vader and Palpatine
After viewing the prequels and seeing what type of enemy Emperor Palpatine truly is, the concept of Luke considering a fight with him is completely ludicrous. Sure, he’s grown to a point where he can hold his own against Vader, but Vader is merely a shell of the man he could have been and, in comparison to Palpatine, he’s essentially just an ant.
The battle went less one-sided than the previous encounter did. Again, however, Luke was unable to soundly defeat Vader using his training. It wasn’t until Vader taunted him with using Leia as his apprentice that Luke truly let go. At this point, all of the weight that had been placed on him during their last battle, with the revelation that his mortal enemy was his own father, and Vader’s endless taunting came to a head. Luke dropped his “peaceful warrior” gimmick, viciously assaulting his own father and pummeling him into submission in precisely the same way that Vader himself had done so many years prior to Dooku, and with the same man, Palpatine, there to egg him on and silently pull for Luke to take his place as his new apprentice.
Take a minute to let all of that sink in, as the one true moment when Anakin and Vader were paralleled in their journeys.
Yet, when it was said and done and Vader was little more than a withering mess, Luke went the other way. He didn’t kill his father, but instead spared his life. In one of many arrogant idiocies committed by the Jedi, he then tosses HIS ONLY MEANS OF DEFENSE from Palpatine to the side, declaring himself a Jedi in the process. What an idiot. He needed that dramatic moment so badly that he didn’t need to defend himself from the most dangerous man in the entire galaxy. Not that it would have mattered, considering Palpatine easily would have dismantled him in a duel of lightsabers, but it’s the very concept of dropping your guard around the man who conquered the entire known galaxy that just baffles me to this day.
Despite the fact that Luke did indeed spare the life of Vader and proclaim that he was a warrior of the Light Side, that only came AFTER he succumbed to his anger and hatred and used them to cut down his foe like a tree. All of his Jedi teachings had failed to defeat Vader not once, but twice now, and it was only in that moment when Luke finally said, “Screw it. I’m done messing around,” and gave into his primal rage that he was able to fully incapacitate Vader to a point that he could say he had beaten him. In those moments before the fall of Vader, Luke was not a Jedi, but nearly a true Sith who was attacking with utter hatred and anger, slashing wildly and seeking to destroy his own father. That’s not what a Jedi does.
To add to this, Luke was not able to topple the Emperor…at all. Like, he wasn’t even able to put up a fight. Mostly because he had tossed aside his lightsaber like a moron, but also because he just was not in the same league as the Sith Master. In fact, considering Yoda was also dead by this point, no one in galaxy was even on the same playing field as Palpatine by this point in the series. Palpatine was the ruler of the galaxy and there was no force strong enough to compete with him. Only by being blindsided by his own apprentice from behind and tossed into the core of the most powerful weapon in the history of the universe did he finally succumb to death (debatable if you’re a fan of the EU). There was no one who ever truly bested the Sith Lord. He was essentially beaten by dirty tactics and never once in a fair fight did he lose.
1: Episode 1: Darth Maul makes total fools of two Jedi Knights
In the grand scope of things, Darth Maul was just a really, really, really awesome looking villain who died too soon. He was still rather young and brash during his battle on Naboo with both Jedi Knights, Qui Gon Jinn AND Obi Wan Kenobi.
This wasn’t your typical “Let’s attack our foe one at a time to give him a fair chance” scenario, nor was it a “the young, brash kid runs in and gets into a fight over his head” situation. No. This was two fully trained Jedi Knights facing down one single Sith, and not the master Sith, but the apprentice. The battle that ensued could arguably be the best lightsaber duel in the franchise, and the one thing about the first of the prequels that really felt like Star Wars.
Darth Maul not only fended off both Jedi Knights AT THE SAME TIME, but he actually bested the older, more experienced of the two within just a few minutes of having some one-on-one time with him. Maul with a sliver of the training managed to overcome both of these Jedi at the same time and then wipe one of the wisest in the Order out with ease.
This, of course, led to Obi Wan becoming furious, attacking Maul in a fit of rage. This, of course, NOT being how a Jedi is taught to conduct himself. Yet it was the rage and hatred of Maul that still prevailed. It was, indeed, not Maul’s strength that lost him the fight in the end, but his overconfidence. An older and wiser Maul, like the one later seen in the Clone Wars, would have known better than to allow such a slip-up with Obi Wan by assuming he was defeated just because he was hanging into a bottomless pit. He’s a Jedi, Maul. It wasn’t at all Maul’s lack of talent or power that proved to be his downfall, but, inevitably, it was his own inexperience. In an unfair disadvantage he managed to best two Jedi at the same time, and in a fair fight with each of them he had proven to be superior to them by defeating them, even if a rookie mistake cost him the lower half of his body.
So, there you have it. The case is made, and I’m sure you have some excellent counterpoints to these points that you can make. Hell, you may even have some points to strengthen this argument, since I really didn’t touch on the powers held by each of the warriors. Jedi can, I dunno, move stuff and hold their breath for a long time. Sweet. Sith can electrocute you, choke you, and, apparently, bring people back from the dead with their minds. It’s clear to see what’s the more powerful choice as far as a power goes.