Star Wars Fans Think They Know Who The Acolyte’s Mystery Sith Villain Is

Is the Sith Lord in the Star Wars: The Acolyte trailer meant to be Darth Tenebrous? That's what some fans think.

Sith Lord in Star Wars: The Acolyte
Photo: Lucasfilm

Disney is giving us a blast from the past with its next entry in the Star Wars series, as showrunner Leslye Headland (Russian Doll) takes us back to the golden age of the High Republic. Going back further on the timeline than live-action Star Wars has before, The Acolyte takes place at the height of the Jedi Order’s power, 100 years before Obi-Wan and Qui-Gon Jinn blundered their trade negotiations in The Phantom Menace

With a largely new cast, the first trailer for The Acolyte gave us a look at Amandla Stenberg‘s rogue warrior Mae, The Matrix’s Carrie-Anne Moss and Squid Game‘s Lee Jung-jae as Jedi Masters, and Solo’s Joonas Suotamo playing the Wookiee Jedi Kelnacca. But despite the many Jedi in the story, Headland has said that the show also tackles the story of the Sith and how they managed to infiltrate and corrupt the Republic and the Jedi Order. So it’s no surprise that the end of the trailer featured the arrival of a Sith Lord (pictured above), armed with a red lightsaber and abilities so powerful that he knocked over a whole group of Jedi Knights with the Force.

But just who is this mysterious Sith Lord?

There’s no clear villain of The Acolyte just yet, but with the ever-detailed lore of Star Wars offering up plenty of sinister Sith from this period of history, fans think they’ve already clocked a big bad lurking in the shadows. While the High Republic era hasn’t been seen in live-action, it has several ties to the Skywalker Saga. Notably, The Acolyte‘s place on the timeline has viewers hopeful for an appearance from the fabled Darth Plagueis the Wise. You might remember how Palpatine (Ian McDiarmid) made a throwaway mention of this Dark Lord and his grim fate in Revenge of the Sith. Tie-in books of course confirmed that Plagueis was in fact Palpatine’s Sith master — until apprentice murdered teacher, of course.

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So is the Sith in the trailer meant to be Plagueis? Despite sketchy details, we know Plagueis was active in the decades before Episode I, as he carefully planned his apprentice’s rise through the ranks of the Galactic Senate. This would make his appearance in The Acolyte possible, assuming he was over 100 years old by the time of his death (he was that old when he died in the old Legends continuity). But Plagueis isn’t the only possibility.

There are also theories that The Acolyte will focus on Plagueis’ own master, pitching the Bith Sith Lord known as Darth Tenebrous as the series’ de facto villain. Following the trailer’s release, the internet went wild, speculating that Darth Tenebrous will be leaving his mark on The Acolyte.

Despite the Jedi of this time period believing the Sith had been extinct for centuries, we know the villains were just operating in secret all along, including Tenebrous, who is more likely to have been the Sith Lord 100 years before The Phantom Menace. In fact, he was the Sith Lord of that era in the Legends timeline, which is the main reason why fans think this is the villain the Jedi will be dealing with on The Acolyte. While he was initially removed from canon after Disney rebooted the timeline ahead of the Sequel Trilogy, Tenebrous was actually added back into Star Wars canon in a 2015 issue of Star Wars: Build the Millennium Falcon and there was even a Sith Eternal legion named after him during the events of The Rise of Skywalker, according to the Star Wars Encyclopedia.

Of course, Tenebrous has a much richer story in the old canon. Even though Legends can’t be taken as gospel anymore, we’ve seen major arcs from that timeline, such as Boba Fett’s survival and Grand Admiral Thrawn, make their way back into canon or inspire new storylines. Bringing back the story of Tenebrous’ reign as Sith Lord a century before the Prequels would certainly make sense for The Acolyte.

In Legends, Tenebrous also goes under the name of Rugess Nome and heralds from the same lineage as Darth Bane, the infamous Sith Lord who established the Rule of Two in the first place. Tenebrous’ master was an unnamed Twi’lek Sith Lord, whom he murdered once he had no more to learn from them. Under his Nome alias, Tenebrous was a famed starship designer and successfully manipulated an InterGalactic Bank agent called Caar Damask into meeting his future wife. Having watched their son grow, Tenebrous convinced the parents to hand over Hego Damask, who he then molded into Darth Plagueis. 

Even after Plagueis killed Tenebrous during a mining accident, the latter used his power to create “maxi-chlorians” (just go with it) and possessed his apprentice from the afterlife. Elsewhere in Tenebrous’ Legends backstory, he concocted a scheme to release a Jedi virus that would sever their ties to the Force. While the plan was ultimately unsuccessful, this could help explain why the Jedi were unable to sense the Sith in Episode I.

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The Acolyte season one is only eight episodes so it’s unlikely the show will spend this much time fleshing out the story of Darth Tenebrous (if at all), but what we do know for sure is that the series will begin to plant the seeds of the Jedi Order’s inevitable demise. No matter which timeline you’re looking at, Darth Tenebrous is a part of that legacy.

Star Wars: The Acolyte premieres on June 4 on Disney+.