Star Wars: Darth Maul's ENTIRE ARC Explained

The story of how a one-note edgelord villain became the Star Wars franchise's most tragic figure.

Star Wars The Clone Wars Darth Maul

"If you define yourself by your power to take life - to dominate, to possess - then you have nothing."

These are some of Obi-Wan Kenobi's last words to his longtime foe, Darth Maul. A somber eulogy summarizing Maul's entire miserable, misguided journey through life as much as an expression of mercy and empathy. Maul has spent his entire life chained to his own trauma, inflicted and nurtured from birth by those he was chosen to serve, and ultimately turned back on himself.

Through The Phantom Menace, The Clone Wars, and Rebels, we see Maul's life play out as a series of peaks and valleys - being in arm's width of the light, only to be sabotaged by his own learned, toxic impulses, and brought low again, to a darkness he isn't equipped to navigate.

Broadly speaking, many people respond to trauma in one of two ways. Properly treated, it can be a rich fuel that powers immense growth. Turned inward, however, it can also be an unconquerable enemy. As a wise Jedi Master once said - "Fear leads to anger; anger leads to hate; hate leads to suffering." Through The Clone Wars and Rebels, we gain deeper insight into this Jedi mantra: that the way of the Dark Side is not to seek to commit evil, but rather, one falling to their own suffering, seeing no escape. The desire for power, dominion, revenge - a fragile, false comfort used to mask their own perceived weakness and self-hatred - the cycle of abuse playing out on a galactic scale.


Not much needs to be said about Maul prior to the animated series'. He appears briefly in The Phantom Menace, appealing to all "edgy" late-'90s adolescents with his red and black tattoos and horns. He duels Qui-Gon Jinn and Obi-Wan Kenobi in the second-best lightsaber duel of the entire franchise, killing the former before being sliced in half by Kenobi and thrown down one of Star Wars' many random, bottomless man-made shafts.

After his survival is revealed in Clone Wars, he's found by his younger brother, Savage Opress (himself a freshly trained Sith Acolyte), insane and living in a pit. Savage returns with him to their home planet, where their mother, a witch known as a Nightsister, repairs his mind and body with sorcery. Now, with his own apprentice in Savage and a fresh new pair of robot legs, he sets out to kill Kenobi and conquer the galaxy as the "true" Lord of the Sith.

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At 34 years of age, I am both older and wiser than Splinter.