Updated: Jan 16, 2022
"Yes… of pain he has learned much. Of knowledge, of teaching, he knows nothing."
Darth Sion, the Lord of Pain, was a Sith Lord who lived in the time of the Old Sith Wars. As a Sith Marauder in the Great Sith War, Sion fought for Exar Kun's Sith Empire until the day he was struck down. Rather than die, though, Sion found that by calling on his pain, anger, and hatred, he could rise from certain death and achieve immortality, at the cost of all-consuming agony. With a body fractured and decomposing, but held together by the dark side of the Force, Sion survived the Great Sith War.
Sion allied himself with the next Sith Empire to arise in the galaxy, that of Darth Revan and Darth Malak. Those Sith, too, fell, and he watched from the Sith Academy on Korriban as the Empire tore itself apart. Sion soon found new purpose with Darth Traya and Darth Nihilus, a pair of Sith Lords who together with Sion formed the Sith Triumvirate, dedicated to restoring the Sith and eliminating the Jedi. In their headquarters on Malachor V, Sion served as Traya's disciple. Eventually, frustrated with her teachings, he and Nihilus stripped her of the Force and cast her out. The two ruling Sith Lords went on to reunite most of the surviving Sith remnants and continue their war on the Jedi, with great success.
With the Jedi all but eliminated, Sion took notice of a new Jedi returning to known space, the Jedi Knight Meetra Surik, who had been exiled since the Mandalorian Wars. His attempt to kill her was thwarted by Traya, who managed to get Surik to Peragus II. Sion followed in a captured Republic ship, the Harbinger, but Surik and her companions escaped once more. He encountered her again at Korriban, but beginning to develop strange new feelings for her, he let her escape. Traya eventually betrayed Surik and returned to take command of the Sith and Sion. Sion awaited Surik on Malachor V; in their final battle he was struck down again and again, but rose each time. Surik showed Sion the price he paid for immortality, convincing him to let go, and the Sith Lord found peace and finally allowed himself to die.
Rise of a Sith Lord
The Human who would become Darth Sion lived in the time of the Old Sith Wars, around 4000 BBY. Sion—which may have been his given name—was for a long time susceptible to infirmity and pain much the same as any other person. Combined together, they were intolerable to him, and he lived a life steeped in hatred. Rather than suffer in silence, Sion chose to embody his pain as his uniqueness, becoming Darth Sion, Lord of Pain.
Darth Sion strikes down a Jedi.
In the Great Sith War of 3996 BBY, Sion served as a Sith Marauder in Exar Kun's Sith Empire. Seeking death, Sion went into battle against the Jedi but continued to survive the encounters. He became convinced he was immortal as he built up a greater and greater tolerance for pain. Eventually, Sion was struck down, but he did not die. Instead, the pain within him welled up to agonizing levels, driving Sion to rise once more and strike down his would-be killer with all his anger and hate. Sion found that he could hold his own decomposing body together with the dark side of the Force. Though this process brought him excruciating pain and forced him to continuously concentrate on his rage, Sion considered it a worthy price for immortality. Kun ultimately lost the war, but Sion survived the fall of Kun's Empire. In 3963 BBY, the Sith Acolyte Haazen prophesied that the Jedi Guardian Lucien Draay would teach Haazen's new Sith, suggesting "Darth Sion" as a possible name he could take; Haazen was later defeated and Draay turned away from the path of the Lord of Pain.
In time, the Mandalorian Wars fell across the galaxy as the clans of the Mandalorians invaded the Galactic Republic. Sion was shaped in these wars; when they ended and a new Sith Empire was formed by Darth Revan, the new Dark Lord of the Sith, and his apprentice Darth Malak, Sion became a Sith Lord of the Empire. Yet this one was not to last either; Sion was shocked, as Revan, redeemed by the Jedi Council, succumbed to what Sion saw as weakness and betrayed the Sith. Malak was killed by his old master and, with his death, the Empire came apart. Sion was at the Sith Academy on Korriban in its final days, and he watched as the Sith turned on each other. Sion survived this bout of backstabbing, though. With the disintegration of the Empire, a number of Sith Lords declared themselves to be warlords of their own domains, while other remnants fled for the Unknown Regions.
The Sith Triumvirate
"To be united by hatred is a fragile alliance at best."
There were other Sith Lords at work in the galaxy with their own plans. One was Revan's former Jedi Master, Kreia, who had taken the name Darth Traya. Traya, searching for "wounds" in the Force, found Sion and another Sith Lord: Darth Nihilus, the Lord of Hunger. Sion, Traya, and Nihilus allied into the secretive Sith Triumvirate, based out of Malachor V, their goal was the annihilation of the Jedi Order and restoration of the Sith to power. Traya became the master of both Sith Lords, and Sion learned much from her. At Trayus Academy, a hidden Sith stronghold on Malachor V, Sion learned more of pain.
Sion and Nihilus confront Traya.
There was discontent among the Triumvirate, though. Sion and Nihilus had ambition beyond that of Traya, and their fragile alliance, united solely by a hatred of the Jedi, grew strained. Sion, furthermore, grew tired of Traya's instruction, the abstractness of her teachings and the way her words seemed to echo in his skull. Eventually he and Nihilus conspired to remove her. While Traya meditated in the academy's core, Sion and Nihilus closed in on her. Sion beat her mercilessly, the two sapped her energy before Nihilus stripped her of the Force, and Traya was cast out.
Now in sole command, Sion and Nihilus continued their work. Relying heavily on the Malachor-based Sith assassins, originally founded by Revan, Sion went on a spree of Jedi assassination. He was killed a number of times over the course of it, but he continued to rise again and slaughter many Jedi in return. By the end of Sion's campaign, the Jedi were almost entirely extinct. In 3954 BBY, Sion and Nihilus united the majority of the Sith Empire remnants, becoming the most unified force of Sith in their time. In 3952 BBY Nihilus attacked a Jedi conclave on Katarr, killing many of the surviving Jedi. The Order publicly disbanded, the remaining Jedi going underground to escape Sion's assassins. Lonna Vash, a Master of the Jedi Council, came to Korriban in search of Sion, but she fell into a trap of his and was captured. Sion imprisoned Vash in the abandoned Sith Academy.
The last of the Jedi
"And now you run in search of the Jedi. They are all dead, save one—and one broken Jedi cannot stop the darkness that is to come."
―Sion, to Kreia
As the Jedi fell, one remained outside known space, a Knight named Meetra Surik who had been cast out of the Order and exiled for following Revan in the Mandalorian Wars. Atris, a surviving Jedi Master, sought to draw the Sith out of hiding, and so she arranged for Surik to return to the known galaxy, while at the same time leaking information of Surik's past. Rumor that Surik was the last of the Jedi was enough to draw the Sith out of hiding; Sion studied her, where she had gone in her exile, and the battles she had fought in the war. When Surik returned from the Outer Rim, she had transportation secured for her aboard the Republic vessel Harbinger, and Sion and his assassins came after her in a Sith warship. But he was not the only one; Kreia, now in possession of Revan's former ship, the Ebon Hawk, was also heading to recover Surik. Sion's warship intercepted the Hawk and opened fire on it, but the Hawk managed to send out a distress signal. The Harbinger picked up the signal and arrived to engage Sion. The warship, however, played dead, and the Harbinger connected an umbilical to it. The crew found Sion's body, and believing him to be a corpse, took him back to their vessel. Meanwhile, Sion's cloaked assassins infiltrated their way into the Harbinger.
Darth Sion on the corpse-strewn bridge of the Harbinger.
Sion was taken to the medical bay, where the medical officer studied him. Seeing the innumerable fractures and scars that covered him, she was unable to determine if he was alive or dead and placed him in a kolto tank. As this was taking place, Sion's assassins were moving throughout the ship, secretly eliminating some crew members and watching the others. Sion at last awoke and, after tormenting the mind of a passing crew member, burst from his kolto tank and announced that he had come for Surik. His assassins materialized around him, and they quickly killed the security team sent to medbay. Sion set off to find the rest of the crew. He would not get Surik, though. Kreia reached her first, took her aboard the Hawk, and escaped. Sion at last seized control of the ship, which due to the sabotage of one of its passengers was experiencing a system failure, and opened fire on the Hawk as it fled, hitting it as it leapt into hyperspace.
Sion followed them to the mining world of Peragus II, controlling the Harbinger from a meditative pose on its bridge. He would not let those who had escaped him do so again without blood being shed. The Harbinger docked with the Peragus Mining Facility, and some of his assassins moved into the facility to watch their prey. Kreia, Surik, and Atton Rand, a prisoner they had found in the facility, came aboard the Harbinger in their search for an escape route, and Sion caught up with them in the vessel's stern. Brandishing a sword, Kreia moved to fight him as her companions fled. Sion was surprised she was still alive, and mocked her belief that a Jedi could stop the Sith from achieving dominion. Kreia, hiding, leapt out to attack, and Sion wheeled on her and cut off her hand. She escaped him and rejoined Surik and Rand aboard the Ebon Hawk, which proceeded to take off. Sion pursued in the Harbinger, and the ensuing firefight set off the volatile asteroids around Peragus, consuming the Harbinger in an explosion. Sion survived.
Encounter on Korriban
"Did you come here for answers? There are none. The call of Korriban is strong, but it is the call of the dead."
―Darth Sion, to Meetra Surik
Enraged that Kreia would sacrifice herself for Surik when she was so much weaker than himself, Sion grew determined to destroy all Kreia held dear, including Surik. He got his chance to catch her when she came to Korriban in search of Lonna Vash. Shortly after Surik arrived on Korriban, Sion killed the imprisoned Jedi Master. Within the hour, Surik had entered the ruins of the Sith Academy; Sion sensed her arrival and had the doors to the Academy sealed behind her, as he sent his assassins in pursuit of her and her companions. Eventually Surik's party found Vash and unlocked the Academy entrance, but Sion moved to block their escape, at last coming face to face with her.
Sion faces Surik on Korriban.
Sion warned Surik that Kreia would in time destroy her, as he felt his former master had done to him. They fought, but even as Surik injured Sion, he called upon the Force to restore his health. Kreia at last called to Surik in the Force, telling her that it was not a battle she could win. Surik fled the Academy, and Sion, feeling a measure of respect for her, let her go, ordering his assassins not to harm her. He expected they would meet again. Sion soon began to feel a new emotion for Surik beyond respect or admiration, one that he could not tolerate. The Sith Lord found her beautiful, but he saw in these feelings weakness that would only lead to death. As she continued to dominate his thoughts, Sion grew to hate her for it.
The final death
"I am glad to leave this place…at last."
―Darth Sion, at last allowing himself to die
After Sion returned to Malachor V, he was soon joined on that world by Kreia, who had betrayed Surik, reclaimed her title of Darth Traya, and led Darth Nihilus to his death. After eliminating Sion's assassins, Traya found him in the Trayus Core. Sion threatened to kill her, but Traya, claiming that she had returned because she now understood Surik's choices, bent him to her will and made him prepare for the arrival of Surik. Traya commanded Sion that when Surik arrived at the Trayus Academy, he would show her every measure of respect.
Eventually she came to Malachor in search of Kreia, and after fighting her way through the Sith forces of the academy, Surik at last came face to face with Sion. He cautioned her to leave, warning her that Traya would break her as she had Sion. Believing that Traya could not be defeated, Sion concluded that if Surik were to deny herself to Traya, Traya would have no choice but to accept Sion's loyalty again. He considered himself to have come further than any of her former apprentices, including Revan, and had decided that his initial betrayal was a test that he had passed. With words exhausted, Surik and Sion at last fought.
Sion gives in to death.
Surik struck down Sion, but with the dark power of Malachor flowing through him, he rose again. Once more they fought, and once more he fell; Surik tried to persuade Sion that Kreia did not respect him and was using him as a tool, but Sion claimed that if he killed Surik, Traya would have to complete his training as her true apprentice. As they continued their fight, Sion saw Surik's strength, but still believed himself capable of defeating her. As she struck him down a fourth time, Sion remained defiant. Surik told him that he had already been defeated, and she explained that Kreia had only respected those who could let go of the Force, not those like Sion who relied on it. Sion, who had not thought it possible to walk away from it, was forced by Surik's words to realize that the life of pain he had given himself was ultimately one of permanent weakness and dependence instead of power. In his last moments, Sion warned Surik that Traya would break her, and he told her that she was Traya's weakness, just as she had been his. Finally, at peace, and glad to leave the living world behind him at last, Sion allowed himself to die and became one with the Force.
Long after Sion's death, a faction emerged among the Baran Do—an order of Force-sensitive Kel Dor from the planet Dorin—that sought to become Sith. The cultists left offerings to the deceased Sion in a Baran Do monastery and by 3640 BBY, during the Cold War, the offerings bequeathed to the Sith Lord were recovered by an individual.
Personality and traits
"To have fallen so far and learned nothing—that is your failing."
Darth Sion, Lord of Pain.
From his very beginning, Darth Sion filled himself with hatred, ultimately giving him the power to overcome death. He chose to embody his pain rather than tolerate it as a normal part of existence, turning it into something far greater. Sion fed upon his pain for sustenance, and he sought to spread it to all Jedi across the galaxy. As the Force gave him his power, Sion felt it called on him to continue to fight; the Force was all he was, and the dark side was his identity. And yet, Sion also had a desire to heal; the galaxy, he felt, was fractured, and he could not understand those who had the power to fix it and did not, like Revan.
Sion was tenacious; when he cornered his prey on Peragus II, the Sith Lord would not let them go without bloodshed. He was cunning; though Jedi Master Lonna Vash considered him volatile and thought him an easily-influenced brute, Sion would ultimately trap and kill her. Ambitious and power-hungry as well, Sion would not forever bend to the will of his Sith Master, Darth Traya, and he and Darth Nihilus eventually turned on her, using Nihilus' special techniques in the Force to tear down her defenses and then beating her mercilessly. Sion and Nihilus differed from prior Sith in that the death of the Jedi Order was their sole objective; the manner in which they fought the Jedi differed too, lying in hiding and striking from darkness.
While Sion immersed himself in hate, he was still able to feel positive emotions, such as love and compassion, which he felt toward Surik. He came to feel her as beautiful, a feeling that reduced his hatred, and thus endangered his life. In the end, Surik persuaded Sion to let go of his hate and the Force, and accept death.
"I have no idea what's been keeping him together."
―Medical officer on the Harbinger
In his years as a Sith Marauder, Sion regularly fought on the front lines of the Great Sith War, and in surviving, he built up a tolerance to pain. When at last he achieved his method of immortality, every centimeter of Sion's body crawled with agony. Sion's flesh was decomposing, covered in cracks and scars, and his body existed in a state of undeath. His skeleton was fractured in thousands of places, as every bone in his body had been splintered repeatedly and then reassembled. The Force was all that held him together.
Kreia and Surik were in many ways alike to Sion, yet different, he felt, in the important ways. Both constantly lingered in his mind, but whereas Kreia would fill his thoughts with her views and teachings, Surik was merely a presence in his head. The two were constantly tied in his life; Kreia's weakness was Surik, and in saving the latter he sought to influence the former.
Though Sion learned much from Kreia, he thought of her as a shrew and became frustrated with the abstractness of her teachings. He believed her teachings to weaken the Sith, ultimately leading him to overthrow her, and saw it as a failure of hers that she could be defeated so. He considered himself, not her, to be the master. Sion thought that she had destroyed him, and in turn sought to kill her and make her watch all she had built and all she held dear be destroyed with her. When she eventually returned to Malachor and sought his allegiance, though, Sion succumbed to her will. As much as he wanted Surik to save herself, Sion also believed that in her leaving, Kreia would have no choice but to accept his loyalty. All that was left for him, by the time of his death, was his master.
Kreia, in turn, believed that Sion's power had blinded him. She considered it his great failing that he had fallen without learning anything, and criticized him for his lack of knowledge. Kreia respected turning away from power, giving up the Force; Sion, she felt, was a slave to it, and she did not respect him for it. She believed his continued existence was a threat to life itself. Even after returning him to her service, Kreia merely used Sion to test Surik, though Sion believed her to be pitting the two against each other to see which would be her apprentice.
"I hate you because you crawl within my head as she does, but your presence holds no thoughts, no teachings, you are just…there, unspoken."
―Sion, to Meetra Surik
When he first set after her, Sion thought Surik to be broken and incapable of stopping the onslaught of the Sith. Her death, as what he believed to be the last of the Jedi, would herald the victory of the Sith. As he continued to pursue her, though, a new feeling towards her stirred in Sion, something beyond respect or admiration, and an emotion that he loathed. He thought her beautiful, and his hatred diminished with these emotions, threatening his grip on life.
Sion immersed himself in the life of Surik, studying her history. Believing that Kreia would try to destroy her, Sion offered to end her life himself. He grew angry and jealous, knowing that even though she had not yet survived Kreia's teaching and defeated the old woman as he had, Kreia would still give her life to save Surik. He thought of her as a being of weakness and fear, unfit to be Kreia's apprentice. Yet, when she bested him in combat, he let her go, believing she had earned it and knowing they would meet again. Kreia commanded that Sion show Surik every respect when they next met, on Malachor. He offered her mercy, in his way: that she die on the surface of Malachor, and not by the suffering of Kreia. Yet Surik at last convinced him to let go, and in his last words he warned her of Kreia's goals for her.
Powers and abilities
"…he is not a beast of flesh and blood."
Sion was at Revan's Sith Academy on Korriban, and later learned of the ways of pain at Trayus Academy on Malachor V. With the dark side, he could hold together his decaying body. Though excruciatingly painful, and requiring endless concentration on the anger within him, it gave him his powers of immortality. When struck down, Sion could call upon his anger, hate, and pain to come alive again. In places strong in the dark side, like Korriban and Malachor V, the Force flowing through Sion made him nigh-undefeatable. Jedi Master Lonna Vash considered him "a perversion of the dark side".
Sion needed hatred to hold onto his power; he grew threatened when his feelings for Surik seemed to diminish this and erode his ability to hold onto life. Ultimately, she would convince him to give up his hatred and, in doing so, submit to death. The Sith Lord was glad when he could finally lay down his life.
Sion had a number of Force powers at his disposal: Telekinesis ranging from Force Whirlwind to Force Wound, Force Slow, Force rage, Force Immunity, and Force drain. He was also immune to the effects of fear-based Force attacks.
Behind the scenes
Sion as downloadable content in The Force Unleashed.
Darth Sion is one of the main villains of 2004's Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic II: The Sith Lords, voiced by Louis Mellis. Sion was first revealed on July 14, 2004, at LucasArts' Summer Press Day 2004, in an in-game demonstration of the character on the Harbinger. Leland Chee has stated that Sion's name comes from the word "scion," meaning "heir." While concept art for a fight between Sion and Atris was produced, no such event occurs in the game. Sion was featured prominently in the Knights of the Old Republic II cover, and the game's score, by Mark Griskey, includes an individual theme for the character.
In 2008, Sion appeared in a Dark Horse advertisement for the Knights of the Old Republic miniatures pack; in it, he is a lackey of Mandalore the Ultimate, fighting Zayne Carrick. Downloadable content for the 2008 video game The Force Unleashed also included Sion as a player model; the character's rendition here differs from the Knights of the Old Republic version in some details, including a shoulder pad and several bolts through Sion's chest. In 2013, Sion's shinguards, vambrace, leggings, and sash were added to Star Wars: The Old Republic as player armor.
In the game, Sion's interactions with Meetra Surik differ based on whether Surik is male or female; while he is jealous and hateful of a male Surik, the game programming notes describe him as feeling love towards a female Surik, though he is unable to express it as such. Chris Avellone, lead designer of The Sith Lords, has stated that of the plots in the game he would like to see explored further in the Expanded Universe, Sion's relationship with the female Surik is among them.
A number of scenes featuring Sion were cut from the final release of Knights of the Old Republic II. The dialogue files and many other parts of these scenes still exist in the game files, and so most of them have been reconstructed.
Conflict with Nihilus
Concept artwork of Sion battling Atris.
An earlier version of the Nar Shaddaa portion of the game had a subplot with the GenoHaradan, ultimately replaced by one with Visquis and the Exchange. Sion first appeared in this plot on Malachor V, meditating over a hologram of Meetra Surik. A Sith assassin reported to him that Surik had survived, and Sion ordered his ship prepared so he could travel to Nar Shaddaa himself.
When Surik infiltrated the GenoHaradan base, a trap caused it to explode, seemingly killing her. Believing Surik to be dead, Sion returned to Darth Nihilus on the Ravager. There, he gloated that he had killed Surik and informed Nihilus that Traya had survived, then dissolved their alliance. As Sion walked away, Nihilus attacked him, blasting him backwards and starting a fight between them. A video reconstruction of this scene has been created by fans.
Vash and Kaah
Concept art of Darth Sion for The Sith Lords.
At one point, Lonna Vash was alive when Meetra Surik came to Korriban. Surik convinced her to come to Dantooine to speak with the Jedi Council, but they were attacked by Sion as they left the Academy. Vash closed the door out and sacrificed herself to Sion, allowing Surik to escape.
Other files in the game indicate that Vash's Padawan Kaah Ohtok, entirely cut from the game, fled after Vash was captured by Sion. Kaah and Vash knew there was a Sith Lord on Korriban before visiting, but were unprepared for how powerful he was; after encountering him, Kaah described Sion as an "assembly of broken bones, the ultimate killing machine of the Dark Side." Having captured Vash, Sion's Sith intended to sacrifice her in a ritual.
On Malachor V
"What is thy bidding, my Master?"
―Darth Sion, to Darth Traya —
When Kreia returns to Malachor V and bids Sion to join her again, a short scene was cut expanding on his reasons. After Sion threatens that he will not spare Kreia again, she informed him that he simply did not learn her lesson, that his strength was meaningless. She then lifted him in the air and crushed his body with the Force.
Another scene, set to play when Surik lands on Malachor, showed Sion informing Kreia that she had arrived. Kreia ordered the Exile to be brought before her, and Sion grew concerned about what Kreia would do to her. Kreia mocked him on the fact that he might still have emotions within him, and then informed Sion that she would break Surik. In the male Surik version of this, Sion is not concerned, but is now angry that Kreia intends to use Surik as a vessel for her teachings. A third path in this dialogue has Kreia order him to do nothing.
Sion and Atton
Sion and Atton face off.
"And I get the fool." "Funny—that's just what I was thinking."
―Darth Sion and Atton Rand
In the game's ending on Malachor V, Meetra Surik's companions were originally to confront Kreia. After she defeated them in battle, they were all taken into captivity with the exception of Atton Rand, who escaped. Sion was sent to pursue Atton through the halls of the Trayus Academy. Eventually they fought, with the player controlling Atton. If Atton was defeated, Sion cut off his arm and left him lying on the ground. Atton got to his feet once more and postured at him, but Sion lifted him from the ground and vowed to mutilate Atton into a mirror of the Dark Lord himself. Atton told him to "take his time," and a gleeful Sion obliged.