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The Entire Darth Maul Story Finally Explained

There are few characters in the history of cinema as instantly iconic as Darth Maul. He has a relatively brief appearance in Star Wars: Episode I – The Phantom Menace, with only three lines of dialogue and a total of just 34 words spoken, but that was all he needed. It would have been enough if he had followed in the footsteps of the similarly enigmatic Boba Fett, who mostly just stood around looking cool, but the thing that really made audiences fall in love with Maul were his tremendous fight scenes. His amazing acrobatics, combined with his signature double-bladed lightsaber, meant that Maul was at least twice as cool as any anyone else in the galaxy.

Yeah, he seemingly died at the end of Episode I, but audiences couldn't get enough with him, so Darth Maul didn't stay dead long. Like many, at first we thought that this resurrection of Maul was going to be just soulless fan service. But the stories that have been told about him since his return have all been surprisingly dense and interesting, full of fascinating content that really deepens his character far beyond what we see in his initial cinematic debut.

What follows is the complete story of Darth Maul, from birth, to apparent death, to resurrection, to actual death. If you think you know everything there is to know about Maul, then trust us — you have much to learn, our young apprentice.

Adopted by evil

The complete story of Maul's early years has never been shown, either on the page or on the screen, but we can piece together a fairly clear picture of his disturbing childhood from various re-tellings and scattered lines of dialogue throughout comics like Darth Maul: Son of Dathomir and shows like Star Wars: The Clone Wars.

The child who will eventually become Darth Maul is born on the planet Dathomir, a world controlled by a matriarchal order of dark side Force users known as the Nightsisters. Maul grows up in a tribe ruled by the ferocious Mother Talzin. Talzin plans for her three sons to grow up to become Nightbrothers, the all-male warriors who protect and serve the Nightsisters. But all that changes on the day that Darth Sidious comes to Dathomir.

As part of his plan for galactic domination, Sidious wishes to learn the dark side manipulation techniques of the Nightsisters. After working with Mother Talzin for a time, Sidious is impressed by her abilities and offers to take her on as his new apprentice. However, as evil dudes often do, Darth Sidious never ends up keeping this promise.

Instead, Sidious kidnaps one of Talzin's sons and vanishes from Dathomir. Sidious not only senses great potential in the boy, but also wants someone that he can control completely. Whatever this child's birth name was, it's now lost to history, as Sidious renames him Maul.

Raised in secret

Sidious' training and brainwashing of Darth Maul is quite successful, and he grows up to be a formidable Sith warrior. Because of his tremendous skill, Maul is also impatient for the time when he will finally get a chance to fight a Jedi. But because Sidious doesn't want to reveal the Sith Order's existence to the Jedi until the last possible moment, he forbids Maul from doing so.

The 2017 comic series Star Wars: Darth Maul tells the story of the first time that Darth Maul crosses paths — and lightsabers — with a Jedi. In it, Maul learns of a Jedi Padawan named Eldra Kaitis who has been captured by a group of criminals called the Xrexus Cartel. Maul decides to ignore his master's orders to remain hidden and travels to the auction where Kaitis was being sold as a slave. After a series of misadventures, Maul manages to rescue Kaitis from captivity, only to then challenge her to a duel. In the end, even though Kaitis fights valiantly, Maul wins their battle and kills her.

After Darth Maul returns to his master, he suspects that Sidious will be upset with him for his disobedience. But Sidious congratulates him, telling him that the Sith were "born in defiance," and that Maul has "embraced the very nature of" their order. Darth Sidious asks his apprentice if his bloodlust has been sated by this, and Maul tells him that it has not. Sidious replies, "Good."

Chopping Maul

We've now reached the part of Darth Maul's story where he first appeared to audiences. Star Wars: Episode I – The Phantom Menace begins when, after years of planning, Darth Sidious finally tips over the first domino of his ridiculously complex plan to seize control of the galactic government. But then, Queen Amidala of Naboo, along with a pair of Jedi, Qui-Gon Jinn and Obi-Wan Kenobi, start mucking up all of Sidious' carefully laid plans. Sidious dispatches Maul to track down those meddling do-gooders, and even though he manages to catch up with them on the planet Tatooine, Maul only manages to squeeze in a brief lightsaber fight with Qui-Gon before those pesky heroes reach their spaceship and escape his grasp.

During the climax, Maul gets his chance for a rematch when he, Qui-Gon, and Obi-Wan meet again on Naboo and have what is considered by many to be the single greatest lightsaber fight in Star Wars history. Since Maul begins outnumbered, he decides to separate his two foes, knocking Obi-Wan off a ledge so that he can fight Qui-Gon uninterrupted. By the time Obi-Wan manages to reunite with them, Darth Maul is stabbing Qui-Gon through the chest, killing him. Filled with rage, Obi-Wan fights more fiercely than ever, and through some tricky, Force-assisted acrobatics, manages to chop Maul in half through his waistline and send him tumbling down a seemingly bottomless shaft.

Maul gets dumped

At this point, any reasonable person would assume that Darth Maul is dead. But Maul comes back in the animated series Star Wars: The Clone Wars. However, to paraphrase the Beatles, he's not half the man he used to be. Kept alive by the sheer force of his hatred for Kenobi, Maul survives getting split in twain, crawls through the underbelly of Naboo palace, and finally escapes ... into the garbage. 

Maul's upper half ends up getting shipped off with the trash to Lotho Minor, a planet that is completely covered in a single endless junkyard. There, he manages to replace his lower body with some scavenged robotic legs, but he is still living in dire circumstances, without much food or water and with no way off the planet.

Years later, back on Dathomir, a Nightbrother named Savage Opress learns from his mother Talzin that he has a long-lost brother who was taken from them by Darth Sidious. (For the record, Maul's other brother, Feral, is also a character in Clone Wars.) With the help of Talzin's Force sensitivity, Savage ends up tracking Darth Maul down, but the man he finds is so consumed with rage, and so damaged by isolation, that he is practically an animal, with large sections of his memory totally missing.

Savage decides to bring his brother back to Dathomir. Once there, Mother Talzin uses her mysterious dark side magic to begin restoring Maul's fragmented mind.

Super Maul-io Brothers

Finally reunited for the first time in decades, Savage Opress and Darth Maul decide to join forces and travel the galaxy together in search of power, fortune, and revenge. Along the way, Maul starts referring to Savage as his apprentice, teaching him the ways of the dark side. They also start recruiting allies, such as the criminal organization Black Sun, the radical Mandalorian revolutionary group Death Watch, and the forces of Jabba the Hutt. Maul and Savage decide to name their new criminal network the Shadow Collective.

As Maul is building the Shadow Collective, he also gets a few opportunities to cross lightsabers with Obi-Wan Kenobi. The first time occurs when Maul sets a trap for the Jedi Master on the planet Raydonia, but Kenobi manages to escape before Maul can land a killing blow. Later, Kenobi tracks Maul and Savage to the planet Florrum, but this time it's Maul who flees after Kenobi chops off one of his robot legs and one of Savage's actual arms.

Despite never managing to kill Kenobi, the Shadow Collective accomplishes a great deal. They even manage to organize a coup on the planet Mandalore, allowing the Shadow Collective to seize control of the government of the entire planet. During his time on Mandalore, Maul also manages to obtain a new Mandalorian weapon: an ancient lightsaber with a black blade known as the Darksaber

Maul suffers a Savage loss

Unfortunately for Maul, his time as the ruler of Mandalore is short lived. In an episode of Clone Wars called "The Lawless", Maul's doorway is once again darkened by his old master, Darth Sidious. It seems that Sidious — in his alternate identity of Palpatine — had learned from Obi-Wan Kenobi that Maul was still alive. He had now come to put down his former apprentice, believing that Maul's continued existence is a threat to his future plans. At first, Maul tries to convince his old master that he conquered Mandalore as a gift, with the hope of becoming Sidious' apprentice once more, but the Sith Lord quickly sees through Maul's lies.

Maul and Savage Opress then fight Sidious together, and at first are holding their own. But then, Sidious pulls a move from Maul's playbook and separates his two opponents, tossing Maul aside with a Force push so that he can fight Opress one-on-one. As you might imagine, Savage Opress is no match for Sidious without his brother to back him up, and Sidious is soon able to strike him down.

Maul then returns to the fight, and you might think that his brother's death would offer him an even more powerful connection to the dark side. But instead of letting the hate flow through him, the only emotion that he can feel is grief. Maul fights sloppy and unfocused, and Darth Sidious is quickly able to overpower him and take him captive.

Maul lives, but his empire crumbles

Maul's story picks up again in the comic Star Wars: Darth Maul – Son of Dathomir. In it, Maul finds himself in prison, face-to-face with Sidious' new apprentice, Count Dooku. Dooku subjects Maul to Force lightning torture, attempting to extract information about the Shadow Collective. But as you might imagine, a dude whose response to getting chopped in half is to "walk it off" has a high pain tolerance, so Maul doesn't give up much.

Shortly thereafter, Shadow Collective forces are able to rescue Maul from prison, but by this point in time, the Collective's days are numbered. Being an enemy to both the Jedi and the Sith — while having far fewer resources than either — has really left Maul stuck between, ahem, a rock and a Darth place, and he finds his allies abandoning him left and right.

Maul does achieve a brief victory when his forces capture Count Dooku and hold him prisoner. However, despite Maul's attempts to contact Sidious and use his new hostage as leverage, his old master claims to have no use for either of them anymore. He tells Maul he is free to kill Dooku.

Undeterred, Maul then pivots strategies, attempting to convince Dooku into forming an alliance with him against Sidious. But Dooku refuses, stating that he just doesn't believe an alliance against Darth Sidious would work. He is simply far too powerful.

The fall of Dathomir

Before Maul gets a chance to persuade Dooku any further, they are interrupted by an attack on the supply outpost. It seems that a group of Republic soldiers, led by Obi-Wan Kenobi and Mace Windu, have found them. Given this new development, Dooku feigns an alliance with Maul, and the two Sith lords are able to fight their way through the Jedi and escape.

Maul then returns to his homeworld of Dathomir — bringing Dooku with him — to hunker down for a while and seek the council of his mother. However, while he is there, Dathomir is attacked by Darth Sidious' forces, led by Darth Sidious and General Grievous. They have come in person to rescue Dooku and finally put down Maul.

Maul manages to rally some Shadow Collective forces to fight back against the invasion, but it doesn't make a difference. During the battle, as Maul and Mother Talzin are being overwhelmed, she uses her powers to Force push Maul away from the fight in an attempt to save him. Moments later, she is killed by Grievous. Maul briefly tries to charge back into the fray, but he is then dragged away by Shadow Collective warriors and convinced to flee the planet.

Last stand on Mandalore

Maul's power grab on Mandalore isn't just about building a criminal empire. After Mother Talzin's demise, the former Darth returns to the planet with one very specific goal: stick it to Sidious by killing Anakin Skywalker and disrupting the Sith lord's plans for a galactic takeover.

Maul's plan is pretty simple. When he returns to Mandalore, Maul assumes that Bo-Katan Kryze, the sister of Mandalore's murdered leader, will turn to the Jedi for help ousting Maul's regime. Given Obi-Wan Kenobi's close personal connection to the planet (he had a thing with Mandalor's former Duchess, Satine), Maul figures that he'd be the one to answer the call — and if Obi-Wan's around, chances are high that Anakin isn't far behind.

But Sidious' plans move even faster than Maul expects, and Obi-Wan and Anakin are too busy with the final stages of the Clone Wars to come to Mandalore's rescue. Instead, the Jedi send Anakin's former padawan, the ex-Jedi Ahsoka Tano, and an army of clone soldiers to take on Maul's forces. During the following siege, Ahsoka and Maul trade lightsaber blows in one of the best duels in Star Wars history before Ahsoka wins the battle and takes Maul prisoner. 

At long last, Mandalore is free of Maul's control, although not before the ex-Sith drops one big bombshell: As they fight, Maul tells Ahsoka that Sidious has been grooming Anakin as his new apprentice. The problem? Ahsoka doesn't believe him and decides not to warn the Jedi Council about Anakin's potential duplicity. We all know how that turned out.

Surviving Order 66

With Maul in confinement and the Clone Wars entering its final stages, Ahsoka and her clone army begin the journey back to Coruscant, where Maul is to be kept prisoner. They never make it. As Ahsoka's ship hurtles through lightspeed, Sidious issues Order 66, making the clones turn on the Jedi and solidifying the transformation of the Republic into the Galactic Empire.

Ahsoka isn't part of the Jedi order anymore, but she's still a hero with a lightsaber (two of them, actually), making her a big target. Thankfully, Ahsoka has Maul around. In need of a distraction to get the clones off her tail, Ahsoka frees Maul from his restraining device and sets him loose to cause havoc. He more than delivers: As Ahsoka and her friend Captain Rex work on their escape, Maul takes the fight to the clone army and sabotages the ship's hyperdrive generators, sending the vessel careening towards the surface of a nearby moon.

With a big crash imminent, Maul flees to the hangar bay, where he crosses paths with Ahsoka again. A brief struggle ensues, but Maul is able to commandeer a ship and escape, leaving him free to regroup elsewhere in the galaxy — and forcing Ahsoka and Rex to fend for themselves.

Crimson Dawn

Still alive, but without any allies, Maul slowly starts to rebuild. He creates a new criminal organization, but this time, he sticks to the shadows, using a man named Dryden Vos as the public face of his operation. Maul calls his new crime syndicate Crimson Dawn.

The 2018 movie Solo: A Star Wars Story tells the story of Han Solo's brief brush with Maul's organization. In it, Han and his partner in crime, Tobias Beckett, are hired to steal some starship fuel for Crimson Dawn, but they botch the job. Both men end up in massive debt to the organization. After a meeting with Vos, in which Han learns that his childhood friend Qi'ra is now Vos' second-in-command, Han comes up with a plan to make things right. Han steals another load of starship fuel from the mines of Kessel, and returns the stolen cargo in the now infamous Kessel Run.

After Han returns, there is Reservoir Dogs-esque cascade of betrayals and counter-betrayals between Han, Beckett, Vos, and Qi'ra, but in the end, Han kills Beckett and Qi'ra kills Vos. Han then flees, and Qi'ra ends up in command of Vos' forces, the new de-facto face of the Crimson Dawn. Qi'ra then contacts Vos' superior and learns that it is Darth Maul. It might be somewhat of a throwaway scene, but this brief holo-call with Qi'ra is Maul's first onscreen appearance in a theatrical film since he was chopped in half back in 1999.

Maul's new apprentice

If Maul's brief cameo in Solo left you feeling unsatisfied, he also had a significant appearance in the animated series Star Wars: Rebels. The show takes place during the early days of the Rebellion, telling the story of a young Force-sensitive rebel named Ezra Bridger.

While Ezra is exploring some old Sith ruins on the lifeless planet of Malachor, he comes across a hunched over stranger in a cloak. The stranger explains that he came seeking something within the nearby Sith temple called a Sith holocron, which is basically a Force-powered computer filled with ancient Sith knowledge. However, he discovered it takes two Force users working together to open the doors to the temple, so he can't do it alone.

In order to help lift the extremely heavy stone doors, the stranger teaches Ezra how to make his Force powers stronger by tapping into his emotions, something that Ezra's mentors forbid. Under the stranger's guidance, Ezra is able to retrieve the holocron.

The two then reunite with Ezra's teacher, the former Jedi Padawan Kanan Jarrus, who immediately recognizes the stranger as Darth Maul. The stranger corrects him, saying that he was "formerly Darth, now just Maul." As you might imagine, it isn't long before Maul betrays them and offers to make Ezra his new apprentice. And even though Maul is defeated and forced to flee, Ezra finds that his time spent with Maul has forever changed him, as he got a taste of the power that the dark side can bring.

Maul and Obi-Wan's last duel

Maul later reappears in Ezra's life to make the young Jedi an offer. Maul seeks the answer to a question, and to get it, he needs another Force user to operate a pair of holocrons with him. Doing so will grant the pair a shared vision, giving each participant the answer to any question they ask. Ezra agrees, and decides that the thing he wants to know most is the key to destroying the Sith. Ezra then has a vision of "twin suns." Upon hearing that, Maul remarks, "He lives."

Eventually, Ezra is able to put together that Maul is seeking the legendary Jedi Obi-Wan Kenobi, who is living in hiding on the planet Tatooine. Ezra travels there to warn Kenobi, and also attempt to persuade him to join the Rebellion, but Kenobi refuses, saying that the Rebellion already has everything it needs. Maul then arrives, and he and Kenobi duel one last time. This time, nothing interrupts them and neither one flees. Their battle is quick, and Obi-Wan wins, killing Maul by slicing him through the chest. Although there are still many gaps that remain in the story of Maul's life, and there are sure to be more tales that will be told about him, we now know how his story ends.

Additionally, Ezra's vision of "twin suns" does in fact answer his question about the key to defeating the Sith, because living under the twin suns of Tatooine at this time is a young Luke Skywalker.