A Sith Lord's hand gripping a red lightsaber in Disney+ Star Wars series The Acolyte

Has The Acolyte Already Retconned Star Wars’ Sith Canon?

The new trailer for The Acolyte has many Star Wars fans convinced that a Sith Lord will crop up during the Disney+ series’ eight-episode run. That’s an exciting prospect – unless you’re one of the canon-fixated Star Wars devotees now worried that The Acolyte will retcon established Sith lore.

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Related: When Does Star Wars: The Acolyte Come Out?

The source of this Acolyte anxiety (as seen on Reddit and X) is a scene in 1999’s Star Wars: The Phantom Menace. Here, Ki-Adi-Mundi makes it clear that, as far as the Jedi Council is concerned, their long-time enemies are kaput. “The Sith have been extinct for a millennium,” he snaps after Qui-Gon Jinn claims that a member of the ancient order attacked him on Tatooine. But why would Ki-Adi-Mundi think that, if a group of Jedi encountered a Sith Lord 100 years earlier in The Acolyte?

Is this proof The Acolyte has already zagged from Star Wars continuity, months before its premiere? Maybe, maybe not.

What Star Wars Canon Says About the Jedi’s Knowledge of the Sith

After all, Star Wars media is a little fuzzy regarding just how much the Jedi know about the Sith at The Phantom Menace‘s point in the timeline. Sure, Ki-Adi-Mundi is convinced the Sith are gone, and no less than Mace Windu is inclined to agree with him. The incredulous looks their colleagues share when Qui-Gon drops the S-word likewise speak volumes. Clearly, everyone in the Jedi Order from the top down (erroneously) believes their evil counterparts are gone.

Related: Is Keanu Reeves in Star Wars: The Acolyte?

That said, Yoda is more open to the possibility that reports of the Sith’s demise were greatly exaggerated. Ostensibly, the legendary Jedi Master is simply side-stepping the arrogant, complacent mindset that ultimately led to the Jedi’s downfall. The Dark Side of the Force is insidious, its practitioners wily. Assuming the Sith are still out there is sensible. But could it also be that Yoda – alive when The Acolyte takes place – already has an inkling this is the case? It’d certainly explain his stockpile of Sith factoids later on.

Is Yoda the Key to Aligning The Acolyte and The Phantom Menace?

After Qui-Gon dies at Darth Maul’s hands during The Phantom Menace‘s climatic duel, everyone finally agrees the Sith are back – and suddenly, Yoda is a font of Sith intel. Notably, the little green guy knows about the shadowy faction’s Rule of Two, something you’d expect the Sith to keep on the down low. What’s more, animated series Star Wars: The Clone Wars later confirms that Yoda even knows Darth Bane instituted said doctrine. And in Star Wars: Attack of the Clones, he’s up-to-speed on how the current Dark Lord of the Sith, Darth Sidious, uses the Dark Side to undermine the Jedi’s own Force judgment and abilities.

Related: Who Is Star Wars: The Acolyte’s Wookiee Jedi, Kelnacca?

How does Yoda know all this top secret Sith stuff? Maybe it’s a plot hole (Star Wars is no stranger to those). But maybe it’s more than that. Maybe Yoda stumbled across the remnants of a short-lived Sith comeback in The Acolyte‘s aftermath. Yet this begs the question: if Yoda did compile his mental Dark Side database based on first-hand evidence, why keep it a secret? You’d think the possible return of an outfit bent on the destruction of both the Jedi Order and the Galactic Republic itself is worth sharing with the group. Will The Acolyte fill in one gap in Star Wars‘ Sith canon, only to poke holes in it elsewhere?

The Acolyte’s Sith Lord Might Break Star Wars Canon (But It Doesn’t Have To)

Amandla Stenberg as Mae in Disney+ Star Wars series The Acolyte

It wouldn’t be the first inconsistency within the Star Wars canon. The continuity of a galaxy far, far away has been messy since the days of the original trilogy. Things have arguably become even muddier in the Disney era, with those behind the likes of Obi-Wan Kenobi seemingly unphased about bringing their stories in line with what came before. If, however, we assume The Acolyte‘s showrunner Leslye Headland is more canon-conscious than her peers – and her many pre-release interviews indicate she is – there’s still plenty of scope for a Sith Lord to show up in The Acolyte without contradicting The Phantom Menace.

For one thing, almost every Jedi character in The Acolyte was created specifically for the show. As such, they’re all expendable. Headland could bump most of them off before the credits roll on The Acolyte‘s final episode. If our heroes uncover a Sith warrior but don’t live to tell the tale, nobody will be any the wiser. This holds true even if The Acolyte depicts Yoda discovering an abandoned Sith hideout. Dusty tomes and empty robes don’t raise alarms – especially not within the late-stage Jedi Order. As noted before, the Sith ultimately had their revenge on the Jedi precisely because they refused to see the signs.

Alternatively, the red lightsaber in The Acolyte‘s trailer could double as a red herring. Maybe that’s not a true Sith Lord in the Disney+ show’s trailer. We’ve seen non-Sith baddies (such as the Inquisitors) wielding crimson-hued laser swords in Disney era canon before. What if we’re really dealing with a Sith-affiliated character (or even an outright pretender) in The Acolyte, not a legit member of the order? Heck, Lucasfilm has already confirmed Force witches play a part in the series.

So yes, The Acolyte certainly could retcon Star Wars‘ Sith canon – but that doesn’t mean it definitely will.

The Acolyte premieres on Disney+ on June 4, 2024.

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Leon Miller
Leon is a freelance contributor at The Escapist, covering movies, TV, video games, and comics. Active in the industry since 2016, Leon's previous by-lines include articles for Polygon, Popverse, Screen Rant, CBR, Dexerto, Cultured Vultures, PanelxPanel, Taste of Cinema, and more.