No matter where you stand on the Star Wars prequels, we can all agree that Darth Maul is fantastic. With his aggressive acrobatic fighting style, double bladed lightsaber, and face ink, the Sith Lord stole much of the show in Star Wars: The Phantom Menace. His story felt unmercifully cut short (*ahem) by Jedi Knight in training Obi-Wan Kenobi. But did you know the most famous son of Dathomir actually lived on in Star Wars canon, before his final defeat in the sands of Tatooine?
Don’t have time to sort through all of the novels, comic books, and episodes of The Clone Wars and Star Wars Rebels? Don’t worry, we’re exploring what happened to the Sith apprentice following his vivisection at the hands of Obi-Wan Kenobi.
Before delving into how Darth Maul survived getting chopped in half and what became of him afterward, first we should tell you a bit about his life before we first encountered him in The Phantom Menace. Star Wars canon has filled in much of his origin story. Prior to Disney’s acquisition of Lucasfilm, the six theatrical films and the events of the Star Wars: The Clone Wars animated series were considered canon. After the sale, all other Star Wars material officially became Legends, and the movies, comic books, novels, and so forth that followed are all official canon.
In the new canon, we learn that Darth Maul is from the planet Dathomir, He’s a Zabrak, a carnivorous race with horned heads and two hearts found mostly on the planet Iridonia. The male Zabraks living on Dathomir live as Nightbrothers under the matriarchal rule of the Nightsisters, a coven of Force sensitive witches whose dark powers came from the magical energy found deep within their native planet.
Toward the end of the Galactic Republic, clan leader Mother Talzin worked alongside the future ruler of the galaxy, Sheev Palpatine, aka Darth Sidious. Sidious long promised to make her his apprentice and install her at his side in his eventual takeover. But in true Sith Lord fashion, he ultimately betrayed her and kidnapped one of her children to train as his apprentice instead. That child became Darth Maul. At one point Sidious took Maul to the planet Malachor, an ancient Sith home world with an underground temple and a super weapon powered by a giant Kyber crystal, the same type of crystal that powers a Jedi’s lightsaber and powered the Death Star.
Malachor was the site of a huge showdown between the Jedi and Sith. Maul breathed in the ashes of the fallen Sith warriors, which gave him Force powered visions allowing him to feel the deaths of each of them as they fell to Jedi blades. This fueled Maul’s anger and hatred of the Jedi, enslaving him to his master’s quest for revenge. Prior to the blockade of Naboo, Maul’s Sith style impatience caused him to disobey his master’s orders to remain hidden, risking exposure on his own Jedi hunting missions, which at one point involved the bounty hunters Cad Bane and Aurra Sing.
We all know what happened once Maul revealed himself to the Jedi, first on Tatooine and later on Naboo, where he killed Obi-Wan’s master and was severed in half, seemingly falling to his death. What we didn’t see was that Maul used his master’s training, the powers of the Dark Side, his anger and hatred (and perhaps even a bit of Mother Talzin’s magic, if you ask us), to keep himself alive. He grabbed a hold of an air vent as he fell, pulling himself into a trash container. Like so much refuse, he was dumped on the junkyard world of Lotho Minor, surviving deep within the hellish garbage dump, with spider like mechanical legs. Madness set in over the years. While the Clone Wars raged, Maul forgot nearly everything about his former life, save for his singular focus on revenge against the Jedi who sliced him in half.
Darth Maul was presumed dead by both the Jedi and his former master. While the Jedi concerned themselves with the question of whether or not Maul was the master or the apprentice, Sidious took on a new apprentice: fallen Jedi Knight Count Dooku. As Darth Tyranus, Dooku was instrumental in the creation of the Clone Army and became leader of the Separatists. Palpatine and Dooku posed as enemies, as rival leaders in the Clone Wars, all while secretly plotting and scheming together as Sith.
The Sith Rule of Two of course sees each master constantly keeping an eye out for a new apprentice even as each apprentice plots to eventually usurp the master. The Rule of Two explains why Darth Vader was eager to train Luke as his apprentice and to overthrow the Emperor and “rule the galaxy as father and son,” while Palpatine seemed totally fine with Luke killing Vader or vice versa. If Luke won, Sidious had a younger and less robotic new apprentice. If Vader prevailed, Palpatine lost nothing.
During the Clone Wars, Count Dooku sought to groom a potential apprentice for his eventual assassination of his own master. Asajj Ventress, daughter of Mother Talzin, who was raised elsewhere as a slave and for a time was tutored by a Jedi Knight, had fallen to the Dark Side by the time she was discovered by Darth Tyranus.
During the Clone Wars, Ventress competed for the Count’s favor with General Grievous, leading a faction of the Separatist droid army and often battling Jedi Generals Obi-Wan Kenobi and Anakin Skywalker. Sidious grew wary of her increasing power and ever suspicious of Dooku’s likely intention to make her his own apprentice, and ordered Dooku to eliminate her. As his master commanded, Dooku betrayed Ventress. She escaped and was welcomed to Dathomir by Mother Talzin.
Talzin used her magic to empower Darth Maul’s brother, Savage Opress, offering the Nightbrother warrior as Trojan Horse to Count Dooku. The idea was that Dooku would replace Ventress with Savage, only for Savage to turn on the Count in service of the Nightsisters. Instead, Savage Opress turned against both Dooku and Ventress. Back on Dathomir, Savage learned of his brother’s survival and subsequent marooning on a junkyard world in the Outer Rim. Mother Talzin sent Savage off in search of Maul. The two of them returned to Dathomir together, where Talzin used her magic to restore Maul’s mind and to give him a pair of magic powered legs.
The two brothers set off in search of Obi-Wan Kenobi. They were successful in capturing him, but Asajj Ventress came to his rescue, with the two former rivals teaming up to battle the Nightbrothers. Later, Maul bested his brother in combat, declaring himself his brother’s master, establishing a Sith dynamic between them. On the planet Florrum, Maul forcefully convinced a group of pirates to swear allegiance to him. Obi-Wan and Jedi Knight Adi Gallia tracked the Nightbrothers there, forcing a third confrontation which Maul was not yet prepared to have.
Savage succeeded in killing Gallia but he and his brother were both bested by Kenobi, who took one of Savage’s arms in battle. Their new pirate allies turned on the brothers, destroying one of Maul’s new legs and chasing them off of the planet.
Considering the threat from Maul more or less neutralized, Palpatine ordered Kenobi to return his focus to the Clone Wars, chiding him for letting a “personal” issue interfere with his greater duties. Sadly, Yoda sided with the Chancellor. Over the course of some of the best episodes of the already great Clone Wars series, Maul and his brother declared themselves the true Sith Lords, and threw in with Death Watch, a radical Mandalorian splinter group who shared their hatred of both the Jedi and Count Dooku, who a jealous Maul saw as a Sith pretender and fraud. Death Watch provided Maul with new legs and his brother with a mechanical arm.
With Death Watch as his allies, Maul began putting together what became known as the Shadow Collective, gathering power by bringing several criminal syndicates under his command: Black Sun, who made Mustafar one of their bases of operations; the Pyke Syndicate, also known as the Pyke Family; and the Hutts on Tatooine. Maul’s Shadow Collective embarked on a series of terror attacks on Mandalore designed to disrupt the rule of Duchess Satine, which served a dual purpose. Death Watch sought to gain power over their home world by overthrowing the Duchess. The Duchess was a close friend, ally, and romantic interest of Obi-Wan Kenobi, which worked out quite conveniently for Maul’s grand plan to make Kenobi suffer.
Death Watch takes over Mandalore and as Maul predicted, betrayed the Nightbrothers, tossing them into prison. They escaped, with Maul charging into the Mandalorian throne room where he challenged Death Watch’s leader to a duel for the group’s leadership, in accordance with their customs. Maul prevailed, taking the group’s ceremonial weapon in the process, a refashioned Jedi lightsaber called the Darksaber, traditionally wielded by the planet’s true leader. This split the Death Watch in half with one faction fleeing as the other swore allegiance to Maul.
Maul installed a corrupt politician as a puppet monarch and engaged in another battle with Kenobi, who came to the planet in hopes of rescuing the Duchess. As Dooku had tried before the Clone Wars, Maul attempted to lure Kenobi to the dark side. In turn, Kenobi appealed to Maul’s lost innocence, explaining that he had visited his village on Dathomir and that the Nightsisters and the Sith had made him a pawn. Maul made it clear that he blames Kenobi for all of his anger and suffering, killing Duchess Satine right in front of him, and tossing the Jedi Knight in prison.
All of the activity on Mandalore caught the attention of Darth Sidious, who journeyed to the planet alone to confront his former apprentice. As civil war broke out between the rival Death Watch factions, one of them led by Satine’s sister, Sidious entered the throne room. Maul kneeled before his old master, saying he’d used his training to survive his injuries all of those years ago on Naboo, and claiming he’d built the Shadow Collective in his service and in hopes of returning to his side.
Sidious considered his words then said, glancing at Savage Opress as he answered, “How unfortunate that you are attempting to deceive me.” One of the coolest battles in Star Wars canon ensued, as two-fisted lightsaber wielding Sidious easily bested his opponents, neutralizing Maul and then murdering Savage Opress in front of him. In another of the many “echo” moments in Star Wars, this was reminiscent of Maul’s own murder of Qui-Gon Jinn in front of a helpless Obi-Wan Kenobi back on Naboo.
Maul battled Darth Sidious with both a lightsaber and the Darksaber but simply could not best his old master. As the civil war continued to rage across Mandalore, Sidious reminded Maul: “Remember the first and only reality of the Sith: there can be only two and you are no longer my apprentice. You have been replaced!”
Maul pleaded for mercy from his former master. “There can be no mercy,” said the future Emperor, cackling as he tortured Maul with force lightning. Sidious revealed his plans to keep Maul alive, mysteriously promising he had “other uses” for him.
The next part of Maul’s story played out in the comic series Darth Maul – Son of Dathomir. Imprisoned on a remote planet controlled by the Separatists, Maul was interrogated by Count Dooku, who Sidious had commanded to gain information about the remaining forces of the Shadow Collective. The faction of Death Watch still loyal to Maul came to their leader’s rescue. Maul reclaimed the Darksaber.
Ever the conniving conspirators, Palpatine and Dooku had allowed Maul to escape, hoping he would lead them to Mother Talzin, so they could eliminate her as a rival once and for all. General Grievous and his army attacked and defeated Maul and Death Watch, who were forced to retreat. Again, this was part of the master plan, which worked. As predicted, Maul used the Force to contact Mother Talzin for help.
Talzin planned a trap of her own. She sent a group of Nightbrothers to join Maul, Death Watch, Black Sun, and the Pykes, who lured Count Dooku, General Grievous, and Separatist forces into battle. Despite heavy losses, the plan succeeded. Shadow Collective captured both Separatist leaders. Maul reached out to Sidious to bargain, but he was unbothered. In true Sith fashion, Sidious told Maul to just kill both of ’em.
And in keeping it real with the ways of the Sith, Maul tried to convince Dooku to ally with him, with the assistance of Talzin, who appeared in spectral form and told the story of how Darth Sidious had betrayed her, while rightly pointing out that Dooku had just been betrayed and had his own designs on trying to usurp Palpatine anyway. Dooku wasn’t convinced they could overpower Sidious, even together.
Led by Mace Windu and Obi-Wan Kenobi, Republic forces attacked. Grievous, Dooku, Maul, and Shadow Collective all escaped in the ensuing chaos. Dooku had feigned allegiance to Maul during the battle, but Maul knew he was lying, and was only doing so at the behest of his true master, Palpatine. On Dathomir, Mother Talzin used her magic to possess Dooku’s body. Grievous and Sidious arrived, with Maul squaring off against the cyborg general as the Talzin possessed Dooku fought Sidious.
Sidious overpowered Talzin, forcing her to release Dooku and to manifest in her own physical form. As Separatist forces attacked Dathomir, General Grievous killed Mother Talzin. Aided by Death Watch, Maul escaped, returning to Mandalore.
In the 2017 novel Ahsoka, it was revealed that Maul and his remaining forces were defeated by clone troops led by Captain Rex and former Jedi Padawan Ahsoka Tano. Maul was captured but managed to escape when the clone troops turned on Ahsoka, obeying the Emperor’s Order 66. Rex had removed the inhibitor chip installed in the clone army that caused the majority of them to betray their Jedi generals. Rex and Tano faked their deaths and went into hiding, unaware that Anakin was now a Sith.
With the Clone Wars over, Kenobi was presumed dead. Maul journeyed to the ancient Sith home world his former master had shown him all of those years ago, Malachor, hoping to reactive the massive weapon there, with his thirst for revenge now focused on Darth Sidious, as well as the new Sith apprentice, Darth Vader.
Maul’s ship was destroyed on Malachor, stranding him in the ruins of the ancient Sith temple for many years. As the Empire consolidated its power, the Sith organized a team of Force-sensitive assassins called Inquisitors, tasked with hunting down any Jedi who had survived Order 66. The Inquisitor called the Eighth Brother was ordered to track down and eliminate Maul, known to him only as “the Shadow.”
It was on Malachor, between the events of Episode III and Episode IV, where Maul came into contact with Jedi survivor Kanan Jarrus and his young apprentice Ezra Bridger in Star Wars Rebels. He was also reunited with Ahsoka, now a leader in the burgeoning Rebellion against the Empire. As Maul manipulated Ezra, who he saw as a potential new apprentice for himself, the four of them united to fend off attacks from the Eighth Brother and two more Inquisitors. The Inquisitors were defeated. Maul of course turned on the Rebels, blinding Kanan in the process. Maul’s plan was to get Ezra to activate the massive Sith weapon with the aid of a Sith holocron.
All of the dark side activity on Malachor attracted the attention of Darth Vader himself, who arrived on the planet and battled his old Jedi Padawan, Ahsoka Tano. Despite being blinded, Kanan was able to beat Maul, who fled Malachor in defeat. Later, Maul took the crew of the Ghost hostage, demanding the Sith holocron as well as Kanan’s Jedi holocron in exchange for the lives of their friends. The Jedi gave in. Maul of course betrayed them all anyway, pushing Kanan into space (unbeknownst to Ezra) and quietly ordering a droid to eliminate the remaining crew of the Ghost.
Combining the Jedi and Sith holorcons promised to answer questions for both Maul and Bridger. Ezra wanted to know how to defeat Sidious and Vader. Maul wanted to know if perhaps Obi Wan had survived the Clone Wars and if so, where to find him.
Kanan survived and rescued the rest of the crew, interrupting his apprentice and Maul as the two of them combined the holocrons. Ezra heeded Kanan’s instructions to stop, but not before the holocrons provided a vision of a planet with twin suns. Maul escaped, later using the psychic link the holocron ritual created between him and Ezra to track the Rebels. Ezra, tempted by the dark side like never before, allowed Maul to convince him to travel to Dathomir to find the answers they sought.
A magic ritual on Dathomir revealed Obi-Wan’s whereabouts to Maul while revealing to Ezra that Obi-Wan held the key to destroying the Sith once and for all. Maul asked Ezra to become his apprentice. “Our futures converge on a planet with two suns. We can walk that path together as friends, as brothers,” Maul promised. Ezra refused. Maul set off for Tatooine on his own. Lost in the desert, Maul used a fragment of the Sith holocron to lure Ezra to Tatooine, figuring that would draw out Kenobi. Against Kanan’s wishes, Ezra traveled to Tatooine to warn Kenobi and in hopes that the former Clone Wars general might join the Rebellion. Ezra was ambushed by Tusken Raiders and knocked unconscious. Maul dispatched all of the Tusken Raiders, leaving Ezra on the ground as bait for Kenobi. Obi-Wan found Ezra, helped him with his wounds, and wisely surmised what Maul had planned. Maul arrived. Kenobi sent Ezra away. His mission watching over Luke wasn’t over. Maul sensed that Kenobi was on Tatooine to guard something, or more specifically, someone. After all of their long battles in the past, this duel proved elegantly simple.
Maul tried the same move on Kenobi he’d used to kill Qui-Gon on Naboo. Obi Wan swiftly countered, disabling Maul’s lightsaber and dealing a deathblow in one strike. As Maul died in his old enemy’s arms, his final words were this. “Tell me… Is it the Chosen One?” Kenobi says, “He is.” Seeming to find peace at least, with the recognition that Kenobi guards the one destined to bring balance to the Force and destroy the Sith, Maul says, “He will avenge us.” Kenobi closed his old enemy’s eyes.