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When playing Star Wars Knights of the Old Republic II: The Sith Lords as a child, I thought that Darth Nihilus was the scariest Star Wars character out of the whole franchise. After playing the game as an adult, I have the exact same thought.
This faceless Sith Lord has everything that nightmares are made of. He drains the Force energy from people, essentially eating their life force to feed himself.
We’re going to take a deep look into the character of Darth Nihilus and find out what else makes him so terrifying.
Bottom Line Up Front
Darth Nihilus is one of the main antagonists in Star Wars Knights of the Old Republic II: The Sith Lords. He’s a Sith Lord who uses the Dark Side of the Force to drain the Force energy of other living beings to feed his insatiable hunger. He played a key role in the First Jedi Purge, and he was ultimately stopped by the Jedi, Meetra Surik.
Not much is known about the origins of Darth Nihilus. All we know is that he was a part of the Mandalorian Wars, and the devastation the war caused had a major impact on him and everyone he knew.
He was at the battle of Malachor V, the planet where Revan led the final attack against the Mandalorians that ended the war. The battle ended when Meetra Surik was ordered by Revan to activate the Mass Shadow Generator, a machine that sucked all the ships that surrounded the planet onto the surface, destroying everything and everyone.
Both sides of the war suffered thousands of casualties from it, but it ended with the Republic triumphing over the Mandalorians.
Nihilus was one of the few survivors on the planet. After suffering so much loss, Nihilus gave into the Dark Side of the Force to cope with his pain and to survive the harsh surface of the planet in the aftermath.
This left him with a sudden hunger, and without realizing it, he sucked the life force of some of a few of the surviving soldiers around him. Doing this left him with a bit of relief, but it didn’t last long. He had to find more lives to drain to satisfy this hunger.
This process led Nihilus to become a wound in the Force. This is when a traumatic event happens, and the Force is affected. Force-sensitive people can typically feel when this occurs.
After the events of the Mandalorian Wars, a fallen Jedi named Traya went in search of wounds in the Force. She found Nihilus and promised to train him to learn how to satisfy his hunger and eventually suck the life force from entire planets.
Traya taught the ways of the Dark Side at the Trayus Academy, a Sith academy on Malachor V that survived the devastation of the Mass Shadow Generator. Along with Nihilus, Traya trained another strong Dark Side user named, Sion.
The three of them formed the Sith Triumvirate, with Darth Traya as the master of Darth Nihilus and Darth Sion. The goal of the Triumvirate was to build the Sith Empire and destroy the Jedi.
Traya was incredibly strategic in her ways and had a plan in place to eliminate the Jedi in a slow and steady manner. Sion and Nihilus grew tired of her ideas and wanted to hunt the Jedi down quicker and more brutally.
So, they conspired to betray Traya. The two of them approached her at the Trayus Academy and while Sion relentlessly beat her, Nihilus sucked the Force energy from her. This cut her off from the Force, and they cast her out.
Nihilus and Sion went their separate ways after this, but they both continued their goal of hunting the Jedi down. While Sion traveled to planets in search of Jedi and brutally murdered them, Darth Nihilus went in search of planets with high levels of Force energy and drained the life from them.
He did this with the fleet that he gathered from Malachor V. He used the Force to hold together old ships that had crashed at the end of the Mandalorian War, with his main ship being called The Ravager.
Nihilus and Sion’s slaughter of the Jedi became known as the First Jedi Purge. They managed to eradicate most of the Jedi around the galaxy, with all the remaining Jedi going into hiding.
As time went on, Nihilus drained so much life that the Dark Side of the Force started to eat away at his body. It got so bad that he eventually disintegrated into nothingness, leaving just his spirit keeping a form together inside his robes and mask. He used the Force to keep this form, allowing him to wield a lightsaber as well.
Darth Nihilus was no longer a human, just a Force being intent on destruction through his insatiable hunger.
One of Darth Nihilus’ most infamous planet eradications was on the planet of Katarr. A Jedi Master, by the name of Atris, organized a meeting for the Jedi on this planet. Her plan was to lure Nihilus out and destroy him. The planet was home to the Miraluka people, a race of near-human Force-sensitives.
As Nihilus came close to the planet, his hunger took over and he destroyed the entire surface of the world. This ended up killing all the Miraluka people along with the Jedi that Atris asked to meet there. This genocide echoed through the galaxy and made many people aware of the power of Darth Nihilus.
The final days of Nihilus came as a result of Traya and Meetra Surik. After being cast out, Traya joined up with Meetra Surik and guided her as she relearned the ways of the Force. Like Traya, Meetra was cut off from the Force. However, she did it intentionally after the battle of Malachor V.
Now named Kreia, she and Meetra formed a team while traveling through the galaxy to find the last remaining Jedi Masters. This adventure culminated in a battle on the planet, Onderon. Nihilus planned on using the planet as a base of operations, so he sided with one of the political leaders to aid them in a fight for power.
Onderon had a moon called, Dxun. Nihilus made a base there in the tomb of an old Sith named, Freedon Nadd. Inside there, he had a few of his acolytes perform a Dark Side ritual to aid in the Battle on Onderon.
While he wasn’t physically there, his role in the fight aided tremendously. However, Meetra Surik was victorious and defeated all of the Sith supporters.
This led to the final battle above Telos IV. Kreia secretly betrayed Meetra and covertly informed Nihilus that there was a Jedi academy on the planet. She sent Meetra there as she knew Nihilus would be in pursuit.
Nihilus realized that there wasn’t a populated Jedi academy on the planet, but he had the intent to consume the planet anyway due to his hunger.
So, Meetra and a team of Mandalorians planned to stop Nihilus and destroy him and his ship. Meetra confronted Nihilus and they battled. The Dark Lord seemed to be too powerful at first.
However, Meetra Surik was determined to take him down. Nihilus then tried to drain her Force energy but was weakened by Meetra’s own Force wound. After that, she easily struck him down and defeated him.
- Darth Nihilus realizes he can feed on the Force energy of others to make himself more powerful. He does this for the first time, making him a wound in the Force.
- Nihilus gets trained by Darth Traya alongside Darth Sion. They form the Sith Triumvirate.
- Nihilus and Sion betray Traya and start the First Jedi Purge.
- The Dark Side eats away so much of Nihilus’ body that he disposes of it, keeping his spirit held together by his robes and a mask.
- Nihilus destroys the planet of Katarr, taking Visas Marr, the last surviving Miraluka, as an apprentice and Shadow Hand.
- He finds out about Meetra Surik and sends Visas Marr to assassinate her. Meetra converts Visas to the Light Side of the Force.
- Nihilus gets his Sith forces to aid in the Battle of Onderon. They’re defeated by Meetra Surik and her party of heroes.
- Kreia betrays Meetra and pulls the strings so that Meetra and Nihilus meet each other. She does this by leading Nihilus to Telos IV. A battle ensues and Meetra boards The Ravager, the ship of Darth Nihilus.
- Meetra kills Darth Nihilus after he gets weakened by attempting to drain her Force energy.
Darth Nihilus Themes
Darth Nihilus has interesting relationship dynamics with the other two members of the Sith Triumvirate. Darth Traya was the one who molded him, teaching him how to satisfy his hunger and leading him to destroy entire worlds. She basically helped him become a walking Death Star.
However, Traya never saw his Force abilities as power. She saw them as reliance. If Nihilus never fed on the life of others, he would fade away and die. So, Traya saw him as weak.
She thought this of the Jedi as well, despising how people relied on the Force to live and fight. That’s why she approved of Meetra Surik. Meetra chose to cut herself off from the Force, and she grew strong without it before opening herself up to it again.
Traya never encountered Nihilus again after his and Sion’s betrayal, but she was always aware of his power and the threat he posed to the galaxy.
Nihilus’ relationship with Sion was vastly different from the typical Master and Apprentice relationship of the Sith that came before them. Nihilus assumed the role of the Dark Lord of the Sith after they betrayed Traya. He was the Lord of Hunger, leading the Sith Empire. However, Darth Sion never assumed the role of his apprentice.
Instead, the two of them carried out their goal of eradicating the Jedi Order. They did so separately, never teaming up in the process. Nihilus was the most powerful of the two, but he didn’t have ambitions or goals. Instead, he just wanted to feed wherever he went.
Sion’s goal was to eliminate the Jedi while Nihilus would eventually plan to eliminate all life in the galaxy.
While Darth Nihilus seemed like a lifeless threat to anyone and everyone, he showed a bit of humanity after his destruction of the planet, Katarr. As he walked the surface of the destroyed planet, he found Visas Marr.
She was the only Miraluka left living, and instead of draining her life force and killing her, he spared her and took her on as an apprentice.
The two of them formed a Force bond, and Nihilus used Visas as his Shadow Hand. She carried out his orders as she shared his vision for the galaxy after he spared her.
When Visas and Nihilus felt Meetra Surik’s presence in the galaxy, Nihilus sent her to take her down. The encounter between Visas Marr and Meetra Surik is where you get to see some of the inner turmoil that Nihilus has caused.
He managed to convince Visas to have a grim view on life, thinking that it’s better if everyone was cut off from the Force. Visas explained that Nihilus believed that this would bring order to everything.
Meetra made her see how valuable life was, cutting her off from the Nihilus’ hold. Visas knew Nihilus would kill her if she came back to him after failing to kill Meetra, so she asked Meetra to kill her instead. However, Meetra spared her and gave her a second chance. This would eventually lead to Visas helping Meetra take Nihilus down.
Death by Meetra Surik
Something I find incredibly interesting about Sith Lords in the Star Wars universe is that most of them seem completely unstoppable. Darth Nihilus was so powerful that he consumed entire worlds. How can you beat something like that?
The answer is that he technically defeated himself. His power to drain the Force energy from people is what weakened him in his fight against Meetra Surik. The Force bond he had with Visas Marr is also what aided in the confrontation.
Visas was able to meditate to drain some of his power, and when he attempted to drain the power of Meetra, he was weakened even further thanks to her Force wound that came as a result of cutting herself off from the Force after the Mandalorian War.
There are a few missions in Star Wars: The Old Republic that you can play to find out a bit more about what happened to Darth Nihilus after his death.
Darth Nihilus made a Sith holocron before he died. This allowed someone to commune with his spirit and learn from his teachings. You find the holocron in the game, and it’s mentioned that Nihilus was a devastatingly powerful Sith Lord that killed hundreds of Jedi.
There are also Legends comics where another Sith Lord, named Darth Krayt, comes across the holocron of Darth Nihilus.
The main ability of Darth Nihilus was to consume the Force energy of other beings, feeding himself with the power. However, there were a few other Force powers that he frequently used. He used the Force to keep all the starships in his fleet afloat.
They were the destroyed starships from the Battle of Malachor V. Apart from that, he used Force lightning, Force scream, Force whirlwind, and Force resistance. These are all skills that you can use as well in KOTOR 2.
He was also brutal when fighting with his lightsaber. He only wielded it using one hand, using his other hand for Force abilities.
Nihilus’ final act of using the Force was when he imbued his armor with his consciousness to escape death.
Darth Nihilus never speaks Galactic Basic (English) in the game, so all these quotes are from other characters referring to him:
- “He is already dead; it is simply a matter of how many he kills before he falls.” – Kreia explains how Nihilus is no longer human and how feeding on others to preserve himself will eventually end.
- “He cares nothing for the Sith or its teachings…or the Jedi.” – Kreia explains how Nihilus purely seeks to feed on the Force energy of others, not caring for factions, wars, or teachings from any side.
- “He is a wound in the Force, more presence than flesh.” – Visas Marr describes Nihilus to Meetra Surik.
Question: What Language Does Darth Nihilus Speak?
Answer: When listening to any dialogue of Darth Nihilus in KOTOR 2, all you hear is murmuring and echoes. While every other alien language had subtitles being shown, Nihilus’ dialogue has no explanation. As he has no human form, there aren’t any vocal cords to talk with.
He doesn’t speak any recognizable language. Instead, it’s understood that the noises you hear are the screams of the Force-sensitive people that he has consumed. It’s also understood that all his Sith servants understand what he’s saying.
Aspects like this are what make KOTOR 2 one of the darkest Star Wars games!
Question: What Race is Darth Nihilus?
Answer: Darth Nihilus was a human male before he became the Dark Lord of the Sith. As he fed off the Force energy of others, the Dark Side energy ate away at his body.
He eventually removed his spirit from his body, holding a form together with his robes and armor. At this point, you can’t consider him as human at all. Instead, a Force being intent on destruction.
Question: Is Darth Nihilus Stronger than Darth Sion?
Answer: Darth Nihilus was much stronger than Darth Sion. They both had immense power thanks to their use of the Dark Side. However, Nihilus had raw power while Sion was fueled by anger and rage. Sion couldn’t be killed as long as he had the will to live. He always channeled his anger and rage and brought himself back to life.
There’s a deleted scene in KOTOR 2 where Sion approaches Nihilus and explains how he doesn’t need him. They start to battle and Nihilus easily cuts Sion down.
You can see this scene if you play the game with the Restored Content Mod.
Question: What was the Jedi Purge?
Answer: The First Jedi Purge was when Darth Traya, Darth Nihilus, and Darth Sion formed the Sith Triumvirate. They made it their goal to eliminate all the Jedi in the galaxy. It was a slow process at first, but the purge went quicker once Nihilus and Sion betrayed Traya.
Darth Sion tracked down and brutally murdered countless Jedi while Darth Nihilus sought out Force-sensitive worlds with his fleet and completely consumed them.
By the end of the First Jedi Purge, only a few Jedi Masters remained alive. Meetra Surik found them, received training from them, and eliminated the Sith that enacted the purge. After that, she helped reform the Jedi Order.
Nihilus is a perfect example of how scary the Dark Side of the Force can be. It completely stripped all of his humanity, leaving him with nothing but the hunger for the Force energy from others. His only goal was to feed.
This made him quite one-dimensional, and Kreia expressed this when she said how he’s weak due to his reliance on the Force. I’ve always found Sith Lords with understandable intentions more interesting than ones with single goals. This is why characters like Darth Revan and Darth Sidious are a bit more compelling.
Nonetheless, Darth Nihilus is an excellent villain in the second Knights of the Old Republic game. Combined with Darth Traya and Darth Sion, you get a glimpse into three different aspects of the Dark Side. It makes for an incredibly interesting story. If you haven’t played the game yet, you should give it a try!
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