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Star Wars: Why Sith Have Yellow Eyes (Except One)

There are plenty of signs to help you spot a Sith lord in the "Star Wars" universe. Firstly, "always two there are" dabbling in the dark side of the Force, a rule that has quietly defined the Sith in "Star Wars." Then there's the company-brand lightsaber that always burns red to complete the all-black attire and, depending on how corrupted they've become, a cackle that can fill whatever throne room they may be inhabiting. However, one trait that isn't as consistent is the fiery yellow change in eye color, displaying just how deep into the dark the individual might be.

The first time we come across a yellow-eyed Sith in the "Star Wars" timeline is Darth Maul (Ray Park). His red-rimmed yellow eyes, along with his cranial horns and facial tattoos, make him one of the best "Star Wars" characters in the galaxy. The burning peepers are a byproduct of him being a dark side user, with his anger and hate bubbling up to the surface. It's a side effect that also applies to Anakin Skywalker (Hayden Christensen) after he turns to the dark side and becomes Darth Vader. 

With Skywalker unable to deny his rage toward the Jedi Order and lured away by Darth Sidious (Ian McDiarmid), his eyes display the signature yellow tint that is only briefly sedated by the sight of his love, Padme (Natalie Portman). However, it is the Sith lord Vader replaces, and even his new master to a point, who is the exception to the yellow-eyed rule. 

Count Dooku keeps his cool and his natural eye color

Before Anakin turns to the dark side and Order 66 gets dished out, Senator Palpatine keeps his secret identity of Darth Sidious under wraps for some time, even managing to keep his eye color his own. This is because Sidious has become such a master of the dark side that he can refrain from giving away which camp he is in to benefit his evil plans. It is only at the end of "Star Wars: Episode III – Revenge of the Sith" that he fully embraces his true calling and all the perks that come with it, demonic eye color included.

In the case of Count Dooku (Christopher Lee), however, it isn't a matter of hiding his influence from the Sith but being motivated for more personal reasons. Dooku isn't so devoted to Sith ideals but sways to their tactics after coming to believe the Jedi have gone off track from what he initially signed up for. As a result, the dark side is a means to an end and not the be-all and end-all for Dooku in his eyes, which is quite literally why he doesn't share the same evil ocular trait that the other Sith member has. In the end, the more filled with rage a Sith is, the higher the level of infuriated eyeball on display to match their unbridled anger.

To learn more about the dark side's power, check out the most powerful Sith in the "Star Wars" universe.