‘Star Wars’: Why Is Darth Vader a Sith Lord But Kylo Ren Isn’t?

In the Star Wars universe, there are a lot of similarities between Kylo Ren and Darth Vader. One is grandson to the other and both tragically turned to the dark side of the Force.

There is one interesting distinction between the two, however: Darth Vader is known as a Dark Lord of the Sith while Kylo Ren never becomes a Sith Lord. Why is that? Why is it that two characters with so much in common don’t share a title? 

There’s actually a logical explanation for it, and understanding some key aspects of both characters will show you why it makes sense. 

The character arc of Darth Vader

Darth Vader at the European premiere of 'Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker'
Darth Vader at the European premiere of ‘Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker’ | Gareth Cattermole/Getty Images for Disney

Vader begins his journey as an innocent young boy named Anakin Skywalker. Rescued from slavery on the remote desert planet of Tatooine, Anakin becomes a Jedi training under Obi-Wan Kenobi. He meets a young queen, Padme Amidala, and eventually falls in love with her.

After battling his own inner anger at the thought of losing her (and losing his own mother), Anakin eventually gives in to the dark side of the Force. He’s seduced to the Sith by Darth Sidious (aka Emperor Palpatine) and takes on the mantle of the Sith Lord, Darth Vader. 

As Vader, he is a cold assassin doing the bidding of Emperor Palpatine. He hunts down the remaining Jedi Knights throughout the galaxy while also helping the Empire rule with an iron fist. The one thing that’s able to bring Vader back from the dark side is his own son, Luke Skywalker.

Luke joins the Rebellion and when he confronts his father, attempts to bring him back to the light as opposed to fighting him. As the Emperor is set to strike Luke down, Vader saves his son, becoming Anakin once again. 

The character arc of Kylo Ren

RELATED: ‘Star Wars’: The Best Lightsaber Duel In the Original, Prequel, and Sequel Trilogy

Kylo — first known as Ben Solo — starts his life as the son of galactic heroes: Luke’s sister Leia and Han Solo. He grows up with a lot of pressure as part of the galaxy’s most acclaimed family. As a young man, he trains to become a Jedi under his uncle Luke.

When Luke senses the dark side in Ben, he raises his lightsaber against him in fear. He catches himself, but not before Ben sees his own uncle about to strike him down. This solidifies his turn to the dark side, and he becomes the evil Kylo Ren. 

Kylo’s turn becomes complete when he does the unthinkable, killing his father. Eventually, he’s brought back to the light side by Rey Skywalker, who he helps defeat the reborn Emperor. 

Why is Darth Vader a Sith Lord but Kylo Ren isn’t? 

A recent Reddit thread debated whether Kylo was a Sith Lord. The answer was a resounding no, of course, as he never claims to be one. One fan even referred to his training and mentor, Snoke: 

“Kylo was never taught the ways of the Sith by Snoke, only the powers of the dark side..”

So why doesn’t Kylo become a Sith Lord? The answer is revealed in The Last Jedi. As he’s speaking to Rey after killing Snoke, Kylo mentions that it’s time to “let the past die.” He even mentions the Jedi and the Sith as two components of the old ways that should disappear. 

Kylo/Ben is a character who feels trapped by his family’s legacy. The expectations for him are so high. On the light side of the Force, there are plenty of heroes in his family to go around. On the dark side of the Force, he’s a descendant of one of the most powerful Sith Lords in Star Wars‘ history.

Whether he becomes a Jedi or a Sith, he’s not carving his own path but following in his family’s footsteps. Kylo’s unwillingness to embrace the title of Sith Lord is a nod toward him attempting to blaze his own trail within the film’s universe.