Sith Happens

20 years later, Star Wars will finally fix its most one-dimensional villain

What's the deal with Darth Tyranus? Looks like the mystery of Dooku will finally be revealed.

Count Dooku has always been a mysterious character. Often, baddies are lured to the Dark side with the promise of power, but Dooku arguably had more influence when he was sitting pretty on the Jedi Council than he did as a backup Sith apprentice for Sheev Palpatine. So what happened? A new Star Wars show may have the answer.

Since Dooku’s Attack of the Clones introduction 20 years ago, the seasoned Sith’s backstory has been riddled with contradictions and questions. Now, the newest Dave Filoni-led Star Wars project — Tales of the Jedi — will complete the puzzle of the strangest and most elusive Force-wielder in the Star Wars pantheon.

Tales of the Jedi trailer teases young Dooku

During D23, Lucasfilm dropped the trailer for the new animated anthology series Star Wars: Tales Of the Jedi. Animated in the same style as The Clone Wars, Rebels, and The Bad Batch, the series will consist of six shorts featuring previously untold stories of Ahsoka Tano, Count Dooku, and other Jedi.

Although details about Anakin and Ahsoka will doubtlessly recontextualize the upcoming live-action Ahsoka series, the glimpses of Count Dooku’s past are immediately arresting. Throughout the shorts, we see Dooku at various ages — as a very young man, as the master of Qui-Gon Jinn, and as a mature Jedi (but still decades away from the age he is in the prequels). Because Dooku was born in 100 BBY (a century before A New Hope), it looks like we’ll be getting a big chunk of Star Wars history as we learn more about his biography.

Count Dooku history

Christopher Lee as Dracula in 1958.Silver Screen Collection/Moviepix/Getty Images

Although the 2019 book/audio play Dooku: Jedi Lost detailed a huge amount of Dooku’s backstory, there are still plenty of gaps. For fans who only experienced Dooku in The Clone Wars and Episodes II and III, his staggering importance in the saga is still totally disproportionate to how much we actually know about him. Dooku is the person responsible for the creation of the Clone Army. Dooku carried out the majority of Palpatine’s plans that led to the formation of the Empire. But before that, Dooku was Qui-Gon Jinn’s Jedi master, which means his influence isn’t just about the machinations of the Clone Wars.

Without Dooku, almost nothing about the prequel trilogy could happen. Qui-Gon’s training would have been different. Yoda wouldn’t have had a troubling past involving problematic Padawans who later became Sith Lords. By creating and leading the Separatist movement, Dooku spearheaded the defining conflict in all of Star Wars. And yet, most fans probably regard Dooku more as a catalyst than a character.

When Jonathan Hales and George Lucas created Dooku for Attack of the Clones, the idea that Christopher Lee would play him was baked into the writing. Dooku has the air of being a vampiric count because Lee was famous for having played Dracula in numerous movies. From his first appearance, Dooku scanned as a kind of old-school horror villain inserted into Star Wars as a cinematic Easter egg of sorts. This made him wonderful to watch, and Lee is amazing in both prequels.

As a symbol, Dooku is perfect for Star Wars. As a character, he’s a bit thin.

Tales of the Jedi can humanize Dooku

Dooku in Tales of the Jedi.Lucasfilm

Again, other than Dooku: Jedi Lost and a handful of flashbacks in The Clone Wars, the full exploration of Dooku’s life isn’t something even hardcore Star Wars fans can easily grasp. We know Dooku is important because we've been told he’s important. But we haven’t actually seen the evolution of this very pivotal Jedi-turned-Sith. Considering that both Qui-Gon and Yoda worked with him closely, it feels borderline unbelievable that he would turn to the Dark side. Even in Attack of the Clones, Mace Windu and Ki-Adi-Mundi are incredulous at the suggestion that Dooku could be evil.

But, here’s the interesting flipside: Because Dooku was introduced to us as an utterly evil character, most fans still find the idea of a “good Dooku” to be absurd. Unlike Anakin Skywalker, there aren’t hours and hours of Star Wars material spent unpacking how and why Dooku went from beloved Jedi to an overtly evil guy who dressed like Dracula and cultivated a ruthless personality.

And it’s in this contradiction that the story of Dooku in Tales of the Jedi has the potential to be amazing. The Jedi believed in Dooku for a long time. But Star Wars fans never got the chance to feel the same way. After this series, maybe one of the flattest villains in the canon will be filled with new dimension.

Star Wars: Tales of the Jedi hits Disney+ on October 26. 2022.