Darth Maul is hands down one of the best character designs in Star Wars history. The red and black skin, the horns, everything about Maul is instantly iconic and just screams evil. So when he went out like a chump in his first appearance ever—cut in half by a guy with the goofiest haircut in the galaxy—fans were saddened by all the lost potential that fell down that endless shaft along with the recently bisected Sith. Miraculously, Maul survived being cut in half and falling down a bottomless pit…by staying mad about it.
Lightsaber inconsistencies aside, what kept Darth Maul alive initially was his hatred of Obi-Wan Kenobi.
To understand how Darth Maul survived such an obviously fatal lightsaber wound, one has to first understand how inconsistent lightsabers are when it comes to killing. The very first limb we see hacked off via laser sword in the entire saga is that of walrus-faced cantina patron Ponda Baba. When the camera pans down to Ponda’s severed arm lying on the barroom floor, it’s sitting in a pool of blood.
The very next movie saw Luke Skywalker’s hand sliced off in a similar manner, except now, this time, there was no blood. That’s because from Empire Strikes Back onward, it was established that as a rule in Star Wars, lightsabers automatically cauterize any wounds they inflict. The inconsistencies don’t stop there. Moments before Darth Maul is cleaved in twain by Obi-Wan, the Sith Lord stabs Qui-Gon Jinn through the torso, killing him.
Since then, being stabbed through the torso has been downgraded from an instant kill to a minor flesh wound, as evidenced by Sabine Wren, Reva, and the Grand Inquisitor—all of whom survived being stabbed in almost the exact same spot as Qui-Gon.
Darth Maul, driven insane by his injury and his overwhelming hatred for Obi-Wan Kenobi, was dumped in a junkyard on a planet in the Outer Rim called Lotho Minor.
The point being that folks in Star Wars survive some pretty wild cuts depending on who’s writing the fight. Darth Maul’s survival, while improbable, isn’t completely out of left field when it comes to Star Wars.
Lightsaber inconsistencies aside, what kept Darth Maul alive initially was his hatred of Obi-Wan Kenobi. Revenge is a powerful motivator. Revenge plus a mastery over the dark side of the Force is enough to keep half a Sith alive long enough to rebuild themself.
The fact that Kenobi’s lightsaber sealed Maul’s flesh when it cut him in half, preventing any of the Zabrak’s innards from spilling out as he fell, also helped.
If Maul’s defeat at the hands of a Jedi apprentice still waiting to become a Knight wasn’t enough of an indignity, the shaft he fell down led to a garbage container. Darth Maul, driven insane by his injury and his overwhelming hatred for Obi-Wan Kenobi, was dumped in a junkyard on a planet in the Outer Rim called Lotho Minor.
There, the former Sith Lord survived on whatever vermin he was able to catch and eventually cobbled together a set of six mechanical legs that made him look like some kind of cross between the devil and a spider.
Maul haunted the bowels of the planet Lotho Minor, like some insectoid phantom, for close to a decade as he plotted his revenge, slowly growing more and more insane. When Darth Maul’s mother and leader of the Nightsisters, Mother Talzin, sent her remaining son, Savage Opress, to find and retrieve his brother, Opress found Maul in a near-feral state alternating between tears and laughter with no memory of who he once was, save that he must kill Obi-Wan Kenobi.
Opress managed to subdue his brother and brought him back to his home planet of Dathomir, where Mother Talzin did her best to repair her son’s fractured psyche. While on Dathomir, Darth Maul was given a new, more agile set of cybernetic legs—just two this time—taken from the remains of some Separatist battle droids. The broken droids had been left on Dathomir after a skirmish that had taken place there earlier in the Clone Wars.
A newly repaired Maul would set out with his brother to find and kill Obi-Wan Kenobi. Darth Maul would face Kenobi in battle several times over the next few years, becoming one of the galaxy’s biggest crime bosses in the process.
Darth Maul In The Clone Wars
Darth Maul’s unlikely survival started out as a fan theory that fans came up with following the release of The Phantom Menace. It became canon when Darth Maul showed up alive but broken in the season 4 finale of The Clone Wars.
From there, Maul showed up in a cameo at the end of Solo: A Star Wars Story. According to the trivia section for Solo on IMDb, Maul’s inclusion in Solo was such a secret that he was only referred to as “Boss” in the script in order to avoid the surprise getting spoiled ahead of time.
Had the movie been more successful, Darth Maul would have most likely become the main villain of the Solo franchise. Unfortunately, Solo didn’t perform well at the box office, and Maul was again relegated to animation with multiple appearances on Rebels.
It was in Darth Maul’s final appearance that the unlikely survivor would meet his second, permanent death—once again at the hands of Obi-Wan Kenobi.
Despite his initial “death” at the end of The Phantom Menace, Darth Maul went on to live a long and fruitful life as one of the more interesting Star Wars villains as well as making one thing abundantly clear: don’t piss off a Sith Lord because they will survive anything short of disintegration for a chance to get back at you.