As one of the coolest weapons ever created in the history of science fiction and cinema, the lightsaber has captured the imagination of generations of fans since its debut in Episode IV: A New Hope. With their futuristic-looking metallic hilts, glowing energy blades and fantastic whirl-hum sounds, the most iconic lightsabers in the saga are intertwined with their equally famous Jedi and Sith wielders.
While the colors of the blades were limited to blue and red in the first two films, this expanded to green in Episode VI: Return of the Jedi, and later works included many different color lightsabers, such as purple, yellow, and white – growing as the cast of characters expanded in the Star Wars universe.
This article will examine ten of the most iconic lightsabers in the Star Wars franchise, provide a brief history of what makes them so important, and help readers gain a deeper appreciation for its various designs and powerful wielders. So, without further ado, let’s get started.
Anakin, Luke and Rey’s Blue Lightsaber
Constructed by Anakin Skywalker during the Clone Wars after his first weapon was destroyed in Episode II: Attack of the Clones, this saber is one of the most significant weapons in the saga.
Like other sabers, it was powered by a kyber crystal, with an alloy metal and carbon composite hilt that measured 28 centimeters long. The blue blade’s length was adjustable, with typical customizations such as a rubberized grip and mechanisms to fine-tune its energy output.
In the skillful hands of Anakin as a Jedi Knight and Republic General, the blade was used in countless battles and numerous lightsaber fights during the war. After his fall to the dark side, the weapon was used to slaughter Jedi younglings and later claimed by Obi-Wan Kenobi, who defeated Anakin during their duel on Mustafar.
Two decades later, Obi-Wan passed down the weapon to Luke, and told him that his father wanted him to have it when he was old enough. In the original trilogy film, Obi-Wan quipped that it was “a more elegant weapon, for a more civilized age.” Luke trained and fought with this lightsaber while learning the ways of the Force to become a full-fledged Jedi, before losing it along with his hand against Darth Vader during their duel on Cloud City.
Three decades later, the weapon resurfaced on the planet Takodana, where it called out to Rey in the Force. After some initial hesitations, Rey eventually took possession of the weapon and dueled Kylo Ren – who claimed that it belonged to him.
After Rey bested Kylo during their battle, she tried to return it to Luke on Ahch-To, who rejected it and remarked, “You think what? I’m gonna walk out with a laser sword and face down the whole First Order?”
A surprised Rey retained possession of the weapon, and eventually it was used to kill both Supreme Leader Snoke of the First Order, and later Darth Sidious with the aid of Kylo. During this period, the weapon was also violently split into two halves and repaired by Rey.
Ultimately, Rey buried the Skywalker Lightsaber on Tatooine by their family homestead, and laid to rest a weapon that had been used in some of the most galaxy-altering events in the saga.
Darth Vader’s Red Lightsaber
After Anakin’s fall to the dark side and defeat at the hands of Obi-Wan, the newly christened Darth Vader constructed a new lightsaber with a crimson-red blade in the traditions of the Sith.
In order to construct the Sith lightsaber, Vader accepted a mission to hunt down and kill a Jedi to use the former lightsaber wielder’s kyber crystal within to power his new blade.
After dispatching of Jedi Kirak Infil’a, Vader took the master’s weapon to Mustafar, where he dissembled it and bled the kyber crystal – a Sith ritual where the Force user pours his hatred, anger, and pain into it. Through this process, the Sith corrupted the crystal from the light side to the dark side of the Force by bending it towards his will and malice.
Vader was successful and used the crystal for his new weapon. Based on the original design of Anakin’s lightsaber, Vader’s weapon hilt featured a black-ridged handgrip, a rounded emitter shroud and was the same length at 28 centimeters. Aside from the color, however, Vader’s lightsaber was powered by two kyber crystals in a dual-phase design, allowing the length to be altered in combat.
To suit the Sith Lord’s fighting style, the blade was constantly re-adjusted for sheer power output, overwhelming those who were unable to resist. During the Imperial Era, Vader wielded the red lightsaber against his opponents, including hunted Jedi and rebels – who were slaughtered by the powerful and terrifying Sith Lord.
During Vader’s duel against Luke on Cloud City, he sliced off Luke’s hand with the blade before revealing that he was Luke’s father. In their penultimate battle during the Battle of Endor, the weapon was lost when Luke cut off Vader’s hand and it fell down a reactor shaft onboard the Second Death Star.
With Vader’s death and ultimate redemption back to the light side of the Force, this powerful Sith lightsaber which had taken so many lives was destroyed forever.
Obi-Wan’s Blue Lightsaber
Throughout Obi-Wan’s Jedi career, he built three lightsabers; the first one when he was a Padawan learner as seen in Episode I: The Phantom Menace, the second when he had attained the rank of Jedi Knight, and the third when he was promoted to Jedi Master during the Clone Wars. While they were different weapons, the first and second were aesthetically much like one another, with the third utilizing a distinctly different hilt design.
With his first and second lightsabers, Obi-Wan opted for a simple design – with a cylindrical, metal alloy hilt and notched rubberized grooves for enhanced grip. The kyber-powered plasma blade could be activated with a button and its non-adjustable length was set at 145 centimeters.
After his first lightsaber was lost in the duel against Darth Maul, Obi-Wan rebuilt a second saber which served him well until the Battle of Geonosis. Obi-Wan wielded the weapon against Count Dooku, who was regarded as one of the best duelists of his era.
The simple design of these lightsabers suited Obi-Wan’s fighting style, as he was a master of Form III (“Soresu”), a more defensive and patient approach to combat. This allowed him to opportunistically wait for counterattack opportunities and conserve energy, rather than overpower his opponents with overwhelming force.
As a Jedi Master, Obi-Wan built his final lightsaber with a slighter longer hilt at 29.2 centimeters, with a wider plasma blade emitter at the end that was attached to the hilt with a distinctive gold colored neck. The hilt itself was mostly a black, ridged handgrip, compared to the hybrid metal alloy and black ridge design of his first two blades.
Obi-Wan would skillfully wield this weapon during the Clone Wars as a Jedi General against deadly foes such as General Grievous, Assajj Ventress and even his protégé Anakin Skywalker, as well as during his exile on Tatooine.
Nearly two decades later, an old Obi-Wan would confront Darth Vader for the last time onboard the Death Star, which resulted in his death and becoming one with the Force.
After Vader struck him down and took possession of the weapon, its fate is unclear as it is presumed to have been destroyed along with the Death Star or kept as a trophy. Nonetheless, its design lives on as it inspired Luke in the construction of his own lightsaber.
Luke Skywalker’s Green Lightsaber
After Luke lost his father’s lightsaber on Bespin, he set about constructing a new weapon. Following the instructions found in Obi-Wan’s journal and reaching out through the Force, Luke found the parts he needed and reassembled a new lightsaber by the events in Episode VI: Return of the Jedi.
Modeled under Obi-Wan’s final lightsaber, it closely resembled the predecessor’s hilt design both aesthetically and functionally – although it was simpler due to material constraints. Furthermore, the saber was green instead of blue due to a different kyber crystal. Nonetheless, the hilt shared a wide plasma blade emitter design similar to Obi-Wan’s weapon, attached to the rest of the handle via a copper-colored neck.
At a length of 28 centimeters, the hilt was made from silver-colored metal alloys and other salvaged materials, with black cylindrical grooves for enhanced grip at the handle. Its compact size allowed it to be easily hidden within R2-D2, which allowed Luke to surprise Jabba the Hutt’s minions during the rescue of Han Solo and others at the Sarlacc Pit.
Luke would later temporarily relinquish the lightsaber to Darth Vader during his supposed “surrender,” with the Sith Lord remarking “I see you have constructed a new lightsaber. Your skills are complete.” Once onboard the Second Death Star, Emperor Palpatine taunted Luke to take the weapon and strike him down, completing his turn to the dark side.
Luke attempted to strike down the Emperor with his lightsaber, which resulted in the final duel against Darth Vader and his father’s ultimate redemption. After the destruction of the Empire, Luke would continue to wield this lightsaber in his quest to rebuild the Jedi order. It was also seen in The Mandalorian during his rescue of Grogu onboard Moff Gideon’s starship.
In Episode VIII: The Last Jedi, Luke recounted to Rey that he thought of striking down apprentice Ben Solo with his lightsaber during a moment of weakness, which led to the latter’s fall to the dark side and transformation into Kylo Ren.
After Luke’s death during the Battle of Crait, his lightsaber was eventually returned to the planet Ahch-To, where Luke had spent many years in exile. As the birthplace of the Jedi Order, it was a fitting place to bury the weapon of one of the most powerful Jedi masters of all time.
Kylo Ren’s Red Lightsaber
After falling to the dark side, the former Jedi bled the kyber crystal inside his original lightsaber in the tradition of the Sith. This caused the crystal to crack and the color of the blade to change to red. However, the crystal’s energy output became unstable and caused the blade to have a “ragged,” unstable appearance compared to the “smooth” blades of other lightsabers.
Consequently, Kylo modified his lightsaber into a cross-guard hilt – a style seldomly seen in the galaxy since the Battle of Malachor thousands of years ago. The modification also had a functional purpose, as the quillons served as outlets for the unstable kyber crystal to vent excess energy, and protected Kylo’s hands during combat.
At 29.8 centimeters, the hilt was constructed from darker colored metal alloys, which gave it a more sinister look befitting of the darkness Kylo felt within. Indeed, Kylo killed countless beings with it, including former padawans of Luke’s Jedi academy, and later anyone who dared to oppose the First Order.
During the Battle of Starkiller Base, Kylo presented Han Solo with his lightsaber and asked him to “help him,” while allowing the latter to hold it momentarily. Kylo then activated the blade, stabbing and killing his own father in the process – taking another step towards the dark side.
Afterwards, Kylo dueled Finn and bested him easily, before fighting the talented Rey – who wielded the Skywalker Lightsaber. The two were evenly matched for a time, until Rey scored a hit, disarmed Kylo of his lightsaber and the ground underneath their feet split apart to end the battle.
After the death of Snoke and the remainder of Kylo’s reign as the Supreme Leader of the First Order, he would continue to wield the weapon with a level of mastery matched by few in the galaxy. Whether it was leading his troops or executing adversaries, Kylo’s red blade cut a path of death and destruction throughout the galaxy.
During his final battle against Rey on Kef Bir – also known as the Ocean Moon of Endor, Kylo wielded this weapon for the last time. During the duel, Kylo sensed his mother Leia Organa Solo calling out to him in her dying moment through the Force and dropped the weapon. Rey seized the falling lightsaber and plunged it through Kylo, ending the duel.
After Rey showed compassion by healing Kylo’s wound, he saw a memory of Han Solo who urged him to return to goodness by saying, “Kylo Ren is dead. My son is alive.”
Touched by these displays of forgiveness, Kylo found the strength to toss his lightsaber into the ocean and renounced his dark path. With the destruction of his Sith lightsaber, he became Ben Solo once more and began the path towards redemption.
Count Dooku’s Red Lightsaber
Created during his time as a Jedi Master, Count Dooku’s lightsaber was uniquely handcrafted for lightsaber duels to suit his sophisticated skills and fighting style. As a practitioner of Form II lightsaber combat (“Makashi”), this allowed for more efficiency of movement in each stroke.
The curved hilt measured a long 35.5 centimeters and gleamed from silver-colored alloys. The rubberized black grip allowed the master to wield the blade with one hand for precision control, striking and stabbing with deadly accuracy.
The lightsaber has been described as “refined” and “elegant,” as was fitting for the Count of Sereno. After his departure from the Jedi Order and eventual turn to the dark side, Dooku replaced the original kyber crystal with one that was gifted to him by Darth Sidious, giving it the traditional red blade sported by the Sith.
After his revelation as a Sith during the Battle of Geonosis, Dooku bested Obi-Wan Kenobi and Anakin Skywalker during their initial encounter. After Yoda intervened, Dooku was so confident as a duelist that he challenged the Jedi Grandmaster by stating, “it is obvious that this contest cannot be decided by our knowledge of the Force…but by our skills with a lightsaber.” The two would clash to a draw before Dooku retreated onboard his starship.
For the remainder of the Clone Wars and later encounters with the Jedi, Dooku would continue to wield this blade with lethal skill, even training assassin such as Assajj Ventress and the cyborg General Grievous in the ways of lightsaber combat.
During their final encounter in Episode III: Revenge of the Sith, Dooku knocked out Obi-Wan through a Force throw before taking on an angered Anakin one on one. While Dooku was able to parry Anakin’s powerful blows, the latter eventually outmaneuvered the Count and cut off both his hands.
As Dooku knelt before Anakin in defeat, the Jedi took control of the Sith Lord’s weapon and duel-wielded both lightsabers. At the behest of Palpatine, Anakin executed Dooku by beheading him with both blades before discarding the weapon.
As Dooku’s lightsaber was left behind inside the Invisible Hand, it was presumably destroyed as portions of the ship came apart during its eventual crash landing onto Coruscant.
Mace Windu’s Purple Lightsaber
As a contemporary of Count Dooku and a champion of the Jedi Order, Mace Windu also sported one of the most distinct lightsabers of the era. With a typical cylindrical hilt that measured 28 centimeters, what made the weapon unique was its purple-colored blade and electrum-plated alloy hilt, which gave it a golden finish. The bottom portion of the hilt had vertical black ribbing, which allowed for superior grip.
The eye-catching aesthetics of Windu’s weapon was befitting of a Jedi council master and extremely skilled warrior. As the inventor and practitioner of the rare Form VII (“Vaapad”) form of lightsaber combat, Windu fought with a ferocity that bordered on the edge of darkness seldomly seen in Jedi.
As such, some speculated that the purple-colored blade was symbolic of this fine line he walked between the light and dark sides of the Force, as represented by the typical blue and red blades used by the Jedi and Sith.
In reality, however, George Lucas admitted that the true reason for the purple blade was because actor Samuel L. Jackson wanted to stand out from the crowd of Jedi on screen during the Battle of Geonosis in Episode II: Attack of the Clones. The franchise’s creator agreed, and the rest was history.
Nonetheless, in the saga, Windu used the weapon to devastating effect during its debut and beheaded the famed bounty hunter Jango Fett during their encounter. As a Jedi General in the Grand Army of the Republic, Windu continued to wield the weapon during missions and while leading troops into battle.
During the apprehension of Palpatine – who was revealed to be Darth Sidious, Windu fought valiantly against the Sith Lord while the rest of his brethren fell quickly. He eventually gained the upper hand and was about to deliver a deadly blow against Sidious.
Fatefully, Anakin Skywalker intervened by cutting off Windu’s arm, catching the latter by surprise. The weapon and severed arm fell out from the high-rise window of Palpatine’s office, and Windu himself was soon tossed out by Sidious, who shocked him with powerful Sith lightning. As the Jedi champion fell to his demise, his iconic lightsaber was lost forever.
Ahsoka Tano’s White Lightsabers
In order to fake her own death during Order 66, Ahsoka left behind her previous set of lightsabers at a crash site during the Battle of Mandalore. Afterwards, she sought to build a new lightsaber for functional purposes and to signify her leaving the Jedi order.
While seeking the parts to construct her new weapon, a pair of kyber crystals called out to Ahsoka in the Force, which led her to the farming moon of Raada. There, she encountered an Imperial Inquisitor known as the Sixth Brother who was waiting to capture her. During their battle, Ahsoka unwittingly killed him in the process of extracting the crystals from his dual-bladed lightsaber, causing it to become unstable and explode.
After obtaining the crystals, Ahsoka “cleansed” the crystals of its dark side energy, reversing the effects of the Sith “bleeding” process. The end result was a pair of crystals that produced pure white blades of energy rarely seen in the galaxy. The white sabers also symbolized her exit from the Jedi order and independent path through the Force.
With the crystals procured, she was able to reconstruct one single-bladed lightsaber and a more compact shoto lightsaber. The hilts of both weapons were curved, with a rectangular shape compared to typical cylindrical designs. While they were initially made of scrap alloys, Ahsoka refined them over time to a more polished metallic look, with two decorative triangles in the middle of each grip handle.
With the new dual sabers complete, Ahsoka was once again able to practice her deadly form of Jar’Kai – a form of lightsaber combat utilizing two lightsabers. The more compact shoto blade complemented Ahsoka’s primary weapon, both of which she often wielded using a reverse grip.
During the early days of the Rebellion and beyond, Ahsoka wielded these weapons in combat with great proficiency, often against formidable opponents such as multiple Imperial Inquisitors and even her fallen master Darth Vader.
During the events depicted in The Mandalorian, Ahsoka dueled the Magistrate Morgan Elsbeth, briefly losing her main lightsaber as it was knocked into a pond. Nonetheless, Ahsoka switched to a reverse grip with her remaining shoto blade and soon bested the Magistrate in battle. For the remainder of her days, Ahsoka and her white lightsabers symbolized an independent force for good wherever she went in the galaxy.
The Grand Inquisitor’s Red Lightsaber
As a former Jedi Temple guard who had fallen to the dark side, the Grand Inquisitor constructed a new, double-bladed spinning lightsaber like other members of the Inquisitorius after he was recruited to serve Emperor Palpatine. The corrupted kyber crystals which powered the red blades may have been gifted to him by Darth Sidious, although their origins are unclear.
The cylindrical hilt was encircled by a large, metallic hand guard which could be detached and thrown as a disc. When only one end of the weapon was in use, the guard ring could collapse into a more compact “crescent mode.”
When both ends are activated, the ringed emitter could spin the dual blades around the handle in “disc mode,” often intimidating and surprising opponents. The whirling screen of plasma energy also functioned as an effective way to deflect blaster bolts and cut down lesser opponents.
Furthermore, the doubled-bladed lightsabers were embedded with micro-repulsion lifts which allowed members of the Inquisitors to “fly” in “disc mode,” as the horizontally spinning blades overhead generated thrust and lifted its user off the ground. This allowed users such as the Grand Inquisitor to escape when the battle turned to their disadvantage, or to make controlled descents from great heights.
During the Grand Inquisitor’s initial encounter versus Darth Vader in the Jedi Temple archives, the latter was able to expose the weapon’s weakness by driving a lightsaber between the handle and guard ring, before cutting the non-lightsaber resistant material in half.
While the Grand Inquisitor hunted down many Jedi during the Imperial era, including multiple duels against Kanan Jarrus and Ezra Bridger, the weapon’s weak point proved to be his undoing.
During their final duel onboard Grand Moff Tarkin’s starship the Sovereign, Jarrus drove two lightsabers through the ring guard, cutting the weapon in half and causing the parts to fall into the engine reactors below. The unstable energy of the weapon caused a chain reaction, which resulted in multiple explosions and the eventual destruction of the ship.
Moments later, the Grand Inquisitor chose to fall off the platform into the fiery reactors below rather than face Darth Vader’s punishment for his defeat at the hands of Jarrus.
This weapon is one-of-a-kind and was handcrafted by Tarre Vizsla, the first Mandalorian to be inducted into the Jedi Order thousands of years before the events of the New Republic. Its black-colored blade is unique and stands out amongst the spectrum of colors previously seen in the galaxy.
Physically, the saber is shorter than a typical lightsaber, and has an angular blade that resembles a katana. The sounds generated by the blade are also higher pitch and different from typical lightsabers.
The force crystal within allows it to detect and channel the thoughts and emotions of the wielder. Consequently, emotions such as anger can make the Darksaber hum louder with energy, and users who experience inner conflict will find it heavier to wield.
Perhaps most importantly, it is the only known lightsaber with political significance since it’s held as a symbol of leadership amongst the Mandalorians. Combined with the fact that Mandalorian traditions mandated the blade be won in combat for the claim to be legitimate, many battles and duels have been fought over the ages over its possession, and thereby the throne of Mandalore.
Some of its most notable and famous wielders included: Pre Vizla, Maul, Sabine Wren, Bo-Katan in the Clone Wars animated series, and later Moff Gideon and Din Djarin in The Mandalorian live-action television show.
As a recent introduction into the Star Wars universe, the Darksaber remains a mysterious weapon and many details surrounding it are unknown. However, it will certainly play a critical role in the destiny of its last known wielder – Din Djarin and will be pivotal to the fate of the Mandalorians as a whole.
Throughout numerous Star Wars movies, cartoons, and comic series, various heroes and villains alike have wielded iconic lightsabers in combat. Thier different designs styles, shapes, and blade colors have sparked the imagination and delight of fans worldwide.
When one recalls some of the most memorable moments from Star Wars films, it is almost impossible not to think of at least one scene involving a lightsaber duel. As such, the most iconic lightsabers in Star Wars deserve to be remembered alongside the powerful characters who wielded them.
As Disney continues to expand upon the franchise originally created by George Lucas, it is a near certainty that lightsabers will continue to be featured heavily in future projects. Hopefully, fans will continue to be treated to new lightsaber ideas worthy of iconic status – limited only by the creativity and imagination of the franchise’s talented