The lightsaber: it is the weapon of both the Jedi and the Sith in the Star Wars universe. Not as clumsy or random as a blaster; an elegant weapon for a more civilized age. Powered by kyber crystals, these energy blades are capable of cutting into almost anything and deflecting blaster bolts. They come in assorted colors, and nearly every Force user featured in a galaxy far, far away has wielded one. Even a few individuals who aren’t gifted in the Force have had opportunities to use lightsabers.
With Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker, the final chapter of the Skywalker Saga, arriving soon, that movie might be the last time in a while that we see a lightsaber on the big screen, since we still have no official idea on what the next trilogy will be about (though the now-defunct Benioff/Weiss trilogy planned on exploring the origins of the Jedi). So because the end of an era is almost upon us, we’re looking back at the most famous lightsabers in Star Wars cinematic history. Check out the story, stats and owners behind these lightsabers in one infographic at the bottom of the article!
Although it was introduced in the movie that started it all, A New Hope, within the Star Wars universe timeline, this lightsaber first saw action during The Clone Wars, with Anakin Skywalker assembling it after the events of Attack of the Clones (where he went through three lightsabers). Anakin used this lightsaber all the way to Revenge of the Sith, using it to kill Count Dooku and, after he turned to the dark side and became Darth Sidious’ apprentice, cut down Jedi and Separatist leaders. After defeating his former apprentice on Mustafar, Obi-Wan Kenobi took Anakin’s lightsaber for safekeeping and passed it on to Luke Skywalker nearly two decades later, which we’ll talk more about in a bit.
While you might think that this lightsaber was among the more expensive props to create during the making of A New Hope, that was not the case at all. As shown on a post shared by Mark Hamill, when you add up the costs of the materials used to make the weapon, including the handle from a decades-old camera, pieces of t-strip and an illuminator strip from a calculator, it adds up to around £12, or close to $15. One can imagine more time and expense was poured into recreating this lightsaber for the sequel trilogy, but it’s ironic that the expense that went into its creation is way less than what you’ll pay for a lightsaber from Galaxy’s Edge or a third party.
After inheriting his father’s lightsaber at the start of his heroic journey, Luke Skywalker put the blue blade to good use for his first three years with the Rebellion. Unfortunately, while dueling Darth Vader in Cloud City in The Empire Strikes Back, the Sith Lord chopped off Luke’s saber-wielding hand, and for decades the weapon was believed to have been lost. That was not the case at all, and we’ll explore where that particular weapon ended up later on.
Luke constructed his next lightsaber in the year between The Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi, modeling it after the design of Obi-Wan Kenobi’s lightsaber. Luke’s new blade was green instead of blue, and while that’s a common enough color among the Jedi, the reason that color was selected for Return of the Jedi was because it contrasted with the Tatooine sky. This was decided after the first Return of the Jedi trailer came out, as you’ll see there that Luke’s blade is blue. Luke was last seen holding the green-bladed lightsaber when he contemplated killing Ben Solo in those Last Jedi flashbacks, but it’s unclear what happened to it after Ben led the assault on Luke’s Jedi Temple.
Obi-Wan Kenobi was even worse at retaining lightsabers in the Prequel Trilogy than Anakin Skywalker, going through three across The Phantom Menace and Attack of the Clones (four if you count when he briefly wielded his master Qui-Gon Jinn’s lightsaber to slice Darth Maul in half). By the time the Clone Wars rolled around, Obi-Wan was shown using the lightsaber he would carry until his final days in A New Hope. It was likely destroyed when the Death Star blew up, but Luke Skywalker would later model his green-bladed lightsaber after the weapon his first master held.
Speaking of the visual similarities between these two lightsabers, Luke Skywalker’s lightsaber was a repurposed version of the lightsaber prop Sir Alec Guinness held during A New Hope. Luke may have been paying tribute tribute to Obi-Wan with his next lightsaber’s design, but in real life, this was just a cost-cutting measure.
Modeled after the lightsaber he wielded during his final days as Anakin Skywalker, the lightsaber we saw Darth Vader using during the Original Trilogy is actually the second one the cybernetic Sith Lord used. As revealed in the Marvel Comics Darth Vader series written by Charles Soule, he obtained his first one from one of his Jedi victims shortly after the Empire’s reign began, but after losing it, he constructed his more well-known lightsaber on Mustafar, the planet where he was horribly burned and eventual site of his castle, because it’s filled with Dark Side energy. Like any other lightsaber wielded by a Dark Side user, the kyber crystal was bled in order to achieve its red color.
While the same Darth Vader lightsaber was used in A New Hope and The Empire Strikes Back, it’s rumored that the prop was misplaced before Return of the Jedi started shooting. If that was indeed the case, naturally a new one needed to be created for the final entry of the Original Trilogy, so kudos to whoever put together that remarkable facsimile.
Rather than wield a blue lightsaber like his apprentice, Obi-Wan Kenobi, Qui-Gon Jinn went with green, which, as mentioned earlier, is a common blade color among the Jedi Order. After Qui-Gon was stabbed by Darth Maul on Naboo and Obi-Wan sliced the Zabrak Sith Lord to avenge his master, he brought his late master’s lightsaber back to the Jedi Temple on Coruscant. Liam Neeson chose his lightsaber from three options that George Lucas showed him, and after The Phantom Menace finished shooting, Neeson got to keep the lightsaber.
Until The Phantom Menace, lightsabers were single-bladed weapons, but Darth Maul changed the game with his double-bladed weapon. Maul fused two lightsabers together to create its saberstaff form, and each blade could be ignited separately or at the same time, whatever his preference. This particular lightsaber was chopped in half when Maul dueled Obi-Wan Kenobi on Naboo, but upon being reintroduced in The Clone Wars, Maul kept using the single-bladed remaining half until losing it in a duel, but he’d obtain another lightsaber to use before the events of Solo and Rebels. When Solo was in production, the original plan was to feature Maul’s first lightsaber during his cameo, but it was removed when Maul’s voice actor, Sam Witwer, noted that this didn’t mesh with the timeline since Maul had already lost that particular weapon.
After debuting in The Phantom Menace, Mace Windu finally jumped into action during Attack of the Clones, and it’s thanks to him that a fourth lightsaber color was revealed: purple. There are other Jedi who’ve had purple lightsabers, but so far Mace is the only individual shown to wield one in the Star Wars movies, and the reason you don’t see them that often is because it’s rare for a kyber crystal to turn that color. This lightsaber was lost when Anakin Skywalker chopped off Mace’s hand, sending the weapon-holding appendage plummeting to Coruscant’s lower levels.
The real reason Mace had a purple lightsaber is because Samuel L. Jackson requested it. Purple is his favorite color and he likes to incorporate it into his roles, and the actor also wanted to stand out from the other Jedi. The Attack of the Clones prop department also inscribed ‘BMF’ on the lightsaber switch, which stands for Badass Motherfucker, referring to the wallet Jackson’s character Jules has in Pulp Fiction.
Count Dooku’s lightsaber functions like any other, but visually, it stands out due to its curved hilt. In fact, the character using this kind of lightsaber is the lone holdover from when he was originally conceived as a woman. So why did Dooku go with a curved hilt? The design is based off various Filipino bladed weapons, but functionally, this kind of hilt allows for greater precision when slashing and lunging. Dooku consulted the Jedi Archives’ records when constructing the lightsaber in his younger years, and even after he became a Sith Lord, he continued using this particular lightsaber, only it generated a red blade now instead of a blue one. Dooku’s lightsaber was presumed lost shortly after its holder’s demise when General Grievous’ ship, The Invisible Hand, started coming apart.
Not every Jedi prefers using a lightsaber, but when push comes to shove, most of them will eventually break one of these blades out. That time came for Yoda when he was forced to duel Count Dooku on Geonosis. Because of his smaller size, naturally that meant the lightsaber’s size and blade length were smaller too, but otherwise it functions like a normal lightsaber. Yoda lost his lightsaber during his duel with Palpatine in the Senate Building, and it was later among the many lightsabers burned by Palpatine’s Grand Vizier, Mas Amedda, during a public demonstration on Coruscant to signify the freedom the Empire would bring to the galaxy without the Jedi.
The specific details about each lightsaber General Grievous owns aren’t as interesting as the simple fact that he has so many and can use them rather well. Until now, all the people mentioned on this list were capable of using the Force, but not Grievous. The reason he’s so adept with lightsabers is because of his cybernetic enhancements. He may not be able to move an object with his mind or shoot lightning from his hands, but thanks to Dooku training him in lightsaber combat, he can duel any Jedi, and should he kill them, he’ll take their lightsaber as a trophy. But Obi-Wan Kenobi would prove to be Grievous’ downfall, not only besting him in their brief lightsaber battle, but ultimately killing the Separatist military commander in a rather uncivilized way: with a blaster.
Like Yoda, Palpatine, a.k.a. Darth Sidious, wasn’t one to rely on a lightsaber, but when both Mace Windu and Yoda cornered the Sith Lord at separate times, he had no qualms about igniting his crimson blade. While it may have looked like Sidious was using the same lightsaber throughout Revenge of the Sith, he actually uses two nearly-identical lightsabers. Remember, he lost the first one while he was dueling Mace Windu, requiring him to break out his backup lightsaber when Yoda cornered him not too long after. Sidious was still using this lightsaber well into the Empire’s reign across the galaxy, but it’s unclear where it was during the events of Return of the Jedi. Who knows, maybe it was aboard the second Death Star and somehow managed to survive the space station’s destruction.
Approximately 31 years after Luke Skywalker lost his father’s lightsaber (and hand) on Bespin, the weapon resurfaced on Takodana in the possession of Maz Kanata. We still haven’t learned how this ancient Force user got ahold of it, but the lightsaber called to Rey while she was in Maz’s castle during The Force Awakens, and when she touched it, she was bombarded with Force visions. Maz then informed Rey that the lightsaber was hers to wield, but Rey refused to take it.
So instead, Finn held on to the lightsaber temporarily, using it to kill at least one stormtrooper on Takodana and later wielding it against Kylo Ren on Starkiller Base. But after Finn was defeated, Rey, who had been unconscious during their duel, awoke and called the lightsaber to her hand with the Force and used it to overpower Kylo. Later, upon discovering that Luke Skywalker was on Ahch-To, she traveled there and attempted to give the Jedi Master his old weapon back, but he refused to keep it.
Rey wielded Anakin Skywalker’s lightsaber during her training with Luke Skywalker and brought it with her when she went to confront Kylo Ren and Supreme Leader Snoke aboard the Supremacy. Ren ultimately betrayed Snoke and killed his master with the blue-bladed weapon, resulting in him and Rey having to slice down Snoke’s Elite Praetorian Guard. After the battle, Rey and Kylo got into a Force tug of war match over the lightsaber after the former refused to join the latter in ruling the First Order, resulting in the lightsaber being cracked in half and staying that way for the rest of The Last Jedi.
We’ve since learned that Rey has repaired Anakin Skywalker’s lightsaber by the time The Rise of Skywalker rolls around, and it looks like she’ll be using it for the majority of the movie, although there’s no guarantee that the lightsaber won’t be damaged again by the time the Skywalker Saga concludes.
Based off an ancient design dating back to the Great Scourge of Malachor, there are two things that make the lightsaber Kylo Ren’s wielded since joining the Dark Side stand out compared to the average lightsaber: the cross-guard and the blade looking more serrated. The reason for both of these aspects is because Kylo’s lightsaber is powered by a flawed kyber crystal, and in the case of the cross-guard, lateral vents were added to divert the extra heat and prevent the crystal from overloading. So the lightsaber might look more unstable on the surface, but Kylo’s put it to good use in carrying out The First Order’s will, and will do so again during The Rise of Skywalker.
Get ready for the next round of cinematic lightsaber action when Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker opens in theaters on December 20. Beyond that, it’s unclear right now what the future for Star Wars looks like on the big screen, let alone if lightsabers will be involved, but there’s certainly no shortage of directions the franchise could go.