This article contains one major spoiler from the season finale of The Mandalorian. Read no further if you're not caught up!
Fans of Star Wars can thank the Disney+ exclusive series The Mandalorian for filling the void left by Boba Fett’s death by Sarlacc Pit by bringing back intergalactic bounty hunting to the screen (even if it is the small screen). The show, starring Pedro Pascal as an unnamed bounty hunter roaming the galaxy after the downfall of the Empire, can also be credited for bringing rare objects of Star Wars lore to the mainstream, such as a rare variation of lightsaber known as the Darksaber.
At the end of the season finale of The Mandalorian, imperial governor Moff Gideon’s (Giancarlo Esposito) tie fighter crashes, only for his survival to be revealed by the use of the Darksaber to free himself from the wreckage. To casual Star Wars fans just wanting to get the most out of their Disney+ subscription, this is most likely the first time they laid eyes on such a lightsaber, but to the die-hards, this was the first time they finally saw the rare weapon in a live-action setting.
Where else has the Darksaber made appearances in the deeper realms of the Star Wars universe beyond the movies and before The Mandalorian? Let us hunt down the answers.
The Difference Between A Lightsaber And A Darksaber
You don’t really need to be a Star Wars expert to figure this one out. I mean, one is called a lightsaber and the other is called a Darksaber.
What else, other than the names, is there to point out when discussing the difference between these two weapons? The number of physical distinctions are modest, yet fascinating, nonetheless.
While the blade of a traditional lightsaber emits a colorful beam of light, the Darksaber draws in all surrounding light to create its black appearance, much like a black hole. It bears a rectangular, serrated handle with a guard and a flat blade with a curved edge at the point (similar to that of a samurai sword), unlike a typical lightsaber’s cylindrical handle and smooth-edged blade.
Also, the Darksaber gives off a sound that is much higher in pitch to that of a lightsaber’s famous hum. A duel between the differing would be just as interesting to listen to as it is to see.
But, enough about its physical distinctions. Where does the Darksaber come from?
The Darksaber would eventually become the main symbol of the House Vizsla, a political faction of the Mandalorian society, until the weapon was held in Jedi Temple following Tarre Vizsla’s passing. However, House Vizsla would steal the saber back in violent opposition of the Jedi during the fall of the Old Republic.
The Darksaber was passed down among Mandalorian descendants for generations, with Pre Vizsla being the last of the House Vizsla to wield it until it was seized by Darth Maul after successfully taking over Mandalore during the Clone Wars. It would become the Sith Lord’s primary weapon for years, until Mandalorian warrior Sabine Wren claimed it as her own and made it the symbol to her House Vizsla clan, Clan Wren, during the Age of the Empire.
Sabine Wren would have to give up the Darksaber briefly to Jedi Knight Kanan Jarrus after agreeing to take up Jedi training from him before assuming ownership again, only to later pass it on to fellow Mandalorian Bo-Katan Kryze, whom she deemed the rightful person to lead her people against the Empire. Supposedly, after the fall of Empire is when the weapon fall into the hands of Imperial leader Moff Gideon, who is seen wielding it in The Mandalorian.
Appearances Of The Darksaber In The Star Wars Universe
As mentioned before, the ending of The Mandalorian’s premiere season marks the first appearance of the Darksaber in a live-action setting. However, the weapon has clearly existed in other iterations of the Star Wars universe prior to the series, mostly in cartoons.
The weapon was first introduced to the universe in the second season of the acclaimed animated series Star Wars: The Clone Wars in 2010. Its appearance on the show, the first of many, saw it wielded by Mandalorian warrior Pre Vizsla in a duel with Obi-Wan Kenobi.
Star Wars: The Clone Wars would show Darth Maul’s interception of the Darksaber from Pre Vizsla in a later episode and the former Sith Lord’s reign as its wielder would also be depicted in the Dark Horse comic book series Star Wars: Darth Maul - Son of Dathomir. In addition to that, Sam Witwer (voice of Darth Maul in The Clone Wars) once claimed that the Darksaber’s first live action appearance could have been made in Solo: A Star Wars Story for his cameo near the end the 2018 prequel film, until they went with his famous double-bladed lightsaber instead. (In case you missed it: Check out Sam Witwer's Twitter reaction to the sight of his character's weapon.)
The Darksaber would be resurrected as a force for good in the animated series Star Wars Rebels in 2016, as seen wielded by Sabine Wren, her Jedi trainer Kanan Jarrus, and her fellow Mandalorian warrior Bo-Katan Kryze. Of course, its reign of good would not last very long as the current known wielder is Imperial leader Moff Gideon.
In between its televised mentionings, the Darksaber has also been seen wielded in interactive battle. Fans were able to use the weapon themselves in several Star Wars-inspired video games, such as the short-lived but much enjoyed online multiplayer Star Wars: Force Arena.
Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker spoiler ahead!
Much like the appearance of the yellow lightsaber as held by Rey (Daisy Ridley) at the conclusion of Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker, Gideon Moff wielding the Darksaber in The Mandalorian is a moment that pays tribute to the lore of this galaxy far, far away more than casual fans may have realized. We do not know when the famed weapon will make its next appearance on the big or small screen, but, for a live-action setting, this was one epic entrance.