Star Wars has been a part of popular culture since “A New Hope” hit theaters in 1977 and in all of that time, the lightsaber would arguably be the most iconic physical item of the franchise. Notably, the blade of a lightsaber is not something that comes from some store, every force user must undergo a pilgrimage in order to fabricate his personal saber. As the construction of a lightsaber is somewhat up to its bearer, this results in multiple colors of lightsabers.
This article will seek to explain the significance behind these colors, while also touching upon the distinction between the explanation within Canon material and within Legends material, the latter of which is the various facets of the Star Wars Expanded Universe that were mostly removed from Canon upon Disney’s acquisition of Star Wars from its creator, George Lucas.
Why Are the Colors Different to Begin With?
There are a few reasons for the existence of multiple saber colors.
From a Cinematic Perspective
From a cinematic perspective, it makes it very easy to distinguish the good guys from the bad guys. With the exception of sabers stolen from Jedi and used by antagonists, the beam color for every villain in the films and television shows has been red – a color long associated with blood. Asajj Ventress, Darth Vader, Kylo Ren, Darth Maul, Count Dooku, all of these antagonists were given red sabers. Conversely, Luke Skywalker’s two lightsabers were colored green and blue, the colors most commonly attributed to our planet and its many lifeforms.
In the case of Samuel L. Jackson’s character, Jedi Master Mace Windu, Jackson wanted his character’s saber to have a distinct color so that the audience could always tell where he was in the massive battles of the prequel films.
From a Lore Perspective
From a lore perspective, the color of a saber’s beam is dependent upon the crystal or crystals placed within the handle. A power cell focuses light through the crystals contained within and the user can simply dial the beam out when he wishes to use the “civilized weapon.” While Legends material claims that the red of a Sith saber came from the use of red synthetic crystals as a cost-saving measure that also yielded more power, the new Canon is that this red coloration is from the negative emotional influence of the Dark Side of the Force that bled into whatever crystal the Sith was attuning to and thus turning the gem a red color.
From a Video Game Perspective
Within the context of media like video games, color can signify the rarity of a crystal, in cases where lightsaber components are treated as treasure, to reflect a player’s personal tastes or to indicate certain special abilities have been achieved within that specific game.
So What is the Significance of a Given Lightsaber Color?
There is actually quite a lengthy list of differently-colored lightsabers across all of Star Wars media. In the year 4,000 BBY (an in-world dating system that indicates this began four millennia prior to the Battle of Yavin), the Jedi Order used lightsaber color as a signifier of rank.
- Blue sabers were used by Jedi Guardians, Jedi who were most adept at physical invocation of the Force.
- Green sabers were carried by Jedi Consulars, individuals who were more attuned to the spiritual aspects of the Force and resisting the Dark Side.
- Yellow sabers were the badge of office for Jedi Sentinels, individuals who pursued a synthesis of the material and spiritual.
While this is how things started, green and blue soon became common colors among all Jedi due to a combination of easy access to those colors of crystal and personal preference. Purple, yellow and orange sabers still saw some use after the fall of the Jedi Order, an event also known by the term “Order 66,” but these sabers were few and far between, often passed down through generations.
During the First Galactic Civil War in 43 ABY (After the Battle of Yavin), the crystals that were crucial to the completion of building a lightsaber were made contraband by the Galactic Empire. Without access to the Ilum crystals found within easy reach of the original Jedi Order, the New Jedi Order took inspiration from their founder, Luke Skywalker, and made due with whatever crystals they could acquire. “Young Jedi Knights: Lightsaber” even has a quote by Luke where he admits that despite the incredible power of a lightsaber, the nature of its flexible design means that just about any crystal is suitable. Indeed, there are over 60 different crystals that have been used to create a lightsaber including five varieties of Adegen crystal, Blackwing, Corusca, Luxum, Etaan, Ghostfire, Kaiburr/Khyber, Lignan, Lava and even Rainbow gems.
Provided below is a breakdown of the major color groups among these many sabers, plus musings on what the individual lightsabers within a group have in common.
While red has been the default color for the saber of a Dark Side user, not every villain’s lightsaber has been a uniform red color. While Vader’s lightsaber is described as crimson in text, there have also been instances where a red saber has a black or orange “core.” Kylo Ren is worth a brief mention as the crossguard of his particular lightsaber reflects just how explosive and temperamental its wielder is. The sole example of a Jedi using a red saber would be Adi Gallia. Gallia went through two lightsabers during her time as a Jedi Knight and decided to change the crystal of her second saber to red after 15 years of using a green crystal.
There have been several lightsabers with an orange coloration and this has mostly just been used as a way for their users to have at least one distinct trait.
- Peerce, a Jedi Master of the Skrilling race, constructed a saber that is described as having a mango coloration.
- Zekk, a childhood friend of Jaina and Jace Solo, Han and Leia’s kids, spent time studying as both a Dark Jedi and normal Jedi. He was known to use an orange saber.
- Lowbacca, a Wookie Jedi and compatriot of Jaina and Jace Solo, was known to use a lightsaber with a blade resembling molten bronze in color.
- Freedon Nadd, an Old Republic Jedi who was responsible for shaping attitudes of the Sith for millennia, was known to use a lightsaber of fiery orange color.
- Players of “The Old Republic” MMO can acquire an orange lightsaber that features a core of either black or yellow color.
Looking over the three Canon instances of yellow saber users, it seems that yellow blades tend to go toward individuals with some level of baggage and who eventually become a better person.
- Players of “The Old Republic” MMO can acquire a yellow lightsaber that features a black core.
- Rey Skywalker fashions her own lightsaber at the end of “Star Wars: Episode 9.” The fact that it has a yellow blade makes her saber the first instance of such a colored saber in the nine main films.
- Ganner Rhysode, a brash and impulsive member of the New Republic and New Jedi Order, was known to carry a yellow lightsaber. He eventually realized the need for humility after being soundly defeated and left with a scar across his face. He chose to keep the scar as a constant reminder of his failure.
- Anja Gallandro, the daughter of a rival to Han Solo and friend to the Solo children, was a spice addict known to use an acid-yellow lightsaber. Notably, she was not force-sensitive but did study under Luke.
- Yun, a Dark Jedi from the Jedi Knight franchise of video games, wielded a golden amber lightsaber. While once an antagonist to Kyle Katarn, the protagonist of that series, he was killed immediately after saving the merciful Katarn from a fatal blaster bolt.
Understandably, green has long enjoyed a reputation as one of the “hero colors” of lightsabers.
- Luke Skywalker’s second lightsaber was green.
- Ahsoka Tano, the former padawan of Anakin Skywalker, used a lime-green shoto. A shoto is the lightsaber equivalent of a short sword.
- Jacen Solo, the son of Han Solo, used an emerald-green lightsaber before casting it aside to join the Sith.
As previously mentioned, blue is generally deemed to be a “hero color.”
- Anakin Skywalker’s first lightsaber was deep blue in color.
- Both Obi-Wan Kenobi and Plo Koon, a Kel Dor Jedi Master who died leading his clone troopers during Order 66, wielded medium-blue lightsabers.
- Tera Sinube, an elder Jedi well acquainted with the criminal underworld of Coruscant, wielded a light-blue “sabercane.” This particular tool served double duty as both weapon and mobility aid.
- Meetra Surik, a “Jedi Exile” from the Old Republic era, managed to develop a Force bond with a unique variety of crystal. She later used a shard of this crystal in the construction of a replacement for the lightsaber she was stripped of upon exile. Because of the bond between Meetra and this crystal, the crystal strengthened Meetra’s abilities and the weapon would not function if used by anyone else. When activated, the blade was a dazzling cyan in color.
- Players of “The Old Republic” MMO can acquire three varieties of medium-blue lightsabers. The sole difference is the color of their core: blue, black or cyan.
This color set seems to be the default for major female characters or for characters with a powerful force of personality.
- The first lightsaber of Mara Jade, the former right hand of the Emperor and eventual wife of Luke Skywalker in the Legends material, had a magenta-colored blade.
- Anakin and Jaina Solo, the two children of Han and Leia in the Legends continuity, had blades in this color group. Anakin’s was violet, while Jaina’s was a more standard shade of purple.
- While Mace Windu’s saber also belongs here, the reason for his amethyst saber is just so the audience could always track Samuel L. Jackson’s character in large crowds.
- Ki-Adi Mundi, a Cerean male who suspected that Palpatine had been handed too much power far too late, went through multiple lightsabers. The first one he is depicted wielding, during a clash with the bounty hunter Aurra Sing, was indigo in color.
- Players of “The Old Republic” MMO can acquire three different lightsabers in this color range: pink, violet and purple. While the pink saber is uniform in color, the other two shades are contrasted by a black core.
Other Notable Colors
Here are a few other lightsabers that are worth mentioning.
White was the color of lightsabers used by the Imperial Knights, a Jedi Order whose first loyalty was to Roan Fel. This white coloration came from synthetic crystals. Players of The Old Republic can also acquire a white lightsaber with a black core.
The Darksaber is a unique artifact that generated a sheer black beam and drew in enough surrounding light that it appeared to crackle with white electricity. It was known to be wielded by two Mandalorians and also Darth Maul after the events of “Star Wars: Episode I.”
Bnar’s Sacrifice was a unique lightsaber players could find within the discontinued “Star Wars: Galaxies” MMO. This lightsaber was unique because it projected a brown laser beam.
While not exactly significant of a personality quiz, although plenty of those can be found on the internet, it seems that there is a mild connection between the color of a lightsaber and the individual who forged it. Blue, green and yellow are all colors that seem to belong to the lightsabers of heroic characters; red seems to be destined to belong to those who embraced the Dark Side and the other colors serve the purpose of making their bearers stand out, either on screen or in the mind.