Star Wars Day; what colour lightsabers did our favourite Star Wars characters wield throughout the saga?

As with much folklore, there is a particular reason why certain Star Wars characters wielded certain colour lightsabers.

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May the force be with you today, as May 4 is officially Star Wars Day; that day of the year that Jedi’s teach their padawan’s about the path of the light side and the evils of the dark side, while we’re sure some sith lords are busy with local politics today - in a galaxy far, far away of course!

What started as an innocuous pun on the date has turned into a worldwide celebration; the holiday began as a grassroots movement among Star Wars fans and has since grown into a global celebration. The first recorded instance of the phrase "May the 4th be with you" being used in relation to Star Wars Day was in 1979, when Margaret Thatcher became the first female Prime Minister of the United Kingdom. 

Her political party placed a congratulatory advertisement in The London Evening News with the headline "May the Fourth Be With You, Maggie. Congratulations." Since then, the phrase has been embraced by Star Wars fans around the world as a way to celebrate their love for the franchise.

I am sure I am not alone also in suffering the same fate many Star Wars fans have when first watching one of the films from the saga - those incessant questions being asked when you just want to watch the movie and enjoy it in peace. Questions ranging from “who is that”, “why is he doing that,” “I thought they were the bad guy” and perhaps one of the most frequently asked questions - “why has that character got that colour lightsaber, and that character has a different colour?”

As it turns out, the colours of the lightsabers reflect personality traits each character demonstrates throughout the saga; it’s not a simple case of colour matching and dopamine dressing (sorry Marina), but each character’s choice of colour has a significant folklore behind it. Except for Mace Windu - because Samuel L Jackson was insistent on having a purple lightsaber. Thankfully, reasons were written into the Star Wars canon.

So who wielded what colour lightsaber during the Star Wars saga? Apologies in advance to life-long Star Wars fans - we are going to focus on the main characters people are familiar with, despite admittedly loving General Grievous wielding four of them

Who uses a blue lightsaber?

Luke Skywalker first wielded a blue lightsaber before fully embracing the life of a Jedi (Credit: Getty Images)Luke Skywalker first wielded a blue lightsaber before fully embracing the life of a Jedi (Credit: Getty Images)
Luke Skywalker first wielded a blue lightsaber before fully embracing the life of a Jedi (Credit: Getty Images)

The blue lightsaber has mostly been used by the Jedi (i.e the good guys) throughout the Star Wars saga, with those wielding the weapon said to be so proficient in their use that the blue indicated a significant level of using the force and ranking throughout the Jedi discipline/faith/tradition and the traits required for a Jedi; loyalty, stability, truth, and justice.

Which is why Luke Skywalker (Mark Hamill), Obi-Wan Kenobi (Sir Alec Guiness, Ewan McGregor) and Rey (Daisy Ridley) have all used the blue lightsaber throughout the Star Wars films - to demonstrate just how higher ranking Jedi they are and their aptitude utilising the force. 

Who uses a red lightsaber?

Red has long been a colour to symbolise danger - just take a look at traffic signs, warning labels and even the 18 rating used for cinema releases. Much like our feelings towards the colour in real life, red is said to indicate a powerful Sith (i.e the bad guys) who has as much power as their Jedi counterparts, but aligned to the dark side as opposed to the Jedi’s light side.

Anakin Skywalker (Hayden Christiansen) adopted the red lightsaber when he finally joined the dark side in Revenge Of The Sith, which then led to Darth Vader (James Earl Jones in voice) using the red lightsaber when he became one of the highest ranking members of the Imperial Empire. Kylo Ren (Adam Driver) also wielded an impressive red lightsaber that was promoted heavily ahead of The Force Awakens, and the dastardly Darth Maul (played by Ray Park, voiced by Peter Serafinowicz) used a two bladed red lightsaber during his battle against a young Obi-Wan and Qui-Gon Jinn (Liam Neeson).

The appearance of Kylo Ren's lightsaber in the Star Wars: The Force Awakens trailer caused a stir with Star Wars fans (Credit: Lucasfilm)The appearance of Kylo Ren's lightsaber in the Star Wars: The Force Awakens trailer caused a stir with Star Wars fans (Credit: Lucasfilm)
The appearance of Kylo Ren's lightsaber in the Star Wars: The Force Awakens trailer caused a stir with Star Wars fans (Credit: Lucasfilm)

But Darth Vader and Count Dooku (Christopher Lee) didn’t always have red lightsabers you say? That’s because they did not earn that right yet - Star Wars folklore insists a Sith can only attain a red lightsaber by fully embracing the dark side, and the only way to do that? Kill a Jedi - or a school of them in Anakin/Vader’s case.

Who uses a green lightsaber?

The blue lightsaber though is not the lightsaber used by those who have fully embraced and become masters of the force; those that have an almost legendary like status with their Jedi abilities are entitled to wield the hallowed green coloured lightsabres. Green lightsabers symbolise growth, safety, and harmony. These are yet other qualities the Jedi seek to live by–keeping others safe, growing, and working together well in the galaxy.

Luke Skywalker adopts Yoda's lightsaber, demonstrating that he has reached a master level of using the force and becoming an ultimate Jedi (Credit: Lucasfilm)Luke Skywalker adopts Yoda's lightsaber, demonstrating that he has reached a master level of using the force and becoming an ultimate Jedi (Credit: Lucasfilm)
Luke Skywalker adopts Yoda's lightsaber, demonstrating that he has reached a master level of using the force and becoming an ultimate Jedi (Credit: Lucasfilm)

Obi-Wan’s master Qui-Gon Jinn and Yoda (voiced by Frank Oz) both wielded green lightsabers, demonstrating their master like status of the force - and when Luke Skywalker fully realised his potential as one of the strongest Jedi in the galaxy, upgraded from blue to green, marking his growth and (spoiler) resolve to stay on the light side of the force.

How come Samuel L Jackson got to wield a purple lightsaber? 

Despite the famous answer he gave an interviewer during his press junkets for Revenge of the Sith (“because I can”), Sammy J was a lot more polite before receiving it. According to Jackson, he asked George Lucas, the creator of the Star Wars franchise, for a unique lightsaber colour to help him stand out in the large ensemble cast. Lucas agreed, and Jackson suggested the colour purple because it is his favourite colour.

This has been written into the greater Star Wars canon, with the use of a purple lightsaber said to represent Mace Windu's unique combination of Jedi ideals, including his mastery of both the light and dark sides of the Force.

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