Lightsaber Colors: Where They Come From and What They Mean

What are Kyber crystals? Why are villains' blades always red?

The lightsaber: an elegant weapon for a more civilized age.

Seven lightsaber colors have been seen in legitimate, canonical Star Wars productions. According to Lucasfilm, lightsaber colors have never been addressed or explained within the boundaries of official canon, aside from confirming that it is the Kyber crystal in the saber's core that determines the color of the blade. In other words, blue crystal = blue blade, red crystal = red blade, and so on.

Kyber crystals can be found on numerous planets throughout the Star Wars galaxy, most notably Ilum and Lothal. But at the dawn of the Empire, Palpatine outlawed access to the crystals on those worlds, so that Force-sensitives would have no way of acquiring them. Undoubtedly Luke Skywalker reversed this state of affairs so that his Jedi students would be able to build lightsabers of their own.

Personality and Color

Yoda and his green lightsaber at the Jedi Temple
Lucasfilm Ltd.

Is it true that the wielder's personality influences the color of the blade? No. And yes. Sort of.

The notion that a Jedi's personality determines their lightsaber color dates back to the 2003 video game, "Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic." But this explanation has been retconned by the new continuity established when Lucasfilm was sold to Disney, along with much, much more.

According to Lucasfilm's Pablo Hidalgo, Kyber crystals start out colorless and remain that way until a Jedi Padawan finds one (or it finds him or her). As seen on "Star Wars: The Clone Wars," for hundreds of years this was done via a ritual journey called "the Gathering." If a young Jedi in training faced the rite of passage challenge successfully, the person forged a connection with the Kyber crystal that becomes the heart of his or her lightsaber. And that's when the crystal takes on its color.

So although it's a myth that the user's personality directly determines the color of the blade, it can be inferred that the connection that colors the crystal can be influenced to some degree by the personality of the user. But the will of the Force, which fuels those Gathering trials, must surely play some part in deciding the crystal's color, too.

Seeing Red

Kylo Ren and his red crossblade lightsaber
Lucasfilm Ltd.

One of the biggest questions asked about lightsabers is why bad guys always use red blades. The obvious answer is that it's a visual marker that enables viewers to easily distinguish villains on screen.

But within the Star Wars universe, the answer is a bit more involved. It's believed that dark side Force users—such as the Sith and whatever Kylo Ren and Snoke are—traditionally use synthetic Kyber crystals, aka crystals made artificially by chemical processes. For whatever reason, synthetic crystals only turn out red.

Of course, most of this "synthetic crystal" business is based on pre-"Legends" canon, so it could be retconned at any time. So don't take it to the bank.

In case you're wondering, Kylo Ren's lightsaber is wild and unstable because the crystal he used is cracked. There's probably a story behind how he acquired that crystal and why it's cracked, but it has yet to be revealed.

Behind the Scenes

The final lightsaber battle between Obi-Wan Kenobi and Darth Vader
Lucasfilm Ltd.

The first lightsabers ever seen on screen in "A New Hope" were Obi-Wan Kenobi's, Anakin Skywalker's (passed to his son Luke), and Darth Vader's. Both Obi-Wan and Anakin's were blue; Vader's was red. Those colors remained the standard until "Return of the Jedi," when Lucas had the color of Luke's new lightsaber blade changed to green so that it would stand out better against the blue sky of Tatooine.

"Legends" materials added a number of new colors in the interim years, but all that has been wiped from continuity now, so we'll pick back up at "The Phantom Menace." No new colors were introduced in "Episode I," though it was the first time we saw a double-bladed saber.

Things began to change with "Attack of the Clones" when George Lucas wrote a huge climax that called for dozens of Jedi on the field of battle at one time. Actor ​Samuel L. Jackson personally asked Lucas if his character's lightsaber could have a purple blade because it was his favorite color. Lucas agreed and added a few yellow-bladed sabers to the Battle of Geonosis as well, to give the scene more variety.

"Star Wars: The Clone Wars" later established that yellow blades were used by Jedi Temple Guards, more or less exclusively.

The Seven (Known) Colors

Mace Windu and his purple lightsaber
Lucasfilm Ltd.

At current count, there are seven lightsaber blade colors in continuity. Here's a quick look at them, what we know about them, and some examples of who uses them.

  • Blue: probably the most standard color for a Jedi lightsaber. Used by Obi-Wan Kenobi and Anakin Skywalker.
  • Green: a secondary Jedi blade color of equal significance to blue. Used by Luke Skywalker, Qui-Gon Jinn, and Yoda.
  • Red: Evil Force users wield red-bladed weapons because of the synthetic Kyber crystals at their core. Used by Darth Vader, Darth Maul, Darth Sidious, Count Dooku, Inquisitors, and Kylo Ren.
  • Purple: a rare lightsaber color seen on only a few Jedi blades. Best known for its use by Mace Windu.
  • Yellow: Double-bladed yellow sabers are used exclusively by Jedi Temple Guards.
  • White: Ahsoka Tano was the first character to wield white-bladed sabers (as an adult, on "Star Wars Rebels"). The story of how she acquired white Kyber crystals has yet to be told.
  • Black: There is only one "Darksaber," as it's known, and it's an ancient weapon stolen from the Jedi hundreds of years prior to the Clone Wars by the Mandalorians. Even more distinctive than its color is the Darksaber's a flat, curved blade resembling a real sword. It eventually came into the possession of Darth Maul during the Clone Wars, but its current whereabouts are unknown.

There's no reason to assume that these are the only colors lightsaber blades have ever been or will ever be. More colors are just one TV episode, movie, novel, comic book, or video game away.