When you think of Star Wars, you think of lightsabers. Sure, you think of spaceships and the Force and stuff like that too but, in terms of iconic visuals, few things in science fiction at large, let alone Star Wars, are as iconic as the lightsaber.
And over the years there have been a lot of lightsabers. Some you know very well. Others you may not. And we decided to rank as many as we could remember.
Also a note: just by being a lightsaber, a lightsaber is inherently amazing. So even the “bad” ones here are still pretty great. Don’t yell at us.
1. Darth Maul in Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace
From 1977 until 1998 we all thought lightsabers were one thing. Then, a trailer for a movie was released, a second blade popped out of Darth Maul’s lightsaber, and the weapon was changed forever. That historical reveals helps put this saber at number one on the list, but its sleek, simple, iconic look — and, frankly, the fact that it disappears so quickly, help as well.
2. Luke Skywalker in Return of the Jedi
After losing his father’s saber on Bespin, Luke built himself this one. The now Jedi Knight opted for a green blade, the first we’d seen in Star Wars. Its construction is a little wider at the bottom, before getting skinny again and then getting wider at the top. It’s almost as if the saber itself is building up to something special.
3. Darth Vader’s First Lightsaber
Did you know that Darth Vader’s first lightsaber wasn’t the one he used in the original movies? As part of a Sith initiation right seen in Charles Soule and Giuseppe Camuncoli’s Darth Vader comic series, Palpatine tasks Vader with finding a kyber crystal to corrupt from its base colour into the blood-red associated with the Dark Side.
To do that, he needs to hunt down one of the few remaining Jedi and kill them—he does so to a poor survivor of Order 66 named Kirak Infil’a. After the tragic process is complete, Vader keeps Infil’a’s intricate hilt for a while, until it’s destroyed on a mission and he simply replaces it with the iconic hilt seen in the movies. But just look at it. It was stunningly gorgeous.
4. Qui-Gon Jinn in Star Wars: Episode I: The Phantom Menace
Few Jedi were as suave as Qui-Jon Ginn and his lightsaber, with its striking black ridges from top to bottom, really felt that way too. It looks like a lightsaber put on a tuxedo.
5. Count Dooku in Star Wars Episode II: Attack of the Clones
Much like Darth Maul’s lightsaber changed our perception of the weapon, so too did Count Dooku’s elegant curved lightsaber. An extended emitter on the end made it look more like a piece of jewellery than a weapon.
6. The Grand Inquisitor in Star Wars Rebels
This was the Swiss Army knife of lightsabers. It can be used as a traditional, one bladed saber. You can ignite the other side and use it as a two-bladed saber. You can make those two blades spin and, when spinning, you could use it not only to inflict damage or block blasters, but float, if needed. What a saber.
7. Darth Vader in Star Wars
You know how they say a coat of paint can make anything look new? That’s what Darth Vader’s saber is. It’s basically just Anakin’s old saber with black highlights but hot damn does it look that much more intimidating and impressive.
8. Obi-Wan Kenobi in Star Wars
The lightsaber Obi-Wan Kenobi had in his days as a Jedi Master looks very much like the one Luke Skywalker built for himself when he attained the same rank. So, it’s very cool with that same anticipatory feel, but Obi-Wan’s just feels a little less involved.
9. Asajj Ventress in The Clone Wars
Like her master, Dooku, Ventress had a penchant for fancy curved lightsaber hilts. Unlike Dooku, Ventress went one step further and had a pair of curved hilts. As if that wasn’t enough, even though she mostly dual-wielded them, Ventress could actually combine her weapons into a double-bladed lightsaber, made far more swanky than most other double sabers we’ve seen in Star Wars by the curved hilts. Needlessly extra? Sure. Very cool? Absolutely. That’s Asajj Ventress for you!
10. The Cursed Sabers of Darth Atrius
An ancient Sith Lord actually left unseen in Star Wars — but we see their lightsabers and their fearsome effect in Marvel’s Star Wars Annual #4, by Cullen Bunn, Ario Anindito, Roland Boschi, and Marc Laming. Similar in design to the crossguard lightsaber built by Kylo Ren (itself based on lightsaber designs from the Old Republic era), what made Atrius’ twin sabers really stand out was the fact they were... err, cursed?
Atrius’ Sith hate was so powerful, it imbued his weapons with Dark Side energy that, even thousands of years after his death, could dominate anyone who came in contact with the blades and send them into a violent rage, feeding the weapon’s power. Not even Luke Skywalker and Darth Vader could resist!
11. The Darksaber
This weapon might not look like a lightsaber as we know it, but it was: the blade was made my Mandalorian Tarre Vizsla, the first of his species to be inducted into the Jedi Order. Looking more like a traditional sword than most lightsabers — even with its crackling, black energy blade — Vizsla’s family eventually liberated the weapon from the Jedi Order after Tarre’s death, passing it down through generations as a symbol of leadership.
12. Jocasta Nu’s Lightsaber Rifle
Most Jedi don’t really care for blasters—but that didn’t stop this particularly bonkers use of a lightsaber from existing as it did in Charles Soule and Giuseppe Camuncoli’s Darth Vader comic. A special weapon secreted away in a secluded part of the Jedi Archives by none other than former librarian Jocasta Nu, the rifle was actually more of an accessory: you loaded a lightsaber into its frame, and it then turned the kyber energy into powerful blaster bolts. It only took a few rounds before the lightsaber was melted into slag, however, so… incredibly impractical, but very cool. And very silly.
13. Ahsoka Tano in Star Wars Rebels
By the time of Rebels, Ahsoka has cast aside her former Jedi title, and in the years since leaving the order, actually replaced her lightsabers with a pair of much fancier blades.
Intricately designed compared to her original set — with delicately curved hilts and an influence of real-world Japanese design to go with her “roaming ronin” status — what really made them stand out was their pure white blades. Uncolored kyber crystals were extremely rare, but Ahsoka made hers by purifying two kyber crystals that had been previously corrupted by an Imperial Inquisitor, changing them from blood red to pure white.
14. Kylo Ren in Star Wars: The Force Awakens
With the Jedi and Sith all but gone, young Ben Solo took it upon himself to construct a very unique lightsaber. And, without much formal direction, the result was an almost incomplete, mean-looking piece of weaponry with two short hilt blades to help the main one.
15. Darth Maul in Star Wars Rebels
By the time of Rebels, Maul’s original lightsaber was long destroyed (even after it was lopped in half by Obi-Wan Kenobi in Phantom Menace). Befitting his crafty, outcast state, the saber he replaces it with — and is even briefly glimpsed in his Solo cameo — is battered and scrappy, just like the Sith survivor himself. Featuring what looks like carved scrap from the spinning lightsaber hilts of Imperial Inquisitors, Maul’s second saber could also be disguised as a cane, as he used it while deceiving Ezra Bridger when they first encountered each other on Malachor.
16. Pong Krell in The Clone Wars
This four-armed, Clone-hating arsehole of a Jedi (spoilers: he ended up being a secret traitor working with the Separatists!) wielded two double-bladed lightsabers, thanks to his extra limbs. What made them stand out next to Darth Maul’s however, was that Krell’s actually had a nifty, foldable function for when he wasn’t using them. Points for practicality, even if he loses those points for being a massive jerk overall.
17. The Jedi Temple Guard’s Lightsaber Pike
An ornate order of elite Jedi Guards needs an ornate lightsaber to stand out, and they got it with the Lightsaber Pike. A weapon that could be utilised as essentially a spear-like weapon with a lightsaber on one end, the Lightsaber Pike’s elongated hilt was actually another variation on the double-bladed lightsaber — if push came to shove, a Temple Guard could ignite the other blade in the pike’s bottom half.
18. Young Obi-Wan in the Prequels and Clone Wars.
Obi-Wan had two lightsabers before the one we saw in A New Hope. They are not exactly the same but look similar enough that we’re going to bundle them up as well. The sabers each look very much inspired by the sleek, tuxedo saber of his master, Qui-Gon, but with wide, ball on the end. And the ball brings the whole thing down.
19. Anakin/Luke/Rey in Star Wars
The first saber we saw in Star Wars also happens to be the most significant, as its one of the few still prominent in the film series. And yet, as crucial as this saber is, and because it’s the one that made us all fall in love with lightsabers, it’s just been overshadowed in style in the years since. It’s just rather simple. Sleek, but vanilla.
20. Ahsoka Tano in The Clone Wars
Ahsoka’s original lightsaber set — one standard, one “shoto” style, shortened to be utilised with her dual-wielding style — as seen in the Clone Wars animated series are much like the young Jedi herself: practical, stylish, and more than capable of slicing through battle droid after battle droid. They’re simple, as befitting a padawan’s first weapons, but Ahsoka makes great use of them on the front lines of the Clone Wars.
21. Tera Sinube’s Lightsaber Cane
A Jedi must always have a lightsaber, even as they grow older. So Tera Sinube, a crusty old Jedi who specialised in detective work with the Coruscant Security Forces, decided to make his lightsaber infinitely more practical by turning it into a cane too. Sinube’s blade is hidden inside the hilt of his eccentrically designed walking stick, which means he can disguise that he’s armed and ready to fight — even in his advanced age — at any time.
22. Yoda in Star Wars Episode II: Attack of the Clones
If the Anakin/Rey saber, was half the size, it would be Yoda’s saber. And it has the same issue. It’s cool, but just so average, especially when all these other Jedi who aren’t as powerful as Yoda have ones that are so much more intricate.
23. Ezra Bridger in Star Wars Rebels
Ezra Bridger’s saber suffers because it doesn’t have its own identity. At first, it doubled as a blaster which is cool but made it look like a staple gun. And by the time he ditched that for just the saber, it looked more like a screwdriver than a sword.
24. Kanan Jarrus in Star Wars Rebels
Is that a satellite dish on your hip or are you just happy to see us, Kanan? It was more practical for the character — he had to hide the fact that he was a Jedi — but, detaching in the middle makes it feel more like a toy and less like a lightsaber.
25. Mace Windu in Star Wars Episode II: Attack of the Clones
Actor Samuel L. Jackson famously picked his own lightsaber when making Star Wars and, we think, he choose... poorly. Windu’s saber is too bright and gaudy and the purple blade simply doesn’t make sense for the character. Windu personifies the idea of the Jedi sticking to order over everything which ultimately leads to their demise. And yet, he’s the only one at this point with a purple saber?
26. Darth Sidious in Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith
Do we need to say it? You’re going to make us say it? Are you sure? Fine. It looks like a dildo.
This article has been updated since its original publication.