The Shocking Reason We Have Green Lightsabers In Star Wars

By Chris Snellgrove | Published

Liam Neeson Star Wars

In the Star Wars Original Trilogy, Luke famously builds a new lightsaber before the events of Return of the Jedi to replace the one he lost (along with the hand attached) in The Empire Strikes Back. The most striking thing for audiences about this new blade was that it was green instead of the familiar blue. Most fans assume the color change was made to differentiate the two lightsabers, but one of the bigger motivations producers had was to give Luke a blade that would stand out against the blue skies of Tattooine.

Lightsabers Were Color-Coded

As every old-school Star Wars fan can tell you, lightsaber colors were quite simple in those first two films. Good guys Luke Skywalker and Obi-Wan Kenobi had blue sabers, and the villainous Darth Vader had a red saber. The visual coding of “good versus evil” was clear, and the sabers had pleasantly contrasting colors during lightsaber duels.

Luke Lost His Lightsaber

In the Star Wars sequel, The Empire Strikes Back, Luke’s hand is cut off by Vader during the climactic duel. It was a shocking moment for audiences, firmly cementing the idea that the would-be Jedi and his friends would not be saving the day as they did in A New Hope. However, it was a given that Luke would build a new lightsaber for the inevitable rematch against his villainous father.

The Green Lightsaber Reveal

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A deleted scene from the third Star Wars film revealed Luke Skywalker building and igniting his new, green lightsaber. Had the scene made the final cut, it would have let us see just how far Luke’s skills as a Jedi had grown. Instead, we get the exciting reveal of the new saber when Jabba the Hut tries to execute Luke by throwing him into the Sarlacc Pit, resulting in an epic battle that helps showcase Luke’s burgeoning Jedi skills in a much more exciting way.

Green For Practical Reasons

Return of the Jedi

In fact, that particular scene is the primary reason that Star Wars creator George Lucas gave Luke Skywalker a green lightsaber instead of a blue one. In early posters and an early trailer for Return of the Jedi, you can see that Luke’s new blade was originally going to be blue. However, the producers of the film changed it to green so that it would stand out better against Tattooine’s blue sky.

Lightsabers Never Ignited In Daylight Before

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That wasn’t really a concern during the production of the first Star Wars movie because the lightsabers were never ignited outdoors. Luke receives and activates his own lightsaber in Obi-Wan’s hut, and the Jedi mentor activates his lightsaber in order to keep a Mos Eisley bar brawl from getting any worse. In short, the saber was indoors in each of the scenes, so nobody had to worry about how the blade would look against Tattooine’s familiar blue sky.

Of course, there was another far simpler reason that Star Wars producers gave Luke a green lightsaber: it immediately lets even the most casual audiences know this is a completely different weapon. While the new lightsaber has a very different hilt from the old one, most people won’t notice that when they watch the film for the first time. This could have led to some audiences getting distracted by wondering how the heck Luke was able to get his lightsaber out of that pit in Cloud City.

An Elegant Weapon For A More Civilized Age

Honestly, I’m still trying to figure out how Star Wars Sequel Trilogy character Maz Kanata got her hands on Luke’s lightsaber, but we probably won’t get an answer until Lucasfilm builds an entire six-episode television event out of her character getting new prescription glasses. In the meantime, all we can do is sit back and marvel at the strange reason that green lightsabers exist. If Tattooine had only had a different color sky, we might never have gotten the entire rainbow of colors for these elegant Jedi weapons that have captivated fans since 1977. 

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