Star Wars: Ranking The Best Lightsaber Battles

Star Wars is full of amazing lightsaber battles, and we've ranked the top 10.

By Zack Zagranis | Published

Lightsaber battles and Star Wars go together like chocolate and peanut butter. They’re the perfect combination. Without an epic duel between two (or three) plasma sword-wielding combatants Star Wars just isn’t Star Wars. There are so many duels to choose from, but we managed to compile a list of the ten best lightsaber battles. We tried to represent all aspects of the franchise—the original trilogy, the prequels, the sequels, and the cartoons—without favoring one era over another.

There are just so many great duels that we couldn’t include them all. Honorable mention goes to the granddaddy of them all, Obi-Wan VS Darth Vader I from A New Hope, for being the first lightsaber battle ever shown on screen. Without further ado…

10. Obi-Wan Kenobi and Darth Vader in Obi-Wan Kenobi

This is the most recent lightsaber battle on the list and possibly the most brutal. The Obi-Wan vs Darth Vader brawl from the Disney+ Obi-Wan Kenobi series is a nearly 10-minute brawl featuring some of the most savage combat ever seen in a lightsaber duel. At one point Vader literally buries his former master alive, only to have Obi-Wan escape and start hurling huge boulders at him.

One of the coolest visuals in the fight—Vader’s mask breaking and exposing Anakins face underneath—was done first in a better fight on this list. Still, despite being superfluous and derivative, it is an awesome fight.

9. Kylo Ren and Luke Skywalker in The Last Jedi

It’s no accident that Rian Johnson made the only mainline Star Wars movie where no lightsabers ever touch. Heck, one of the combatants in this duel isn’t even physically there. It feels almost wrong to even call it a lightsaber battle. On the other hand…

Though short and simple, Kylo vs Luke is a visually stunning confrontation. It’s well known that George Lucas took inspiration from samurai culture for the Jedi. Rian Johnson might be the only director to ever shoot a lightsaber battle like a samurai duel. Also, Luke dodging a couple of times before shutting off his lightsaber is one of the most pacifist Jedi moves ever and is somehow more badass than if he came at Kylo swinging.

8. Mace Windu and Palpatine in Revenge of the Sith

Ever since the original trilogy, Palpatine has been described as this incredibly powerful Sith lord and yet all we ever see him do is shoot lightning at a kid. That is, until Revenge of the Sith. It’s not until Mace Windu and his posse of Jedi Knights come to Palpatine’s office to confront him that we get to see old Palpy’s true ferocity.

It takes Darth Sidious less than 10 seconds to ignite his lightsaber and take out three fully trained Jedi Knights single-handedly before continuing to duel with Mace Windu alone. With one short but effective lightsaber battle Star Wars fans finally understood just why someone as powerful as Darth Vader would take orders from a little shriveled-up old man.

7. Obi-Wan Kenobi and General Grievous in Revenge of the Sith

Of the three entries on this list from Revenge of the Sith, Kenobi vs Grievous is easily the weirdest. This Lightsaber battle begins with one of Obi-Wan Kenobi’s most iconic lines, “Hello there,” and ends with the Jedi shooting Grievous in the spleen, causing fire to come out of the General’s eye sockets. In between, there’s big wheels, lightsaber windmills, and giant iguana riding. It might not have the emotional stakes of some of the other lightsaber duels, but what it lacks in passion, it more than makes up for in sheer craziness.

6. Yoda and Count Dooku in Attack of the Clones

Similar to Palpatine, Yoda’s skills as a fighter were never seen in the original trilogy, leaving fans to imagine what such a tiny warrior would look like swinging a lightsaber around. Attack of the Clones answered that question and then some. Switching over from a puppet to CGI allowed George Lucas to finally show us a lightsaber battle featuring a fighting Yoda and boy, was it something.

Armed with a shoto, or short lightsaber, Yoda jumps around like a hyper toddler, all jacked up on Mountain Dew and Pixie Stix. While the CGI may not have aged well and crazy whirling dervish Yoda might seem ridiculous in hindsight, there’s no denying that when Clones first came out, fans in theaters everywhere let out an excited gasp.

5. Ahsoka Tano and Darth Vader in Star Wars Rebels

Ahsoka vs Vader is the single entry on the list from the Star Wars animated universe, but if any cartoon duel was going to represent The Clone Wars and Rebels combined, this is the one. This no holds barred lightsaber battle between a former apprentice and her corrupt master is full of emotion and pathos.

Ahsoka and Vader beat the hell out of each other until Vader’s mask shatters, exposing the face of Anakin Skywalker (sound familiar?). The moment Ahsoka realizes that her former master has become twisted and bent to the will of the dark side is as powerful a scene as any in Star Wars history, animated or otherwise.

4. Rey, Finn, and Kylo Ren in The Force Awakens

The Force Awakens sought to quell fans’ unrest by taking the lightsaber duel and returning it back to a more primal, less choreographed state. Many of the strikes in Kylo’s battle with Rey carry more weight than the lighter, fancier swings of the prequel films. When Kylo disarms Finn and then slices him up the back with what is essentially the lightsaber version of a Scottish claymore, you feel it.

3. Anakin Skywalker and Obi-Wan Kenobi in Revenge of the Sith

Revenge of the Sith has more lightsaber battles throughout its 2 1/2-hour runtime than any other two Star Wars movies combined. This one is easily the best. Obi-Wan and Anakin duke it out on catwalks, floating platforms, and even while swinging from ropes, all the while a raging sea of lava roils and bubbles below them.

Star Wars fans knew for years how this fight ended, but it wasn’t until 2005, when Revenge of the Sith was released, that fans found out just how spectacular the events leading up to Anakin’s inevitable loss of limbs and permanent scarring were.

2. Darth Vader and Luke Skywalker in The Empire Strikes Back

Yes, A New Hope technically had the first lightsaber battle, but it was nothing compared to the one in Empire. Vader vs Luke is the first true lightsaber battle. So many elements of lightsaber combat began here. Loss of limbs? Check. Sith cheating by using the force to throw stuff at their opponent while dueling? Check. This fight set the template for ever other lightsaber duel to follow.

This duel gets bonus points for ending in one of the most famous twists in film history. Poor Luke had about five seconds to mourn his lost hand before Darth Vader dropped a truth bomb that changed his life forever. “I am, your father!”

1. Qui-Gon Jinn, Obi-Wan Kenobi, and Darth Maul in The Phantom Menace

Say what you will about the prequels, but there are two things they did just as good, if not better, than the original trilogy: lightsaber battles and music. From the moment the elevator door opens, revealing Darth Maul as John Williams’s “Duel of the Fates” starts playing, you know this duel will be legendary.

The 3-way duel between Qui-Gon, Obi-Wan, and Maul is the first time fans got to see real Jedi in their prime face off against a Sith, likewise at the top of his game. Everything about this battle is perfect. From the way Maul takes on both Jedi with his double-bladed lightsaber to the way Qui-Gon stops mid-fight to meditate, every second is pure awesomeness.

Every lightsaber battle that came before and every one that comes after has to measure itself against this epic battle for the ages. Pretty crazy that such an amazing fight comes at the end of a movie where Jar Jar Binks steps in poop but hey, that’s Star Wars.

This is the way.

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