When you see a red lightsaber, you immediately think Sith. The dark side of the force is synonymous with a red blade. But does a Sith have to wield a red lightsaber?
So there is no ancient Sith law requiring dark side users to wield a red blade. Most Sith end up using a red lightsaber because of the process involved in attuning themselves with a lightsaber crystal, which is called bleeding. But a Sith can in fact use almost any color of lightsaber they choose.
Table of Contents
- What gives a lightsaber its color?
- How can a Sith end up with a lightsaber that is not red?
- Sith with lightsaber colors other than red
What gives a lightsaber its color?
To better understand the limitations on lightsaber color for a Sith, it is important to know how a lightsaber is constructed. Each lightsaber has a hilt, a power source, and a kyber crystal. It is this kyber crystal that helps give each blade its distinct color.
Kyber crystals actually start out as colorless. Each crystal is force-sensitive and is naturally aligned with the light side of the force. When a Jedi constructs a lightsaber, they let the crystal choose them. The crystal then attunes itself to that user, imbuing it with a unique color that aligns with the user’s spirit. This is why the color of lightsabers can vary so much.
For a Sith, since kyber crystals are aligned with the light side of the force, this makes them naturally resistant to the dark side of the force. To properly wield a lightsaber, the crystal has to be attuned to the force user. So Sith need to forcibly bend the crystal to their will in a process called bleeding, where they pour negative emotions into the crystal until it yields. This gives the crystal its characteristic red color.
Even if the crystal was stolen from a Jedi and therefore was originally a different color (i.e. blue, green, etc.) the process of bleeding will always turn the crystal red.
What about synthetic kyber crystals
The bleeding of kyber crystals to make a red lightsaber has only been Star Wars canon since 2015. Prior to 2015 the accepted explanation for why a sith lightsaber was red was that the crystal was synthetic. It was the forging of these inferior and unstable synthetic crystals that gave them their red coloration. And a red crystal equals a red blade.
With the major shakeup of canon prior to the release of Force Awakens, the idea of synthetic crystals introduced in the expanded universe was scrapped and relegated to Legends (or Star Wars Legacy).
All kyber crystals are now natural, there are no synthetic kyber crystals.
How can a Sith end up with a lightsaber that is not red?
While a Sith usually wields a red lightsaber, they can, and have wielded other colors of lightsabers.
Most often a Sith obtains their kyber crystal from a weapon they have stolen from a Jedi. The only way to properly wield a lightsaber, like an extension of yourself, is to be in tune with it, or more accurately the crystal. So the only way a Sith can use a stolen crystal is to bleed it, which turns it red.
But there are three possible ways in which a Sith could end up wielding a lightsaber that is not red.
Starting with a colorless crystal
A Sith does not have to steal a crystal from a Jedi, they can use a blank or un-attuned crystal. But the Jedi exert strong control over all sites where these crystals naturally occur, so a blank crystal is usually hard for a Sith to obtain.
Moreover, since all kyber crystals are naturally resistant to the dark side, it would be unlikely for a crystal to choose a Sith to attune to, forcing the user to bleed it. But this scenario is simply unlikely, not impossible.
Using someone else’s blade
Being sensitive to the force is not a requirement for wielding a lightsaber. General Grevious is famous for wielding multiple lightsabers, all stolen from Jedi that he has killed. Even Finn in the Force Awakens wields Luke’s lightsaber for a short period of time. But trying to wield someone else’s lightsaber is fraught with danger.
When a lightsaber is used by the person the crystal is attuned to, it becomes an extension of that person. The lightsaber and the force wielder become one. At best, outside of the attuned user’s hands, a lightsaber is just a shiny weapon, albeit a deadly one. It can be used much like you would use any weapon.
That is if the lightsaber agrees to be wielded. The force sensitivity of the kyber crystal gives its a degree of sentience. It can choose whether it wants to be wielded by the person attempting to turn it on. This was a sticking point for Kylo Ren, who in a battle with Rey, called to his uncle’s lightsaber, but it flew to Rey instead.
The most common way a Sith can end up wielding a lightsaber that is a color other than red, is when they start out as a Jedi. When a Jedi obtains a kyber crystal, they become attuned to it. Even after they fall to the dark side, that crystal is still attuned to them. They will be able to wield their original Jedi lightsaber for as long as they have it.
Sith with lightsaber colors other than red
There have been many Sith throughout the history of the Star Wars universe that wielded lightsabers that were not red. There is, in fact, almost no limitation on what color a lightsaber a Sith can wield.
Can a Sith have a Green/Blue lightsaber?
Yes. The most notable case of this is Anakin Skywalker. Anakin Skywalker became a Sith when he helped Darth Sidious defeat Mace Windu. By the time Anakin has his epic battle on Mustafar with Obi-Wan, he has already been anointed as Darth Vader by Sidious. And the lightsaber Anakin uses during that battle? The same blue one he had as a Jedi.
Watching the battle, there is no doubt that Anakin wielded that lightsaber like a pro. Like it was an extension of himself. Even though he had turned to the dark side, the kyber crystal was still attuned to him. If it hadn’t been for his ultimate defeat during this battle, and Obi-Wan taking the blade, Anakin would have likely continued wielding his blue lightsaber for quite some time.
General Grievous, while not a true sith, wielded both blue and green blades that he had taken from the many Jedi that he had killed.
Count Dooku purportedly used a blue lightsaber when he was a Jedi, before his fall. Though this is a part of Star Wars Legends and has not officially made it over to cannon yet. Even though it is not confirmed that his blade was blue, as a Jedi he would not have wielded a red lightsaber. So it is likely that he would have carried his Jedi lightsaber for some time, whatever its color.
Can a Sith use Yellow/Purple lightsabers?
Yes. But finding canonical references for this is difficult. For instance, Bastila Shan, featured in the Knights of the Old Republic video game wielded a dual-bladed yellow lightsaber. During the course of the story arc, Bastila turns to the dark side for a while; making her an aspiring Sith wielding a yellow lightsaber. While Bastila has not been formally accepted into the canon, Revan has, so perhaps it is only a matter of time.
Even if Bastila herself is not canon, with yellow being a fairly common color of lightsaber, it would almost be impossible for a Sith to have never wielded one, even if only for a short time.
Purple lightsabers are a bit rarer in the Star Wars universe, with not many force-users being featured wielding one. Mace Windu is the most well-known wielder of the purple blade.
On the Legends side of things, there are actually many sith featured wielding purple blades including Revan, Tyra, and even Mara Jade Skywalker (who wasn’t technically a Sith). Even Mace Windu himself flirted with the idea of the dark side in the Legends universe, though he never actually turned Sith.
Can a Sith have other color lightsabers?
Yes. While blue, green, red, yellow, and even purple are some of the more notable lightsaber colors featured in the Star Wars universe and in particular the movies, they are not the only lightsaber colors. Other colors that have appeared throughout canon include orange, white, and even black. There are also a variety of shades of the previously mentioned colors, i.e. dark blue versus light blue.
But have any sith wielded these particular blades? Some of these colors, like orange, have only recently become canon, so there is not much information about wielders of this color of blade let alone any Sith references.
There is only one know black lightsaber in all of the Star Wars universe and it has been wielded by both Jedi and Sith, as well as non-force users. First created by a Mandalorian Jedi, it later fell into the hands of Darth Maul for a while, but spent most of its life being passed down to each new Mandalore (usually when the new one defeated the old one in battle).
The only white lightsaber blades in existence (canon) were the ones wielded by Ashoka Tano. She created the white crystals by purifying red crystals used in Sith blades. The origin of this particular crystal color makes this lightsaber color the least likely to wind up in the hands of the Sith.
It is almost certain that, as more Star Wars lore enters canon, the color of lightsabers that Sith can, and have, wielded will only continue to expand.