We're continuing on in our lightsaber colours series, which began with exploring the meaning behind blue and green lightsabers. This week, we're focusing on the infamous red lightsaber. Does this evil colour mean what you think it means, or is there something deeper behind the darkness? Let's find out.
Red lightsabers are perhaps the most notorious of Star Wars' saber colours. While Jedi might wield blue, green, yellow or even purple lightsabers, the dark side favours only one colour: red.
Notice that we said Dark Side, not Sith. The Sith aren't the only red saber wielders - Kylo Ren and his Knights are not true Sith and instead simply wield red as they're the 'bad guys'.
But all of this raises the question, why is a red lightsaber associated with evil? Is there a lore reason that dark side users have red crystals, or is it just a thematic choice? Here's a look at all of the lore and ex-canon Legends information about red sabers to help us answer this question.
Red lightsaber meanings in the ex-canon Legends
In the original canon of Star Wars, lightsaber colours came from the crystals within them - they would change to attune to their wielder's temperament. Red crystals were instilled with the negative energy of their owners. In Legends, Sith typically relied on synthetic crystals rather than the organic ones which the Jedi protected. These synthetic crystals were powerful when fuelled with the dark side of the Force, allowing Sith to sometimes break a Jedi's weapon entirely.
In addition to the classic red colour associated with Sith, there were also some shades of other dark tones like magenta and orange. But ultimately, the red colour came from the 'dark' negative energies of the Force.
Red lightsaber meanings in the canon universe
In the now canon version of Star Wars Lore, Sith corrupt their crystals using a process known as 'bleeding'. In this new version of the story, red is the natural colour of a bled crystal - it's not open for interpretation: red means evil. Some Jedi can purify these bled crystals and return them to their original state, but this is rare and hasn't been seen on screen.
Bleeding a crystal could damage it, which is what happened to Kylo Ren's lightsaber. He cracked the crystal and it became unstable, forcing him to adapt his lightsaber's hilt into the crossguard style to funnel the excess energy.
Long before Ben Solo became Kylo Ren, another Dark Side fall saw the bleeding process reborn when Anakin Skywalker became Darth Vader. After losing his saber in the battle against Obi-Wan, Vader had to slay a Jedi and take his crystal. Once done, he bled it until it bent to his will - but not before the crystal subjected him to powerful visions that depicted what life would be like if he returned to the light.
Red lightsaber meanings on screen
The real reason for a red lightsaber being the 'evil' option is due to cinematic limitations and George Lucas' vision. When he created Star Wars, Lucas chose to have blue lightsabers for the 'good' guys and red for the 'bad'. This thematic choice was all about the associations of red with anger, rage, aggression etc -- all key to the Sith and Dark Side.
Really, when you think about it, the dark side is not about 'evil' as much as it is about the binary opposite of Jedi values. Where Jedi value calm, peace and balance, Sith favour passion, anger and hate. Red is a warning colour, but it's also a passionate one that shows the inner fire burning in the heart's of most Sith.
Of course, if you want a red lightsaber, you can get one right here. All of our duelling sabers come with colour-changing at the touch of a button, so you're never locked into a single choice and can be a Sith or Jedi whenever it suits you. Click here to shop yours.