Why is Mace Windu’s lightsaber purple?

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When you think of a lightsaber, the weapon of choice Jedi and Sith, what color blade do you see?  These days, Star Wars fans can choose from various hues. As more force-wielders have entered the franchise, a vibrant spectrum of sabers has been revealed. 

Fans didn’t always have that choice. For many years, they could only draw a limited range of lightsabers, essentially the ideologically opposed red of Darth Vader and blue of Luke Skywalker, as seen in the first two films of the saga. The Star Wars prequels canonized the range of blades on the big screen, including the eye-catching purple lightsaber wielded by Jedi Master Mace Windu.  

Since then, many colored blades have been introduced, and the meanings behind them have inspired debate. They’re more than a visual short-hand for their owner’s Force allegiance in Star Wars lore.

Lightsabers gain their hue from Kyber crystals, naturally occurring but rare minerals attuned to the force and found on various planets in a galaxy far, far away. Colorless when they’re discovered, they gain their hue when they come into contact with a Force-sensitive being. However, they only respond to Jedi. 

The red of a Sith lightsaber is iconic but unrelated to the colored blades of the Jedi. The searing crimson is unmistakably evil. Not every lightsaber is red, but every red saber belongs to a user aligned to the Dark Side. Unable to forge a bond with the Kyber crystals like the Jedi, the Sith must steal or synthesize crystals, empowering them with their negative emotions. It’s a process that turns the blade red and has earned an apt name: bleeding.

As you may expect, things are far more harmonious on the Light Side. 

Chosen by the blade 

Star Wars Rise of Skywalker

Blue lightsabers are the most common among Jedi. That’s the color wielded by Obi-Wan Kenobi and Luke Skywalker after he inherited his father’s blade, reflecting their bravery and spiritual alignment with the force and Kyber crystals. 

Green lightsabers may be the second most common in the Jedi order. It’s no mistake they’re commonly seen in the hands of older and wiser Jedi like Qui-Gon Jinn, Master Yoda, and even Luke Skywalker once he’s trained as a Jedi. 

Double-bladed yellow lightsabers are almost exclusively wielded by Jedi Temple guards, the noble security force familiar from The Clone Wars. The 2019 videogame Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order introduced an orange lightsaber. So far, the only reason for that distinctive blade appears to be an incentive for pre-orders. Fan-favorite Ahsoka Tano wielded dual white lightsabers in The Clone Wars and The Mandalorian, which reflected her Force purity as well as her distance from both Jedi and Sith. The white blades resulted from her purifying the red sabers she sized from an Inquisitor.

But what about the purple lightsaber that’s synonymous with just one Jedi?

The meaning of a purple lightsaber

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The purple of the lightsaber made famous by Mace Windu in the Star Wars prequel trilogy hasn’t been easily explained. It’s associated exclusively with the powerful but doomed Jedi, and he remains the only character to wield that color blade. That’s fitting, considering its origin lies in a personal request. Mace Windu’s lightsaber is purple because actor Samuel L. Jackson asked for it. 

Cast as the senior Jedi, Jackson requested a blade that glowed in his favorite color from Star Wars creator George Lucas. The idea interested Lucas, who made it a reality for Windu’s action debut in Episode II – Attack of the Clones.

A fan of Samurai movies, Jackson had been looking forward to proving himself as a Jedi Knight. The distinctive color of his blade also made it easier for the actor to be picked out in a flurry of predominantly green and blue lightsabers during the climactic battle of the middle prequel film. 

The Star Wars Expanded Universe, which now sits under the non-canonical Star Wars Legends banner, did explore the meaning of this rare blade. A running theory was that the fusion of red and blue suggested a morally uncertain Jedi, but that hasn’t been confirmed in the official Star Wars canon.

That means that any explanation for the purple blade that defeated Jango Fett and almost stopped Darth Sidious in his tracks remains unknown. It’s missing, possibly lost forever, much like Windu’s lightsaber itself after the events of  Episode III – Revenge of the Sith.