When it comes to science fiction movies, very few can touch on the world that Star Wars created. From awesome spaceship dogfights to brutally cool Lightsaber battles (swords with the blades made of freakin’ lasers, yes please), Star Wars just does for many what they need at the time of its release. It takes them away from their troubles for a little bit and distracts them with the awesomely improbable. And when talking about Star Wars movies, one would be foolish to pretend those lightsaber battles weren’t a big draw of the series, because they are. Two people of opposing sides clashing glowing blades together in a battle for survival is gripping and always fun to see (and those saber sound effects are some of the most iconic in movie history).
Between movies, games, and Star Wars Lego sets, few can argue that Star Wars has gone from a series of cool, fun films into a cultural phenomenon. So with the release of The Last Jedi just weeks away, we thought now would be a good time to drop the 15 best lightsaber battles from Star Wars movies and shows, just so you could catch up and prepare yourself for the next (hopefully awesome) installment.
15) Darth Vader vs Obi-Wan Kenobi (Star Wars)
I think it is time we were all honest with ourselves about this saber battle. We remember it so FONDLY because it was the moment Luke lost Obi-Wan, and suddenly the threat of Darth Vader became very real, which made the moment iconic to many of us.
If you watch it now, you can clearly see it is two older gentlemen getting into a choreographed sword fight at their maximum level of energy for their age, which is to say, it is quite easy to follow the action on-screen, as it is pretty basic (especially when compared to battles from the newest series).
But it would have been a sin me leaving it off because it set the tone for every other battle on this list.
14) Mace Windu and All His Jedi Squad vs Palpatine (Revenge of the Sith)
When it comes to Jedi battles it is hard to imagine anyone fighting off four trained Jedi at once and winning, but that is just what Palpatine does when Samuel Jackson tries to go medieval on his ass.
It is a great scene, and we do see the toll it takes on Palpatine (he goes from being an old man to being the oldest man ever in that scene) but it shows you the chaos of good vs evil and it also throws Sam Jackson out a window about a thousand miles, so that was cool.
Side note, you don’t see a character actually die they may not be dead. Just saying, he could have used his Jedi skills to soften his landing and could still show up, I am standing by that. Also, standing by the fact that battle was dope as hell, even if the bad guy did win (hey, it’s just like real life)!
13) Yoda vs Count Dooku (Attack of the Clones)
Some people say the CG Yoda flipping around in this scene makes it look like it belongs more in Roger Rabbit than it does Star Wars and there may be some truth to that (the effect hasn’t aged well), but one must recall, this is the FIRST time we really see Yoda kicking some ass, which is something people dreamt about seeing since the first time they saw the green Frank Oz muppet (not named Kermit).
Yes, it was a CG heavy fight scene and was also straight fanfare, but it was also the highlight of was otherwise an ultimately forgettable Star Wars film (which is sad to say).
12) Darth Maul vs Pre Vizsla (The Clone Wars)
Warning, I freakin’ LOVE Darth Maul so you will see him more than once on here, and for that to happen, you know I need to pull from some of the dope cartoons, too, so just wanted to get that out of the way.
In the fifth season of The Clone Wars, Darth Maul actually works with Pre Vizsla to take back control of Mandalore, and once they have attained that goal, Maul challenges Vizsla to a duel to see who is truly worthy of leadership.
What blew me away was just how cool the plot twist was (Maul even turns on BAD GUYS) and Darth Maul ends up slicing off dude’s head. Yes, you just read that correctly. One of the coolest and most violent Darth Maul moments ever is buried in the fifth season of the Clone Wars cartoon.
11) Finn vs TR-8R Riot Suit Stormtrooper (The Force Awakens)
I KNOW this is not a saber on STRAIGHT saber duel, but this scene was one of the BEST in The Force Awakens and a lot of people don’t know why.
First of all, the stormtrooper Finn fights yells TRAITOR to Finn (because he was a traitor to their side) but the trooper’s name spells out TRAITOR (TR8R) which is brilliant.
Second, the backstory. He yelled traitor because (if you read the backstory book to the movie) you find out he trained side by side with Finn, and they were both the top of their class. Good friends but TR-8R had some resentment that Finn was “better” so when we see them meet up and dude whipped out that f*cking awesome saber-baton of death so fast because that shit was PERSONAL.
Plus, the fight itself was brutal. But knowing the backstory makes the scene even better (think about it, how would he have known he was a traitor had he not known him, they always wear their masks during combat?).
It may not be one of the key lightsaber fights people think of, but it was also cool to see a non-Jedi wield the thing for a minute.
10) Anakin and Kenobi vs Dooku (Revenge of the Sith)
People can say what they want, but Revenge of the Sith had some GREAT saber battles, and the general rule in Star Wars is, the more involved in the battle, the merrier.
In this case, we see Obi-Wan and Anakin facing off against Count Dooku, with Dooku totally mind-f*cking Anakin into doing the wrong things and feeding into the dark side. The fight itself is minutes long and adrenaline pumping, but what makes it so memorable is the end, when Dooku causes Anakin to go full dark-side and chop the head off an unarmed man (after lobbing off his hands, which seems to be a Jedi fetish, and which made him a LITERAL unarmed man).
We knew Anakin was turning evil from the start, but this was the moment that cemented his true capacity to do the wrong things for what he thinks are the right reasons.
9) Obi-Wan Kenobi vs General Grievous (Revenge of the Sith)
When it came to Jedi Battles in the prequels, the movies themselves may have botched up its own universe ALMOST beyond repair, but the actual lightsaber battles from the prequels themselves had some top shelf moments here and there, and young Obi-Wan fighting off the multi-armed, multi-sabered assault of the mech-like General Grievous was a really cool fight that had a lot of dimensions to it (literally, they were jumping down levels like it was a Mario game).
Granted, having one of those complex suits on that keeps you alive shouldn’t make it so you have breathing problems (Grievous sounded more out of shape than me, which is not a good sign for a hybrid), but their battle itself was still pretty damn fun to watch.
8) Kanun Jarrus and Ahsoka vs Darth Maul (Star Wars Rebels)
I told you all I was gonna shout-out the best saber duels from Star Wars, and the saber duel between Kanun Jarrus, Ahsoka, and Darth Maul was such a badass moment from the second season finale of this show it HAD to be on the list.
Plus, we ALL know Darth Maul was our new favorite bad guy in that universe and he was killed off WAY too soon, so the fact we got to see more of his swordplay in Rebels and other animated shows was fantastic, and this fight is the highlight of that whole show (IMO).
7) Kylo Ren vs Walls (The Force Awakens)
Come on, this is funny, I don’t care what anyone says. Dude just has rage issues and handles it about as well as I did at 16.
And come on, who wouldn’t want to throw a lightsaber tantrum now and then if they had access to one?
6) Obi-Wan vs Jango Fett (Attack of the Clones)
Again, not so much one of the crucial Lightsaber fights (as only one of the two has a lightsaber), I still had the shoutout this moment when Kenobi and Fett (sounds tougher if you only use their last names) come face-to-mask in a rainstorm on Geonosis.
While it may mainly be a battle of flurries and dodges, it still gave us Boba Fett fans some fanfare and ended up being a really memorable scene in what was otherwise a really forgettable Star Wars movie.
An all-too-common problem for the prequels.
5) Darth Vader vs Everybody Ever (Rogue One)
Okay, I will admit, I am breaking my own rules slightly here as this is not so much a lightsaber duel as it is a massacre of everyone at the hands of Darth Vader as he boards the ship from the very first introduction we see of him in the original Star Wars, but I love breaking rules. ESPECIALLY my own.
Very rarely outside of a force choke here and an exploding planet there, we rarely see the true capacity of evil and destruction that Darth Vader is PERSONALLY capable of. It always felt like he was holding back his powers in the first movies. And even if some people hated this scene because it felt tacked on (which it was, by the way), for me, seeing Vader slice a force fling his way through a hallway full of rebels was wickedly satisfying.
We finally saw Darth unleash hell on people, and it was well worth the wait and price of admission for that alone.
4) Luke vs Dear Old Dad (Empire Strikes Back)
Though the final battle between Darth Vader in Return of the Jedi was awesome, there is NO SINGLE PERSON who walked into the Empire Strikes Back who expected to be walking out to one hero frozen solid and another one without a hand who almost died during the battle. That darkness is part of what made Empire a favorite among Star Wars fans.
It was not only a shocking plot twist but seeing a central good guy lose a limb and basically fall limp and helplessly was a really surprising moment. and the battle that led up the severed limb was nothing if not epic (sorry, I know that word is widely overused, but it fits so well here).
3) Kylo Ren vs Rey (The Force Awakens)
People can talk all the shit they want and say Kylo Ren is whiny and blah blah, but little do they know, that is a HUGE part of Kylo Ren’s story arc (um, he might not stay bad, guys, just so you know) so to hate him and pretend his snowy battle with Rey wasn’t the best saber fight we have seen since original series is bullsh*t, and I’m gonna call you on.
Kylo Ren just MIGHT be Star Wars’ greatest villain yet for how nuanced and tortured he is, and just the simple act of punching himself in the saber wound during the battle to release adrenaline and up his force powers was such a genius touch, and don’t even get me started on that cinematography.
They were leveling a forest during a snowstorm. Doesn’t get much visually cooler than that.
2) Obi-Wan vs Anakin (Revenge of the Sith)
This fight, for me, was the moment I knew Obi-Wan was truly the bad guy in the Star Wars universe. Why, you say? He crippled a kid he mentored who lost his way and didn’t even put him out of his misery to finish him to be kind. He let him burn alive and scream while being limbless. That is some evil shit.
Granted, the fight that led to it was one of the BEST EVER in any Star Wars movie (jumping from lava rock to lava rock is SO Lucas) and jaw-dropping to watch, but anyone with a grain of humanity or morality in them would not have left another person to suffer like that.
PLUS, had he finished him off like a man Darth Vader would have never been born. Real talk. That was sadism on Obi-Wan’s part. He was a kid, he was lost, you don’t chop off his legs and throw him in lava then give his sword you stole from him after you mutilated him to his son, years later.
That is uber-f*cking wrong on so many levels. That is like Manson levels of sociopathy.
1) Darth Maul vs Qui Gon Jinn and Anakin (Phantom MenASS)
I KNOW the Phantom Menace sucked (anything sucks when you wait for it for thirty years, generally, because it cannot live up to hype our brains create for it) but few people would argue that the best duel in the Star Wars movies up to this point has been the two-on-three fight vs Darth Maul (the best Star Wars character they killed off FAR too quickly BESIDES Boba Fett).
From the constant, dance-like balance in the lightsaber battle between all three to the moment the door separates them and they have to wait, face to face, to resume the battle, the scene is just spectacular choreography and plus, it comes with a Liam Neeson death, which we all know adds +10 to the scene’s “emotional” stats.
So which lightsaber duel did we miss? Let us know in our comments (in as nice a way as possible).