In the sprawling world of Star Wars, audiences have seen hundreds of lightsabers on-screen. From Luke Skywalker’s iconic blue saber to Darth Maul’s striking dual-bladed staff saber, there are plenty of awesome laser swords for fans to get excited about.
In Attack of the Clones, Count Dooku wields a curved lightsaber hilt for his dueling saber. In The Force Awakens, Kylo Ren wields a lightsaber with a cracked Kyber crystal that vents out crackling energy from its crossguard. In each new Star Wars entry, the series introduces these new types of lightsabers. But only one of them has inspired so much discussion that it’s become an instant legend: the Darksaber.
First introduced in an episode of The Clone Wars, the Darksaber is an artifact created by the first Mandalorian Jedi, Tarre Vizsla. It bears a distinctive black blade and a stylized, katana-like hilt. Today, we’re breaking down the Darksaber’s entire canon timeline to get you up to speed with all its various owners across the generations.
Warning: This article contains spoilers for Star Wars: The Clone Wars, Star Wars: Rebels, The Mandalorian, and The Book of Boba Fett.
What Is the Darksaber?
The Darksaber is an ancient lightsaber guarded by the warrior clans of Mandalore since antiquity. It’s a slim, short lightsaber that makes a distinctive whizzing sound when pulled through the air. Mandalorian traditions hold that whoever wins the Darksaber in ritual combat is worthy to lead Mandalore. This can backfire horrendously for the proud warrior culture, like when the villainous Darth Maul acquires the blade and rules the Deathwatch with an iron fist.
The saber quickly caught fans’ attention when Lucasfilm introduced it in a Clone Wars episode called “The Mandalore Plot” in early 2010. In a behind-the-scenes segment, Clone Wars director Dave Filoni explained that the scene initially called for Pre Vizsla to wield a vibroblade during his duel with Obi-Wan Kenobi, but George Lucas requested they alter the scene to include an ancient-looking black-bladed lightsaber.
The visually-arresting Darksaber proved to be a fan-favorite element of the revamped Mandalorian background introduced in Clone Wars. The unique blade has since appeared in Star Wars: Rebels, The Mandalorian, and The Book of Boba Fett as the weapon of choice for numerous Mandalorians, Sith, and even some Imperial agents.
Tarre Vizsla, the ancestor of Pre Vizsla, was the first Mandalorian accepted into the Jedi Order. This took place sometime before 1032 BBY (before the Battle of Yavin). In Rebels, Mandalorian Fenn Rau explains to Jedi Kanan Jarrus that the Jedi Temple kept the Darksaber after Tarre’s death.
“Legend tells that [the Darksaber] was created over a thousand years ago by Tarre Vizsla, the first Mandalorian ever inducted into the Jedi Order,” Rau explains. “After his passing, the Jedi kept the saber in their temple. That was until members of House Vizsla snuck in and liberated it. They used the saber to unify the people and strike down those who would oppose them. One time, they ruled all of Mandalore wielding this blade.”
The way Rau explains the timing of these events, it stands to reason that House Vizsla stole the Darksaber back during the Fall of the Old Republic, a historic event that is rarely mentioned in the current canon timeline. House Vizsla passed the blade to its foremost scions across a thousand years, until it finally came under Pre Vizsla’s possession during the Clone Wars.
Pre Vizsla, a villainous Mandalorian warrior, led a splinter group called the Death Watch circa 22 BBY. Officially, Pre Vizsla functioned as the governor of the planet Concordia. When the Jedi Council discovered that the Death Watch planned to go against the pacifist Duchess Satine’s orders and openly throw its weight against the Republic, it responded by sending its agent, Obi-Wan Kenobi, to Concordia.
When Obi-Wan bested Pre Vizsla, the governor of Concordia had a falling out with his Sith allies in the Confederacy of Independent Systems. This saw the Death Watch splinter away from Darth Sidious and Count Dooku, eventually leading them to cross paths with Maul, Sidious’s disgraced former apprentice. The Death Watch briefly allied with Maul and his brother, Savage, but Vizsla had no plans to share power with the former Sith.
Vizsla betrayed Maul and Savage and imprisoned them. When Maul escaped, he challenged the head of the Death Watch to a duel for the leadership of his clan. Maul won, earning the Darksaber in combat and becoming the head of the Death Watch.
Maul used the Darksaber to help wage his personal war against Obi-Wan Kenobi. He used the blade to murder Obi-Wan’s friend, Duchess Satine, throwing Mandalore’s government into turmoil and sparking a chain of events that would lead to the devastating Siege of Mandalore.
Maul nearly lost the blade when he faced Sidious in a duel alongside his brother. While Maul survived the encounter, Savage lost his life, leaving Maul with only hatred for everyone else in the galaxy.
Nite Owl Bo-Katan Kryze resented Maul for defeating Pre Vizsla and refused to acknowledge the leadership of a non-Mandalorian, despite Maul winning the Darksaber legally in a duel. Kryze broke away from the loyalist Death Watch members and led a splinter contingent to ally with the Republic in the Siege of Mandalore.
Maul stashed the Darksaber in a Nightsister cave on Dathomir for decades, well into the Age of the Empire. The crew of the Ghost, including Ezra Bridger and Sabine Wren, discovered the ancient blade during their adventures. Sabine managed to steal away with the sword during a chaotic encounter with a Nightsister spirit.
Notably, Wren didn’t acquire the blade in an honorable duel. However, Kanan Jarrus still took the opportunity to train the young Mandalorian warrior in the ancient art of lightsaber forms.
Sabine later wielded the weapon during the Rebellion’s battle on Mandalore against an Imperial occupation. She defeated Gar Saxon, a Mandalorian traitor, using the ancient weapon. She then helped free her family, House Wren, from Imperial rule. After using the blade to destroy a dangerous weapon (of her own creation) called the Duchess, Sabine convinced Bo-Katan Kryze to accept the Darksaber in order to unite the clans.
Bo-Katan didn’t have the weapon for long. The Empire swept through Mandalore after the Ghost crew departed, initiating a massacre called the Great Purge of Mandalore. Bo-Katan blamed herself for the planet’s defeat, claiming she was wrong to accept the Darksaber as a gift instead of winning it in combat.
After the Great Purge, the Darksaber fell into the hands of an Imperial agent named Moff Gideon. Gideon served as a member of the Imperial Security Bureau, a dangerous agency known for its brutality and efficiency. He helped oversee the Purge, leading the deaths of countless Mandalorians, and took the Darksaber as a trophy commemorating his war crimes during the campaign.
Gideon later faced Mandalorian bounty hunter Din Djarin on Nevarro, revealing his ownership of the blade and sparking a rivalry between the two warriors. When Din later met with Bo-Katan, who still hunted for the Darksaber, he agreed to work with her to help her reclaim the lost blade. While Din had battled Gideon once before, he didn’t know the agent’s whereabouts and told Bo-Katan he’d help her if she found him.
Gideon kidnapped Grogu, Din’s young ward, during an attack on a sacred Jedi site. Din chased Grogu to Gideon’s command ship, an Arquitens-class command cruiser. There, he battled numerous droid Dark Troopers and eventually bested Gideon in single combat, rightfully earning the Darksaber as his own.
Din tried to simply give the blade to Bo-Katan, telling her he was uninterested in possessing the legendary weapon. She refused the gift, warning Din that she’d accepted it outside of a duel before and it had led to the Purge of Mandalore. Din begrudgingly accepted the Darksaber and took it with him on his travels.
Din initially struggled to use the Darksaber effectively and even told his tribe’s Armorer that he felt unworthy to wield the weapon. During this meeting, his fellow Mandalorian, Paz Vizsla, challenged him to a duel for the weapon that once belonged to his uncle. The two battled viciously, but Din eventually overcame his tribesman and retained ownership of the Darksaber.
Despite his victory, the Armorer cast Din out of the Tribe for having removed his helmet in previous adventures. Din’s insular tribe followed a bizarre custom in which adherents refused to ever remove their helmets in the presence of other people. Din, resigned to his life as an exile, returned to Tattooine to help his ally Boba Fett secure his fiefdom in Mos Espa.
Din Djarin wielded the Darksaber on Tattooine and helped Boba Fett repel the Pyke Syndicate. The last audiences saw of Din, he was leaving Tattooine with his young ward, Grogu, in a newly-customized Royal Naboo Starfighter. Many fans expect to see the Darksaber play a major role in the third season of The Mandalorian, as Din might return to Mandalore to attempt to reunite the clans.
Or, he might just keep using it as a glorified letter-opener and carving up droids with it. Either way, audiences are excited to see the legendary weapon appear in future Star Wars projects.