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What the yellow lightsaber in Star Wars means

Anyone who has seen the Star Wars films and dug into the franchise's vast canon knows that lightsabers — elegant energy swords, weapons for a more civilized age — come in a variety of colors. For the most part, Jedi wield sabers that are blue or green — colors that represent the two biggest schools of thought within the Jedi Order. Green is most commonly chosen by the Consulars, who focus on their mental knowledge of the Force. Blue is most often seen in the hands of the Guardians, who focus on learning combat and becoming warriors. Those who have aligned themselves with the dark side, most notably Sith Lords, flash red lightsabers in combat. And as for purple lightsabers? Mace Windu's violet-colored blade was only introduced to the franchise because actor Samuel L. Jackson put in a personal request to Star Wars creator George Lucas for a lightsaber bearing his favorite color. And when does Samuel L. Jackson not get what Samuel L. Jackson wants?

In the expanded Star Wars universe, however, there are plenty more colors of lightsabers to go around. Although rare, yellow lightsabers are among them. Here's what they mean.

Yellow lightsabers and the Sentinels

In essence, a lightsaber's color reveals something about its wielder and their personality. Lucasfilm's Pablo Hidalgo has explained that the Kyber crystals used to make lightsabers start out colorless. The crystals only take on a color once they have been gathered and a bond between the crystal and the saber's user has been formed during the creation of the weapon. There's even been an instance in which a yellow saber was made from unstable red saber crystal, when Jedi Jaden Korr purified it and the crystal turned yellow, granting him his third lightsaber.

Just like the blue and green lightsabers, the yellow lightsaber is associated with an important school of thought within the Jedi Order: that of the Sentinels (via Ultra Sabers). Star Wars lore explains that the Sentinels seek a balance between the Consulars and the Guardians, and also wish to educate themselves on other more practical aspects of life such as tracking techniques and espionage. Unlike some others in the Jedi Order, Sentinels recognize that the Force isn't actually the solution to everything. 

Sentinels in the Star Wars universe

Star Wars Reading Club suggests that perhaps the reason so few yellow sabers are seen in the era of the Clone Wars is because so few Sentinels still exist in the Jedi Order, with most Jedi either falling into the category of Consular or Guardian. 

Another theory is that because the Sentinels focus so much of their energy on learning skills outside of the Force, they may still exist but they remain so low on the radar that they rarely have to whip out their yellow lightsabers. Because of their real-world skills, their missions outside of the Jedi Temple didn't require them to use combat. Instead, they'd resort to their real-world knowledge that wouldn't have required them to show off their lightsaber skills. 

Slashfilm also ties in the grey Jedi, suggesting that the Sentinels' philosophy that seeks to balance knowledge of practical skills with mental and physical Force skills is similar to what the grey Jedi practice.

Yellow lightsabers on Star Wars: The Clone Wars

The yellow lightsaber is most commonly seen in the Jedi Temple Guards' pikes on the Star Wars animated series The Clone Wars. The Temple Guards wield double-bladed yellow sabers, much like the dual-ended red weapon Darth Maul hefted before it was sliced in half. These lightsabers don't personally belong to the Temple Guards, but are instead the property of the position they hold.

Additionally, there are other past sightings of yellow lightsabers — including in the hands of bounty hunter Asajj Ventress, who apparently found her lightsaber on the black market (anyone else getting maybe-she-killed-a-Jedi-and-stole-it vibes?). Ventress' blade was identical to those of the Jedi, rather than the more blade-like appearance of the pikes wielded by the Temple Guard. Another Star Wars character said to have carried a yellow lightsaber is Anakin Skywalker's Padawan learner Ahsoka Tano. Though George Lucas nixed the idea of Ahsoka using a full-on yellow saber on Star Wars: The Clone Wars, Ahsoka's mostly green saber was altered to give off a slightly yellow glow.

In one Star Wars comic, Luke Skywalker has a secret yellow lightsaber

Luke Skywalker has wielded both a green lightsaber (which he made himself) and a blue lightsaber (one passed down from his father, Anakin Skywalker) across the nine-movie Skywalker Saga, but in Marvel Comics' 2020 Star Wars collection, the famed Jedi actually has a secret yellow lightsaber. 

The R.B. Silva-illustrated cover of Star Wars #6 shows a younger Luke staring down some unseen opponent, gripping a golden-hued saber tightly in his hands. Taking place after the events of The Empire Strikes Back, the new Star Wars comic run, written by Charles Soule with art from Jesús Saiz, tells "the previously unseen adventures of Luke Skywalker, Princess Leia, and the Rebel Alliance." Issue six was intended to hit shelves in May 2020, and would see Luke heading to Bespin in search of the blue saber he lost during the Cloud City-set battle against Darth Vader (the same fight in which Luke lost his hand). Luke would ignite the secret yellow lightsaber as a replacement for his father's saber, and the issue would also explain how Maz Kanata wound up in possession of the blue lightsaber. 

As of this writing, it seems that the last published issue of Marvel Comics' current Star Wars series was Star Wars #4, which hit shelves on March 18, 2020. Neither issue five nor issue six are logged on Marvel's website, so it would appear that the run may have been put on hold during the coronavirus pandemic. Issue five is apparently scheduled to drop on August 5, 2020 — and considering the issues in this run of comics were published about a month apart, fans can likely expect to see Luke wielding his yellow lightsaber sometime in September 2020.

Rey's yellow lightsaber in Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker

After never seeing a yellow lightsaber appear on the silver screen in the Star Wars film franchise, fans finally witnessed someone wield one in The Rise of Skywalker. During the final scene of the film, Daisy Ridley's Rey is briefly shown holding a yellow saber, the hilt of which is seemingly constructed from a section of the staff she used to swing around during her pre-Jedi days — you know, the one pieced together from junk scraps on Jakku? That one. 

The shade of saber Rey wields in that moment — an unmistakable yellow, and not the blue of Luke Skywalker (Mark Hamill) and Leia Organa's (Carrie Fisher) sabers that Rey utilized elsewhere The Rise of Skywalker — is quite symbolic of her personal journey.

A yellow lightsaber is a perfect fit for Rey because of what the saber means

In The Rise of Skywalker, Rey discovers that she's actually a Palpatine — the granddaughter of Emperor Palpatine (Ian McDiarmid), to be exact — but fights back against her so-described "destiny" by summoning the energy of all the fallen Jedi that came before her, destroying Palpatine and helping to win the war against the First Order once and for all. When Rey returns home, she reunites with Finn (John Boyega) and Poe Dameron (Oscar Isaac), embracing them in a group hug and sharing a moment of emotion for all they have been through. 

She then heads off to the Lars Homestead on Tatooine (Luke Skywalker's home planet) and buries Luke and Leia's sabers, as she doesn't need them anymore given she's built herself a new one. We see a flash of her yellow saber, and then when a local asks for her name, she responds, "Rey Skywalker." She is the Skywalker who rose — not because she's a member of that famous family by blood, but because she's a Skywalker by choice. Rey having a saber of her own design marks the conclusion of her story to this point, and it makes sense that it would look unlike any other saber in the film series thus far.

Following the deaths of Palpatine and his Sith underlings; Kylo Ren (Adam Driver), who abandoned the dark side and became Ben Solo once more in The Rise of Skywalker, during which he sacrificed his life for Rey's; Luke Skywalker, who became one with the Force in The Last Jedi; and Leia Organa, who used the last of her energy to call out to her son in the latest movie, Rey appears to be the only person left tied to the Jedi. She brought balance the Force — it's only fitting that her lightsaber reflect that.