- "Kylo Ren. […] That's what his army called him. He was dressed in black, carried a 'laser sword' like in the old Jedi stories."
Kylo Ren's lightsaber was a crossguard lightsaber wielded by Kylo Ren, Supreme Leader of the First Order and master of the Knights of Ren. The lightsaber was previously Ben Solo's lightsaber, constructed by Ren in his life as Ben Solo while training as a Jedi Padawan under his uncle, the Jedi Master Luke Skywalker. Originally the weapon had a blue blade, but after his destruction of the Jedi Temple and fall to the dark side in 28 ABY, Ren modified it into one with a red blade. The modified lightsaber incorporated a crossguard hilt based on an ancient design dating back to the Great Scourge of Malachor and contained a cracked Kyber crystal, requiring it to have lateral vents on either side of the handle in order to divert the extra heat generated by the crystal.
During the Cold War, Ren used the lightsaber to strike down Lor San Tekka, a member of the Church of the Force. When his father, Han Solo beseeched him to leave the First Order, Ren ignited the crossguard lightsaber through Solo's torso in an act of patricide. He later dueled the former stormtrooper known as Finn, and the Force-sensitive scavenger Rey, though he lost to the latter.
After recovering from his defeat on Starkiller Base, Ren assassinated his dark side master, Supreme Leader Snoke, and fought alongside Rey against the Elite Praetorian Guard. He killed several guards using his crossguard lightsaber before taking control of the First Order as Snoke's successor. On Crait, he was confronted by his uncle and former mentor, Jedi Master Luke Skywalker, and attempted to strike him down in battle. However, Ren's lightsaber was ineffective against his opponent as Skywalker had only projected his appearance on Crait whereas his physical form was still on Ahch-To.
The next year, Kylo Ren continued to use his lightsaber until he faced Rey on the remains of the second Death Star on the ocean moon of Kef Bir. Following their confrontation, Ren saw a vision of his late father, who showed his son that he loved him. Ren ultimately cast his Sith lightsaber into the ocean and, in doing so, became Ben Solo once more.
- "To harness the damaged crystal's full fury, Kylo Ren modified his weapon's hilt, adding quillon emitters to emulate an ancient crossguard design once used by the Sith Lord Darth Atrius. The crystal's energy remains raw and unfocused…just like Kylo Ren himself."
- ―Darth Sidious
Ben Solo's Jedi lightsaber originally emitted a blue plasma blade. Like all Jedi lightsabers, Solo's weapon used a kyber crystal as its power source. It also contained a diatium power cell in the grip as an additional power source. The blade was ignited using a sliding activation switch located near the top of the hilt.
Kylo Ren, the dark side persona of Ben Solo, altered his lightsaber to suit his new preferences as a dark Force-user, changing his Jedi weapon into a red-bladed Sith lightsaber. The lightsaber was further modified with the addition of quillon emitters, changing its original standard-hilt design into a crossguard lightsaber.
The crossguard was an ancient design that harkened back to the time of Darth Atrius, a Sith Lord who possessed a pair of crossguard lightsabers, as well as the Great Scourge of Malachor that occurred millennia before the New Republic Era. Nevertheless, Ren's lightsaber incorporated modern components. Although its crudely assembled appearance and unstable condition suggested Ren's inexperience in building a crossguard lightsaber, he was in fact capable of repairing his lightsaber but ultimately favored its unstable and volatile nature. In addition, the lightsaber's partially exposed inner workings allowed for easy modifications and upkeep.
The lightsaber's redesign was a byproduct of the bleeding process that damaged its kyber crystal, rendering it dangerously flawed and unstable, and necessitating the lateral vents were meant to prevent the cracked kyber crystal from overloading. The focusing crystal activators separated the lightsaber's red-yellow plasma stream into three channels, creating the quillons which appeared after the ignition of the main blade. The lateral vents, from which the quillons emerged, diverted the extra heat produced by the crystal to either side of the hilt, giving the crossguard lightsaber an unstable and serrated appearance. The hilt of Ren's lightsaber also featured a black burned appearance as a result of its first activation without the vents to compensate for the unstable power of a damaged kyber crystal. Ultimately, however, Ren's crossguard lightsaber reflected his raw and untamed power in the Force, yet also symbolized his inner doubt and struggle to suppress the light side of the Force that remained within him.
Ben Solo's lightsaber
In 15 ABY, Ben Solo began his Jedi training under the guidance of his uncle, Jedi Master Luke Skywalker. At some point between 15 ABY and 19 ABY, Padawan Solo constructed his lightsaber as was the tradition of the Jedi Order that Skywalker sought to revive following the Great Jedi Purge.
Having inherited his connection to the Force through the bloodline of his grandfather, the Chosen One Anakin Skywalker, Solo became the "prize student" at his uncle's Jedi temple, surpassing the combined strength of his fellow apprentices in spite of Skywalker's insistence that they were all equal in the ways of the Force. The Jedi apprentice Voe aspired to rival Solo but could never match his abilities in either lightsaber combat or Force power, failing to best him in their mock-lightsaber duels.
In addition to his training, Solo wielded his lightsaber for defense while traveling throughout the galaxy with his master on a quest to recover the lost artifacts of the Jedi Order. In 19 ABY, Solo and Skywalker encountered the Knights of Ren in an abandoned Jedi outpost on Elphrona that dated back to the High Republic Era. Skywalker fought the Knights, excluding their leader Ren, keeping his nephew and their companion Lor San Tekka from harm. Solo ignited his own lightsaber in preparation to join the fight, but the Knights ultimately retreated after failing to defeat Skywalker.
A new purpose
- "After abandoning his Jedi training, Kylo Ren embarked on a journey to discover his true nature."
- ―Darth Sidious
On the night of the destruction of Skywalker's Jedi temple, in 28 ABY, Solo was asleep in his hut, his lightsaber placed beside his calligraphy set on a table next to his bed. Having sensed the shadow of the dark side within his nephew, Skywalker probed Solo's mind with the Force and experienced premonitions of a future in which Solo heralded an era of death and destruction on a galactic scale. Convinced that Supreme Leader Snoke's influence had succeeded in turning Solo away from the light side of the Force, the thought of losing all that he loved drove Skywalker to instinctively ignite his green-bladed lightsaber, only to realize that he could not kill the son of his twin sister, Princess Leia Organa. Nevertheless, awakening to the sight of an ignited lightsaber was regarded by Solo as an unforgiveable act of betrayal that, in his mind, validated his worst fears about his family.
Believing his life was in danger, Solo telekinetically pulled his lightsaber to his hand and attacked his uncle in self-defense. Skywalker used his own lightsaber to block Solo's attack; mindful of Skywalker's greater experience with the Force, Solo used his powers to collapse the cabin in a desperate effort to end the battle before Skywalker could overpower him. Solo left his master for dead beneath the ruins of his dormitory, although Skywalker was only unconscious. Consumed by his emotions, Solo brandished his still-ignited lightsaber in despair while crying out, confused as to why Skywalker had made an attempt on his life. A great storm subsequently formed above the temple and destroyed it, killing the other students.
As the temple burned, the Jedi apprentices Voe, Tai, and Hennix returned from an off-world mission and confronted Solo, who revealed his intentions to leave the Jedi Order in the wake of the temple's destruction. Although the three Padawans each possessed a lightsaber, Solo left his weapon clipped to his belt and instead warded off his opponents with only his Force powers. Initially Solo acted with restraint, wishing to retreat to his other mentor, Snoke, but without killing the apprentices whom he befriended during their time together with Skywalker. Nevertheless, the three Padawans were relentless in their efforts to apprehend Solo, whom they held responsible for their master's death.
None of the surviving Padawans were killed by Solo's lightsaber blade, however. While Solo had used his Jedi weapon to defend himself against the Padawans on Elphrona, Hennix was cut down by his own lightsaber after he threw it at Solo, who deflected it while trying to save Voe. Tai was killed on the Minemoon of Mimban by Ren; enraged by his friend's violent death, Solo wielded Tai's lightsaber in tandem with his own weapon to kill and ultimately replace the leader of the Knights of Ren. Out of the three apprentices that pursued Solo, Voe was the only one whom Solo personally killed, using Ren's lightsaber to take Voe's life.
Having forsaken the way of the Jedi, Solo took his place among the remaining Knights of Ren as their new leader. With his name changed to "Kylo Ren," the fallen Jedi embraced his new reputation as the "Jedi Killer" along with his roles as the master of the Knights of Ren, a warlord of the First Order, and the dark apprentice of Supreme Leader Snoke.
Kylo Ren's lightsaber
Instrument of destruction
- "As a final step on his path to the dark side, he bled his lightsaber's kyber crystal, only to fracture it in the process."
- ―Darth Sidious
Kylo Ren was not a Sith Lord, but as a convert of the dark side he observed the traditions of the Sith Order such as the sacrificial act of corrupting a kyber crystal. Ren chose the crystal from his own lightsaber for this procedure, whereas his grandfather Darth Vader, the Sith persona of Anakin Skywalker, bled the crystal of a lightsaber that he claimed from Jedi Master Kirak Infil'a. The color of Ren's crystal changed from blue to crimson, but became cracked in the process, consequently causing his lightsaber to burn out upon its first ignition.
The damaged kyber crystal was still salvageable, but due to the dangerous amount of power that it generated Ren refitted his lightsaber's hilt with quillon vents in order to stabilize the crystal's energy. The result was a new crimson-bladed crossguard lightsaber that came to symbolize his power as well as his duality between the dark side and the light. Unbeknownst to Ren, his true mentor in the ways of the dark side was his grandfather's Sith Master, the Dark Lord of the Sith Darth Sidious, who was resurrected on the Sith world of Exegol in the Unknown Regions, whereas Snoke was a Strand-Cast that served as Sidious' proxy in both the ruling of the First Order and the training of Ren.
Through Snoke's training, Ren learned to channel his fears into focused rage, drawing power from the Force through his anger but remained unable to control his emotions. At one point, Snoke brought Ren to the planet Dagobah where Luke Skywalker was trained by Grand Master Yoda. At his master's behest, Ren entered the Cave of Evil like Skywalker before him. Just as Skywalker once fought a vision of his father, Darth Vader, Ren encountered an apparition of his uncle while under the cave's influence. Overcome with hatred for the mentor whom he believed to have betrayed him, Ren battled the apparition of Skywalker in a lightsaber duel. As they fought, Ren heard the voice of Snoke in his mind, echoing his belief that Skywalker would have murdered him in his sleep.
Although Ren's anger drove him to strike down the vision of Skywalker, the forms of Han Solo and Leia Organa manifested through the Force, urging their son to reject the way of the dark side. Rejecting his former identity as Ben Solo, Ren resolved to pass his latest trial by cutting down his parents as he did to his uncle, damaging the cave's old gnarltree with his lightsaber in the process. However, despite his willingness to sever his connection to his family, the vision of his mother and father remained intact, filling Ren with frustration at his inability to destroy them. In failing to destroy the apparitions with his lightsaber, Ren unleashed his raw power on the cave itself, destroying the ancient grotto and impressing Snoke in the process.
Ren wielded his lightsaber on multiple occasions in his capacity as a de facto leader of the First Order Army, despite not holding an official rank in the First Order military. Serving as the First Order's champion, Ren led his master's armies against the enemies of the First Order, creating a trail of destruction from Tehar to Jakku. Eila, a child from Tehar, witnessed the massacre of her village by Ren and his soldiers. She remembered the dark warrior not only by his black attire, but also his lightsaber which reminded her of the stories told about the legendary Jedi Knights. During the battle against the Benathy, Ren invaded the Benathy homeworld with an army of First Order stormtroopers. A number of the Benathy were cut down by Ren's lightsaber, including King Kristoff, while their remaining forces submitted to the First Order's champion after he personally killed the Zillo Beast that they worshipped as a god.
Aside from massacring villages and conquering planets for the First Order, Ren was known throughout the First Order's ranks for his volatile temperament which caused him to destroy his surroundings with his lightsaber. At one point he considered killing his rival, General Armitage Hux, for mocking his helmet as an affectation designed to imitate Darth Vader's mask and hide his Rebel parentage. Ren reasoned that the cause of Hux's death was unlikely to be discovered since at the time they were both stranded on an isolated world. However, Hux warned Ren that Snoke would learn the truth and punish him accordingly, forcing the dark apprentice to deactivate his lightsaber.
A sacrifice to the dark side
- "I know what I have to do, but I don't know if I have the strength to do it. Will you help me?"
- ―Kylo Ren and Han Solo
In the last days of the Cold War, Ren oversaw the First Order's attack on Tuanul, a village located on the desert world of Jakku, in 34 ABY. During the raid, Ren's troopers captured Lor San Tekka, who refused to assist the fallen Jedi's hunt for Luke Skywalker in spite of Ren's threats. As a consequence, the aged explorer was cut down by Ren's lightsaber while the rest of the villagers were massacred on his orders. Ren's actions on Jakku contributed to FN-2187's decision to commit desertion and treason against the First Order, having witnessed firsthand his comrades' willingness to comply with orders like those given by Ren and Captain Phasma.
Following FN-2187's escape from the Resurgent-class Star Destroyer Finalizer, Lieutenant Dopheld Mitaka informed Ren that the rogue stormtrooper's actions further delayed their efforts to obtain the missing fragment of the map to Skywalker. Mitaka's report caused Ren to destroy a computer terminal with his lightsaber in a rage-induced temper tantrum, for which Ren was well known for.
The First Order tracked the map's location to the planet Takodana in the aftermath of the Hosnian Cataclysm that destroyed the New Republic capital of Hosnian Prime. During the Battle of Takodana, Ren ecountered Rey, a scavenger from Jakku, while a division of stormtroopers searched for the map carried by the Resistance droid BB-8. Possessing a latent connection to the Force, Rey had seen Ren wielding his lightsaber in a vision that she experienced upon discovering the lost Skywalker lightsaber, an heirloom of Ren's family that once belonged to his grandfather and uncle in turn. Rey fired her blaster pistol—an NN-14 model that had been gifted to her by Ren's father, Han Solo—but Ren deflected the blaster shots with his lightsaber before immobilizing her with the Force. Ren brought Rey to Starkiller Base to interrogate her, but the scavenger broke free of her restraints, causing Ren to destroy an interrogation chair in another violent outburst of anger.
While Ren searched the facility for Rey, he was confronted by his father during the onset of the Battle of Starkiller Base. Han Solo entreated his son to reject the teachings of Snoke and return to his family that missed him, and though Ren struggled to hold fast to his convictions in the dark side, his conscience directed him to the light. The light side of the Force nearly caused Ren to surrender his lightsaber to Solo. However, the sight of his former Jedi weapon, which he had converted into an instrument of the dark side, served as a reminder of his own transformation from Ben Solo to Kylo Ren. Recoiling at the thought of weakness and returning to a life that he had forsaken, Ren's doubt and indecision gave way to resolve and the desire to realize his ambition for power. His decision made, Ren turned his lightsaber on Solo, using its blade to strike down his father in an act of patricide.
Ren was subsequently injured by a bolt fired from the bowcaster of his surrogate uncle, Chewbacca, but nonetheless pursued Rey into the Starkiller planet's forest. Finn, the former stormtrooper originally designated as FN-2187, wielded the lightsaber of Ren's grandfather in defense of the scavenger. Although Finn was a trained soldier, Ren was a swordmaster in the ways of lightsaber combat. As a result, Finn was grievously wounded during his lightsaber duel with Ren. Ren also fought the scavenger after she seized the Skywalker lightsaber with the Force, and though he pressed Rey to the edge of a cliff as the planet collapsed around them, his unbalanced mental state and physical injury hindered his combat abilities. In addition, Rey successfully channeled the Force's energy to disarm Ren of his lightsaber.
Killing the past
- "I see him turning the lightsaber to strike true. And now, foolish child, he ignites it, and kills his true enemy!"
- ―Snoke, to Rey and Kylo Ren
Ren continued to use his crossguard lightsaber in the wake of the Starkiller crisis. Sensing Ren's conflict over his decision to kill his father, Snoke chastised his apprentice who, in his view, failed to live up to the legacy of Darth Vader. During the Battle of Oetchi, Ren learned to communicate with Rey through the Force-bond that bridged their minds, allowing them to see and hear each other across space and time. Rey, having witnessed Han Solo's death by Ren's lightsaber, confronted Ren about his actions on Starkiller Base. She later confronted him onboard his master's flagship, the Mega-class Star Dreadnought Supremacy, intent on turning him back to the light side. Ren instead brought Rey to Snoke's throne room, where the Supreme Leader tortured the scavenger-turned-Jedi apprentice for the location of Luke Skywalker.
Rey initially resisted Snoke whom she attempted to assassinate with Ren's own lightsaber, using the Force to take the dark warrior's weapon as he knelt before his master. However, Snoke telekinetically disarmed Rey and immobilized her with the Force. Retrieving his lightsaber, Ren deceived Snoke into believing that he was prepared to kill the scavenger, when in fact his true intention was to kill Snoke. Distracted by his own exultation at the thought of Rey dying by Ren's blade, Snoke was killed when Ren used the Force to ignite the Skywalker lightsaber by his master's side, fatally bisecting the Supreme Leader at the waist. Afterward, Ren and Rey joined forces against the Elite Praetorian Guard, wielding their respective lightsabers in tandem to defeat the Supreme Leader's bodyguards.
Having slain his master, Ren gained direct control over the First Order as the new Supreme Leader. At his command, the First Order's forces deployed to the planet Crait to annihilate the last remnants of the Resistance. Before Ren could achieve a decisive victory in the First Order-Resistance War, his uncle Luke Skywalker appeared on the battlefield during the Battle of Crait. When the artillery fire of his All Terrain MegaCaliber Six walkers failed to kill Skywalker, Ren resolved to fight his uncle in single combat, brandishing his crossguard lightsaber while Skywalker wielded his original blade. The Jedi Master evaded all of Ren's attacks, and by the time Ren realized that he had been fighting a Force projection, the surviving members of the Resistance had fled aboard the Millennium Falcon.
Reign of darkness
- "We have learned from the mistakes of the Empire—they were too lenient."
- ―Kylo Ren
Convinced that the Galactic Empire had been too lenient in its policies against rebellion, Supreme Leader Ren marked his reign by initiating a crackdown on the enemies of the First Order, including supporters of the Resistance and other elements deemed subversive by the fascist neo-Imperialist regime. As he oversaw the First Order's hunt for the Resistance and its conquest of the galaxy, Ren made an effort to personally execute traitors with his lightsaber. When the Resistance passed through Fondor's star system, Ren used his lightsaber to decapitate a citizen of Fondor as a warning to the rest of the galaxy that no form of contact with the First Order's enemies would be tolerated.
The same punishment was meted out to the Resistance sympathizer Boolio. An Ovissian miner from the Sinta Glacier Colony, Boolio was captured by the First Order due to his connections with the Resistance. Taken before the Supreme Leader, Boolio's lack of fear and open defiance only further motivated Ren to execute the alien, whose decapitated head was used to illicit fear in the members of the Supreme Council.
In addition to utilizing his lightsaber as an executioner, the Supreme Leader wielded his weapon in combat, continuing to fight alongside his forces as he had done during his apprenticeship under Snoke. While surveying one of the various worlds subjugated by the First Order, Ren's forces were openly attacked by local dissidents, prompting Ren to ignite his lightsaber and lead a counterattack against the subversives. During the skirmish, Ren confronted a female insurgent. He deactivated his lightsaber, abandoning his initial intention to kill the girl in order to learn the motives of her defiance.
In 35 ABY, while searching for his grandfather Sith wayfinder on Mustafar, Ren led the extermination of the Alazmec of Winsit—a group of Sith cultists who worshiped Vader—for defying him. Ren accomplished his objective in locating the wayfinder after cutting down the Alazmec colonists with his lightsaber. From a distance General Armitage Hux and Allegiant General Enric Pryde monitored Ren's battle with the colonists. Pryde openly expressed admiration for Ren's fighting skills, a sentiment that Hux shared despite his secret opposition to Ren's rule.
Armed with his lightsaber, Ren entered the Sith Citadel upon arriving on Exegol with the help of Vader's wayfinder. In the depths of the Citadel he confronted Darth Sidious and, determined to safeguard his power by eliminating all threats to his reign, raised his blade to strike down the reborn Emperor's cloned body. However, Sidious persuaded Ren to lower his weapon by unveiling his newly-built fleet, the Final Order, a force of Xyston-class Star Destroyers with planet destroying capabilities. In addition to the promise of the Sith Eternal's forces, Ren was enticed by the opportunity of succeeding Sidious as the new Dark Lord of the Sith and Galactic Emperor.
- "I know what I have to do, but I don't know if I have the strength to do it."
- ―Ben Solo and Han Solo (memory)
The rumors that led Ren to find Sidious inspired his Jedi rival Rey and her allies to do to same. Their concurrent quests and Force-bond brought them to the ocean moon of Kef Bir in the Endor system. Kef Bir was the site of the ruins of the second Death Star and the location of the Emperor's wayfinder.
On Kef Bir, they faced each other in a final confrontation, Ren bearing his lightsaber and Rey the repaired Skywalker lightsaber. He gained the upper hand during their confrontation, but as they dueled his dying mother Leia Organa reached out to him through the Force, distracting him and causing him to drop his lightsaber. Rey seized the opportunity to grab his weapon and impaled Ren with it, but after sensing Organa's death, healed his grievous wound before departing. As Ren stood alone on the battle station after the duel, he was overcome by a memory of his deceased father Han Solo, who spoke to him and called to his son to change, much as he had in their fateful confrontation on Starkiller Base. Touched by the love of his mother and father and the compassion shown by Rey in healing him, Kylo Ren ceased to exist and Ben Solo was reborn. Having no further use of Ren's weapon, Solo threw the Sith lightsaber towards the horizon so it could sink into the depths of Kef Bir's oceans.
Behind the scenes
Kylo Ren's lightsaber first appeared in Star Wars canon in the 2015 film Star Wars: Episode VII The Force Awakens. The introduction of the lightsaber was well-publicized in the media, including on The Colbert Report and @Midnight on Comedy Central. The lightsaber was also the subject of a number of pieces of fan art released in the days after the films first teaser trailer premiered.
The lightsaber's original form as Ben Solo's lightsaber first appeared in a flashback scene in the 2017 film Star Wars: Episode VIII The Last Jedi, the sequel to Episode VII. Though similar in appearance to the weapon later used by Solo as Kylo Ren, it was not confirmed to be the same lightsaber until the 2019 reference book Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker: The Visual Dictionary by Pablo Hidalgo.
Lucasfilm's creative art manager, Phil Szostak, states in a post on Twitter that the lateral beams emanating from Luke Skywalker's lightsaber in Tom Jung's 1977 posters for the original Star Wars is what inspired the crossguard design of Kylo Ren's lightsaber for The Force Awakens.
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