Star Wars: Ranking the best on-screen lightsaber duels


Since the onset of Star Wars in 1977, we’ve had the pleasure of seeing some unreal duels between Jedi and Sith. Let’s give the best ones their due.

Whether it’s the movies or the TV shows, there’s no shortage of epic lightsaber battles in the Star Wars universe. From the time Ben Kenobi introduced Luke to the Jedi’s weapon of choice, fans have been captivated by their grace and power.

Unfortunately, there are so many to pick from that not all of my favorite duels could crack this top five list, but that doesn’t take away from their entertainment value and impact on the franchise.

Here’s a few honorable mentions:

Ahsoka Tano vs. Darth Vader (Star Wars: Rebels)

In terms of pure emotion, the battle between Ahsoka and her fallen master is near the top of everybody’s list. Neither one could gain the upper hand and it all came crashing to a finish when we see Anakin’s scarred face under the helmet. Unbelievable.

Pre Vizsla vs. Darth Maul (The Clone Wars)

Maul and Vizsla square off here with control for Mandalore riding on the outcome. We get to see the darksaber in action and it’s a pretty evenly matched contest; both guys get some solid haymakers in, Maul wrecks Vizsla’s jetpack but Vizsla manages to scar Maul’s face. In the end, Maul deals the death blow, breaking Vizsla’s arm and finishing the job.

Yoda vs. Count Dooku (Attack of the Clones)

It wasn’t a very long fight, but the power of the Force was on full display in this duel between Yoda and his fallen apprentice, Count Dooku. After Obi-Wan and Anakin are overpowered by the Sith Lord, Yoda casually strolls in and engages Dooku in combat. Yoda gets the upper hand, but Dooku pulls a classic Dooku move, forcing his old master to choose between defeating him or saving his fellow Jedi. Cheap move, Dooku.

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Darth Maul and Savage Opress vs. Darth Sidious (The Clone Wars)

Darth Sidious comes back into Maul’s life attempting to finish him and his brother off. The look on Maul’s face when he realizes what’s about to happen tells the whole story. Maul and Savage hold their own, but experience prevails as Savage goes down and Maul is left at the mercy of his master.

All of these duels were epic. The fact that they couldn’t crack the top five should tell you all you need to know about the quality of Star Wars lightsaber battles. Let’s dive into best of the best.

5) Mace Windu vs. Darth Sidious (Revenge of the Sith)

Mace Windu won this fight, only to be cheated out of his victory. As a Pacers fan, it reminds me of LeBron hitting the game-winner against us in the playoffs last year. We had the game won and all we had to do was finish the job. Same thing here: Mace has it won, but Anakin swoops in and “hits the shot” (in this case, cuts off his arm), and Mace comes out on the losing end (which in this scenario means getting electrocuted and thrown out of a window).

Photo Credit: [Star Wars Rebels] Lucasfilm, Cartoon Network4) Qui-Gon Jinn and Obi-Wan Kenobi vs. Darth Maul (The Phantom Menace)

Say what you want about The Phantom Menace, but there’s no denying this fight’s greatness. George Lucas made us sit through two hours of Jar Jar Binks, then turned around and rewarded us with this beauty. John Williams’s classic ‘Duel of the Fates’ blares in the background, making you move to the edge of your seat every time you see it. I think Qui-Gon might disagree, though.

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3) Darth Vader vs. Luke Skywalker (The Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi)

I just couldn’t decide between these two, so I cheated and lumped them together. In the first meeting, Luke fights Vader after going through some much-needed training with Yoda, while Vader finally gets the fight he’s been waiting for. You know how this one ends.

In their second duel, emotions are running high and Luke teeters between good and evil after Vader threatens Leia. I still get chills watching it.

Photo Credit: Lucasfilm

2) Yoda vs. Darth Sidious (Revenge of the Sith)

Here, you’ve got maybe the best Jedi ever matching up against maybe the best Sith Lord ever. You can’t ask for more than that. In fact, this one’s probably my favorite, but I’m not sure it’s the best.

Yoda confronts Sidious, the man who hid in plain sight for years as the Chancellor. After learning of Anakin’s turn to the Dark Side, Yoda realizes he must face the Dark Lord head on. It ends in a stalemate, something that wasn’t too unexpected considering their unmatched powers.

Photo Credit: Lucasfilm

1) Anakin Skywalker vs. Obi-Wan Kenobi (Revenge of the Sith)

Revenge of the Sith is a gold mine of spectacular lightsaber fights, but this one takes the cake. Long, emotional, and galaxy-altering, Obi-Wan reluctantly duels his former friend and apprentice whose fall from grace is unbearable for him to let continue. After the lengthiest fight in all of Star Wars, Obi-Wan deals the deciding blow, severing all of Anakin’s limbs except his droid arm. He can’t bring himself to finish off his old friend, so he leaves him behind. Tragic.

Do you agree with this list? What are your top five favorites? Tell us in the comments.