No matter what medium a Star Wars story is told in, lightsabers very often play a prominent role. We have seen a number of memorable lightsaber duels on the big screen, of course, from Luke vs. Vader, Darth Maul vs. Obi-Wan and Qui-Gon, Yoda vs. Dooku, Obi-Wan vs. General Grievous, Anakin and Obi-Wan vs. Dooku, Sidious vs. Yoda, and of course, Anakin vs. Obi-Wan. But if you aren’t paying attention to Star Wars animation, you are missing out on some incredible lightsaber duels.
As we prepare to witness a showdown between Obi-Wan Kenobi and Maul in “Star Wars Rebels,” we look at the 15 best lightsaber duels from Genndy Tartakovsky’s “Star Wars: Clone Wars,” “Star Wars: The Clone Wars,” and “Star Wars Rebels.”
15. AHSOKA TANO VS. FIFTH BROTHER AND SEVENTH SISTER
Half the fun of a good lightsaber duel is how it begins. In the “Star Wars Rebels” episode, “The Future of the Force,” Ahsoka makes one of the most dramatic entrances ever. As the two Inquisitors, the Fifth Brother and the Seventh Sister, take out Zeb, Kanan and Ezra, it appears that the heroes are going to lose until the door opens and Ahsoka walks out, dramatically drawing her two lightsabers.
Using her two white-bladed lightsabers, Ahsoka is able to quickly take out the Fifth Brother, before focusing her attention on the Seventh Sister (played by Sarah Michelle Geller). During the duel, Ahsoka pulls out a surprising move, she grabs the hilt of the Seventh Sister’s lightsaber and using the force turns it off before Force-pushing the Seventh Sister into a column. Ahsoka has a blade at the Seventh Sister’s throat and the Inquisitors defeated until Imperial reinforcements arrive. Ahsoka ends the encounter with a Force-assisted jump to the fleeing rebel ship. This is the first time we have seen the adult version of Ahsoka let loose with her dual lightsabers and it didn’t disappoint.
14. DARK AHSOKA VS. ANAKIN AND OBI-WAN
The Mortis arc of “Star Wars: The Clone Wars” brought us many things we had not seen before. In this arc, Anakin, Obi-Wan and Ahsoka encounter three extremely powerful Force Wielders within the Mortis monolith, they are the Father, the Son and the Daughter. The Father is the balance in between the Daughter who represents the light side and the Son who represents the dark side of the Force.
In the episode “The Altar of Mortis,” the Son in the form of a different creature, bites Ahsoka and turns her into a dark side version of herself. This dark Ahsoka then challenges her master Anakin Skywalker to a fight; the two exchange blows and Ahsoka speaks words designed to hurt Anakin. Obi-Wan soon intervenes and the fight continues. Eventually, Ahsoka intercepts the dagger of Mortis, an artifact that could kill the Son. Her reward is death as the Son thankfully takes the dagger from her and, with a touch, kills her. This battle between master and apprentice is incredibly powerful for the emotions of the characters involved and presages a conflict that is to come.
13. AHSOKA VS. PRE VIZSLA
In “Star Wars: The Clone Wars,” the episode “A Friend In Need” provided us with one of the most cinematic of all the animated lightsaber duels. Ahsoka is kidnapped by her friend Lux Bonteri and taken to the camp of the Mandalorian splinter group, the Death Watch, which is led by Pre Vizsla. Initially welcomed by Vizsla and the Death Watch, when they kill an innocent villager, Ahsoka reveals herself but is eventually captured and taken to a tent in restraints.
R2 enters the tent Ahsoka is being held captive in, causes a distraction and returns her lightsabers. Ahsoka quickly breaks out of her restraints and decapitates her Death Watch captors in a single move and then takes the fight to Pre Vizsla, who wields the Darksaber. Thanks to the quick work of R2-D2, as Ahoka’s duel with Vizsla moves outside the tent it started in, she receives back-up by a group of armed training droids. Ahsoka and her droid allies battle with Vizsla and his Death Watch commandos until Ahsoka slashes Vizsla’s jet pack, causing it to explode and giving Ahsoka, Lux and R2 a chance to escape.
12. ASAJJ VENTRESS AND SAVAGE OPRESS VS. COUNT DOOKU
The tradition of the Sith is one of betrayal and conflict. While they observe the Rule of Two, one master and one apprentice, they often employ other lesser dark side force users in their service. During the Clone Wars, Count Dooku found and employed Asajj Ventress as his weapon. When Darth Sidious sensed Asajj becoming too powerful and creating a potential upset to his plans, he ordered Dooku to kill her. Dooku did betray her, but she escaped, wounded but returning to her people, the Night Sisters of Dathomir.
After her initial attempt at revenge failed, Asajj, with the help of Nightsister magiks, transformed a male Zabrak into the monster that was Savage Opress. They inserted Savage into Asajj’s former role with Dooku and Savage began training under Dooku and earning his respect. In the season three episode of “The Clone Wars,” “Witches of the Misty,” we see a confrontation aboard a Separatist ship above Toydaria. While Dooku is shocking Savage with Force lightening for failing a mission, Asajj enters and the two attack Dooku. Eventually, Savage turns on both, Dooku flees and Asajj follows. Savage runs into Obi-Wan and Anakin as well as droids but manages to escape.
11. OBI-WAN AND ASAJJ VENTRESS VS. MAUL AND SAVAGE OPRESS
In the “Star Wars: The Clone Wars ” season four finale, “Revenge,” we saw a four way battle royal with Obi-Wan having an unlikely tag-team partner. After having his sanity restored and mechanical legs created by Mother Talzin on Dathomir, Maul begins his quest for revenge against Obi-Wan Kenobi. Maul slaughters a village on Raydonia and sends a message to the Jedi to draw Obi-Wan into a trap. At this point in the series, Asajj is working as a bounty hunter and arrives on Raydonia after Maul and Opress have already surprised and captured Obi-Wan. Sneaking aboard Maul’s ship, Asajj frees Obi-Wan and gives her one of her lightsabers.
The duo engage Maul and Savage in a four way dance of red lightsabers until Obi-Wan recovers his lightsaber from Maul. Maul’s taunts about killing Qui-Gon briefly cause Obi-Wan to let loose his anger. Recovering himself and realizing that he and Asajj are over-matched, he leads her to the cockpit of the ship, which detaches from the cargo section, allowing them to escape. It is a real treat to see Obi-Wan using a Sith blade and working in tandem with Asajj.
10. ANAKIN SKYWALKER VS. BARRISS OFFEE
“The Wrong Jedi” was the final episode of “Star Wars: The Clone Wars” season five and one of the most emotionally powerful of the entire series. Most fans will focus on the dramatic moments in the episode where Ahsoka Tano chooses to walk away from the Jedi and the goodbye with her master Anakin Skywalker. It is Anakin’s lightsaber work that adds dynamic action to the story.
Anakin confronts Barriss Offee about framing Ahsoka, in response she pulls out two red lightsabers she has stolen from Asajj. The duel begins in Barriss’ quarters and continues across the Jedi Temple hallways. As Barriss is boxed in by Jedi Temple Guards, she jumps out a window onto the exterior of the Temple. Anakin follows her and the two acrobatic Jedi both dual wielding lightsabers engage in a running duel. Eventually, each combatant loses a lightsaber as they duel until Anakin uses his superior Force powers to push and then pin Barriss to the tree in the Jedi Temple courtyard. The ability to hold her own against Anakin for as long as she did shows just how impressive a young Jedi Barriss was before her fall.
9. DOOKU VS. ASAJJ VENTRESS AND THE NIGHTSISTERS
In “The Clone Wars” season three episode “Nightsisters,” Asajj Ventress is in search of revenge after being betrayed by her master Count Dooku. She returns home to Dathomir and the witches known as the Nightsisters. The leader of the Nightsisters, Mother Talzin, sends Asajj and two companions to Serenno to assassinate Count Dooku. They are given a magical invisibility that allows them to sneak into the Count’s castle while he sleeps. The Nightsisters wield Jedi lightsabers to make it appear like a Jedi plot and begin the battle by injecting Dooku with a poison dart.
Dooku duels the three Nightsisters and is eventually disarmed, as they move in for the kill he hits all three with Force Lightening and sends them flying out a window and over a cliff. The lightening removes their invisibility and with this advantage taken, the Nightsisters flee back to Dathomir. Even surprised and poisoned, Count Dooku proves to be a formidable opponent.
8. DARTH SIDIOUS VS. MAUL AND SAVAGE OPRESS
As the Clone Wars were drawing to a close, Maul established his Shadow Collective and took power on Mandalore. This introduced a variable into the plans of Darth Sidious that he could not tolerate. So, the Chancellor and Sith Lord made a secret trip to Mandalore. Sidious easily dispatches the Mandalorian guards and confronts his one time apprentice. Maul pretends fealty, kneeling before his former master and claiming he was only working in his interest.
Sidious formally denies Maul as his apprentice and attacks Maul and his brother, Savage Opress. Wielding two lightsabers, Sidious takes on both warriors, jumping from the Mandalorian throne room to the ground below and Force pulling the warriors with him. He quickly divides the two brothers, temporarily incapacitating Maul while he duels and uses both lightsabers to impale Savage, killing him. Maul then renews his attack, wielding both his red lightsaber and the Darksaber against Sidious, only to be overpowered and thrown from wall to wall. Once he is disarmed, Maul is ultimately defeated and subdued by a vicious bout of Force lightening from Sidious.
7. SABINE WREN VS. GAR SAXON
In the “Star Wars Rebels” episode, “Legacy of Mandalore,” Sabine returns to her family’s seat of power on the wintery planet Krownest. An unwelcome surprise, Sabine presents the Darksaber and asks for her family’s help in the rebellion against the Empire. With one son in service of Gar Saxon and her husband a hostage, Sabine’s mom attempts to strike a deal with Gar Saxon, turning over the Rebels Ezra and Kanan as well as the Darksaber in return for pardoning Sabine and the rest of her family.
Saxon arrives on Krownest and a fight breaks out between the Wrens and Saxon’s forces spilling outside onto a frozen lake, with Sabine wielding Ezra’s lightsaber and Saxon wielding the Darksaber. Both Sabine and Saxon use not only their saber dueling skills but also their Mandalorian skills, jet-packs, flamethrowers, shields, grappling hooks, mini-projectiles and blasters. Thanks to her training with Kanan, Sabine is able to disarm Saxon and hold both sabers cross at his neck as he is defeated. Refusing to execute him in cold blood, Sabine begins to walk away when Saxon pulls a hidden blaster. Luckily, Sabine’s mom kills him with a single blaster shot.
6. KANAN JARRUS VS. MAUL
In the two-part season two finale of “Star Wars Rebels,” “Twilight of the Apprentice,” the Ghost crew travels to the planet Malachor and journeys to an ancient Sith Temple. Not knowing who he is and taking him for an old caretaker of sorts, Ezra and the rest of the crew forms an uneasy alliance with Maul. During their adventure, once Ezra departs on his own, Maul betrays them, lashing out with his lightsaber and blinding Kanan. After a brief duel with Ahsoka, she is forced to chase after Ezra, who has activated the secret weapon in the Temple.
Malachor is the site of an ancient battle between the Sith and the Jedi and while blind Kanan feels around and finds an ancient Temple Guard mask, putting it on his face and adopting a backhanded fighting stance, Kanan engages in a brief duel before grabbing Maul and throwing him and an ancient corpse he runs into off of a cliff. Though brief, the blind warrior winning a duel is one of the coolest on the list.
5. KANAN AND EZRA BRIDGER VS. THE GRAND INQUISITOR
In the first season finale of “Star Wars Rebels,” “Fire Across the Galaxy,” the crew of the Ghost attempts to rescue Kanan. As an injured Kanan and Ezra make their escape, they are confronted by the Grand Inquisitor. Despite his injury and exhaustion, Kanan grabs Ezra’s lightsaber and uses the unique blaster feature on it to surprise the Inquisitor and begin their duel. While Kanan and the Inquisitor are dueling, Ezra uses the force to pull Kanan’s lightsaber off of the Inquisitors belt. The Inquisitor throws his spinning blade at Ezra, hitting him in the face and knocking him off the catwalk.
Kanan, reacting to the seeming death of his apprentice, grounds himself in the Force and lets go of his fear. Summoning his lightsaber to him, he attacks the Inquisitor with both lightsabers. The duel ends when Kanan gets both of his blades between the circular hilt of the Inquisitor’s lightsaber, cutting it in half and knocking the Inquisitor off the platform. As his broken lightsaber pieces destabilize the ship’s core, the Inquisitor lets go and allows himself to fall to his death, instead of surrender to Kanan or face the wrath of his master, Darth Vader.
4. OBI-WAN AND ADI GALLIA VS. MAUL AND SAVAGE OPRESS
“Revival” was the season five finale of “The Clone Wars.” This episode saw Jedi Masters Obi-Wan Kenobi and Adi Gallia pursuing Maul and Savage Opress to the pirate Hondo Ohnaka’s base on Florrum. As Maul leads an attack on Hondo’s base, Obi-Wan and Adi arrive. In the duel, Obi-Wan and Maul square off while Savage and Adi go head-to-head. Savage overpowers Adi, Force pushing her into a ship before impaling her with is cranial horns. After she falls to the ground, he drives his lightsaber through her to finish her off.
Feeling her death, Obi-Wan turns and disengages from his duel with Maul, summoning her lightsaber to his hand and attacking Savage. Maul intervenes and the duel continues until Obi-Wan flees with Hondo’s forces into the depths of the base. The duel resumes later in the episode with Obi-Wan wielding two lightsabers against both brothers. Obi-Wan pinned against the wall kicks out Savage’s knee and severs his arm at the shoulder. Maul grabs his brother and they make their escape; a pyrrhic victory for Obi-Wan after the loss of his fellow Jedi.
3. ANAKIN SKYWALKER VS. ASAJJ VENTRESS
The duel between Anakin and Asajj in Chapter 19 of Genndy Tartakovsky’s “Star Wars: Clone Wars” is the only non-canonical duel to appear on our list. Airing from 2003-2005, the series served as a bridge between “Attack of the Clones” and “Revenge of the Sith” until it was preempted when Lucas decided to produce “The Clone Wars.”
Anakin and Asajj fight a wide-ranging battle that lasts over six minutes across Yavin IV. They begin in the jungle, before taking their fight into the rain with lightsabers sizzling. Their battle moves through the temples and culminates on a high point of one of the temples with the giant red silhouette of Yavin in the background. Asajj is able to disarm Anakin, but he seizes her wrists and overpowers her, taking one of her lightsabers. Touching the dark side, Anakin begins power slashing her until she falls to the ground; he then smashes her with the saber until the portion of the temple she is on cracks and she tumbles presumably to her death.
2. AHSOKA VS. DARTH VADER
The second duel on the list from the Star Wars Rebels “Twilight of the Apprentice,” this is a fight that was a long time in the making. As Vader is about to kill Ezra, Ahsoka confronts the Sith Lord; it is a fight of agility versus power. Ahsoka confront’s Vader about Anakin and when he says he destroyed his old life, she commits herself to avenging Anakin by defeating the Sith Lord. The battle goes back and forth as the Sith Temple begins to self destruct. Ahsoka is able to leap over Vader and slash part of his mask off, revealing a portion of Anakin within.
Ahsoka, wanting to save her friend, says she will not leave him behind, to which Vader replies in Anakin’s voice that she will die. Our view of the duel ends as part of the Sith Temple closes while Kanan and Ezra are escaping. The temple explodes and the next thing we see is Vader limping away on the planet’s surface and a brief glimpse of Ahsoka descending into what looks like caves below the temple. How the duel would have ended without the temple exploding we may never know.
1. MAUL VS. PRE VIZSLA
The best animated duel in Star Wars history comes from “The Clone Wars” season five episode “Shades of Reason.” In this episode, Maul, aligned with Pre Vizsla and the Death Watch, helps retake Mandalore. Once their conquest is complete, Maul betrays Vizsla and challenges him to a duel for leadership. Vizsla is honor bound to accept this challenge under Mandalorian tradition. What we see on screen is the product of five seasons of storytelling, animation and action choreography at their peak, all at the same time.
Maul duels with his single red lightsaber while Vizsla posses the Darksaber. Both fighters bring their own other advantages; for Maul, it is the Force and for Vizsla it is his jetpack, blasters, flame thrower, detonators, gauntlet-launched throwing stars and cable. The battle turns when Vizsla’s jetpack is damaged; once grounded, he is forced to go on the offensive and into close quarters combat. Now that Maul had the advantage, he was able to break Vizsla’s sword arm and disarm him. Maul continued to physically pummel Vizsla until he seized the Darksaber, claimed victory and beheaded Vizsla. This once again proved just how dangerous an opponent Maul can be.
What was your favorite animated lightsaber duel? Let us know in the comments!