The Darksaber explained: The story behind the dangerous Star Wars weapon seen in The Mandalorian

(Image credit: Disney Plus)

The Darksaber first appeared in The Mandalorian season 1 finale, and the blade is back in season 2. For those Star Wars fans who have not yet watched the Clone Wars, the weapon's origins may be slightly mysterious, as Moff Gideon's katana-like weapon has a long history in the Star Wars universe. Indeed, the Darksaber has heavy ties to the fate of the Mandalorians and their home planet Mandalore, which explains why Bo-Katan wants it so badly.

So, what do you need to know about the Darksaber? You've come to the right place as we deep-dive into the lightsaber's origins, how it ties to The Mandalorian, as well as the animated shows The Clone Wars and Rebels.

History of The Darksaber

Pre Vizsla with the Darksaber in Star Wars: The Clone Wars

Pre Vizsla with the Darksaber in Star Wars: The Clone Wars (Image credit: Disney Plus)

The Darksaber is the only lightsaber of its kind in the entire Star Wars galaxy. The blade is a deep, almost impossible black, with a glowing white light around it. A strange, low hum emits from the Darksaber when it's ignited. 

The Darksaber is an incredibly important, ancient piece of Mandalorian history. It was created by the first Mandalorian Jedi, Tarre Vizsla, during the Old Republic's rule. For reference, events that happened during the Old Republic took place thousands of years before the Star Wars films – so yes, that ancient.

Tarre Vizsla eventually became the ruler of Mandalore – the  ruler of the planet is confusingly known as the Mand'alor – and brought the Darksaber back to the planet. It was collected by the Jedi and stored in the Jedi Temple upon Tarre Vizsla's death, but it was stolen back by members of Clan Vizsla as the Old Republic fell. Traditionally, whoever wields the Darksaber is considered the rightful ruler of Mandalore, which explains why the weapon changes hands so often throughout history.

That's why we'll need to do some back-tracking in order to figure out how Moff Gideon got his hands on this ancient Mandalorian weapon.

How did Moff Gideon get the Darksaber?

Sabine Wren with the Darksaber in Star Wars Rebels

Sabine Wren with the Darksaber in Star Wars Rebels (Image credit: Disney Plus)

The Darksaber belonged to many beings through the Old Republic period, to the events of Star Wars: The Clone Wars and Star Wars: Rebels, and beyond. 

During the Clone Wars, Pre Vizsla – a descendent of Tarre Vizsla and leader of the Mandalorian splinter group Death Watch – wielded the blade to rally his people against Duchess Satine Kryze. In an incredibly poor judgment call, Pre Vizsla teamed up with Darth Maul, who ultimately challenged him to ritualistic combat for the Darksaber and leadership of Death Watch. Maul won. 

When Darth Maul returns to his home planet of Dathomir, he's attacked by Darth Sidious and General Grievous, and uses the Darksaber in battle. Maul quite literally tosses the Darksaber aside after the fight, further proving the weapon was just a means to an end for the sith Lord. After this, the Darksaber ends up in the gnarled hands of the Nightsisters of Dathomir towards the end of the Clone Wars. 

A few years later, Sabine Wren found it in a Nighsister lair on Dathomir, and was trained by Jedi Kanan Jarrus and Ezra Bridger in how to use it. She led Mandalore in a fight against the Empire, who tried to eradicate what was left of the Mandalorians. After defeating the Empire, Sabine gave the Darksaber to Bo-Katan Kryze (Duchess Satine's sister), who became the rightful ruler of Mandalore. If you want some more details or clarification on these Clone Wars/Rebels events, check out our nifty little guide on which episodes to watch right here

Bo-Katan was the last known wielder of the Darksaber before Moff Gideon got his grubby hands on it – that's a decade of the weapon's history that we know nothing about. Well, we do know a little. Moff Gideon is an Imperial Bureau Security officer who has a unique obsession with Mandalorian culture. He was involved in the Purge of Mandalore, which greatly reduced the population of Mandalorians and forced them to go into hiding. 

Hopefully, we will find out more as The Mandalorian goes on. Bo-Katan will no doubt make another appearance down the road, and her path leads to Moff Gideon. Whether she will be able to reclaim the blade, though, is the big question. After all, she'll have some Dark Troopers to contend with...

Alyssa Mercante

Alyssa Mercante is an editor and features writer at GamesRadar based out of Brooklyn, NY. Prior to entering the industry, she got her Masters's degree in Modern and Contemporary Literature at Newcastle University with a dissertation focusing on contemporary indie games. She spends most of her time playing competitive shooters and in-depth RPGs and was recently on a PAX Panel about the best bars in video games. In her spare time Alyssa rescues cats, practices her Italian, and plays soccer.