In the original Star Wars trilogy, it is well established that the good guy spacecraft (blockade runner, Falcon, X/Y/A/B-Wings, etc) fire red blasters, while the bad guys favour green (Star Destroyers, TIEs, Death Star). However, in the prequel trilogy this association was flipped, with the good guys shooting green (Naboo starfighters, Republic gunships & other craft) and the bad guys red (droidekas, Vulture-class starfighters, Trade Federation stuff).

In-universe, the explanation I've seen given is a difference in quality of the Tibanna gas used to produce the blasters, but what I am looking for is an out-of-universe answer as to why the colours were flipped.

None of the behind-the-scenes material I've seen or read (and I've seen and read a lot of it) has ever seemed to mention the colour change at all. Was it simply an oversight on the part of George Lucas and the visual effects teams, or does someone know of a reason why it was explicitly changed?

Note that this question is related to the colour of spacecraft blasters, not the colour of lightsaber beams or hand-held/ground-based weapon blaster bolts.

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    possible duplicate: scifi.stackexchange.com/questions/8796/…
    – NKCampbell
    Commented Oct 25, 2017 at 14:33
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    tl;dr ^ green = highly refined tibana, red = cheap knockoff that only a splinter group would use. In both cases, the Republic and the Empire are the ones that have access to the factories and refineries needed to generate high grade blaster gas
    – NKCampbell
    Commented Oct 25, 2017 at 14:34
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    @NKCampbell That other question is asking why lightsaber colours are reversed compared to other weapons. Not quite the same thing I was asking. Commented Oct 25, 2017 at 14:35
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    but - the out of universe answer is the same as the in-universe answer. As amflare answered - it's very clear the Republic becomes the Empire (it's pretty much the underlying story of the prequels) - it entirely makes sense. It's like asking "trooper armour is white in the prequels so white = good. Why does that flip in episode 4-6?" - the prequels clearly show the Republic as being the precursor to the Empire. Armour, capital ships, etc....so of course they will use a similar visual cue there as well
    – NKCampbell
    Commented Oct 25, 2017 at 14:41
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    Seems likely that the answer is "the Cold War ended". When people stopped knowing the color of Russian and American tracer rounds, the green-is-bad red-is-good binary didn't make sense any more. Which probably also explains why Clone troopers shoot blue. Commented Oct 25, 2017 at 15:24

1 Answer 1


If you stop thinking about it as good guys/bad guys, it'll make more sense.

In Episodes I, II, and III, The Republic has green lasered weapons and in Episodes IV, V, and VI The Empire has green lasered weapons.

Remember that one of these institutions came from the other and by extension acquired its entire existing military complex. Not to mentioned all the ships that already existed with green lasers in them.

So basically Lucas was using the green lasers to show connection and foreshadowing between the Republic and Empire. And the red lasers are simply to provide contrast.

The out-of-universe reason for those colors specifically is covered pretty well by this answer.

US and NATO (1st world nations) tracer rounds are standardized as red in color, whereas the second world countries associated with the USSR used green (in particular, Communist China used green pretty exclusively according to the sources I've found). This means that Americans who fought in Vietnam or Korea would associate green rounds with the enemy and red rounds with friendlies. There are exceptions to this rule but it generally held. This is consistent with the blaster rounds in star wars.

  • Considering the user only wanted an out-of-universe answer can I suggest you edit your post to make your focus that, instead of just one line at the end.
    – Edlothiad
    Commented Oct 25, 2017 at 14:31
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    That context is important to understanding the out-of-universe choices Lucas made.
    – amflare
    Commented Oct 25, 2017 at 14:35
  • That out-of-universe explanation would result in the colours used in the original trilogy, but doesn't explain the flipping around for the prequels (where green = good). Commented Oct 25, 2017 at 14:37
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    Green doesn't equal good. Green equals Republic who later becomes Empire and keeps using the same laser color. I'm unsure how this is still confusing
    – amflare
    Commented Oct 25, 2017 at 14:38
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    as amflare stated - stop thinking of green = good and think of the organization using it. Ultimately, the Republic is the Empire - just under new management
    – NKCampbell
    Commented Oct 25, 2017 at 14:38

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