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To my knowledge, in all the movies, the good guys use green/blue lightsabers and the villains prefer red. This is reversed though for the blasters on the TIE fighter, Star Destroyer, and even the Death Star doomsday weapon, where they all fire green and Rebel/Republic ships red.

Is there an in-universe explanation for this?

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    When I was young, I felt this was highly significant. Eagerly awaiting answer. – luser droog Jan 10 '12 at 6:30
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    For the record, Mace Windu's was purple. – Kevin Jan 10 '12 at 14:13
  • Did you ask for an in-universe explanation because you already known an out of universe one? I'm actually quite interested in an out of universe one myself and wondering whether you know, already found a question that answers that or if I should go ask one myself. – Chris Jun 24 '14 at 13:25
  • @Chris don't have an out of universe explanation. You could probably edit this question to widen the scope a scoch – Nick T Jun 24 '14 at 15:53
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    In World War 2, the Nazi fired green tracers at the Americans and the Americans fired red tracers at the Nazis. i.e. Red good, green bad. – user50548 Aug 12 '15 at 18:06
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If I recall, the color of a blaster bolt (character-scale or starship scale) is determined by the quality of the gas used in it - higher quality gives you green, lower quality gives you red. The Rebellion didn't have access to the highest quality gas, and had to make do with the lower quality ammunition.

(An aside: Yes, gas. That's what they collected at Cloud City - Tibanna gas, essential for the creation of blaster ammunition)

With lightsabers, it's all decided by the color of your focusing crystal. Blue, green, and red are most common, but other colors aren't unknown. Synthetic red crystals are also common among the Sith, who prefer the speed of synthesizing to the quality of those you can discover naturally. Vader and Palpatine both used synthetic crystals in their lightsabers.

Interestingly, if you put enough time and effort into creating a synthetic crystal, it can end up any color - both Luke's lightsaber from ROTJ and Jaina's lightsaber (from the Young Jedi Knights book Lightsabers) are synthetic. Luke is described as spending months on his crystal in Ben's hut on Tatooine, and Jaina spends considerable time and effort on hers.

In the era of the Old Republic, the color of lightsaber a Knight used was a mark of his caste - Guardian, Consular, or Sentinel. This tradition was NOT carried over into the New Republic era, and may have fallen out of use by the time of the Clone Wars - it's never made explicit if such distinctions between Jedi were still made (other than Padawan/Knight/Master).

Edit: References:
Lightsaber color has been extensively referenced. Off of the top of my head, look at KOTOR (the original game and sequel, as well as The Old Republic RPG), I, Jedi, the Young Jedi Knights book Lightsabers, and the Jedi Academy Trilogy.

There's also references in the Wookipedia article for Blaster Gas that help explain the different colored bolts.

Edit the second:

All of this is 'Legends' or 'Infinities' now, and may be completely overturned by Episode VII, now that Disney owns Star Wars and has changed Star Wars canon rules. Episode VII may 'reveal' that lightsabers are powered by worms that feed on your midichlorians, and this answer may end up completely wrong as a result. As it stands, it is accurate to the best of my knowledge, using sources which are no longer considered 'trustworthy' with regard to future works.

  • Thorough answer, but can you provide some references? You're clearly going outside the canon of the films - but to what? – Reinstate Monica Jan 10 '12 at 14:05
  • @Wikis: Added some references – Jeff Jan 10 '12 at 14:39
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    Ooh, Force-sensitive worms. +1 – Omegacron Feb 26 '15 at 16:36
  • @Omegacron y'salamiri (or however they're spelled?) – CBredlow Feb 26 '15 at 18:21
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    @CBredlow those are Force-negative worms. ;P – Omegacron Feb 26 '15 at 18:30
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The colors of the lightsabers and blasters is a reflection of the crystal that was used in creating the device to focus the energy. The difference is colors between the Rebellion and the Empire could best be defined as reflecting the different manufacturing locations and supplies used in that construction. This is sometimes, though not usually, also a reflection of the personal choice of the device's manufacturer. The reference manual Jedi vs. Sith: The Complete Guide to the Force talks about this in relation to lightsabers specifically, but the same explanation is applied to blasters.

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Well, to improve with an in-current canon attempt at an answer... Tibana gas quality determine the color of blaster bolts with red being at the cheaper end and blue/green being higher quality ones. IE clone rifles use blue because the republic was willing to invest in better ammo (which the empire overturned for their cheaper rifles and units, stormtroopers) While the CIS used cheaper gas because they were a bunch of greedy old *****.

The same goes for turbolasers, and the Empire invested a lot into its navy so it'd make sense they'd use better gas (TIE-Fighter's only advantage is in their cannons...) and since the rebels didn't have as much funding (being rebels and all) they cut the costs where they could, cheaper gas being a very smart option when you opt for more capable starfighters and have to convert civilian ships into capital ships.

Lightsaber crystals, on the other hand, are only found naturally in green or blue (at first colorless but they gain color when tuned to the user), with other colors such as purple or white being exceedingly rare (white as purification process, purple unknown).

Jedis used green and blue due to those being the natural colors in the crystals since the Jedis respect the nature of the Force and choose not to try to alter it, while the Sith used a so-called bleeding process (making the crystal suffer until it bleeds) to taint them red and make them more powerful in the process. The Death Star uses 6 gigantic kyber crystals and 2 large clusters of crystals which are all natural, so they weren't individually attuned or tainted and are green as a result of energy passing through them.

TL;DR: Lightsabers are green/blue and red because of respect vs lust for power, while blasters are red or green/blue because of how much money's behind the gas that powers it. (Padme's blaster shot green because she was royalty and therefore able to afford expensive gas ammo, for another example.)

  • Some paragraphs and sources/examples from canon would go a long way here. – phantom42 Jul 11 '17 at 2:25
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The Galactic republic used the more expensive blue ammo because it had a special electrical charge. The electrical charged ammo was more effective on the CIS battle droids.

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    This seems like a nice answer but do you have any evidence you could edit in to back this up such as quotes? – TheLethalCarrot Jul 23 at 21:32

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