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I have recently seen a fan-theory that in The Force Awakens,

Han Solo

was the one that activated Kylo Ren's lightsaber, with suicidal effect.

Is there a reliable (preferably canon) explanation of whether this fan-theory is true or false?

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Why in the world would he do that? And doesn't Ben/Kylo's words immediately afterwards pretty much disprove it? – Janus Bahs Jacquet Mar 16 at 17:56
@JanusBahsJacquet I heard that he would have done it to prevent Kylo from being the one responsible for his death, meaning that Kylo did not actually kill Solo, meaning he did not fully turn to the dark side. – Josh B. Mar 16 at 18:15
I'm at a loss why this is receiving close votes as "unclear". It seems very clear to me. – Valorum Mar 16 at 18:33
@JoshB. I think if Han was so sure that Kylo would try to kill him, he wouldn't have gone there to meet him to begin with. That seems like a more sensible plan to me than killing himself in front of his son in order to protect his son's emotional balance. Not to mention that, awesome as Han Solo is, he reeeeeally isn't the self-sacrifice type - and, even in that same movie, his behavior suggests he hasn't changed much in that regard. In terms of writing, it would be very much out of left field. – Misha Rosnach Mar 16 at 19:08
"Han activated the lightsaber first" just doesn't have the same ring to it. – John Sensebe Mar 16 at 20:34
up vote 131 down vote accepted

The film's official novelisation categorically disproves this theory

Then, as the light from outside was fully blocked by the flow of descending, accumulating dark energy, Ren ignited the lightsaber — and the fiery red beam lanced outward to pierce Han’s chest from front to back.

The junior novelisation contains a very slightly different view of the event.

Ben unbelted his lightsaber hilt and held it out. Han looked at the hilt and then at his son. Finally, he reached for it.
“Thank you,” Ben said. He ignited the lightsaber.
At first, Han didn’t feel anything except a piercing heat in his chest.

As does the film's script

Han actually smiles -- and reaches out for the dark weapon -- but with the light now gone, KYLO REN'S EYES FILL WITH DARKNESS, HE IGNITES THE LIGHTSABER -- THE FIERY BLADE SHOOTS OUT, RIGHT THROUGH HAN'S CHEST AND BACK!

as does The Force Awakens: Rey's Story

Kylo unholstered his lightsaber and slowly raised the hilt toward Han. He was close to his father. Rey saw the metal of the lightsaber flash in the dying sunlight. Han reached out to take the weapon.
But Kylo suddenly ignited the blade, and Han fell, lifeless, to the chasm below.

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Definitive. With a capital D. – Praxis Mar 16 at 20:16
Is "Ren" "Ben" in the second quote? – Nick T Mar 17 at 23:29
@NickT - Spoiler. Kylo Ren is Ben Solo. In the Junior novel, he's referred to as Ben throughout his conversation with Han. – Valorum Mar 17 at 23:35

As I recall, right before the fatality, Han was telling Kylo to come home, and offered to help, and that this help could be "anything". This was an appropriate offer, because Kylo had a lot of baggage that would need to be handled. Han's son took the available offer as an offer to help the son accomplish whatever the son decided he needed. Prior to the lethal extension, Han probably thought Kylo's responses were seeming rather promising for Han's wishes, which were to follow the orders of Kylos' mother: bring him home.

If Han was to fail in his mission to bring his son home that day, his fallback preference would probably have been to wait another day, and pursue Kylo again at a later time. Suiciding would be to giving up on that goal, which does not seem to be what Han was doing.

So, that fan-theory seems false, based just on my interpretation of the content of the movie.

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