In the climax of The Force Awakens, Kylo Ren is sees a weapon

(Luke's old lightsaber)

lying a few feet away in the snow. He reaches out to telekinetically pull it to him, as we've seen Force users do plenty of times in the past. This time, the weapon merely wriggles a bit, before

flying off towards Rey instead.

Kylo has shown to be rather proficient in using the Force up to that point. Why would he suddenly be unable to do something so simple?

Do lightsabers retain some kind of loyalty, or is there any indication that its history with Luke would have messed with Kylo?

  • 22
    Is there a reason to assume it is NOT simply two people trying to Force-move same thing at the same time and one winning? Dec 18, 2015 at 18:41
  • 2
    @DVK both are applying the pull in the same direction. Basic physics means the thing should have started moving.
    – user1027
    Dec 18, 2015 at 18:42
  • 2
    till lightsabers follow wandlore?
    – Himarm
    Dec 18, 2015 at 18:43
  • 6
    @Keen we don't know the underlying physics of the force. There is nothing to imply that it's being "pushed" or "pulled" in the same direction. That is simply our modern day understanding of thermodynamics, but this may not at all apply.
    – Escoce
    Dec 18, 2015 at 18:48
  • 2
    Perhaps Rey was initially trying to stop the lightsaber from going to Kylo Ren, but when he finally made it move she calls it to her instead?
    – David Cox
    Dec 20, 2015 at 17:34

3 Answers 3


Under normal circumstances, he would have been able to use the Force to telekenetically take the lightsaber. The problem was that someone else was also trying to do the exact same thing he was. He was fighting for control over the saber with another Force user, and he lost.

As you mention in your last sentence, there's a hint running throughout the movie that the lightsaber "belongs" to someone specific:

Namely, it calls out to Rey from it's chest in the cantina.

However, I don't think we've seen any indication before this that these weapons have any particular "knowledge" or "loyalty" to their owners; we've seen Force users steal them from each other and use them, and even the one in question has had multiple owners.

More that likely, it's just an indication that Kylo's control over the Force isn't as good as he thinks. The lightsaber's tentative movement is very reminiscent of how one behaves in Empire Strikes Back when Luke is trying to pull his from the snow.

Throughout the movie, Kylo shows hints that he's not very polished in his use of the Force: even his lightsaber is very rough. We also see him lose his temper a lot.

By contrast,


is starting to accept who they are, and genuinely believes they deserve to have the lightsaber. Even if the object itself has no loyalty to an owner, the intentions of the people involved have a real effect on their use of the Force.

This was simply a case of Kylo having a battle of wills over the lightsaber with someone who was "more deserving" of it, and losing.

  • 1
    "Battle of wills" makes the most sense, but the only problem I had with it (which is something I left out of my initial question since it seemed kind of tangential) is that both were pulling from the same side, so it isn't like they were cancelling out each other. Maybe the Force works differently, but it clashes with real world physics and threw me a bit.
    – Etheur
    Dec 18, 2015 at 19:34
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    The lightsaber's tentative movement is very reminiscent of how one behaves in Empire Strikes Back when Luke is trying to pull his from the snow. This exact lightsaber, no less. Dec 18, 2015 at 20:04
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    @Etheur that objection assumes that Force-pulling works like physical pulling. That's a bad assumption to make, IMO. Force powers are a matter of willpower; only after the battle of wills was won did the Force move the object at all.
    – KutuluMike
    Dec 18, 2015 at 20:58
  • @MikeEdenfield I'm fine with the Force working differently than real-world (that's what I hinted at at the end of my comment); probably even makes more sense to work like this. It's just that I hadn't seen anything in the previous films to say the Force worked counter to real-world physics, so seeing this here led me to some initial confusion.
    – Etheur
    Dec 18, 2015 at 21:29
  • @etheur you could compare it with the scene just a few moments before on a specific bridge....where one tries to take a savber and the other doesn't want to let go. IT didn't move until one let go did it? (I thought of it the same way....as soon as overpowered the lightsaber flew to where it should be)
    – Thomas
    Dec 18, 2015 at 23:14

The novelization indicates that it was an issue of greater ability with the Force. Ren was able to, and the lightsaber would have gone to him, had Rey not had a stronger Force Pull.

From the novelization:

Switching off his own weapon, Ren extended an arm toward the device lying in the snow. It twitched and then began to vibrate as the Force called to it. Stretching out his hand farther, straining, Ren beckoned powerfully— and the lightsaber rose, to come bulleting toward his outstretched fingers.

And past them.

Taken aback, he whirled— to see the weapon land in the hand of a girl standing by a tree. Rey appeared equally shocked that her reach for the device had exceeded his. She gazed down at the weapon now resting in her grip.

  • 1
    does the novelization really call him "Ren" as if that's his last name? That's annoying. That's almost as bad as people calling Vader "Darth"...
    – KutuluMike
    Dec 21, 2015 at 15:52
  • 1
    @MikeEdenfield In the novelization, the heroes are referred to by their first names. The villains are referred to by their last names: Hux, Phasma, Ren, and Snoke.
    – phantom42
    Dec 21, 2015 at 15:56
  • 1
    That makes sense but Ren isn't his last name, it's his title, right? Or did he actually change his name to Kylo Ren?
    – KutuluMike
    Dec 21, 2015 at 18:26
  • 1
    @MikeEdenfield just a title according to Abrams.
    – phantom42
    Dec 21, 2015 at 18:34
  • @MikeEdenfield "For Mandalore!"
    – brian_o
    Jan 4, 2016 at 21:26

I watched the movie and my explanation was/is:

Kylo was taken by surprise. When the weapon was short before his hand, he thought that he didn't have to "pull" any more, to get it and kind of stopped. He didn't notice Rey. She still "pulled".

I came to this explanation because I assumed that Kylo would have won if he noticed her. The force is strong in Rey. But she wasn't experienced in moving things by using the force at all.

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