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Kylo Ren's lightsaber is very confusing. It has a cross-guard, which was discussed in another question, but I don't think this was:

Why does Kylo Ren's lightsaber look different from a normal lightsaber? Kylo Ren's lightsaber looks like stuff is coming out of it. It looks like it's fire. Why?

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TFA Visual Dictionary addresses this on page 26 "Kylo Ren: The Dark Warrior":

  • The blade looks this way because it is unstable plasma blade Matrix

    This has to do with three facts also quoted on the same 2 pages:

    • Though Kylo's weapon evokes an ancient feel, its components are modern. Its crude appearance suggests construction by an inexperienced hand

    • The stressed crystal barely contains the power...
      (this second fact also is relevant to the much-discussed cross hilt thing, but that's off topic)

    • Most importantly, the lightsaber uses cracked kyber crystal, which is the main cause of the ragged, unstable blade appearance.

Image for proof:

enter image description here

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    Obviously a reflection of the unstable character that wields it. – SteveCav Dec 21 '15 at 5:30
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    @SteveCav: My thoughts exactly, and that works both in-universe (it's unstable in part because he's unstable) and out-of-universe (lightsaber as metaphor). – T.J. Crowder Dec 21 '15 at 8:38
  • I never considered "unstable" before reading this thread. To me, the blade looked awe-/fear-inspiring. I'd assumed the design was intentional. Oh well. – Raphael Jan 11 '16 at 18:21
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    This is pure curiosity, but why did @Wad Cheber award you a bounty of 500 rep for this answer? – RedCaio Jan 28 '16 at 4:00
  • @RedCaio Cuz it was a good answer.... – bleh Apr 21 '16 at 22:31
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Kylo Ren's inexperience in lightsaber construction led to an unusual looking lightsaber.

From The Force Awakens Visual Dictionary:

enter image description here

In The Force Awakens we learn that Kylo Ren

betrayed Luke before his training was complete.

That is why his lightsaber, blades and hilt, seem very rough and makeshift. His blades appear unstable and even look as if they were on fire whereas most saber blades are smoother. His hilt looks jagged and makeshift while most other hilts are smooth and shiny.

In the question Why did Luke use a synthetic crystal in his lightsaber and what were the implications of this choice? we learn that even Luke's lightsaber ended up green because he didn't have access to a non-synthetic crystal.

It makes sense that leaving before completing your training would limit your access to certain materials you'd need to build a lightsaber. It would seem Kylo Ren may not have learned all there was to learn from Luke about making a lightsaber before he left.

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    When it come to the hilt having a rough appearance I'd imagine that that Kylo's frequent rage quitting/anger management issues also have something to do with it – CJK Dec 21 '15 at 16:40
  • Also remember that Luke used to have to maintain the equipment around the farm on Tatooine, so there were some skills he probably learned along the way. – Jane S Jan 29 '16 at 23:41
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Since the question doesn't specify in-universe, I'd like to add the out-of-universe answer to supplement the comprehensive in-universe answers so far.

Out of universe, the answer is that J.J. Abrams took the advice of Jony Ive, chief design officer at Apple, that a "more primitive"-looking lightsaber, which lacked precision, would look "more ominous". As The New Yorker reported in February of 2015,

...Ive once sat next to J. J. Abrams at a boozy dinner party in New York, and made what Abrams recalled as "very specific" suggestions about the design of lightsabres [sic]. Abrams told me that "Star Wars: The Force Awakens" would reflect those thoughts, but he wouldn’t say how. After the release of the film’s first trailer—which featured a fiery new lightsabre [sic], with a cross guard, and a resemblance to a burning crucifix—I asked Ive about his contribution. "It was just a conversation," he said, then explained that, although he’d said nothing about cross guards, he had made a case for unevenness: "I thought it would be interesting if it were less precise, and just a little bit more spitty." A redesigned weapon could be "more analog and more primitive, and I think, in that way, somehow more ominous."

I think we can see from the film that Kylo Ren's lightsaber is indeed "more spitty" than any other we've seen, as noted in the question's mention of "stuff coming out of it". It certainly does suit the character of its reckless owner very well, and in the history of the film's production, credit for that concept seems to go to Jony Ive.

  • Combined with his outbursts where he smashes stuff up hulk style, I think you're right. They intentionally wanted him to look "out of control". – fredsbend Jan 18 '16 at 2:56
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I think Luke recognized Ben Solo's genuine interest in his grandfather and his force achievements. And foresaw the path it would ultimately take him.

So before introducing Ben to the lightsaber (Anakin's lightsaber) he stopped Ben's training and hid Anakin's lightsaber well away from Ben.

But as he is a determined young Force user seeking completion of training...he seeks out whatever parts and pieces necessary to make his own....even if the only power crystal available was a cracked synthetic crystal scavenged from somewhere...

This would explain why he loses his marbles and proclaims "That belongs to me!" When he first sees Anakin's lightsaber. Like a kid who always wanted it but wasn't allowed to have it. Obviously he's seen it before and truly believes he has a right to it.

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    Isn't it Luke's lightsaber, not Anakin's? Luke does get a lightsaber on Ep 4, but he loses it on Cloud City. – Stephen Eilert Jan 14 '16 at 1:03
  • @StephenEilert definitely Anakin's, as handed down to Luke Skywalker by Obi-Wan in Ep 4 - blue blade, black ridges. You can see the difference between the two in this image, Anakin's hand-me-down at the top, Luke's self-built new one at the bottom : childofthe1980s.com/wordpress/wp-content/uploads/2010/03/… – Adrian Jan 14 '16 at 15:20
  • @Adrian That seems like the wrong link? – Joe Jan 14 '16 at 16:20
  • @Joe Hahaha oops : i.ytimg.com/vi/6exkXHnpE6Y/maxresdefault.jpg : they're "exploded" models but you can see them clearly. – Adrian Jan 19 '16 at 12:42
  • Is there any indication Luke was even aware that Aniken's lightsaber had been retrieved from the depths of Bespin, where he lost it (along with his hand) at the end of ESB? He wouldn't need to 'hide' something that he himself didn't know was findable. – LindaJeanne Jan 26 '16 at 13:43
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It could be that his lightsabers blade reflects his internal conflict, his blade looks cracked and serrated, and because the crystals inside of the lightsaber and the beam itself are a reflection of ones connection with the force, it may be that when he has chosen either the dark side or the light side, that his blade will become smooth and true, but for now he is stuck with a unique awesome one!

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    Do you have any canon evidence to back this up? – kjw Dec 22 '15 at 23:04

protected by alexwlchan Dec 27 '15 at 16:34

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