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You can tell from this video that Finn is actually pushing that button to activate the lightsaber

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It seems like there are different on-buttons or something because the toys say the big rectangular one near the middle is the on-button.

From this video:

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Is there more than one on-button? Or is this just a continuity error? Where is the official on-button, and

why the seeming inconsistency?

  • 4
    Considering your avatar, shouldn't you ALREADY know the answer, since you claimed it was "yours"? :) – DVK-on-Ahch-To Jan 3 '16 at 23:12
  • @DVK - His Saber had a different config – Valorum Jan 3 '16 at 23:18
  • Actually, I think the first time Finn uses the saber (after he gets it from Maz) he presses on the protrusions (fins) above the blade-length adjustor. – Clockwork-Muse Jan 4 '16 at 5:05
  • The answer to "why the inconsistency" is "because the 'activation matrix' nonsense is very bad design". If it looks like an "on" button and clicks like an "on" button, it better damn well be an "on" button. It's those little things on the side that should do things like adjust the length or brightness. – Martha Jan 4 '16 at 23:46
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    So probably not a canon answer, but if you had a sword with an on/off switch, wouldn't you want more than one button on there? I mean you might be skilled as hell, but the one time you grab it wrong and have to fiddle for the button - bam, you're dead. I'd want a couple of buttons. – Misha R Jan 25 '16 at 12:28

13 Answers 13

up vote 19 down vote accepted
+50

Straightforward answer: Yes, as Pablo Hidalgo of the Lucasfilm Story Group recently said here and here, it's a mistake and that the lightsaber is still supposed to activate with the plate in the middle.

Q. Why in the Force Awakens does Finn clearly press the blade adjustment button on Luke's lightsaber to turn it on? Is it Snoke?

‏@pablohidalgo - It's a mistake.

Via Twitter

and

Q. Will Anakin's lightsaber ignition button be corrected in future movies to fit how it was in the ot [Original Trilogy]?

‏@pablohidalgo - If you're asking if the same mistake made in TFA will happen again, I'd say I hope not.

Via Twitter (with grammar corrected)


One assumes the same applies to the TCW episode.

From the Star Wars: Visual Dictionary and Force Awakens: Visual Dictionary.

The "on button" is the big shiny thing on the handle.

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  • 4
    If you press the quick-recharge port expecting it to turn on, you're gonna have a bad time. – Valorum Jan 3 '16 at 22:59
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    Is it USB-C or microUSB? – DVK-on-Ahch-To Jan 3 '16 at 23:10
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    I know, but USB is the cool new thing.... – DVK-on-Ahch-To Jan 3 '16 at 23:24
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    @Gusdor - it's quite far from the battery, but very close to the Energy Modulation Circuits. Best guess, they serve a dual purpose in ensuring that the energy flow (to the beam) is steady and also that the charger doesn't overload the battery when charging. – Valorum Jan 4 '16 at 12:11
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    @Richard Heh. Yeah basically, except this being Star Wars and not Star Trek, I don't want to have to really think about it. I want that heirloom weapon found locked in a trunk for years to just work. – mattdm Jan 4 '16 at 13:36

Let's say it has both the activation button and the length adjust control as depicted in the dictionaries. Presumably the activation button would cause the blade to quickly jump up to the set blade length. However, if you left it on, but turned the length to 0, maybe holding the length adjust button down would cause it to extend in a slow, cool, way! That way, both the OP images could make sense.

  • 10
    Ah, hibernation mode. – Mr Lister Jan 4 '16 at 9:52
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    That would be a poor user interface if you could leave it on and turn the blade length down to zero. Imagine you get jumped by somebody, pull out your weapon, activate it, and...nothing happens. That's because you just turned it off! You left it on, remember? You desperately try to activate it again and you still get nothing, because the blade length is zero! Good luck with that. – Mohair Jan 4 '16 at 18:43
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    @Mohair And then we have the awkward scene where the villain rolls his eyes at you and waits for you to figure it out. – user11521 Jan 4 '16 at 19:00
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    @Mohair if you are having trouble with that, you should not be using a weapon that can kill you in one absentminded motion – Andrey Jul 26 '17 at 16:10

In episode 2 of the unfinished episodes of the Clone Wars, which I believe are canon, Anakin turns his lightsaber on by pushing the big red button in the front. This, added to the many ways you cited by which this lightsaber can be turned on, leads me to believe that there is in fact more than one way to turn it on.

  • If you have any quotes or pictures to back this up, that would be great. Otherwise, good answer. – CHEESE Feb 16 '16 at 1:44

It's like a TV remote - I can turn on the TV by pressing the red 'standby' button, or by pressing a channel number.

  • 1
    Er... no. Thats not how it works. – amflare Jul 26 '17 at 14:47
  • Just to make it clear to any reviewers. This is an answer to the question. – Edlothiad Jul 26 '17 at 15:31
  • I like this. My TV remote works like this too. You can press either button just like the lightsaber. +1 from me and welcome to the site! – Edlothiad Jul 26 '17 at 15:32

I would say it works like a dimmer switch. One switch just controls off and on while the other can control blade length and intensity while also controlling the on off capabilities. Redundancies built into the weapon to make it more useful. This also explains why Darth Vader comes out at different speeds. Sometimes he uses the blade length adjustment knob sometimes he uses the on off switch

  • 1
    This is reflected in Legends (if not canon). If you could find the source for that and include it, it would make your answer a lot better. – amflare Nov 17 '17 at 19:43

calm down. Lightsabers are actually activated by pressure, not a switch. The people who activated it before could have just pressed it on a different area. Besides this movie is forty years old it would make sense that they could've gotten it mixed up in production.

  • 1
    True; I forgot internal consistency was only invented in 1989. – jwodder Dec 1 '17 at 0:21
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    We already have an answer indicating that it was a mistake. It doesn't really seem necessary to back down to saying it might have been mixed up. Also, you provide no citation for the assertion that the other area is a valid location while several well cited answers assert the reverse. – Brythan Dec 1 '17 at 0:21

I think the answer is simple, you can turn the light saber on from two locations, the adjustment button and the activation matrix. You clearly see Fin start the lightsaber from the adjustment button and that movie is canon so that mean it can be started from there. You also see Luke start it from the activation matrix so you can start it from there too. It’s got 2 power buttons, simple.

  • Nah, just a goof. Even the director admitted it – Valorum Dec 25 '17 at 8:51

If you look closely their fingers lineup to both of the buttons so obviously they're turning it on and adjusting the blade at the same time by pressing both simultaneously

Jedis tend to make their own light sabers and can fiddle around with button configurations howsoever they wish. Ask anyone who has programmed a macro for playing a MOBA or MMORPG and they'll tell you the power of custom mapping.

  • 1
    Except this question is about why different people turn on the same exact lightsaber using different buttons. We're not talking about all the various lightsabers constructed by various Jedi; we're talking about one particular lightsaber, originally constructed by Anakin Skywalker, tried out by his wife Padmé, inherited and lost by their son Luke, recovered by Maz Kanata, and used by Finn and Rey... and it seems every one of those people use a different button to turn it on. – Martha Jan 24 '16 at 0:00
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    Perhaps I'm being unclear here- my point was that once the light saber ends up in a Jedi's hand, they can reprogram the trigger button howsoever they wish. – Broklynite Jan 24 '16 at 10:48
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    Are you telling me that in the few short seconds after Padmé picked up her husband's lightsaber, she reprogrammed the thing to use a different trigger button? What about Finn? When did he have a chance to fiddle with the saber, and how the heck did he learn how to do so? – Martha Jan 24 '16 at 18:34
  • I hadn't realized the timing was that close together- never watched the movies, not my kind of thing. – Broklynite Jan 24 '16 at 22:17
  • @Broklynite. Why do I get the feeling that last comment was a joke? – John Bell Jan 25 '16 at 11:57

I noticed that right away. The way Rey and Finn turn it on, seemed to me just a stupid mistake. Obviously the young actors grew up with silly cartoon versions and prequel of SW (where is not clear which button they switch, since it changes all the time), they do not know where the actual switch on button was in the original trilogy (where Luke actually turns on the lightsaber always in the same rectangular spot in the middle of the handle, and the replica has the exact same design), and apparently no one, either in pre-production, or on set of Ep.VII TFA, bothered to check for continuity purpose, not even the director! Lame...

Maybe it's that the lightsaber has been damaged or something throughout the years and somebody had to fix it up, messing with the on button, changing over the years how people turn on the lightsaber.

Anakin probably wired multiple activation buttons just in case he turns it off mid battle. Then he could use a button in a different location to make sure it stays on. There could be many different buttons on anyone's lightsaber.

  • Can you provide sources for your answer? – Edlothiad Jun 2 '17 at 15:40

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