I rewatched the three newer movies and noticed that whenever a Jedi was killed, or let go of their lightsaber, it immediately turned off. What was curious was that the lightsaber turns off right away, when a Jedi is killed, even before it leaves their hand (if it does fall out). I could understand if the button needs to be held for it to stay on, but when a Jedi is shot and is still holding the lightsaber why would it turn off?

  • You beat me to this question :( Commented Oct 10, 2011 at 0:02
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    A better question: What's the point of lightsabers when all you need are a thousand super mega droids, and a few dozen Death Stars? In a 'infinite universe', anything's possible! ...Other than putting the fate of the galaxy in a bunch of glorified swords. Commented Oct 10, 2011 at 5:14
  • @muntoo I was thinking, what if they connected lightsabres to the sides of those spinning wheel-like droids that are in Episode III. How deadly would that be!
    – Sydenam
    Commented Oct 10, 2011 at 6:32
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    @muntoo: lightsabers are for when you need precision and a measured response. Battle Droids are for when you need an army. The Death Star is for when you decide, "Nuke the site from orbit, it's the only way to be sure."
    – Jeff
    Commented Oct 10, 2011 at 13:12
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    @Jeff Nuking from orbit is always an option. Scratch that; THE option. :)
    – Jersey
    Commented Sep 4, 2013 at 14:31

5 Answers 5


Most lightsabers have a built-in deadman switch. It would just be irresponsible for a Jedi to construct such a dangerous weapon without one. Essentially, if the handle is not being held (has pressure on it) the weapon deactivates. This prevents a lightsaber from flying away from the disarmed Jedi and scything through his allies (or slashing the viewport of the space station, etc).

When a lightsaber is thrown, the Jedi uses the force to guide it and also keep the switch from closing, deactivating the blade.

Oddly, there's no mention of this in the EU, but it's presence can be clearly seen in the series, as you noted.

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    Upon death, their grip still loosens. There's probably a minimum pressure required.
    – Jeff
    Commented Oct 9, 2011 at 16:39
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    In some of the films, a jedi throws an active lightsaber.
    – Jay Bazuzi
    Commented Oct 9, 2011 at 20:41
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    I'm sure I read somewhere that there was a switch lock for throwing and so on - but can't remember the souce. Might even have been an illustrated guide
    – HorusKol
    Commented Oct 9, 2011 at 21:44
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    @muntoo: Rigor Mortis doesn't set in for hours after death.
    – Jeff
    Commented Oct 10, 2011 at 13:10
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    @Jared: The illusion in the cave is not Vader, but a representation of the evil potential within himself that Luke had to overcome. This is also the ONLY instance where a lightsaber has failed to exstinguish upon the holder's death - clearly showing us (though Luke didn't notice) that the threat it represented had NOT been defeated. I thought it was a brilliant bit of foreshadowing for the temptation in Cloud City and RotJ.
    – Jeff
    Commented Oct 11, 2011 at 20:16

I was fairly sure that lightsabers worked with/powered with the force? So when a jedi dies, they obviously aren't able to put force power into the saber. It explains why droids and the like can't use them, too. It also explains how they can be thrown (although I don't think they throw an activated saber in IV, V, or VI)

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    We-e-elll, Darth Vader throws his lightsabre in VI. And what about Han Solo or Grevious? They both use lightsabres, and they don't have any force training.
    – Sydenam
    Commented Oct 11, 2011 at 15:11
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    @Rob - yes that was how Obi Wan originally described it in ANH. I got all excited in the theatre when Han used it thinking ohh cool he is going to be a jedi too... alas no.
    – Chad
    Commented Oct 11, 2011 at 18:42
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    Could it not still be that way? Han just has a higher than normal midi-chlorian(sp?) count? He seems to be a pretty good pilot...
    – Rob
    Commented Oct 11, 2011 at 19:07
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    I think it is also implied that you need to be in tune with the Force in order to develop the ability to use a lightsaber without doing something dumb like slicing your own head off.
    – Ken Liu
    Commented Jul 14, 2012 at 2:25
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    While the Jedi can channel their force powers through the blade, making stronger strikes and allowing them to sometimes cut things easier than normal, especially hard metals or the like.. a lightsaber is not created by their force powers. Hand being able to activate Lukes blade on Hoth is a prime example. Luke also turned on his fathers saber in the original Star Wars before receiving any force training at all.It's also been answered in the role playing source books that many non jedi throughout the galaxy have carried and used lightsabers for defense. They're powered by a powerful energy cell Commented Nov 30, 2013 at 18:47

There might be a possible force-link between user and weapon/tool. The lightsaber crystal only shows to that specific Jedi, so, when a Jedi is ousted in combat, maybe that bond is broken.

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    What source do you have for this 'force-link'? Also, there's in-universe evidence of people using other combatant's lightsabers (ref: Episode 1, 2, 3, 4, 5) - clearly the weapon isn't tied to a single user.
    – Jeff
    Commented Oct 9, 2014 at 13:18

I think there is some kind of bond with the lightsaber crystal,Jedi,and force so when the Jedi dies the Jedi disappears from the bond so the force can't power the lightsaber and it shuts off or in a one of the movies where earth Vader battles obi won you can see a wire so maybe the wire bends a little and the lightsaber turns off.

  • This doesn't explain why the same thing happens to non-Force-users...
    – KutuluMike
    Commented Dec 21, 2015 at 4:26

The Expanded Universe has a few instances where the Jedi specifically locks the lightsaber into the on position and then proceeds to do something else.

  • 2
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    – Edlothiad
    Commented Mar 21, 2017 at 23:26

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