When Star Wars debuted in 1977, lightsabers were an instant hit. George Lucas didn’t create the idea of a “laser sword” but he sure made it popular as soon every kid in America wanted one. It’s grown over the decades as every Star Wars movie provides more lightsabers with some unique touches. From Darth Maul’s double-bladed son to Kylo Ren’s unique “crossguard” look, the lightsaber is as integral to the mythos as any of the characters. That’s especially true in video games that use them a lot.
However, when one looks closely, there’s a lot about lightsabers that doesn’t hold up. Some of it is how they defy the laws of science by being far too light and nowhere near as hot as they should be. They also can’t seem to make up their minds if they are pure “laser” or something else. Here are 20 things that just make no sense about lightsabers to remind you how Star Wars is as much fantasy as science fiction.
19 Dual Sabers
The dual-bladed lightsaber is an awesome visual as proven by Darth Maul. There are even some Jedi who wield two lightsabers at once such as Ahsoka Tano. While it’s cool to see, the reality is that this would be very difficult. Wielding two regular swords at once is hard as blades are meant to be used by both hands.
Now imagine those blades being ultra-hot lasers capable of cutting through skin. By rights, wielding both would mean it’s easy to burn yourself if not cut off a limb. The double-bladed ones are just as difficult to handle so while it’s cool to see, it’s not believable to use.
18 Customized Handling
This is something that comes up more from actual sword-users. In Star Wars, the handles for a lightsaber are always round and smooth. They even have special customized handles for certain Jedi. Duelists complain that’s a terrible design as making it perfectly round makes it harder to maintain a grip. Actual swords are more squared in the handle as well as notches put in for better handling. It would be all too easy for a lightsaber to slip with this design.
17 No Hand Protection
Real duelists agree that it’s always annoying to watch people in movies use swords with no hand protection. Gloves and such do help get a better grip on the hilt to improve control. Yet in Star Wars, Jedi use lightsabers bare-handed with no problem. That’s even crazier given a lightsaber should be giving out some major heat which would make the palm sweaty and grip harder to hold. Jedi being bare-handed is one thing about Star Wars that duelists just hate.
16 Why Doesn’t Everyone Have One?
The Star Wars universe has tried to explain why lightsabers are only for Jedi and Sith. They were actually outlawed during the Empire which makes sense. Yet given how good weapons they can be, one would think numerous crime organizations or even Republic troops would be using them as well. It’s not like only a Jedi can use them (as Finn proved) as one would expect bounty hunters alone to be utilizing them. It just seems odd that lightsabers aren’t a lot more common in this galaxy.
15 Unlimited Power Use
A battery has a limited shelf life. Even the longer lasting ones can only go a few years. Yet in Star Wars, a lightsaber seems to have a limitless power use length. In The Force Awakens, Maz shows off the lightsaber Luke lost in Empire Strikes Back. Despite not having been used in 35 years, it fires up with no problem and is easily used for some time afterward. There’s even indications of Jedi who can use the same lightsaber for a century without changing the battery. It’s ridiculous how long a lightsaber’s battery can last.
14 They’re Not Versatile
Lightsabers are good in straight-up battles under the hands of a trained user. However, they’re really not that versatile in many respects. They suck as stealth weapons due to the noise and the light. They’re useless in a huge battle as they can deflect blaster bolts but not cannon blasts. Also, if the opponent has some sort of force field that can block a saber’s power, it can overwhelm the saber user and puts them at a disadvantage. As great as they can be, a lightsaber is not the be-all and end-all weapon in a fight.
13 Power Generation
The power generation of a lightsaber is something scientists have long debated. It looks good for a device that can slice through solid doors. Yet to do that would require far more power than something so small can generate. Some moves seen in the films would require 28 kilowatt hours of use. That’s far more power than something so small could generate yet the movies see it as something commonplace.
12 Small Weight
A lightsaber’s power is incredible. It can slice through almost everything and it’s been shown it can cut through solid steel doors with little effort. However, at the end of the day, the lightsaber is basically a battery that pushes out some insane power. To generate that requires a battery of such size that a lightsaber would have to weigh about 200 pounds. Yet they’re light enough to toss around and hold at the hip when the Jedi should be chafing under their weight.
11 Clashing Sabers
George Lucas always wanted the lightsabers to be basically old styled swords made of lasers. That’s led to the epic lightsaber duels that have become the standard for the franchise. It’s a glorious visual that’s popped up numerous times in the saga. Yet if we accept that lightsabers are just beams of light, then the sabers should be passing through each other, not clashing together like regular blades. Light has no mass so this famous sight of the saga should be impossible.
10 No Heat for User
Much is made of how hot a lightsaber is. It can instantly cauterize wounds, slice through solid metal, and much more. Which is why it’s so baffling that the users don’t seem at all affected by the heat they put out. The heat should be roughly 1900 Kelvin or 2960 degrees Fahrenheit. That’s a heat so massive that it would dehydrate someone in seconds and give them massive burns but the lightsaber user doesn’t so much as sweat being near this heat source.
9 The Glow
This is another issue that plays into the technical side of things. They keep being referred to as “Laser swords” yet that doesn’t make much sense. A lightsaber blade has a whitish core surrounded by a corona of colored light. But while the diffraction that causes this soft glow does occur in lasers, it would not be visibly noticeable this close to the beam's source. There’s also how the addition of a certain crystal can change the color of a lightsaber which makes the glow more confusing. It’s a great visual but it doesn’t hold true to science.
8 Not Shooting Up Into the Sky
This is another bit that mars the “lightsabers are pure light’ theory. When ignited, a lightsaber extends to a length of roughly four feet and then just stops. How it cuts off at just that length is puzzling enough. But if they were true beams of light, they would keep on extending for hundreds (or, given their power, thousands) of feet. The only way to restrict them would be a cap and that wouldn’t make them lightsabers. It would be like dueling with flashlights.
The actual lightsaber handles are a mix of chrome and plastic. In the movies, the explanation is that they're specially crafted metal designed to hold in the powerful beams. The issue is that basic science tells us metal is a massive conductor for heat. It doesn’t matter how “special” it is, having a metal holder for a powerful laser beam should increase the heat of the lightsaber tenfold and make it nearly impossible to hold let alone use.
7 They Should be Louder
Getting through all the science, it would appear lightsabers are more like plasma. That would explain their solid shapes, ability to cut through things, and more. In the movies, they let out a low hum and even when clashing with objects, just a soft banging sound. In reality, these beams should be booming out loudly whenever they hit something solid. A lightsaber duel should sound like crashing thunder with the blades slamming into each other. Muting the sound works on film but not in reality.
6 Kids Being Allowed to Use Them
You really have to wonder about the Jedi here. A lightsaber is a deadly weapon as evidenced numerous times in the films. A regular duelist requires a long time practicing with plastic swords before moving to the real thing. Yet in Episode II, we see little kids, none older than ten, wielding actual lightsabers in practice. They barely seem to know what they’re doing. You can’t give a kid that age a plastic straw without risking them sticking themselves with it so giving them a lightsaber is just insane.
5 No Accidental Cutting
There’s a regular line from professional fencers in that it’s inevitable you get cut by a blade. You would be nicked in practice just from a simple saber. It’s even worse for larger swords as getting cut by accident is just par for the course. Yet somehow, no one ever suffers an accidental cut from a lightsaber. You never see a Jedi with a couple of missing fingers and the fact Masters and Padawans duel for practice with no issue is astounding. It’s just not possible that lightsaber users buck the odds and never cut themselves once with the blades.
4 The Switches
In the Star Wars universe, lightsabers seem easy to handle. Just hit a switch and it ignites. However, it’s been shown that when it drops from the hand, the blade goes off. Which would mean the user has to be holding the “on” switch constantly in a fight. This would make it much harder to use and given how Jedi have been seen “spinning” their sabers around, it doesn’t work either. It’s a bit annoying how sabers just seem to turn on and off with little reason.
3 Darth Maul’s Working When Cut in Half
One of the many reasons Darth Maul stood out for fans was using a double-bladed lightsaber. It was an awesome visual and while the double-bladed has popped up several times since, few looked as cool using it as Maul. Yet there is a confusing moment when, during his duel with Obi-Wan, Maul has his lightsaber sliced in half. Somehow, one end is still working and he uses it for the duel. At best, it should be defunct and at worse, set off an explosion to blow Maul apart.
2 Easy Holstering
This is another point where the movie ignores just how hot a lightsaber would be. The heat it generates would be over 2000 degrees Fahrenheit and putting it into a metal holder just makes it worse. Lightsabers are hung at the belt and can easily be yanked out to be ignited. You never hear Jedi complaining about the heat they generate, let alone the burns when it hit their legs. Even the most heat resistant material wouldn’t be enough to keep the lightsabers from being too hot to have on a belt.
1 Vader Never Has Fried Circuits
Darth Vader’s use of a lightsaber is legendary. The best scene in Rogue One is Vader cutting through a hall of Rebels with ease. However, given that Vader is in what amounts to a full-body life support system, having a source of intense heat near it may not be the smartest move. The entire armor is clearly delicate in its systems, and it suffered when Vader was hit by the Emperor’s lightning. Constantly using a massive source of heat should be affecting Vader’s systems much more.