The classic Star Wars Legends - originally known as the Expanded Universe - handled Luke's lost lightsaber far better than the new Disney canon. When Disney purchased Lucasfilm back in 2012, they made the decision to designate almost all of the old Expanded Universe - novels, tie-in comics, and so on - as officially non-canon. It freed the House of Mouse up to essentially relaunch the entire franchise, weaving a new continuity that they hoped would be better, simpler, and easier to follow than the old one.
Wile the stories have been abandoned, they're not dead, and Lucasfilm has raided a number of Legends for ideas they felt worked. A Han Solo prequel, revealing just how the smuggler first met up with Chewbacca? The secret history of the Death Star, and how the plans were first stolen from the Empire? Grand Admiral Thrawn? Darth Maul vs Obi-Wan part 2? Or a future Jedi Order, betrayed when one of their own - a Solo, no less - falls to the Dark Side? All these ideas were originally part of the old Expanded Universe in some form.
And some of the smaller elements have also been lifted from the old canon, as well. Take the question of just what happened to the lightsaber Luke left behind during that fateful encounter with Darth Vader on Bespin in The Empire Strikes Back. Back in 1991, Timothy Zahn pretty much launched the old Expanded Universe with The Thrawn Trilogy. These books revealed that Luke's lightsaber - and, indeed, the severed hand that clasped it - had plummeted into a chasm, where Imperial search-teams had recovered it. The Emperor considered these to be his trophies, and he had them stored in a treasure house on Mount Tantiss. They were recovered years later; genetic samples from the hand allowed an insane Jedi Master to create a clone of Luke (hilariously, the clone was called Luuke). Luke was forced to duel the clone, who was armed with his old lightsaber. When Luke triumphed, he handed the blade to Mara Jade, the woman who ultimately became his wife.
It's still a little clunky, but shines compared to the Skywalker lightsaber in the Disney canon. It's been repeatedly rumored that Lucasfilm initially toyed with the idea of having Star Wars: The Force Awakens open with Luke's lightsaber (and hand) drifting through space. They'd then get caught in the gravity well of the planet Jakku, where the hand burned up in the atmosphere. The last thing we'd see would be an alien hand (possibly Maz Kanata?) picking it up. The very fact Lucasfilm toyed with this idea is staggering; for one thing, Cloud City is in the atmosphere of a gas giant, so just how did Lucasfilm envision Luke's lightsaber getting into space? Fortunately, that's not what happened - but what they did was just as disappointing.
In Star Wars: The Force Awakens, we learn that Maz Kanata has mysteriously taken possession of Luke's lightsaber. Lucasfilm still hasn't even explained how it survived the duel at Bespin, who found it, how the Skywalker lightsaber found its way to Maz. Even the official tie-in novels and comics have so far ignored the story. Maz just somehow had it, and then handed it over to Rey because the young woman been able to sense it through the Force. When asked where she even got, she simply replies "a good question, for another time." Considering that very little time passes over the course of The Force Awakens and Star Wars: The Last Jedi, so at best Rey owned that lightsaber for just a couple of weeks. It was then torn apart in a Force-struggle between Rey and Kylo Ren.
After the unexplained and super convenient way the saber enters the story in J.J. Abrams' Star Wars: The Force Awakens, the Skywalker lightsaber was dismissed as spectacularly as possible by Rian Johnson. Frankly, it's questionable whether it was even worth all that setup in the first place, unless its fragments still hold some significance to the story of Episode IX.
It's strange how the new Disney canon copies so many ideas from the old Expanded Universe in their Star Wars movies. But in this case, the simple fact is that the Legends used that lost lightsaber far better.
- Star Wars 9 / Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker (2019) release date: Dec 20, 2019