How Star Wars Should Have Ended

By Shamus Posted Saturday Jan 17, 2009

Filed under: Movies 34 comments

Yes, this has made the rounds and then some. How It Should Have Ended is a fairly famous series, although somehow this one slipped by me until recently.

Link (YouTube)

Amazingly, this really does seem to be how it should have ended, yet it never occurred to me.


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34 thoughts on “How Star Wars Should Have Ended

  1. Casper says:

    In truth, we don’t know if the superlaser even work on gas giants. You might get an insanely overpowered fireball.

  2. Eric says:

    I don’t think the Death Star could have blown up a gas giant technically. And it definitely couldn’t have fired twice in that short a time span – although that would be moot as blowing up the planet they were orbiting would have likely caused some other issues.

    That geek response aside, yeah, that would have been funny as hell. Or if they had just jumped to the other side and blown it up instead of slinging around the planet.

  3. Tim G. says:

    We also don’t know the cycling time for the main weapon on the death star V1.0. It could easily have been over 30 minutes, and therefore taken longer to blow up Yavin first vs. simply moving around it.

    Or it could be that the death star super laser isn’t infinitely powerful and it takes a lot more energy to blow up a gas giant 300x more massive than a close to earth size rocky planet.

    Plus the death star was still in trial runs after completion. Maybe they just wanted to keep things simple.

  4. Aergoth says:

    Not if it creates an insanely overpowered fireball. That being said. If Yavin was composed of an inert gas… we” then you’re all a little screwed. How does one move a death star anyways?

  5. Kel'Thuzad says:

    I once owned a star wars book that described all the starships, and it said that the Death Star took…

    It was either an hour or a day. Can’t remember exactly.

    EDIT: Exactly twenty-four(24) hours, and the second Death Star could fire once every three(3) minutes.

    Look at the paragraph right before history.

  6. Yamael says:

    If Yavin was just gas, could the superlaser have been fired “through” the planet to reach the moon on the other side and destroy it?

  7. Sesoron says:

    I see I can trust my fellow Twenty Sided readers to preempt me with the proper geek responses.

    But I would raise the same question as Yamael there. A possible hand-wave to that would be that maybe the planet would refract the superlaser enough that recalculating the shot would take longer than the time it would take to get a clear shot. Or maybe the red gas of the planet would absorb too much of the green superlaser’s energy, preventing it from destroying the moon.

    Or maybe Tarkin was just an arrogant jerk who wanted the rebels to fear for their lives a little bit before stomping their collective faces. He obviously didn’t think they could destroy his battle station in the 10 minutes it took him to line up the shot. And it was only 10 minutes, after all.

    Edit: Also regarding Leia’s decision to hand-deliver the plans instead of transmitting them, there are potential hand-waves. Obviously, the complete technical specs of the Death Star is going to amount to a very large file. It could be that because the Rebels didn’t have access to the Holonet, they couldn’t manage enough bandwidth to transmit it.

  8. Shamus says:

    They should have just put the plans on bittorrent, and then everyone would have a copy.

    NOW recover the plans, Imperial Scum!

  9. SteveDJ says:

    Clearly the Empire forgot to add DRM to those plans, else they would have been on bittorrent a couple days before Princess Leia got hold of them. :)

  10. Binks says:

    The problem with this ending was that the DS1 could only destroy a planet once per day, so after taking out Yavin they would have to wait somewhere in the realm of 12-24 hours before firing again. Of course destroying the moons center of gravity would probably cause enough tidal upheaval, and possibly (depending on where Yavin IV was in its orbit, and its speed relative to the star that Yavin was orbiting) made Yavin IV either uninhabitable, and that would probably work just as well (assuming the Death Star could destroy a Gas Giant, as others have brought up here).

    What they really should have done is simply brought the Death Star out of hyperspace on the same side of Yavin as Yavin IV. It’s not like the Empire doesn’t have the resources at its disposal to predict where a well charted moon will be in its stable orbit at a certain time…

  11. Daimbert says:


    Unless I’m misremembering, in ANH it was stated that the Imperials figured out that Leia had the plans on her ship by tracing a transmission of them to it, and also were monitoring from transmissions from the ship as they attacked. Transmitting them, then, would seem to be no more than a really good way to reveal where the base actually was (not that it mattered in the end, though).

    And Binks,

    You can’t hyperspace through gravity wells (this is why Interdictors work, and hyperspacing and having a planet bring you out of hyperspace is one of Thrawn’s great tricks in some of the books). If the direct and manageable course to the Yavin system ended up on the wrong side of Yavin IV, they couldn’t just keep going through the system while in hyperspace. They would have had to overshoot the system completely and come back the other way … which, we can presume, would take much longer than simply orbiting the planet.

  12. Derek K. says:

    Also, the reason Han Solo said “Made the Kessel Run in 12 parsecs” is because the measure of a pilot’s skill is how close they can run to planets and gravity wells, which is measured by net distance travelled. So 12 parsecs indicates how skillfully he can navigate, with the least amount of deviation. It’s mentioned in the new animated series.

    Lucas is a *badass* at retroactive rationalization. And we all help him out. ;)

  13. Anaphyis says:

    You might as well substitute the Death Star with some earth shattering magic spell, Star Wars is pretty much Fantasy with space ships. And magic can do whatever it needs to do (or not) based on the need of the plot. It always cracks me up when this series is scientifically debated or shoehorned into what appears to be scientific reasoning when the result is pretty much a rulebook for magic.

    And that’s fine too; if you enjoy it, go wild on the canon. The only things really pissing me off are Lucas’s rationalizations and retcons about the various plotholes, deus ex machinas and asspulls. Not to mention the “I always intended it to be 6 movies, as the story of Darth Vader” lie^Wrationalization – yeah, sure.

  14. Sam says:

    I thought it was funny.

    I also thought your last SP comic was hilarious. And yes, I am too lazy to register on The Escapist website to tell you that.

  15. UnknownGuy says:

    That website of how it should have ended is pretty neat.

    I liked the LOTR one too!

  16. ehlijen says:

    Assuming that Yavin wasn’t made of volatile gases, would any kind of laser have affected it at all?

    It might have melted the frozen core and upset the meterological balance. But would it seriously have made that giant mass of mostly nothing but gases ignore the gravity holding it together and dissipate? I mean you can crush a solid object, you can evaporate a body of fluids, but if it is already gas, what more can pure heat energy do to it? Sure, there’s the plasma stage, but is that different enough to expand the mass to the point where it’s own gravity can’t hold it together anymore? Ie will firing a superlaser into a gas giant do anything meaningful (assuming it doesn’t create a new sun)?

    Just wondering and fully aware that I’m being nerdy and missing the point of the movie :p

  17. Anaphyis says:

    Alright. The Death Star blasts Alderaan from the inside into meteorite sized pieces and whats even more important, have them reach escape velocity to escape the gravity well of the planet. Most people forget gravity is a product of mass and mass is attracted to gravitation, it doesn’t matter if that mass is pretty much solid or granular and as the parts are drawn to the gravity center, the meteorites would reform into into a solid object anyway.

    So unless a planet is made out of Explodium, the energy output to accomplish something like this would be somewhere around the sun’s output times a million. Which is pure lunacy. And that is not even counting the energy required to move the damn thing, resume normal operations and the whole turbolaser batteries.

    If you can generate energy at this magnitude, frequently, and without any fuel problems of which there are several … even considering a gas giant has a bigger mass then a solid planet, this becomes a moot point. You might as well use that energy to ascent to godhood or whatever.

  18. matt says:

    There were a few irregular webcomics dealing with this very issue, though I don’t remember exactly where, so all I can do is link you to the front page.

  19. Henebry says:

    I’m with Anaphyis on this. But something similar might be said of many movies””even if they are less blatant about it. Movies and sci-fi novels are stories first and realistic simulations of alternative realities only a distant second. There are a few authors (Larry Niven an excellent instance) who use plots to work out the ramifications of technological advances. But even there the needs of plot must be satisfied, or the author’s ruminations are wasted because he won’t be able to win any readers. Both Niven and Asimov frequently borrowed detective plotlines: solving the murder requires the detective to think through the consequences of teleportation (Niven) or robotics (Asimov).

    Lucas’s first Star Wars movie is story first, second and third: it’s a pastiche of movie cliches, like the prohibition-era speakeasy where Luke and Ben meet Han Solo.

  20. ZzzzSleep says:

    Matt @ 18
    You can find all the Star Wars Irregular Webcomics at
    I think the strips you were looking for are and
    Alternatively it could be that *handwave* these are not the strips you are looking for.

  21. Rustybadger says:

    If the Imperial Navy had the same technology as the Asgards (Stargate Atlantis) then they could have bloody well hyperspaced right through a planet. Maybe they should have spent a few more eons in R&D.

  22. Arndt says:

    The great thing about this video is that it makes almost perfect sense taken in the context of the movie without the Expanded Universe materials.

  23. Arndt says:

    Of course, Rusty, in Stargate going to hyperspace/hyperspeed means shifting your entire object into subspace, whereas in Star Wars going into hyperspace just means going really damn fast.

  24. Jabor says:

    The hypermatter reactor provided a shitload more like ten shitloads of power. And even that took on the order of 24 hours to charge the capacitors to full. Remember that a torpedo-induced containment failure in it was enough to atomize the entire station.

    Though, the superlaser wouldn’t have had to be full power to destroy the rebel base. It would have been a matter of minutes to charge the caps from where they were after firing to the point where they could vaporize the entire atmosphere of a moon as small as Yavin IV. It was Tarkin wanting to be all showy and absolutely annihilate the moon that allowed the Death Star to be destroyed.

  25. Arndt says:

    The entire purpose of the Death Star is to be showy in its annihilation of stuff.

    It is a weapon of terror and fear, not a weapon of war.

    The weapons of war on the Death Star could have easily been deployed to wipe Yavin IV clean of Rebels.

  26. Volatar says:

    In all sense of reality, a mere couple of star destroyers could have taken out the base on Yavin IV. Star destroyers main purpose is orbit to surface bombardment, and a pair of them would have enough fighters to match those you see in the movie.

    Or the star destroyers could just do a hit and run on the base, ignoring the fighters. Once the base is gone they are dead anyways.

    EDIT: Shoot, forgot about the fighters in Star Wars having hyper drives. I have been reading much better SciFi these days…

  27. mrmurphy says:

    The entire concept of the Death Star as a weapon (Inspire terror and obedience by destroying worlds!) is dumb anyhow. Want to impress people by killing a world? Just strap an engine on a big rock, point it at a planet, and hey! You’ve got yourself a world killer. If it gets to even a decent fraction of c, it’s going to glass whatever it hits so bad that its pretty much done as a place that can support life.

  28. Irandrura says:

    mrmurphy: That’s the point. There are plenty of easier ways to destroy a planet. Canonically, a Star Destroyer is itself quite capable of exterminating all life on a planet’s surface. (

    The point of the Death Star is to look impressive. Actual effectiveness doesn’t enter into it. It’s big and scary. That’s it. It does what it’s supposed to do pretty well. What you find throughout the movies and EU, actually, is that under Palpatine the entire Empire’s military took that as its guiding star. Intimidation was more important than efficiency. Hence both Death Stars, the Executor, the spectacularly impractical AT-AT design, etc., not to mention all those EU superweapons. The Empire blew massive amounts of money on expensive terror weapons while neglecting the basic elements; hence why stormtroopers, TIE fighters, etc., all… well, suck.

    There are two reasons for this. The Empire had no real military enemies. Fighting the Rebellion was a large-scale counterinsurgency, not a war. (By the time it does become a war, after RotJ, the remains of the Empire start to fight more competently in places. Thrawn springs to mind, as does the Imperial Remnant by the time of the NJO.) Consequently, the Empire didn’t really need a efficient military machine. It needed to be able to intimidate its subject worlds into obedience. They were quite aware that they didn’t have the military might to control every world they had. Hence the concept of the Tarkin Doctrine. ( In many ways this is a logical extension of the Old Republic’s approach, which was to use diplomacy and mediation, coupled with the prestige and reputation of the Republic and Jedi Order, to cow potential unstable elements. The Empire concluded that symbolism and psychology mattered more than actual strength, which is pretty reasonable. It was more important to make local sectors think that the Empire was invincible, than to actually be invincible.

    The second reason is quite simple. Palpatine and most of the Empire's leadership were extremely paranoid. They spent massive amounts of money on superweapons and impressive symbols and ran the rest of the military on a shoestring budget. Don't tell me that wasn't deliberate. By functionally neutering the military, they also ensure that the military can never threaten their own political power. Someone like Tarkin is a politician, not a general. Now, experience shows that the Empire was right to be worried about military coups (e.g. Grand Admiral Zaarin; also look at the number of ex-military Imperial warlords that sprung up after Palpatine's death). Quite sensibly, they kept a tight hand on the Empire's military budget and refused to invest in it the resources needed to make it a competent, efficient fighting force. (Again, the Empire gets better at this after Palpatine carks it.)

    Is it any surprise what you ended up with? The Empire relied on the terror threat of awesome, fear-inspiring yet incredibly uneconomical and impractical superweapons while simultaneously keeping the actual military weak.

  29. Kevin says:

    I’m pretty sure that gas giants have a rocky, planetary core, and I’m also pretty sure that once you blew Yavin, the cycling time on the main weapon wouldn’t be an issue. I’m just not seeing survivors on the moon. If they could have evacuated fast enough to avoid an exploding primary, they’d have been out of the way LOOONG before the Death Star came swinging around.

  30. Stranger says:

    As so many have noted – it’s not about JUST destroying the Rebel Alliance. It’s about making those left standing thing again about fighting the Empire. Stand against us? We’ll blow up planet after planet until we find you. And then we’ll blow up that planet too.

    What? It worked in Master of Orion 2, at least for me.

  31. John Lopez says:

    I laughed more at the Star Wars Technical Wonkery that was generated here than the video, but that was good too.

  32. Robyrt says:

    I am reminded of Hitler’s penchant for superweapons, occult powers, etc. In real life, Hitler’s ministers could often convince him not to fund whatever insane plan crossed his desk – but in Star Wars, the Emperor gets to actually build a device that is much awesomer and less effective than its cost in Super Star Destroyers, and then do it AGAIN when it doesn’t work the first time. Isn’t sci-fi great? :)

  33. Eric Meyer says:

    I’m kind of thinking that blowing up Yavin would have destroyed (either physically or in the “supporting life” sense) Yavin IV and all the Rebels on it AND would have been way more psychologically effective to boot. Torching an entire Jovian-and-moons system just to eradicate one Rebel base sends a hell of a strong message.

    But hey, let’s not go too hard on Leia. As Episodes 1-3 firmly establish, pretty much everything that goes wrong is Yoda’s fault.

  34. Vader says:


    That was just great. :D

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