The Best Star Wars Space Battle Moment Is Due To An Accident

By Chris Snellgrove | Updated

There are very few things that Star Wars fans agree about, from whether the prequels were good to whether or not the latest Disney TV series is ruining the entire franchise. However, one thing the entire fandom can agree on is that Luke blowing up the Death Star is the gold standard for all Star Wars space battles. The entire attack on the Death Star is as breathtaking as it is brilliant, but the man who designed the space station later admitted the trench only existed because he didn’t want to fix a messed up model.

The Death Star

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For years, Star Wars fans have wondered why the Death Star even had a trench leading to its one weak spot. The Rebel attack made for great cinema, sure, but it was always weird for the Empire to gamble everything on a superweapon that conveniently had a weakness in the form of a tiny exhaust port. The prequel movie Rogue One would later explain that the exhaust port was put in place by disgruntled scientist Galen Erso, but that never explained why the otherwise round Death Star had a giant trench leading to that weak spot.

The Mistake That Changed Everything

Fortunately, we now have an answer, and this behind-the-scenes Star Wars fact is as crazy as anything portrayed onscreen. You see, the Death Star was designed by Colin Cantwell, and he conducted a Reddit AMA a few years before he passed away. There, he spilled some major secrets, including the shocking reason why this space station ended up with its famous trench.

According to him, the original Death Star mold had two different parts. At one point, he noticed that the two halves of this model had shrunk in the exact place where they were supposed to meet in the middle. This wasn’t an irreversible error, and by Cantwell’s estimation, it would have taken him about a week to fill, sand, and re-fill everything.

An Accidental Climax

A hilariously blunt Cantwell admitted in the AMA that he simply didn’t want to spend all that work fixing the Death Star, so he went to George Lucas and suggested turning it into a trench. Fortunately for Cantwell, the legendary director thought the trench was a great idea. As every good Star Wars fan knows, Lucas thought it was such a good idea that this trench eventually became the center of the film’s explosive climax. 

Such A Good Moment, They Did It Twice

In the AMA, Cantwell was proud of his contributions to Star Wars and the fact that his accidental Death Star trench “became one of the most iconic moments in the film.” That’s a very understandable pride, too: it’s nearly impossible to imagine that first Star Wars film without the trench run and Luke channeling The Force to blow up the Death Star. That moment became so iconic, in fact, that Return of the Jedi barely tried to reinvent the wheel, simply giving us a different version of the same climax

Do Or Do Not

One of the reasons we’ve always loved Star Wars is that the franchise is filled with wise mentors offering great words of wisdom. Obi-Wan Kenobi taught us to trust our feelings, and Yoda taught us to do or do not. Now, Colin Cantwell has taught us that you might just create something as brilliant as the Death Star trench by weaseling out of hard work, and that’s a lesson any of us binge-watching The Clone Wars on the couch can appreciate.