Star Wars: The Two Death Stars You’ve Never Heard Of
There are way more Death Stars than you’ve heard of.
If you are a Star Wars fan you know about the Death Stars. These iconic space stations were key parts of the Original Trilogy. However, there were only two and their story is well known. Or were there? Today let’s take a look at the other Death Stars. Because there are two Death Stars you’ve never heard of, and that needs to be fixed.
The Death Star III- The Tour
The first two Death Stars are pretty well known. Some of their details are common knowledge. However, knowledge of the story behind the Death Star III is much less common. It is quite a convoluted story about the strangeness of Star Wars canon.
The story of the Death Star III began in 1987 when the ride Star Tours debuted at Disneyland. Star Tours was a rollicking fun ride that took visitors through a series of high thrills and action sequences in the Star Wars universe. It was a fantastic ride and loved by many, myself included. It was also completely canon. While the idea of a theme park ride being part of a franchise’s canon may seem odd, it’s long been a staple of Star Wars. Indeed even in the modern era, it’s stuck around. The Rise of the Resistance ride and all of the Galaxy’s Edge attractions are considered canon.
The issue with the ride came up on its end. The ride ends with the guests’ StarSpeeder 3000 arriving at Endor and getting caught up in an attack on a Death Star. Since Death Star attacks were a core part of Star Wars in 1987, it’s clear why the ride’s designers would want to include it. However, its inclusion led to a few issues with the established lore. Firstly Star Tours takes place after the Battle of Endor when the Death Star II was destroyed. Also, the visuals for the Death Star that the ride shows over Endor look more like the Death Star I than the Death Star II. Lastly, the battle culminates in a trench run. This run does match how either Death Star was destroyed.
No Wonder You’ve Never Heard of This Death Star
These discrepancies in the ride led hardcore fans to wonder what was going on. The battle, and Death Star, shown in the ride didn’t match either the Death Star I or II. So what could it be? Eventually, Leland Chee, whose job it was to fix continuity issues, came up with a fix. If the Death Star in Star Tours couldn’t be the First or Second, then it must be the Third. Makes sense, right?
The idea of a Third Death Star isn’t as far-fetched as it sounds. It even had backing from more than just a theme park ride. Early drafts for Return of the Jedi had the final battle take place not over the moon of Endor but around the Imperial capital of Had Abbadon. In addition to its moon Endor, Had Abbadon was orbited by two Death Stars, as shown in concept art. These would have been the Second and Third Death Stars. Eventually, rewrites removed Had Abbadon from the movies (it was later renamed to Coruscant). They also dropped one of the Death Stars, but the idea lingers in the concept art. Indeed this art was later said to have been of large “habitation spheres” being built around Coruscant for “peaceful purposes.”
End of the Ride
Several canon articles on Starwars.com detailed in full the history of the Death Star III – these discussed both the in-universe history of Star Tours, and the battles seen in it. The story goes that not long after Endor, one of the Emperor’s hitmen Ennix Devian took control of a pair of habitation spheres. These were the two pictured under construction around Coruscant. He then flew one of them to Endor and worked to convert it into a Death Star, using the existing framework to speed along the process. This was Death Star III. The Rebels, quickly found out about this plan. As they were also based at Endor. They sent a fleet to destroy the new threat, which it did.
Sadly the story of the Death Star III has been swept away into Legends as a result of the Disney reboot. The original Star Tours is no longer running, with a new version taking its place. While the battle station may no longer be canon, it is interesting to see how dedicated fans and discrepancies in a theme park ride could lead to a whole hidden chapter of Star Wars lore.
The Death Star Prototype
Finally, we come to the next Death Star you’ve never heard of. The Prototype. Compared to the Third Death Star, this has a pretty simple and short history. The Death Star Prototype was conceived for and featured in the Jedi Academy Trilogy of novels published in 1994. In the series, it was revealed that the Empire had built a secret installation hidden in the Maw, a cluster of black holes near the planet Kessel. The Maw Installation was used as a think tank. The creation of most of the Imperial Superweapons was tied to it. Both Bevel Lemelisk and Qwi Xux, the designers of the First and Second Death Stars, worked there.
Another One You’ve Never Heard Of?
Before the creation of the First Death Star, a proof of concept Prototype Death Star was built at the hidden installation. The Prototype had a working super laser. However, it was an underpowered version of the final laser. The station itself, while as large as the Death Star I, was just a rough framework, with minimal propulsion, reactor, and command sections installed. In 11 ABY, seven years after the destruction of the Second Death Star, rogue Imperial forces attempted to use Prototype to start their own campaign of conquest. Still, the station was ultimately drawn into one of the Maw’s black holes and destroyed.
Written in 1994, some aspects of the Jedi Academy Trilogy clashed with details of the Prequels when they came out around a decade later. In particular, the idea that the Death Star Prototype was built before the Death Star I started construction was an issue, as was the identity of the creators. Slight retcons were made so that the prototype was built at the same time as the Death Star I and Qwi Xux and Lemelisk became designers who worked on it, not the creators. All of that was tied into the many Death Star I retcons. Overall, however, the story of the Prototype remained mostly untouched and contained to the Jedi Academy Trilogy until the EU was moved to Legends.
Let us know what you think of these Death Stars, down in the comments!