Is there visual evidence in any of the original three films that deflector shields do anything on any small fighter craft? There are plenty of scenes with the Millennium Falcon or Star Destroyers shrugging off weapon fire with a brief flash from the shields but it seems every time they show a fighter getting hit, it destroys the vehicle (except when R2 gets hit).

  • 6
    Hm, quite interesting! I seem to remember in the trench run of A New Hope it took a few shots from the TIE Fighters to bring down an X-Wing It is worth noting that some starfighters have no deflector shields at all, such as the A-Wing or the TIE Fighter.
    – DBPriGuy
    Sep 14, 2016 at 16:51
  • 1
    This also raises the question whether there was any example of a storm-trooper's armor protecting him from anything at all.
    – vsz
    Sep 14, 2016 at 20:56
  • ... I couldn't resist: scifi.stackexchange.com/questions/140670/…
    – vsz
    Sep 14, 2016 at 21:08
  • 1
    TIE fighters, interceptors and bombers have no shields. A few models of Imperial fighters (like Darth Vader's Advanced TIE or the TIE Defender) have. Mostly all other fighters and ships have shields. A-wings used to have shields in Legends.
    – Neow
    Sep 15, 2016 at 6:41
  • I always thought that the scene in Phantom Menace where, after crashing into the Trade federation hangar, Anakin just barely enables the shields on his fighter (with visible "bubble" effect), was a way to confirm that fighters do have shields in the Star Wars universe, since the original films weren't that explicit.
    – Oskuro
    Sep 15, 2016 at 8:57

2 Answers 2


In Star Wars: A New Hope, Wedge's X-Wing takes a direct hit to the rear quarter. Some of the energy seems to have been taken by his shields

enter image description here

This ties up nicely with the description in the film's junior novelisation. Evidently the blast damaged his controls and shield generator.

The three TIE fighters swooped into the trench. Luke focused on his targeting scope, which had just marked off the distance to the target. The TIE fighters zoomed closer to the X-wings. Darth Vader fired.

“I’m hit!” Wedge shouted as his ship was blasted from behind. Although his ship was still intact, his deflector shields were lost. Realizing he wouldn’t stand a chance against another attack, he said, “I can’t stay with you.”

  • 16
    @SDH - Shielding is much more integral to video games because getting shot to pieces like you're flying a paper plane really sucks, whereas it's much more dramatic and moving to watch other people get shot.
    – Radhil
    Sep 14, 2016 at 17:39
  • 1
    @EvSunWoodard - Because the shield generators stick out from the ship. Once the shield is breached, the generators are quite vulnerable (i20.photobucket.com/albums/b242/terryburke/…)
    – Valorum
    Sep 14, 2016 at 20:51
  • 8
    Also remember that earlier in the trench run, the lead fighter instructed the rest of the squadron to switch the deflectors to "double front". They weren't expecting (much) fire to come from the rear or sides, instead focusing on the very heavy fire coming from the front. They reinforced the forward-facing shields at the expense of severely weakening the other shield facings.
    – Irishpanda
    Sep 14, 2016 at 20:54
  • 4
    @Irishpanda - Indeed. There are multiple mentions of shields, but relatively few examples of those shields actually being seen to do anything.
    – Valorum
    Sep 14, 2016 at 20:57
  • 1
    @EvSunWoodard In Star Wars, shields aren't one bubble that either holds or doesn't - depending on the ship, there may be many overlapping shields that form the full shielding of the ship. When one of those shields fails, most of the ship is still protected - but it might very well be that the part that becomes vulnerable is critical to the working of the ship or its shielding systems (as we've seen in RotJ). I'm not sure what's weird about the Gungan shield - they shot at it from the inside, where the generator wasn't protected anymore. The Gungan shield clearly has borders.
    – Luaan
    Sep 15, 2016 at 9:26

I think the real answer is "it depends". On what? Dramatic license.

It's not uncommon in such films that the hero's ship can take several hits, yet destroy its opponent with a single shot. This is done to build up tension.

Similar to the example above, Star Trek has shown ships being physically damaged, before cutting to a crew-member claiming that the shields are down to 30% (or other arbitrary number).

In most cases, the writer has some idea of a shields/forcefields effectiveness, but will succumb to dramatic license as needed.

  • 3
    It amazes me how fast the bridge consoles blow up, even when the "shields are holding". Seems like a bit of a design flaw :)
    – Jane S
    Sep 15, 2016 at 4:54
  • 2
    @JaneS: There are just too many idiotic engineers insisting on installing the wrong LEDs for warning lights. They blow up once activated.
    – Mario
    Sep 15, 2016 at 5:00
  • 2
    Crewman 1: "Captain! The dilithium crystals are destablizing, shields are down to some arbitrary percentage, and we're surrounded! Death is imminent!!!" Captain: "No worries. Engage narrative causality!" Crewman 2: "Narrative causality - ENGAGED!" Crewman 1: "Captain! All the enemy ships have spontaneously detonated! The Federation is saved!" Captain: "Yes, for now. But there is a greater threat to peace and freedom which we must seek out...and destroy!" COMING SOON: STAR TREK 27 - DEATH TO THE WRITERS!!! :-) Sep 15, 2016 at 11:52
  • 3
    You guys should read John Scalzi's Redshirts. Sep 15, 2016 at 12:21
  • 1
    Redshirts was pretty good, though I thought he should've stopped writing it sooner. The last bit dragged it down a bit I thought. Like when my daughter tells the same joke for the 47th time.
    – Paul
    Sep 15, 2016 at 13:41

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.