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C3-PO: Sir, the possibility of successfully navigating an asteroid field is approximately 3,720 to 1!

K2-SO: There is a ninety-seven point six percent chance of failure.

This happens a lot in Star Wars. Are there any examples of a character failing to do something after being told how unlikely it is that they'll be able to do it successfully?

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    If someone fails to beat the odds, he/she is statistics. If someone beats the odds, he/she has a story to tell.
    – user65648
    Commented Jan 10, 2018 at 14:12
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    Did you not see all the explosions from the TIE-fighters failing to successfully navigate the asteroid belt?
    – Valorum
    Commented Jan 10, 2018 at 14:16
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    @Valorum They weren't told the odds, though. Only Han's actions count.
    – Rogue Jedi
    Commented Jan 10, 2018 at 14:19
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    but...specifcally speaking to the question example, that situation has only happened once. Upon hearing how unlikely a shot the Death Star trench run will require, Luke says it's not that hard. When Luke says deflecting training bolts is impossible, Kenobi says it's easy if you don't trust your eyes (essentially), etc....
    – NKCampbell
    Commented Jan 10, 2018 at 14:23
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    To those voting to close it, the question refers only to actions specifically referred to as statistically unlikely to be successful, of which there are a finite amount.
    – Rogue Jedi
    Commented Jan 10, 2018 at 16:06

3 Answers 3


In the Last Jedi,

Poe, Finn and Rose concocted a plan to find a slicer to disable the First Order's new tracking technology that allowed them to follow the Resistance.

The odds of such a plan succeeding is logically very low, since security is a vital part of any military operation. It must have been statistically inconceivable that people could just fly over and sneak into a warship without detection. Likewise, the chances that some unauthorised person could successfully break into a specially secured room and tamper with vital equipment, again without detection, must be very low.

In fact, we know the odds are poor, because if the First Order is so lax about security, it stands to reason that the Resistance could've infiltrated and destroyed their ships a long time ago. The fact that they didn't demonstrate just how improbable the plan was. Hence, although no exact numbers were made up on the spot calculated,

when Poe finally told Admiral Holdo of their plans, she exclaimed:

"You have bet the survival of the Resistance on bad odds and put us all at risk!?"

The mission ended up failing disastrously, so the statistically likely thing happened.

edit: at the time of writing the question didn't specify that they had to be told the exact numerical odds first (it only asked if the statistically likely thing ever happened). However, I would argue this incident still fits the new requirements, because:

While planning the highly improbable mission, Finn specifically claimed that:

"You can't get through the security shields undetected. Nobody can."

So effectively, he told Rose and himself that the odds of their success were 0 out of infinity. They went on it anyway with the delusion that finding a master codebreaker would somehow beat the odds. It didn't.

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    Do you have any quotes with the numerical odds of success?
    – Rogue Jedi
    Commented Jan 10, 2018 at 14:39
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    @RogueJedi No exact numbers given, but Holdo states it was "bad".
    – Semaphore
    Commented Jan 10, 2018 at 14:55
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    @RogueJedi The studies didn't say
    – Machavity
    Commented Jan 10, 2018 at 15:48
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    I'm not a downvoter but this isn't a particularly good answer, mainly because the example given is largely irrelevant to the question, even as it was originally posted. OP asked about statistical likelihood and gave examples where they were explicitly given numbers, which is a trope in Star Wars. You just gave an example that doesn't use that trope, hence the downvotes. 3 downvotes isn't unusual on a popular question though... every other answer and the question have more downvotes than that.
    – BlackThorn
    Commented Jan 11, 2018 at 16:26
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    "0 out of infinity" simplifies to "0 out of 1." That, or you meant "1 out of infinity" (which, coincidentally, also simplifies to "0 out of 1"). Commented Jan 11, 2018 at 18:28

Short answer: plenty of them. They did not live to tell the story.

Or they were smart enough not to try, considering the odds.

The most obvious one is when Tarkin disregarded an officer's warning that the rebels have a good chance to destroy the station.

A New Hope

"Evacuate? In our moment of triumph? I think you over-estimate their chances!"

―Tarkin, convinced of the Death Star's invulnerability to the end - quote taken from Wookieepedia

On the example quoted in the question:

C-3PO: Sir, the possibility of successfully navigating an asteroid field is approximately 3,720 to 1!

All Imperial pilots trying to follow the Millennium Falcon have either abandoned the pursuit or were killed (see explosions all around) - thanks to Valorum for the notice. Nobody managed to catch up with the Falcon.

Statistics are for average men. Han Solo is a Hero (i.e. not average) flying one of the best ships in the known Galaxy. Together, they have completed The Kessel Run in 12 parsecs, which is considered impossible and implies Han is far from being an average person. In fact, he is one of the best pilots in the known galaxy.

Droids calculate probabilities, using average person's capabilities (in D&D terms, 9DEX/9STR/9INT, whatever applies here). Moreover, an extremely skilled pilot may take a non-traditional approach to the question, if applicable, which would never be used by a droid.

Example (quoted from the Kessel Run Wookieepedia page)

The Kessel Run was a hyperspace route used by smugglers and unscrupulous freighter captains to move spice from the spice mines of Kessel at the behest of the Pyke Syndicate, who relied on the foolhardy Kessel Runs to deliver the illicit substance to their customers. Han Solo, captain of the Millennium Falcon, claimed to have made the infamous run in less than 12 parsecs, boasting about his ship's ability to endure shorter but more hazardous routes through hyperspace. By doing so, Solo broke a long-held record.

Another example: in The Force Awakens, Han Solo

jumps out of hyperspace behind the shields of the Starkiller Base,

which by all means was considered impossible.

Rogue One - Jyn and her crew were told about improbability of their mission,

but made it, at the cost of their lives

Edit: The Last Jedi - too many examples to quote here, Rebel heroes try desperate actions to save their cause, and fail almost always. Name just two:

  • Finn and Rose's

attempt to disable the hyperspace tracker (failed)

  • Finn's attempt to

destroy the battering cannon (failed)

Heroes (in Star Wars and similar genre universes) do not die stupid deaths, they die heroically. However, villains may fail to make a reality check in their arrogance - see my example at the beginning of the answer.

  • 13
    Downvoted becase I believe the OP referred is referring to the trope: of a main character, on-screen, in any work (not just Star Wars), being told the odds and failing. In other words, "the odds" are there mostly to ramp up dramatic tension -- but when does the "logical" result happen? Commented Jan 11, 2018 at 4:36
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    @T.Sar again, the question is about Star Wars universe, not any other, and not real life.
    – TimSparrow
    Commented Jan 11, 2018 at 10:43
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    @TimSparrow Also, I would argue that, for a previously well-known fugitive jedi master, dying of old age is both heroic and pretty bad-ass...
    – xDaizu
    Commented Jan 11, 2018 at 12:24
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    @xDaizu may be not very heroic (I agree here), but at least not stupid. If a hero dies in bed, old and toothless (c), it does not make them less a hero,
    – TimSparrow
    Commented Jan 11, 2018 at 13:08
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    I think your last example is the only part of this answer you need. A character on-screen is told that there is a chance of failure, they decide to take that chance, and they fail. Everything else is just a restatement of the question. Commented Jan 11, 2018 at 17:53

Are there any examples of a character failing to do something after being told how unlikely it is that they'll be able to do it successfully?

Surely this has to be a definitive example.

Obi-Wan Kenobi: It's over, Anakin! I have the high ground!

Anakin Skywalker: You underestimate my power!

Obi-Wan Kenobi: Don't try it.

  • 2
    Again the same trope as Tarkin: an arrogant badass refusing to check with reality
    – TimSparrow
    Commented Jan 12, 2018 at 13:17

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