One thing I've noticed in Star Wars is that all spaceships always seem to acknowledge a universal "up," in that when two ships come out of hyperspace they are both the "right" way up, even if they are from the opposite side of the galaxy. Is this just an error? Or is there a reason in either Legends or Canon for this?

And if this is an error, are there any instances of two ships meeting at a battle, one facing "up" and on facing "down" in (for example) Legends?

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    It may not be canon, and it might not even be "in-universe" correct. There's a strong possibility that it is "in-Holywood" instead. The "up-ness" of the craft could be grounded in the inability of the film makers to think in, and consider the effects of, unbounded and non-gravitational space. They are used to always knowing what "up" is, and don't think about what happens when there is no "up" to use.
    – Chindraba
    May 3, 2018 at 15:09
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    Because the special effects teams do two dimensional thinking? youtube.com/watch?v=RbTUTNenvCY
    – RichS
    May 3, 2018 at 15:09
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    Why does it have to be either an error or explained in canon? Imo it's just good film making. Star wars is not for intellectual physicists and there were much less of them back then (even though sci fi was more intellectual before sw). It's a ww2 western in space. Don't confuse the audience, make it easy to follow, focus on what's important and so on.
    – Raditz_35
    May 3, 2018 at 15:12
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    It's not that there's a universal "up", it's that the enemy gate is down.
    – phantom42
    May 3, 2018 at 18:48
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    In-universe, this could easily be caused by some natural property of hyperspace. Whether anybody has written about it in canon (or Legends for that matter) I have no idea. May 4, 2018 at 6:13

4 Answers 4


The first example that springs to mind is the climactic battle of the Legends novel The Bacta War, where the ISD Freedom attacks the SSD Lusankya from above at a 90-degree relative roll (so that Freedom's side is pointed at Lusankya's top). I don't recall if it exited hyperspace in that position, though, or merely maneuvered there during the battle.

In the main though, especially in visual media (films, animation, video games) it's just a convention. It helps avoid disorienting the audience when we're meant to be focusing on a few ships. When there are larger numbers (as in the battle at the start of RotS) or in other media (prose, comics) ships tend to be every which way.


I have one example from the original trilogy where this is not the case.

In episode 5 when the Falcon hides on the Star Destroyer it clearly has a different up.

Not sure if this image is actually from the movie. But it shows the Falcon on the side of the "bridge".

Falcon hides on Star Destroyer

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    FWIW anyway the Falcon hid their wouldn't have been up.
    – TheLethalCarrot
    May 7, 2018 at 9:59
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    This is from the movie. As @TheLethalCarrot states the ship was hiding from radar at the time. I believe the OP is more concerned with how ships typically exit hyperspace on typically the same plane.
    – Odin1806
    May 7, 2018 at 17:11

I agree that this is probably just due to film maker convention rather than a reflection to in-universe philosphy. But if I may speculate in a possible rationale for in-universe:

It could be that it's a galaxy wide convention to always align with the galactic north pole as "up" in order to make it easier to quickly adjust navigation. The Star Wars universe does run on a very diffuse level of technology after all (computers at the same time being sentient as exemplified the androids and very low tech as shown by the ridiculous data retrieval system used in Rouge One) and navigating hyperspace does seem to have some manual steps in it. Reducing the complexity by fixing position along the Z-axis may make those steps easier for the humanoid mind to comprehend.


There is no in-canon reason I know of that ships couldn't rotate at any angle they desire. However there is no in-canon reason they can't choose to obey some established convention.

It is possible that ships make themselves level with the galactic plane. This would provide a plane they can all detect and align themselves with, no matter where in the galaxy they are.This could be for navigation. It's easier to coordinate movement such as formations and evasive action between ships if they can agree which way is "up". Maps are easier to think about if you don't have to account for whether your ship is sideways. Another reason they might choose to do this is that their ships have windows. If you look out and see other ships seeming to face another way "up", you might start to feel like what your eyes are seeing isn't matching up with what your inner ears are feeling (the direction of artificial gravity-pull on your ship) and that is the classic setup for sea-sickness.

The out-of-universe explanation is of course so the audience can follow what is going on without getting confused or dizzy. Also the battles in Star Wars are based on WW2 naval battles (Lucas even used WW2 footage as placeholder clips in the rough-cut) and those have an established plane: the ocean.

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