At the end of Star Wars Episode 6: Return of the Jedi, Darth Vader threw the Emperor into a pit. Why was there a pit in the Emperor's VIP chamber on the Death Star?

  • 36
    Maybe the same reason Jabba the Hutt has one. Sometimes you just want to see captives thrown into a pit for entertainment. Or it might have been a mix-up with the plans. The pit was meant to be in the next chamber over, but someone misread the blueprints. If you think building an extension to your house is bad, try constructing a Death Star... Apr 22, 2014 at 8:14
  • 30
    Slightly more serious speculation: The Death Star was still under construction, so maybe this was a temporary throne room and/or they were planning to wall off the pit later. (There was a fantastic Robot Chicken sketch in which the Emperor has to yell at a construction crew to keep the noise down while he is monologuing at Luke.) Apr 22, 2014 at 8:29
  • 7
    For the same reason there is a ridiculous amount of metal scaffolding and sheer drops in Cloud City, Eric Bana's ship in the Star Trek relaunch, and many other shows; dramatic fight scenes. As a galactic Emperor, Palpatine knew full-well his throne room needed to be decked out to the nines for a dramatic fight scene. Apr 22, 2014 at 11:00
  • 10
    This is explicitly called out in TVTropes' page on No OSHA Compliance Apr 22, 2014 at 11:59
  • 4
    @JamesSheridan: Maybe your answer is not that wrong: Palpatine new that the empire is reined by fear. Such an empire needs a throne room that radiates fear: "Do you see that architectonic otherwise expendable pit...? Better watch your mouth!"
    – Einer
    Apr 22, 2014 at 15:08

5 Answers 5


Well we can rule out it being a temporary throne room, as it is described in immense detail in the following article (also referenced by Max's answer):

"Emperor's Throne Room", Wikia

Considering the following excerpt:

Surrounding the throne room and its neighboring rooms was the abyss, an open shaft surrounding the turbolifts, which led directly to the Death Star's power core, 400 km (250 miles) below. The receiving area, or inner sanctum, was separated by a retractable walkway. The Receiving area was used for meetings with local system governors and/or the Emperor's advisors.

From this I would surmise that, being a Sith Emperor who rules the galaxy through fear, the Emperor intentionally constructed his throne room with an "abyss" in it in order to intimidate the governors and other people who would enter that room.

The fact that he could so easily be thrown into it served as even more of a "fuck you" to those people as it showed that he considered them to be of utterly no threat to him at all.

  • 10
    I'm willing to buy "because intimidation". And Palpatine looks a lot like Monty Burns, so...
    – joshbirk
    Apr 22, 2014 at 19:34
  • 17
    It's probably fair to say that the Emperor never considered the possibility he'd be overpowered. Remember this is the guy who beat Yoda! He probably assumed he'd be the one doing the throwing...
    – Liath
    Apr 23, 2014 at 7:04
  • 3
    Is ANY of that "immense" detail actually referenced properly aside from "I'm describing in words what I see in the movie"? Dec 8, 2014 at 0:46
  • 2
    @Liath, yes. The pit is clearly there for the Emperor to throw people into.
    – A E
    Dec 8, 2014 at 22:47
  • 3
    @MichaelPaulukonis "Make them fly, Vader! I want to see them fly!"
    – Wolfie Inu
    Sep 30, 2015 at 6:36

Numerous areas throughout the Death Star consisted of vast air shafts. These shafts helped circulate air, pressurise the battle station's habitable sections, and also channeled heat that expended from generators located within the shafts.

Imperial Death Star Owners Workshop Manual, p.82

  • 12
    Okay, but was that necessary in Emperor's VIP chamber?
    – user931
    Apr 22, 2014 at 10:09
  • 5
    In case the Emperor himself needed to "demote" some generals.
    – Chahk
    Apr 22, 2014 at 13:12
  • 24
    It was necessary for the Emperor to feed the ducks. Old people like to feed ducks, and there were many ducks in the pond at the bottom of that pit. Apr 22, 2014 at 13:20
  • 13
    @JamesSheridan: Probably a typo. Should be "feed the ducts"
    – Einer
    Apr 22, 2014 at 14:12
  • 4
    @SachinShekhar Hey, the Emperor cares a lot about having the temperature just right in his throne room. So yeah, he gets the best A/C available.
    – Doc
    Apr 23, 2014 at 4:46

If I remember correctly, the Emperor's chamber was at the top of a tall spire on Death Star II.

The "pit" was simply the tower shaft.

See: http://starwars.wikia.com/wiki/Imperial_throne_room_(Death_Star_II)

  • 1
    OK. But as I understand it the question is, why have a huge opening to the pit, into which people can easily fall (or be thrown)? Apr 22, 2014 at 14:10
  • 6
    Palpatine is evil. The pit is impressive, scary, and good for throwing people into. The psychological effect of all that on people visiting the throne room is probably deliberate. Of course, he was probably arrogant enough that the idea someone might one day throw him into it never even occurred to him. Apr 22, 2014 at 15:59
  • 2
    @anaximander Yep. I know if I were the Emperor, and they asked me if I wanted a pit or no pit, I'd want the pit. Well, I'd want one of those hyper-fast blast doors for it too, installed horizontally and to look more or less like ordinary floor...
    – Dronz
    Nov 14, 2014 at 6:51

Echoing WayzGoose's excellent answer, the Emperor had the pit in his throne room because, well, it's very impressive. And if you're the evil Emperor of a Empire consisting of several trillion inhabitants, it certainly helps if your visitors are suitable cowed before they've even gotten to speak to you.

THE EMPEROR has called for his servant, and Darth Vader has come to the Death Star’s immense throne room to receive his orders.
To approach the Emperor’s throne, visitors must cross a narrow bridge over a vast chasm. If they dare peer over the edge they will see, a mile below, the terrible glow of the space station’s main reactor.
Then they must climb several sets of stairs placed there for no reason other than their own inconvenience.
There is no luxury in this throne room. It is all girders and catwalks and strange machinery that hums, buzzes, and sometimes growls.
Even the throne is menacing, more like a chunk of black rock than a chair. It doesn’t even have a cushion.
This whole throne room was designed for just one purpose: to intimidate.

Star Wars: Return of the Jedi - Beware the power of the Dark Side


Intimidation. Long, deadly drops cause unease in those coming before the emperor. Especially when he has force powers to flick people off the edge.

It's the usual half-baked plan by an evil villain that backfires when he becomes a victim of it

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