As numerous websites have said, 'In a world full of droids it makes no sense not to shoot at something that doesn't show life signs'.

Of course the gunner may not have known about the Death Star plans and may have figured it was some sort of distraction or trick by the doomed Tantive IV.

Why didn't they destroy the escape pod?

  • 2
    The short and sweet answer is that if they blew up the pod the entire franchise would have lasted for about 60 minutes. Everything else is simply justification for this plot device. Also consider the effect of this one-word edit: "There she is! Set for kill!"
    – paul
    Mar 7, 2015 at 15:05
  • If they destroyed that pod, the true hero (R2D2) would have been destroyed with it.
    – Mr.Mindor
    Mar 7, 2015 at 21:03
  • 1
    Obligatory clip from Spaced: youtu.be/EZnsOZsA7_4 Mar 7, 2015 at 22:25

3 Answers 3


According to the official novelisation, it was to save energy.

Moving to the man’s position, the Captain stared into the circular viewscreen and saw a tiny dot dropping away toward the fiery world below. “There goes another pod, sir. Instructions?” The officer’s hand hovered over a computerized energy battery.

Casually, confident in the firepower and total control under his command, the Captain studied the nearby readouts monitoring the pod. All of them read blank.

“Hold your fire, Lieutenant Hija. Instruments show no life forms aboard. The pod’s release mechanism must have short-circuited or received a false instruction. Don’t waste your power.” He turned away, to listen with satisfaction to the reports of captured men and material coming from the rebel ship.

It's worth noting that Vader didn't even consider the possibility that these vital plans would have been entrusted to a mere droid, guessing that the pod simply contained "tapes". Under normal circumstances droids are relatively stupid and lack any sense of autonomy so it must have come as something of a surprise to find that they'd been outsmarted by a toaster:

Vader appeared thoughtful. “It could have been a malfunctioning pod,” he mused, “that might also have contained the tapes. Tapes are not life forms. In all probability any native finding them would be ignorant of their importance and would likely clear them for his own use. Still …

“Send down a detachment to retrieve them, or to make certain they are not in the pod,” he finally ordered the Commander and attentive officer. “Be as subtle as possible; there is no need to attract attention, even on this miserable outpost world.”

In the new Star Wars story From a Certain Point of View: The Sith of Datawork, we learn that promotions among Imperial gunnery commanders were linked to "kill ratios", and that firing upon a pod registering as empty would count against their score even if they hit it perfectly.

Well, this was interesting. “Are we trying to conserve lasers now?” He ignored my sarcasm, but his face turned red. “The sensors detected no life-forms aboard. I thought…um…we wouldn’t have been scored with a kill…so…”

Of course; now his actions made perfect sense. Annoyed with rebel propaganda that showed Imperials to be poor shots—frankly, the stormtroopers could do with more targeting drills—fleet bureaucrats had issued a new policy that tied gunnery officers’ promotions to their kill ratios. Shots fired at unoccupied escape pods would indeed be considered wasted. I thought this was a terrible idea at the time. The new policy would encourage some ambitious gunners to aim for rebel pilots in disabled vessels rather than dangerous, armed drones. But the brass never asked for my opinion.

Star Wars: The Sith of Datawork

  • 1
    That exotic gas for the particle beams don't come cheap.
    – Firebat
    Mar 7, 2015 at 12:06
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    @s.fruggiero - I'm guessing you don't get to become a Captain if you go around wasting your power taking potshots at every passing object.
    – Valorum
    Mar 7, 2015 at 12:49
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    @Null It was the captain's call to not shoot the escape pod. It was Vader's call to send the detachment down. And then the captain was never heard from again.
    – phantom42
    Mar 7, 2015 at 15:07
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    @DanPichelman Judging from other turbolasers we've seen, it would have taken about 1/2 of a second.
    – KSmarts
    Mar 7, 2015 at 16:24
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    @Paulster2 - Well indeed. If he'd spent G$5 less on C3P0's software, the entire Empire wouldn't have collapsed. For the want of a nail, and all that...
    – Valorum
    Mar 7, 2015 at 16:51

Destroying the escape pod must take a lot of energy so to cut-down on energy use they believed that the pod had no value to be destroyed.

It would have also destroyed the Death Star plans (which they didn't know were in the pod) so they did they right thing but ultimately this caused the Death Star's destruction from a 'certain point of view'.

  • Jussi, can you please ensure that you use spell-check and ensure that your sentences make grammatical sense in English.
    – Valorum
    Mar 7, 2015 at 21:58
  • When you've managed to accrue a couple of upvotes you'll be able to use the comments system. In the meantime, please don't create extra answers to reply.
    – Valorum
    Mar 7, 2015 at 22:17

I like to think that it’s an expensive piece of equipment and they assumed that someone would attempt to recover it and fix it.

  • 1
    Compared to what they make this seems highly unlikely.
    – TheLethalCarrot
    Oct 27, 2019 at 11:39

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