After killing the Emperor in his throne room in the second Death Star, Luke drags Vader's dying body to an Imperial shuttle to leave the station. He is not shown to have fought anyone on his way there and can leave freely.

How is that possible? I refuse to believe that nobody would bat an eye at a prisoner hauling a very injured Emperor's right hand man on his back towards the shuttle bay, with no word from the Emperor himself. Especially the Emperor's Royal Guard would start to ask questions when they see the prisoner they guided into the Emperor's throne room drag a dying Vader out of there, with the Emperor himself nowhere to be found.

Sure, this could be because of blind loyalty (maybe they were told to remain where they are and don't do anything until summoned by the Emperor), but I severly doubt this. And sure, the Death Star was under attack at the time but I doubt that nobody saw Luke at all. Has this been mentioned at all? Or has it been handwaved in some way?

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    The small matter of the DS just happening to be blowing up at the time and everyone else trying to get out alive may have had something to do with it. Imperial troops may be fanatical but they're not stupid.
    – user8719
    Commented Mar 24, 2015 at 10:36
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    But wouldn't the Royal Guard's first priorty be making sure that the Emperor is safe? Otherwise they're some rather crummy bodyguards. Commented Mar 24, 2015 at 10:48
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    If you're a guard, and you happen to see someone dragging the corpse of the most stupendous badass you've ever known, do you mess with him? NO.
    – gowenfawr
    Commented Mar 24, 2015 at 11:00
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    Does everyone know how Luke looks like? The emperor tried to convert Luke so he must have made sure that even if they do, they do not shoot him at sight. I can even imagine troops helping him. "Hey, your Lord Vader is injured, help me carry him". Everyone being loyal would likely do that, thinking that Luke is on their side.
    – PlasmaHH
    Commented Mar 24, 2015 at 15:56
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    @ThomasJacobs: We are in the middle of DS2 collapsing, I think getting everyone out there as fast as possible would have been according to any protocol.
    – PlasmaHH
    Commented Mar 24, 2015 at 16:05

6 Answers 6


I would like to point to the fact that when Luke is escaping with Darth Vader, the battle already took a huge step in favor of the alliance. The Shield generator on Endor was destroyed where every man inside the Death Star knew it wasn't fully defensively operational yet. The Star Destroyer crashed into the Death Star moments before.

I can imagine whenever you see the battle take a new direction that isn't in your favor, you will try to survive and let us not forget that the first Death Star was taken down too.

From the script on IMSDB:


Chaos. For the first time, the Death Star is rocked by explosions as the Rebel fleet, no longer backed against a wall, zooms over, unloading a heavy barrage. Imperial troops run in all directions, confused and desperate to escape.

In the midst of this uproar, Luke is trying to carry the enormous deadweight of his father's weakening body toward an Imperial shuttle. Finally, Luke collapses from the strain. The explosions grow louder as Vader draws him closer.

EDIT: @Boelabaal for why he didn't force lifted him:

EMPEROR Now, young Skywalker...you will die.

Although it would not have seemed possible, the outpouring of bolts from the Emperor's fingers actually increases in intensity, the sound screaming through the room. Luke's body writhes in pain.

Vader grabs the Emperor from behind, fighting for control of the robed figure despite the Dark Lord's weakened body and gravely weakened arm. The Emperor struggles in his embrace, his bolt-shooting hands now lifted high, away from Luke. Now the white lightning arcs back to strike at Vader. He stumbles with his load as the sparks rain off his helmet and flow down over his black cape. He holds his evil master high over his head and walks to the edge of the abyss at the central core of the throne room. With one final burst of his once awesome strength, Darth Vader hurls the Emperor's body into the bottomless shaft.

The Emperor's body spins helplessly into the void, arcing as it falls into the abyss. Finally, when the body is far down the shaft, it explodes, creating a rush of air through the room.Vader's cape is whipped by the wind and he staggers, and collapses toward the bottomless hole. Luke crawls to his father's side and pulls him away from the edge of the abyss to safety. Both the young Jedi and the giant warrior are too weak to move.

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    New question. Why didn't Luke use the force to help carry Vader's body?
    – Boelabaal
    Commented Mar 24, 2015 at 12:17
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    @Boelabaal see above :-)
    – Schuere
    Commented Mar 24, 2015 at 12:43
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    Don't see how the second part answers why he didn't lift him using the force, unless it is supposed to be implied that being too weak to move physically somehow translates into being too weak to use the force???
    – user11521
    Commented Mar 26, 2015 at 15:43
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    @Michael I'd like to see you succeed at focussing your willpower on anything other than staying conscious and continuing to breathe after having been simultaneously electrocuted and having the life-force drained from you by Sith Lightning.
    – Adrian
    Commented Mar 26, 2015 at 22:27
  • @Michael, i agree with Adrian. You could also ask a new question: why didn't Vader Force-Shove or Force-Push the emperor into the Abyss? I think he also at that moment was to weak to use the force.
    – Schuere
    Commented Mar 27, 2015 at 14:50

The important part was for Luke and Vader to get past the Royal Guard.

Once they did this, escaping might not be too difficult:

  • Injured or not, Vader is still the Emperor's second-in-command. If any Imperials take an unwelcome interest, he can simply order them to get out of the way.
  • Given that the Death Star is about to explode, Imperials may be busy saving themselves. IIRC, we do see a few Imperial officers glance curiously at Luke and Vader, before continuing on their way.
  • There is an elevator-like transport system in the Death Star. Once Luke drags Vader into a transport pod, the chances of anyone interfering with them are much less.

So, how did they sidestep the Royal Guard? We don't know for sure, but here are some possibilities:

  • Jedi mind trick: "You don't need to see my identification." The Royal Guard may be pretty tough in a fight, but don't necessarily have any resistance to Force powers.
  • The ever-popular method of sneaking through maintenance tunnels, ventilation ducts, or crawl spaces.
  • The Emperor may have deliberately installed a private back door to his throne room, without any guards.
  • "we do see a few Imperial officers glance curiously at Luke and Vader" - I think this may be a clue to Luke (and perhaps Vader's) use of the force to make the guards ignore them "these are not the Jedi/Imperial henchman you are looking for".
    – robert
    Commented Mar 24, 2015 at 11:41
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    Didn't the Emperor tell the royal guard to leave before all of the lightsaber shenanigans? Commented Mar 24, 2015 at 16:40
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    "The Emperor may have deliberately installed a private back door to his throne room, without any guards." - this concept definitely is supported both by Legends canon (e.g. Xizor book), and the New Disney canon (e.g. "Tarkin" novel) Commented Mar 24, 2015 at 16:57
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    Regarding the elevator, I've always assumed there was a private elevator directly connecting the Emperor's apartment/throne room with the hangar bay where Luke and Vader arrived in the shuttle. So Luke only had to drag Vader's body to the elevator and from there across the hangar floor to the shuttle.
    – RobertF
    Commented Mar 24, 2015 at 17:02
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    @JeremyFrench - True, the Emperor dismissed his Guard and they disappeared (but note they didn't use the elevator - they seem to have retreated to an adjoining apartment I guess?). As completely loyal minions of evil they remained dismissed even while their master went plummeting to his death, shrieking. :)
    – RobertF
    Commented Mar 24, 2015 at 17:09

The Emperor is dead, and Lord Vader is dying – these are two very central loci of the dark side of the Force. It is likely that the Emperor was using the Force, alongside politics and coercion, to maintain the order of his domain.

With the Emperor dead, this “spell” is broken.

Luke, on the other side of the force, is now its most powerful vessel, and is perhaps so overall. As we have witnessed in previous scenes, this has a dramatic power to alter events, perceptions, as well as making him a spectacularly dangerous character. He may well have had the ability to distort reality around him to the point that all onlookers were oblivious.

Even without that though, there are various non-metaphysical reasons: as others have mentioned the Death Star is about to blow up; the Imperial Guard may well have just committed suicide since they failed to protect the Emperor, and there isn’t really a secondary jobs market out there for them.

Maybe a couple of foolish guards did attempt to get in Luke’s way, but the encounters were perhaps so inconsequential (this is a guy who has just defeated the two most powerful people in the universe – he can handle a guard or two) that they weren’t retained in the record of events.

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    I'm pretty sure that, according to EU/Legends, the Emperor was using the Force to maintain order.
    – KSmarts
    Commented Mar 24, 2015 at 13:25
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    "there isn't a secondary jobs market out there for them" The elite guard of the galactic emperor and lord of the Sith? There are definitely no shortage of employment opportunities for someone skilled like that.
    – TylerH
    Commented Mar 24, 2015 at 14:29
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    Maybe as Ronin... but anyway, the point is, if it were a profession based on transferable skills, rather than unquestioned loyalty, I'd imagine they'd be on their way to craigslist or something, looking for new opportunities.
    – robert
    Commented Mar 24, 2015 at 14:31
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    @KSmarts I remember that too, I think it's in the Thrawn series. Thrawn explains that the Emperor's death, and therefore the loss of his Force powers assisting/coordinating the Empire's forces, was a big reason the Empire lost the battle.
    – Dan C
    Commented Mar 24, 2015 at 15:40
  • I don't think you even need to go there .. in the original three movies it's quite clear that his fortune telling powers play a large part in his strategies.
    – robert
    Commented Mar 24, 2015 at 15:42

This is dealt with in the official Novelisation. In short, the death of the Emperor resulted in a vacuum in the Force. Additionally, the Death Star is under direct attack and starting to come apart at the seams. With his troops running around hysterically, Luke makes his escape:

Smoke was everywhere, substantial rumblings came from all directions at once, people were running and shouting. Electrical fires, steam explosions, cabin depressurizations, disruption of chain-of-command. Added to this, the continued bombardments by Rebel cruisers—smelling fear in the enemy—merely heightened the sense of hysteria that was already pervasive.

For the Emperor was dead. The central, powerful evil that had been the cohesive force to the Empire was gone; and when the dark side was this diffused, this nondirected — this was simply where it led.

Confusion. Desperation. Damp fear.

In the midst of this uproar, Luke had made it, somehow, to the main docking bay—where he was trying to carry the hulking deadweight of his father’s weakening body toward an Imperial shuttle. Halfway there, his strength finally gave out, though; and he collapsed under the strain.

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    "DAMP fear"?! Is there dry fear? Wet fear? Moist fear? Soggy fear? Can I get spring-fresh dryer sheets for my fear? Or is the author saying the Imperials pissed themselves? Those black pants would hide it pretty well.
    – Schwern
    Commented Mar 26, 2015 at 17:23
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    @Schwern - I think it's a lovely turn of phrase...
    – Valorum
    Commented Mar 26, 2015 at 18:28
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    I think it's the kind of fear that brings you out in a cold sweat. Commented Jan 19, 2016 at 13:06

Let's compare and contrast Luke's arrival and actions on DS2 with his arrival and actions on DS1.

When Luke arrives aboard the first Death Star, it's on a freighter everyone has searched for that came from a planet where a ship was captured that was carrying top secret imperial plans. This is a hot button issue. It's likely to be all over DS1 in a matter of minutes. Then they blow their way out of a detention block, disable a tractor beam, and rescue a captured princess. It's hightly likely at this point that the entire Death Star is on high alert. It's KNOWN that the princess escaped. It's KNOWN that someone is doing things to the Death Star.

Now jump to Luke on DS2. He willingly surrenders to Vader. Arrives on board an Imperial Ship, in the company of a Dark Lord of the Sith. No one is going to question that. Then he gets a personal visitation with the Emperor himself. After which, he emerges (still in the company of a Dark Lord of the Sith) from the Emperors chambers. And remember too per the movie, the Emperor orders his guards away ("Leave us!"). (Do they even know he's dead? That's an argument for another answer, I'm sure.)

At this point, how many OTHER people actually know the Emperor is dead? With the space battle going on outside and a Shield Generator up and protecting the station, how many ships have actually landed inside? It's highly unlikely there was any kind of high alert for internal suspects, or that a majority of the station (or any of it, possibly) was even aware the Emperor was dead. There was no reason at all to suspect that Luke was anything but a guest of Lord Vader (Something that, if you pull from the EU, happens quite often. And people visiting the Emperor with Lightsabers is not all that uncommon either when you look at the Inquisitors and the Emperor's Hands). What possible reason could they have for detaining his last guest who was departing in exactly the same manner he arrived in?

TLDR: What reason would a majority of the station who has not witnessed what occurred have to stop someone accompanying Lord Vader off the DS2 as it's being attacked?

  • Tarkin did put DS1 on high alert as soon as he was notified about the disturbance in Leia's detention block. Commented Nov 19, 2015 at 21:24

There are a few things going for Luke to keep him from drawing attention during the chaos.

Luke appears to be unarmed. He doesn't have a blaster, and the common Stormtrooper is unlikely to recognize what his lightsaber is. He isn't a visible threat.

He has Vader with him, still conscious. Anyone who did try to stop him would simply be ordered by Vader to leave them alone. We don't see this happen, but it's easy enough to imagine, since Vader was up to this point a loyal servant of the Emperor, and would still have clout (and is more concerned for his son than for the Empire, clearly).

The Emperor is missing. Nobody but Luke and Vader know the details of how he died, so the first order of business is to find him and evacuate him from the station for the royal guards. Vader meanwhile is being dragged to safety, so there's no reason for them to stop Luke from doing this.

And as people have pointed out, the ship is in absolute chaos at the moment - not a time to be asking anybody why they're trying to drag Vader to an escape shuttle, which is where he should be getting taken anyway.

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    Luke did have his lightsaber on him when he escaped, unless he build an exact replica while the Ewoks were getting pyre wood: scifi.stackexchange.com/questions/72875 Commented Mar 24, 2015 at 20:32
  • @ThomasJacobs Well caught. Updated.
    – Zibbobz
    Commented Mar 24, 2015 at 20:33

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