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There are many mysteries in the Star Wars universe, and one that fans have been wondering about for years is how many people died when the Death Star was destroyed? The Star Wars universe began its pop culture reign in 1977 with the film now known as Star Wars: A New Hope, which culminated with the destruction of the Empire"s superweapon.
Destroying the Death Star was an act of heroism on the part of the Rebel Alliance, with Luke Skywalker and Han Solo rewarded for their bravery and actions, but it"s not such a heroic action from a certain point-of-view. It"s long been a running joke in Star Wars fandom about the Rebels taking so many lives, but even Star Wars canon now has the Empire spreading propaganda that the Rebels are actually terrorists who want to take lives rather than bring peace, and the Death Star is a key part of that. It"s true that a lot of people were killed when the Death Star blew up, but how many exactly?
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Given the size of the first Death Star (100km in diameter, with the second beyond 160km) and estimated numbers of lives on board (said to be 1.7 million military personnel and 400,000 droids), many fans have come up with approximate numbers of deaths. Some have said 1,186,583 people died in the first Death Star and 2,471,647 in the second one, but the closest Star Wars fans can get to the number of people (and other species) that inhabited the first Death Star is in the Death Star Technical Companion book – which isn’t canon anymore, but offers a good perspective on the topic. In it, the Death Star is said to have had a crew of 265,675, as well as 52,276 gunners, 607,360 troops, 42,782 ship support staff, and 180,216 pilots and support crew, making it a total of 1,148,309 people on board. Although the attack didn’t really give them a chance to leave, it’s hard to believe that all of them were on board at that moment, so the final number could be slightly smaller.
As for the second Death Star, some numbers can be taken from the Star Wars: Behind the Magic interactive CD-Rom released in 1998, which said it had a crew of 485, 560, plus 152,275 gunners, 1,295,950 troops, 127,570 infantries, 75,850 technical personnel, and 334,432 pilots – not counting the contractors on board, as the Death Star was under construction. This gives a total of 2,471,647, again supposing they were all there when it was destroyed. More recent Star Wars canon material sets the Death Stars’ death toll at “nearly one and a half million people” (according to Star Wars: Bloodline), with others going as far as saying the first Death Star alone killed “nearly two million” or “nearly a million” (both from Star Wars: Lost Stars).
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All these numbers are just approximates, as the official number might never be known – unless George Lucas wants to share. But taking all these sources into account, the death toll of the first Death Star can be left as around 1.1 million and the one of the second Death Star as over two million, which is still a lot even for Star Wars – more so considering that this happened in the first three films of the franchise.