Question from a Listener: “Why is it called ‘Death Star’?”

Another listener of Words With Nerds (and Aggressive Negotiations) asked me a probing question about Star Wars that I feel compelled to tackle.

The question is why the Galactic Empire called their battle station (The) Death Star. Directly from the note: “I mean, they even confuse it for a moon upon approach, so how come not the Death Moon or Moon of Death.”

It seems simple on its face, but as I mused about it, it seemed fun to ponder. After all, as the Bard once pondered, “What’s in a name?” Surely, a Death Star by any other name would be just as deadly.

Death Moon

I have to admit that Death Moon is a pretty awesome name. It works not only as a name for a dreadful thing, but as an awesome Heavy Metal band.

However, it sounds like a destination. You send convicted criminals to Death Moon. You direct your ex to Death Moon “accidentally,” “mistaking” the coordinates for the nearest WaWa.

Death Moon, however, also implies a stationary thing. One does not expect a moon to travel. A planet or a star can travel aimlessly rogue (so it’s a “rogue one” maybe?), which means Death Star or Death Planet makes more sense.

Death Star 1
Death…Moon? Moon of Death?

Death Planet

The hurdle with the name Death Planet is that, while also an awesome Metal band name, it also implies some sort of relatively fixed position. Death Planet would likely be located in the bad part of the galaxy, possibly sick of always living in Krypton’s shadow, and enjoying its bad reputation. It’s on good terms with Giedi Prime, which is a sure sign it belongs to the wrong crowd.

I could see Death Planet being like some neat “survival of the fittest” planet where whoever gets off of it alive gets some special prize. Death Planet is like Running Man/Hunger Games/Predators/LV 426 World where you don’t want to be sent, but at the end of it all you’ve joined the resistance (“cause”) and will topple the something or other. I’m envisioning some planet where you need to wear spandex for some reason, too, though that seems silly since that’s not a terribly breathable fabric.

As a final note, “Death Planet” would be more suited to something like what “Starkiller Base” was.

So Why Death Star?

If you really want a justification, just say it’s got the power of a White Dwarf Star and…something-something-Star Trek-style Explanation. Or name some other class of star whose power it contains.

In the end, you name it “Death Star” just because it sounds cool. I mean, seriously, you just built a station with the destructive firepower to kill a planet. You get free reign to name it what you want. They’re just lucky I wasn’t in charge of naming the thing because I’d have given it a name like Super Happy Death Weapon or Vengeance Ball.

Death Star 2
Look! It’s Super Happy Death Weapon!