In the final battle, human space fleet approaches the enemy planet, and most of the ships are sacrificed in a tactical maneuver. How many people were on these ships, and what was their role?

  • 2
    I've not seen the film but can this question actually be answered? I couldn't begin to estimate how many people we killed in the battle of Return of the Jedi or the one in Matrix Revolutions?
    – Liath
    Commented Nov 22, 2013 at 10:06
  • And this is something as well which diverges from the book ... Seems to me they were implying the ships in the final battle were all drone controlled by ansible (though they didn't explain what an ansible was). In the book, they were piloted by humans. If so, in the movie no humans would have died, just ships. I may be mistaken by this point, but is what I gleaned from the movie. Commented Nov 22, 2013 at 12:45
  • @Paulster2 I definitely agree with this. Deviating greatly from the book, it is heavily suggested to me that the final battle occurred remotely and humans weren't really at the battle front at all, which takes away hugely from a point once made to Ender by Mazer that ships were not expendable.
    – hexparrot
    Commented Nov 22, 2013 at 15:13
  • Well, it's the confusion about where people actually were during the battle that made me think they were on board of the ships that were sacrificed without second thought that supposedly is the main reason of the shock of the whole group once the truth about the operation is revealed. Commented Nov 22, 2013 at 16:54
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    In the book they were definitely on board the ship, I am still unclear in the movie. I thought I remembered Graff tell Ender after the fact it was actually ships controlled through the ansible and not a simulation, but not really saying about people being on board. Really unclear. Commented Nov 22, 2013 at 18:53

3 Answers 3


Just saw this movie not long ago for the advanced screening. Its seems that thousands were killed in the battle as Ender was made to believe he was in a simulation but he actually wasn't. Harrison Ford states that thousands were necessarily sacrificed in the battle.

  • I thought the fighters that created the "shield" around the cannon-ship were drones. So my assumption is the "thousands" were either people lost in past battle, or on the capital ships that were destroyed. Commented Jan 9, 2019 at 18:54

In the movie, the small fighters are actually indeed drones controlled by the pilots at Ender's side. However, as Colonel Graff reveals, "We lost a thousand men on the transporters you abandoned!", the Transports do indeed have personnel onboard if only in minimal amounts. Also, if you notice when Ender is giving commands, he refers to the collective as a "Battle Group", and he orders them to deploy their drones, implying that the carriers and dreadnoughts themselves are not unmanned.


During the film, the fighters were referred to as drones. Hence them acting more like a swarm. However, the transports, which Ender ordered the drones away from, were manned. I believe they mentioned thousands died on the transports.

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