Star Wars expanded universe
The Star Wars expanded universe (also known as the EU), encompasses all of the officially licensed, fictional material of the Star Wars saga, outside of the six feature films, The Clone Wars film and series, and Rebels series produced by Lucasfilm. The expanded universe includes books, comic books, video games, toys, and other assorted media.
On April 25, 2014, following the acquisition of Lucasfilm by The Walt Disney Company in November 2012, it was announced that all previously released Expanded Universe content would be rebranded as Star Wars Legends. A new company division, Lucasfilm Story Group, will ensure from now on that all new comics, books, games, and other media are non-contradictory to each other and previous works, and valid to the story being told in the films. Given they are part of the same story, however, content and characters from the Legends works may reappear in the new "storytelling approach".
- 1 History
- 2 Story eras
- 3 Works
- 4 Continuity and canonicity
- 5 Lucas's use of the Expanded Universe
- 6 See also
- 7 References
- 8 External links
< Development >
The early development of the Expanded Universe was sporadic and unrefined, particularly because there was so little official material for the creators to build on. For example, the "Expanded Universe" is generally considered to have begun with Alan Dean Foster's February 1978 Star Wars spin-off novel, [Splinter of the Mind's Eye] (although technically it began with Marvel Comics' Star Wars #7 in mid-January 1978). This novel drew inspiration primarily from an early draft of the Star Wars script and was conceptualized as a possible filmed sequel. Furthermore, while George Lucas was given sole writing credit for the original Star Wars novelization, Alan Dean Foster actually ghost-wrote it, contributing heavily to the Universe in the process. While he worked on the novelization, he was given a copy of the working script and a tour of the production.
Much of the early EU material from the early 1980s contained analogies to the real world, rather than embracing the holistic fiction of the Star Wars films. Much of this material now seems rather detached from the rest of the EU.
A turning point was reached when West End Games began publishing the Star Wars Roleplaying Game in 1987. In order for players of the roleplaying game to create new adventures, West End Games needed to provide supplemental material describing the Star Wars universe in previously unknown detail. For example, the Aurebesh alphabet was originally a random piece of set dressing in Return of the Jedi. Stephen Crane copied those symbols and turned them into a complete and coherent alphabet (which would later be used in the feature films). Developing details like this in a consistent fashion turned West End Games' Star Wars products into a de facto reference library for the Star Wars universe, to the point where Lucasfilm actually sent copies of the game supplements to other EU developers to use as source material.
Shortly thereafter, in the early 1990s, Bantam published Timothy Zahn's Thrawn trilogy. Widely publicized as the "sequels which were never made", Zahn's novels reignited Star Wars fandom and sparked a revolution in Star Wars literature. Around this same time, Dark Horse Comics acquired the Star Wars license and used it to launch a number of ambitious sequels to the original trilogy, including the popular Dark Empire stories.
All this development began to feed back on itself: West End Games was producing roleplaying supplements detailing the material from Dark Horse's comics and Zahn's novels. Novelists and comic creators were using West End Games' supplements as reference material. Sequels to the novels were being published as comics and vice versa. The scope of the Expanded Universe grew at a prodigious rate.
To date, the bulk of the Expanded Universe has detailed the Star Wars universe after the end of Return of the Jedi, as numerous topics, including the rise of the Galactic Empire, the personal histories of Anakin Skywalker and Emperor Palpatine, and the Clone Wars had been declared off limits by George Lucas before the development of the prequel trilogy.
It was decided in the late 1990s that using the Empire as the villains had become repetitive and monotonous. Hence a new threat, the Yuuzhan Vong, was introduced in The New Jedi Order, more specifically, in the first book of the series, Vector Prime. Vector Prime proved controversial, as it marked the first and only time a major character from the films (Chewbacca) was killed off in an Expanded Universe work.
The Expanded Universe and the prequels
Prior to the release of The Phantom Menace, Lucasfilm specifically prohibited development of the time period before A New Hope in the Expanded Universe (with the exception of the Tales of the Jedi series which took place thousands of years before the movies). The release of Episode I, however, created an entirely new storyline for writers to work from.
Since The Phantom Menace was set in a time of peace, it was hard to invent any kind of threat for the heroes to fight against. Thus most material that built on The Phantom Menace was either set before or during the film, rather than after.
Attack of the Clones, on the other hand, introduced another fresh conflict — one which fans had wanted to see for over twenty years. Aside from being explored in comics and novels, the Clone Wars would be given their own animated series Star Wars: Clone Wars, which would serve to lead up to the release of Revenge of the Sith. In this series, many battles throughout the galaxy are shown, with the Force shown to seemingly its full extent in fantastic fights, such as Mace Windu single-handedly destroying a whole droid army, without even using a lightsaber. The first (2004) season of the series concludes by introducing the newest villain, General Grievous, an important character in Episode III. Grievous was also a main player on episodes 21-25, released in 2005 and leading directly to Episode III. Following the release of Episode III, events between the two trilogies are now being elaborated, like the Great Jedi Purge.
In addition to adding new possibilities, the prequel trilogy contradicted a number of statements involving the Clone Wars in existing novels. In Timothy Zahn's Thrawn trilogy, for example, the dates given for the war were inaccurate. This was since retconned by explaining that the dates were given using the Noghri calendar. Also, the character Admiral Pellaeon makes a specific statement about fighting clones in the Fleet (presumably under the Republic) and that the early clones were "unstable, sometimes spectacularly so." This completely contradicts the prequels, but was later addressed in Karen Travis's Republic Commando books by the addition of the Nulls. And again, in book three, True Colors, Pellaeon makes his first chronologically appropriate appearance as a fresh Republic officer. As well, with all six films officially released, more and more ties between the prequel and original trilogy eras are being made. Rogue Planet ''s introduction of Zonama Sekot, for example, was both an important tie-in to Episode II and part of the resolution for the New Jedi Order series. And Outbound Flight linked The Phantom Menace with several Zahn novels (the Thrawn trilogy, Specter of the Past, Vision of the Future, and Survivor's Quest).
Disney's acquisition of Lucasfilm
After Lucasfilm was purchased by The Walt Disney Company on October 30, 2012, it was decided that a sequel trilogy would be made. These movies will not tell stories of the Expanded Universe, and instead be completely original stories. On April 25, 2014, it was revealed that existing EU material would be republished under a new banner, Star Wars Legends. Also, a new line of EU material would be published by Disney Publishing Worldwide, starting with Star Wars: A New Dawn by John Jackson Miller, a prequel to the TV show Star Wars Rebels. This would be followed by Star Wars: Tarkin by James Luceno, Star Wars: Heir to the Jedi by Kevin Hearne, and Star Wars: Lords of the Sith by Paul S. Kemp. To ensure continuity within Star Wars canon going forth, a close story group has been formed by Lucasfilm to watch over all Star Wars development.
Unlike the films, which are set over a span over 36 years, the expanded universe takes place over 37,139 years in the Star Wars universe. The earliest work involving the expanded universe chronologically is the Dawn of the Jedi comic series, whose earliest events take place 37,000 years before the films. The most recent is the Legacy comic series, which is set at most 139 years after Return of the Jedi.
The Galactic Standard Calendar was the standard measurement of time in the Star Wars galaxy. It centered around the Coruscant tropical year. The Coruscant solar cycle was 368 days long; with a day consisting 360 NET degrees (or 24 standard hours). Numerous epochs were used to determine calendar eras. The most recent of these calendar eras used the Battle of Yavin (i.e. the destruction of the first Death Star) as its epoch, or "year zero": BBY (Before the Battle of Yavin), and ABY (After the Battle of Yavin).
The timeline below uses the in-universe BBY dating system, based on the years before and after the Battle of Yavin featured in A New Hope. The earliest date in the Expanded Universe as a whole is 13,000,000,000 BBY, which serves as the year the universe was created.
- The Pre-Republic Era (13,000,000,000 BBY - 25,053 BBY)
Set before the rise of the Republic and first mentioned in the Knights of the Old Republic, this era saw the Rakata, a bipedal species from the world of Lehon in the Unknown Regions, establish an empire using the Dark Side of the Force. This era ended with the collapse of their Empire and the establishment of the Galactic Republic in 25,053 BBY.
- The Old Republic (25,053 BBY - 1,000 BBY)
In this era (set thousands of years before the films), the Jedi are numerous and rule the galaxy, serving as guardians of peace and justice. The Tales of the Jedi comics series takes place in this era, chronicling the immense wars fought by the Jedi of old, and the ancient Sith. The Knights of the Old Republic series and the MMORPG Star Wars: The Old Republic takes place during this time, as well as the Darth Bane series. The Sith Era also takes place during this time.
- The Rise of the Empire (1,000 BBY - 0 BBY)
Set in the time around the prequel trilogy this era takes place after the seemingly final defeat of the Sith. In the waning years of the Republic, the Senate was rife with corruption and scandal, and saddled with a bureaucracy so immense that effective governing was nearly impossible. The Sith Lord, Darth Sidious, secretly orchestrated his rise to Supreme Chancellor under the guise of Senator Palpatine and personally engineered the Clone Wars. He promised to reunite the galaxy under a New Order, and destroyed the majority of the Jedi. The Phantom Menace takes place in the year 32 BBY, Attack of the Clones and The Clone Wars film in 22 BBY, and Revenge of the Sith in 19 BBY.
- The Rebellion (0 BBY - 4 ABY)
With the Old Republic gone, an outcry of resistance begins to spread across the galaxy in protest to the new Empire's tyranny. Cells of Rebellion fight back, and the Galactic Civil War begins. This era begins with the Rebel victory that secured the Death Star plans, and ends after the death of the Emperor high over the forest moon of Endor. The Rebellion starts to reform itself into a body of government, first as the Alliance to Restore the Republic, and later the New Republic. The original trilogy takes place during this era. Specifically, A New Hope takes place in 0 BBY, The Empire Strikes Back in 3 ABY, and Return of the Jedi in 4 ABY.
- The New Republic (4 ABY - 25 ABY)
Having defeated the Empire at the Battle of Endor, the Rebel Alliance must now transform itself from a militant resistance force into a functioning galactic government. As Imperial territory is reclaimed, the New Republic suffers growing pains, having to fend off insurrections, Imperial loyalists, and wayward warlords. Also, Luke Skywalker, the last of the Jedi, begins to rebuild the Jedi Order and train new apprentices.
- The New Jedi Order (25 ABY - 37 ABY)
With the Jedi Knights now over one hundred strong the New Republic has signed a peace treaty with the remains of the Empire. The galaxy is finally enjoying a peaceful respite from decades of war. It's in this era that a horrible alien menace invades the Republic from beyond known space. The Yuuzhan Vong lay waste to entire worlds in their scourge, as depicted in the novels of The New Jedi Order. The Dark Nest trilogy falls at the end of this era. The mysterious Killik encroach upon Chiss-controlled space, inciting a three-way war between the Chiss, the Killik Hive, and the Galactic Alliance, with Jedi falling in on all sides. The sequel trilogy is set to begin in this era, though it is unknown if it will also end in this era.
- Legacy (37 ABY - 139 ABY)
Having reached peace with the Yuuzhan Vong, the newly formed Galactic Federation of Free Alliances (commonly referred to as Galactic Alliance or GA) struggles to keep itself working as a single government. But many threats from inside are joined by a danger that comes from the remains of the Dark Side, that threaten to give rise to a new Sith Lord more powerful than Darth Vader or Emperor Palpatine. The new Jedi Order created by Luke Skywalker faces a new era as the heirs of the Skywalker legacy grow up. Jacen Solo has partnered with a nemesis from Luke Skywalker's past, Lumiya, who has promised him only if he becomes the next Sith Lord will he be able to bring peace to the galaxy. The Legacy of the Force novels are set at this time. Following the culmination of the Legacy of the Force novels, a series titled Fate of the Jedi begins, involving Luke as he tries to correct the blemish left on the Jedi Order by Jacen Solo. Much later in this era, as suggested by the title, is the Legacy comic series. Set one-hundred thirty years after the films, these comics follow the story of Cade Skywalker, a descendant of Luke Skywalker who has to confront a resurrected Galactic Empire under the control of a new Sith Order. Volume 2 follows the adventures of Ania Solo, a descendant of Han Solo as she wanders the galaxy trying to stop the plots of the evil Darth Wredd.
Film, television, and web series
- Star Wars Holiday Special (1978) was a two-hour television special portraying Chewbacca's return to his home planet of Kashyyyk to celebrate Life Day with his family. Along with the stars of the original 1977 movie, such TV and music stars as Bea Arthur, Art Carney, and Jefferson Starship appeared in plot-related skits and musical numbers. The Holiday Special features the first appearance of bounty hunter Boba Fett, in an 11-minute animated sequence, and the first reference to Kashyyyk. The special was extremely infamous, only received one airing, and in later years, Lucas has admitted to being ashamed of it.
- Caravan of Courage: An Ewok Adventure (1984) was the first of two films featuring the Ewoks from Return of the Jedi. In Caravan of Courage, the Ewoks help two children rescue their parents from a giant known as Gorax. This and the next film are notable for having their stories written by Lucas himself; one of his few contributions to non-theatrical Star Wars productions, other than his obvious sanctioning of them.
- Ewoks: The Battle for Endor (1985). In this second Ewok film, Wicket, Cindel, and the Ewoks ally with a hermit named Noa to defeat Marauders who attacked their village.
- Star Wars: Droids (1985–1986) was an animated series following the adventures of C-3PO and R2-D2 between Revenge of the Sith and A New Hope. It featured Anthony Daniels as the voice of C-3PO.
- Star Wars: Ewoks (1985–1987) was an animated series featuring the adventures of the Ewoks before Return of the Jedi and the Ewok movies.
- Star Wars: Clone Wars (2003–2005) aired on the Cartoon Network and depicted events between Attack of the Clones and Revenge of the Sith. The series received an Emmy Award and introduced the character of General Grievous.
- LEGO Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Out
- Lego Star Wars: The Yoda Chronicles (2013) is a web series based on the toy, Lego Star Wars, created by the Lego company. It is a prequel to the main series' first movie, Lego Star Wars: The Padawan Menace. Yoda begins by training Padawans but then he feels a disturbance in the Force and rushes off to fight the Dark Side.
- Star Wars Detours is a non-canon animated comedy series featuring characters and situations from throughout the film timeline. On March 11, 2013, Lucasfilm announced that Detours would be postponed until a later date as the company furthers development of the Star Wars sequel trilogy.
Radio and audio drama
A radio adaptation of A New Hope was first broadcast on National Public Radio in 1981. The adaptation was written by science fiction author Brian Daley and directed by John Madden. It was followed by adaptations of the next two films in the original trilogy: The Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi.
The radio adaptations were notable for including background material probably created by Lucas but not used for the films. Mark Hamill, Anthony Daniels, and Billy Dee Williams reprised their roles as Luke Skywalker, C-3PO, and Lando Calrissian, respectively; John Williams composed an original score; and Ben Burtt, who designed the sound for all of the Star Wars movies, did the same for the radio adaptations.
In 1983, Buena Vista Records released entirely original Star Wars audio drama, Rebel Mission to Ord Mantell. Like the radio adaptations of the films, Rebel Mission to Ord Mantell was written by Brian Daley.
For more than a decade, Rebel Mission to Ord Mantell was the only Star Wars drama not adapted from a feature film. Then, between 1995 and 1998 more than a half dozen audio dramas were released as audio tapes and CDs. These audio dramas were adapted from Dark Horse comic books, and include: Tales of the Jedi (1995), Tales from the Mos Eisley Cantina (1995), Dark Empire (1996), Dark Empire II (1996), Empire's End (1997), Dark Forces (1998), and Crimson Empire (1998).
Adaptations of the prequel films have not been made at this point.
Star Wars-based fiction predates the release of the first movie, with the 1976 novelization of "A New Hope" (ghost-written by Alan Dean Foster and credited to George Lucas). However, Foster's 1978 novel, Splinter of the Mind's Eye, was the first Expanded Universe work to be released. Some of the earliest EU material was contributed (in trilogies) by science-fiction writers Brian Daley (The Han Solo Adventures) and L. Neil Smith (The Adventures of Lando Calrissian) in 1979 and 1983, respectively. In addition to filling in the time between the movies, this additional content greatly expanded the Star Wars timeline before and after the film series.
Star Wars fiction flourished during the time of the original series (1977–1983), but slowed to a trickle afterwards. In 1991, however, Timothy Zahn's celebrated Thrawn trilogy debuted, sparking a new interest in the Star Wars universe. Since then, several hundred tie-in novels have been published by Bantam and Del Rey. The books have covered most key timeframes in the Star Wars universe, but most works have focused on the time period following Return of the Jedi and on the events of the Clone Wars. Select books have helped fill in the gaps between the original trilogy movies (e.g., Star Wars: Shadows of the Empire, Death Star, Tales series).
Other notable books in the series include the X-wing series by Michael A. Stackpole and Aaron Allston, the Jedi Academy trilogy and Young Jedi Knights series by Kevin J Anderson, the Republic and Imperial Commando series by Karen Traviss, and the multi-author New Jedi Order, Legacy of the Force, and Fate of the Jedi Series.
Comic books and strips
Marvel Comics published Star Wars comic book series and adaptations from 1977 to 1986. A wide variety of creators worked on this series, including Archie Goodwin, Howard Chaykin, Al Williamson, Carmine Infantino, Gene Day, Walt Simonson, Michael Golden, Chris Claremont, Whilce Portacio, Jo Duffy, and Ron Frenz.
Serialized Star Wars comic strips, featuring original material written by Roy Thomas, also appeared in Marvel's late-'70s youth-oriented magazine Pizzazz. As the earliest of these strips were published before original material began to appear in Marvel's Star Wars comics (which began by directly adapting the 1977 film) and before publication of Splinter of the Mind's Eye, these strips hold the distinction of being the first Star Wars material in print that was not adapted from one of the films.
Star Wars was also a daily newspaper comic strip from 1979 to 1984. Among the creators were Goodwin, Williamson, and Russ Manning. Dark Horse has also published the newspaper comic strip in a collection entitled Classic Star Wars.
In the late 1980s, Marvel announced it would publish a new Star Wars comic by Tom Veitch and Cam Kennedy. However, Dark Horse Comics published this story — titled "Dark Empire" -instead, when Marvel's license on the Star Wars property lapsed. Dark Horse has gone on to publish a large number of original adventures set in the Star Wars universe. These include: Star Wars Republic, Star Wars Empire, Star Wars Tales and Star Wars Tales of the Jedi. Dark Horse has also published the Marvel series in a collection entitled Star Wars: A Long Time Ago. In addition, the company has reprinted several Japanese manga-interpretations of the films, including Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back by Yoshiki Kudo and Star Wars: Return of the Jedi by Shin-ichi Hiromoto.
After The Walt Disney Company's acquisition of Lucasfilm in 2012, it was reported that Marvel, which Disney bought in 2009, will once again be distributing Star Wars comics once Dark Horse's contract expires. It was later confirmed on January 3 in 2014 that Marvel will, in fact, be publishing the Star Wars comics again in 2015 ending Dark Horse's publication of the series that began in 1991. The new comic series include one set after Episode IV and before Episode V, penned by Jason Aaron, as well as ones focusing on the exploits of Princess Leia, Darth Vader, and Kanan (a character from the Star Wars Rebels television series).
Computer and video games
Since 1983, over 120 video games have been published bearing the Star Wars name, beginning with Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back published for the Atari 2600 by Parker Brothers. Other early titles include the Star Wars Nintendo Entertainment System game (published by JVC) and three other titles for the Atari 2600.
Atari produced arcade games based on the original trilogy, beginning with Star Wars and The Empire Strikes Back, which were both 'flight sim' style games that used vector graphics. The third, Return of the Jedi, used more traditional raster graphics.
Star Wars has also opened the way to a myriad of Space-flight simulations that take the space wars of the saga in a more serious manner, teaching the player to fly various Star Wars universe starfighters like more traditional Modern Aircraft flight simulators. The first among these were X-Wing and its two expansions, B-Wing and Imperial Pursuit, dealing with the Rebellion's side of the war, taking place in the period right before, and up to, the destruction of the first Death Star. The second was TIE Fighter, dealing with the Empire's starfighters at the time before Episode VI. Both games were released for DOS and Macintosh. TIE Fighter also had two expansions, "Defender of the Empire" and "Enemies of the Empire". In addition, both the original X-Wing and TIE Fighter games saw two collector's edition releases (one for DOS and another for Windows 9x) which featured enhanced graphics quality and added missions. Newer simulators are also available, with X-Wing Alliance in the lead.
The first Star Wars first person shooter, Dark Forces, was introduced by LucasArts in February 1995. Telling the story of Kyle Katarn, Imperial soldier gone mercenary, the game featured a little over a dozen levels where the player explored various original and familiar settings. Featuring an original and interactive soundtrack by renowned game composer Clint Bajakian using the iMUSE sound system, along with state-of-the-art graphics, the game succeeded in capturing many gamers' imaginations. The 1997 sequel, Star Wars Jedi Knight: Dark Forces II, was notable for having a few cut scenes which were made up of live-action footage of certain Expanded Universe characters, such as Kyle Katarn.
Rogue Squadron was a cross-platform title on Nintendo 64 and PC which allowed the player to experience a more arcade-action version of the same gameplay in X-Wing and TIE Fighter. The game consisted of piloting several different Star Wars vehicles through missions on planet surfaces and in space. Rogue Squadron saw two sequels, both on the Nintendo GameCube system.
Star Wars: Rebellion allowed players to compete in the Star Wars universe on a larger scale, focusing more on the strategic aspect of handling (or defeating) a rebellion, with resource management and agent-allocation, as well as large-scale conflicts between entire fleets of starships.
Knights of the Old Republic by BioWare, Knights of the Old Republic II: The Sith Lords by Obsidian Entertainment are recent additions to the EU, and take place in the Old Republic era, right after the Mandalorian Wars.
Other games are: Battlefront, Battlefront II, Battlefront Renegade Squadron, Star Wars Battlefront Elite Squadron, Galactic Battlegrounds, Republic Commando, Episode III: The video game, LEGO Star Wars, LEGO Star Wars II, Jedi Outcast, Jedi Academy, Star Wars Galaxies, and Empire at War. Also released were Rebel Assault and Rebel Assault II which are considered by many to be more interactive movie than actual video game.
On September 16, 2008, LucasArts released Star Wars: The Force Unleashed which bridges the events from Episode III: Revenge of the Sith, to Episode IV: A New Hope. The game centers on Darth Vader's secret apprentice, called Starkiller, who goes out to destroy the last of the Jedi. A sequel, Star Wars: The Force Unleashed II, was released on October 26, 2010 that follows Starkiller as he attempts to exact revenge on Vader following the events of the first game. Both games received a novelization treatment released alongside them that expands on the events of the game and ties them in to the larger Expanded Universe.
In the fall of 2008, it was announced that Star Wars: The Old Republic (an MMORPG) was being developed by BioWare for the PC, it is intended to be a sequel to the successful Knights of the Old Republic (KOTOR) games, also produced by BioWare. Fans of the series were told to expect The Old Republic to be KOTOR 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8 and 9...alluding to the massive content the game is supposed to be planned to launch with.
Board and roleplaying games
In a 1996 game from Hasbro, entitled Star Wars: The Interactive Video Board Game, which is set during the era of the original trilogy, new live-action scenes were shot of Darth Vader on the Death Star around the events of Return of the Jedi. The footage was made available on a special VHS tape, included in the box of the game. When playing the board game, the players could put in the tape, which would play while they were in a game. David Prowse reprised his role as Vader, and James Earl Jones returned as the voice of Vader. Some of the original crew for A New Hope came back to shoot these scenes. A Star Wars board game was also released by Ravensburger in Germany in 2002.
Several editions of the Star Wars role playing games have been published.
- 1st Edition The 1st edition (a d6 version) was published by West End Games in 1987.
- 2nd Edition The 2nd edition was published by West End Games in 1992.
- 2.5th Edition The 2.5 edition was published by West End Games in 1996.
- 3rd Edition In late 2000, Wizards of the Coast released the 3rd edition (a d20 version).
- 3.5th Edition In 2002, Wizards of the Coast released the 3.5 edition.
- 4th Edition On June 5, 2007, Wizards introduced a 3rd d20 version of the game (4th RPG game version), dubbed the Saga edition. This edition was updated to include setting information from all six movies in the main series, as well as the events portrayed in the New Jedi Order novels. In addition to setting updates, the book also included a greatly revised version of the d20 system, adapted to work better with the fast pace and heroic feel of the Star Wars movies.
Bill Slavicsek worked on all the editions. He included a conversion table (from the previous d6 versions to the new d20 version) at the end of the 3rd edition that helped Star Wars RPG players adapt to the new d20 version.
In August 2011, Fantasy Flight Games acquired the rights to produce Star Wars roleplaying games, and released the first such book in June 2013. They have since gone on to produce a sizeable range, which distinct volumes covering groups working as smugglers, members of the Rebellion or even Jedi.
- Star Wars: Shadows of the Empire (1996) was an ambitious multimedia project created by Lucasfilm. Dubbed "a film without a film", Shadows of the Empire told the story of the events between The Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi, and introduced a new villain named Prince Xizor. Utilizing all previous types of media that have been used to present the Expanded Universe, the project included a novel written by Steve Perry, multiple comic book series, a soundtrack, a video game, concept art, action figures, and the like.
- The Clone Wars (2003–2005, 2008-2014). Using methods similar to the Shadows of the Empire project, Lucasfilm directed a widespread project to tell the stories of the Clone Wars. This project was made up of a theatrical film, novels, video games, comics, action figures, and two animated television series (described above).
- Star Wars: The Force Unleashed (2008-2010). Described as "the next chapter in the saga", The Force Unleashed follows the pattern set by the Shadows of the Empire and the Clone Wars projects, consisting of several elements commonly associated with the marketing of a feature film, including two video games, tie-in novels, action figures and a comic series. Along with the upcoming Rebels television series, it bridges the gap between Episode III and Episode IV, but takes place 3-4 years after that series.
- Journey to Star Wars: The Force Awakens (2015). A major publishing project, this series is intended to bridge the gap between the original trilogy and sequel trilogy.
- Return of the Ewok (1982) was a 24-minute fictional mockumentary-style movie, focusing on Warwick Davis' decision to become an actor and act as Wicket in Return of the Jedi.
- R2-D2: Beneath the Dome (2002) was a 20-minute mockumentary-style movie, focusing on the "true" story of R2-D2's life. It was made as a fun side-project by some of the crew of Star Wars Episode II: Attack of the Clones, but was later deemed suitable for television and for its own DVD.
In 1987, Lucasfilm and Disney, utilizing the power of ILM, teamed up to produce Star Tours, an amusement park simulator ride through the Star Wars galaxy. It was to be placed in the Tomorrowland section of the park, in the location of the dark ride Adventure Thru Inner Space. Later on it was decided to be put in Disney studios. The ride is advertised as an opportunity to take a tour to the forest moon of Endor via the Starship 3000. The ship is controlled by a robot named Rex (voiced by Paul Reubens of Pee Wee Herman fame), who is new at giving the tours, and your riding experience is his first time at the controls. Along the way, the rider encounters many mishaps, including run-ins with Imperial Star Destroyers, and near collisions with asteroid fields, until their ship finally makes it safely back into the port. A Star Tours II has been announced by George Lucas, to be based on prequel situations, although exactly when it will begin production or its opening date are yet to be confirmed. A limited-run line of action figures is also available exclusively in the Star Tours gift shop, based on droid characters from the ride and the line leading into it.
The ride was closed temporarily in 2010 and renovated under the title Star Tours: The Adventures Continue. The ride reopened in all parks in 2011, while the Tokyo Disneyland version opened in May 2013.
In addition, many other toys have been made. The Star Wars toy phenomenon began in 1978 with the original action figures, toy lightsabers and blasters, twelve-inch figures, toy vehicles, and much more products. These toys are known as the vintage Star Wars toys. Today many of these "vintage" figures are quite rare and hard to find. Many are also worth a lot of money. Recently, a toy line called Star Wars: The Original Trilogy Collection, brought back elements of the original vintage toy line, such as vintage packaging. With the coming of Star Wars: Episode I, Lego began creating little (and quite large) buildable Star Wars characters and scenes. Recently, the Lego creators have invented light-up lightsabers for their figures. Lego has even licensed these toys in the LEGO Star Wars video game series (mentioned above).
Many types of toys have been made. Darth Vader helmets and voice changers now inhabit the shelves, usually right next to the Ultimate Lightsaber Kit, which contains parts to design and assemble your own functional lightsaber toy. The term "Expanded Universe" was first used with Kenner's assortments of action figures based on the various Star Wars novels, comic books, and video games. Previous toys based on novels were sold by Galoob as "Epic Collections."
In the late 1990s, Star Wars toys reached deep into the Halloween and specialty markets where Officially Licensed Star Wars helmets, costumes and collectibles could be purchased easily from online retailers on the internet and from retail chains. Star Wars fans of all ages could easily purchase like Star Wars costumes for Halloween and plays from online specialty stores. From lightsabers and blasters to robes and helmets, many of today's costumes and accessories are licensed through Rubies Costume Company of New York and sold through independent and retail chain stores. Likewise, companies such as Hasbro have developed and sold toy weapons, action figures and collectibles from the Star Wars series.
With the development of the newest Star Wars CGI movie and popular TV series, The Clone Wars, even more toys have been developed by introducing new characters and adventures to a younger generation outside of the original Star Wars series.
In 2014, the Disney Store created some controversy by stating they had "no plans for Leia products at Disney Store" alongside the other male Star Wars character merchandise. After the social media hashtag campaign #WeWantLeia, the company changed their mind and promised to include Princess Leia in the store's Star Wars line.
Continuity and canonicity
The Expanded Universe was intended to be a continuation, and an expansion, on the six Star Wars theatrical films produced by George Lucas from 1977–2005. All EU material, combined with that presented in the films is meant to function as a complete story. However, to allow this story to function as a whole, it must be kept under in an order of continuity. Lucasfilm holds this of such high importance that a teams' sole job at Lucasfilm is maintaining continuity between Lucas's films, and the EU, which is written by many other authors and artists, many times out of order, and with many different ideas. Lucas, however, was free to go in any direction he wishes in his films to tell the story he intends. He acknowledges and supports the works of the EU but tells the stories he wants to tell in the six films. When asked in an interview his general opinion on the EU, he replied:
- I don't read that stuff. I haven't read any of the novels. I don't know anything about that world. That's a different world than my world. But I do try to keep it consistent. The way I do it now is they have a Star Wars Encyclopedia. So if I come up with a name or something else, I look it up and see if it has already been used. When I said [other people] could make their own Star Wars stories, we decided that, like Star Trek, we would have two universes: My universe and then this other one. They try to make their universe as consistent with mine as possible, but obviously they get enthusiastic and want to go off in other directions. - George Lucas, from an interview in Starlog #337
George Lucas has also stated that as far as he was concerned the rule of the Sith ended with the death of Palpatine and freedom and democracy were restored to the galaxy with the Jedi's return, as he symbolized this by including the Senate building and the Jedi temple during the celebratory scenes at the end of Return Of The Jedi. He has stated that although he is aware of EU literature and welcomes its creativity, he has no part in the resurrection of Palpatine and the Yuuzhan Vong invasions (though this would contradict comments by Tom Veitch that it was Lucas himself who suggested they resurrect Palpatine instead of using the original idea of a Vader impostor in the Dark Empire storyline).
George Lucas retains ultimate creative control over the Star Wars universe. For example, the "death" of central characters and similar changes in the status quo must first pass his screening before authors are given the go-ahead. In addition, Lucasfilm Licensing devotes considerable effort to ensure continuity between the works of various authors across multiple companies. Nothing in the Expanded Universe is supposed to contradict the films or any other part of the Expanded Universe. Upon occasion, Lucas's new films, reedited Original Trilogy films, or statements have contradicted existing EU material, and several retcons have been used to fix these inconsistencies.
Some purists rejected the Expanded Universe as apocrypha, believing that only the events in the film series were part of the "real" Star Wars universe. However, elements of the Expanded Universe have been adopted by Lucas for use in the films. For example, the name of planet Coruscant first appeared in Timothy Zahn's novel Heir to the Empire before being used later in the prequel trilogy (although its pronunciation changed) - though the planet itself, under a different name, had existed in a previous version of the script to Return of the Jedi. Also, the Twi'lek Jedi Aayla Secura originally appeared in the ongoing Dark Horse Comics series Republic - apparently Lucas saw the cover which featured her and liked the look of her character so much that he included her in the Jedi battle at the end of Attack of the Clones, played by Lucasfilm employee Amy Allen, and her demise is later shown in the Order 66 Jedi Purge scenes of Revenge of the Sith. These examples sometimes end up confusing the issue, as they have blurred the lines between the Expanded Universe and "his world".
There are also minor disputes about what is, and what is not, part of the Expanded Universe. For example, the two Star Wars spin-off films: Caravan of Courage: An Ewok Adventure and Ewoks: The Battle for Endor were written by George Lucas and are films, but they are not one of the six main films in the series, so they are usually considered to be a part of the Expanded Universe. It has since been clarified that everything that is not one of the nine main Star Wars films, any television show after and including Star Wars: The Clone Wars, and all theatrical Star Wars spin-off films, is part of the Expanded Universe.
Official levels of canon
The Holocron is an internal database maintained by Lucas Licensing for the express purpose of trying to maintain continuity within all licensed products. The Holocron was originally sorted into four levels of canon, reflecting LFL's canon and continuity policies: G, C, S, and N. A fifth level, T, was recently instituted and comprises the CGI series Star Wars: The Clone Wars and the untitled live action Star Wars television series which has yet to begin any form of production. See the article on Star Wars canon for greater detail.
- G (George Lucas) canon is absolute canon. This category includes the final releases of the six films, the novelizations of the films, the radio dramas based on the films, the film scripts, and any material found in any other source (published or not) that comes directly from George Lucas himself. G canon outranks all other forms of canon.
- T (Television) canon, which comprises Star Wars: The Clone Wars. This level of canon is considered to take precedence over C canon (see below), possibly due to the fact that George Lucas is directly involved with these shows as executive producer, and in the case of The Clone Wars is also on the writing team. This level does not include any series before and including the Genndy Tartakovsky Clone Wars series.
- C (continuity) canon refers to the main body of EU work, and is the next most authoritative level of canon. All material published under the Star Wars label that doesn't fall into either G, T, S, or N canon is C canon and is considered authoritative as long as it isn't contradicted by G or T canon.
- S (secondary) canon refers to older, less accurate, or less coherent EU works, which are immediately overwritten by anything in the main continuity of G and C canon, but are fully canon whenever they do not contradict something of higher canon. For example, this includes the popular Star Tours attraction, the MMORPG game Star Wars Galaxies, and certain elements of a few N-canon stories.
- N continuity material is also known as "non-canon" or "non-continuity" material. Lego Star Wars, "what-if" stories (such as those published under the Infinities label) and anything else that cannot at all fit into continuity is placed into this category. N canon is the only level that is truly non-canon.
- D (Detours) canon refers to the canon of the animated parody television series Star Wars Detours. Despite being completely distinguishable from N canon, it is still completely non-canon. D canon is typically also classified separate from the other forms of canon.
2014 Canon Reboot
On April 25, 2014, Disney changed the Star Wars Canon, and made it so only the 6 main Star Wars films, The Clone Wars movie, the follow-up series, the then upcoming Star Wars Rebels show, most content released after April 25, and all novels released after, and including A New Dawn were considered canon. The EU was no longer any level of canon, and was rebranded as Star Wars Legends and the EU wasn't part of it. Since then, most of the confusion about the continuity of the EU stands resolved, though the Legends stories could still be used by authors writing new books.
Lucas's use of the Expanded Universe
C-canon elements from licensed creators have been known to appear in Lucas' films. Most of these are brief, cameo appearances, almost taking the form of Easter eggs (which may have been added by animators or others under Lucas, rather than specifically dictated), but others are more substantial:
- Boba Fett, originally introduced as a villain in Star Wars Holiday Special, was created for The Empire Strikes Back, and quickly became one of the most popular Star Wars characters. He went on to appear in Return of the Jedi and Attack of the Clones, ultimately we witness the first on screen camera time of the adult Boba Fett in Star Wars: A New Hope, Special Edition in the scene where Jabba the Hutt and Han Solo interact in Dock Bay 94 on Tatooine.
- The name "Coruscant" was originally used by Timothy Zahn in the Thrawn trilogy of novels. Lucas was going to include the capital world of Had Abbadon in Return of the Jedi, but adopted Zahn's name for Imperial Center when presenting the planet in the Special Edition and prequel movies.
- Swoop bikes, originally introduced in the Brian Daley novel Han Solo's Revenge and seen in Star Wars: Shadows of the Empire, were featured in a scene added to the Special Edition of A New Hope. In the sequence introducing Mos Eisley, a swoop bike scares a ronto. Anakin Skywalker also pilots one of these type swoops during his search for his mother in Attack of the Clones.
- Quinlan Vos. Vos briefly appeared as a background extra on Tatooine, in The Phantom Menace at a Mos Espa café. His character and story was later elaborated upon in the EU. A cameo appearance of this character was witnessed in Revenge of the Sith when you see a tank open fire on him and his "supposed" demise. His name (as "Master Vos") was also mentioned in the film, however, by Obi-Wan Kenobi in the Jedi briefing room in the Jedi Temple.
- Aayla Secura. Appeared as a significant, albeit minor, character in Attack of the Clones and Revenge of the Sith. She is the second victim of Order 66, as seen in Revenge of the Sith
- The Outrider and with it, the YT-2400 freighters in general. It has a minor cameo, seen from a distance, lifting off from Mos Eisley, in the special scenes added to A New Hope for the special edition.
- Action VI Transports, initially appeared as the Wild Karrde in Heir to the Empire, they also arrive at the Theed Spaceport in Attack of the Clones.
- Prince Xizor. Cameo appearance in The Phantom Menace on a Coruscant landing pad. Also, a Micro Machines model of the Shadows of the Empire villain was used to populate the spectator stands at the Mos Espa Arena in The Phantom Menace.
- The Force Speed ability, first created for the West End Games Star Wars Roleplaying Game. Used in The Phantom Menace by Qui-Gon Jinn and Obi-Wan Kenobi to evade droidekas.
- The planet Tund, first mentioned in the Adventures of Lando Calrissian series of books, was identified as the planet Ben Quadinaros was from in The Phantom Menace.
- The planet Rishi, introduced in Dark Force Rising, was given a mention via the Rishi Maze in Attack of the Clones.
- Nee Alavar, a background character in Revenge of the Sith, was identified as a Lorrdian. The Lorrdian people first appeared in the novel Han Solo's Revenge.
- The double bladed lightsaber (which Darth Maul uses in The Phantom Menace) was first used by Sith Lord Exar Kun in the Tales of the Jedi comic book series.
- The name of the Wookiee home planet Kashyyyk first appeared in the Star Wars Holiday Special, although Lucas himself invented the species and the planet.
- Though originally developed for the Special Edition of A New Hope, the Sentinel-class landing craft (also known as the "Imperial landing craft") made its first appearance in Shadows of the Empire. This is the craft seen lifting off in A New Hope when the stormtroopers are roaming Tatooine on the Dewbacks.
- In the novel Splinter of the Mind's Eye (released in 1978), C-3PO mentions that Darth Vader knows "all the proper code words and commands" to shut him down. This would make sense, given the revelation in Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace (released in 1999) that Vader himself built 3PO when he was a little boy. Whether Lucas was aware of this when making The Phantom Menace is unknown.
Lucas has often worked closely with EU creators:
- Lucas wrote the story for Star Wars Holiday Special.
- Lucas wrote the stories for, executive produced, and directed pick-ups and re-shoots for, both of the Ewok films from the mid-eighties: Caravan of Courage and The Battle for Endor.
- Lucas is planning to write, direct, and produce part of the upcoming Star Wars live-action TV series.
- James Luceno' book Labyrinth of Evil is based on background information, provided by Lucas, of what happened right before Revenge of the Sith.
- Lucas also gave Genndy Tartakovsky information on specific events during the Clone Wars, which Genndy then used in part of the series.
- In writing the novelization of The Phantom Menace, Lucas informed Terry Brooks of the extensive history of the Sith and Jedi before that time period, so he could include it in his book. For example, the character of Darth Bane is an original creation of Lucas', and although he did not include information on the character in his films, he informed Terry Brooks of the character to incorporate into the novelization of The Phantom Menace. Lucas also gave Brooks other extensive bits of info of what went on during The Phantom Menace.
- Lucas wrote the prologue for Matthew Stover's novel Shatterpoint.
- During the production of the Shadows of the Empire multimedia project, Lucas instructed those involved to base the Prince Xizor character on the Dashade species from Star Wars Holiday Special.
On the other hand, Lucas has been known to ignore C-canon material when creating his films, even when this material is well-established and central to the EU continuity. This has led some to believe that the C-canon material is not, in fact, closely aligned with Lucas' vision. Examples of these inconsistencies include:
- While in the EU the Republic has been extant for roughly 25,000 years, based on statements made by Obi-Wan Kenobi in A New Hope, in Attack of the Clones, Palpatine says that the Republic has stood for a thousand years. Taken at face value, this would not only delete the majority of the EU's history, but contradict another piece of G-canon as well. Authors invented the Ruusan Reformation, in which the Republic is reorganized following the defeat of the Sith, occurring a thousand years before the movies, to explain, or "retcon," this statement.
- The deaths of Obi-Wan, Yoda, and Anakin Skywalker in the original trilogy made it appear that dead Jedi typically disappeared and reappeared as Force ghosts. Revenge of the Sith revealed that this is in fact a rare ability only a few Jedi have ever mastered. It is unknown how many Jedi have actually mastered it, but Qui-Gonn appears to have been the first of the most recently known Jedi to do so, and Revenge of the Sith seems to hint that he in turn trained Yoda and Obi-Wan in the way to perform it. No explanation is given for how Anakin managed to learn it due to the utter lack of contact with Obi-Wan for at least eighteen years between Revenge of the Sith and A New Hope, when Obi-Wan confronted Vader on the Death Star, and had no contact with Yoda after he went into self-imposed exile on Dagobah. It is eventually revealed that he was merely given this ability by his father — the Force — following his redemption as the Chosen One and him becoming a Jedi again.
- Boba Fett's origins originally named him as one "Jaster Mereel", a Journeyman Protector exiled from Concord Dawn. It was later revealed that Jaster Mereel was merely an alias Fett was using when he was exiled. The real Jaster, whose name Boba used as an alias, was retconned into a separate character.
- The Clone Wars as described in Zahn's Thrawn trilogy were, at least in part, a struggle between the Old Republic and an army of insane clones grown and controlled by a number of "clonemasters." Attack of the Clones on the other hand, revealed that the Clone Wars were fought between the Old Republic, using clones, and a Separatist movement, using droids. When writing the prequel trilogy, Lucas changed the dates he had originally given Zahn for the Clone Wars, so Zahn's estimate was at least a decade off. This inconsistency was easily retconed however, since it is the Noghri who give the former date, and this species was using their own unique dating system.
- In the novelization of Return Of the Jedi, Obi-Wan tells Luke that as an infant he took him to be raised by his brother, Owen. This implies that Owen Lars was originally thought to have been Obi-Wan Kenobi's blood brother and not Anakin Skywalker's step brother. Further evidence of this is shown in the Jedi Apprentice book series which takes place during Obi-Wan's youth, where at one point he mentions having a brother named Owen. It was later clarified that Owen Lars is indeed Anakin's stepbrother, and Owen Kenobi was retconned as a separate character.
- The novelization of Return Of the Jedi also states that Luke and Leia's mother died when they were 4-years-old, while in the film series, she dies giving birth to them.
Star Wars lists
Other Star Wars articles
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- Official site (Archived)
- Expanded Universe databank at StarWars.com
- Expanded Universe on Wookieepedia: a Star Wars wiki
- Site of the RandomHouse Star Wars novels.
- USA Today: 'Star Wars' books are soldiering on