Star Wars canon
Star Wars canon is the depiction of Star Wars storylines and characters considered officially canon to the franchise by its owner, Lucasfilm. Canon material is represented in media designated as such by the company.
A large number of derivative Star Wars works have been produced in conjunction with, between, and after the original trilogy (1977–1983) and prequel trilogy (1999–2005) of films. This body of work was collectively known as the Star Wars Expanded Universe for decades, and a hierarchy of canonicity was created and maintained by Lucasfilm to organize its content. In April 2014, most of the licensed Star Wars novels and comics produced since the originating 1977 film Star Wars were rebranded by Lucasfilm as Star Wars Legends and declared non-canon to the franchise.
Post-2014, the official Star Wars canon consists of the eight released Star Wars theatrical feature films, the Star Wars animated film, the television series The Clone Wars and Star Wars Rebels, multiple novels and comics, and any other material released after April 25, 2014, unless otherwise stated.
George Lucas's original trilogy of films—Star Wars (1977), The Empire Strikes Back (1980), and Return of the Jedi (1983)— was followed years later by a prequel trilogy which included the films The Phantom Menace (1999), Attack of the Clones (2002), and Revenge of the Sith (2005).
Star Wars Expanded Universe
Since 1977, the Star Wars films have spawned a series of novelizations, comic books, newspaper comic strips, radio dramas, video games, role-playing games, and spin-off novels not written or produced by Lucas. This body of work became known as the Star Wars Expanded Universe, until rebranded as Star Wars Legends in 2014.
The Star Wars canon was first defined in a 1994 interview with Lucas Licensing's Allan Kausch and Sue Rostoni in issue #23 of Star Wars Insider:
Gospel, or canon as we refer to it, includes the screenplays, the films, the radio dramas and the novelizations. These works spin out of George Lucas' original stories, the rest are written by other writers. However, between us, we've read everything, and much of it is taken into account in the overall continuity. The entire catalog of published works comprises a vast history—with many off-shoots, variations and tangents—like any other well-developed mythology.
In a 2001 statement on the franchise's official website StarWars.com, Director of Fan Relations Steve Sansweet clarified:
When it comes to absolute canon, the real story of Star Wars, you must turn to the films themselves—and only the films. Even novelizations are interpretations of the film, and while they are largely true to George Lucas' vision (he works quite closely with the novel authors), the method in which they are written does allow for some minor differences ... The further one branches away from the movies, the more interpretation and speculation come into play. LucasBooks works diligently to keep the continuing Star Wars expanded universe cohesive and uniform, but stylistically, there is always room for variation.
Lucas Licensing's managing editor Sue Rostoni said in 2001, "Our goal is to present a continuous and unified history of the Star Wars galaxy, insofar as that history does not conflict with, or undermine the meaning of Mr. Lucas's Star Wars saga of films and screenplays."
In August 2005, Lucas himself said of the Expanded Universe material:
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.
In early April 2014, StarWars.com defined the Expanded Universe as "stories set outside of the canon established by the films and TV shows of George Lucas that make the galaxy deeper and richer".
By 1996, the collection of reference materials documenting the Expanded Universe had grown unwieldy. Lucasfilm Licensing decided something had to be done to organize the increasingly large collection of media which chronicled the Star Wars universe. A hierarchical system of canon was developed to organize the materials.
Historically, Lucasfilm tracked the storylines and content of these media in large black binders, known as bibles. In 2000, Leland Chee was hired as Continuity Database Administrator for Lucas Licensing, and implemented a database to replace the bibles. The database was named the Holocron, a term used within the fictional Star Wars universe for "ancient repositories of knowledge and wisdom" used by the Jedi and Sith. Lucasfilm's Holocron consists of over 55,000 entries for franchise characters, locations, species, and vehicles. Chee said of the database in 2012, "What sets Star Wars apart from other franchises is that we develop a singular continuity across all forms of media, whether it be the films, TV series, video games, novels and comics, and the Holocron is a key component to Lucasfilm being able to do this."
The Holocron was divided into five levels of canon (in order of precedence): G-canon, T-canon, C-canon, S-canon, and N-canon.
- GWL-canon or G-canon stood for George Lucas canon: Marked GWL after George Lucas (whose middle name is Walton). It included Episodes I–VI (the released films at that time), and any statements by George Lucas (including unpublished production notes from him or his production department that are never seen by the public). Elements originating with Lucas in the scripts, filmed deleted scenes, film novelizations, reference books, radio plays, and other primary sources were also G-canon when not in contradiction with the released films. GWL-canon overrode the lower levels of canon when there was a contradiction. In the words of Leland Chee: "George's view of the universe is his view. He's not beholded to what's gone before."
- T-canon was Television canon: Referred to the canon level comprising the animated film Star Wars: The Clone Wars and the television series Star Wars: The Clone Wars. Many stories wound up superseding those depicted in continuity canon, and the second Clone Wars animated series and its film also overwrote Gendy Tarkakovsky's 2003 Clone Wars animated micro-series.
- C-canon was Continuity canon: Consisting of most of the materials from the Star Wars Expanded Universe including the books, comics, and videogames bearing the label of Star Wars. According to a Wired article, the creation of stories that introduced radical changes in the continuity, like The Force Unleashed video-game which introduced Darth Vader's secret apprentice, required Lucas's approval, and he spent hours explaining to the developers anything he deemed necessary for them to know. Games and RPG sourcebooks were a special case; the stories and general background information were themselves fully C-canon, but the other elements such as character/item statistics and gameplay were, with few exceptions, N-canon.
- S-canon was Secondary canon: Covering the same media as C-canon, it was immediately superseded by anything in higher levels of canon in any place where two elements contradicted each other, the non-contradicting elements were still a canon part of the Star Wars universe, this included certain elements of a few N-canon stories. The Star Wars Holiday Special is an example of secondary canon.
- N-canon was Non-canon: "What-if" stories (such as the Star Wars Tales comic anthology series published under the Star Wars: Infinities label), crossover appearances (such as the Star Wars character appearances in Soulcalibur IV), game statistics, and anything else directly contradicted by higher canon ends up here. N-canon was the only level that was not considered official canon by Lucasfilm. Any published material that contradicted things established in G-canon and T-canon was considered N-canon.
Lucasfilm Star Wars Story Group
In October 2012, The Walt Disney Company acquired Lucasfilm for $4.06 billion. Subsequently, Lucasfilm formed the "Star Wars Story Group", which was established to keep track of and define the canon and unify the films, comics, and other media. Among its members are Chee, Kiri Hart, and Pablo Hidalgo. Chee said in a 2014 Twitter post that a "primary goal" of the Story Group would be to replace the previous hierarchical canon with one cohesive one.
Rebranding and canon restructuring
In April 2014, Lucasfilm rebranded the Expanded Universe material as Star Wars Legends and declared it non-canon to the franchise, specifying subsequent works would not be based on Legends material but could possibly draw from it. During the same announcement, Lucasfilm declared that no further Star Wars Legends works would be published, so all the focus could be shifted towards the restructured Star Wars canon. After the restructuring of the Star Wars canon, the only preexisting works to be considered canonical from that point on would be the original trilogy and prequel trilogy of films, the Star Wars: The Clone Wars film, and The Clone Wars animated series. The previous levels of the Holocron became obsolete, because going forward all works would share the same level of canon as the films. The pre-existing canonical works were described as "the immovable objects of Star Wars history, the characters and events to which all the other (subsequent) tales must align".
Dave Filoni, supervising director of The Clone Wars and Star Wars Rebels, explained that he followed Lucas's example in considering the films and television series canon, but allowing for the use of Legends material as necessary. Lucas had previously used the character Aayla Secura, introduced in 2000 in the Star Wars: Republic comic book series, in Attack of the Clones. He also used Coruscant, the New Republic capital planet created by Zahn in the Thrawn trilogy, in his prequel trilogy of films and the Special Edition release of Return of the Jedi. Filoni and his team have used multiple characters and elements from Legends works in Rebels, and notably incorporated popular character Grand Admiral Thrawn into the 2016 third season of the series.
Production on the sequel film Star Wars: The Force Awakens also began in 2014. The first canon work after the restructuring was identified as the then-upcoming animated series Star Wars Rebels, and the first new canon novel would be Star Wars: A New Dawn by John Jackson Miller, a prelude to Rebels. A New Dawn was released in September 2014, and Rebels premiered in October 2014. Marvel Comics began publishing a series of Star Wars comic book titles in January 2015.
The Force Awakens was released in December 2015, and marked the beginning of the sequel trilogy. The following December, the film Rogue One was released, the first in a planned Star Wars Anthology series of films taking place outside of the main saga.
List of canon works
The following is a list of Star Wars works considered canon to the franchise, which being a multimedia franchise, includes the Episodic and Anthology films, as well as animated series, video games, comics, and books. All of the films have been directly adapted into the novelization, and comic book format (except for The Clone Wars).
|List of Star Wars canon works|
|Release date||Title||Type of media|
|May 1977||Star Wars||Film|
|May 1980||The Empire Strikes Back|
|May 1983||Return of the Jedi|
|May 1999||Episode I – The Phantom Menace|
|May 2002||Episode II – Attack of the Clones|
|May 2005||Episode III – Revenge of the Sith|
|August 2008||The Clone Wars||Film (Animated)|
|October 2008||The Clone Wars||Animated series|
|May 2014||Darth Maul: Son of Dathomir||Comic miniseries|
|September 2014||A New Dawn||Novel|
|October 2014||Rebels||Animated series|
|January 2015||Star Wars||Comic|
|February 2015||Darth Vader|
|March 2015||Princess Leia||Comic miniseries|
|March 2015||Heir to the Jedi||Novel|
|April 2015||Lords of the Sith||Novel|
|July 2015||Dark Disciple|
|July 2015||Lando||Comic miniseries|
|September 2015||Lost Stars||Novel (Young adult)|
|September 2015||Smuggler's Run: A Han Solo & Chewbacca Adventure|
|September 2015||The Weapon of a Jedi: A Luke Skywalker Adventure|
|September 2015||Moving Target: A Princess Leia Adventure|
|September 2015||Shattered Empire||Comic miniseries|
|September 2015||Uprising||Video game|
|October 2015||Chewbacca||Comic miniseries|
|November 2015||Vader Down||Comic one-shot|
|November 2015||Battlefront: Twilight Company||Novel|
|November 2015||The Perfect Weapon||Short story|
|November 2015||Tales from a Galaxy Far, Far Away: Aliens||Anthology (Young adult)|
|December 2015||Before the Awakening|
|December 2015||The Force Awakens||Film|
|January 2016||Obi-Wan & Anakin||Comic miniseries|
|April 2016||C-3PO||Comic one-shot|
|April 2016||Poe Dameron||Comic|
|June 2016||Han Solo||Comic miniseries|
|July 2016||Aftermath: Life Debt||Novel|
|October 2016||Ahsoka||Novel (Young adult)|
|November 2016||Catalyst: A Rogue One Novel||Novel|
|December 2016||Rogue One||Film|
|December 2016||Doctor Aphra||Comic|
|February 2017||Aftermath: Empire's End||Novel|
|February 2017||Darth Maul||Comic miniseries|
|May 2017||Guardians of the Whills|
|May 2017||Rebel Rising||Novel (Young adult)|
|July 2017||Forces of Destiny||Animated micro-series|
|July 2017||Battlefront II: Inferno Squad||Novel|
|September 2017||Captain Phasma||Comic miniseries|
|September 2017||Leia: Princess of Alderaan|
|September 2017||The Legends of Luke Skywalker|
|October 2017||Star Wars: From a Certain Point of View||Anthology (Young adult)|
|November 2017||Star Wars: Battlefront II - Campaign||Video Game|
|December 2017||The Last Jedi||Film|
|May 2018||Untitled Han Solo film|
|May 2019||Episode IX|
|2020||Untitled Anthology film|
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- "The Rebels Face Grand Admiral Thrawn When Star Wars Rebels Season Three Premieres Saturday, September 24". StarWars.com. August 8, 2016. Retrieved September 25, 2016.
- Krupa, Daniel; Goldman, Eric (July 17, 2016). "Star Wars Celebration 2016: Rebels Will Treat Thrawn As A Vader-Level Threat". IGN. Retrieved July 21, 2016.
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