Star Wars canon
The term Star Wars canon refers to the collection of Star Wars media considered officially canon by Lucasfilm. Details regarding characters and events reflect the official depictions of the Star Wars story-line throughout the franchise.
Post-2014, the official Star Wars canon consists of the seven released Star Wars theatrical feature films, the Star Wars animated film and television series The Clone Wars and Star Wars Rebels, and any other material released after April 25, 2014, unless otherwise stated.
When the Star Wars saga began, there was no initial formal organization of canon. The films, novelizations, comic books, newspaper comic strips, radio dramas, and spin-off novels were produced, but no standards of canon were set by George Lucas or Lucasfilm, Ltd.
With the creation of new Star Wars novels in early 1991 with Timothy Zahn's Heir to the Empire, the publishing department at Lucas Licensing set out with a new publishing strategy. Instead of stand-alone books where the events of one did not influence another, the new novels would tie into a continuous storyline. In the words of Lucas Licensing's managing editor Sue Rostoni, "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."
Over the years, many Star Wars fans have wondered whether these books and other materials were part of Lucas's Star Wars storyline, or were merely optional filler material. While there are disputes among fans about what is and isn't canon, Lucas Licensing has established an internal primary canon policy which consists of the seven films and animated Star Wars series only.
Disney acquisition, canon revision and Star Wars Legends
On October 30, 2012, Lucasfilm was sold to The Walt Disney Company for $4.05 billion. After the acquisition, Disney and Lucasfilm established the Lucasfilm Story Group, a committee whose job is to keep track of and define the "canon" in an effort to unify the films, comics, and other media with the existing canon.
On April 25, 2014, Lucasfilm and Disney removed all Expanded Universe works from the canon. They announced that the existing seven films and The Clone Wars television series are the "immovable objects" of Star Wars storytelling. Previously published material has been relabeled under a "Legends" label, and future content will present a different vision of people, places and events after Return of the Jedi. They also announced that all future Star Wars stories will be connected and on equal canon level as the films, with guidance coming from the Star Wars story group. Additionally, it was announced that the films of the sequel trilogy will not follow the same story as that of the Expanded Universe works taking place after the events of Return of the Jedi.
The first official canon novel in the revised continuity was Star Wars: A New Dawn by John Jackson Miller, which is a prequel novel to Star Wars Rebels. It was released September 2, 2014.
The Star Wars canon was first defined in a 1994 interview with Lucas Licensing's Sue Rostoni and Allan Kausch in issue #23 of the 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.
This policy has been further refined and fleshed out over the years. The official Star Wars website has also detailed the role of canon, expanded universe, or "EU" sources, and how they fit into overall Star Wars continuity. In a 2001 "Ask the Jedi Council" response by Steve Sansweet (director of fan relations) and Chris Cerasi (an editor for LucasBooks at the time), it was stated that:
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 novelizations are written concurrently with the film's production, so variations in detail do creep in from time to time. Nonetheless, they should be regarded as very accurate depictions of the fictional Star Wars movies.
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. Not all artists draw Luke Skywalker the same way. Not all writers define the character in the same fashion. The particular attributes of individual media also come into play. A comic book interpretation of an event will likely have less dialogue or different pacing than a novel version. A video game has to take an interactive approach that favors gameplay. So too must card and roleplaying games ascribe certain characteristics to characters and events in order to make them playable.
The analogy is that every piece of published Star Wars fiction is a window into the 'real' Star Wars universe. Some windows are a bit foggier than others. Some are decidedly abstract. But each contains a nugget of truth to them.
In a December 6, 2006 post on the official Star Wars forums, Leland Chee ("keeper" of the Holocron) made this comment in response to a question regarding whether Sansweet's "foggy window" was a window into the "real Star Wars Universe of the Films Only" or the "Star Wars Universe of the Films + EU continuity":
Film+EU continuity. Anything not in the current version of the films is irrelevant to Film only continuity.
By 1996, Licensing kept an in-house bible of reference materials as the volume of publications, facts, and figures grew to such unwieldy proportions that it became difficult to know everything relevant to a particular project. They finally decided something had to be done to organize the increasingly large collection of media which chronicled the Star Wars universe. A system of canon was developed that organized the materials into what was and wasn't fit for the Star Wars story.
In 2000, Lucas Licensing appointed Leland Chee to create a continuity tracking database referred to as the "Holocron".
The Holocron was divided into five levels (in order of precedence): G-canon, T-canon, C-canon, S-canon, and N-canon. These levels are no longer in use after April 25, 2014.
- G-canon was George Lucas canon: Considered absolute canon, 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. G-canon overrided the lower levels of canon when there was a contradiction.
- T-canon was Television canon: referred to the canon level comprising only the animated film Star Wars: The Clone Wars and the two television series Star Wars: The Clone Wars and Star Wars Rebels. Its precedence over C-Level canon was confirmed by Chee.
- C-canon was Continuity canon: consisting of materials from the Star Wars expanded universe including books, comics, and games bearing the label of Star Wars. 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 medium 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.
- N-canon was Non-canon: "What-if" stories (such as stories 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.
On April 25, 2014, Lucasfilm officially revised and solidified the canon, stating that all previously released Expanded Universe works would be re-branded under the new Star Wars Legends banner, in order to ensure a flowing timeline with the release of the Star Wars sequel trilogy. They also announced that future Star Wars stories will be considered on equal canon level with the films, with guidance coming from the Star Wars story group.
List of Star Wars canon
The following is a list of canon Star Wars works as released by Kathleen Kennedy and the Lucasfilm Story Group. It has been stated that from April 2014 onward, all released material should be considered canon unless stated otherwise. The timeline is sorted by how many years the canon material occurs before (BBY) or after (ABY) the Battle of Yavin, which occurs in A New Hope.
|List of Star Wars canon|
|Release date||In-universe timeline||Title||Type of media|
|May 1999||32 BBY||The Phantom Menace||Film|
|January 2016||29 BBY||Obi-Wan & Anakin||Comic|
|May 2002||22 BBY||Attack of the Clones||Film|
|August 2008||22 BBY||The Clone Wars||Film|
|October 2008||22-20 BBY||The Clone Wars||TV series|
|May 2014||20 BBY||Darth Maul - Son of Dathomir||Comic|
|July 2015||19 BBY||Dark Disciple||Novel|
|May 2005||19 BBY||Revenge of the Sith||Film|
|April 2015||18 BBY||Kanan||Comic|
|April 2015||14 BBY||Lords of the Sith||Novel|
|November 2014||14 BBY||Tarkin||Novel|
|October 2015||14 BBY||Rise of the Empire||Novel|
|September 2014||11 BBY||A New Dawn||Novel|
|September 2015||11 BBY - 5 ABY||Lost Stars||Young adult novel|
|December 2018||10 BBY||Unnamed Han Solo prequel||Film|
|October 2014||5 BBY||Rebels||TV series|
|December 2016||1 BBY||Rogue One||Film|
|May 1977||0 BBY||A New Hope||Film|
|March 2015||1 ABY||Princess Leia||Comic|
|November 2015||1 ABY||Battlefront: Twilight Company||Novel|
|February 2015||1 ABY||Darth Vader||Comic|
|March 2015||1 ABY||Heir to the Jedi||Novel|
|January 2015||1 ABY||Marvel's Star Wars||Comic|
|October 2015||1 ABY||Chewbacca||Comic|
|November 2015||1 ABY||Vader Down||Comic|
|July 2015||1 ABY||Lando||Comic|
|September 2015||2 ABY||The Weapon of a Jedi||Young adult novel|
|September 2015||2 ABY||Smuggler's Run||Young adult novel|
|May 1980||3 ABY||The Empire Strikes Back||Film|
|September 2015||4 ABY||Moving Target||Young adult novel|
|May 1983||4 ABY||Return of the Jedi||Film|
|September 2015||4 ABY||Uprising||Video game|
|September 2015||4 ABY||Aftermath||Novel|
|May 2016||4-34 ABY||Aftermath - Life Debt||Novel|
|September 2015||5 ABY||Shattered Empire||Comic|
|December 2015||5 ABY||Battle of Jakku (Battlefront downloadable content)||Video game|
|March 2016||28 ABY||New Republic - Bloodline||Novel|
|November 2015||34 ABY||The Perfect Weapon||Novella|
|December 2015||34 ABY||Jakku Spy||Virtual reality serial|
|December 2015||34 ABY||Before the Awakening||Young adult anthology|
|December 2015||34 ABY||The Force Awakens||Film|
|December 2017||35 ABY||Episode VIII||Film|
|May 2019||36 ABY||Episode IX||Film|
- The Walt Disney Company. "DISNEY TO ACQUIRE LUCASFILM LTD.". The Walt Disney Company. Retrieved 31 October 2012.
- blastr. "Here's how Disney + Lucas plan to define (and redefine) Star Wars canon". blastr. Retrieved 8 January 2014.
- "The Legendary Star Wars Expanded Universe Turns A New Page". Disney. April 25, 2014. Retrieved July 25, 2014.
- Rebel “Rebels Report” Report (2014-04-25). "First Adult Star Wars Rebels Novel Announced: A New Dawn by John Jackson Miller". Rebels Report. Retrieved 2014-07-31.
- "December 6, 2006 post". Forums.starwars.com. Archived from the original on October 28, 2009. Retrieved 2013-04-12.
- Leonard, Devin (7 March 2013). "How Disney Bought Lucasfilm—and Its Plans for 'Star Wars'". Bloomberg Businessweek. Retrieved 2013-03-09.
- "StarWars.com message board — Holocron continuity database thread". Forums.starwars.com. Retrieved 2013-04-12.[dead link]
- "StarWars.com message board — Holocron continuity database thread". Forums.starwars.com. Archived from the original on September 5, 2010. Retrieved 2013-04-12.
- "The Legendary Star Wars Expanded Universe Turns a New Page". StarWars.com. 2014-04-25. Retrieved 2014-07-31.
- "Continuity, Canon, and Apocrypha" at Curtis Saxton's Star Wars: Technical Commentaries
- "The Star Wars Canon: Overview" at CanonWars.com
- Star Wars Canon on the Wookieepedia
- "Full List of Star Wars Canon" at Canonkillerbase.com