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Encyclopedia > Star Wars canon

The Star Wars canon consists of the six Star Wars feature films, along with all officially licensed, non-contradicting spin-off works to the six films. As once defined by Lucas Licensing: Star Wars is an epic science fantasy saga and fictional universe created by George Lucas during the late 1970s. ... This article or section does not cite its references or sources. ...

"We have what we call Canon, which is the screenplays, novelizations, and other works that are directly tied into continuity, and then there are a lot of marginal things, like the old Marvel Comics series, that we don't really try to work into the continuity when we're planning new projects. Even the LucasArts interactive games have a premise, a backstory with player characters that we're trying to tie into the overall continuity. It is sort of a godlike undertaking. We are creating this universe as we go along, but somebody has to keep his finger on everything that came before." — Allan Kausch, from The Secrets of Star Wars: Shadows of the Empire


In fiction, continuity is consistency of the characteristics of persons, plot, objects, places and events seen by the reader or viewer. ... Marvel Comics is an American comic book line published by Marvel Publishing, Inc. ... LucasArts is an American video game developer and publisher. ... A fictional universe is an imaginary world that serves as the setting or backdrop for one or (more commonly) multiple works of fiction or translatable non-fiction. ... Star Wars: Shadows of the Empire was a multimedia project created by Lucasfilm in 1996. ...


When the Star Wars saga began, there was no initial formal organization of canon. The films, novelizations, radio dramas, and spin-off novels were produced, but no standards of canon were set by George Lucas or Lucasfilm, Ltd.. George Walton Lucas, Jr. ... 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 in to a continuous storyline. In the words of 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." Timothy Zahn (born September 1, 1951) is a science fiction novelist. ... Heir to the Empire is the first book in a trilogy of novels known as The Thrawn Trilogy, all written by Timothy Zahn. ... For other uses, see Star Wars Galaxy. ...

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 official canon policy.

What is Star Wars canon?

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 Lucas Books at the time), it was stated that: This article or section does not cite any references or sources. ... NPR Star Wars Radio Series promotional poster An expanded radio dramatization of the original Star Wars trilogy was produced in 1981, 1983, and 1996. ... A novelization (or novelisation in British English) is a work of fiction that is written based on some other media story form rather than as an original work. ... The word mythology (from the Greek μυολογία mythología, from μυολογείν mythologein to relate myths, from μύος mythos, meaning a narrative, and λόγος logos, meaning speech or argument) literally means the (oral) retelling of myths – stories that a particular culture believes to be true and that use the supernatural to interpret natural events and... This article or section does not cite its references or sources. ...

"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 Stansweet'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": This article needs additional references or sources for verification. ... Collectible card games (CCGs), also called trading card games (TCGs), are played using specially designed sets of cards. ... A roleplaying game (RPG) is a type of game in which players assume the roles of characters and collaboratively create stories. ...

"Film+EU continuity. Anything not in the current version of the films is irrelevant to Film only continuity."

George Lucas and Star Wars Canon

In the introduction to the 1994 printing of Splinter of the Mind's Eye, Lucas offered his view on the evolution of the Star Wars saga: The original paperback cover. ...

After Star Wars was released, it became apparent that my story - however many films it took to tell - was only one of thousands that could be told about the characters who inhabit its galaxy. But these were not stories I was destined to tell. Instead they would spring from the imagination of other writers, inspired by the glimpse of a galaxy that Star Wars provided. Today it is an amazing, if unexpected, legacy of Star Wars that so many gifted writers are contributing new stories to the Saga.

Another notable mention, is this quote from an interview in the August/September 1999 issue of SW Insider:

Part of the job of the director is to sort of keep everything in line, and I can do that in the movies—but I can't do it on the whole Star Wars universe.

In July 2001, Lucas gave his opinion on the matter of what is canon in Star Wars during an interview with Cinescape magazine:

"There are two worlds here," explained Lucas. "There’s my world, which is the movies, and there’s this other world that has been created, which I say is the parallel universe – the licensing world of the books, games and comic books. They don’t intrude on my world, which is a select period of time, [but] they do intrude in between the movies. I don’t get too involved in the parallel universe."

Further, in an August 2005 interview in Starlog magazine: Parallel universe or alternate reality in science fiction and fantasy is a self-contained separate reality coexisting with our own. ... This article or section does not cite any references or sources. ... Year 2005 (MMV) was a common year starting on Saturday (link displays full calendar) of the Gregorian calendar. ... Starlog is a science-fiction film magazine published by Starlog Group Inc. ...

STARLOG: "The Star Wars Universe is so large and diverse. Do you ever find yourself confused by the subsidiary material that's in the novels, comics, and other offshoots?"
LUCAS: "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."

Lucas' statements in Starlog were commented on in a December 7, 2005 post on the starwars.com forums by Leland Chee, who maintains Lucas Licensing's continuity database: The current Star Trek franchise logo Star Trek is an American science fiction entertainment series and media franchise. ...

CHEE: "GL is certainly not bound by the EU, though he's certainly open to using things created in it (Aayla Secura and the Coruscant name, for example). On the other hand, the quote you provide makes it sound like the EU is separate from George's vision of the Star Wars universe. It is not. The EU must follow certain tenets set by George through the films and other guidelines that he provides outside of the films."

A conversation between Lucas and John Knoll in a web diary during the production of Revenge of the Sith showed more of the movie/Expanded Universe relationship: Aayla Secura is a character in the fictional Star Wars universe. ... Coruscant (pronounced //) is the name of a fictional planet in the Star Wars universe. ... John Knoll is a motion picture visual effects specialist at Industrial Light and Magic (ILM). ... Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith is the third episode of the Star Wars film series (but the sixth film to be produced), to be released on Thursday, May 19, 2005. ...

"So how did Anakin get that scar, George?" asks John Knoll.
"I don't know. Ask Howard," says George, referring to President of Lucas Licensing Howard Roffman. "That's one of those things that happens in the novels between the movies. I just put it there. He has to explain how it got there. I think Anakin got it slipping in the bathtub, but of course, he's not going to tell anybody that."

The Holocron

By 1996, Licensing was keeping 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". As with every other aspect having to do with the overall story of Star Wars, the Holocron follows the canon policy that has been in effect for years. A Holocron is an artifact from the Star Wars universe. ...

The Holocron is divided into 4 levels: G-canon, C-canon, S-canon, and N-canon.

G-canon is absolute canon; the movies (their most recent release), the scripts, the novelizations of the movies, the radio plays, and any statements by George Lucas himself. G-canon overrides the lower levels of canon when there is a contradiction. Within G-canon, many fans follow an unofficial progression of canonicity where the movies are the highest canon, followed by the scripts, the novelizations, and then the radio plays.
C-canon is primarily composed of elements from the Expanded Universe including books, comics, and games bearing the label of Star Wars. Games and RPG sourcebooks are a special case; the stories and general background information are themselves fully C-canon, but the other elements such as character/item statistics and gameplay are, with few exceptions, N-canon.
S-canon is secondary canon; the story itself is considered non-continuity, but the non-contradicting elements are still a canon part of the Star Wars universe. This includes things like the online roleplaying game Star Wars: Galaxies and certain elements of a few N-canon stories.
N-canon is non-canon. "What-if" stories (such as stories published under the Star Wars: Infinities label), game statistics, and anything else directly contradicted by higher canon ends up here. N-canon is the only level that is not considered official canon by Lucasfilm.

Leland Chee continues to answer questions about the Holocron in the Holocron continuity database questions thread at the starwars.com forums. This article or section does not cite its references or sources. ... Star Wars Galaxies: An Empire Divided (SWG) is a Star Wars themed MMORPG for the PC, developed by Sony Online Entertainment and published by LucasArts Entertainment. ...

On August 4, 2004, when asked if the G and C-levels formed separate and independent canon, Leland Chee responded by stating that both were part of a single canon:

"There is one overall continuity."

In a December 7, 2005 post, Chee commented on how the Holocron is applied to licensees:

"The Holocron comes into play for anything official being developed for books, games, websites, and merchandise. For anything beyond that, it is simply a reference tool."

In a December 6, 2006 post, Chee contradicted his original statements regarding the canonicity of the Holocron and how it applied to the Star Wars universe:

"The only relevant official continuities are the current versions of the films alone, and the combined current version of the films along with whatever else we've got in the Holocron. You're never going to know what George's view of the universe beyond the films at any given time because it is constantly evolving."

On a post made on the same day, Chee stated that:

"Anything not in the current version of the films is irrelevant to Film only continuity."

This statement confirms the existence of two separate continuities, the "film only" continuity maintained and followed by George Lucas himself, and the "films + EU" continuity that is used for licensed products.


Among fans, controversy has arisen as how to reconcile and interpret the various statements from Lucas, his employees, and licensees regarding what is acceptable canon and what is not. While some fans prefer a unified approach, wherein the entire Expanded Universe and the films are treated on the same level [1] (but not with the same degree of canonicity), others prefer a system where only the films themselves are true canon, with the Expanded Universe as an offshoot that maintains consistency with the films [2]. Many arguments[3] have been waged between the opposing camps, with both sides claiming to offer the correct interpretation. To compound this is George Lucas's (G-canon) revisionism with films and statements.

As Steve Sansweet stated in the conclusion to a 2001 "Ask the Jedi Council" post on the subject at starwars.com: "Like the great Jedi Knight Obi-Wan Kenobi said, 'many of the truths we cling to depend greatly on our own point of view'." This article or section should include material from Jedi Sentinel —The Jedi Code — Obi-Wan Kenobi The Jedi Knights are a fictional brotherhood and organization from the Star Wars series of films by George Lucas. ... Obi-Wan Kenobi or Ben Kenobi is a fictional character in the Star Wars universe. ...

External links

  Results from FactBites:
Editorial - SWFA Issue #3, February 2000 (1129 words)
An absolute canon is an inclusion of all personal, all subjective perspectives on canon, thus the only point of view that can withstand scrutiny from all angles, from the most rabid continuity fan to the most exclusive.
It is especially dangerous to Star Wars continuity when an author working within the mythos harbors this attitude of canon and apocrypha, for he or she is the one with the power to shape the universe, so to speak.
In the name of equality, Star Wars authors must bear the burden of objectivity; in their case, there can be no distinction between good and bad, old and new when it comes to inclusion.
Star Wars - definition of Star Wars in Encyclopedia (2947 words)
Star Wars is the name of a series of science fantasy movies, a literary franchise, and a series of video games (including numerous prequels, sequels, and literary adaptations) based on the ideas of filmmaker and writer George Lucas.
Star Wars stresses the self-destructive nature of anger and hate, summed up in Yoda's words ("Fear is the path to the dark side: fear leads to anger, anger leads to hate, hate leads to suffering") as well as placing one's feelings for certain people aside.
The galactic setting of Star Wars is never given a name and is called simply "the galaxy." Since the characters never venture beyond the galaxy and the power of both the Republic and the Empire ends at its borders, the galaxy clearly serves, ironically enough, as a microcosm of both Earth and a country.
  More results at FactBites »



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