The canon is a prickly subject among Star Wars fans, and with the announcement that The Force Awakens will be taking its own path and not following the well-established Expanded Universe, things just got a whole lot pricklier. With the announcement that only the first six films and recent television series would count as canon for the series,
However, that’s a lot of good fiction that has been relegated to non-canon, or “Legends” status, and fans are still hoping that some of the inspiration for the new trilogy will spring from the various and beloved books, games, comics and more. Thus, here are 10 Parts of the Expanded Universe We Wish Were Still Canon.
10. Luke Skywalker’s Love Interests
Leia probably makes up for the lack of female presence in the original trilogy all by herself, on account of her sheer badassery. However, this didn’t leave much option for Luke when it came to a love interest, meaning that several writers took it upon themselves to fix this.
Two major characters spring to mind, the first being Callista Ming. A Jedi Knight from the era of the Republic, she eventually became trapped in the Imperial Dreadnought Eye of Palpatine, where she first met Luke in spirit form. Despite falling in love with him and regaining a body, Callista lost her connection to the light side of the force and could only access the dark side, causing her relationship with Luke to come to an end.
However, a new and far more enduring character would soon take her place in the form of Mara Jade, former agent of the emperor and master assassin. Despite being introduced as an enemy, Jade eventually came over to the side of good and became a member of the New Jedi Order, marrying Luke and having a child, Ben Skywalker. Mara, as a character, has been enduringly popular for a number of reasons, mostly due to keeping up with Leia in terms of her strength of character, as well as her many skills and intriguing backstory. Given that The Force Awakens presents a much older Luke, it’s quite possible that he had a romantic partner or possibly several since his last appearance… though it’s unlikely that they’ll ever be embraced by the fandom in the same way as Mara Jade.
9. The Skywalker Lineage
Speculation has run wild over the identity of every new character in The Force Awakens and whether or not they’re part of the Skywalker lineage. Meanwhile, the Expanded Universe has its own version in the form of Han and Leia’s children- Jacen, Jaina and Anakin Solo, as well as Luke’s child with Mara Jade, Ben Skywalker.
Since it wouldn’t make for compelling drama, their stories are not all happy; Jacen falls to the dark side and kills his aunt, Mara Jade, while Anakin, Jr. dies heroically fighting the Yuuzhan Vong. However, their characters are given time to grow over the course of the Expanded Universe, fully fleshing them out into a new generation of protagonists (and in Jacen’s case, a major antagonist). Their lives are fully revealed to the readers, showing how they grew up in the midst of strife and became powerful Jedi in their own right, carrying on the Skywalker lineage. We’re even given a glimpse into the far future, with Cade Skywalker carrying on the story over 100 years after the events of the films.
8. A Compelling New Antagonist
Darth Sidious was the ultimate villain, managing to unite the entire galaxy into a Sith-lead empire, disposing of the Jedi order and carrying on his role as ultimate antagonist for six full films, even if he remained in the background for some parts. The Expanded Universe eventually saw fit to revive Sidious in numerous clone bodies, but before he makes his reappearance, the fragments of The Empire are united by another antagonist: Admiral Thrawn (or Mitth’raw’nuruodo, if you prefer his native title).
While possessing every ounce of Sidious’ cunning, Thrawn managed to distinguish himself by his appreciation for art, merciful attitude towards his employees and sheer tactical genius that saw him come within a hair’s breadth of crushing the fledgling New Republic. Most prominently, Thrawn was far from the depiction of the cackling megalomaniac; he came across as more of a man utterly dedicated to his job, who wanted nothing more than peace and unification. As an antagonist, his attitude and lack of any truly “evil” traits made him an incredibly popular character, with some ranking him higher even than the previous Emperor.
Whether the First Order seen in The Force Awakens manages to reach Admiral Thrawn’s heights of victory remains to be seen, though it’s still pretty unlikely that any of the leaders have a taste for fine artwork.
7. Grey Jedi
The issue of light and dark Jedi has always been one of extremes, as far as the films are concerned. Anakin seemed to embrace the dark side in the space of an afternoon, turning pure dang nasty evil just for flirting with the idea of becoming a Sith. It was made clear that turning from dark to light was near-impossible, and that its power corrupted and twisted a person, much like a destructive addiction.
However, the EU introduced the concept of Grey Jedi, those who walk the line between dark and light and follow no particular code. In other words, the detached lone-ranger types who are neither saintly peacekeepers nor pure evil psychopaths. Naturally, the concept became fairly popular.
Not only did this allow Force-users to pick their own lightsaber color without causing controversy, it also meant that they were free agents, able to travel wherever they pleased and help out wherever they wished, rather than being tied down by the Jedi or Sith codes. They brought a necessary third path to the way of the Jedi, which was embracing all aspects of the Force and still doing good while also being able to shoot lightning from your hands. Sometimes even doing good by way of shooting lightning from your hands.
A few canonical Jedi were considered Grey by their superiors, such as renegade Knight Qui-Gon Jinn, though the official canon stance on the dark and light sides of the Force is that they’re relatively absolute. Though, as we all know, only a Sith deals in absolutes (with the notable exception of that statement, apparently).
6. Kyle Katarn
Originating from the popular Jedi Knight video game series, Kyle Katarn easily made the jump in to other mediums and eventually became respected as almost the equal of Luke Skywalker in the New Jedi Order.
Originally working for the empire, Katarn worked as a mercenary, often for the Rebellion, before discovering his Jedi heritage and facing many challenges throughout the Jedi Knight series. Though mostly intended as a blank character to exist outside the conflicts of the movies, Kyle quickly became a mainstay in the Expanded Universe, particularly with him taking an active role in training new Jedi.
Kyle Katarn might not be the most charismatic character in the galaxy, but he benefits from having a story that isn’t somehow mashed together with the usual crowd of leads. He walks his own path, and while he was eventually brought into contact with Luke and Co., Kyle is still relatively unencumbered with the many woes of the Skywalker family, making him a fresh pair of eyes with which to view the galaxy. Not that he’s the only person with this distinction…
5. Knights of the Old Republic
Set thousands of years before any of the events of the films, the video game Knights of the Old Republic portrays Jedi fighting Sith way before it was cool. It also has very little time for political committees or Jedi who do nothing but sit in circles and talk all day, mainly because the Jedi Order of the time is faced with a full-scale war against the Sith. The opening cinematics are epic in scale and the story is completely and utterly separate from both the original trilogy and the prequels.
One of the most popular aspects of KOTOR is Revan, the main player character. Throughout the course of the story, it is revealed that he is truly Darth Revan, a former Sith who had his memories altered by the Jedi. The player can choose Revan’s path, though canonically he chooses the side of the light and redeems himself. The well-executed twist of Revan previously being a Sith Lord, as well as his complex character arc and design (certainly more so than Kyle Katarn) have seen him become one of the most popular characters introduced in the EU. That is, if his 50,000-word write-up on Wookiepedia is anything to go by. Not bad, for a video game character.
4. Leia as a Jedi
Despite learning of her heritage during the trilogy, Leia never pursued the way of the Jedi during the original trilogy. It wasn’t like she was lacking in any way, what with being a gun-toting princess able to withstand torture, lead the Rebellion and keep her hair in those perfectly formed buns, all at the same time. Nevertheless, the EU sees Leia recognizing her Force potential and becoming a talented Jedi under the tutelage of her brother.
It makes sense for Leia to take up the mantle of Jedi Knight, particularly as the daughter of Anakin Skywalker, the chosen one who brought balance to the Force. Though the various books and other mediums would continue to focus on Leia’s skills in diplomacy, as well as her resourcefulness and iron will, her journey as a Jedi was steadily integrated into her character, making her a powerful warrior and a mother whom nobody wanted to mess with.
This aspect might not entirely be dropped for The Force Awakens, as we currently have no idea what Leia has been up to in the last thirty years. She might not be performing lightsaber acrobatics, but we can still hold out for Granny Leia slamming bad guys into walls with a wave of her hand. And then just getting back to business, like a boss.
3. Rogue Squadron
Rogue Squadron is well known as both a fun series of games and also the actual squadron formed by Luke and Wedge after the Battle of Yavin. The games fill in certain gaps in the films, showing Luke and the squad performing missions for the Rebellion. However, the most popular depiction is the X-Wing series of books by Michael A. Stackpole and Aaron Allston that depict Rogue Squadron and their exploits after the Battle of Endor. In particular, Rogue Squadron was integral in the liberation of Coruscant after it was freed from Imperial rule.
Aside from simply being well-written and carrying on straight after Return of the Jedi, the Rogue Squadron series were a great read for anyone who was more interested in how the galaxy functions when Force-users weren’t pulling all the strings. The series also stepped away from major characters and introduced a new cast, though not without any returning favorites.
Once again, The Force Awakens won’t be doing away with Rogue Squadron entirely, though we will be getting a new version (Black Squadron) lead by Poe Dameron. Meanwhile, the spin-off Rogue One is set to give us another version of the team, though in a different time and place.
2. Star Wars: Clone Wars
For those who thought Samurai Jack would’ve been great with more lightsabers… there’s Star Wars: Clone Wars. An animated miniseries composed of several short episodes (each around five minutes), the first season told the story of a Republic assault on Muunilinst, following the battle from start to finish with Obi-Wan as commander. There are also several breaks showing the battles in other places, featuring fan-favorites such as Mace Windu and Kit Fisto.
The show might have taken some liberties with Jedi abilities – of particular note is the episode in which Mace Windu literally beats up an army of droids with his bare fists – but even these are immensely fun to watch. The animated format makes it easier to forgive when you see Kit Fisto tossing around giant bubbles that can punch through ships. The series is also responsible for introducing several enduring villains; Asajj Ventress makes her first appearance as she engages Anakin in an epic battle to prove her worth as a Sith, Clone Wars antagonist Dirge engages Obi-Wan in a jousting contest, and the final episode gives us General Grievous acting a whole lot more competent and menacing than he ever manages to in the movie.
1. The New Jedi Academy
It was only a matter of time until new Jedi began to appear in the galaxy, even many who’d been in hiding during the main events of the movies. Luke Skywalker eventually takes it upon himself to found a new Jedi Academy, with Kyle Katarn as battlemaster and Han and Leia’s children as eventual students.
The near-extinction of the Jedi in the time of the original trilogy certainly leant itself well to the idea that the Jedi were almost mythical figures, protectors of the peace who fell in the past and left the galaxy to be ruled by the Empire. However, the founding of the Academy gave hope that the order could be restored, and the galaxy populated with Jedi once again. Also of note was the lack of true combat in the original trilogy compared to the prequels. Luke was untrained, Vader was a rusty cyborg, Yoda never entered the fray and Sidious was content to fry people from afar with lightning, meaning that there was no true clash of skilled Jedi.
The new Jedi Academy gave us the chance to see a Star Wars universe filled with warriors (even if they were keepers of the peace), with Luke Skywalker himself having transitioned from awkward farm boy to wise Jedi Master, rounding off the character arc that began in the original film and seeing him embrace his destiny.
Any more parts of the EU/Legends that should have been included? Let us know in the comments!