The Alliance to Restore the Republic. The Rebel Alliance. The Rebels. Whatever they called themselves, they were freedom fighters who banded together in a time of need to overthrow and replace an oppressive regime, the Galactic Empire.
Hoping to restore the galaxy to glory along with a new galactic government, one in the vein of the Old Republic, the Alliance fought numerous battles across the galaxy against the dominating Empire. They won some of the confrontations and they lost some more. They’ve been a prominent face of Star Wars lore ever since George Lucas’ first adventure in a galaxy far, far away — but the films can only cover so much.
Even if you’ve seen every Star Wars movie ever to release, and watched the majority of episodes from the animated shows, there still might be a few fine details about the Alliance that you don’t know. With that in mind, here are 15 Things You Didn’t Know About The Rebel Alliance.
15. It was started by Bail Organa
During the height of the Clone Wars, senators and other members of the Republic became discontent with not only the way Chancellor Palpatine was handling things but with how much power he had managed to accrue. Remember, the Chancellor was granted emergency powers during the Clone Wars (powers he needed to approve the construction of a Grand Army of the Republic) while Padme Amidala was off-world. And who was responsible for putting this motion forward? Friggin Jar-Jar Binks.
Among the disgruntled members was Senator Bail Organa, a longtime friend and ally of Padme’s. From the outset, Organa was against the Great Jedi Purge, and he even went as far as to help Yoda and Obi-Wan Kenobi escape their untimely fate. And after that, he led the charge, along with Senator Mon Mothma and Senator Garm Bel Iblis, to form the Alliance to Restore the Republic. We see his role in this play out in Star Wars Rebels and Rogue One: A Star Wars Story.
14. Individual cells didn’t unite until shortly before Rogue One
With every new comic, book, game, TV show, or movie, we see countless new characters and species being brought into the fold, only adding to the already vast galaxy of the Star Wars universe. Whenever a new installment releases, you can always count on an introduction to an all new race of aliens. Thanks to Rogue One and Star Wars Rebels, we see that many of those new characters rebelled against the Empire during the Galactic Civil War.
For instance, the crew of the Ghost was primarily on their own throughout the first few seasons of Rebels. It was only after they left the Mustafar system that they ended up joining Phoenix Squadron as part of the larger Rebel Alliance — and they weren’t the only ones. The Alliance was disjointed for a long time, and it wasn’t until the events of Rogue One that prompted all the factions and squadrons to come together and fight the Empire head-on.
Every rebellion or resistance is only as good as its intelligence arm. Without being privy to certain details, how can a small band of people mount a successful rebellion against an imposing force like the Empire? In Rogue One, we see Cassian Andor meeting with one of his informants, Tivik, on the Ring of Kafrene. In the film’s novelization, it’s revealed that Cassian was, in fact, an informant recruiter for the Fulcrum program.
For those that don’t know, Fulcrum is a title given to Rebel informants, some of which exist within in the Empire itself. For example, in the current season of Star Wars Rebels, Imperial Agent Kallus — who was at one time a devout enemy of the Ghost crew — is now Fulcrum. He feeds intelligence to the Rebels, and sometimes even helps them escape certain situations. Since this season takes place no more than two years before the Battle of Yavin, and since Cassian was responsible for recruiting informants, it’s very possible that he was responsible for turning Kallus.
12. They weren’t politically united
Uniting small bands of rebels from across the galaxy is tough enough, and that strife is only exacerbated when politicians get involved. So one could imagine just how disorganized the Rebel Alliance truly was leading up to the Battle of Yavin in the original film. We see in Rogue One that members of the Alliance High Command and the Alliance Cabinet, such as Senator Nower Jebel, Senator Tynnra Pamlo, and Senator Vasp Vaspar, all called for the dissolution of the Rebel Alliance mere hours prior to the Battle of Scarif commencing. But that was their job, to disagree.
When Bail Organa and Mon Mothma formed the Alliance Civil Government, they created a democratic system in the vein of the Old Republic. That way, when they won the Galactic Civil War (provided that, you know, they actually pulled it off), there would already be an active system in place to replace the Empire. Part of that system was assigning cabinet positions to people with diverse perspectives, so that there could be a healthy discord among Alliance leaders. That much is apparent in Rogue One.
11. Rebels were making headway in the Senate before dissolution
When Palpatine dissolved the Galactic Republic and formed the First Galactic Empire, the Senate reformed into an Imperial Senate, with many of the same members remaining in office. However, the legislative body would only remain active until the Death Star’s construction was complete, because then, the Empire would be able to rule through sheer fear and terror.
Nineteen years after its formation, the Emperor dissolved the Imperial Senate following the loss of the Death Star plans (in Rogue One) and the capture of Princess Leia (in A New Hope). Interestingly, though, mere days before all this happened, the Alliance hoped to find proof of the Empire’s secret weapon so that they could present evidence to the Senate and potentially overthrow the Emperor.
Obviously, that didn’t work out as they expected. When the Emperor dissolved the Senate, control of the senators’ respective systems passed down to the military and the regional governors. Moreover, all of the Rebel sympathizers in the Senate were arrested and taken to the Arrth-Eno prison on Coruscant. Unfortunately, the Alliance failed in its attempt to rescue the senators, and all the potential sympathizers with their cause were killed.
10. Demilitarization following Battle of Jakku
The Battle of Scarif (and later, the Battle of Yavin) were the start of a long campaign against defeating the Empire in the original trilogy. Years later, the Alliance celebrated a monumental victory by destroying the second Death Star with the Emperor on board during the Battle of Endor. The loss left the Empire in shambles.
In the aftermath of the confrontation, the Alliance officially formed the New Republic — but the Galactic Civil War wasn’t over yet. A year later, and after a series of more battles and more losses, the Empire officially surrendered following the Battle of Jakku. A major part of the treaty between the Empire and Alliance was the Military Disarmament Act, which reduced the Republic’s Starfleet and Army by 90 percent.
Demilitarizing is partially what led to the New Republic’s downfall prior to and during Star Wars: The Force Awakens. Luckily, Princess Leia was more skeptical about the New Republic’s peace with the Empire, so she reformed the Resistance, along with allies like Admiral Ackbar, to defend against insurgencies like the First Order.
9. Rebel soldiers didn’t approve of Alliance High Command
Mounting a resistance against an oppressive force like the Empire is a two-pronged process. Firstly, the resistance must defeat the enemy in an armed conflict. Along with that, there must be a plan in place for a government to succeed and replace the Imperial government. Both of these aspects are crucial to winning a war of independence, which is evident in the countless wars fought against oppressors in real-life. The fact is, one cannot exist without the other.
Therein lies the problem. We see in Rogue One that the political leaders of the Alliance don’t always agree, and they certainly don’t always approve of the use of valuable military forces. Because of that, there are Rebel fighters who have expressed frustration with the Alliance High Command’s unwillingness to take action, which is why they sometimes have to force their hand. We not only see this in the film — when a group strikes out on its own to retrieve the Death Star plans — but also in canon novels such as Battlefront: Twilight Company.
8. The Alliance was very diverse (definitely more so than the Empire, anyway)
Stormtroopers may not be the most skilled fighters in the galaxy, though they do have their moments. But to become one of them, a person must first meet a specific set of requirements — and, likely, be human. Sure, there are a handful of alien species in the Imperial Army, but have you ever seen a Twi’lek serving the Empire? Probably not. It’s difficult to say for sure just how many aliens were Imperial collaborators, but there’s no denying the fact that the Alliance was much more diverse.
Humans, Bothans, Sullustans, Iakaru, Lasat, and Sabat, among others, were all part of the Alliance. They even had Mon Calamari as admirals. (They’re highly adept at sensing traps, after all.) We see the inclusion of numerous species in virtually every battle fought during the Galactic Civil War. And that’s part of the beauty of Star Wars; each new film brings new aliens into the fold, some of which were taken from Legends. It’s too bad that the Empire chose to slaughter most of these species instead of recruiting them to their cause.
7. Saw Gerrera, the original Rebel?
We know that Bail Organa and Mon Mothma were critical to the formation of the Rebel Alliance, but were they only giving a name to what people were already doing across the galaxy? Before the rise of the Empire, people were defending their worlds from being conquered by the Separatists and their Droid Army during the Clone Wars. Saw Gerrera was one of those rebels, as he had been protecting his homeworld of Onderon for years. In many ways, he was the original rebel.
According to Star Wars Rebels co-creator Dave Filoni, “Saw Gerrera is maybe the original rebel. He is the first one in a long line of people that got trained by Jedi to fight for themselves; to save their planets during the Clone Wars. He is the beginning of what would eventually become the Rebel Alliance.” It makes sense, too. Saw Gerrera spent his entire adult life fighting oppressors who sought to conquer the galaxy. He was a rebel before there even were rebels.
6. Declaration of Rebellion
As previously stated, the right of revolution is a common concept in human history, one that goes back hundreds (even thousands) of years. It’s a philosophical thought that states that it is not only the right but the duty of the people to rebel against an oppressive government if said government afflicts the people without reason. In order to formally resist a government like that, a statement must be given, and when it comes to Star Wars, that statement is the Declaration of Rebellion.
In hopes of legitimizing and formalizing the Rebellion (not just for the Empire but for the bands of rebels across the galaxy), Mon Mothma drafted the Declaration of Rebellion that listed the Emperor’s crimes against the galaxy, including but not limited to: disbanding the Senate, raising taxes without consent, illegal occupations, and the worst of all, racism and genocide. The exiled senator delivered this declaration over the HoloNet in hopes of convincing the galaxy that the Rebellion wasn’t a terrorist organization…
5. The galaxy believed the Rebels were terrorists
Sure, the Empire has a lot of bad things going for it — high taxes, planet-wide occupations, mass murder, etc. — but there’s no denying that Imperial rule brought a semblance of stability to a galaxy that was at war with Separatists not long before its creation. And people who benefited from that stability, seeing bands of rebels across the galaxy attempt to undermine that sense of security, saw the Rebel Alliance as an organization of terrorists.
Were rebels terrorists or freedom fighters? It’s an interesting question. Of course, as spectators, we see Alliance soldiers as the latter, but when we look at the tactics Saw Gerrera’s band of rebels use in Rogue One, that notion might not be so clear cut — at least not to galactic citizens. In The Clone Wars animated series, General Tandin accuses Gerrera of terrorism, to which he responds, “I’m not a terrorist. I’m a patriot. And resistance is not terrorism.” This is why Mon Mothma and the rest of the Alliance drafted the Declaration of Rebellion, to curb the belief that the Rebels sought only to create chaos and disorder in the galaxy.
4. Many Rebels were Imperial turncoats
Throughout the original trilogy, it seemed like stormtroopers were hardened individuals who wouldn’t surrender unless it was necessary. Then Star Wars: The Force Awakens came along, and we had our first stormtrooper defect and turned to the Resistance. Then, the same thing happened in Rogue One, with an Imperial cargo pilot (Bondi Rook) not only defecting to the Rebellion but also helping to reveal the Empire’s secret weapon — the Death Star. The thing is, there were plenty of off-screen defections during the Galactic Civil War.
Perhaps not all, but many rebels were once a part of or working for the Empire. The most famous of all, at least to Star Wars fans, is Biggs Darklighter. He was Luke Skywalker’s friend on Tatooine, but he left to join the Imperial Academy. Another is Wedge Antilles, who defects in an episode of Star Wars Rebels along with a few other Imperial cadets. Everyone who defected all had different reasons for leaving, and they all came from different backgrounds, but the fact is, they all left the Empire to join a more noble cause.
3. The Rebellion wasn’t well funded
Staging a successful rebellion against an oppressive, dominating force like the Empire requires not only brave and skilled fighters, but also the tools and equipment necessary to ensure their success. As Senator Pamlo says in Rogue One, “If the Empire has this kind of power, what chance do we have?” It’s a fair and terrifying question, but one that needed to be asked. The Rebellion is a lot of things, but they aren’t capable of manufacturing mass amounts of ships and weapons. Therefore, they needed to steal them.
The Star Wars Rebels animated series has explored this topic in depth. The crew of the Ghost are often tasked with recovering (or stealing) proton bombs, starships, and basic weaponry for the Alliance. For instance, Phoenix Squadron stole several Y-Wings from salvage yards, ships which were delivered to Alliance and later used in the Battle of Scarif. Sure, the outdated models didn’t help all that much in the Battle of Yavin, but something is better than nothing.
2. Yavin IV wasn’t the only Rebel base before Hoth
When Princess Leia is captured by the Empire in the original Star Wars movie, she confesses to Grand Moff Tarkin that the Rebel base is on Dantooine. She tells him with the hope that he would spare Alderaan, which he doesn’t, of course. He uses the Death Star to destroy the planet before dealing with her Rebel friends on Dantooine. The thing is, Leia wasn’t bluffing — Dantooine really is the location of a Rebel base, albeit one that no longer exists.
General Cassio Tagge led a survey team to find the base on Dantooine, and while they did find remnants of a Rebel base, they discovered that it had been long abandoned (though it’s unclear when the Rebellion left). Franchise fans will know that there was, indeed, a base on Dantooine, while casual viewers may overlook that fact and assume Yavin IV was the only base the Rebellion had before moving to Hoth in The Empire Strikes Back.
Furthermore, it’s worth mentioning that in the latest seasons of Star Wars Rebels, Phoenix Squadron established a base on the planet Antollon and named it Chopper Base. Considering the show’s recent developments, we don’t know how long that base will last.
1. Legends origin for Rebel Alliance
When Disney acquired Lucasfilm in 2012, they removed the Expanded Universe from canon and renamed it Legends. In one fell swoop, they disconnected decades of comics, novels, and games — stories that expanded upon the Star Wars universe and weren’t told anywhere else — from continuity. Lately, though, Lucasfilm has been slowly reintegrating aspects from Legends back into canon. It’s certainly exciting, and there’s hope for some stories to return, but the fact is, there will always be stories left behind. One of those stories is the creation of the Rebel Alliance.
In 2008, George Lucas shepherded a multimedia event that bridged the gap between Episodes III and IV, called Star Wars: The Force Unleashed. In the story (and acclaimed video game), Darth Vader instructed his secret apprentice, Starkiller, aka Galen Marek, to gather known dissidents across the galaxy to form a unified rebel alliance, who would then force the Empire into a galactic civil war.
However, instead of overthrowing the Emperor as promised, Darth Vader betrayed Starkiller, revealing the Emperor’s true plan of gathering all of the Empire’s enemies in one place. Angered and deceived, Marek rescued the captive Rebel leaders, including Bail Organa and Mon Mothma, but at the cost of his own life. Later, in Marek’s home on Kashyyyk, the Rebel leaders officially formed the Rebel Alliance. And at the behest of Princess Leia, they used Marek’s family crest as their symbol. Too bad none of this is canon anymore.
Do you know of any other fun facts about the Rebel Alliance that Star Wars fans need to know? Sound off in the comments.