‘Star Wars’ Official Canon & Expanded Universe Differences Explained

Published 12 months ago by , Updated July 9th, 2014 at 1:10 pm,

star wars episode 7 release date2 Star Wars Official Canon & Expanded Universe Differences Explained

As Star Wars Episode VII goes through production, fans of the epic and expansive universe created by George Lucas have been worrying about what these new tales about a galaxy far, far, away will mean for the stories they already know and love. Episode VII will kick off a new trilogy of episodes – with separate spinoff films released between the main chapters – but the return of characters like Luke Skywalker, Han Solo and Princess Leia means that the new films will cover time periods in the Star Wars universe that have previously been explored in other forms of media. So how can two versions of the same story co-exist? Answer: they can’t.

However, the mythos established in the books, video games, etc. of the Star Wars “Expanded Universe” has been loved and supported for decades, having established characters and storylines that many fans wholly embrace as part of the  Star Wars experience. That presents the new Disney LucasFilm (headed by Kathleen Kennedy) with the unique challenge of being able to tell their own new stories, without alienating those who swear by the established mythos of the EU. Today, LucasFilm is directly addressing how they plan to approach that issue.

In a statement released to StarWars.com, Kennedy announced that the company is forming a master “story group” which will oversee and manage the larger Star Wars universe, coordinating events and storylines across all forms of media. Interestingly enough, the statement goes on to clarify that elements of the Expanded Universe will NOT be discarded, but could rather be refitted for the new universe currently being constructed. Check out some choice excerpts from the post, below.

Regarding the recently confirmed lineup of official canon:

While Lucasfilm always strived to keep the stories created for the EU consistent with our film and television content as well as internally consistent, Lucas always made it clear that he was not beholden to the EU. He set the films he created as the canon. This includes the six Star Wars episodes, and the many hours of content he developed and produced in Star Wars: The Clone Wars. These stories are the immovable objects of Star Wars history, the characters and events to which all other tales must align.

Regarding the new universe management story group:

Now, with an exciting future filled with new cinematic installments of Star Wars, all aspects of Star Wars storytelling moving forward will be connected. Under Lucasfilm President Kathleen Kennedy’s direction, the company for the first time ever has formed a story group to oversee and coordinate all Star Wars creative development.

“We have an unprecedented slate of new Star Wars entertainment on the horizon,” said Kennedy. “We’re set to bring Star Wars back to the big screen, and continue the adventure through games, books, comics, and new formats that are just emerging. This future of interconnected storytelling will allow fans to explore this galaxy in deeper ways than ever before.”

star wars episode 7 expanded universe Star Wars Official Canon & Expanded Universe Differences Explained

Regarding the status of the Expanded Universe canon in relation to the official canon established by the films:

In order to give maximum creative freedom to the filmmakers and also preserve an element of surprise and discovery for the audience, Star Wars Episodes VII-IX will not tell the same story told in the post-Return of the Jedi Expanded Universe. While the universe that readers knew is changing, it is not being discarded. Creators of new Star Wars entertainment have full access to the rich content of the Expanded Universe. For example, elements of the EU are included in Star Wars Rebels. The Inquisitor, the Imperial Security Bureau, and Sienar Fleet Systems are story elements in the new animated series, and all these ideas find their origins in role-playing game material published in the 1980s.

Demand for past tales of the Expanded Universe will keep them in print, presented under the new “Legends” banner.

The new canon for the continuing Star Wars universe will be first established in the upcoming animated series Star Wars: Rebels – as well as the new upcoming Rebels tie-in novel, Star Wars: A New Dawn, which will introduce some of the characters from the animated series, and will be set in the era between Episodes III IV. Today, a cover for New Dawn was released over on the Star Wars Books Facebook Page. Check out the cover below, then read what the LucasFilm executives had to say about both Rebels and A New Dawn‘s significance in the new canon.

STAR WARS: A NEW DAWN by John Jackson Miller

Our very first official canon novel set solidly in the legendary “Dark Times” between Episodes III and IV, A NEW DAWN will introduce readers to two main characters from the upcoming Star Wars: Rebels animated series—Kanan Jarrus and Hera Syndulla—and will feature jacket art by Doug Wheatley, as well as a foreword by Dave Filoni, one of the executive producers of ‘The Clone Wars’ and ‘Star Wars: Rebels.’ It goes on sale September 2, 2014.

What’s most interesting about these LucasFilm statements is the careful wording and line-walking being done by executives. Up until now, there have been growing rumors and evidence that Expanded Universe characters could appear in the new films – presumably some of the spouses and/or offspring of the Solo and Skywalker clans, since Episode VII is set 30 years after Episode VI (the appropriate time period) and the fact that those offspring characters have been very popular with fans.

The Solo Children Jacen Jaina Anakin  Star Wars Official Canon & Expanded Universe Differences Explained

For further evidence, just take another look at the rumors about Episode VII that were reported a few months back, and try to correlate those rumors with the latest official wording about how EU material could be used in official canon:

Right now they’re looking at using the basic descriptions of EU characters with different names. Luke’s wife will follow the same template as Shira Brie/Mara Jade. Red hair, Green eyes, attitude etc.

The same with the kids of the big three. [...] Jaina will be the inspiration for the Solo daughter, Jacen for the Solo son and Ben for the Skywalker son.  Most of the new characters in the new continuity are based on characters from the old continuity. Fans should not expect to see Kyle Katarn, Corran Horn or Cilghal, but characters who are very much like them.

This can not be made clearer, the post [Return of the Jedi] EU launched in ’91 is dead. No story from Outbound flight forward counts. That’s why Bob Iger said they would use the 17,000 character for inspiration for new characters.  Shira Brie and Mara Jade are the templates for Luke’s wife/Love interest.

star wars rebels inquisitor villain1 Star Wars Official Canon & Expanded Universe Differences Explained

EU Villain “The Inquisitor” will appear in the ‘Rebels’ cartoon series.

The indication at the moment is that – as we predicted last year -  EU history will be mined for ideas, but not exact renditions of the characters established in that wing of the universe. That system still allows the new Star Wars story group to finally incorporate versions of EU characters from time periods set during the six “core canon” films (Dash Rendar, Kyle Katarn), which would also service the longtime wishes of fans.

How do you feel as a Star Wars fan? Were you into the EU or not? Do you want to see its influence on new canon? And if EU material is used, are you okay with them altering it for the new projects?



Source: StarWars.com & Star Wars Books Facebook Page


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  1. I start to get excited for episode 7 & then I see a picture with a rodent dressed like a jedi & it just disappears.

    • I lost all excitement as soon as I heard JJ Abrams.

    • That is probably Tekli a Chadra Fan apprentice to Master Cilgal From the New Jedi order

    • A rodent? You need to get your eyes checked if you mistake a bat for a rat. Seriously though, I’ll grant you that it wasn’t the best of designs but then again, Lucas himself created the Ewoks, green hairless boars in armor or that fish-face dude who flies the Falcon alongside Lando in ROTJ…

  2. McShea,

    That’s a picture from an Artists rendition of one of the EU books. It doesn’t have anything to do with Episode 7.

  3. Yep. That’s been the policy since day one. Not sure why so many people are surprised by this. The only news here is that the next wave of EU will now be considered canon.

    • NO IT WAS NOT.

      Heir to the Empire came out in 1991.

      It clearly states the “authorized continuation” of the Star Wars saga on it.

      That was about 10 YEARS before starwars.com.

      Curious, how old were you in 1991?

      • Biff is right. George always stated that if he continues his saga it will be based on his original ideas. Not Timothy Zahn’s for example. Although I was praying for a Blue Grand Admiral and Rukh. I knew since I read Heir to the Empire that there was a chance that it would be discarded like Bantha poodoo. I’m 38 as well. Don’t think age has anything to do with it.

      • Sorry, but you’re just misinformed. Yes, it was an “authorized continuation.” All that means is that Lucasfilm gave the product the go-ahead, not that they were endorsing it as the canon continuation of the saga. Here’s two examples that illustrate exactly what the policy regarding the EU has been from day one:

        “This and all other products that take place after the events depicted in RotJ are the author’s vision of what may have happened. The true fate of the heroes and villains of the Star Wars universe remains the exclusive province of George Lucas and Lucasfilm, Ltd.” ~Heir To The Empire Sourcebook, published July 1992

        “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.” ~George Lucas, Aug. 2005 – “New Hopes” interview in Starlog #337

  4. I think the really important thing everyone wants to know is if the 2 Tv movies from the 80′s (Caravan of Courage An Ewok Adventure & Ewoks The Battle for Endor) are canon or not!!

    • I concur. And how will this newly reformed universe fit within the context of the Star Wars Holiday special? You know the one where the storm trooper falls over the edge of the platform and Harrison Ford seriously considers following him because he actually agreed to be in that train wreck?

  5. This is a property Disney is going to ruin. 10 years from now people will talk about episodes 1 – 6 with 7 & beyond swept under the carpet as an embarrassment. Should have just left things alone.

    • I think you also mean to include Episodes 1-3 as an embarrassment.

      • Agreed. Hard to get more embarrassing than the prequel trilogy. If anything, Disney has the potential to save this franchise from ruin. They seem to be doing ok with the Marvel universe, so I’m willing to give them the benefit of the doubt for now. Hard to get much worse than Jar-Jar and Ani.

  6. What is canon is what Lucasfilm or Disney say is canon. So, basically there is no say from others. This is how corporations work.

    Mining the EU is basically lazy and just taking from others ideas what they deem good or not. Not an homage to fans or the EU. I thought this became clear now.

  7. Am I the only one who thinks that George Lucas just sounds butt-hurt because the eu is so popular?

    • All three books in the Thrawn Trilogy have sold about 16 million since they were released in 1991. The 3D re-release of TPM alone sold over 7 million tickets. And do you know what the best-selling SW book of all time is? TPM novelization. Heck, 50 Shades of Grey sold 60 million copies. If you think the EU is popular you need to get out more.

      • Show me one good review of the Phantom Menace and I’ll shut up.

        Only serious star wars fans are gonna pursue reading the books.

        -And the percentage of star wars fans who have read the zahn trilogy and enjoyed it far out ways star wars fans that enjoyed the phantom menace by a landslide.

        Sorry but if you were a little kid when you saw the phantom menace your view is totally skewed.

        • http://www.rogerebert.com/reviews/star-wars-episode-i-the-phantom-menace-1999

          There you go. Gonna shut up now?

          There’s only about 6 million people that have read the Thrawn Trilogy. Hundreds of millions saw TPM. So beside your anecdotal evidence, can you back up your claim? No? Didn’t think so.

          Sorry, but if you were a little kid when you saw A New Hope, your view is totally skewed.

          See what I just did there?

          • I love it when someone tries to make a point by comparing literally uncomparable things, like book sales and box office numbers… Also, mentioning the novelization is irrelevant since these “books” (of usually abysmal quality) are about the only ones that non-readers ever buy.

            As for Roger Ebert… *sigh* How to put it nicely? This is not a good review at all, this is a very lame review from a guy who favors aesthetics over everything else. Way to go for a film critic! A good review wouldn’t dwell solely on the visuals and certainly wouldn’t dismiss poor scripting and bad character development under the pretense that “dis moviez lookz kool!” Jeez, this joke of a critic even goes to the extent of claiming that the audio doesn’t matter – in a saga like Star Wars where John Williams’ score manages to convey the story like no other soundtrack can! I mean I can play the full score to each episode and follow the story in my mind without the pictures, what other film score can achieve this feat? But sure, Roger, the audio doesn’t count… I had heard about the guy before, thanks for proving me that he really is a total fraud.

            • And I love it when people say that the EU is so popular when even the most coveted book of the lot, Heir To The Empire, sold only 6 million copies over 20 years. Notice that I did give a literary comparison. 50 Shades Of Grey: 60 million copies. In just a few years, that book sold ten times as many copies as Heir To The Empire did in 20. Yes, the Star Wars books do very well for their genre, but that’s like making a big deal about having the #1 bluegrass album.

              So you’re not a fan of Roger Ebert, one of the most respected film critics of our generation? How about Kevin Smith?

              “I’m sure in about a week, it’s going to become quite fashionable to bash this flick – hard. But I’d like to go on record as saying I dug it. It’s a good movie with great moments.” ~Kevin Smith after seeing an advanced screening of TPM

              • Now now, don’t try to be a smart-@$$, Biff… Popular is obviously to be understood as in “among SW fans.” Do you know many non-fans who buy EU stuff? Again, compare what’s actually comparable.

                As for Kevin Smith, everyone’s entitled to their own guilty pleasures. TPM surely isn’t devoid of any quality, just like, say, the rather brainless Transformers or Fast & Furious series. And though he said he dug it, he was also fully aware that it was gonna receive major flak.

                • Also, I’d like to point out that Kevin Smith doesn’t fancy himself as a film critic.

            • Funny you mention the film scores. Several years ago they did a making of show and played scenes with and without music. Night and day difference.

          • It is pretty much an established fact that the first three films, eps 4-6 are better films. This comes from critics, hardcore fans and trivial movie watchers.

            With that being said, TPM is an ok movie. I enjoyed it. It has some really good moments. However, it is by far the weakest of the SW films(and not just because of JarJar…), and I always have to laugh when anyone goes out of their way to defend it.

          • All this proves is most Star Wars fans can’t read, and will pay thru the nose for the same thing over and over and over.

        • I am sorry, but the Thrawn Trilogy was horrible and poorly written.

    • Exactly

  8. I stand corrected, theres one. You keep counting while I shut up.

    How many people read a star wars book compared to how many people bought tickets to the most anticipated movie of all time was a fair comparison.

    I saw TPM seven times in the first two days, in denial. I still enjoy it for the sparse SW moment but objectively I know it is a steaming turd of a film.

    I do need to ask though, did you save your jar jar pod racer footsy pajamas?

  9. Your midliclrian count is unlike any I have ever seen.

    Do you thinka dey uhexpecta an attack?

  10. Lil annie!

    So wizard!

    sand… It gets everywhere.

    Lets try flips, thats a neat trick!

  11. That they discard the post-ROTJ EU, fine, though I’ll badly miss Cade Skywalker and cringe over the retcon of Chewie’s death. But what about the huge amount of pre-episode I material? All this doesn’t need to be thrown away and could still function as official Star Wars canon.

  12. So it will essentially be how the MCU draws inspiration from Marvel comics, but a little more loosely beholden to the source material. Although, outside of changing things for narrative improvement, they have nothing to lose by using the EU, because even as a big Star Wars fan, I’ve never read it, and I know very few who have, so it’s not like retelling Spiderman’s origin story, which everyone knows.

  13. I know this is childish but I want Boga surviving the fall at the end of Episode 3 to be canon again :( I don’t care about the rest of the EU XD

  14. I say keep Corran Horn and all the people from the Rouge Squadron and their adventures.

    • Rogue. Rouge is french for red.

  15. EU is law. To depart more than is absolutely necessary will incite the rage and scorn of fans that will flow to critics and affect overall sales.

    Making characters based on the originals but with different names? That sounds pretty much like what was done with Last Airbender, changing name pronunciations and even some character traits. If Disney and JJ do to Star Wars what was done to the much loved Avatar: Last Airbender series, they cannot expect anything but disappointment from the massive fan base.

    Cater to the fans is a rule that Hollywood has largely ignored, but when they choose to follow it to the best of their ability, the results are spectacular. I reference Ender’s Game, Wreck It Ralph (cameos), Narnia, and Lord of the Rings as a few examples.

    Fans will likely make up 80% or more of sales, 70% absolute minimum. If the fans are mostly appeased, Episode 7 could cash in hard enough to shatter the records Avengers set. If they are not, the result would be a financial disaster.

    Star Wars Episode 7 is going to go big. It will either win big, of fail big. There is no middle ground. And the balance of that heavily weighted scale sits upon EU and how closely it is honored by the filmmakers.

    EU is law. Breaking it has consequences.

    • You have no idea how much I’d love the EU to be law! Unfortunately, in fact it’s the other way around: the films take precedence over any EU story and when they do change something, the now contradicting EU material is kicked out of canon.

      • When I say law, I’m referring more to natural consequences. The film-makers can do or say what they want, there is no law against that. But if a bunch of legislators proclaimed that the law of gravity was now void, breaking that law would still have it’s natural consequences, regardless of how many dollars went into that decision.

        And since I know someone is going to bring it up, I’ll mention this now. EU is not just a few million copies of the Hand of Thrawn Trilogy. It is millions of copies of over hundreds of books, comics, and games from a variety of authors, all of whom had to get their story-lines approved by Lucas, and which story-lines often interweave tightly with each other, mentioning events that took place in the other volumes. And many of those copies have wound up in libraries where they are used over and over and over again. Someone up above mentioned the characters from the X-wing Series of novels, without which, I likely would not be a diehard fan myself. EU isn’t just something tacked onto the side of Star Wars, it is the married spouse of the movies.

        • The question is: are Disney throwing away ALL the EU or just the part set in the timeframe of the films? Because discarding the story of Cade Skywalker and all the Old Republic stuff like the KOTOR comics or the tragedy of Ulic Qel-Droma would be a huge mistake.

  16. I honestly don’t care that much about the post-ROTJ EU. my question:


  17. Crud it’s all crud I hate them doing away with the eu don’t they realize that in-between the movies their money comes from sw nuts like me? Been collecting 20 yrs have thousands in toys books ect. I’m so ticked.

  18. Has anyone spoken about how they want to deal with EU that is nowhere close to the time period they are now focusing on? Stuff like Old Republic and so on..?

  19. This infuriates me greatly. I have never experienced a greater betrayal in any work of fiction I have ever been immersed in in the entirety of my life. This is horrendous. Them saying this is essentially along the lines of “You wasted tons of money on these books and other media telling stories that were advertised as series canon, but not anymore. Oh, well.”

    This does not fly well with me, at all.

    • And my previous comment/short essay is verified once again. Industry is filled with bad decisions that cost millions of dollars. However with the film industry, such mistakes could be avoided if they paid attention to their customers, aka the fans. But they usually do not, and it comes back to bite them in the box office.

  20. JJ Abrams is the only person giving me any hope that Disney doesn’t butcher the one series I’ve lived to death since I’ve been a child. I hope the Sith presented in this movie is a cross of Darth Bane and Grand Admiral Thrawn.

  21. The only EU stories I’m really attached to are the ones way before the movies, i. e. the bane stories and KOTOR. As well as some set in the old republic like Karen Traviss’s clone commandos series. I enjoyed legacy of the force but I can live if they change it up some, although I don’t see any point in changing names if the character is pretty much the same. If Mara jade (or whatever they end up calling her ) doesn’t get killed by Lumiya and Jacen (or whatever his name will be) doesn’t turn into a Sith, I’ll still be happy as long as the dialogue isn’t as godawful as in the prequels.

  22. This is betrayal. I really enjoyed Expanded universe, and now, all my money spent on books was wasted, and my entire knowledge of SW facts was crushed to nothing…

  23. Here’s what I don’t understand: how hard is it for Disney and JJ Abrams to simply keep the EU whole, acknowledge it as canon, and then write their screenplay to take place immediately following the evens AFTER the latest book? Your opening screen roll practically writes its self at that point because its just a synopsis of the books. You get to tell a completely original story and you still get to keep mark, Harrison, carry and the rest on for your film as they’re all still alive except chewy, who currently has a living relative prominent in the story who Peter Mayhew can play!

    Not only is that very simple, it also allows you as a buisness to make the strategic purchase of currently published works an asset because if you buy the sale rights of all the current books before you’re movie releases, then intentially mention past events that happen between RotJ and your movies in the new trilogy, it will boost book sales because those people who are intrigued as to what happened and want to know more will go buy the books!

    I mean, from a sales perspective, a long lasting relationship with the consumer is the ideal goal, isn’t it? You want to keep them coming back for more? What better way to do that than by appealing to the already dedicated fans while entising the new vewiers into already published works that you now control?

    I personally would love to see a film adaptation of the Fate of the Jedi series of books given that it is the most recent series, and falls into where they timed their films perfectly, but I’d probably be disappointed because LotR is the only film series ever to live up to the books. None the less, no story is yet told about what happens after Luke defeats Aboloth. You can take the universe in any direction you want. And the books left open so many possibilities with the lost tribe being still out there, the empire and GA still at arms against each other, and Luke now missing a part of himself in the force. So many ways to go, and yet they choose to just throw it all away and start over? Why!?!?!

    • Rising Phoenix you deserve a medal. And a job in the film industry.

      • i can see them doing away w the yuuzhan vong stuff or at least glossing over it. b ut to leave the jacen to caedus story and lukes wife being murdered as his jacens final act and caedus’ first official is heart wrenching. they simply cannot ignore this.

  24. Its hard to imagine Disney/Lucasfilm not messing this up, though I pray that they don’t. For them it is all about money, EU authors will not see a penny for any of their ideas and contributions. Their are so many amazing events and characters in the EU it would take a hundred movies to scratch the surface.

    As for how many novels sold vs movie tickets…who cares the youth today do not read more than fits in a tweet any how. It is sad to see the EU go, but on the off chance episode VII is awesome it might just be a good thing for the genre, and spark some more great books, comics, etc.

    The sad truth is, regardless we are all going to see the movie, read the books, and enjoy both.


  25. I have now lost interest in the new movies…long live the EU

    • LONG LIVE EU!!
      Perhaps I will pickit the movies with that sign…

      • Are they planning on continuing with the old Republic books?