Star Wars alternate timelines may not be canon, but some official elseworlds stories offer up some of the best moments from the galaxy far, far away - from good guy Vader to brand new Empire.
Most recently, a treasure trove of concept artwork for the early development of the vaporware Star Wars: Battlefront 4 was released on the Internet. Given that a third game in the original run had never released, this was alone a surprise, but what really stood out was the content: Battlefront IV could have been set in a series of alternate timelines, where the sides and histories of the major players of the Star Wars saga had changed. Had it been released, Battlefront 4 could have presented a reality where a redeemed Anakin Skywalker faced his corrupted daughter Leia, now the chief assassin of the Emperor Kenobi, or a Count Dooku who never fell to darkness, allied with a non-cyborg General Grievous, to save the galaxy from a corrupted Jedi Council. The possibilities were virtually endless and mind-bending.
This is not the first time such speculation has gripped the minds of other creators who worked in the Star Wars galaxy, however. Many comics, games and novels have been built around alternate timelines and "what-if?" scenarios, exploring what might have happened if things had been slightly different and how one little change might have altered the fate of the galaxy, for good or for ill.
Anakin Beats Obi-Wan On Mustafar & Becomes The Emperor
Surprisingly - given how strictly the video games based on the core Star Wars films generally were in regards to following the plots of the original films - Star Wars: Episode III - Revenge of the Sith - The Video Game had an alternate ending (on the PlayStation 2 and Xbox versions of the game, at least).
Throughout the game, Revenge of the Sith allowed the player to alternate between playing Obi-Wan Kenobi and Anakin Skywalker as they worked through the events of the film. The twist came on the final level, which was set in the lava flows of Mustafar. In the original film, it was here that Anakin's fate was sealed, as he was mortally wounded, mutilated and left for dead on a lava riverbank by his teacher. However, it was possible for the player, as Anakin, to win the climactic duel with Obi-Wan, dealing his former master a mortal blow and kicking him into the river of lava. The game concluded with an able-bodied Darth Vader returning to face The Emperor and being presented with a true Sith lightsaber. Acting quickly, Darth Vader struck down his master and declared himself the new Emperor to the clone troopers who witnessed the display.
Luke Fails To Destroy The Death Star; Leia Becomes A Puppet Of The Empire
Star Wars: Infinities - A New Hope extended the story of the very first Star Wars movie in an unexpected direction. It diverged from the movie as known when Luke Skywalker's proton torpedoes experienced a technical malfunction during the attack on the Death Star: he failed to destroy it and most of the Rebel leadership - including Princess Leia - were captured by the Empire.
The spirit of Obi-Wan Kenobi guided Luke to Dagobah, where he began training with Yoda, as in The Empire Strikes Back. This time, however, Luke spent five years training to Yoda's complete satisfaction. At the same time, The Emperor, having sensed the Force potential in Leia, ordered Darth Vader to begin training her in the ways of The Sith. The two twins were forced into a confrontation, but Luke is able to redeem his sister and Vader, realizing that The Emperor had hidden the truth of his children's existence from him, sacrificed himself to save their lives. Meanwhile, Yoda smashes the Justice Star (the rebranded Death Star) into Coruscant, destroying the Empire). The story ends much like Return of the Jedi did, with both siblings seeing the spirit of Anakin Skywalker joining with the Force ghosts of Obi-Wan and Yoda.
Vader's Apprentice Kills Him & Destroys The Rebellion
Star Wars: The Force Unleashed was set two years before The Battle of Yavin, where players assumed the role of Galen Marek, a.k.a. Starkiller. The secret apprentice of Darth Vader, Starkiller was charged by his master with tracking down and killing General Rahm Kota - one of the few Jedi who survived the Order 66 purge. As the game progressed, Kota attempted to win Marek over to light side, even as Vader continued to test his apprentice's capacity for destruction.
In the then canon (now Legends) ending of the game, Starkiller - having discovered a love he hadn't known was possible with Imperial pilot Juno Eclipse and a way of living he had never imagined thanks to General Kota - refused to strike down Darth Vader, after fighting his master while trying to rescue the leadership of what would become the Rebel Alliance. Starkiller ultimately sacrificed himself to allow the rebel leaders to escape, becoming a martyr to the cause (and giving them his family sigil as their logo).
However, an alternate "Dark Side" ending saw Starkiller slaying Darth Vader and attempting to do the same to the Emperor, only to find himself outclassed and crushed by a spaceship that the Emperor pulls down on top of him. Tragically, Starkiller survives this, albeit trapped in a mostly robotic body and transformed into the Emperor's new assassin - helpless to resist his commands but just sentient enough to be aware of what has happened to him.
- Star Wars 9 / Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker (2019) release date: Dec 20, 2019