One of the most controversial decisions of Disney-era Star Wars was wiping away the decades of non-movie Expanded Universe content to start a brand new, stripped back canon. Of course, it would have been ridiculous to have expected J.J. Abrams to make The Force Awakens fit in with all The New Jedi Order novels, or Gareth Edwards to honour the labyrinthine and contradictory original story of the Death Star plans with Rogue One, but it meant that so many beloved stories and characters simply no longer existed. Pre-empting a backlash, Lucasfilm didn’t make the EU explicitly non-canon, but instead re-classed it as Legends; an alternate continuity that the new canon could pick and choose elements from should it need them, thus meaning many fan favourites had the potential to return.
Some things have already famously been translated across – most notably Thrawn in the latest season of Rebels – and other Legends elements have provided inspiration for ideas in the new canon – Vader’s castle in Rogue One took inspiration from original trilogy concept art and Bast Castle from Jedi Knight: Jedi Academy. But these high profile characters and locations aren't the only Expanded Universe things to be made canon – here’s 15 Character And Stories From The Expanded Universe You Didn't Know Were Still Canon.
For this list we’re going to be looking at former-EU material that has appeared in the new Star Wars canon, which per Lucasfilm’s definition is content that appeared in the original six movies, The Clone Wars movie and TV series, or any of the new, Disney-approved material (such as source books, Rebels, novels etc.).
15 Shaak Ti’s Death
Most supporting Jedi deaths were tragically uniform – they were gunned down by Clone Troopers in the wake of Order 66. Things weren’t so simple for Shaak Ti, who across various Star Wars media has died three different times. The first two came in deleted scenes for Revenge of the Sith – initially she was going to be killed by Grievous in the opening sequence, then later on in production was intended to fall victim to Anakin in his Jedi Temple assault (the novelization went with the latter) – but then 2008's The Force Unleashed had her survive the purge only to be killed by Starkiller, Darth Vader’s apprentice.
With all that now non-canon, it would seem that Ti’s somehow escaped ever having resolute death. Or perhaps not. The Clone Wars contained several vision sequences of future events, including one of a turned Anakin impaling Ti through the chest like the deleted scene. All other visions came to pass, so it would make sense to suggest this one did too. In a roundabout way, The Clone Wars finally did what movies and games failed to do - kill Shaak Ti.
14 Luke’s Backstory
In the early days of Star Wars, the radio dramatizations were the best way to learn more about the galaxy. Taking notes from Lucas’ original scripts, they vastly expanded the events of the films, filling in gaps detailing the events leading up to the main story (including one of many stories of Leia getting beamed the Death Star plans).
These were always a little contradictory to the films themselves and are now firmly out of continuity. However, as they served as a source for A New Hope: The Princess, the Scoundrel and the Farm Boy, a retelling of the original Star Wars that frames the whole thing in an even more mythic light, some elements have since become canon.
The biggest part of this is Luke’s early life of Tatooine, specifically his time spent at the Tosche Station in Anchorhead (which was the subject of a well-known deleted sequence); his friends Camie and Laze, his nickname Wormie and his desire to follow Biggs in joining the Rebellion all play a part.
13 Dark Troopers
When Rogue One told the events leading up to A New Hope, it wasn’t just dramatising the opening crawl, but also overwriting multiple Wookiepedia articles worth of background; the story of stealing the Death Star plans had been told in several novels and countless games, most prominently (or at least affectionately remembered) in 1995's Dark Forces.
That video game’s hero, Kyle Katarn, has been pretty much wiped from the galaxy as a result, although that doesn’t mean all of the game is gone; Katarn's main mission in the game was to uncover information on the Empire's new robotic soldiers, the Death Troopers. Their striking design proved the core inspiration for the Imperial sentry droids in the new season of Rebels.
Although they’re not straight up lifts of the game's Dark Troopers, they do show the Empire creating droid soldiers to exist alongside their more conventional army, a core EU idea.
12 Chewie’s Family From The Holiday Special
If there’s one part of the Expanded Universe that you would expect to be left dead and buried by the new canon, it’s The Holiday Special. The infamous TV variety show is so overwhelmingly awful that even George Lucas (who, lest we forget, created Jar Jar Binks) despised it, stating "If I had the time and a sledgehammer, I would track down every copy of that show and smash it."
Despite that, some elements have actually made it over to the canon in very subtle ways, specifically Chewbacca’s unintelligible family; The Princess, the Scoundrel and the Farm Boy had a momentary reference to Chewie’s wife, Mallatobuck, while the Chewbacca Marvel comic featured a younger Wookie that may just be his son, Lumpy. Now we just need father Itchy to complete the clan.
This will likely never go beyond sly winks to wind up die-hard fans, but it does go to show that just about anything from Legends' non-canon purgatory can be brought across.
11 The Sith Planet Malachor
The canonicity status of The Old Republic is incredibly confused. On the one hand, it’s not been explicitly brought across – and MMORPG The Old Republic is classed as Legends – but, on the other, being set thousands of years before the movies and all the new materials means there’s not really the risk of conflicting stories.
Still, very little has actually been made canon. There’s been a few contextual and design elements in The Clone Wars (most prominently in the Mandolorian episodes), but the biggest came in Rebels. At the end of Season 2, the show took Kanan, Ezra, Maul and Ahsoka to Malachor, an ancient Sith planet that hid a temple containing an all-important holocron.
Although it’s not stated explicitly, this would seem to canonise key elements of both Knights of the Old Republic games – Malachor V was a major location in Revan’s backstory and in the sequel appeared as a ravaged world decimated by the Mass Shadow Generator. While the details may differ between continuities, Malachor as a major Sith world remains.
10 Black Sun
Now Rogue One’s shown how the Rebellion acquired the Death Star plans, the biggest gap in the movies that the new canon needs to fill is what happened between The Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi. Yes, Boba could have just headed straight to Jabba’s Palace with the good guys hot on his tail, but that’s definitely not what happened in the Expanded Universe; massive multimedia project Shadows of the Empire, in 1996 the biggest Star Wars event since the original movies, told of Fett and our heroes' run in with the villainous Prince Xizor, leader of crime syndicate the Black Sun.
Although none of the events or characters introduced in Shadows have appeared in canon material, the Black Sun have made it through – the organisation, as well as Xizor’s species, the Falleen, featured in The Clone Wars and have since been referenced in a wide range of canon books. The odds of a Shadows of the Empire remake are, however, unlikely; Star Wars Story team member and canon expert Pablo Hidalgo has repeatedly stated he's not a fan of the story.
9 The YT-2400
One of the most contentious parts of Shadows of the Empire was the introduction of Dash Rendar. Not a bad character per se, there's just no getting around that he's a blatant Han Solo replacement. He even has his own version of the Millennium Falcon – the Outrider.
Another Corellian freighter with similar design traits, it proved to be a fan favourite regardless of its derivative nature, so it was hardly surprising that a YT-2400 recently appeared in Rebels as the vessel choice for Iron Squadron. However, that episode wasn't when the design was made canon. In fact, this is one EU element that never actually fell out of canon.
The ship may have first appeared in Shadows, but it was actually designed for the Special Editions as an insert into A New Hope’s entrance into Mos Eisley. And, as the latest versions are (for the time being) the official canon version – so, yes, in continuity Anakin reverts back to Hayden form at the end of Jedi – that means the YT-2400 was always a part of the world. Whether or not it’s still Dash’s ship, as it was in the EU, is yet to confirmed.
8 Darth Bane’s Backstory
One of the biggest additions the prequels made to the Star Wars mythos was the Rule of Two, which the Expanded Universe elaborated on massively, revealing it was the product of Darth Bane, a Sith Lord who lived a thousand years before the Empire; Bane destroyed legions of Sith and Jedi alike, decreeing that for his order to survive they needed to hide in the darkness and work against the Republic from the shadows.
Bane is one of only two named, non-movie Sith Lords to be canonised. He appeared in The Clone Wars’ Lost Episodes – a Netflix-released Season 6 made up of episodes that never aired as part of the original run – as a Force ghost who attempted to corrupt Yoda. In the finale, much of his backstory, which was first defined by George Lucas in his development of The Phantom Menace, was made canon, along with the Sith homeworld (interchangeably called Korriban and Moraband).
7 General Cracken
The story of General Cracken is a rather complicated one. He was first introduced as the in-universe writer of source books for the West End Games' Star Wars RPG in the early nineties, which led to him becoming a semi-regular presence in several Rebel-related stories. Then, as part of the Star Wars Customisable Card Game, he was retconned to be one of the background characters from Return of the Jedi seen in the Falcon’s cockpit (played by Michael Stevens). And once he had a movie appearance, he got a recurring role in The New Jedi Order books.
All this ceased to matter with the introduction of the new canon - Cracken was made Legends and Stevens' bit-part became just another rebel. However, he didn't stay that way for long. In an example of how cohesive the story group can be, Cracken was eventually brought back into canon across multiple stories; his name and rank were reinstated in the Han Solo comic and Leia novel Moving Target respectively.
6 Darth Plagueis' Backstory
The other EU Sith to be brought into the canon fully is Darth Plagueis. The wise lord was first introduced in Revenge of the Sith, used as a key part of Palpatine’s corruption of Anakin, but remained an incredibly mysterious presence in the Star Wars galaxy until he finally got a novel expanding greatly on his backstory in 2012, seven whole years after being introduced.
Of course, that was only two years before the massive continuity shakeup, making Darth Plagueis one of the last Legends books written. However, that doesn’t mean all the story was worthless. Tarkin, a novel following the future Grand Moff in the early days of the Empire, had several moments that alluded to Plagueis, confirming him as Palpatine’s master in the new canon and providing a little more elaboration on what the pair’s midi-chlorian meddling could achieve.
This obviously adds fuel to the incredibly popular "Snoke is Plagueis" theory - that Lucasfilm went to the effort of laying out his core character elements suggests they may not be done with him yet.
5 TIE Defender
Each Star Wars movie introduced a new TIE design or two to the Imperial Navy’s arsenal – the original movie had the basic fighter and Vader’s Advanced prototype, Empire the bomber (and a blink-and-you’ll-miss-it TIE shuttle) and Jedi the Interceptor. But that’s nothing on the Expanded Universe, which introduced variations as if twin ion engines were going out of fashion.
The new canon stripped things back to the core movie examples and has begun to introduce entirely new designs in various materials – most prominently Rogue One's TIE Striker – but that doesn’t mean all the weird and wonderful Legends versions are gone.
Star Wars: Complete Locations has made the self-explanatory TIE Lander canon, while Rebels is currently dealing with the TIE Defender’s schematics. The tri-winged ship (which was created for Star Wars: TIE Fighter in the 1990s) was actually already canon thanks to mobile game Star Wars: Commander, but the show is going to greatly expand its use in the conflict.
During the prequel years, Quinlan Vos was one of the biggest Jedi in the Expanded Universe. Based on a cool looking extra in The Phantom Menace, he appeared in a host of Clone War-era comics before getting a sly nod in Revenge of the Sith. His position in the new canon was further solidified by several appearances in The Clone Wars, where he fell for dark Force user Asajj Ventress.
Amazingly, Vos’ master, Tholme, an occasional presence in the Republic comics but definitely a lesser known Jedi, has also been sneakily brought over to the new canon; he was referenced in Dark Disciple, a book detailing Vos’ flirtation with the Dark Side.
While this did make the character canon, his fate was changed; in the Legends continuity he actually survived the Clone Wars, whereas in the new canon he was killed by Ventress very early on in the conflict. Sometimes being made canon isn’t good for your health.
3 Grievous' Backstory
When he was first introduced, General Grievous was hot stuff. His debut in the 2D Clone Wars cartoons was an end-of-season shocker and, even after his death in Revenge of the Sith, a lot of time was put into deepening his character; it wasn’t until an article in the 2006 issue of Star Wars Insider that much of his backstory was made official.
In short, he was a famed Kaleesh warrior who started working with the Separatists and, after a ship crash left him on the brink of death, was turned into the cyborg monstrosity that ravaged the galaxy through the Clone Wars. Because The Clone Wars (3D version this time) was originally made to fit into the EU continuity, much of this backstory was hinted at in the show, meaning it remained canon even when the source began Legends.
Elements of his backstory were further solidified as in-continuity by the Star Wars Journeys: Beginnings iOS app, one of the few examples of the franchise addressing the prequel era post-Disney.
2 The Classic Bothan Design
Despite only getting mentioned in a single line, Bothans have become one of the most revered species in the Star Wars galaxy; they’ve been the subject of both parody – the excellent Tag and Bink series introduced Manny Both-Hanz, who died to get the Death Star II plans – and major misunderstandings – no, they shouldn’t have been in Rogue One because that’s the wrong Death Star.
Their Expanded Universe design - furry humanoids with dog snouts - has also proven incredibly striking, so it’s pretty strange to think that that almost went non-canon; Bothans haven't appeared properly anywhere in the new continuity yet. Almost as a way to ensure the design remained, however, a Rebels tie-in book showed a drawing by Sabine of one of the spies.
It’s actually rather strange that they’ve not featured more in Rebels given how adept their information-stealing skills are – maybe the Alliance didn’t start working with them until after Yavin?
1 How Han Won The Falcon
Han winning the Falcon off Lando has been a core part of the scoundrels’ backstory since Calrissian first appeared in The Empire Strikes Back. The details of this were finally elaborated on in the 1998 novel Rebel Dawn, which opened with Han winning a Sabacc tournament against Lando on Cloud City for the ship.
This was a widely accepted part of the canon, so one of the harder ones for fans to ditch with the rest of the Expanded Universe. Probably because of that, it was slyly reintroduced in The Force Awakens Visual Dictionary, which provided a brief overview of the whole incident, along with a neat addition – the dice that hang in the Falcon cockpit in the original trilogy were the winning pair from that game.
This is something you can almost guarantee will be elaborated on in the upcoming Han Solo movie, due in 2018, which will be showing the early days of Han and Lando’s friendship.