A long time ago, there was a galaxy far, far away, with lots and lots of planets.
The Star Wars franchise had desert planets, swamp planets, ice planets, city planets, forest planets; basically, if there was a climate or condition needed for the film Star Wars, they created a whole new planet for it. The structure of the Star Wars saga has stayed fairly stable over the last 40 years. Take a motley crew of underdogs, put them on a spaceship and have them visit three distinct planets, one per act.
Some of the Star Wars planets weren’t always used in the film they were originally planned for, making us wait over 30 years since their inception to see several finally come into existence. Whether it was in Star Wars cartoons, books, comics and films, most of Lucasfilm’s creations eventually found a home among the stars. So, from the Capital planet of Coruscant to the inspirations for Eadu, here are the 18 Most Important Planets in the Star Wars Galaxy:
The Phantom Menace introduced many things to the Star Wars universe - like podracing, midi-chlorians, Darth Maul and his double bladed lightsaber - but it would also introduce audiences to our first planet created specifically for the prequels: Naboo. Populated by a mix of humans and an amphibious race known as Gungans, the planet is home to several characters that would prove very important to the history of “a long long time ago”.
The Naboo government ruled from the capital of Theed, but the gungans had their own tribal government in an underwater city called Otoh Gunga. Queen Amidala, future mother of Luke Skywalker and Leia Organa, was the elected leader of Naboo. The climax of Phantom Menace saw the gungans partner with the Naboo and Jedi Qui-Gon Jinn & Obi Wan Kenobi to repel the massive droid army from the planet, but at the cost of Master Qui-Gon’s life at the hands of Darth Maul. Senator Sheev Palpatine, future Emperor and secret-Sith Darth Sidious, is elected Chancellor of the Senate after these events.
The second prequel, Attack of the Clones, would find Amidala taking Palpatine’s seat in the senate. Anakin Skywalker would return with her to Naboo after an assassination attempt on the Senator’s life. Princess Leia would return to the planet where her parents fell in love after the demise of the Emperor. In the comic Shattered Empire, Leia travels to Naboo to prevent Operation:Cinder; a “scorched earth” assault on Imperial planets should anything befall the Emperor.
Of the many new planets Rogue One introduced into the Star Wars mythos, one may already look very familiar. After Jyn Erso’s crew escapes Jedha, they must continue on to the planet of Eadu to complete their mission. Home to the Empire’s secret kyber crystal refinery, the planet’s hard to navigate canyons and intense weather patterns make landing not so easy. With a storm system constantly raging overhead, the planet’s surface is dark with a purple hue.
Fans of the Alien film franchise will instantly feel at home on Eadu, since it is inspired by LV426. When Gareth Edwards revealed his inspirations for Rogue One, he mentioned that fans will be able to spot his ode to Ridley Scott pretty quickly. Edwards has cited Ridley Scott as one of the inspirations for him to even get into filmmaking. Now that we’ve seen the planet, we really want to go back and try to find some xenomorph (easter) eggs.
From the earliest drafts of The Star Wars, the Wookiee planet of Kashyyyk would not give up trying to get into the saga. Originally slated for A New Hope, then introduced haphazardly in The Star Wars Christmas Special, fans would have to wait until 2005 to finally see the giant tree canopies that George Lucas and Ralph McQuarrie had envisioned.
In Revenge of the Sith, the final battles of the Clone Wars are coming to a head. As the wookiees fight the Separatists off their homeworld they are joined by Jedi Master Yoda. We get our first real look at the the planet’s massive forests of wroshyr trees as the camera sweeps over the beachhead where the climactic battle will take place, ending in Order 66. In the no-longer-canon video game The Force Unleashed, as Darth Vader, you destroy wookiee villages in search of the force adept Starkiller. Later in the game, you return to Kashyyyk to see what the planet looks like under Imperial occupation and disrupt its slave trade operations. It was a long wait, but we were left with more questions than answers, like why didn't Chewie tell Luke about Yoda?
Alas, poor Alderaan. We hardly knew ye. No scene in the history of cinema has better demonstrated the stakes of a film than the destruction of Princess Leia’s home planet of Alderaan. When the daughter of the planet’s Senator Bail Organa is forced to choose between revealing the location of the Rebel base and saving the planet, Leia gives Moff Tarkin the location of a former base on Dantooine. Unfazed, Moff Tarkin continues with the destruction of the pacifist planet. The devastation of which would be felt across the galaxy by Jedi Obi Wan Kenobi. The Special Edition re release of the films found the explosion getting an extra piece of flare in a ring emitting from the blast.
We would go on to meet the Senator in Episode II, but we wouldn’t actually visit the planet until the very end of Revenge of the Sith. In a scene where Jimmy Smits’ Bail Organa is introducing his adopted daughter Leia to his wife we see the peaceful countryside of the planet and imagine the supportive happy family they would become while planning revolutionary rebellions throughout the galaxy.
14 Starkiller Base
When Disney announced a return of the Jedi to the silver screen, fans were more jubilant that Lando in an Ewok square dance to hear that the movie would attempt to get back to the series roots. It had been 3 films since we’d seen a proper Star Wars adventure with a small band of fighters attempting to take out a weapon of mass destruction. In The Force Awakens, the remnants of the Empire have reformed in the unknown regions of space under The First Order. Converting an entire planet into a militarized weapon, this grandson to the Death Star was a far more powerful tool of destruction.
Just as Alderaan would suffer to prove the dangers of fighting the Empire, so too would Hosnian Prime - the capitol of the Republic. Powered by draining nearby star's energy, Star Killer Base’s destructive power was nothing short of devastating - wiping out not just a planet, but the entire Hosnian System. The planet would ultimately be destroyed, but its legacy could live on in future chapters of the Skywalker saga.
Deeply entrenched in Star Wars lore the planet Geonosis is the site of the first battle of the Clone Wars. Count Dooku and the Geonosians were building a droid army on the planet. After Obi Wan, Anakin and Padme Amidala are captured, Republic forces, led by Yoda charge into battle. In the final scenes of Revenge of the Sith, the Death Star’s plans are taken to Geonosis to begin initial construction.
While Geonosis didn’t show up in Rogue One, it has been a major part of connecting the Death Star’s story to the larger universe on Rebels. In the fan-favorite episode “The Honorable Ones”, the crew of the Ghost journey to Geonosis only to find Imperial building platforms orbiting the now-dead planet. The secret weapons project that started here had moved on years ago, leaving the planet “sterilized” by bombardment. The 3rd season finale, “Ghosts of Geonosis”, is expected to connect the dots on how the Death Star got from Geonosis to Rogue One when the Rebels crew returns to the planet.
Between the time the Clone Wars are first mentioned in Princess Leia’s holgram and George Lucas delving into that storyline, real cloning would actually happen in the form of Dolly the Sheep in 1996. Though we’re unsure if the real scientific breakthrough influenced how George would approach the creation of the clones, the storyline he came up with was as boring as watching Dolly eat grass. In 2003, Lucasfilm would finally deliver on the promise of 1977 by releasing Attack of the Clones.
In the film, Obi Wan Kenobi would travel to Kamino while tracking a Separatist plot to assassinate Senator Amidala. The planet, a dominantly ocean sphere outside of the charted regions of galaxy, was home to a race of creatures remarkably similar to the traditional description of “Grey Aliens” of Roswell conspiracy fame. These aliens were contracted to build a clone army using the genetics of the bounty hunter Jango Fett, just in time to reinforce the Republic’s side of an endless battle between mass-produced droids and Mandalorians. We would return to the planet during the animated series The Clone Wars, where much to prequel haters' chagrin, the clones were humanized and given real purpose.
In the fan created "Death Star Rap", one of the catchiest refrains to stick in your head from the earworm is “Run Luke, Run to Dagobah - Run to Dagobah.” The scene in the films is much more straightforward as Ben Kenobi appears to Skywalker and tells him to go to the Dagobah system for training with the Jedi Master Yoda. Upon his arrival on the swamp planet, Luke would lose his X-wing to the marshy waters, though Yoda’s abilities with the force would rectify that situation.
After the events of the Clone Wars, Master Yoda went into hiding on Dagobah to commune with the spirit of Qui-Gon Jinn to learn a new aspect of the force unknown to the Jedi. We would learn that the Sith first had this power. To develop further, Yoda would have to acknowledge the dark side within himself and seek balance. In Empire Strikes Back, Luke would encounter a cave deeply connected to the Dark Side where he would face his greatest fears. Luke would fail the test of the dark side well, but its existence explained why Yoda would choose the planet, using the reservoir of dark energy to mask his presence from a Sith like Darth Vader.
Many moons in the universe are possibly more hospitable to life than some of the massive and dangerous gas giants they orbit. In the latest Star Wars film Rogue One, the traditional Star Wars desert planet is replaced by, wait for it, a desert moon. Those who worship the force journey to Jedha City’s Temple to commune with the spiritual energy that binds us all and in the case of Jedi, receive kyber crystals for their lightsabers. After the rise of Palpatine and the extermination of the Jedi from the galaxy, Jedha was all that remained of the hokey religion. The Empire strip mined Ilum (the location of kyber crystals in Star Wars: Clone Wars) of its kyber resources and then set its eyes on Jedha’s stockpile of the energy source.
The Imperial occupation of Jedha would lead to an insurgency led by Rebel extremist Saw Gerrera. Gerrera’s relationship with the greater Rebellion is strained because of his merciless tactics, but his relationship with the Erso family brings him back into the fold. Jedha is also home to the Guardians of the Whills. In original drafts of Star Wars, the Whills were invisible beings observing the universe. Eventually they just became the Force. In Rogue One, the Guardians of the Whills serve as non-force adept protectors of the Jedi temple. With the temple ransacked by the Empires, all they can do is fight Imperial forces in the streets of Jedha.
After the Rebel victory at Yavin 4, the Empire would retaliate against the insurgents; hunting them across the galaxy. At the opening of Empire Strikes Back, the Rebel Alliance is adjusting to its new home on the ice covered planet of Hoth. The planet’s wildlife include the Tauntaun, a two legged beast which the Rebellion quickly domesticated as transport, and the Wampa, an abominable snowman with a sweet tooth for Jedi. After escaping from the Wampa, Luke is found by Han Solo. With the night time blizzards of Hoth putting them in mortal danger, Han shoves look into the warm insides of the Tauntaun that died in the expedition to save Luke’s life. This is also the only time we’ll get to see Han Solo wield a lightsaber.
The Imperial fleet would locate the Rebels with one of their probe droids, making its debut in Episode V. As the Rebels evacuate the planet they just began to settle into, the Empire bears down on them, revealing for the first time the massive AT-AT walkers. Hoth is also the planet where Rogue Squadron would make its debut - a unit of expert pilots named in honor of the rebels that procured the Death Star plans.
8 Endor’s Forest Moon
While the planet of Endor isn’t exactly anything to write home about, it’s forest moon is brimming with life and if you travel during the tourist season you can see a 2nd Death Star. Though the original draft of the script for Episode VI had the finale taking place on a sanctuary moon above the capital planet Had Abbadon, Lucas rewrote it to reflect a more primitive backwater celestial body where the Empire can work in secret. When the Jedi returned, they brought with them one of the most controversial alien races to appear in the Star Wars saga, the Ewoks. Flesh eating teddy bears, the warrior fur-babies wavered between incredibly creepy and gullible to cute and heroic. The species were the natives of Endor, where the Empire had erected a shield generator to protect the Death Star being constructed in its orbit.
When sitting down to write Return of the Jedi, Lucas referred to his original notes about the forest planet Kashyyyk, but realized he couldn’t tell the story he wanted to with the technologically advanced Wookies. He would create a more primitive forest dweller in the Ewoks. The planet would also be the final resting place of Darth Vader, at least until his grandson would come around to pick up his ashes.
The idea of extracting valuable natural resources from gas giants like Saturn or Jupiter have been around since the birth of science fiction. In the Star Wars universe, Bespin is one such planet. On the run from the Empire, Han Solo and company would fly to Bespin in search of an old friend. Originally in the running for the role of Han, Billy Dee Williams would join the trilogy as Lando Calrissian, a former owner of the Millennium Falcon and administrator of the mining facility Cloud City.
Bespin would be the site of a trap by Boba Fett and the Empire to capture Luke, but not before testing the planned shipping procedure of carbon freezing on Han Solo. Showing his true colors as a man of honor trying to save the lives of everyone on the facility, Lando called for an evacuation of Cloud City. Meanwhile, in the bowels of the station, Luke would discover the truth about Darth Vader and his father. Vader is his father, though German audiences kind of saw it coming. Calrissian would become a General in the Rebellion, possibly getting promoted quickly thanks to his help in the resistance on Rebels.
One of the biggest revelations the prequel films were slated to give us was how exactly Anakin Skywalker went from being a Jedi Knight to a cyborg. We would finally see those events play out in Revenge of the Sith. At the end of the Clone Wars, Anakin Skywalker would travel to Mustafar to destroy the Separatists who had finished serving their purpose of putting Palpatine in power. The planet was one giant lava field, with most of the infrastructure requiring gravity supports.
Arriving too late to stop the massacre, Obi Wan realizes he has to put an end to Anakin’s madness. The two duel across a volcanic river with the final result being Skywalker burning alive until rescue comes to whisk him off to a bacta tank. Forever transformed into Darth Vader, the Dark Lord of the Sith would return to his “birth place” to erect a massive castle we would see for the first time in Rogue One.
While George Lucas would direct most of Revenge of the Sith, it is now known that Steven Spielberg handled most of the heavy lifting when shooting the Mustafar scenes. While credited as an assistant director, Spielberg was said to have blocked and directed most of the film's final duels, including all of the action on Mustafar
The desert planet has become tradition in the Star Wars' universe. When fans caught their first glimpse of leaked concept art from Force Awakens, the appearance of a starship graveyard in the middle of a hostile wasteland made many think we were taking a trip back to Tatooine. It was later announced that Lucasfilm wanted to see new planets in the galaxy and that the desert planet fans had caught a glimpse of was actually the new creation Jakku.
Serving as a hiding place for the map to find Luke Skywalker, Jakku became a rather happenstance meeting ground between droid BB-8, Force adept orphan Rey, former Stormtrooper Finn and the starship that’s all personality, the Millennium Falcon. As the location of the final battle of the Galactic Civil War, husks of massive Star Destroyers and Rebel ships line the surface, creating a maze of empty starship hulls that Finn and Rey must escape through. Regardless of Finn’s feelings on the subject, we expect to return to Jakku one day to continue to uncover the mysteries of Rey and her abandonment on the planet’s surface when she was a child.
The final act of Rogue One is filled with moments Star Wars fans have waited a lifetime to see. With the threat of the Death Star looming, Jyn Erso and her band of Rogues must infiltrate an Imperial data center on the tropical world of Scarif. Trying to sneak into an imperial base loaded down with a battalion of Storm & Shoretroopers, the volunteer Rebel unit must create a distraction to draw out the overwhelming force; giving Jyn Erso and Cassian Andor an opportunity to sneak into the massive Imperial data bank tower.
The Rebel fleet would engage the Empire en masse for the first time in orbit around Scarif, trying desperately to get support through shield to Rogue One below. The final battle plays out in ways very familiar to players of Star Wars Battlefront, so its only appropriate that the planet be featured in DLC for the popular first person shooter.
Drafts of the Return of the Jedi script introduced a galactic capital city so large it took up an entire planet. The planet would get the proper name of Coruscant from Timothy Zahn’s novel Heir to the Empire. Someone must have thought that was a safer name for audiences than Had Abbadon, a play on the name of a Christian killing demon, though thematically appropriate as it may be.
The planet would make its first appearance in the Special Edition release of Episode VI. After the Battle of Endor, we see citizens of the planet pulling down a statue of the now dead Emperor. It wouldn't be until Episode I that Lucas would take us to the metroplanet to finally see the Senate and Jedi Temple. According to lore, Coruscant is the cradle of humanity from which it spread through the galaxy.
Before its purchase by Disney, one of the last projects LucasArts was developing was the game Star Wars 1313. The project was to be the first large scale collaboration between Lucasfilm, Lucasarts and Industrial Light and Magic in the creation of a game instead of a film. Named after the level of Coruscant where organized crime reigns, the game would have seen the Star Wars' Underworld explored by Boba Fett. If you're still looking to experience more of Coruscant, Star Tours at Disneyland and Disneyworld has the capital city-planet in heavy rotation with Kashyyyk, the Death Star, Jakku and more.
2 Yavin 4
On the jungle moon of Yavin 4, ancient temples of the Massassi warriors stood empty until the Rebel Alliance had need of a secret base from which to strike at the Empire. The Massassi were an ancient race enslaved by the Sith. While no longer canon, the temples would go on to be used as Luke Skywalker’s Jedi Academy, though the previous tenants would cause the dark side of the force to grow very strong in the temples catacombs.
The rebellion would meet Jyn Erso at the base for the first time, giving her the mission to find her father and the plans for the Death Star. Launching the successful raid on the Imperial battle station, the Rebels were able to hold the position after Luke Skywalker’s final blow to the facility. Before scuttling the base and going on the run as a flotilla then eventually landing on Hoth, the Rebels would take a moment to celebrate their first decisive win against the Empire. Except Chewie, no medals for the life debters apparently.
Tatooine has the distinction of being the planet with the most visited planet in the Star Wars movies. Home to farmboy Luke Skywalker and Jedi-in-hiding Ben Kenobi, Tatooine would be where our heroes first come together in A New Hope, meeting Han Solo and Chewbacca at the Mos Eisley Cantina - a wretched hive of scum and villainy. The planet would show up in all but one Star Wars saga film, The Empire Strikes Back, but in Return of the Jedi, Luke Skywalker and company would make their way back to the planet to face Jabba the Hutt and rescue their friend Han Solo.
The prequel trilogy would give us more glimpses of life on Tatooine as Qui Gon and Padme Amidala attempt to win Anakin Skywalker’s freedom from slavery through a podrace in The Phantom Menace, the padawan’s murder of Tusken Raiders after the death of his mother Shmi Skywalker in Attack of the Clones, and finally Obi Wan placing a baby Luke into the care of Uncle Owen and Aunt Beru at the end of Revenge of the Sith. Though nothing about the planet has us more interested than the next potential meeting between Obi Wan Kenobi and Darth Maul. Maul was recently made aware of Obi Wan still being alive and in hiding in an episode of Rebels and it could be leading to a story we saw play out in comic form through the Star Wars Visionaries’ tale “Old Wounds”.
Which planet do you think is the most important to Star Wars? Got a favorite we didn't list, let us know in the comments below!