When a franchise has as many films in it as Star Wars does, spread over four decades of real time, it’s only a matter of time before something goes wrong with the continuity and a storyline or two stops making sense.
In most cases, these mistakes are due to the chronological errors added to the original trilogy by the subsequent prequel trilogy. Events or reveals made in the original films no longer make complete sense when given the context of what we see occur in the prequels.
In other cases, new additions to the galaxy far far away in recent years seem to have done away with clear logical time and space conventions. Of course, this is space after all, so maybe time and travel just work so differently there that we can’t possibly truly understand the passage of time in each film in our terrestrial terms.
However, that’s their problem, not ours. We’re just here to point out all the mistakes they made along the way.
Here are the 15 Unexplained Mistakes In The Star Wars Movie Timeline.
15. How does Han not believe in the Jedi when they’ve only been gone for 19 years?
Han Solo’s disbelief in all things related to the Force is something that Star Wars doesn’t waste any time establishing. “Kid, I’ve flown from one side of this galaxy to the other. I’ve seen a lot of strange stuff, but I’ve never seen anything to make me believe there’s one all-powerful Force controlling everything,” he tells Luke at one point.
In one of his most famous lines, he notes that “Hokey religions and ancient weapons are no match for a good blaster at your side, kid.”
It’s one thing for Han to be a skeptic, as the cynical roguish hero he’s meant to be sort of requires that layer of doubt. However, it’s another thing entirely for him to disavow any belief in the Force, and even the Jedi themselves, when they’ve only been “extinct” for 19 years when A New Hope begins.
14. How did Vader not find Luke in the 19 years between III and IV?
Another significant error that relates to the 19 years of time that pass between Revenge of the Sith and A New Hope is pretty glaring. Upon the birth of Luke and Leia, they are dispatched to live on Tatooine and Alderaan, respectively, with Owen and Beru Lars, and Bail and Breha Organa. Yet while Leia receives the Organa surname, and all the honor with it, Luke does not adopt the Lars surname.
Instead, Luke hides in plain sight on Darth Vader’s former home planet, the last remnant of the Skywalker legacy in name only.
Yet, somehow, Vader never thinks to look for the child(ren) he had known were coming. Even though Palpatine had informed Anakin that Padme had died at the end of Revenge of the Sith, he had still felt that she was alive at one point.
13. Why does Obi-Wan claim that Yoda was his master, rather than Qui-Gon?
In The Phantom Menace, we are told the heartbreaking story of the relationship between Obi-Wan Kenobi and his master, the kind and inimitable Qui-Gon Jinn. Qui-Gon’s death is something that profoundly affects Obi-Wan’s journey forever from that point on, as he becomes Anakin’s master due to Qui-Gon’s absence.
Yet, according to Obi-Wan in Empire Strikes Back, the entire reason that Luke must go to Dagobah is so that he may be trained by “Yoda, the Jedi Master who instructed me.”
Suddenly, Qui-Gon has no narrative influence in Obi-Wan’s development whatsoever. Perhaps there was some training between Obi-Wan and Yoda that took place after the prequels, especially with the suggestion of Yoda communing with Qui-Gon and being able to teach Obi-Wan how to do so.
12. Do Force ghosts no longer have to resemble the Force user’s last appearance?
In the original release of Return of the Jedi, the trio of Force ghosts that greet Luke during the celebration on Endor are Obi-Wan, Yoda, and the unfamiliar old man we are led to believe was once Anakin Skywalker.
However, in George Lucas’s re-release, the older Anakin Skywalker has been replaced with Hayden Christensen circa Revenge of the Sith, when Anakin ceased to exist and became Darth Vader.
Yet that small change in one of the film’s briefest and final moments has fundamentally changed the way in which we are meant to understood Force ghosts and their relationship to time.
11. Did Anakin really want Luke to have his lightsaber?
As we’ve already stated, there are a whole lot of mistakes that have been added to the original trilogy by the creation of the prequels.
As it just so happens, many of them come from the same single scene in A New Hope, in which Luke Skywalker meets with the elder Obi-Wan Kenobi and receives his preliminary counsel and reflections on the past of the Jedi and his father.
Part of Obi-Wan’s lesson involves giving the now iconic Skywalker lightsaber to an eager Luke. In doing so, though, Obi-Wan makes the comment that Anakin had always wanted Luke to have that lightsaber some day.
However, given the fact that Obi-Wan and Anakin’s last conversation ended with triple dismemberment, screams of rage, and molten lava, it’s safe to say that this is one of the most awkward chronology errors.
10. How is hyperspace tracking new in The Last Jedi when it’s only discovered in Rogue One?
A primary plot point within The Last Jedi is the fact that the First Order are suddenly, inexplicably, impossibly able to track the Resistance ships even through hyperspace. The need to disable the First Order’s tracker technology is what sends Finn and Rose off on their ultimately unsuccessful mission to Canto Bight.
However, why is any of this an issue at all, when hyperspace tracking is something that the Empire had been working on nearly 40 years prior during the events of Rogue One? Toward the end of that film, Jyn Erso is rifling through files and comes across one titled “Hyperspace tracking, Navigational systems.”
9. Just how old is the Republic?
It’s acknowledged time and again throughout the entirety of Star Wars that the Jedi are an ancient religion, and that they have been in a position of high power for thousands of years.
When it comes to the Republic, however, things are made simultaneously more concrete and specific, and yet all the more contradictory and unclear. In A New Hope, Obi-Wan claims that “For over a thousand generations, the Jedi Knights were the guardians of peace and justice in the Old Republic.” Assuming a standard definition of generation, this would mean that the Republic has existed for at least 19,000 years.
However, in Attack of the Clones, Palpatine remarks that he “will not let this Republic, that has stood for a thousand years, be split in two!” We don’t even have to say that thousands of generations and a thousand years are very different things, but we’ll say it anyway. Just how old is this Republic after all?
8. Why does Obi-Wan not remember R2-D2 and C-3PO?
Perhaps there are certain things that can be explained away by trauma and aging in self-enforced exile, but a glaring chronology error occurs right at the very beginning of A New Hope. How does Obi-Wan Kenobi neither remember, nor recognize either R2-D2 or C-3PO after spending the entirety of the prequels with them?
The film never suggests for a moment that Obi-Wan is being coy or secretive, and he even stresses the fact that he never had owned a droid like R2-D2 and doesn’t remember Artoo at all.
Maybe it’s just one of the many accidental errors added by the creation of the prequels, but given the iconic nature of Leia’s message contained within R2-D2, it’s certainly an awkward error to deal with right off the bat.
7. What happened to Mon Mothma between Rogue One and Return of the Jedi?
Speaking of original trilogy characters who made surprise returns in Rogue One…
Mon Mothma has a significant role within Rogue One as a prominent leader of the Rebel Alliance, directly involved in the recruitment of Jyn Erso as the leader of the eventually established Rogue One crew.
She has clearly established herself as a prominent figure of the recently established Rebellion, serving as its Commander in Chief t the time.
Yet, after her crucial role in Rogue One, Mothma is neither seen nor heard from again until the events of Return of the Jedi, many canonical years later. Where did she go? How did her position suddenly become so out of focus from the main group of Rebels?
6. How does the Empire build the second Death Star in so little time?
The Death Star, the most fearsome and ultimately futile weapon in all of the galaxy far far away, strikes fear into the hearts of all who hear its name.
Its structure and capacity and power are so immense that, according to the canon timeline established between the prequels and the originals, it takes the Empire 19 years to construct it fully.
At the end of Revenge of the Sith, we receive the first glimpse of the work in progress that will become the Death Star. By the time A New Hope rolls around, it’s the super weapon the Rebels know and fear.
Yet even though it took the Empire 19 years to construct the first Death Star, they are somehow inexplicably able to replicate it completely in the handful of years that pass between A New Hope‘s ending and Return of the Jedi‘s beginning.
5. Why does Obi-Wan forget that Leia is a Skywalker in Empire Strikes Back?
Considering the fact that it is Obi-Wan who goes on to aid in the reveal that Leia is Luke’s sister in Return of the Jedi, this next timeline error is a real head scratcher.
In Empire Strikes Back, when Luke leaves Dagobah in order to save his friends, Obi-Wan becomes despondent and bitter, lamenting that “that boy is our last hope.” With Luke seemingly having abandoned training, Obi-Wan clearly feels that they have lost all hope in their lost Skywalker.
However, as Yoda reminds him, “there is another.” Another form of hope– and another Skywalker, at that– exist in the form of Leia herself. Seeing as Obi-Wan once helped to deliver her, how could he possibly forget her existence?
4. How does Leia remember Padme?
In Return of the Jedi, as a way of gradually revealing to Leia that they are, in fact, twins, Luke asks her whether she remembers her birth mother at all. Leia claims that all she can remember about Padme are “images, really. Feelings… She was very beautiful… kind, but sad.”
While those descriptions certainly fit the woman we now know to have been Padme Amidala, there is no possible way to explain Leia’s memories. As Revenge of the Sith revealed, Padme died shortly after child birth, having lost the will to live due to the presumable heartbreak of Anakin turning to the dark side.
3. How were Cornelius Evazan and Ponda Baba on Jedha in Rogue One?
Although their names are most likely familiar to only the most die-hard of fans, Cornelius Evazan and Ponda Baba take part in one A New Hope‘s most memorable moments: the Cantina scene.
The duo accost Luke at the bar, with Evazan informing Luke that Ponda Baba doesn’t like him. A scuffle ensues, resulting in Obi-Wan Kenobi severing Baba’s arm and wounding Evazan.
Yet, according to the events of Rogue One, these two were somehow in the desert moon location of Jedha City shortly before the Empire destroyed it with a test firing of the Death Star. If Evazan and Baba were truly in Jedha City at that time, there is no way they could have possibly escaped in time to appear in the Mos Eisley Cantina.
2. How does Obi-Wan age nearly 30 years in 19 years?
We can’t possibly imagine what living a life of solitude in the harsh deserts of Tatooine for 19 years would be like. However, we still can’t help but wonder: how does Obi-Wan age all of thirty years between the end of Revenge of the Sith and the beginning of A New Hope?
Based on Ewan McGregor’s portrayal of Kenobi in the final episode of the prequel trilogy, Obi-Wan is in his early to mid 30s when he enters exile.
However, going by Sir Alec Guinness’ portrayal in the original films, Kenobi is now mid 60s, even though only 19 years have passed, as can be told by Luke and Leia’s age during the events of A New Hope.
1. How does the timeline of The Last Jedi make any sense?
The Last Jedi has arguably been the most divisive movie that the Star Wars franchise has put out in a very long time, if ever. Yet, in addition to the many impassioned debates fans are having regarding its merits (or lack thereof), one simple fact remains: the timeline makes absolutely no sense.
Finn and Rose’s storyline, as well as Leia, Poe, and Holdo’s are both incredibly time sensitive and seem as though they couldn’t possibly take place in more than a few days. Their plots are entirely reliant on one another’s and occur simultaneously.
However, Rey, Luke, and Kylo Ren’s arc feels much more slowed down, necessitating the time it takes to form a considerable emotional bond between Rey and Kylo especially as they come to understand and care about one another through their Force bond.
Nevertheless, all three of these plots converge in one place in the end. So how much time actually passes? Three sunsets occur in the film, which seems to success that three days total pass, but that’s a hard one to wrap our heads around.
Have you noticed any other glaring timeline mistakes in Star Wars? Let us know in the comments!
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