In the years following the release of Return of the Jedi, Star Wars fans didn’t have a lot to hold on to. Sure, there were some Saturday morning cartoons and a couple of made for TV movies featuring ewoks, but with the toy line drying up in 1985, and no new movies in sight, interest (and merchandise) in the beloved franchise was nearly non-existent by the end of the decade compared to just a few years earlier. Because of this, fans had to rely on an assortment comic books and novels in order to follow the adventures of the residents of that galaxy far, far away.
The Star Wars Expanded Universe (now Legends), encompassed every one of the officially licensed, fictional background stories of the Star Wars universe, not contained within the original six Star Wars films or Star Wars: The Clone Wars. This is how we stayed connected to Star Wars. It’s thanks to these stories, that the Star Wars franchise remained culturally relevant. But all that changed on April 25, 2014 when the Lucasfilm Story Group announced the discontinuation of the Expanded Universe.
When Disney purchased Lucasfilm, there were several dramatic changes to the Star Wars franchise. The most notable of which was that the Expanded Universe would no longer be considered canon. This decision understandably upset many fans who enjoyed the continuing adventures of their favorite characters through the decades via the EU. With the Disney acquisition, everyone knew that there would be additional movies, books, etc., but nobody really knew how it would all play out. Erasing the Expanded Universe cleared the way for not only new movies, but also for books, comics, TV shows, and more. Enter Leland Chee.
Leland Chee is the keeper of the Holocron, the name given to the internal database that stores all knowledge about the Star Wars Universe. It’s basically Lucasfilm’s massive collection of every detail, both big and small, that keeps every movie, TV episode, video game, book, app, and merchandise item consistent with Star Wars lore.
Recently appearing on The Fandom Files, Chee revealed how the decision to reset the Star Wars canon came to be.
For me it came down to simply that we had killed Chewbacca in the Legends — a big moon had fallen on him. Part of that [original decision] was Chewbacca, because he can’t speak and just speaks in growls, he was a challenging character to write for in novels. Publishing had decided they needed to kill somebody, and it was Chewbacca.
He went on to say:
But if you have the opportunity to bring back Chewbacca into a live action film, you’re not gonna deprive fans that. There’s no way that I’d want to do an Episode VII that didn’t have Chewbacca in it and have to explain that Chewbacca had a moon fall on his head. And if we were going to overturn a monumental decision like that, everything else was really just minor in comparison.
So there you have it. You can thank R. A. Salvatore killing Chebacca in his novel, Vector Prime, for the destruction of the Star Wars Expanded Universe as we knew it. Of course, in retrospect, I think it was a smart move on the part of both Disney and Lucasfilm because even though we all want to see the Thrawn trilogy on the big screen, who doesn’t want to see Chewbacca? Probably only terrorists. And we may still get to see Thrawn. It’s win-win!
What do you think of the move to do away with the original EU? Have you been happy with the new Expanded Universe, or do you long for the Legends of yesteryear?