Since the first Star Wars movie, Episode IV: A New Hope, was released in 1977, the genre of science fiction and the field of cinema have been irrevocably changed. In a time when sci-fi was plentiful but not taken seriously, and when the term “blockbuster” wasn’t on the tip of everyone’s tongues each summer, George Lucas’s epic space opera sought to expand the interpretation of one and give meaning to the other. In making cinematic history with his clever use of props, innovative special effects, and sprawling world building, he launched a franchise that would only grow stronger as the years passed. And for all its cultural impact, an enduring practice among all the Star Wars films has lasted decades: the careful placement of easter eggs!
Easter eggs are clever acknowledgements, hidden messages, or inside jokes that filmmakers place into films for watchful fans to enjoy, and with all the Star Wars media available today, the team at Lucasfilm and Disney have a lot to work with! Today, there are 10 Star Wars films, with Episode IX premiering this year and bringing the original nine-part Star Wars saga to a close. But with films like Rogue One and Solo, as well as television series like Star Wars: Rebels and Star Wars: Resistance, the galaxy far, far away continues to seem very nearby. That’s why creative teams across all sorts of Star Wars media enjoy filling the screen with things fans will notice, from intentional references, to important cameos, to the inclusion of random objects just to see if they can get away with it (is it an asteroid field, or is it a cloud of potatoes?). It’s what makes Star Wars one of the most interconnected fandoms of all time, and one of the most beloved.
25 THE ROGUE ONE PRISON COLONY IS NAMED AFTER OBI-WAN
For not being a traditional “Episode”, Rogue One begins with many of the familiar hallmarks of a Star Wars film, from the title in big yellow lettering, to the appearance of a planet and ship amidst the black expanse of space.
The planet is the prison colony of Wobani, and if that name sounds a little familiar it's because it's an anagram of Obi-Wan, Anakin Skywalker's Master and mentor to his son Luke. It was specifically intended to bridge even more gaps between Revenge of the Sith and A New Hope.
24 STARKILLER BASE IS NAMED AFTER ANAKIN
Taking the place of the Evil Empire to become the new face of evil is the First Order. Taking the place of the dreaded Death Star is a new superweapon, appropriately called Starkiller Base and embedded in the middle of a planet.
The Starkiller name has its roots in the original Star Wars trilogy, when George Lucas first began to tell the story of “Anakin Starkiller” and the Rebel Alliance. His name would eventually change when Luke was made the protagonist (and Anakin's story saved for another trilogy), and the violent surname changed to the more heroic “Skywalker”.
23 THE DIRECTOR/PRODUCER CAMEOS
From the original Star Wars trilogy until now, directors and producers have been appearing in cameos in the Star Wars films for decades. Sound producer Ben Burtt even got a line when he told Han Solo to “freeze!” when he stormed the Imperial bunker in Return of the Jedi.
The director of Rogue One, Gareth Edwards, appeared as a Resistance soldier in The Last Jedi, and and Rian Johnson, director of The Last Jedi appeared as a Death Star technician in Rogue One. Long time producers Rick McCallum and Paul Martin Smith appeared as Naboo noblemen in the celebratory ceremonies at the end of The Phantom Menace.
22 THE ORIGINS OF THE RADDUS
Star Wars fans may have noticed while viewing The Last Jedi that the ship Admiral Holdo commands, the last large frigate the Resistance has to its cause, is called the Raddus. This isn’t by accident, but in homage to an important character in Rogue One.
While the members of Rogue One are down on the beaches of Scarif, transferring the Death Star plans from the Imperial Database to the Rebel ships above, Admiral Raddus is the only ship that answers their radio transmission and begins to download the plans. He is KIA, but not before transfering the plans to Princess Leia.
21 TERAS KASI FIRST APPEARED IN A PLAYSTATION GAME
In Solo, a number of easter eggs include nods to the “Expanded Universe” or Star Wars Legends. One of the most notable is the inclusion of the martial arts fighting style used by Han Solo's old flame Qi'ra.
It was first created for a Star Wars Playstation game from 1997 called Star Wars: Masters of Teras Kasi. It was the first time Lucasfilm has ever released a console game, and the creative team decided on a combat game ala Street Fighter. It featured many well known characters, along with lesser known, who used Teras Kasi in their hand-to-hand matches.
20 LANDO'S DIARIES
One of the best parts of Solo was learning about how a young Han Solo spent his smuggler days. This included running with a crew of space pirates and gamblers, one of whom was Lando Calrissian. Lando lost his beloved Millennium Falcon to Han in a friendly game of sabacc.
Prior to turning his ship over to Han, Lando would record his escapades in a digital diary. The stories he referenced were three real world book titles about Lando: Lando Calrissian and the Mindharp of Sharu, Lando Calrissian and the Flamewind of Oseon, and Lando Calrissian and the Starcave of ThonBoka.
19 L3 BONDING WITH THE MILLENNIUM FALCON
Star Wars films are filled with many lovably eccentric characters, several of them non-human. Some of the most beloved are droids with big personalities. Solo introduced L3, Lando's personal bodyguard and shipmate. A spunky female droid with a thirst for violence and adventure, she even leads a droid revolution in the film.
Sadly, things take a tragic turn and L3 is wounded beyond repair. In a last ditch effort to save her, she is bonded with the Falcon, giving it an internal AI. C-3PO even talks with “her” at Han's request in Empire Strikes Back to determine what repairs she needs.
18 THE FALCON CAMEO IN REVENGE OF THE SITH
From watching Solo we know that Han had quite a few run ins with the Empire in its early days, but 19 years before A New Hope he would be a teenager on Corellia and not winning a sabacc game with a YT-1300 Corellian freighter as the prize.
Yet we clearly see the Millennium Falcon in the docking bay of Coruscant when Anakin and Obi-Wan return from rescuing Chancellor Palpatine. Solo co-writer Jon Kasdan did say that prior to Lando’s ownership of it, the ship had already been around “for decades”, no doubt still in the smuggling business.
17 THE IMPERIAL MARCH USED FOR PROPAGANDA
Solo takes place prior to the events of Rogue One by roughly seven years. The Empire has already occupied hundreds of worlds, including Corellia, and made its tyranny known throughout the galaxy. Stormtroopers patrol the streets, cargo bays, and docking bays making sure all citizens operate under Imperial Law.
When Han Solo and his girlfriend Qi'ra attempt to escape from the squalid conditions on Corellia, they try to head off-world by going through the official customs depot. All around them are holograms featuring Imperial propaganda, while John Williams’ famous Imperial March (originally conceived for Darth Vader) plays from overhead speakers.
16 THE FATE OF RED FIVE
Though Luke Skywalker would be the pilot to make the callsign “Red Five” famous, it belonged to another Rebel fighter, Pedrin Gaul, who flew in the Battle of Scarif at the end of Rogue One. Part of the Massassi Group, the largest cell of the Rebel Alliance, Gaul flew his X-Wing fighter out of the same Yavin 4 hangar that Luke would in A New Hope.
Observant fans would have acknowledged the check in “Red Five standing by” bittersweetly; it would be the last contact Gaul had with the Rebel Fleet before he was shot down, leaving the vacancy open for Luke.
15 E.T. PHONES THE SENATE
Prior to the Empire coming into being, the Galactic Senate used diplomacy to include all the species of the galaxy in a democratic resolution to problems and conflicts. The governing body of the Republic relied on the Senate to keep the peace between worlds, especially when so many of them were so different from each other.
If you pay close attention, you’ll notice in The Phantom Menace a group of aliens that look suspiciously like the main character in Spielberg's E.T. movie. This is entirely intentional; Spielberg suggested to Lucas that he include them as a nod to science fiction.
14 KLAATU BARADA NIKTO
The Star Wars Universe is full of bizarre and unique names, from the simply monosyllabic “Han Solo” to the slightly more musical “Obi-Wan Kenobi”. Three background characters in Return of the Jedi are blessed with equally diverse monikers -- Klaatu, Barada, and Nikto, guards on Jabba the Hutt’s sail-barge. They are present when Han is about to walk the plank into the Sarlacc Pit after Luke’s botched rescue attempt.
Science fiction aficionados will note that “Klaatu Barada Nikto” was the famous phrase uttered in The Day the Earth Stood Still as a means to stop the actions of GORT, the Genetically Organized Robotic Technology.
13 THE EVA POD IN WATTO’S JUNKYARD
When Qui-Gon Jinn and the Queen of Naboo had to make an emergency pit stop on Tatooine, they had to prepare themselves for the bargaining culture of its locals. The parts they needed had to be procured from a junk dealer named Watto, whose extensive collection of scrap parts was vast, but he drove a hard bargain for them.
During the initial scene when Qui-Gon is inspecting Watto’s wares, you can see the Eva pod from Stanley Kubrick’s film 2001: A Space Odyssey. Too bad the Jedi couldn’t use it, but it was a fun sci-fi nod from the props department nonetheless.
12 THE GHOST APPEARS IN ROGUE ONE
Like Disney did with Star Wars: The Clone Wars to bridge the gap between Attack of the Clones and Revenge of the Sith, Star Wars: Rebels bridged some of the the gap between Revenge of the Sith and A New Hope. It involved the crew of the Ghost starship and their heroic work with the Rebel Alliance to bring down the Evil Empire.
Hawk-eyed fans may have spotted the Ghost several times throughout the film Rogue One, especially during the Battle of Scarif, when it can be seen close to the flagship of Admiral Raddus at key points in the action.
11 THE LUCAS FAMILY REUNION IN REVENGE OF THE SITH
George Lucas has long held that his Star Wars movies were intended for children, so why not put a few of his own in? His daughter can be seen in The Phantom Menace deriding Anakin Skywalker about the sad state of his pod racer, and Lucas himself can be seen (with her again) outside of the box Anakin shares with Chancellor Palpatine at the Coruscant opera house (they both have blue skin).
Lucas’s son gets a more prominent role as the last Jedi Padawan to flee the Jedi Temple and try to reach Senator Bail Organa before he is wiped out by clone trooper fire.
10 THAT TIME STAR WARS POSTERS APPEARED IN STAR WARS
The first ship to ever appear on-screen for Star Wars audiences was the consular ship the Tantive IV, an Alderaanian CR90 corvette that raced ahead of a giant Star Destroyer in A New Hope. It carried the young Senator and Alderaan royal, Princess Leia, and with her the plans to the Empire’s superweapon the Death Star.
Though it won’t be visible to audiences directly, a well-planned pause will reveal that the model used for the Tantive IV has a 1977 Star Wars poster in the cockpit. A fun joke by the prop department that foreshadowed its future success as a franchise.
9 FLYING VEGETABLES AND OTHER THINGS?
When the original Star Wars trilogy was released on VHS and the ability to pause frames was in the hands of avid Star Wars fans, the gaffs of the prop department could be fully realized and enjoyed. One infamous possible easter egg occurs in The Empire Strikes Back in the scene involving the Millennium Falcon attempting to lose the Imperial Fleet in an asteroid field.
As the Falcon is dodging giant rocks (which promptly slam into the bulk of the Star Destroyers), fans think they can make out distinctly vegetative shapes; the prop department hid several potatoes among the asteroid field!
8 THE FLYING TENNIS SHOE
As if it weren’t enough that the prop department started possibly throwing potatoes into the Star Wars films, they also decided inanimate objects were game as well.
During the epic space battle in Return of the Jedi, while Han, Leia, and Luke are down on Endor trying to dismantle the shields, the Rebel Fleet is poised above them attempting to destroy the Death Star and whittle down the Empire’s forces. As Lando pilots the Millennium Falcon towards the Imperial Fleet, hidden amongst the wall of Star Destroyers is an athletic shoe.
George Lucas cut his directorial teeth on science fiction, beginning with his short film THX-1138. It depicts a dystopian Earth patrolled by android police, who administer emotion-suppressing drugs to the population in an effort to control them. THX-1138 is the name of Robert Duvall’s character in the film, who happens to be the main protagonist.
The numbers “1138” have gone on to appear in several Star Wars films (printed on a battle droid in Episode 1), but it’s important to note that by punching in “1-1-3-8” into your remote while watching a Star Wars DVD, a bonus extra videos would appear.
6 LUKE’S COMPASS
With Disney at the helm, Star Wars has become an ever expanding web of media depositories, with content coming to fans from video games, comics, television shows, and the films. Things mentioned in any one of those outlets has far-reaching connections to the others, thus enabling fans to have a richer Star Wars experience.
In Star Wars: Battlefront II, a mission takes your character to Pillio, where the Emperor’s observatory hides a collection of pilfered artifacts. You encounter Luke Skywalker, who asks to keep a compass, which later appears in The Last Jedi as an ancient Jedi artifact.
5 LUKE’S BATTLE DAMAGED HAND
As the legacy of Star Wars has continued, filmmakers and creative minds that were shaped by the original trilogy get to work on its new installments today. Today’s creative crews have just as much fun seeing if fans are paying attention as they did in 1977.
Observant fans viewing The Last Jedi will notice that in all scenes involving Luke Skywalker on Ahch-To where his mechanical hand is visible, it shows signs of battle damage. That’s because a hole was blasted through it in Return of the Jedi, when Luke rescued Han and Leia from Jabba the Hutt.
4 YODA'S HUT IS HIS ESCAPE POD FROM REVENGE OF THE SITH
Upon initial viewing of the original trilogy, Jedi Master Yoda appears to live in a small hut made of mud and debris in the swamps of Dagobah. When Luke is invited into his home, it has plastered walls, a hearth for cooking, and some sort of light source.
When Yoda first landed on Dagobah 20 years earlier, after Emperor Palpatine engaged Order-66 and began the great Jedi Purge, he had to be industrious. He incorporated the escape pod into his hut design, drawing on its power source and constructing a small dwelling around it with whatever materials he could find.
3 THE GOLDEN DICE
In the lead up to the emotional finale in The Last Jedi, we see Kylo Ren storm the old Rebel base on Crait, and come across a pair of golden dice. These golden dice belonged to his father, Han Solo, and can be seen specifically in Solo, when Han and Chewie become the new owners of the Millennium Falcon.
Han’s golden dice aren’t an invention to further the plot points of the new films; they first appeared in A New Hope in 1977, in the Millennium Falcon cockpit, though they are easy to miss at first glance.
2 R2-D2 AND C-3PO APPEARED IN ANCIENT TIMES
In the ‘80s, Steven Spielberg and George Lucas were good friends, and constantly gave each other feedback on their respective franchises. Steven would chime in on Star Wars, and George would chime in on Indiana Jones. So it might not surprise fans of both that a unique easter egg came from their collaboration.
When Indy and Sallah pull the Ark of the Covenant from its hidden resting place in Raiders of the Lost Ark, a glance behind Indy’s left shoulder reveals hieroglyphs on the wall depicting everyone’s favorite droid duo, R2-D2 and C-3PO standing side by side.
1 HYPERSPACE TRACKING TECHNOLOGY
In The Last Jedi, the term “hyperspace tracking” is brought up for the first time in an exchange between Finn and Rose as “new tech”. It involves the First Order tracking the Resistance ships through hyperspace, previously considered an impossibility since navigational systems can’t lock onto a vessel that could be spit out anywhere in the galaxy.
A careful viewing of Rogue One reveals that while infiltrating the Imperial Data Facility on Scarif, Jyn Erso stumbles upon the files for “hyperspace tracking” as she’s looking for the Death Star plans. It would be a full 40 years before it’s demonstrated, but what a payout.