As the Star Wars Universe continues to expand far and beyond the breadth of the original films created by George Lucas, it gives us exciting new locations, characters, and story arcs. Amidst all the shiny and new, there are still the familiar fan-favorites, catering to audiences’ sense of nostalgia and reverence. It’s handler, Disney, has endeavored to carefully steward the course of its timeline of events so that it seamlessly integrates all manner of new media, from comic books and television series, all the way down to video games.
As great as it is to constantly revisit that galaxy far, far away, new components bring with them new problems for the timeline of the saga. Lucas had problems with the timeline of the original Star Wars trilogy, and the prequels he would make decades later introduced still more contradictions to material he’d already written. The complex web of events now spans 10 (soon to be 11 and counting) feature films, and encompasses over 40 years of an intricate and sprawling socio-political galaxyscape. Events and characters have to constantly reference each other or else risk confusing even the most astute Star Wars fan. Despite Disney’s new vision for Star Wars guiding its progress, there are still glaring issues the new Star Wars films introduce to the timeline that have difficulty being reconciled. CBR has rounded up 20 of the most problematic hiccups with the Star Wars timeline, from The Phantom Menace, to the one-shot movies of Rogue One and Solo, all the way up to The Last Jedi.
20 THE PREQUEL TECH
No Star Wars fan can deny the prequels are visually stunning. They glisten and gleam like the chrome tail pipe on a cherry red hot rod -- which is actually where George Lucas got his inspiration. The director of American Graffiti, which depicted American teenage life during the Golden Era of Cars, wanted the prequels to show the audience a galaxy prior to the Galactic Civil War, a time of prosperity and innocence.
While the idea is sound, the problem with it lies in the fact that every ship and building looks light years ahead of anything in the original Star Wars. A New Hope looks like a scrap pile compared to the beauty that is Episode I. How could everything suddenly go bad in 19 years?
19 HAN SOLO’S DISBELIEF
There’s a scene in A New Hope where Han Solo has a conversation with Obi-Wan Kenobi and Luke Skywalker aboard the Millennium Falcon. He doesn’t believe that there’s one unifying energy field that binds the universe together, as Obi-Wan proposes. This is odd because the timeline of events during his life up until that point seem to point to both The Force and Jedi being ubiquitous.
The Solo timeline positions the movie about seven years after Revenge of the Sith, when Darth Sidious (soon to be Emperor Palpatine) executed Order 66 which resulted in the decimation of the Jedi Order. It would have made intergalactic news, especially on Corellia, where Han was a young boy.
18 VADER NEVER SENSING HIS CHILDREN’S PRESENCE
At the conclusion of Revenge of the Sith, Anakin Skywalker embraces the Dark Side, becomes the Sith Lord known as Darth Vader , and learns that his wife and children have passed. This is a lie fabricated by Emperor Palpatine to make Vader believe he was responsible for their end, and ensure that he will be full of rage and despair.
In actuality, while his wife Padme did pass away in childbirth, her twins Luke and Leia survived and were given to different families to be raised. In 19 years, Vader never senses their presence, despite his ability to communicate with Luke in later films from great distances, and Luke living openly with his father’s former surname.
17 ANAKIN’S FORCE GHOST
Darth Vader finds redemption at the end of Return of the Jedi, and becomes one with The Force as he fades in the arms of his son Luke. When the battle is over, he appears to Luke as a Force Ghost down on the forest moon of Endor, alongside his old master Obi-Wan Kenobi, and Luke’s mentor, Master Yoda. While they appear as they did near their end, Anakin looks like a young man.
Yoda and Obi-Wan know how to commune from beyond the grave. As far as the audience is aware, Anakin never learned this ability before he became Darth Vader. Not only that, but he seems to be the age he was when he was a Jedi, and therefore unrecognizable to his son.
16 OBI-WAN'S CLAIMS
When Luke Skywalker is sitting in Obi-Wan Kenobi’s hut on Tatooine, Obi-Wan regails him with the history of the Jedi Knights and their guardianship of the galaxy. From an old trunk of paraphernalia he procures a strange cylindrical object -- the weapon of a Jedi Knight, used by his father, Anakin Skywalker.
Obi-Wan intimates that Anakin wanted Luke to have the lightsaber when he was old enough. This makes zero sense, considering in the prequels, Anakin never spoke about his children with Obi-Wan. In fact, knowledge of the twins was hidden from the whole of the Jedi Order because his marriage was forbidden. And for all Anakin knew, he was responsible for his son’s demise when his pregnant wife passed away.
15 HYPERSPACE TRACKING
In The Last Jedi, the term “hyperspace tracking” is brought up for the first time. It’s described by Finn and Rose as “new tech”, and involves the First Order fleet tracking the Resistance ships through hyperspace. Considered an impossibility, since their navigational systems wouldn’t be able to tell where the Resistance fleet appeared after leaving hyperspace, it’s obviously surprising to see Star Destroyers appear out of nowhere.
A careful viewing of Rogue One uncovers that while infiltrating the Imperial Data Facility on Scarif, Jyn Erso came across the files for “hyperspace tracking” a full 40 years before the events of The Last Jedi. It’s hard to imagine the Empire just letting that useful technology sit for several decades before the First Order could perfect it.
14 THE AGE OF THE REPUBLIC
When Obi-Wan Kenobi first describes the Jedi Knights in A New Hope, he mentions that “for over a thousand generations” they have been the guardians of peace and justice in the galaxy. That’s about 20,000 years, and implies the Jedi Order has survived every sort of socio-political upset the galaxy could throw at it.
In Attack of the Clones, Senator Palpatine declares that he will not see “this Republic, that has stood for a thousand years be split in two.” Granted, the Republic can be seen as a governing political body, but the Jedi are emissaries for it and perform the role of ambassadors on its behalf. It’s unclear if the Republic is as old as the Jedi Order based on their opposing descriptions.
13 OBI-WAN FORGETS
Obi-Wan Kenobi first met R2-D2 and C-3PO in the prequels, where for three films they had continued adventures which included involvement in the Clone Wars and watching Anakin Skywalker’s fall to the Dark Side. In Revenge of the Sith, it’s suggested that the droids have their memories wiped in case they fall into enemy hands, but R2 is not included in this procedure.
When the droids crash land on Tatooine in A New Hope, R2 immediately sets out to find Obi-Wan in the Jundland Wastes, determined to deliver a vital message given to him by Princess Leia. When he encounters the Jedi, Obi-Wan seems to have no recollection of the droid, despite their many escapades together.
12 THE SECOND DEATH STAR
From what we know of the timeline between Attack of the Clones and A New Hope, when the plans for the “ultimate super weapon” are transferred from the Geonosian engineers to Emperor Palpatine, it took roughly 19 years for the first Death Star to be built. It’s shown as a shell of a structure at the end of Revenge of the Sith, and in A New Hope, it’s fully completed and mistaken for a small moon.
After Luke Skywalker blows it up at the end of A New Hope, a second Death Star is built by Return of the Jedi. Even if the Empire worked out a few kinks, it seems highly improbable they’d be able to whip out a new Death Star so fast.
11 OBI-WAN COMPLETELY FORGETS LEIA
When Luke learns that he may not be the only remaining Skywalker from Master Yoda, he checks the validity of the statement with Obi-Wan. Obi-Wan confirms that there is indeed another Skywalker; his twin sister, Leia.
Yoda had already mentioned “the other Skywalker” to Obi-Wan in The Empire Strikes Back, as though he wasn’t aware of the fact. This is strange considering Obi-Wan was present at the birth of the twins and helped deliver them. In Return of the Jedi, Obi-Wan goes on to relay that Luke is the Jedi Order’s last hope, continuing to forget that Leia is alive and is also strong in The Force.
10 LEIA REMEMBERS HER MOTHER
While standing on a wooden bridge high above the forest floor of Endor, Luke asks Leia if she remembers her mother. She explains that she only remembers brief images, of a pretty woman who was very sad and passed when Leia was very young.
This is an impossible statement, because according to the timeline presented in Revenge of the Sith, Leia’s mother Padme passed away giving birth to her. As a newborn, she would have had a few moments with her mother only, and not enough to construct the sort of memories Leia claims to have in Return of the Jedi.
9 TIME IN THE LAST JEDI
The Last Jedi is the most divisive of the Star Wars films, due to its thematic risks and manipulation of beloved character development. Then there are the logistics to consider. There are three separate plots that occur over the course of the film that have to intersect at its conclusion, and they happen in a matter of days.
The first plot involves the Resistance outrunning the First Order with very little fuel. The second involves Rose and Finn finding a code breaker who can disable the hyperspace tracker enabling the First Order to keep pace with the Resistance fleet. The third involves Rey’s laborious Jedi training with Luke. Given the distance between them all, it’s hard to believe they all coincide at the same time.
8 THE RULE OF TWO
The Rule of Two states that there is ever only one Master, and one Apprentice in the Sith Order. This is because thousands of years ago the Sith were a divisive, angry collection of Dark Side users that were prone to in-fighting and egoism rather than concentrating on destroying the remaining Jedi and ruling the galaxy.
In The Phantom Menace, the two Sith in existence are Darth Sidious and his apprentice, Darth Maul. Maul is terminated at the end of the film by Obi-Wan Kenobi, or so audiences thought. He’s revealed to be alive in the movie Solo, at a time when Sidious has acquired a new apprentice, Darth Vader, thus messing up the Rule of Two with his very existence.
7 LUKE'S JEDI TRAINING
During The Empire Strikes Back, Luke Skywalker travels to the Dagobah system to find the last living Jedi Master, Yoda. Obi-Wan has told him that he will teach him all he needs to know about finally becoming a Jedi. Luke locates Yoda and, after some challenges, begins training with him. Meanwhile Han Solo, Chewie, Leia, and the droids are trying to avoid the Imperial Fleet.
By the time that Han and the gang reach Cloud City, where they intend to hide from the Empire, Luke’s already learned to levitate objects. It’s unclear just how long it takes the Millennium Falcon its destination, and thus how long Luke’s been training, since shortly after they arrive he leaves to meet up with them.
6 REY THINKS JEDI ARE MYTHOLOGICAL
By the time of The Force Awakens, it’s been 19 years since the conclusion of the Galactic Civil War, and 40 years since Revenge of the Sith when the fall of the Jedi Order began. Rey has spent her life on Jakku which, while remote, is visited by offworlders who must have remembered the Jedi, yet she believes everything to do with them is a myth. Not only that, but an enclave of Force worshippers lives on the same planet she does.
It’s difficult to comprehend that she thinks Luke Skywalker is mythological as well, since he was known throughout the galaxy for having destroyed the first Death Star and taking out Darth Vader and the Emperor.
5 UNCLE OWEN IN ANAKIN’S LIFE
When Obi-Wan Kenobi is telling Luke about his father, he explains that his Uncle Owen thought that Anakin should have “stayed home” and “not gotten involved” in the Clone Wars before Luke was born. This implies that Anakin and Owen were somehow close, or possibly raised together, with one running off to be a war hero while the other raised the farm.
Attack of the Clones reveals that shortly before the Clone Wars began, Anakin visited Owen Lars, who was his step-brother, exactly once for a brief introduction. Owen didn’t have enough of an opinion of Anakin to impose his viewpoints on his life choices, especially since Anakin was already a famous Jedi by then.
4 CLONE PRODUCTION
In Attack of the Clones, a curious Obi-Wan Kenobi goes investigating the whereabouts of a bounty hunter named Jango Fett, and locates him on a cloning facility on Kamino. It turns out he had been recruited to provide the genetic material necessary to make a series of clones, at the behest of Jedi Master Sifo-Dias, for use as part of a Grand Army of the Republic.
This piece of information surprises Obi-Wan greatly because Sifo-Dias was ended almost a decade prior, when the clones would have first been ordered. He can’t understand why the Kaminoans would keep generating clones despite no communication with a Jedi who wasn’t even alive anymore.
3 CHEWBACCA AS A GENERAL
On their way to Alderaan in A New Hope, Obi-Wan Kenobi and Luke Skywalker debate about Jedi and The Force with Han and Chewie aboard the Millennium Falcon. Luke has been training with his father’s lightsaber, and Han has been criticizing the principal that The Force binds the universe together.
According to the timeline introduced in Revenge of the Sith, Chewbacca fought on his homeworld Kashyyyk during the Clone Wars, amongst squadrons of clonetroopers led by Jedi generals. He would be able to verify everything Obi-Wan is saying, and yet he keeps silent, and even goes so far as to chuckle at the old man’s anecdotes.
2 TARKIN’S USE OF THE DEATH STAR
At the end of A New Hope, when it becomes clear there is a very real danger that the Empire’s super weapon can be destroyed, Grand Moff Tarkin doesn’t give the order to evacuate. He didn’t listen to his council of Imperial officers that stated the Rebel Alliance could find an exploitable weakness, and he doesn’t believe that Luke Skywalker and his X-Wing are a threat to the Death Star.
The Rebel Alliance didn’t need to find an exploitable weakness because one was already engineered. By introducing the events of Rogue One into the Star Wars timeline, audiences know that Galen Erso, a Death Star engineer, purposefully created a weakness that Tarkin knew full well by the time it was being acted on.
1 LEIA AT THE BATTLE OF SCARIF
The ending battle of Rogue One abutts the opening pursuit in A New Hope, in which Princess Leia’s ship is being shot at by an Imperial Star Destroyer. When the Tantive I is overtaken and locked into the tractor beam, it’s boarded by Darth Vader and a detachment of stormtroopers. When he encounters Princess Leia, she explains she’s on a diplomatic mission to Alderaan.
By making what happens in Rogue One occur so close to what happens in A New Hope, it means that Princess Leia was at, or around, the Battle of Scarif, and Vader watched her ship flee the scene. If the filmmakers hadn’t decided to place Leia there, it would make the dialogue less awkward when Vader asks questions to things he already knows.