Star Wars: Why Lucasfilm ditched the Expanded Universe


Photo Credit: Lucasfilm

The first of many Lucasfilm moves: EU turned into Star Wars Legends

One of the first moves Lucasfilm made after being acquired by Disney was to remove the Expanded Universe(EU) from Official Star Wars canon. This news was not met favorably by the contingent of Star War fans who had become heavily immersed in the EU. In many ways, it was the first move that both angered fans and placed a heavy burden on the Sequel trilogy.

Another reason to move away from the EU was and is the casual fan. Not every fan of the series is as devoted as fans of the EU.  Having the prequel trilogy dive right into a storyline that the casual fan couldn’t follow would have been disastrous. Not to mention fans wouldn’t be able to keep themselves from spoiling the film for others. And of course, reading whichever material selected for adaptation would allow a fan to spoil the film for themselves.

“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.”

The Moon that broke the Wookie’s Back.

In a recent interview, Leland Chee of the Lucasfilm Story Group addressed why they felt they needed to make a move.  Apparently, it was one particular death in the EU that convinced them that they wanted a clean slate. In an interview with SyFy’s Fandom Files podcast Leland stated that Chewbacca’s death in the EU was one of the main reasons for wanting to start over:

"“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.”"

Photo Credit: Lucasfilm

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Star Wars history is being re-written

Although this is a very simplistic take on why they wanted to reboot the events that followed Return of the Jedi, it speaks to why Lucasfilm felt they had to make this decision. There are a lot of events in the EU that just wouldn’t allow them to continue the story the way they wanted to.

Let’s also consider that a good portion of the EU was written prior the release of the Prequels, and before George Lucas and Lucasfilm defined what Jedi, Sith, the Republic and the Empire were going to be. For instance, in Timothy Zahn’s original Thrawn trilogy they refer to what is now known as Sith as Dark Jedi.

Photo Credit: Lucasfilm

The rules regarding both the Jedi Order and the Sith hadn’t been written. This allows Luke Skywalker to get married and have children, when according to regulations established around the prequels, Jedi don’t marry. They don’t have families. The rule of two hadn’t been developed for the Sith yet.  There’s a whole history of this Universe that hadn’t been written yet.

Photo Credit: Lucasfilm

This new history and the events it entails continues to be defined as Lucasfilm is addressing the history just before the Original Trilogy, and the events that occurred between the films of the OT. And because we’re getting such excellent stories from new material produced by the Lucasfilm story group we’re getting a cohesive vision of what the Star Wars Universe is.

Fret not EU fans; you haven’t seen the last of these Legends

Photo Credit: Lucasfilm

Next: A guide on where to start with SW canon

EU fans should, however, take comfort with the direction Star Wars is going. And Lucasfilm has been more than willing to take some of the Great Characters from Legends and inject them into their current storylines. Admiral Thrawn is a prime example of this, and most likely will not be the last significant Legends character to be brought back into the new canon.