3 major ways the Star Wars Holiday Special changed canon

(L to r) R2-D2, Anthony Daniels as C-3PO, Peter Mayhew as Chewbacca, Carrie Fisher as Princess Leia, Harrison Ford as Han Solo, and Mark Hamill as Luke Skywalker in the Star Wars Holiday Special
(L to r) R2-D2, Anthony Daniels as C-3PO, Peter Mayhew as Chewbacca, Carrie Fisher as Princess Leia, Harrison Ford as Han Solo, and Mark Hamill as Luke Skywalker in the Star Wars Holiday Special /

The Star Wars Holiday Special might have become a fan favorite for a laugh and to poke fun at. But it was considered more of a horror story than a celebration when it first aired. Harrison Ford looks like he hates his life. It was an agonizing time for Anthony Daniels. Of course, the famous story that would come later is that Carrie Fisher would put on the Holiday Special at parties to get people to leave her house. Mark Hamill had just survived a near-fatal car accident and had to be caked in stage makeup to hide the scars. It was not the best time all around.

Still, it is significant in many ways as it laid the foundation for substantial parts of the canon and future series. While there are many little nods to this variety show throughout the franchise, here are 3 significant ways the Star Wars Holiday Special changed Star Wars.

1. Boba Fett and Nelvana

One of the Holiday Special‘s most significant contributions to canon is the first appearance of Boba Fett. “The Story of the Faithful Wookiee” is the 9-minute animated short in the middle of the variety show that gave fans their first look at the bounty hunter. While Boba would have more than likely been a big deal regardless with his arrival in The Empire Strikes Back, his appearance left a lasting impression on Star Wars creators. Jon Favreau took inspiration from Boba’s look and rifle while making The Mandalorian. Boba’s helmet also inspired the look for Death Watch in The Clone Wars. It was some of the earliest ideas for Mandalorian culture, so Boba’s first appearance was important.

“The Faithful Wookiee” also impacted creators in other ways. Nelvana was the animation company that created it, and they would go on to make the first television shows of the franchise with Droids and Ewoks. Nelvana’s style was a significant source of inspiration for Genndy Tartakovsky when he created the 2003 Star Wars: Clone Wars. Nelvana left a considerable mark on the franchise, and we might not have Star Wars television as we know it without them. You can read all about their legacy here.

2. Kashyyyk

The Star Wars Holiday Special was the first appearance of the Wookiee homeworld of Kashyyyk. Concept designer Ralph McQuarrie created the look for Chewbacca’s treehouses that would become the first on-screen appearance of the planet. For future projects like The Bad Batch and Episode III: Revenge of the Sith, it would be McQuarrie’s concept art from the Holiday Special that would be used to help bring the planet to life when characters visit the world.

3. Life Day

Life Day has become a part of the canon, woven into the story of Star Wars. While, of course, the idea of it helps sell merchandise or write holiday-themed comic book stories, it has become a source of storytelling in a galaxy far, far away. This idea of Life Day becomes particularly important during the later points of the timeline.

While other people in the galaxy knew the celebration existed dating back to the High Republic era, as seen in the novel Life Day Treasury: Holiday Stories from a Galaxy Far, Far Away, Life Day was primarily considered a Wookiee holiday for the most part. However, the holiday took on new meaning when the Galactic Empire invaded. The idea of Life Day began to spread across the galaxy. People needed a source of joy in a time of darkness. Starting in the Rebellion bases with fighters sharing gifts, the concept spread until it became wildly accepted by the time of The Mandalorian, as seen in the first episode when Horatio Sanz’s character, the Mythrol, wishes to be home in time for Life Day (a ruse to get Din Dajrin to free him).

Of course, The Star Wars Holiday Special changed canon in many ways. These are a few of the bigger examples. The LEGO Star Wars Holiday Special would bring back Chewbacca’s family in a non-canon fun story set in the sequel trilogy to pay homage to the original. It would also inspire other franchises, such as James Gunn’s The Guardians of the Galaxy Holiday Special, to do their own version. This show might have been an absurd mess when it aired, but its lasting impression on the franchise cannot be overlooked.