The Expanded Universe Story That Led To Lucasfilm Re-Writing Star Wars Canon

The acquisition of Lucasfilm by Disney in 2012 eventually brought with it a huge change for Star Wars fans: The dissolution of the Expanded Universe, which had been considered as part of the saga's vast canon for over two decades. But apparently, it was one EU moment in particular that really convinced Lucasfilm to start all over.

Image: Del Rey. Vector Prime cover art by Cliff Nielsen.

The Expanded Universe was filled with infamous moments that many Star Wars fans were happy to have lost (and plenty whose absence still stings today). Perhaps one of the most controversial came in R.A. Salvatore's 1999 novel Vector Prime, which saw Chewbacca become the first major movie casualty of the EU when he sacrificed himself to save the youngest son of Han and Leia, Anakin Solo, and... was killed by having a moon dropped on him? Look, it was a whole thing.

But anyway, speaking to Syfy's Fandom Files podcast about his role at Lucasfilm, Leland Chee - who's part of the company's vast story group and is also known as the "Keeper of the Holocron" (he's one of the definitive archivists of Star Wars canon, both past and present) - revealed that it was Chewie's death in particular that helped kick off the decision to scrap the EU out of continuity altogether ahead of the new movies:

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.

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.

And so, the decision was eventually made, and now Star Wars canon is growing once again at a rapid rate, as it not only adds new material in line with the new movies but also recanonises plenty of elements from the old material. But it turns out death-by-moon proved to be the step that brought us a whole new version of the galaxy far, far away. You can check out Chee's full interview with Syfy at the link below.

[Syfy Wire]


    I really can’t imagine seeing the new movie without him in it. He really... almost ate that shameless marketing cashgrab creature.

      I like to think that he still ate that adorable little cuddly fuzzy cash grab. In fact, to this day he still eats them. Because they're delicious, and now live close enough to have a ready supply

    Even Star Wars fans aren't aware of his death. You could have just pretended it never happened and nobody would have questioned it.

    Personally, I found that whole sub-series of books didn't add much to Star Wars as a whole. There was no need for a new evil enemy to fight against.
    I would have preferred smaller scoped, character driven stories. Like I, Jedi or the X-wing series (The first few anyway), focusing on Rogue One type peripheral characters.
    I think less Galaxy-shaking events, but more stories about people just living and surviving in the Star Wars setting is a side to the franchise that has been sadly lacking.
    Not everyone can be a Jedi, or an ace pilot. A detective solving a murder on Coruscant or a bit of corporate espionage between droid factories could be turned into great stories.

      I've always said that I wished people who were at helms of creative universes did stuff like that, take the stories or genres of our world and explore them in a different environment. Like you said, a murder story on Coruscant would be amazing.

      I wholeheartedly agree. An Episode 1 style movie that focused more on building the Star Wars universe beyond big evil menace or something would provide a nice contrast.

      The Imperial remnant style enemy would have afforded more of these small stories t o come about. Instead with have this ridiculous First Order rubbish to contend with, which even reading the new books, which are suppose to help build this new world, I have no idea what the hell they are on about (so far the only good book was Bloodline IMO).

      A lot of Legacy was gibberish but the loss that i feel the most is the Old Republic and Sith lore. It helped flesh things out, the loss of Legacy has really narrowed the scope of the universe and I feel the Ray / Ren dynamic wont be enough to fill it.

      So many of the Legacy characters (Darth Bane for example) where really well conceptualised / written and I'm not convinced that the new bunch, those introduced so far anyway, will be able to carry that weight - but time will tell.

        So many of the Legacy characters (Darth Bane for example)

        "You think the Force is your ally. You've merely adapted the light. I was born in it, molded by it. I didn't see the light until I was a man and by then it was only blinding."

        Seriously though, Darth Bane? Why not Darth Murder?

        Darth Bane is still canon. He was in the Phantom Menace novel and the Clone Wars show (as well as almost being in a second time with Darth Revan). Most of his stuff is gone but it can be assumed it happened until proven otherwise.
        Personally I'm ok with it because it means getting rid of the old lettered canon. They made sense in theory but they overcomplicated everything. We've always had the 'certain point of view' disclaimer on canon, it's just now we've pushed most of the old EU into it.

    That contradicts the story at the time which was that the author approached George to do it who personally approved it once he reviewed the planned death.

    Funny given how Chewie is basically the last one standing now

    There was 30 odd years worth of trash in the EU. There was some amazing stuff too, but the stuff that sucked was bad enough to make shedding the EU relieving.
    Except for the KOTOR stuff.
    That should remain firmly in place.

    Yeah, way to go on saving those fan favourites lives.

    it was one EU moment in particular that really convinced Lucasfilm to start all over.

    Only one?

    Personally I just kept a head-canon of Timothy Zahn stories and a few others. Nothing that Kevin J "blob racing" Anderson ever had a hand in, that's for sure...

    This story arc also wiped out over 365 trillion people across the galaxy - it was a fckn stupid arc and made me stop reading the novels.

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