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Home » What Is the Difference Between Star Wars Legends and Canon?

What Is the Difference Between Star Wars Legends and Canon?

The Star Wars franchise has a vast and complex continuity, with a wide range of media, including films, television series, novels, comics, and video games. With over 40 years of stories, it’s easy to confuse what is canon with what is Legends. Maybe you aren’t even sure what the difference is between Star Wars Legends and canon. Whether you’re a long-time fan of the series or new to the fandom, we explain what Star Wars Legends is, what canon is, and what the differences are between the two.

What Is Star Wars Legends?

Star Wars Legends is the current name for the original Expanded Universe of stories and materials released between 1976 and 2014. Often shorted to just EU, the Expanded Universe included nearly 1300 comics, more than 350 books, around 150 video games, and about 30 roleplaying game sourcebooks and adventures.

While George Lucas did not consider them part of his stories. Instead, the Lucasfilm Story Group considered them their own level of continuity. Since many of these stories took place years after the Original Trilogy, the expansive collection of EU stories made creating sequel films complicated.

On April 25, 2014, Lucasfilm Story Group rebranded the EU material as Star Wars Legends. While these stories are still part of the franchise, they are no longer canon. Lucasfilm and its publishers continue to re-release the existing stories under the Legends label.

While some fans blame Disney for the change, it is extremely unlikely that George Lucas would have used a significant portion of the EU for his sequel films. Whatever Lucas included in his films would automatically take precedence over anything already within the EU. As a result, they would have effectively canceled out any conflicting stories already in canon. This actually happened a number of times during the development of the Prequels.

For example, the EU established that the clone army fought against – not with – the Galactic Republic and that Boba Fett’s real name was Jaster Mereel. The Story Group later retconned both points, so they did not conflict with Lucas’ stories. In total, there were dozens of similar conflicts between EU content and the Prequels.

While it might have been possible to retcon some differences within George Lucas’s sequels, it’s unlikely that the story group could solve all of the differences. Regardless of whether those stories were officially declared non-canon or rebranded like Legends, the end result would be the same.

What Is Included in Star Wars Legends?

Star Wars Legends includes most materials released before 2014. The main exceptions include the Original Trilogy, the Prequel Trilogy, The Clone Wars animated film and series, and the standalone comic arc Star Wars: Darth Maul—Son of Dathomir.

Here are some of the most well-known Legends materials:

  • Star Wars Holiday Special (1978) [Television Special]
  • Splinter of the Mind’s Eye by Allan Dean Foster (1978) [Standalone Novel]
  • Caravan of Courage: An Ewok Adventure (1984) [Television Movie]
  • Ewoks: The Battle for Endor (1985) [Television Movie]
  • Star Wars: Droids: The Adventures of R2-D2 and C-3PO (1985) [Animated Series]
  • Ewoks: (1985 – 1986) [Animated Series]
  • Star Tours (1987) [Theme Park Attraction]
  • Star Wars: The Roleplaying Game (1987) [Roleplaying Game]
  • The Thrawn Trilogy by Timothy Zahn (1991 – 1993) [Series of Novels]
  • Dark Empire (1991 – 1995) [Comic Series]
  • Tales of the Jedi (1993 – 1998) [Comic Series]
  • Star Wars: X-Wing (1993 – 1999) [Series of Video Games]
  • Jedi Knight (1995 – 2003) [Series of Video Games]
  • Shadows of the Empire (1996) [Multimedia Series]
  • X-Wing by Various Authors (1996 – 1999, 2012) [Series of Novels]
  • Crimson Empire (1997 – 2001, 2011 – 2012) [Comic Series]
  • The Han Solo Trilogy by Ann C. Crispin (1997 – 1998) [Series of Novels]
  • I, Jedi By Michael A. Stackpole (1998) [Standalone Novel]
  • Star Wars Episode I: Racer (1999) [Video Game]
  • The New Jedi Order by Various Authors (1999 – 2003) [Series of Novels]
  • Star Wars Tales (1999 – 2005) [Comic Series]
  • Star Wars: Clone Wars (2003 – 2005) [Animated Micro-Series]
  • Knights of the Old Republic (2003 – Present) [Series of Video Games]
  • Republic Commando (2004 – 2009) [Multimedia Series]
  • Battlefront (2004 – 2005) [Series of Video Games]
  • Legacy of the Force series by Various Authors (2006 – 2008) [Series of Novels]
  • Knights of the Old Republic (2006 – 2010, 2012) [Comic Series]
  • Darth Bane Trilogy by Drew Karpyshyn (2006 – 2009) [Series of Novels]
  • The Force Unleashed‍ (2008 – 2010) [Series of Video Games]
  • ‍Darth Plagueis by James Luceno (2012) [Standalone Novel]
  • Kenobi by John Jackson Miller (2013) [Standalone Novel]

The Star Wars Expanded Universe is extremely expansive and includes thousands of stories. For a complete list, see the Timeline of Legends media entry on the Wookieepedia, the official Star Wars Wiki.

What Is Star Wars Canon?

Star Wars canon means any events, characters, locations, or objects part of the official story. Canon is a common term used within all fictional universes to separate official stories from unofficial ones. For example, anyone can write their own fanfiction or unauthorized stories about Star Wars, the MCU, or Middle-earth but they will never be canon.

Since April 25, 2014, the Lucasfilm Story Group has maintained a single Star Wars canon for all of the movies, television shows, books, comics, video games, and other materials. Prior to this, there were several levels of canonicity within the Star Wars Expanded Universe.

What Is Included in Star Wars Canon?

Star Wars canon includes the Original Trilogy, the Prequel Trilogy, The Clone Wars film and series, and the majority of the television series, books, comics, and video games released after April 25, 2014. This includes all the Sequel films, the stand-alone spin-off films, and Disney+ animated and live-action television series.

However, there are a number of exceptions. Although released or updated after 2014, the ongoing MMORPG Star Wars: The Old Republic, the Star Wars: Visions animated series, and all of the Lego games and specials are not considered canon. There are also a number of comic books and reference guides that are omitted.

Because it was originally released before the canon reset, The Old Republic video game is considered part of the Legends continuity. However, most of the other excluded materials are not considered Star Wars Legends. Instead, these items are called non-canon.

Although not a complete list, here are the major stories within the Star Wars canon timeline:

  • A New Hope (1977) [Film]
  • The Empire Strikes Back (1980) [Film]
  • Return of the Jedi (1983) [Film]
  • The Phantom Menace (1999) [Film]
  • Attack of the Clones (2002) [Film]
  • Revenge of the Sith (2003) [Film]
  • The Clone Wars (2008) [Film]
  • The Clone Wars (2009 – 2014, 2020) [Animated Series]
  • Rebels (2014 – 2018) [Animated Series]
  • Star Wars Battlefront (2015) [Video Game]
  • Rogue One (2016) [Film]
  • Star Wars Battlefront II (2017) [Video Game]
  • Star Wars: Secrets of the Empire (2017) [Virtual Reality Experience]
  • Solo (2018) [Film]
  • MP Vader Immortal: A Star Wars VR Series (2019) [VR Video Game]
  • The Mandalorian (2019 – Present) [Live-Action Series]
  • Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order (2019) [Console Video Game]
  • Resistance (2018 – 2020) [Animated Series]
  • Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge (2019) [Theme Park Land]
  • Star Wars: Squadrons (2020) [Console Video Game]
  • Star Wars: Tales from the Galaxy’s Edge (2020) [VR Video Game]
  • Star Wars: The High Republic (2021 – Present) [Multimedia Series]
  • The Bad Batch (2021 – Present) [Animated Series]
  • The Book of Boba Fett (2021 – Present) [Live-Action Series]
  • Obi-Wan Kenobi (2022) [Live-Action Series]
  • Tales of the Jedi (2022) [Animated Series]
  • Andor (2022 – Present) [Live-Action Series]
  • Ahsoka (2023) [Live-Action Series]
  • Skeleton Crew (2023) [Live-Action Series]

For a complete list of canon stories, see the Timeline of canon media entry on the Star Wars Wiki.

What Is the Difference Between Star Wars Legends and Canon?

Generally speaking, the difference between Star Wars Legends and canon is what is considered an official part of the story. All of the canon stories are considered historical facts within the Star Wars universe. Whereas the Legends are not official stories, basically myths about what could have happened in a galaxy far, far away.

Given that the two timelines are completely separate, there are easily hundreds of thousands of differences between them. Some of the biggest differences include the following:

  • Specifics about Darth Sidious’ Sith training under Darth Plagueis
  • Certain details about Anakin Skywalker’s origin
  • Certain details about the Jedi Order, especially related to whether Jedi can marry
  • Characters and events related to The Clone Wars
  • Details about Han Solo’s early life, especially how he meets Chewbacca and Lando Calrissian
  • Specifics about Obi-Wan Kenobi’s exile on Tatooine
  • Details about Leia Organa and Luke Skywalker’s early lives
  • How the Rebels obtained the Death Star plans
  • Specifics about Boba Fett’s life, especially about his escape from the Sarlacc and his later life
  • Most of the events after the fall of the Emperor
  • Certain details about Grand Admiral Thrawn’s life and career
  • Specifics around Luke Skywalker’s Jedi Academy
  • The fates of Luke Skywalker, Leia Organa, and Han Solo

However, this list only touches on some of the key points that relate to popular characters and events depicted in the two universes.

What From Star Wars Legends Was Brought Back Into Canon?

The old Expanded Universe had a complex and inter-connected continuity of locations, characters, and items that influenced generations of Star Wars fans and content creators alike. So, it’s little surprise that some Legends content is being brought back into canon.

Some references are little more than Easter eggs, like Han Solo going to the Legends planet Mimban in Solo: A Star Wars Story. Others are much more detailed.

Author Timothy Zahn has written two canon trilogies about Grand Admiral Thrawn that could easily be direct prequels to his original Thrawn Trilogy. Some fans have even suggested that Thrawn’s fate in Rebels creates a loophole to re-canonize that trilogy altogether.

However, it’s important to note that name-dropping something from Legends does not necessarily re-canonize everything about that character, item, or location. For example, seeing a YT-2400 light freighter in The Rise of Skywalker does not mean that all the events of Shadows of the Empire are suddenly canon again.

The same goes for the obsidian slab with the inscription “Our temple honouring Sith Lord Exar Kun” owned by Dryden Vos. While Dark Lord of the Sith Exar Kun is canon again, the stories about the character in Kevin J. Anderson’s Jedi Academy Trilogy and the Tales of the Jedi comic series by Tom Veitch are still Legends.

The following list includes items from Star Wars Legends that are canon once again. While this is by no means an extensive list, it covers the main points referenced in the films and shows. Several details are marked spoilers because they contain specific plot points. Please read with caution. Details are loosely ordered by when they were reintroduced into Star Wars canon.

  • Grand Admiral Thrawn, along with Captain Pelleon, Rukh, and the Star Destroyer Chimaera, appears in the 2014 animated series Rebels. The characters and Star Destroyer all originated from Timothy Zahn’s Thrawn Trilogy, released from 1991 to 1993. Shortly after Thrawn appeared in Rebels, Zahn released the first in a new trilogy of Thrawn books in 2017. He completed that trilogy in 2019 and a second trilogy about the character in 2021. These novels canonize other elements related to Thrawn that first appeared in Zahn’s Legends novels.
  • Both the Rebels series and James Luceno’s 2014 novel Tarkin include elements related to the TIE Defender project, an advanced line of starfighters developed by the Empire. Often incorrectly associated with Timothy Zahn’s Thrawn Trilogy, the TIE Defender first appeared in the 1994 LucasArts game Star Wars: TIE Fighter.
  • Rebels also includes several references to the Mandalorian Wars, and Ezra, Kanan, and Ahsoka even visit the planet Malachor. First released in 2003, the Knights of the Old Republic video game series features the events of the Mandalorian Wars and the planet Malachor V.
  • The Rebel Alliance uses Sphynra-class Hammerhead corvettes in Rebels and the 2016 film Rogue One: A Star Wars Story. The Hammerhead-class cruisers originally seen in the Knights of the Old Republic video games heavily influenced the design.
  • Chewbacca’s wife, Mallatobuck, is first mentioned in the 2015 young readers novel A New Hope: The Princess, the Scoundrel, and the Farm Boy by Alexandra Bracken. Often shorted to just Malla, she was first introduced in the hard-to-find, and even harder to watch, 1978 Star Wars Holiday Special.
  • SPOILER: Han and Leia’s son Ben Solo turns to the dark side of the Force prior to the events of the 2015 film The Force Awakens. Although the exact details and events are very different, their Legends son Jacen Solo falls to the dark side during the nine-book series The Legacy of the Force by Aaron Allston, Karen Traviss, and Troy Denning.
  • After an indirect mention in the first book of Chuck Wendig’s Aftermath Trilogy, Chewbacca’s son Lumpawaroo first appears in Aftermath: Empire’s End, the final book in the series released in 2017. Like Malla, Lumpawaroo originally appeared in the Holiday Special.
  • SPOILER: Luke Skywalker uses a powerful Force projection in the 2017 film The Last Jedi. This power was first introduced as the power dopplegänger in the 1992 Dark Horse comic book Dark Empire 5 by Tom Veitch and Cam Kennedy. The power later appeared several more times in the EU.
  • Han Solo goes to the mud planet Mimban in the 2018 film Solo: A Star Wars Story. Author Alan Dean Foster created the planet for his 1978 novel Splinter of the Mind’s Eye.
  • The Maw Cluster and Akkadese Maelstrom that appear in Solo first appeared in Kevin J. Anderson’s 1994 Jedi Academy Trilogy.
  • Also in Solo, Lando Calrissian narrates the “Calrissian Chronicles.” This is a direct reference to Lando Calrissian and the Mindharp of Sharu, the first book of The Lando Calrissian Adventures trilogy by L. Neil Smith.
  • Both Dryden Vos and Qi’ra practice the martial art Teräs Käsi in Solo. Originally meant to be used against Force-wielders, the martial art first appeared in the 1996 Shadows of the Empire multimedia project.
  • After several teases and Easter eggs, the anthropomorphic bunny Jaxxon appeared in Cavan Scott’s “The Lost Eggs of Livorno” short story in Star Wars Adventures Annual 2018. Often considered one of the more absurd aspects of the EU, Jaxxon originally appeared in Star Wars 8, a 1977 comic book written by Roy Thomas and illustrated by Howard Chaykin.
  • The 2018 book Solo: A Star Wars Story: Tales From Vandor by Jason Fry briefly mentions pilot and smuggler Dash Rendar. A YT-2400 lighter freighter appears briefly in The Rise of Skywalker. Rendar and his YT-2400 freighter, the Outrider, first appeared in Shadows of the Empire.
  • SPOILER: In the 2019 film The Rise of Skywalker, a clone of Emperor Palpatine returns. Palpatine’s infatuation with cloning is a pervasive element of the Star Wars Legends universe. Certain elements of cloning are first introduced in Timothy Zahn’s Thrawn Trilogy. The 1991 Dark Horse Comics series Dark Empire written by Tom Veitch and illustrated by Cam Kennedy and the subsequent sequel series feature clones of Palpatine. Additional clones and details about Palpatine’s cloning plan appear in other Legends stories.
  • Although only spoken in the Wookiee language Shyriiwook, Attichitcuk is first mentioned in Solo. Attichitcuk makes his first appearance in the 2021 short story “The Tree of Life,” part of the Life Day Treasury short story collection by George Mann and Cavan Scott. Like the rest of Chewie’s family, Attichitcuk originally appeared in the Holiday Special.

It’s also worth noting that the Dark Horse Comics series Tales of the Jedi is completely unrelated to the 2022 Disney+ animated series of the same name. The comic series deals with various Jedi and Sith masters, notably Exar Kun, and is set roughly 4,000 years before the Battle of Yavin. Whereas the Disney+ series focuses on Count Dooku and Ahsoka Tano.

Frequently Asked Questions About Star Wars Legends and Canon

Why Did They Change the Star Wars Canon?

Understanding why Lucasfilm changed the Star Wars canon is really complex, but the simple answer is that the post-Return of the Jedi timeline was extremely crowded. There were literally hundreds of stories set in that period. Allowing new writers and directors to create their own stories within the existing Expanded Universe was nearly impossible. Changing the timeline was the only alternative.

How Do You Tell the Difference Between Canon and Legends

There are a number of ways to tell the difference between canon and Legends content. The easiest is usually the release date. If you find a book, comic, or RPG sourcebook released before 2014, it is likely Legends. Additionally, re-releases feature a large gold or yellow band across the cover that reads “Legends”. Disney+ brands the Legends content as the Star Wars Vintage Collection.

Is The Clone Wars Canon or Legends?

The 2003 micro-series Star Wars: Clone Wars, developed by Genndy Tartakovsky, is now considered Legends. It aired on Cartoon Network from 2003 to 2005. The 2008 feature film Star Wars: The Clone Wars and subsequent animated series are both canon. Since the two names are similar, they are sometimes used interchangeably. However, most fans use Clone Wars and The Clone Wars to refer to the 2008 series unless they specifically state otherwise.

Why Is Star Wars Legends Capitalized?

Yes, the word “legends” is capitalized in Star Wars Legends because it is the proper name for that continuity. Consider Legends the title for that entire timeline, just like A New Hope, Revenge of the Sith, and The Mandalorian are titles.

Should Canon Be Capitalized?

Since “canon” describes an official fictional continuity of stories, it is a common noun and does not need to be capitalized. That said, Star Wars Canon and Star Wars canon are frequently used throughout the fandom and generally accepted.

Is it Star Wars Canon or Star Wars Cannon?

The correct spelling is canon. However, it is frequently misspelled as cannon. Cannon, with two consecutive n’s in the middle, is a piece of artillery.