‘Star Wars': The Expanded Universe Explained

Did you know that Luke Skywalker eventually got married? Or that Leia had twins with Han and trained as a Jedi? No? That’s because it happened in the Expanded Universe.

When the world found out what George Lucas, Lucasfilm, and Disney had planned for 2015, one of the first questions that hardcore “Star Wars” fans raised was “What about the Expanded Universe?” It’s a term mostly used by only the more dedicated of fans, but almost everybody has encountered the immense collection of books, comics, and video games at some point without even knowing it.

In short, the Expanded Universe is any officially licensed “Star Wars” story outside of the three live-action films. If it’s got the “Star Wars” logo and tells a story, it is considered part of the Expanded Universe. That means television shows like “The Clone Wars,” video games like “The Force Unleashed,” and books like “Shadows of the Empire” are all a part of this aspect of the “Star Wars” universe.

Where “Episode VII” comes into the picture is where this gets tricky. Much of the Expanded Universe material focuses on the time that many are theorizing the new trilogy will cover, roughly 30 years after the end of “Return of the Jedi.” With Lucasfilm coming out and announcing that “Episode VII” will be an original story, there will inevitably be some overlap. So how does that affect the overarching story of “Star Wars”? We turned to Eric Geller from TheForce.net to answer some of our Expanded Universe questions.

Are Expanded Universe stories officially recognized by George Lucas?
Well, that depends on who you ask. Lucasfilm as an entity will tell you “yes.” George Lucas will say “no.” “Lucasfilm considers the EU to consist of materials of various levels of canon,” Geller said in an email. “George himself does not consider the contents of the EU to be part of the Star Wars story.”

What are the different levels of canon?
These various levels of canon are how Lucasfilm organizes all of the stories set in the Expanded Universe, and they dictate how material is dealt with when inconsistencies arise, like they will when “Episode VII” opens. According to Wookieepedia, there are five levels of canon, the top three of which (G-,T-, and C-canon) are of the most relevant to casual fans. G-canon rules them all. The “G” stands for “George Lucas” and includes only the two trilogies, non-contradictory deleted scenes, and notes Lucas took during their development.

That means anything in the EU that contradicts the films is nullified and sent all the way to the bottom level, N-canon, for “non-canon.” This is the likely fate for Timothy Zahn’s post-“Jedi” book trilogy and arguably the most influential EU work, “The Thrawn Trilogy,” which previously occupied the C-canon, the level reserved for non-television works, which take precedent, and that respect previous continuity. It’s harsh, but with Lucas drafting the outlines for “Episodes VII, VIII, and IX,” nothing in the EU is safe from N-canon.

Did the prequels nullify Expanded Universe material?
Just ask Jaster Mereel. Unfamiliar him? Maybe this will jog your memory.

Boom! That’s right. In an EU short story entitled “The Last One Standing: The Tale of Boba Fett,” the iconic bounty hunter’s name was revealed to be Jaster Mereel. That, of course, all changed when “Attack of the Clones” explored Fett’s childhood, and that identity got banished to N-canon and retconned later.

Is it possible that Expanded Universe Material could make its way into “Episode VII”?
There is a precedent for Lucas adopting some EU concepts for the “Star Wars” films. While the prequels did nullify several pieces of EU material, they did incorporate some elements from the C-level books, like the Coruscant, the capital of the Republic, a concept introduced in Zahn’s trilogy and included in “The Phantom Menace.” So while Lucas has said that the new trilogy will feature original stories, not based on any EU storyline, there is a possibility that individual characters or worlds could become legitimized.

If you’re a fan of the Expanded Universe, what do you hope to see in “Episode VII”? Let us know in the comments below and on Twitter!