For the Star Wars fan community, it was the equivalent of Order 66. It was equivalent to the moment in which Anakin scissors off Dooku’s head, the moment Darth Vader enters the Jedi temple to slaughter all of the younglings, the moment Obi Wan leaves Anakin dying on the rocks and lava.
Maybe I’m being a bit dramatic. In 2014, riding the upbeat optimism of the first new Star Wars films in nearly a decade, Disney made a difficult and high-stakes decision regarding its newly-acquired flagship brand. In an almost unprecedented act, Disney rescinded the canonical status of the Expanded Universe stories and mythologies, re-branding them under the Legends label. In a single stroke, the company ruthlessly erased decades of writing, labor, folklore, mythos and tradition. A massive section of the Star Wars saga disappeared from surface relevance, their status and importance still up in the air in the minds of many fans.
That doesn’t mean the stories now considered to be outside of the canon are any less exhilarating, however. Whether taken from the novels that dominated the 80s and 90s or the original video game takes on the saga produced in the 2000s, the incredible wealth of material constituting the Star Wars universe provides more than enough material for any fan to sift through and digest. It’s likely Disney may resurrect, re-use and recycle some of the most impactful and most popular old storylines in the coming years, due to the sheer quality of their storylines and the inevitable nostalgia they’re sure to inspire for fans. In the minds of many, Disney made a major mistake— and Star Wars just isn’t Star Wars without the items contained on this list. Here are 15 great stories Disney deleted from the Star Wars universe.
15. Star Wars: Knights Of The Old Republic
Labelled by many as one of the single greatest video games ever produced, Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic chronicles a narrative set 4,000 years before the main events of the series. The first RPG set in the series’ universe, Knights of the Old Republic utilized in turn-based combat system in which the game allowed the player to choose between light and dark sides of the force within regular gameplay. Players also choose between character classes, force powers and Jedi combat styles.
Popular from its inception, the game spawned two sequels and still stands as perhaps the greatest video game incarnation of the saga. The historical placement of the game allowed its creator, Bioware, to play with elements of the universe unavailable in other places. For example, the role of the Sith is much-expanded from what is featured in the main series, as well as the introduction of a wholly new cast and set of characters completely unjoined to previously-covered events. For many, Knights of the Old Republic stands as one of, if not the most, important constituents of the EU.
14. The Thrawn Trilogy
Timothy Zahn’s Thrawn trilogy takes readers five years past the events of Return of the Jedi. The novels marked a rapid expansion of the Expanded Universe, as its outstanding success modelled the way for generations of novelizations, comics, video games and animated tv shows outside of the main series. Thrawn introduced us to many mainstays of the EU like Luke’s paramour Mara Jade, Dark Jedi Joruus C’baoth and the titular Imperial Grand Admiral Thrawn. It also marks the first appearance of Coruscant, the imperial capital that would feature heavily in the prequel trilogy.
Thrawn tackles the temptations of Luke and Leia Skywalker toward the power the dark side of the force promises. The trilogy’s extensive influence on the rest of the EU cannot be understated: General Thrawn would return in many later novels and adaptations, and Mara Jade grew slowly into one of the series’ most interesting and enduring characters.
13. The Han Solo Trilogy
Few series can boast a “second hero” character who grips the hearts of casual and diehard fans alike as much as Han Solo did in the original trilogy of films and then again in The Force Awakens. Han’s abrasive and edgy anti-hero personality unsurprisingly made him a central focus of more than one series of Legacy novels, the most successful of which comprise the Han Solo Trilogy released as A New Hope prequels in 1997.
The trilogy tells of Han’s life as a smuggler before the events of the main series alongside his best pals Chewbacca and Lando Calrissian. Han’s life as a racing pilot and as an adversary of Jaba the Hutt’s slavery empire are explored in great depth, as are his many adventures gambling, flying the Millennium Falcon, and becoming involved in various schemes to make money and win the hearts of women all across the galaxy.
12. Star Wars: Dark Forces
One of the many popular Doom clones to hit the video game scene in 1995, Star Wars: Dark Forces introduced the Expanded Universe to decked-out battle droids and armored, ultra-powerful Storm Troopers. Featuring Kyle Katarn, an EU character working as a mercenary in the command of the Rebel Alliance, Dark Forces revolves in part around capturing the Death Star plans featured prominently in the main series.
The game introduced conventions unfamiliar to the first-person shooter genre at the time, including multiple floor levels and the ability to move the camera view up and down. It also allowed players to explore some interesting spaces not seen before in the Star Wars universe, including Jaba the Hutt’s space yacht and the center of a Star Destroyer.
11. Star Wars: The Force Unleashed
This best-selling game from 2008 saw the introduction of Galen Marek, also known as Starkiller, who serves as Darth Vader’s secret apprentice, partner, and assassin. Found as a baby by Vader, Starkiller grows into a skilled user of both the force and the lightsaber. His primary mission is to hunt down and kill, at Vader’s request, the Jedi who remain alive after the events of Revenge of the Sith. Starkiller also attacks leaders of the Empire at Vader’s command, all the while hiding his own existence from Emperor Palpatine.
The game and its novel adaption proved a favorite with fans despite some uneven gameplay mechanics that caused some players to complain of frustrating physics and combat systems. The game’s brand-new and richly-conceived storyline, coupled with its visually impressive art, make it an integral part of the Expanded Universe that Disney arrogantly cast off. As with many of the items on this list, however, it’s certainly possible Starkiller’s story isn’t over quite yet. Could his story, working alongside and eventually against Darth Vader, make for a successful stand-alone film similar to the successful Star Wars: Rogue One released last year?
10. Lightsaber Combat Styles
Okay, so this one isn’t so much of a story as it is an aspect of the Expanded Universe that isn’t explored in anywhere near as much depth in the current Disney canon. Lightsaber combat has long been of humongous interest to fans. All those epic duels, starting with Obi Wan vs. Darth Vader in A New Hope, are one of the primary reasons the series took off and became so popular in the late seventies: flashing swords of fire, bright and unbreakable, clanging together in a sound both magical and mystifying.
Lightsaber combat in the Expanded Universe developed the technical aspects of the martial art. Seven distinct styles of lightsaber wielding were introduced, with varying styles and associations. The tight, confined, technical, defensive parrying style of Obi Wan Kenobi contrasts greatly with the wild, aggressive, offensive and overpowering counterattacking style of his padawan Anakin Skywalker. Some Jedi masters, like Mace Windu, were known to have mastered multiple styles, while others were known to develop distinct variations of their own. Whatever the case, let’s hope Disney resurrects these interesting forms and combat methods in even greater detail in coming series installments.
9. Dark Empire
This comic book miniseries from 1991 introduces us a much darker side of Luke Skywalker’s personality. Seeing everyone’s favorite hero kneel in front of a resurrected Darth Sidious clone and swear loyalty to the dark side of the Force was something fans actually craved to see, as Luke comes very close at the end of the original trilogy, but seeing it actually happen was both thrilling and shocking at the same time.
In this post-Revenge of the Sith tale, Luke finds himself in a strange situation: he’s an undoubted Jedi master with a deep knowledge of both sides of the Force, and he’s got a successful but unstable political situation in the New Republic he’s helped to found. His personal life, however, is in turmoil; it’s here in the midst of a civil war that Luke encounters Darth Sidious and becomes seduced by the charisma and power the Sith lord promises, much like his father before him. Luke’s old friends, including Han, Leia and Lando are forced to confront him in battle, eventually helping him to realize his own folly. The comic books were a hit and nearly saved the Star Wars saga after years of inactivity.
8. The Dark Lord Trilogy
The series of three novels— Labyrinth of Evil, Revenge of the Sith and Dark Lord—comprising the Dark Lord trilogy chronicles the final days of Anakin Skywalker as a gallant savior of the Galactic Republic. As Anakin undergoes a series of personal tragedies and hardships, however, he moves closer and closer to the dark side of the Force. The novels show readers the end of the Clone Wars and the beginnings of Darth Vader from Anakin’s perspective, focusing in on the evolution of his relationships with Obi-Wan, Emperor Palpatine and the Jedi Order as a whole.
Of course, we all know what happens to Anakin in the end. The Dark Lord novels are an appreciated part of the Expanded Universe because of their attention to Anakin’s delicate and fragile emotional state as well as their engaging battle scenes featuring, among others, the under-utilized character of General Grievous. They’re light and easy to read, too.
7. Darth Maul: Son Of Dathomir
Son of Dathomir was based originally on scripts that came out of The Clone Wars‘ never-produced sixth season. This 4-issue minicomic was the last Star Wars release before Disney’s acquisition of the franchise. One of many great Darth Maul stories the EU/Legacy brand has produced, Son of Dathomir follows Maul’s exploits in the years of the Clone Wars. Here he finds himself in conflict not only with Jedi like Obi-Wan and Anakin, but also with his old master Darth Sidious and his new apprentice Count Dooku.
The art in this comic is especially vivid and sharp, and the renewed attention to Maul’s character allows for some interesting conflicts to be explored. Maul’s duels with General Grievous produce some especially extraordinary scenes. For a character who speaks about three lines in the actual films, Maul sure provides for some entertaining and visually stimulating comics.
6. Star Wars: The Clone Wars
Despite the wealth of recent Star Wars storylines that have taken advantage of the time between Attack of the Clones and Revenge of the Sith, the animated series The Clone Wars has to stand as the most popular among most fans. Seeing Anakin, Obi-Wan and Anakin’s new padawan Ahsoka Tano beat up bad guys and solve diplomatic puzzles against General Grievous and Count Dooku can’t be passed up, right?
This television series introduces us to startling new planets and drastically expands the Star Wars universe as we knew it. The show explores the impacts decisions made by the Galactic Senate have on those in far-out worlds, sort of like The Wire but with, you know, fewer drugs and more lightsabers. After running for five seasons and spawning a feature film, The Clone Wars ended in 2013, taking with it a huge part of the saga’s universe for many fans of a younger generation.
5. Darth Plagueis
The Sith master Darth Sidious rose up alongside makes a few appearances in the Legacy universe, but his most startling appearance is in James Luceno’s 2012 novel Darth Plagueis. In a book that spans decades of the Sith Master’s life, Plagueis sets in motion the events of the prequel trilogy: orchestrating the rise of his apprentice Emperor Palpatine to the Supreme Chancellor of the Galactic Senate, evoking Padme’s rise to power and even bringing about the ordering of the clone army on behalf of the Republic.
Darth Plagueis has grown a fan favorite in recent years mostly because of his sheer breadth of knowledge regarding the force. Plagueis ventures places that no one, whether Jedi or Sith, dares to venture throughout the rest of the saga. Plagueis’ powers can literally induce life and stave off death, as he proves on multiple occasions. Like all Sith, though, he becomes a victim of his own cruelty. In his sleep one night, his apprentice tortures him to death with a brutal stream of Force Lightning. Ironic, isn’t it— the only known Force user with such powers over life and death proved completely unable to prevent his own demise.
4. The Jedi Academy Trilogy
The years after the Rebellion’s victory over the Empire and Emperor Palpatine have always been of tremendous interest to Star Wars fans, and the Legacy universe has provided them plenty of material to digest over the years. Jedi Academy tells the story of Luke’s attempt to re-create the Jedi Order by recruiting and training new padawans on the planet Yavin 4.
The primary plot line running through these three novels follows the attempts of a dark Jedi to corrupt the younglings undergoing Luke’s intense training regiment. Kyp Durron, one of Luke’s mentees, is eventually turned to the dark side. He goes on a rampage against the Empire, eventually gaining possession of a galactic superweapon known as a Suncrusher, killing many innocents in the process. Durron is subdued and re-converted to the light side only through the combined efforts of Luke and Han. He eventually repents for his crimes and is absolved, becoming one of the first Jedi Masters of Luke’s new Order.
3. The X-Wing Series
Though based on a series of popular video games, The X-Wing Series of novels doesn’t lack for intensity, intelligence or inclusion of complex and interesting characters. Chronicling the exploits of the Rogue Squadron and other groups of X-Wing pilots, the series was originally conceived to mimic the successful elements of Top Gun. Focusing on the Rebel attempts to take and hold the Imperial capital of Coruscant, the books span a period of time encompassing both the Rebel Alliance and the New Republic, both of which utilize X-Wings as their fighter of choice.
Though they span multiple storylines and sets of characters, the books of this series are must-reads for fans particularly captivated by the dogfights and space battles of the main films. Wedge Antilles, one of the most beloved pilots in the original trilogy, makes frequent appearances throughout the series. Indeed, it seems one of Disney’s greatest crimes when it wiped out so much Star Wars saga lore was the loss of important backstory and character exploration from some truly beloved minor roles in the series.
2. The Force Unleashed II
The tremendous success of the first The Force Unleashed video game convinced the franchise to give the Starkiller storyline another go, this time with a bit of a twist: players control the original Starkiller’s clone. Originally created as part of Darth Vader’s secret project to design the perfect secret apprentice, Starkiller’s clone copes with many of the same struggles as his original: finding an identity, deciding between the two sides of the force, and love for a woman named Juno Eclipse.
A lot of fans preferred this game to its predecessor because of changes to combat mechanics and the introduction of a new occasional antagonist: Boba Fett. Once again, the game’s ending is up to the player, who is free to choose either the Light or Dark side of the force, which lead Starkiller down radically different paths. Some critics adored the game’s storyline, while others criticized it as being uninspired and too similar to the original. Regardless, missions while wielding two long blue lightsabers never stay boring for long.
1. Caravan Of Courage: An Ewok Adventure
Were you really expecting anything else for the final item on this list? These furry guys captured the hearts of everyone with their cute-but-oh-so-fierce attitudes. No one who’s been on the wrong end of a spear poke, hint-hint Leia, can make the mistake of not taking these little teddy bears seriously.
Caravan of Courage follows a brother and sister who, after being separated from their parents, explore Endor with the help of some friendly Ewoks. Occurring some time in between A New Hope and Return of the Jedi, the made-for-TV film introduces the Star Wars saga to a more family-friendly tone with only limited violence. It spawned a sequel, The Ewoks: The Battle for Endor, that was released in 1985. Sadly, it doesn’t seem like this series is high on Disney’s list of priorities to re-make in coming years.