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What is Star Wars Canon?

Lucasfilm has made it clear that only the films, the Clone Wars series, and Star Wars: Rebels, are official canon. All novels, comics, and video games released in late 2014 and onward are also official canon. Anything released before this we call Legends, and is not canon. Think of it like the old DC Universe comics, back in the ’40s. It’s official, but not canon.

Here, you can find official Star Wars story timelines for both. The official Star Wars canon will not include anything from the Legends material, and vice versa. If anything listed in the Legends section becomes official canon, it will be moved to the appropriate section.
Star Wars CanonStar Wars Legends

These lists attempt to create a reading order (or in some cases viewing/playing order) for all major pieces of the Star Wars universe. This includes primarily all movies and television programs, novels, YA books, short stories, comic books, and video games of a canonical nature. This list does not attempt to split up any novels so that they are read congruently, but rather focuses on an easy to follow reading list. In the event that two works cover the exact same timeframe the one published first is read first. Additionally, the placement within the timeline is often based on where the work ends rather than where it begins. There may be a few exceptions which will be pointed out in individual reviews.

There are a few pieces of Star Wars media that are not included either because of lack of availability or because of a lack of relevance to the canon. These include Role-Playing-Game scenarios and books for child readers. If there is something that is not included in the list that you think contributes to the overall timeline, let us know and we will make the change.

The first timeline only includes links to material that is officially approved by the Lucasfilm Story Group as official canon in the new continuity. So if you want to know what is Star Wars canon, don’t forget to check out the first timeline.

What is Star Wars?

Star Wars is a space fantasy story told about a galaxy far, far away, and a long time ago. Unless you’ve been living under a rock, or on a hermit island in the middle of the ocean, you’ve probably heard of Star Wars. But this writer has come across a few people who haven’t seen the films, much less delved into the rest of Star Wars canon.

The cornerstone medium for the Star Wars series is film. Most of the other stories, told through other mediums, revolve around the films. See below for what we include in this timeline.

The overall story, though broad, usually focuses on the Skywalker legacy. Primarily Anakin Skywalker, his son Luke Skywalker, and the generation following that. Simply put, Anakin turns evil and helps form the Galactic Empire, oppressing the galaxy. He is redeemed by his son Luke, but his legacy lives on when his grandson also turns evil.

The History Behind Star Wars Canon

Star Wars started in 1977 when George Lucas released the first film in the saga. Though it was just titled Star Wars at the time, it has since been retitled as Star Wars: A New Hope. The film was hugely popular, spawned two sequels, and eventually gave rise to an enormous franchise. The success came partially from massive merchandise sales that included comics and books. Thus the “expanded universe” began. Much of those stories were never meant to be that cohesive with the films anyway, but it was a start.

Later, the expanded universe grew with the important addition of Heir to the Empire, a book by Timothy Zahn. The book was marketed as the first real sequel to the original films. It launched a new era for the expanded universe, one in which most of the stories coincided with each other. Then Lucas decided to make more films, and the first of the prequel trilogy, Star Wars: The Phantom Menace was released in 1999. The prequel trilogy was not as well received, as it was quite different than the originals, thereby disrupting the expectation that older fans had on the subject. But younger people who grew up with the prequel trilogy loved it as well.

Lucas would eventually delve into the world of 3D animation for a new animated series that came out in 2008, The Clone Wars. But it was in 2012 when Disney purchased Lucasfilm from George Lucas, starting a whole new era for Star Wars films. Star Wars: The Force Awakens was the first film to come out in the Disney Era, and was greeted with enormous financial and critical success. The future of the franchise remains highly promising. 

Additional Resources

Terms

  • BBY: refers to Before the Battle of Yavin which is year 0 in Star Wars, essentially Star Wars IV: A New Hope is the epicenter of the Star Wars timeline.
  • ABY: conversely refers to the years After the Battle of Yavin.