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A comprehensive guide to the Star Wars timeline of novels, comic books, short stories, TV shows, cartoons and games ...

Chronicled by Joe Bongiorno

Acknowledgments

Special thanks to: The Handleys, James McFadden, Pablo Hidalgo, JF Boivin, Abel Peña and the Libsmans, without whose help this timeline would not have been what it is today. Thanks to Bill Smith (formerly of West End Games) and Bob Cooper (formerly of Dark Horse Comics) both for their time and encouragement; to Ryder Windham for the great opportunity; the moderators at the official site for including this site; Steve Densmore for Troop Transport; Jon Bradley Snyder for his thorough research on the Droids/Ewoks cartoons; Brad Berger for his sharp eyes.  Alan Murray for the rarities, Chad Walton for the fact-checking!  Thanks to the following amazing artists who's work was borrowed for this site: Michael Whelan, Ralph McQuarrie, Tom Palmer, Chris Gossett, Jeff Carlisle, Kent Williams, John Stokes and Drew Struzan. Also, a special thanks to Joe Lodespoto. Had he not popped over all those years ago to tell me about the best movie he'd ever seen, none of this would be here.  Gratitude as well to the many authors, artists, editors and publishers who have contributed to the growth of Star Wars for three decades. Without your hard work we wouldn't have the rich tapestry of the Expanded Universe we have today. A big thanks to Charlie Lippencott who had the idea for an expanded universe, and to George Lucas for going along. 

This Star Wars timeline is dedicated to the memories of Archie Goodwin and Brian Daley, who next to George himself remain among the greatest chroniclers of Star Wars lore.

 

 

 

 

 

     

 

 

 

 

 

 

    

               

 

 

 

·        The purpose of this site is to provide the proper order in which to read Star Wars stories. 

·    This site endeavors to include every account of the published (and sometimes unpublished) Star Wars saga in the chronological period of time in which it occurs. 

·    BBY refers to years ‘Before the Battle of Yavin;’ ABY refers to years ‘After the Battle of Yavin’.  The Battle of Yavin was depicted in Star Wars: Episode IV: A New Hope It is the start of Year Zero.  Year designations on this timeline represent the events of that entire year starting from the first day of the first month through to the last day of the last month in that year.

·    ABG refers to the months ‘After the Battle of Geonosis;’ as depicted in Star Wars: Episode II: Attack of the Clones The Battle of Geonosis began on the 23d day of the fifth month in the year 22 BBY. It should be understood that while that the Republic (per Coruscant standards) uses a 10 month calendar of seven weeks a month, five days a week, with an addition of three five-day festival periods (called Fete weeks) interspersed throughout the year, and 3 festival (fete) days, Lucasfilm chose to utilize a 12 month calendar. Thus, the Clone Wars dates (ABG) have been converted into our calendar year.

·    The “Star Wars” title appears before nearly every title on this site and in most cases has been dropped for the sake of brevity.

·    Where a story spans a period of time, I have placed it according to when it begins, and have on occasion broken it up into segments.  Flashback portions of stories are indicated in brackets. Adaptations are divided by chapter.

·    Though not an exhaustive guide to the countless children's books that retell scenes from the movies, I have broken up the novelizations of the films by chapter in order to demonstrate where other adaptations would go in the chronology.

·    Several individual comic book issues are out of print. Those which have been collected in omnibus or trade paperback are indicated.

·    This timeline favors inclusiveness. The majority of stories are arranged to fit into the overall saga despite occasional lapses in continuity which are sometimes later corrected (or are inherent to the medium). In cases where they're not, or when a story is not concretely dated, the chronologer must use his best estimate. And at times, irreconcilable contradictions predicate the necessity to take a position as to historicity. Thus, placements on this timeline, as on any timeline, are subjective, and can change as the need arises. See this article for more information.

·    Parodies, comedies and stories which contain major contradictions are relegated to the section entitled ‘Infinities,’ marked by this symbol: .  ‘Infinities’ allows for stories outside of continuity to be told as “What If...” stories.  This includes stories that existed prior to the establishment of the ‘Infinities’ label but which have been found to be irreconcilably contradictory to the historical events of the Star Wars saga. For a discussion of the subject, click here

·    The nature of interactive entertainment in video games was once thought to preclude believable historicity.  Nevertheless, LFL includes some of these games in canon, and where appropriate I have followed suit.  However, games in which the EU is ignored (or used solely as window dressing) have been placed in Infinities. 

·    This chronology is a twenty-one year work in progress that will continually receive updates in the months and years to come until the last Star Wars story has been told… All questions, corrections, and correspondence should be directed to me (Joe Bongiorno).

 

Star Wars ® is TM and ©  and

Artwork © Michael Whelan

No copyright infringement is intended or desired. All rights are reserved. This site is strictly non-profit and is designed solely for entertainment and educational purposes.  (C) 2013 Lucasfilm Ltd. STAR WARS, A NEW HOPE, THE EMPIRE STRIKES BACK, RETURN OF THE JEDI, THE PHANTOM MENACE, ATTACK OF THE CLONES, REVENGE OF THE SITH, CARAVAN OF COURAGE, THE BATTLE FOR ENDOR, DROIDS, EWOKS, CLONE WARS their associated elements and logos, are the intellectual property of Lucasfilm Ltd.. This page is provided for academic research purposes only, and is not connected in any official capacity to Lucasfilm Ltd. The author claims no ownership of any scanned artwork herein.  Please respect the work of artists by limiting proliferation of unauthorized scans without proper credit.  This page is presented as a service to the Star Wars fan community, and the author receives no payment or other recompense for his time and effort.  The chronological arrangement created on this site is solely the efforts of this author.  It is provided for personal use only.  Do not change, distribute or publish this work without the express permission of the author.

 

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Understanding Dates and the Zero Year

 

Although the year after The Battle of Yavin, the start of the calendar year, might be considered Year 1, it is in fact appropriately designated Year Zero.  Year 1, or 1 ABY, is the first year anniversary of the Battle of Yavin and begins on that anniversary date, the first day of the first month, and goes through to the last day of the last month in that 12 month year (Coruscant standard).  Thus 5 ABY represents the entire year beginning at the five year anniversary of the Battle of Yavin and concluding at the end of the 12th month, the day before 6 ABY begins. 

 

 

Articles

Continuity in the Star Wars Expanded Universe

Infinities and Star Wars Tales

Fiction Within Fiction: The Star Wars Saga as History

The Eras

The Clone Wars

The Jedi Code

Early Continuity

 

 

Continuity in the Star Wars Expanded Universe

 

What is the Expanded Universe and why is continuity such a major issue?  The Expanded Universe, or EU, is the moniker for the entire body of work that comprises the stories set in the Star Wars universe ranging from novels, comics, cartoons, short stories, young adult books, television shows, animated features and more... Continuity has been and remains important to Lucas and Lucasfilm as it is the glue that holds together the various and often disparate sources which strive to tell multiple, but cohesive stories of the heroes, villains and fringe characters under the one unified umbrella that is the Star Wars Saga. This history of the universe ranges from thousands of years before Episode IV: A New Hope to 140 years afterwards and beyond.

 

As stated in the Guide to the Star Wars Timeline above, this timeline strives whenever reasonably possible to be inclusive. As can be seen from the Infinities portion of this site (Infinities refers to stories outside continuity), there are very few major contradictions that have found their way into the Star Wars Universe since its inception in 1977. For a fictional universe in which hundreds of writers have contributed, this is impressive.  Minor continuity gaffes, of course, do exist, and in every strata of Lucasfilm's publication history of which I've noted three:

 

The Classic Trilogy (led by Ballantine/Del Rey and Marvel), which featured Episodes IV to VI and the majority of stories that occur prior to and during that period.

 

The Revival (heralded by Bantam and Dark Horse), begun with the publication of Timothy Zahn's "Thrawn Trilogy" series of novels and Tom Veitch's Dark Empire comic series, and covers all periods, but especially the years after the events of Episode VI: Return of the Jedi.

 

The Prequel Trilogy (Del Rey and Dark Horse again) covers the period of Episodes I to III, the Clone Wars and the years prior to and during, and the twenty year gap before Episode IV.

 

Contrary to a popularly-held belief begun in the early '90's, incongruities were not solely restricted to the early period of expansion ('77-'85), but in fact were more widespread throughout the Revival phase ('92-'99), and certainly the prequel era has had no few incidents itself (often due to the revelations of the Prequel trilogy and The Clone Wars animated series). In the overall scheme, however, most of these issues are relatively minor, and many have been and are in the process of being cleared up. For a great essay on continuity, this process and the role Lucasfilm plays in keeping it all together, check out author Karen Traviss' (Republic Commando: Hard Contact) excellent blog entry here.

 

Various Star Wars resources, sourcebooks, magazine articles and even later novels and comics, have fixed a great deal of what were once considered contradictions, and no doubt this will continue to be the case as new stories unfold and reveal a clearer picture of Star Wars history. But admittedly, that is not always the case. In the event that there are irreconcilable contradictions, a stance must be taken as to what is and is not historical, and this particularly important in cases where LFL is silent. For the reader to be able to fully enjoy the vast, interconnected web that is the Star Wars Expanded Universe, story and continuity must remain paramount. When authors and editors fail to maintain continuity and one story contradicts another, the general rule is to preserve the older, pre-existing story, save for certain exceptions. Though subjective, these decisions are not taken lightly or done arbitrarily, and are done because there is no other option available at that time. This is, of course, open to change as new information comes forth. Where possible, I'll endeavor to put forth reasons for placing a story (or part of a story) into Infinities that has not been officially designated as such.

 

Those who reject the Expanded Universe on the grounds of their personal inability to allow for continuity errors (as well as subsequent clarifications) fail in their reasoning to see that the films themselves are subject to rather interesting incongruities, particularly between the original versions of the Classic Trilogy and the later Special Editions. Change happens. Now, Greedo shoots first and the Max Rebo band has new members. The Ewoks no longer sing Yub Nub (Thank the Maker!) and the Sarlacc has a mouth reminiscent of Audrey from Little Shop of Horrors... In time, more changes and additions may be forthcoming. The point: use your imagination, fill in the blanks and enjoy these fantastic adventures for what they are.  Those who are missing out on the Expanded Universe stories are missing out on not only some of the best Star Wars has to offer, but on some of the best that Science-Fiction/Fantasy has to offer.

 

Lastly, for those not yet convinced, a few years back George Lucas wrote a short introduction to the reissue of Splinter of the Mind's Eye (the very first book that told a story outside of the film) giving it and the entire Expanded Universe his stamp of approval.  It's what he wants, why he had it commissioned and why a large group of Lucasfilm employees, editors and publishers are paid to monitor and maintain consistency with the films and each other.  In a recent interview with the associated press, Lucas again confirmed that the spin-off novels, comics, and soon to be television series meet with his approval.  Here is an excerpt from that article:

 

Lucas: Ultimately, I'm going to probably move it into television and let other people take it. I'm sort of preserving the feature film part for what has happened and never go there again, but I can go off into various offshoots and things. You know, I've got offshoot novels, I've got offshoot comics. So it's very easy to say, "Well, OK, that's that genre, and I'll find a really talented person to take it and create it." Just like the comic books and the novels are somebody else's way of doing it. I don't mind that. Some of it might turn out to be pretty good. If I get the right people involved, it could be interesting.

 

To read the rest of the article, click here.

 

For my recommended reading list of Star Wars stories, click here.

 

 

Infinities and Star Wars Tales

 

 

A recent issue that has developed is that of the "Infinities" label that Lucasbooks and Dark Horse Comics created in 2001 to designate and allow for stories that fall outside of continuity. It encompasses both serious stories, humor and parodies.  Some confusion has arisen in regards to the first twenty issues of Dark Horse Comics' anthology Star Wars Tales.  Due to the Infinities label being placed inside the front cover, many have wondered whether every story in the Tales series is "Infinities" and outside of continuity. Compounding the issue is the fact that novel and comic book authors have utilized details from some of these stories as historical events in their works.  The answer was finally settled satisfactorily by Chris Cerasi of LFL via Steve Sansweet's column on the official site, which indicates that Tales allows for stories inside and outside of continuity to be told (a fact which harmonizes with the original concept of the series and the thoughts of many of the writers who contributed to it). 

 

"In order to allow unlimited freedom of storytelling, the Infinities label has been placed on the anthology series, Star Wars Tales. This means that not only can the stories occur anywhere in the Star Wars timeline, but stories can happen outside continuity. Basically, if an event happens in Tales, it may not have necessarily happened in the rest of the expanded universe. For some stories, the distinction is largely inconsequential. For others, it's the only way they could exist."   

 

The Star Wars Expanded Universe Timeline endeavors to present those Tales stories which did and did not happen in the Star Wars Universe and have designated the page, Infinities, for the latter stories which exist outside of continuity.  This includes earlier stories which existed before the Infinities label even came about, but which cannot be made to harmonize within the framework of The Star Wars Expanded UniverseTales stories which are part of continuity are mixed in throughout the various eras of the timeline itself.  As of issue #21, the Tales anthology has changed focus to tell in-continuity stories, and each issue indicates the specific era in which the story takes place (including Infinites stories which will continue to be presented albeit on a less frequent basis).

 

So enjoy the richness of the entire Star Wars Saga and use this timeline as your guide through the eras, the five thousand years of adventure and strife, from the reign of the ancient Dark Lords of the Sith and the terror of the Imperial war machine to the scourge of the Yuuzhan Vong and beyond ...

 

For a recommended reading list of Star Wars stories, click here.

 

 

 

Fiction Within Fiction: The Star Wars Saga as "History"

 

Right from the opening page of the very first Star Wars novel ever released – the then titled Star Wars: From the Adventures of Luke Skywalker – we read of a back-story of the rise of the Emperor culled from a document referred to as "The Journal of the Whills." In thus setting the stage for the story to come, George Lucas (via Alan Dean Foster who ghost-wrote the novel) followed the paths of numerous fantasy-literature authors before him who to sought to enhance the feeling of verisimilitude by inventing the fiction that the story you're about to read comes in fact from a lost historical source.  L. Frank Baum, H.P. Lovecraft, Robert E. Howard, Arthur Conan Doyle, J.R.R. Tolkien and others used the fictional ploy that they "discovered" actual documents that they're translating and/or transmitting to the readers. 

 

With the Star Wars Expanded Universe having grown so large and encompassing, it's also a great way to explain many of the discrepancies and continuity-errors that occur from time to time within the body of lore comprised by the books, comics, films, cartoons, video games and more.  There are various factors that can shatter the willing suspension of disbelief, but none greater than the dreaded continuity error. As has been stated in the article "Continuity in the Expanded Universe", Lucasfilm and the many freelance authors that work for them have oftentimes used continuity errors as a means of creating far more interesting scenarios and new stories for the readers. For authors like Karen Traviss and Abel Peña, creating imaginative and believable "retcons" (retroactive continuity) is an enjoyable and rewarding exercise.  And the fans certainly appreciate it!  But not every continuity error and contradiction has been addressed. Star Wars is a BIG galaxy, and well over a thousand stories have been written in it.  How does the Star Wars fan deal with irreconcilable issues of continuity that haven't yet been addressed? And how does an appreciation of Star Wars-as-History aid in this regard?

 

The answer may come right from the films themselves.  The start of every opening crawl of each of the six films begins with the words, "A Long Time Ago in a Galaxy Far, Far Away." Lucas used this to set the stage for his saga, indicating rather openly that this is a fairy tale, a "once upon a time" space opera, and neither a "realistic" drama nor a hardcore tale of science-fiction. And while that might seem to destroy the feeling of verisimilitude, it also conversely paves the way for it, utilizing the same kind of literary power the "Journal of the Whills" imparts. This indicates on an almost subconscious level that not only are the rules of this universe different, but that this is ancient history, something that has already occurred, albeit elsewhere, a long time ago.

 

In other words, George Lucas is spinning the yarn of Star Wars as History, telling us a story based on past events, which the novel indicates derives from an ancient tome, or perhaps a cache of ancient tomes, the mystic Journal of the Whills.  Like the Red Book of Westmarch which Tolkien "discovered," which told us of an ancient world of Hobbits, Dwarves, Elves and Men, the Journal of the Whills has somehow come into the privileged hands of George Lucas. A quote from him in the reissue of the novel Splinter of the Mind's Eye indicates his awareness that there are "thousands (of stories) that could be told about the characters who inhabit its galaxy" and that "these were not stories I was destined to tell."  Thus, Lucas hired a team to oversee the telling of these stories.  That team of course is Lucasfilm.  Utilizing the theory of Star Wars-as-History, it's clear that they are in possession of the Journal of the Whills.  But what of the various writers who go on to create all the novels, comics and games?  It's common knowledge that everything, from the proposal to the plot outline to the finished product goes through Lucasfilm. We know from real life, which could be called the Star Wars-as-Literature perspective, that this is done so that everything accords with Lucas' vision and Lucasfilm can maintain a high quality standard. All well and good. But from a Star Wars as History perspective, the most important reason this is done is so that Lucasfilm can coordinate each author's stories with the history that is presented in the Journal of the Whills and other historical texts. 

 

The roleplaying game company West End Games which held the Star Wars license for some years introduced in-universe historian Voren Na'al as the "author" of several of their sourcebooks. This was done so to allow for a degree of error in case continuity conflicts arose or so if gamers wished to ignore a point for their personal campaigns it could be deemed historical error. But it built upon the notion that Star Wars stories are based off of "historical" documents. Thus, it appears that many of Na'al's journals survived intact, and in fact, he rose to the prominent position of Archivist Emeritus on the Historical Council of the Galactic Federation of Free Alliances (as recorded in his body of work that makes up The New Essential Chronology.)  Other surviving documents are those of Na'al's teacher Arhul Hextrophon. And more recently Lucasfilm has revealed that journalist Janu Godalhi and his son Palob's highly regarded historical texts are also extant.  What this gives Lucasfilm is a body of work from which freelance authors can expand upon, perhaps turning only the briefest of annotations within such historical documents into full flesh-and-blood prose stories.

 

Of the Journal of the Whills itself, we've only seen a few paragraphs presented to us, and only once in the very first Star Wars book published, and in it we find what is but a brief overview of events. We also find a quote from a character we've come to know well, Princess Leia. But from this small bit of evidence, it's safe to deduce that the Journal is a compilation of historical events written possibly years after the fact (and likely utilizing even older historical sources), and they're presented not in prose form (which would be both unwieldy and unlikely), but annalistic form (a style akin to The Silmarillion, portions of the Bible, and countless history books) which means that the Journal does not feature fully detailed narratives.  So too with the surviving documents of Na'al, Hextrophon, and the Godalhis. The New Essential Chronology and other modern sourcebooks may represent wholly intact recordings of these men which substantiates the idea that these works are presented in almost exclusively annalistic style. And that's where the modern authors come in. It's also where continuity errors arise. 

 

The "Star Wars as History" perspective explains that discrepancies arises because the the details are scant, leaving the authors to have to surmise and deduce, utilizing reasoning, context and other hints left in the Journal as to exactly what may have happened in certain instances. Perhaps Lucasfilm is dealing with translation issues and later reached a clearer understanding of the events. Or perhaps they simply allowed the authors their own conclusions and conjectures on the matter, much as a publisher might allow two competing historians to present their individual, interpretive suppositions in their own books. Either way, the choice is left to the reader to discern which of the two conflicting events, if either, he or she feels is accurate.  Sorting through contradictions with this method leads to a much less frustrating end result.

 

The films themselves present an interesting and unusual example.  Taking a look at the Classic Trilogy (Episodes IV to VI), not only do we have two variant versions of each of the films, but we have a variant novel adaptation, a variant comic book adaptation and a variant radio drama of each. Opinions are very divided as to which of these six different versions is the true and accurate one, with most fans siding with either the original versions of the films or the Special Edition versions. 

 

But the novel, comic book and radio drama adaptations hold equal value as well, and should likewise be considered. Why? Well, looking at the Star Wars-as-History model, they're all adaptations of the original source. Even the films. After all, the audience isn't exactly seeing what occurred, as if a cameraman had followed these people around thousands of years ago. We're seeing a dramatic recreation of the events as interpreted by the actors and through the eyes of George Lucas who holds the original story and wrote the screenplay based off it. Since he's primarily a filmmaker, he views this as canon, however, based on his own statements, that can't be entirely true since canon is what is said in The Journal of the Whills. On page 72 of J.W. Rinzler's The Making of Star Wars Revenge of the Sith, Lucas tells Rob Coleman (animation director), "the story of Star Wars is actually recounted by R2-D2 to the Keeper of the Whills, one hundred years after Return of the Jedi."

 

Thus the films are but another adaptation, and every adaptation of the original story is valid to some degree. Which one you choose to accept is up to the individual, but it's interesting to note that they were all approved at some point or another by the very person who knows and holds the original story. Now the discrepancies between sources are not tremendous, but where they exist likely indicates that there are gaps in the original source material, or that a different interpretation of events was arrived at by Lucas. 

 

Somewhere along the way, Lucas came to believe that Sy Snootles actually had a much larger band. Or perhaps he knew it all along but simply didn't have the budget or technology to include the other band members in the first version of Return of the Jedi. Many question whether or not Han shot first. And in fact there are now three film versions of that incident.  If Lucas' integrity is intact and he's not changing the story to suit his own sensibilities, in all likelihood, the Journal of the Whills merely indicates that a scuffle ensued between Han and Greedo, and Lucas was left to fill in the details. 

 

Viewing Star Wars in this kind of fictional historical context allows continuity errors to exist and not disrupt one's necessary suspension of disbelief. It also allows the audience the freedom to determine which event is the real one. More importantly, it's a much more enjoyable way to look at the Star Wars Universe (which is the primary reason it was provided by Lucas to be part and parcel of the fiction that surrounds the story) which trumps the blasé real story which often involves economics, politics and sheer human error. 

 

 

 

The Various Eras in Star Wars

 

Click Here for a full description of each era.

 

 

 

The Clone Wars

 

For an interesting background history on the advent of the Clone Wars, as written by George Lucas himself, click here.

 

 

What is the Jedi Code?

 

Click here for an essay.

 

 

Early Continuity

 

As is the case with the Internet, from time to time, erroneous information gets passed and perpetuated that has little to no basis in truth. One of these is the notion that continuity in the pre-Zahn or pre-West End Games days was non-existent. Such statements are made to back up the claim that the Marvel series, Splinter of the Mind's Eye and the newspaper strips are somehow not as official as modern material or suffer from continuity problems. Of course, anyone who's read that material knows better, but the fallacy continues in print, if for no other reason than the fact that internet culture is made up of people who like to repeat what they hear without checking first the facts. The truth, of course, is that the writers of the early Del Rey novels, Marvel and the newspaper strips all had to go through approvals. This article from Archie Goodwin, taken in 1996 highlights that veracity of that. Star Wars Insider #91 contains an interview with Jo Duffy (writer of the latter third of the Marvel series) who adds her experiences with working with LFL. Thus, continuity was held as in high a regard as it is now, with in fact far less continuity-discrepancies as we find today.

 

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Special thanks to Michael Whelan for the wonderful paintings.  These and many, many more are on sale from him and are available in the book "Michael Whelan's Works of Wonder".  Visit his website @ http://www.michaelwhelan.com.  Special thanks also go to NASA for the fantastic photographs, some of which have been used to illustrate this site.  No copyright infringement is implied or intended.  This is a non-profit site used strictly used for entertainment and educational purposes.