In 2014 two years after its purchase of Lucasfilm, Disney revealed that the only official – or canon – Star Wars stories would be those told in the six released films and the animated show, Star Wars: The Clone Wars. From that moment on, however, all the tales told in the subsequent licensed books, games, comics and movies would also be canon. So if you’re wondering what actually went down between the end of Star Wars: Episode VI – Return of the Jedi and the start of Star Wars: Episode VII – The Force Awakens, then we’re here to help fill you in.
40. Leia and Han got married
When we meet Harrison Ford’s Han Solo and Carrie Fisher’s Leia Organa in The Force Awakens, they’ve clearly been estranged for a while – despite having had a child together. But just in case you were wondering, the pair did actually get married. Chuck Wendig’s Aftermath novels, released between 2015 and 2017, revealed that the wedding took place not long after the events of Return of the Jedi.
39. Imperial forces retreated and regrouped
While Return of the Jedi ended with a resounding victory for the Rebel Alliance, it didn’t mark the end of the Empire. In 2015 mobile game Star Wars: Uprising, for instance, players could join the Rebels and attempt to wipe out remaining Imperial forces. And in Wendig’s Aftermath books, the Empire is seen clinging on to its last vestiges of power.
38. The Empire continued to threaten worlds
Emperor Palpatine (Ian McDiarmid) met his maker at the finale of Return of the Jedi. Yet, as revealed in 2015 comic Star Wars: Shattered Empire, he was still able to trouble the Rebels. That’s because his passing triggered the world-ending “Operation: Cinder.” This was a plot to scour certain planets across the galaxy and hence halt the rebellion in its tracks.
37. The Rebels defeated more Imperial forces
Yet the 2017 video game Star Wars: Battlefront II, as well as the comic Shattered Empire, told us more. These releases revealed how the Rebels eventually faced down Operation: Cinder. In fact, Leia and a couple of errant Imperial soldiers saved the planet of Naboo from Cinder’s planet-ravaging satellites – and forced their enemies into submission.
36. The New Republic was formed
The Rebels’ success in defeating the Empire meant that it could now achieve one of its major goals: to restore democracy to the galaxy. And to do this, the New Republic was conceived. This organization is not to be confused with the Galactic Republic, of course. The Galactic Republic was the galaxy’s governing body before the rise of the Empire. The New Republic was born after the Emperor fell. But you knew that…
35. Civil war broke out on Coruscant
Coruscant was the capital of the Empire in the days of Emperor Palpatine. According to the Aftermath novels, the populace was not too pleased to be under Imperial rule after the Rebels had dethroned Palpatine. The planet was hence plunged into a bitter civil war. It finally came to an end, however, when the New Republic forced the remaining enemy forces to sign a peace treaty.
34. Mon Mothma became Chancellor
Mon Mothma (played in Return of the Jedi by Caroline Blakiston) is something of a fan-favorite among Star Wars followers. This is likely because she’s one of the very few female characters with dialog in the original trilogy. So it’s good to know that this trailblazing rebel remained hard at work at keeping the Empire down. In fact, StarWars.com notes that she became the New Republic’s very first chancellor.
33. The Empire tried to rebuild
As we’ve seen already, the Imperial forces of the Empire weren’t completely wiped out with the death of the Emperor. And even after defeats elsewhere, groups loyal to the Empire aligned to form the Imperial Remnant – as seen in the video game Battlefront II. And the new faction sought to uphold the ideals of the late Emperor.
32. Luke found a piece of the Great Tree
The fourth issue of Shattered Empire saw Luke Skywalker team up with a character called Shara Bey. This was to recapture the remains of the Great Tree from the bad guys. This tree, first seen in Star Wars: The Clone Wars, supposedly held the Force within itself; and it once grew in the core of the Jedi Temple on the planet, Coruscant.
31. Poe Dameron’s parents retired from the Rebel Alliance
After the successful mission in Shattered Empire, Luke gave Shara Bey a piece of the Great Tree. Shara then planted the relic on her home planet of Yavin IV. She also stepped away from the New Republic to spend more time with her husband, Kes Dameron, and her son, Poe. Poe of course grew up to be the character played by actor Oscar Isaac in the film series.
30. Chewbacca’s planet, Kashyyyk, was liberated
Chewbacca’s home planet, Kashyyyk, was under Imperial rule during the Emperor’s reign. But after Return of the Jedi, Han Solo, Chewie (brought to life in the movies by Peter Mayhew) and a band of Rebels worked together to finally liberate it. This was recounted in the novel Star Wars: Aftermath – Life Debt. It also marked the end of the Wookiee’s life in the New Republic. But that’s not to say that he was killed off…
29. Chewie went to live on Kashyyyk
After the freeing of Kashyyyk, you see, Chewbacca seemingly made the reasonable choice to stay on his home planet. Perhaps the reunion with his son, Lumpawaroo, had a little something to do with his decision, too. This was detailed in the novel Star Wars: Aftermath – Empire’s End. The same book also told us what happened to Jar Jar Binks.
28. Jar Jar Binks became… a clown
The notorious Jar Jar Binks (played by Ahmed Best) didn’t make a significant appearance in the Star Wars universe after Episode II – Attack of the Clones. In that film, though, the Gungan inadvertently assisted Palpatine in his rise to power. But in the novel Empire’s End, it’s revealed that Binks was ultimately cast out from society – and forced to make a living as a jester.
27. The Empire turned truly nasty at Nag Ubdur
With the Empire in decline following Return of the Jedi, the New Republic sought to eradicate all Imperial forces from the universe. But the bad guys wouldn’t go quietly. In Life Debt, in fact, New Republic forces found that the Empire had massacred an entire settlement in dreadful revenge.
26. The Empire lost the crucial Battle of Jakku
The Galactic Civil War between the New Republic and the Empire finally came to an end on the planet of Jakku. Here, the good guys finally dismantled the Imperial forces and brought peace to the galaxy. The dramatic twists and turns of the battle were depicted in Empire’s End, Star Wars: Lost Stars and Star Wars: Battlefront.
25. The Empire surrendered
Following its defeat, the Empire formally surrendered when an Imperial official signed the Galactic Concordance. This treaty, also signed by the New Republic’s Mon Mothma, brought the civil war to a close. It also ensured that the Empire could not reestablish itself. The inscribing of the document also served as the finale to Empire’s End.
24. Ben Solo was born
We’ve seen already that Han and Leia got hitched soon after the Battle of Endor. So what better way to celebrate the fall of the Empire than by having a son? Yes, Ben Solo was born on the very day of the Empire’s surrender. Yet feelings of joy at the new arrival would eventually turn to despair in the years to come.
23. There were hints that Boba Fett was still alive
There’s a scene in Aftermath in which two men on Tatooine fall out over a suit of armor. And though the former owner of this Mandalorian gear isn’t revealed, it seems that it belonged to Boba Fett (Jeremy Bulloch). Does that mean, therefore, that the infamous bounty hunter made it out of the Sarlacc Pit alive? At the end of Return of the Jedi, his future didn’t exactly look promising.
22. The remaining Imperial forces quietly built the First Order
After the decline of the Empire, those still loyal to its cause slunk into the shadows of the Unknown Regions. There, they covertly reestablished themselves as the First Order. In 2015 J.J. Abrams, the director of The Force Awakens, revealed to Empire magazine, “That [development] all came out of conversations about what would have happened if the Nazis all went to Argentina but then started working together again.”
21. Finn was born and forced to become a stormtrooper
According to Star Wars: The Force Awakens The Visual Dictionary, Finn – as played by John Boyega in the sequel trilogy – was born seven years after Return of the Jedi. But the young lad was then removed from his family and conscripted as a stormtrooper for the First Order. He hence became part of a fresh generation of stormtroopers.
20. Phasma joined the First Order
In Delilah S. Dawson’s novel Star Wars: Phasma, readers got an insight into one of The Force Awakens’ most spectacular-looking characters. It’s revealed that Phasma (played by Gwendoline Christie) joined the First Order after giving assistance to a high-flying member of the fallen Empire. And by the time of Episode VII, Phasma had risen to the rank of captain.
19. Phasma got her armor from an unusual source
Part of the allure of Phasma’s iconic look is, of course, her shiny chrome stormtrooper armor. And in Phasma, writer Delilah S. Dawson revealed how the outfit came into the captain’s possession. As it turned out, Phasma actually crafted the one-of-a-kind armor out of chrome plates culled from a ship owned by the Emperor.
18. Lando returned to Cloud City
Billy Dee Williams appeared as the charismatic Lando Calrissian in The Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi. And while the character was absent from subsequent big-screen Star Wars outings – until 2019’s Star Wars: Episode IX – The Rise Of Skywalker – readers caught up with him in the interim in the novel Empire’s End. The book featured Lando claiming back Cloud City from the Empire.
17. Rey was born
Audiences got their first glimpse of Daisy Ridley’s Rey in The Force Awakens. And in that blockbuster, Rey appeared as a 19-year-old who has been abandoned on the devastated remains of the planet Jakku. We can conclude, therefore, that she was born roughly 15 years after Episode IV – A New Hope.
16. The First Order constructed an armada
The First Order was quietly building its power base in the Unknown Regions after separating from the Old Empire. And while it did so, it capitalized on the secrets of the fallen power to create its most imposing ships. Indeed, the First Order Navy constructed the impressive fleets featured in both The Force Awakens and The Last Jedi.
15. Ben Solo started his training with Luke
In The Last Jedi, fans finally got an insight into the early life of Kylo Ren (Adam Driver). And as it turned out, the erstwhile Ben Solo, as he was then known, had been shipped off as a boy to be trained in the ways of the Force by his uncle, Luke Skywalker. But things – as we would learn – didn’t go to plan. Indeed, Skywalker came to believe that there was darkness in his nephew…
14. Leia was exposed as Darth Vader’s daughter
Claudia Gray’s novel Star Wars: Bloodline takes place in the years leading up to The Force Awakens. It puts Leia at the centre of the story and sees her suffer some misfortune. In fact, we discover that Leia was effectively forced out of the Senate after her political rivals exposed her blood relationship with Darth Vader.
13. Leia created the Resistance to deal with the growing First Order
Resigning from the Senate didn’t stop Leia from fighting the good fight, though. As the climax of Bloodline revealed, Leia in fact established the Resistance – the band of rebels seen in The Force Awakens – as a way of combating corruption and evil-doing in the galaxy. And it all began in an empty hangar bay.
12. Ben Solo gave in to the dark side
As those who have seen The Last Jedi already know, Luke’s training of Ben Solo did not end well. In fact, Luke sensed that Ben would grow powerful and fall to the dark side. That led him to consider killing the boy. Ben was understandably upset about this development – and he subsequently burned down the Jedi Temple before going on to take the name of Kylo Ren.
11. Luke fled into exile
At the beginning of The Last Jedi, then, Rey found Luke living a reclusive life far from civilization on the planet Ahch-To. Luke had opted for this drastic lifestyle change after Ben’s fall to the dark side. This had apparently proved to him that the need for the Jedi had passed. And until Rey’s arrival, he seemingly had no interest in changing his mind.
10. Han and Leia split
So we know that Han and Leia got married and had a baby after Return of the Jedi. How come, then, they’re not living happily ever after during the events of The Force Awakens? Well, as hinted at in Empire’s End, it seems that Han struggled to settle into their new-found domestic setup. Indeed, the rogue simply wanted to keep on pursuing adventure.
9. R2-D2 shut down
The human characters of the Star Wars universe weren’t the only ones to fall on hard times, mind you. R2-D2, for one, seemingly sunk into a depression in the years before The Force Awakens. In fact, according to C-3PO (Anthony Daniels), the astromech droid became unresponsive after the departure of previous owner Luke.
8. Maz found Luke’s old lightsaber
Maz Kanata (Lupita Nyong’o) gave Luke’s lightsaber to Rey during The Force Awakens. But it’s never really explained just how Maz came into possession of the weapon in the first place. One theory is that Maz simply acquired it through her various shady friends. Another is that Lando salvaged it from Cloud City and passed it on to her.
7. Poe joined the Resistance
In Greg Rucka’s novel Star Wars: Before the Awakening, Poe Dameron is first shown as a pilot for the New Republic. But when Poe realized that his supervisors wouldn’t consider the emerging danger of the First Order, he walked out. The character, played by Oscar Isaac in the films, then joined Leia’s Resistance instead.
6. Kylo Ren gained possession of Darth Vader’s helmet
Delilah S. Dawson may have also shone a light on another detail in The Force Awakens. In her short story, Star Wars: The Perfect Weapon, a mercenary attempted to hunt down a mysterious package for an unknown buyer. And while the contents of the package remained under wraps, a theory has emerged among Star Wars fans. They apparently believe that it was Darth Vader’s helmet – which eventually came into Kylo Ren’s possession.
5. C-3PO picked up his red arm
C-3PO has a red arm in The Force Awakens – yet no explanation for this is given to the audience. Fortunately, then, the comic book series Star Wars: C-3PO cleared things up. As it turned out, everybody’s favorite protocol droid started wearing the crimson arm to honor a robot friend who’d sacrificed itself for Threepio.
4. The Millennium Falcon was stolen
When Han Solo and Chewbacca arrived on the Millennium Falcon in The Force Awakens, it was an iconic moment. But how exactly did our heroes lose possession of the ship? Well, it seems that the Falcon had been taken from them by someone called Ducain. The legendary ship then swapped hands on three more occasions.
3. Snoke became the big bad
Supreme Leader Snoke (Andy Serkis) rules over the First Order in The Force Awakens and most of The Last Jedi. But the makers of both movies failed to fill viewers in on any of Snoke’s backstory. What we do know, however, is that Snoke was the driving force behind transforming the Empire into the First Order.
2. The First Order discovered the existence of a map leading to Luke
The Force Awakens opened with the First Order trying to get their hands on a map. This was in the hope that it would lead them to the exiled Luke Skywalker. And as referenced in the film, the First Order originally happened upon this information in the archives of the Empire. But their map was only partially complete…
1. Poe set out to find the map too
The other portion of the map, you see, was being held by Lor San Tekka – a friend of the Resistance. Played by Max Von Sydow, the character met his demise at the start of Episode VII. But this was not before he gave his part of the map to the good guys – or, more specifically, to Poe. And so the new sequel trilogy set into motion…