The Star Wars universe was meticulously planned out by George Lucas before A New Hope even graced our screens, so there was no need for a single Star Wars retcon. Lucas looked out into time and space and decided he'd make three films, wait 20 years, make three more, receive backlash, sell for a billion dollars, and then have two directors fight over the vision of the final trilogy. And you know what? It all worked exactly as planned.
Okay, fine, maybe the vision wasn't fully fleshed out from day one, and there have been one or two or 15+ retcons over the years. Among the retcons, there are, of course, the CGI changes George Lucas made throughout the years, the necessary recasting for prequel films, and the complete abandoning of the old Expanded Universe canon. With that said, this list will focus exclusively on the times the films themselves have contradicted and retconned one another, including all of the Disney retcons with the introduction of its sequel trilogy.
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Palpatine Has Actually Been Alive This Whole TimePhoto: The Rise of Skywalker / Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures
It was all part of a master plan. Show Palpatine's demise during the climax of the series, completing the character arc of one of the main characters, and then totally deprive it of all meaning by bringing him back in the final episode.
There's no debating whether or not Palpatine being alive the whole time was a retcon. J.J. Abrams confirmed that they came up with that idea while writing The Rise of Skywalker.Blatant retcon?
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Snoke Was Palpatine The Whole TimePhoto: The Last Jedi / Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures
Look, there's simply no way Palpatine was always meant to be in the sequel trilogy. J.J. Abrams didn't originally plan for Snoke to be controlled by Palpatine, and he most likely didn't even want Rian Johnson to get rid of Snoke.
It was only after Abrams returned for The Rise of Skywalker that he decided to end the trilogy by bringing out some big guns, and returning Palpatine to his throne (or his giant metal arms).Blatant retcon?
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Rey's Parentage Is ImportantPhoto: The Force Awakens / Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures
When planning a movie trilogy, it's always a good idea to have one director make the first movie, a different director make the second, and then have the first director come back for the third movie and change everything done in the second film.
In The Force Awakens, the question of Rey's lineage is posed. Who are they? Are they special? Are they characters the audience already knows?
The release of The Last Jedi, directed by Rian Johnson, answered the question with a definitive, "They're no one special." Regardless of whether or not you were a fan of that decision, it was an interesting answer and took Star Wars, a franchise known for its lineage of "Skywalkers" in a new direction.
Then, The Rise of Skywalker came out, and never mind, Rey's grandpa is Palpatine.Blatant retcon?
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Darth Vader Doesn't Recognize C-3PO, Even Though He Built HimPhoto: The Phantom Menace / 20th Century Fox
If you were to create a robot as a child and then spend a decade training to be a Jedi and fighting alongside that robot, you'd probably recognize it if you saw it again in about 15 years.
The only reason you wouldn't recognize said robot is if you're a character in a film series who was retconned to have created another character in a film series so that you can all be shoehorned back together for the sake of a prequel trilogy. If that's the case, then it's entirely reasonable you wouldn't recognize your snarky droid creation.Blatant retcon?