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15 Times The 'Star Wars' Films Blatantly Retconned Themselves

Updated February 11, 2021 1.1k votes 124 voters 5.4k views16 items

List RulesVote up the most glaring examples of 'Star Wars' retconning itself.

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. 

  • 1

    Palpatine Has Actually Been Alive This Whole Time

    Photo: 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?
  • 2

    Rey's Parentage Is Important

    Photo: 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?
  • 3

    Luke And Leia Kiss

    Photo: The Empire Strikes Back / 20th Century Fox

    Sometimes a retcon is as simple as refusing to acknowledge that something ever happened. 

    The first Star Wars movie is a classic example of a hero's tale, and in that story framing, it seems natural that Luke and Leia would end up together. They even have a romantic moment, a slight kiss, as Luke swings her across the Death Star ravine to safety. 

    Then, in The Empire Strikes Back, the siblings kiss a second time. This time it's more apparent that the kiss only happens to make Han jealous, but Luke sure seems to enjoy it. It seems clear at this point that George Lucas didn't intend the two to be siblings - because if he did, why have them kiss at all? The best-case scenario is honestly that their siblinghood was a retcon, because otherwise, yikes. 

    There's even a deleted scene from The Empire Strikes Back where the siblings almost kiss but are interrupted. Because, let's face it, just like the f-bomb, more than one kiss between siblings in a family-friendly movie would be overboard! 

    Blatant retcon?
  • 4

    Snoke Was Palpatine The Whole Time

    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?