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Everything That Happened Between The Star Wars Original Trilogy And The Sequel Trilogy

Updated February 11, 2021 1.6m views15 items

The latest Star Wars movie is seemingly always right around the corner. Which means it's time to focus on what you need to know before seeing The Rise of Skywalker, especially since fan theories will only take you so far. What exactly constitutes as Star Wars canon changed dramatically in 2012 after Disney purchased the rights to the film franchise. All but the existing films and television shows were effectively purged, deeming everything else as unofficial sources in the Star Wars Extended Universe, classifying these "unofficial" sources as Star Wars Legends. 

That left a whole lot of unexplained stretches in the overall Star Wars timeline, most notably in the roughly three decades between the conclusion of Return of the Jedi and the start of The Force Awakens. All of this can be very confusing, especially as the Star Wars universe expands further and further with more spinoffs in the works.

It's hard enough to remember all the movies' characters and plot lines, let alone read and play all the comics, books, and games. But the 30-odd years between Return of the Jedi and The Force Awakens was not a vast empty space, and there is much we can glean from the new continuity to prep for Episode IX, not to mention to add to one's understanding of The Force Awakens and The last Jedi. Here are the essential details of the Star Wars timeline and the history of the Jedi to enhance any viewing of Star Wars movies.

  • Mon Mothma Is Elected As Chancellor In The New Galactic Senate

    Photo: Return of the Jedi / Disney

    According to the Aftermath novels, the Galactic Senate is set up almost immediately after the formation of the New Republic. Mon Mothma, who masterminded much of the Rebellion, was quickly elected as leader. In a break from tradition she chooses to locate the senate to the planet of Chandrila and to reduce the size of the armed forces under her control in order to stop war from escalating further. Mon Mothma also discards the emergency wartime powers that Palpatine had put into place when he seized power, choosing to serve as Chancellor of the Republic with the amount of authority the position was always meant to have.

  • Han Solo And Chewbacca Free The Wookiee Homeworld From Imperial Rule

    Photo: A New Hope / Disney

    Several months after the battle of Endor, in 5 ABY, Han Solo and Chewbacca act on intelligence that Imperial forces are set to reduce Wookiee numbers on Kashyyyk. This turns out to be a trap to lure the pair to the Wookiee homeworld. However, the smugglers are eventually able to escape from the Empire’s forces and then organize an underground resistance with the rest of Chewie’s species. In the end of Aftermath: Life Debt they finally free the Wookiees from their inhibitor chips and lead them in overthrowing the remaining Imperials on the planet.

  • Peace Talks Break Down And The Battle Of Jakku Begins

    Photo: The Force Awakens / Disney

    Although conflict between the New Republic and the Galactic Empire continue long into 5 ABY, negotiations at the time are in progress to try to end the civil war. When these peace talks break down, the Imperial forces concentrate much of their power on Jakku. Star Wars Battlefront and Battlefront II both show how Fleet Admiral Gallius Rax takes control of the Empire’s military and moves it to the planet in order to make a last stand. Thanks to a number of decisive victories for the New Republic in the previous year, they are able to destroy much of the enemy ships and win the battle. Fighting continues in the sector for a few weeks and months afterwards but it proves to be a pivotal moment in the civil war.

  • Negotiations Finally End The Galactic Civil War

    Within a month of the battle of Jakku, Grand Vizier Mas Amedda takes nominal control of the Empire and sues for peace with the New Republic. Mon Mothma is able to implement a peace treaty that dissolves the Imperial government, cedes control of many of its planets, and limits the Imperial military to certain areas within the Inner Rim. This effectively marks the end of the civil war and, according to Aftermath: Empire's End, stops open hostilities between the two competing forces.