- "Retcon is retroactive continuity—the science of making stuff fit and getting better stories out of it."
- ―Karen Traviss
Retroactive continuity—commonly contracted to the portmanteau word retcon—refers to deliberately changing previously established facts in a work of serial fiction. The change itself is referred to as a retcon, and the act of writing and publishing a retcon is called "retconning."
When George Lucas re-edited the original Star Wars trilogy, he made changes directly to the source material, rather than introduce new source material that contradicted the contents of previous material. However, the Star Wars prequels qualified as "new source material," and many fans have pointed out instances which apparently retcon elements of the original trilogy.
Star Wars moviesEdit
- In Episode IV, Ben Kenobi told Luke Skywalker that his father was betrayed and murdered by a pupil of his, Darth Vader. Many audience members had no reason to doubt Kenobi's word, including the writer of Marvel's first Star Wars annual, who included a bit of back-story for those two characters in the annual. Episode V reveals Darth Vader to be Luke Skywalker's father Whether or not this was actually a retcon is one of the most hotly debated topics concerning the original trilogy.
- As an extension of this, it is possible that Ben Kenobi's comments in Episode IV about Anakin's lightsaber were retconned. He claims that Luke's father wanted his son to have the lightsaber when he was older, but in Episode III, Kenobi takes Anakin's lightsaber while leaving him on Mustafar. Anakin makes no requests to Kenobi, and is later told that Padmé died at Anakin's hands, leaving him to believe that he had no children. Here it appears that Obi-Wan simply came up with a pleasant fiction. However, this is only implied, as his exact words were that Anakin would have wanted Luke to have it.
- In Episode V, Ben Kenobi's assertion that Luke was the last hope could either mean that he was unaware of Luke's and Leia's relation, or that he did not believe Leia could take Luke's place. In Episode III, he was present when Padmé gave birth to Luke and Leia, and even helped arrange for Bail Organa to adopt Leia.
- In Episode VI, Leia told Luke that she vaguely remembered how her mother looked, though in Episode III Padmé died soon after giving birth to them. The junior novelization tried to reconcile this by saying that Luke's eyes were shut while Leia's eyes focused on Padmé, implying that she remembered her through the Force.
- In Episode IV, Ben Kenobi said the Old Republic had existed for a thousand generations, which Expanded Universe sources interpreted to mean 25,000 years. However, in Episode II, Palpatine said that the Republic was only 1000 years old, so the Ruusan Reformation of 1000 BBY was created to remedy this discrepancy.
- Since Episode IV, the Republic was known to have fought the Clone Wars, and the Expanded Universe (EU) added several other conflicts, such as the Great Sith War; but in Episode II, Sio Bibble stated that "there hasn't been a full-scale war since the formation of the Republic." The above-mentioned Ruusan Reformation also handled this discrepancy.
- The Imperial capital was originally referred to by writers as "Imperial Center"; when Timothy Zahn introduced the name of Coruscant, the name Imperial Center was retconned to be what the Empire designated Coruscant.
- Likewise, the capital city of Coruscant was originally called Imperial City; when Coruscant was determined to be an ecumenopolis, Imperial City was retconned to be the designation of that part of the city as opposed to the planetwide city as a whole (which was renamed Galactic City).
- The Coruscant Uprising, and the brutality with which the Empire suppressed it, retcons the post-Endor celebrations on Coruscant seen in the special edition of Return of the Jedi with the fact that the planet would not be freed from Imperial rule for another two years.
- The name of the Republic's leader was for many years simply the President of the Senate; when the prequels revealed the title to be the Supreme Chancellor, the term "President of the Senate" was retconned to be one of the Chancellor's several official titles (some say that this was the title before the Reformation).
- In the Jedi Prince series, Kadann and the others were trying to steal power away from Ysanne Isard. Isard is never mentioned in the series—in fact, it's frequently implied there is no Imperial leader other than Trioculus—but this retcon was created to fit the series into the established timeline.
- The EU established that Raith Sienar gave Tarkin the designs for the Death Star, and that Bevel Lemelisk developed the superlaser; after Episode II revealed that the Geonosians gave the plans to Tyranus/Sidious, it was retconned that the Geonosians developed the details based on outlines given to them by Sienar and Lemelisk. Indeed, the history of the Death Star has become so convoluted that a novel was created on this topic. The novel was, in effect, one large retcon.
- The show Star Wars: Droids: The Adventures of R2-D2 and C-3PO showed C-3PO and R2-D2 having several adventures in the time between the rise of the Empire and Episode IV; after the release of Episode III showed them to be in the employ of the same people they are with in Episode IV, it has been retconned that the two droids somehow were separated from their owners because of Corla Metonae after Episode III, then returned to them sometime before Episode IV.
- While A-wings are not supposed to exist before the Battle of Yavin, they appear in the Droids series, which happens between the two trilogies. The identical R-22 Spearhead was then "invented" as a predecessor of the A-wing, in order to explain the appearance of such ships in the Droids era.
- The title Darth was supposed to be invented in the period of the New Sith Wars until the game Knights of the Old Republic introduced Darth Revan and Darth Malak, who lived 2,000 years before the beginning of the aforementioned period. It is generally assumed that the title was forgotten sometime between, so the tradition was lost. The first Sith Lord to use the title Darth in the New Sith Wars era also constantly shifted into the past: first it was thought to be Darth Bane, then Darth Revan, and later Darth Ruin.
- Timothy Zahn, in The Thrawn Trilogy, cast the Clone Masters as the opponents of the Galactic Republic in the Clone Wars, as several authors of the '90s considered that the cloners and their clones were the "villains." However, after Attack of the Clones revealed the clones were on the Republic's side, the Clone Masters were retconned into being renegades who did not attack until after the formation of the Empire.
- The Confederacy of Independent Systems' use of Morgukai clones during the Siege of Saleucami, shown in the Star Wars: Republic storyline of the same name, and a young Gilad Pellaeon's presence among the Republic forces, explains Pellaeon's claim in Heir to the Empire (part one of the aforementioned Thrawn trilogy) to have battled unstable clones during the Clone Wars many years before.
- The BBY system used in many sources to represent dates in the Star Wars timeline is itself a retcon. It originated as an out-of-universe dating system and, after becoming popular, was retconned into an in-universe system used by the New Republic, et al.
- According to their first back-story written in the Star Wars Sourcebook, the Mon Calamari and the Quarren had their first contact with offworlders when the Galactic Empire discovered their world. This generated continuity problems when Quarren appeared as background aliens in Episode I, and when the Mon Calamari Padawan Bant Eerin appeared in the Jedi Apprentice series. The idea that the Mon Calamari's conflict with the Empire was their first experience with offworlders was retconned away when they appeared as loyal members of the Galactic Republic in Star Wars: Clone Wars. Geonosis and the Outer Rim Worlds explained these previous references as Imperial propaganda.
- Little Kessel was created for The Essential Atlas to confirm that the lush, idyllic "Kessel" seen in The Second Kessel Run and the "regular" Kessel—a desolate, misshapen world unpleasant enough to serve as an in-universe synonym for Hell—are not the same planet.
- Jaster Mereel was originally supposed to be the real name of Boba Fett. However, when Episode II stated that Boba was a clone of his "father" Jango Fett, Jaster Mereel was retconned into a separate character, Jango's mentor and predecessor as Mandalore. It was stated that Boba took the alias in honor of the real Jaster. It was also stated that there were many rumors concerning Boba Fett's identity due to the fact that most people in the galaxy knew very little about him, with Fett having deliberately spread some of them to throw others off his actual background.
- The rumor mentioned in The History of the Mandalorians that the renegade clone Spar was in fact Jango Fett's son rationalizes Fenn Shysa's claim that, during the Clone Wars, he and the Mandalorian Protectors had served under Boba Fett - who was later shown to have been only 13 at the end of the conflict.
- Stormtroopers during the Galactic Civil War were never indicated to be clones before the prequel films. Additionally, multiple Expanded Universe sources mentioned normal human stormtroopers (such as Davin Felth and Kyle Katarn) and showed the existence of Imperial academies (such as Carida) which trained normal humans as stormtroopers. Large numbers of clones were later retconned into the stormtrooper ranks. (See also Star Wars: Battlefront II, which established that the 501st Legion was the only stormtrooper unit still made up of Jango clones.)
- The Phase Zero dark troopers—aging and wounded Clone Wars veterans essentially turned into cyborgs—explain how, while the Empire's first use of them did not occur until after the Battle of Yavin, the Battlefront games include "dark troopers" in the Imperial arsenal as early as 18 BBY.
- The novel I, Jedi places Corran Horn at the Jedi Praxeum during the events of The Jedi Academy Trilogy, and also fine-tunes some of the events of the trilogy to fit later canon.
- In the Return of the Jedi novelization, Obi-Wan Kenobi said that Owen Lars was his brother, and there is a reference to Obi-Wan's brother Owen in Jedi Apprentice: The Hidden Past. With Attack of the Clones depicting Lars as a completely different character, Owen Kenobi became a retcon.
- The Dark Jedi Jerec wears a blindfold, originally because his eyes were destroyed by the dark side of the Force, not because he was a member of a species that lacked eyes. The New Essential Guide to Characters referred to Jerec as a human and the fact that he once had eyes is mentioned in a voice-over in Star Wars: Jedi Knight: Dark Forces II. However, sources published more recently have retconned him as a member of the eyeless species Miraluka.
- Retcon on Wikipedia
Notes and referencesEdit
- ↑ Ben Kenobi: "A young Jedi named Darth Vader, who was a pupil of mine until he turned to evil, helped the Empire hunt down and destroy the Jedi Knights. He betrayed and murdered your father."
- ↑ Kenobi's student who was not Darth Vader was said to have worn Luke's lightsaber.
- ↑ Darth Vader: "No. I am your father."
- ↑ Novotny, Ben (2013-04-06). Luke, I was not your original father. Retrieved on April 18, 2013.
- ↑ Vilmur, Pete (2011-01-11). Another 1978 Father Spoiler Discovered. Retrieved on April 18, 2013.
- ↑ Retcon debate on Wikipedia. Retrieved on April 18, 2013.
- ↑ Evidence that Star Wars wasn't initially planned as 6 movies? (2002-12-23). Retrieved on April 18, 2013.
- ↑ Did Lucas know Darth was Luke's father in ANH? (http://boards.theforce.net/threads/did-lucas-know-darth-was-lukes-father-in-anh.50009206/). Retrieved on April 18, 2013.
- ↑ Ben: "That boy is our last hope." Yoda: "No. There is another."
- ↑ Leia: "She was very beautiful. Kind, but...sad."