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"Retcon is retroactive continuity—the science of making stuff fit and getting better stories out of it."
Karen Traviss[src]

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

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  • 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.
  • In Episode V, Ben Kenobi's assertion that Luke was the last hope[9] 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,[10] though in Episode III Padmé died soon after giving birth to them.

Expanded UniverseEdit

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  • 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 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 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 his 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 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.

See alsoEdit

Notes and referencesEdit

  1. 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."
  2. Kenobi's student who was not Darth Vader was said to have worn Luke's lightsaber.
  3. Darth Vader: "No. I am your father."
  4. Novotny, Ben (2013-04-06). Luke, I was not your original father. Retrieved on April 18, 2013.
  5. Vilmur, Pete (2011-01-11). Another 1978 Father Spoiler Discovered. Retrieved on April 18, 2013.
  6. Retcon debate on Wikipedia. Retrieved on April 18, 2013.
  7. Evidence that Star Wars wasn't initially planned as 6 movies? (2002-12-23). Retrieved on April 18, 2013.
  8. 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.
  9. Ben: "That boy is our last hope." Yoda: "No. There is another."
  10. Leia: "She was very beautiful. Kind, but...sad."

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