Tonight, The Big Bang Theory celebrates Star Wars Day with a Star Wars-themed episode. But can it begin to measure up to the wealth of funny Star Wars tributes in television, movies, and comics?
Here are our picks for best Star Wars parodies and funny tributes. Post yours in the comments!
TROOPS: Kevin Rubio wrote this pitch-perfect parody of COPS set on Tatooine. It offers a very different explanation for the deaths of Luke's Uncle Owen and Aunt Beru.
Tag & Bink Were Here: After TROOPS, Kevin Rubio got into the official parody business with the Dark Horse Star Wars comics. It turns out that these two minor rebels are the Rozencrantz and Guildenstern of the Star Wars universe, responsible for all sorts of goings-on in the films. They finally answer questions like, "Why didn't Chewy get a medal?" and "How come the Stormtroopers never seem to notice what's going on in the background." All of the Tag and Bink comics are collected in the volume Tag & Bink Were Here.
This isn't Rubio's only goofy Star Wars comic. He would also tell the secret backstory of our the great planet destroyer in "A Death Star is Born." Here is a machinima adaptation of the comic:
R2-D2: Beneath the Dome: This piece of silliness comes straight from Lucasfilm itself, and it's technically not a parody of Star Wars itself but of those actor tribute documentaries. It imagines that R2-D2 was an actual actor with a life and roles before Star Wars, which was, of course, his breakout hit.
The Muppet Show's Star Wars Episode: Even before they were under the same corporate umbrella, the Muppets and Star Wars were closely linked. After all, Jim Henson's frequent collaborator Frank Oz led the creation of and voiced Yoda. Before the release of The Empire Strikes Back, several Star Wars characters visited The Muppet Show—along with Mark Hamill, whom Kermit chases out of the theater for being generally terrible.
The best part was when they hijack the Pigs in Space sketch. Which is only fair since the pigs have skewered Star Wars in the pages of Muppet Magazine:
There was also a goofy video of various Muppets auditioning for the role of Yoda:
Muppet Babies Star Wars: Even the Muppet Babies got in on the action in the episode "Gonzo's Video Show," in which the cartoon kiddos reenact Star Wars with Kermit Skyhopper, Obi-Rowlf Kenobi, Animal Vader, and a giant tomato standing in for the Death Star.
Blue Milk Special by Leanne Hannah and Rod William Hannah: The Hannahs know that there is a wealth of humor to mine in the Star Wars series and they are determined to find it all with their funny webcomic trek through the movies.
Family Guy, "Blue Harvest," "Something, Something, Something, Dark Side," and "It's a Trap!": Family Guy doesn't always make random jokes about 1980s television; sometimes it makes random jokes about Star Wars. When Family Guy's three Lucasfilm-themed episodes aren't making fun of the Emperor's muttering, Stormtroopers' wild incompetence, or the shape of the guns on Hoth, it was taking potshots at Seth Green.
Robot Chicken: Robot Chicken also has a trilogy of Star Wars parodies, but with claymation and toys. It gave us Admiral Ackbar Cereal, what really goes on when Lord Vader calls the Emperor, and Stormtrooper Take Your Daughter to Work Day.
The Adam and Joe Show: Before Robot Chicken, Adam Buxton and Joe Cornish were making their Toymovies, and they loved to take those Star Wars toys out for a goofy spin.
Spaceballs: Mel Brooks' space comedy may be a send up of numerous pieces of science fiction pop culture, but Star Wars is clearly at its heart with its mercenaries Lone Starr and Barf, the Princess Vespa and her golden companion Dot Matrix, the evil (and incompetent) Dark Helmet, and Brooks himself as the wise merchandiser Yogurt. May the Schwartz be with you.
Pinky and the Brain, "Star Warners": The final episode of Pinky and the Brain was a massive Animaniacal tribute to the original Star Wars trilogy. Every character gets in on the action: Yakko, Wakko, and Dot are Han, Luke, and Leia (sans any incest); Slappy the Squirrel is Obi-Won Kenobi, and Brain spends the entire episode in an R2-D2 body, insisting that he isn't a refrigerator. Too bad 3-Pinky's been keeping his snacks in there. Narf!
The Powerpuff Girls, "Boogie Frights": In a brief sequence from The Powerpuff Girls, the ladies need to destroy a Disco Ball that is threatening Townsville. So they try to take it out like a Death Star:
Crayon Shin Chan, "Shin Wars": If you like your Star Wars parodies with a lot of dick jokes (and you've already watched Spaceballs a few dozen times), then Crayon Shin Chan's "Shin Wars" episode is for you. The pottymouthed protagonist is renamed Puke Skypooper, for Darth's sake. If you're in a Hulu-friendly region, you can watch the full episode there. Or you can watch a brief clip below:
Weird Al Yankovic's "The Saga Begins": This music video may be the best thing to come out of The Phantom Menace, a five-and-a-half-minute retelling of Episode I to the turn of "American Pie."
Darths & Droids: In the tradition of DM of the Rings, Darths & Droids is a screencap comic by the Comic Irregulars. It imagines that players have been plopped down in a role-playing game that follows the plots of the Star Wars movies (starting with The Phantom Menace) with no prior knowledge of Star Wars. They're kind of disappointed when they end up with light swords instead of blasters.
Samurai Jack "Jack and the Flying Prince and Princess": Samurai Jack creator Genndy Tartakovsky is responsible for the beautiful 2D-animated Clone Wars show, and Samurai Jack is chock full of Star Wars references. "Jack and the Flying Prince and Princess" is a particularly Star Wars-heavy pastiche, in which a pair of aliens land on the future Earth.
Luke's Change: An Inside Job: Was the destruction of the Death Star really perpetrated by the Rebel Alliance alone? Or was it an inside job? Made in the style of the 9/11 truther series Loose Change, Luke's Change investigates the "real" story behind the Death Star.
That '70s Show: When Star Wars is released in the timeline of That '70s Show, Eric Forman becomes an instant fan, so it makes sense that the show would have a Star Wars fantasy sequence. This one wins points for Red calling Eric a "Jedi dumbass."
FoxTrot by Bill Amend: Thanks to the geeky Jason Fox, Bill Amend has loaded tons of Star Wars jokes into his newspaper comic. In one series of strips, Jason writes a letter to George Lucas asking to be inserted into the original trilogy as Luke Skywalker's little brother. Unlike Luke, however, Jason Skywalker is ready to turn to the Dark Side.
Bloom County by Berkeley Breathed: A long time ago in another newspaper comic, Bloom County's Michael Binkley also dreamed of being in Star Wars. But the really funny part comes when the dream Jedi confronts George Lucas over the possibility of more Star Wars films:
He wasn't far off.
MAD About Star Wars: Over the years, the pop culture mockers at MAD Magazine have taken aim at Star Wars more than a few times. Some of their cheeky retellings of the original trilogy and "Star Wars Playsets You May Have Missed" have crept online, but you can find them collected in a single volume.
The Simpsons, "Mayored to the Mob": When Mark Hamill guest starred on The Simpsons, it was as himself, but a version of himself who cynically traded on his role as Luke Skywalker. He played Nathan Detroit in Guys & Dolls, but strutted about on stage in his Jedi gear and sang "Luck Be a Jedi." Then there was his instruction to Homer:
Jay & Silent Bob Strike Back: Speaking of cynically trading on Mark Hamill's fame, Jay & Silent Bob Strike Back brought Mark Hamill in toward the end, mostly as an excuse for a bong-fueled lightsaber battle:
Up: This is a little one, but Up uses a Star Wars reference to make a cute joke about dogs. The squadron of, ahem, dog fighter pilots checks in just like the Rebel Alliance pilots do, but since they're colorblind, the dogs are "Gray Squadron" instead of red complete with a "Gray Leader."
Toy Story 2: Of course, Up isn't the only Pixar movie to get in on the Star Wars references. Toy Story 2 had its big revelation to Buzz Lightyear, courtesy of Emperor Zerg:
The Venture Bros., "Love Bheits": Rather than doing a straight Star Wars episode, Team Venture spent most of their time in Ünderland in Star Wars costumes. Well, Hank wasn't wearing a Star Wars costume:
It led to some hijinks when Baron Ünderbheit mistook Slave Leia Dean for a Dawn, and Ünderbheit himself got into the fun with some visual references to Darth Vader.
Chad Vader : Day Shift Manager: This webseries is sheer silliness, imagining Vader not as a mighty Sith Lord helping to rule the galaxy but as the day manager at a grocery store.
Futurama, Pretty Much Constantly: Futurama didn't do a Star Wars episode in quite the way it did a Star Trek episode, but the show is filled with references to Star Wars. The Infosphere has a handy list of not just Star Wars references in Futurama, but also Futurama references in Star Wars. In fact, Futurama's Infosphere is one of its multiple Death Stars:
Community, "A Few Paintballs More": Abed would be the first to tell you that the second of the two paintball episodes that ended Community's second season had a Star Wars motif rather than being an actual parody. But it gave Abed an excuse to play Han Solo and the Dean of City College was revealed under the Vader-like dome of an anthropomorphic ice cream cone.
Spaced, A Lot: Okay, Spaced doesn't so much parody Star Wars as it does poke at its every nook and corridor, but we couldn't resist the chance to post Simon Pegg's classic Phantom Menace rant:
Clerks: Thanks to makoto412 for pointing out I missed the classic discussion about contractors on the Death Star: