The acquisition of Lucasfilm by Disney in 2012 eventually brought with it a huge change for Star Wars fans: The dissolution of the Expanded Universe, which had been considered as part of the saga’s vast canon for over two decades. But apparently, it was one EU moment in particular that really convinced Lucasfilm to start all over.
The Expanded Universe was filled with infamous moments that many Star Wars fans were happy to have lost (and plenty whose absence still stings today). Perhaps one of the most controversial came in R.A. Salvatore’s 1999 novel Vector Prime, which saw Chewbacca become the first major movie casualty of the EU when he sacrificed himself to save the youngest son of Han and Leia, Anakin Solo, and... was killed by having a moon dropped on him? Look, it was a whole thing.
But anyway, speaking to Syfy’s Fandom Files podcast about his role at Lucasfilm, Leland Chee—who’s part of the company’s vast story group and is also known as the “Keeper of the Holocron;” he’s one of the definitive archivists of Star Wars canon, both past and present—revealed that it was Chewie’s death in particular that helped kick off the decision to scrap the EU out of continuity altogether ahead of the new movies:
For me it came down to simply that we had killed Chewbacca in the Legends—a big moon had fallen on him. Part of that [original decision] was Chewbacca, because he can’t speak and just speaks in growls, he was a challenging character to write for in novels. Publishing had decided they needed to kill somebody, and it was Chewbacca.
But if you have the opportunity to bring back Chewbacca into a live action film, you’re not gonna deprive fans that. There’s no way that I’d want to do an Episode VII that didn’t have Chewbacca in it and have to explain that Chewbacca had a moon fall on his head. And if we were going to overturn a monumental decision like that, everything else was really just minor in comparison.
And so, the decision was eventually made, and now Star Wars canon is growing once again at a rapid rate, as it not only adds new material in line with the new movies but also recanonizes plenty of elements from the old material. But it turns out death-by-moon proved to be the step that brought us a whole new version of the galaxy far, far away. You can check out Chee’s full interview with Syfy at the link below.