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With Star Wars: The Last Jedi fast approaching, it is clear that the Star Wars universe will be expanding and growing in the next years to come. However, for many growing up in the 80s and 90s in the aftermath of Return of the Jedi, the future of the Galaxy Far, Far Away looked far less than glamorous.
The trilogy had ended. Gone were Luke, Leia, and Han. Gone was the Empire. Gone was Vader. Sure, the original films became staples, but fans needed more.
Enter the Expanded Universe, where fans got what they wanted. More adventures. More ships. More aliens. Now, the adventure of the Millenium Falcon's crew became part of a bigger universe, with plenty of players behind the scenes.
But, with so many creative minds behind the series, a few things became kinda... weird. Not bad, necessarily, but weird. Star Wars Legends canon is a vast, complicated beast, and, for every high and every low, there are just plain odd stories that even die-hard Star Wars fans might not know about.
Did you know Bea Arthur was in Star Wars? Well, if you watched the Star Wars Holiday Special you would.
Wait, where are you going? Come back – !
The Holiday Special sucks. This isn't a radical statement. Everyone knows it to be true. There's no debate there. George Lucas himself feels personally ashamed of it. The late Carrie Fisher stated it took lots of alcohol and cocaine to even get through filming it. And Harrison Ford won't even acknowledge its existence.
But, for many fans, two scenes in this boring special stand out. First off is the animated segment, which saw the first appearance of Boba Fett. The second is an odd vignette featuring a Tatooine Cantina, with Bea Arthur as a night-time bartender who has to close up shop for the night early because the Empire set a curfew following the Battle of Yavin.
Odd, yes, but things got a little odder once Bea Arthur starts up a song number to get everyone to leave.
And this is oddly enough possibly the best part of the Holiday Special because there's actually a plot, conflict, and understandable stuff happening.
But they brought Ackmena back for another story.
In Fate of the Jedi: Allies, we learn that Ackmena started up a successful singing career following her random song and dance number, and has become something of a rebel sympathizer in her own right. And it's actually kind of sweet. Some writer, somewhere, managed to salvage something from this God-forsaken special... other than Boba Fett.
Star Wars lore often elaborates on tons of details that the casual fan might find at best vaguely interesting and at worst entirely worthless, but one thing that has never been explained in all this time, with all the writers to come and go, is this: what is the name of Yoda's species.
Hell, until The Phantom Menace, we never even had another member of Yoda's species to see. It's okay if you forgot. I try to forget Phantom Menace too. Still, it's the only other time we see an alien of Yoda's race. Where is this alien?
Enter Yaddle. Yaddle is another Jedi on the Council. You put a wig on Yoda, you get Yaddle. It isn't even that creative of a design. Apparently, it was a rejected alternate design for a younger Yoda. Apparently, in the 30-something years between Phantom and Empire, some concept artist thought Yoda would lose a full head of brown hair.
Yaddle is a four-hundred year alien Jedi who trained padawans in her days on the council. She went on a few adventures depicted in various comic books, but her final mission happened when she, Obi-Wan, and then-padawan Anakin went to the planet Mawan, a lawless system under attack by a villain known as Granta Omega. Granta's basically an anti-Jedi (Jedi Quest: The Shadow Trap).
So Granta unleashes a chemical weapon he hoped would kill a ton of Jedi, including Yoda himself. Of course, as Obi-Wan is fighting Granta, Yaddle uses the force to take the chemical weapon into herself, dying so the rest of the Jedi, in particular Anakin, can live to see another day.
Now, to be fair, it isn't odd that a Jedi Master featured in a story, especially one where the main antagonist is out to kill Jedi. The weird thing is that Yaddle appeared in this story, featured prominently... and we still never even learned what her race is called! It wouldn't even be hard. Feahahle. I literally just punched a few random keys on the keyboard, but it already looks more dignified than just saying "Yoda's Species."
What's weirder than an over-developed minor character? An off-shoot of an over-developed minor character.
What's weirder than that? When their plan is legitimately awesome, but only manages to piss off the Emperor a little.
IG-88 is one of the bounty hunters Darth Vader assembled in Empire to track down Darth Vader. Thanks to spin-off material like Shadows of the Empire, IG-88 has become something of a fan favorite among Expanded Universe fans. He's an expanded character done right. We know in film canon that IG-88 is a bad-ass bounty-hunter capable of standing along the ranks of Boba Fett. So we know, in turn, that IG-88 must be pretty powerful and skilled.
But what most fans don't realize is that IG-88's full title is actually IG-88B. He is one of four IG-88 units.
So, what about IG-88A? Well, turns out the leader of this quartet is a bit of a maniacal bastard. When IG-88A's creator realized that he had just crafted a kill-bot with the personality of Skynet, IG killed him. Then, he activated the other IG-88 units, linking their mind into some sort of hive-mind collective.
His mission? Aid machines in becoming the dominant species in the galaxy.
Now, he had many plans for this, but all those went out the window when the second Death Star began production. IG-88A determined that, if he hijacked the Death Star's computer banks, he could send out a signal that would help him take over the minds of countless robots across the world.
So, in Kevin J. Anderson's short story "Therefore I Am," he does.
So you're probably thinking to yourself "Holy crap, that sounds awesome!" Your second thought is "Wait, why didn't any of this play into the main movie?"
Simply put, Lando Calrissian blew up the Death Star before IG-88A could do anything cool. While IG-88A would later return after being dead for 20 years (because of course he did), he would never manage to live up to his potential as a rogue AI that hijacked the Death Star. And, instead of ever seeing that Star Wars/Terminator crossover I never realized I wanted so much, we instead got left with IG-88B.
Sure, IG-88 is a badass... but somehow his spin-off character outshone him!
One thing that struck me as odd whenever I watched Return of the Jedi as a kid was what happened after Luke kills the Rancor. There's that random guy who starts crying over the Rancor, and has to be comforted by someone else at Jabba's palace. That guy is one of the best examples of a background character. Immediately, I wanted to know what was going on with him. Was the Rancor his pet or something?
Thankfully, someone else also wondered that same thing, and that someone happened to be a writer for the Star Wars Legends canon.
Malakili was a slave purchased by Jabba whose job it was to take care of all of the Hutt's beasties. However, while taking care of them, he became particularly fond of the Rancor, who saved his life from Tusken Raiders at some point in the past. He planned on breaking out with the Rancor, which, already, sounds like an insanely cool thing to see.
Imagine that! That guy riding on the back of the Rancor through the desert, slaying Tusken Raiders and bounty hunters alike? Well, sadly, that cool concept will never happen. Because Luke killed the Rancor.
Malakili, after surviving Jabba's fall (he stayed at the base while Jabba blew up in his mobile home), considered throwing himself into the Sarlaac Pit after that, but ended up traveling further into the dessert. After a few misadventures with crime lords and the like, Malakili ran into Jabba's head chef, and the two opened up a restaurant together in Mos Eisley.
Okay, but ready for the crazy part about all this? That's still canon. Yeah! Disney liked this character so much, that, save for a few details, Malakili's entire life story remains, for the most part, unchanged in the new Star Wars Canon, having been established in the Star Wars: Aftermath series. How about that?
In the hierarchy of weird, random characters who do not deserve an elaborate history, Willrow Hood ranks pretty high. You don't remember Hood? Well, you've seen Empire Strikes Back, right? Remember when Lando is telling the people of Cloud City to escape? Well, there's one random guy running around on screen with what looks like an ice cream maker under his arm. Or maybe an air tank. Or something unimportant –
Point is this character is another extra given an elaborate backstory. Buckle up for this one.
By compiling various trivia facts from Star Wars trading cards and an online series called "What's the Story," all canon at the time, we paint a picture of Willrow's life.
So Willrow, thankfully, was not alive for 400 years, so does not have hunreds of years' worth of experiments. However, there is one major question that writers decided needed an answer: Just what the hell is Willrow carrying?
Turns out, it's a memory bank.
Next question: what's in it?
So Cloud City, it turns out, did have ties to the Rebellion. Lando was selling them discount Tibanna Gas from the mining facilities on Cloud City. For those who care, Tibanna is a rare element found in the gases of Bespin (where Cloud City is located) that is used as a hyperdrive coolant or heating system.
So, in order to sell this gas, Cloud City had tons of Rebel contacts.
So Willrow was the guy in charge of managing all that Rebellion selling stuff, so, in order to save both his own skin and the Rebel's, took the hard drive containing all the Rebels' contact info, and ran with it, and did the only sensible thing he could: dumped that sucker in the trash.
When the Empire found him, he revealed nothing. Even under torture, the guy held his tongue.
As if that wasn't enough, Willrow would later work with some disgruntled Empire people to transmit information on the Empire's strategic position on Bespin to the Rebel Alliance, thus aiding in its overall defeat.
I admit, though it is random, I kind of like this story. It's weird, sure, but it elaborates on a seemingly unimportant detail in a way that elaborates the lore in a neat, simple way. Willrow isn't a savior, nor is he a hero or anything like that. He's just some employee doing his job, and sticking his nose out for the right thing. His accomplishments are small, but they do contribute something big. He's the typical 9-to-5 guy who does a cool thing. Good on ya.
Trust me. You will be begging for humble characters like Willrow once the bad writing comes in.
I admit, I still have almost no idea who Aurra Sing is. I've seen pictures of her in the Pod Race scene in Phantom Menace, seen fan art of her, yet I still have no clue why anyone latched onto this character like they did.
Aurra Sing started life as a nameless background character watching Anakin's race. So, naturally, like all cool-looking characters, someone wrote a story about her.
Take takes place decades after Return of the Jedi.
Because, naturally, it makes sense to incorporate a character from the prequel era toward the opposite end of the timeline. Logically. Makes absolute sense.
So the canon incorporates this fairly old character into the whole Jacen Solo arc. You know, where Han Solo's son becomes a Sith? No, not Kylo Ren. Darth Caedeus. She gets killed pretty anti-climactically after taking Han and Leia prisoner... then helping them escape. Kinda.
But her real claim to fame? The Clone Wars series. She takes orphaned Boba Fett under her wing in this series, and helps train him into the bad-ass, silent bounty hunter who first appeared in the original trilogy.
So yes. A background character – one who appeared so briefly she barely registered in your mind – has met Darth Vader, Boba Fett, Han Solo, and Princess Leia, and played integral roles in all of their lives – except, of course, during her only live-action appearance.
The early days of the Expanded Universe were... weird. Writers did not take the expanded canon all that seriously. That's clear, seeing as how the most prominent elements of the Star Wars Legends Canon prior to Timothy Zahn's Thrawn Trilogy were Splinter of the Mind's Eye, the Droids and Ewoks cartoons, a couple Ewoke film movies, and that goddamn Holiday Special.
So Marvel Comics (yes, the guys now owned by Disney like LucasFilms) put out an Ewoks comic that ran for about 14 issues. With an annual. As you can imagine, it wasn't very good.
But it was a cornucopia of weirdness. It read like a Care Bear/My Little Pony acid trip. But perhaps the weirdest thing about the series was Mount Sorrow, which only appeared in the seventh issue.
Thought the Forest Moon of Endor was a forest all over? Well, no! No it isn't. There is snow on the moon from time to time. Especially around Mount Sorrow.
This sentient mountain is perpetually crying. This mountain's crippling depression, however, is seen as a good thing, as the mountain's tears can heal any ailment. Think Pokemon tears from the Pokemon the First Movie.
So when one furball is cursed with a dreadful enchantment that makes him prank his friends, the other Ewoks drag him to the Mountain to heal. But Mount Sorrow doesn't feel like crying today, and, instead, decides to blow the Ewoks.
.... a mountain.
Okay, so eventually Mount Sorrow helps them out, but that doesn't make this story any less weird. Never again, however, do we ever know if there are other mountains like this in the universe. Is it alive thanks to the Force? Do these things reproduce? Honestly, anything Ewoks back in the 80s broke all sense of canon completely.
In one live-action movie, the Ewoks talk. English.
When Marvel bought the rights to publish Star Wars comics back in the 70s and 80s, they didn't really grasp the full magnitude of what Star Wars would end up becoming. While their comics became the foundation of the greater Star Wars Legends Canon, many of their decisions clashed stylistically with the rest of the canon.
Like Jaxxon. A kickboxing bunny bounty hunter.
So Jaxxon is what happens when you give the guys who made Rocket Raccoon the keys to a Galaxy Far, Far Away. Jaxxon is a member of an alien race named the Lepi (get it? As in Lepus?). As one of 13 children (I guess his parents bred like rabbits, right?), he was always surrounded by chaos. But he was the most rambunctious of them all.
It makes sense that he'd become part of a bounty hunter force. After accepting a mission from Han Solo himself, Jaxxon became a member of the group the Star-Hoppers. They traversed the galaxy, doing incredible things for money... so yes, just like the Guardians of the Galaxy from Marvel Comics.
But it isn't like Star Wars.
If you take away the fact that Jaxxon is a giant green bunny, he becomes easier to digest. He's a bounty hunter. Works with Han Solo. Always lurks on the outskirts of the plot without ever interfering directly withe the Rebellion. He's just an outlier in a greater story. Local flavor. The equivilant of flavor text in a video game.
But then you read an old Marvel Star Wars comic, and see Han Solo standing next to a Looney Tunes knockoff.
Jaxxon may not be the worst character in the Legends canon, but he's sure as hell the most out-of-place.
No, that's not a typo. I didn't misspell that. It really is spelled Luuke Skywalker.
The Thrawn trilogy is often regarded as a high point in the Star Wars Legends canon. Timothy Zahn, in many ways, brought the expanded universe from merely a novelty to something that could be taken seriously as science fiction literature.
In three books (Heir to the Empire, Dark Force Rising, and The Last Command), Arch-Admiral Thrawn recruits a Jedi clone named Joruus C'baoth to aid him in the battle against the rebels. Now, Joruus believes himself to be an original Jedi. But, as Thrawn understands, clones created from this certain process have trouble with speaking the letter "u," so the sound is dragged out longer. Hence why Joruus's name is Joruus, and not simply Jorus, like the original Jedi.
That's the only reason why Luuke's name is spelled "Luuke." Zahn had to tell the clone apart from the original somehow.
But how is Luke cloned, you may ask? Well, remember how Vader cut Luke's hand off in Cloud City? Well, Thrawn found it. Yup. He found Luke's rotting hand, saved it, and gave it to Joruus to clone Luke.
Of course, Luuke causes Luke and friends trouble until Mara Jade, the Hand of the Empire (another great Legends character) goes and kills the man by sneaking up behind him while he was fighting Luke, and shank the guy in the back with a lightsaber.
But of course, in the tradition of taking an already silly thing and making it sillier, Luuke was cloned. Guess what his name is. Go ahead.
It's Luuuke. Luuuke Skywalker. Now, before you ask why this character didn't make it on the list, it's only because Luuuke Skywalker only appeared in online short story... published on April Fools Day. Timothy Zahn wrote the short story, which tells us that even he knew this idea was incredibly silly.
I previously wrote an article about the characters Han Solo met in Star Wars Legends Canon, and, in this, expressed disbelief at the sheer existence of the most Mary Sue-est Star Wars Legends characters ever – no, not Dash Rendar. BoShek. Don't remember BoShek? He talked to Obi-Wan for a little bit before Obi-Wan went off to chat up Chewbacca. This guy is so unimportant that his actor went uncredited.
But, of course, he gets a backstory. And it reads like every twelve-year-old's first fanfiction.
So BoShek is this really awesome dude who was friends with Han Solo, going as far as to beat Solo's run on the Kessel Run. He also had a debt to pay off to the evil Prince Xisor (an original character for The Shadows of the Empire storyline). In essence, he's a Han Solo clone, only slightly balding and kinda lame looking.
But not only is this guy who appeared in a few frames of A New Hope even cooler than Han Solo, but he's also force sensitive. Yup, in a time following the near-complete eradication of the Jedi, BoShek learns how to use the Force.
Writers from the Expanded Universe spent years forcing BoShek into the story, as if to say "Yeah, that guy? He's been here this whole time doing things. He's cool. Trust us. Story couldn't have gone smoothly without BoShek there to bail our heroes out of trouble!"
I'll be blunt: BoShek is absurd. He is the ultimate example of a boring Mary Sue, wish-fulfillment character whose only traits are face-lifted from other, better-written characters. He is a joke.
The new canon hasn't even attempted to embellish anything about him, and the universe has not even rippled without his presence. And this is a new canon where, if you count his ship being added into A New Hope, Dash Rendar is still canon.
"C-3PO is the most bad-ass Star Wars character!" said no one ever.
Of course, C-3PO is intended to be the comic relief. He's an important presence throughout the series, but not as a combatant. Without his abilities as a translator, the Rebellion would have failed before the Battle of Endor even started. He's an integral part to the series.
As a non-combatant.
But one of the Star Wars Legends writers decided to "fix" that by creating an evil version of C-3PO that's reprogrammed to be a "good guy."
No, not K-2SO.
C-3PX is what happens if you take C-3PO, and just dump machine guns on him. And yes, he has a long and storied history in the Legends canon. He was used by Darth Maul (yes, that Darth Maul) to be an assassin robot. Outfitted with weapons, this golden looking humanoid was supposed to be the perfect assassin. A perfect assassin with thin metal armor and tons of wires exposed.
You see, C-3PO logically isn't built to survive a fight because he isn't designed to fight. Compare C-3PO to K-2SO. One is layered in armor, flexible, and powerful... and the other huddles everywhere, unable to move his arms right.
However, the Republic would reprogram C-3PX to perform the role someone of his design should have been utilized for the entire time: spying. Recon. Sneak into enemy basis as the apparently innocent robot, and gather information!
But writers thought this was too clever, so once the Empire started up, C-3PX was an assassin droid again. With bazookas.
Oh, but here's the best part: between Revenge of the Sith and A New Hope, C-3PX met C-3PO and R2-D2 multiple times... and lost. Yes. Greatest assassin droid in the world, everyone! Beaten by a tin-can and C-3PO.
R5-D4, the Force Sensitive Droid
Star Wars Legends canon had a weird tendency to expand upon characters who really had no role in the saga. They appeared in one scene – maybe one shot – yet a writer would give them either a comic book or short story to expand their entire life story.
Nowhere is this odder than in the case of R5-D4. You remember him, don't you? Remember A New Hope? That droid that Luke bought with C3PO? Now, you may be thinking, "You mean R2-D2? He bought R2-D2 with C3PO from the Jawas." Ah, but you forget that R2-D2 was not the first R2-Unit Luke bought, but the second. He bought that one red droid first, that blew its top because he had "a bad motivator."
Now, watching the movie, you probably just figured, "Oh, the droid was kept in poor conditions by the Jawas." That's the logical assumption. Just good luck that the droid blew up.
But no. To quote Obi-Wan "In my experience, there's no such thing as coincidence."
In the short comic story "Skippy the Jedi Droid," we learn that, before being Jawa sloppy seconds, R5 was a serving droid at Jabba's palace, serving drinks to the likes of Boba Fett and the Max Rebo band. But unbeknownst to everyone, R5 actually possesses force powers!
And, after escaping Jabba's palace using force suggestion (people got upset when Rey used force suggestion, but not a droid?), R5 sees a vision of the future, and foresees an alternate future where R2-D2 never relays his message about Princess Leia, which leads to Leia's death and the Rebellion's defeat.
So he nobly self-destructs so Luke can forget all about him in favor of R2-D2.
I'd like to point out, of course, that R5-D4 has a more elaborate backstory in the canon of the series than TR8R, Captain Phasma, and even K-2SO. Yeah.