What I really think of the Star Wars Expanded Universe

This article is a prelude to a retrospective of the Knights of the Old Republic game series. The reason I’m writing this is to stop people crying foul when I get round to writing said retrospective.

For those unaware, I’ve been using this website as a platform to rant about the sorry state Star Wars is in at the moment, at least in terms of film and television.  A point I’ve repeatedly brought up in my rantings is that I don’t care about the Star Wars Expanded Universe and don’t know anything about it. This isn’t strictly true.

To say I’ve never sampled anything from the Expanded Universe (or EU) is completely incorrect. It’s pretty much impossible to be a Star Wars fan and not have had some exposed to it. For example, everyone knows what an Ewok is, but those cute little bears are never actually called “Ewoks” in Return of the Jedi. It’s a name people unknowingly picked up from the marketing surrounding the film. To give you a complete list of what I’ve experienced EU-wise, I’ve played the video games Starfighter, Jedi Starfighter, Battlefront, Bounty Hunter, The Force Unleashed and The Old Republic, I read a book when I was quite young called Mark of the Crown (which I barely remember) and I used to read a monthly Star Wars magazine which included comics repackaged from the EU, none of which I remember.


I may give off the impression I hate the EU, but that’s not the case. I hate what the EU’s been used for in recent years. Pretty much every science fiction franchise has an Expanded Universe, it’s unavoidable. But not all Expanded Universes work the same way. Doctor Who and Star Trek have a wealth of books, audio plays and comics that have been written around them, but unlike Star Wars, things that don’t happen onscreen aren’t considered canon. And that’s part of the problem. To my mind, an Expanded Universe should be an optional extra; a chance to experience a little more from a product you really enjoyed. An Expanded Universe should not be a dumping ground for vital information that should have been in the main series.

You want to know what a Sith is? Fine. Just go read Terribly Written Book#25. You want to know the names and personalities of all the nameless Jedi who were gunned down in Revenge of the Sith so you can engage with that scene on an emotional level? Fine. Just go read Obscure Comic No-one Cares About#97. You want to see the cool adventures Obi-Wan talked about him and Anakin having in the elevator scene at the start of Attack of the Clones? Just have a look at the Complete Guide to all the stuff George Lucas should’ve put in the sodding film. That’s my problem with the Star Wars EU.


Another problem is that I don’t like reading books written around a media franchise because in my experience they’re unbelievably badly written and I don’t think they qualify as worthwhile literature. That’s not a definitive statement since I’ve never really read any Star Wars books so there might be some really good ones out there, these are just my thoughts speaking from a position of ignorance.

Video games are the area I’ve had the most experience in, and I think there’s been some really good stuff here. I loved Battlefront, Bounty Hunter, and both the Starfighter games and I thought Knights of the Old Republic (KOTOR) was so good I’ve decided to do the aforementioned retrospective. So I clearly don’t hate the EU. I just think it’s become a bit of a cancer on the Star Wars fanbase. It’s been used to defend three abominable films, and it gave George Lucas licence to be exceptionally lazy when he was writing those films. George Lucas is a bad writer, he admitted it himself. The EU meant he could do as little work as possible and other people could fill in the blanks he left. I’ve got to ask Star Wars fans, is that an attitude you want to support?

Anyway, I didn’t want this to turn into another anti-George Lucas/Prequels rant. Even I’m bored of doing those. This is just a clarifying statement so people’s hackles won’t be raised. Well, won’t be raised too much.

So thanks for reading and enjoy the retrospective (when I get round to writing it).

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