Earlier this month, Lucasfilm’s Leland Chee tweeted out a timeline of the Star Wars movies and TV shows.
This was originally mistaken for the in-universe dating system as well, but Chee clarified that Lucasfilm will still continue to use A New Hope (or rather, the Battle of Yavin) as year 0, the BBY/ABY dating system we’re all
resigned used to. So the timeline stands at so:
- The Phantom Menace is 10 years before Attack of the Clones, 32 years before A New Hope.
- Attack of the Clones is 10 years after TPM, 22 years before ANH.
- The Clone Wars span 3 years, from 22 to 19 before ANH. (Chee has previously tweeted the cartoon’s internal timeline order.)
- Revenge of the Sith – the beginning of the Empire, the birth of Luke and Leia – is set 13 years after TPM, 19 years before ANH.
- The prequel trilogy spans 13 years.
- Rebels – the only open-ended item on this list – begins 27 years after TPM, 14 years after ROTS and 5 years before ANH.
- A New Hope begins 32 years after TPM, 19 years after ROTS.
- The Empire Strikes Back begins 3 years after ANH. Luke, Leia and the Empire are 22.
- Return of the Jedi begins a year after ESB, 36 years after TPM.
- The original trilogy spans only 4 years.
Much of this we already knew – or assumed – but it’s good to have everything nailed down for our new era.
I’ve never been much a fan of the BBY/ABY dating system, as from an in-universe perspective it makes no sense. Why some random battle? Yes, it put the Rebellion on the map and made them a real threat, but as Year 0? Before the Legends hammer fell I’d have argued for ROTJ as 0, but in our current environment the best case is probably for ROTS and the founding of the Empire.
Of course, from the outside, it makes perfect sense: ANH is what actually began this whole thing. And, after all, the western world’s dating system is based on the birth of a religious figure, so maybe it’s just silly to argue the point re: fiction at all. (Okay, it’s totally silly to argue about fictional dates, which is why I’m not actually arguing.)
In any case, BBY/ABY is well established, so this does make us have to do slightly less math. (I always root for ‘less math,’ thus my previous desire to use ROTJ as 0.)
To throw another wrench in the gears, per Star Wars Underworld:
It’s also worth noting that the Star Wars Rebels Visual Guide detailed that the planet Lothal, which will be a principal location in the series, has it’s own calendar. The Invasion of Naboo is at 3245 LY (Lothal Year), the Battle of Geonosis at 3255 LY, and so on. It appears even individual planets will have their own calendars now.
So that’s going to be fun – but a very handy way to explain inaccuracies. (Would Luke and Leia ever realize they shared a birthdate if they each primarily thought of their own in Alderaan and Tatooine dates?) As for the sequel trilogy, the number we’ve heard so far is about 30 years after Return of the Jedi – which would make it 66 years after TPM, 53 years after ROTS and 34 years after ANH. But until Lucasfilm and Chee are ready to reveal the exacts – which could actually be 31, 32, 33 or even 35 years – we’ll stick with the approximation.