Leland Chee clears up the Star Wars timeline

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.

13 Replies to “Leland Chee clears up the Star Wars timeline”

  1. I’ve always operated on the assumption that Luke and Leia didn’t know their real birthdays.

    1. Well, even if they did know and they were exact (I’m sure Leia at least knows hers in whatever the Galactic Standard is/was,) it’s not really a huge ‘secret twin’ red flag given their vastly different situations. It’s just a weird coincidence.

      1. Yeah, it’d be easy to explain away as a coincidence. I’ve met a surprising amount of people that share my birthday, down to the year, including one of my college roommates.

  2. >>The Phantom Menace is 10 years before Attack of the Clones, 27 years before A New Hope.

    32 years before A New Hope. :-)

    And it would be great if they started measuring time in years before and after the birth of Anakin or Luke. Somewhat creepy, perhaps, but that’s something I would love to see.

    1. Fuck. Did I mess up the math? This is why I don’t do math. Numbers are not my friends, but I thought I was careful.

  3. I can see an attempt by Palpatine to use a year 0 at the founding of the empire, but I doubt that would have lasted after decline of the empire; assuming that still happens. I’d vote for a year that was the birth of the republic, assuming we can get a canon time for when that happened.

  4. I was hoping they’d fit a few extra years in the timeline. More room to fit stories. The Clone Wars really seemed to last more than 3 years on the show, and that was backed up with Dooku’s comment about “all those years ago on Geonosis” in one of the last episodes of Season 6. Not really something I’d say if it had only been 2 or 3 years.

  5. Am I misunderstanding about ANH, but: Isn’t there no such thing as a “year zero?”

    IOW, Jesus was born in year 1, and he turned 1 at the end of that year.

  6. Joy’s right, there is no ‘year 0’ in the real world. It goes from 1 BC (or BCE, if you want to be PC) to AD 1 (or 1 CE, ditto). From a SW perspective, it makes the most sense for Yavin to be the focal year because ANH is when Star Wars begins for us. Also, looking at those numbers make me realize how the prequel character ages just do not work for me. I do not buy ROTJ Darth Vader as a man in his mid-forties, late forties at the oldest.

    1. I’m sure volcanoes and the Dark Side can age a person, but no way was the un-helmeted Vader in his forties.

    1. I’m not sure that’s correct at all. IF Disney has negotiated something, even in conjunction with the original sale, wouldn’t it have come out before now? And in a film trade? I’m not inclined to really believe it, at least not without something else to go on.

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