When Disney took over Lucasfilm and embarked on developing a new set of Star Wars properties, one of the first things they did was to decide that all of the Expanded Universe contents were no longer “Canon”. Meaning, they weren’t part of the ‘real’ Star Wars universe – only “Legends” that use similar characters.
There was a consternation about this in the fan community as it seemed like a corporate affront to the fans that have been the bedrock of Star Wars’ popularity (ie why Lucasfilm is worth $4 Billion). It seemed to confirm the big fears that Disney would ruin Star Wars by making it trivial and take away the emotional and intellectual ownership that the fans have contributed over the years.
But Lucasfilm is run by die-hard Star Wars fans. Most of them there grew up watching the films and want to be good stewards of the storyline. We have seen, on many occasions, the incorporation of elements of the expanded universe as a way of playing homage to the work that the creators of EU content.
Here are a few examples.
The (probably) first Expanded Universe / Legends book ever written was 1978’s Splinter of the Mind’s Eye by Allen Dean Foster. It’s a story set after the first Star Wars (Episode IV) – in fact it was written before The Empire Strikes Back was written so many of the various plot twists from that film aren’t assumed in this story.
The plot centers around the revelation of the Kaiburr crystal, a mythical crystal that magnifies and focuses the force. It’s a great story with many of the elements that makes Star Wars fun.
But it’s not cannon (especially since it doesn’t realize Luke & Leia are siblings). But the folks at Lucasfilm have found the opportunity to incorporate this notion of Kaibur crystals (even keeping the name) that magnify and focus the force. In the unfinished Star Wars The Clone Wars episode “Crystal Crisis on Utapau“, Luke and Obiwan uncover a plot by the separatist to acquire and weaponize such a crystal. It is only after conferring with Master Yoda do they learn it is the Kaibur crystals described in Jedi lore.
We also learn that the crystal at the heart of Jedi’s light sabers is a small Kaibur Crystal. Episodes such as of The Clone Wars The Gathering and, most recently, in Star Wars Rebels Path of the Jedi feature this crystal in the construction of a padowan’s light saber.
Kaibur crystals have become a critical element to Jedi lore and may ultimately serve as a significant part of the (canon) Star Wars universe. We may even find them to be at the heart of the Empire’s ultimate superweapon, the Death Star.
“Hey, you lost her to me fair and square” ~ Han Solo
In The Empire Strikes Back, we learn that Han won The Millennium Falcon from Lando. But we never really get any back story about it. There have been many EU stories written where Lando plays a significant role. We learn more more about his adventures as a “card player, gambler, [and] scoundrel”. One of the developments from the EU – Sabacc.
Sabacc is a card game, not unlike poker. It’s play is meant to resemble old westerns where fortunes are bet at a wild west saloon. In the fan community, it has a life of its own. It’s one of the things a fan can do to physically and socially to “be” in the Star Wars Universe. A full game with rules and play descriptions have been developed.
The only unbeatable hand is an Idiot’s Array, as seen in the recent episode of Star Wars Rebels Idiot’s Array. In this episode, Lando wins (cheats?) a game of Sabacc with Zeb on order to get the crew of the Ghost to get past the Imperial blockade of Lothal.
The Jedi Holocron is a powerful device that is used to store an incredible amount of information. They hold various secrets including information on force techniques as well as information on the location of force children. Holocrons have, over the years been used in dozens of Expanded Universe games and storylines. Most recently, in the premier feature film of Star Wars Rebels Spark of Rebellion showed Ezra “stealing” (per Kanan’s plan) Kanan’s holochron. This serves as a test of Ezra’s force abilities; if he can open it, then he is talented enough to merit further instruction.
We’ve also seen holochrons used in several episodes of Star Wars The Clone Wars including Holochron Heist where bounty hunter cad bane steals a Holochron from the Jedi temple and uses it to identify force-sensitive children and bring them to the Emperor for training.
Mother Talzin & The Nightsisters
Mother Talzin is the leader of The Nightsisters, a society of female dark force users. They have a very different interaction with the Force the thematically represents more elements of the occult using crystal balls, trances, and spells. Mother Talzin and the Nightsisters reside on Dathomir (also the home planet of Darth Maul).
The Nightsisters were first established in The Courtship of Princess Leia in 1994 and have appeared in dozens of both Expanded Universe and Canon stories such as Star Wars The Clone Wars. Author Dave Wolverton established them as powerful female characters, which Star Wars severely lacked at the time. It’s first official canon story appearance the (rather awful) 1985 TV film Ewoks: The Battle for Endor when the character Charal was retroactively connected to the Nightsisters storyline. Take a look at this film below. It’s official. But I’d be ok if it kind of just disappeared.