Star Wars 101: Beginner’s Guide
Let’s start with some of the basics.
Pew! Pew! Pew! Pew! Lightsabers, “Luke, I am your father,” Baby Yoda, and May the 4th be with you. If you’re new to the galactic universe, then that’s probably the extent of your knowledge. Don’t worry, we’re only slightly judging. But lucky for you, we’re here to answer some commonly asked questions and guide you to the light side. Or the dark side, whatever you’re into!
Now for someone who doesn't know anything, there are a ton of different characters and names thrown around throughout the series. So who are the important characters and who’s good and bad? Let’s dive in.
Luke Skywalker - One with the force and one of the greatest Jedis of all time
Home: Raised in Tatooine to be hidden from Emperor Palpatine and his father
Parents: Anakin Skywalker (Darth Vader) and Padmé Amidala, adopted by Owen and Beru Lars
Good or Bad: Good (Jedi)
Weapon: Green lightsaber, but originally had his father’s blue lightsaber before losing it on Cloud City. It was later picked up by Rey who took it back to Luke in The Last Jedi
Siblings: Twin Sister — Princess Leia (but they did not know at first because she was adopted by Bail Organa)
Trained by: Yoda and Obi-Wan
Movie Appearances: Revenge of the Sith (briefly shown as an infant), A New Hope, The Empire Strikes Back, The Force Awakens (a brief cameo), The Last Jedi
Dead or Alive: Dead
Han Solo - Smuggler, Pilot of the Millennium Falcon, and General in the Rebel Alliance
Princess Leia Skywalker Organa Solo - a rebellious “princess” with the OG space buns
Darth Vader / Anakin Skywalker - A Jedi Knight turned Sith with some of the highest Force sensitivity to ever be detected. Can be recognized with the black helmet and heavy breathing
R2-D2 - A loyal and quirky droid and C-3PO’s counterpart. Can be identified as the blue and white robot-looking droid that screams
C-3PO - A cowardly, loyal protocol droid built by young Anakin Skywalker, programmed with over 30 secondary functions to help his mother. Eventually, his memory is wiped and becomes friends with R2-D2 and helps Luke Skywalker. Recognized as the gold human-looking droid
Chewbacca (Chewie) - A freed Wookiee who became Han Solo’s best friend and co-pilot of the Millennium Falcon. Basically looks like Bigfoot
Yoda - A wise, old Jedi Master who is considered one of the most powerful Force-users, even though his species and background are completely unknown. Recognized as small, green, and alien-looking
Jabba the Hutt - Crime lord and gangster known for piracy, slavery, and trafficking illegal goods. Can be recognized as the large, slug-looking creature
Lando Calrissian - Former captain of the Millennium Falcon and best friend of Han Solo
Qui-Gon Jinn - A Jedi Master known to have discovered Anakin Skywalker
Count Dooku / Darth Tyranus - Former Jedi Master, turned Sith Lord and one of the main “villains”
Darth Maul / Maul - The first apprentice and personal assassin of Sheev Palpatine and master of lightsaber combat
Sheev Palpatine / Emperor Palpatine / Darth Sidious - A Dark Lord of the Sith, elected as Supreme Chancellor of the Galactic Republic and orchestrated the Clone Wars
General Grievous - Cyborg leader of the Droid Army and Count Dooku’s Lieutenant
Padmé Amidala - Served two terms as Queen of Naboo, became Senator of Naboo and Chommell, and was Anakin’s secret wife
Kylo Ren / Ben Solo - Serves as Supreme Leader of the First Order, but comes back to the light side to fight alongside Rey
General Hux - Kylo Ren’s rival (even though they’re on the same side) and the general for the First Order when fighting the Resistance
Rey / Rey Skywalker (self-proclaimed) - A scavenger who seeks out Luke Skywalker to teach her the ways of the Force
Let’s start at the beginning, well kind of. Technically speaking, the movies came out in this order: 4, 5, 6, 1, 2, 3, 7, 8, 9. Confusing right? Let’s break it down.
Star Wars: A New Hope (1977) - Luke Skywalker leaves his home planet of Tatooine to learn the ways of the Force and defeat the evil Empire as part of the Rebel Alliance to restore freedom and justice to the galaxy. Luke and Han Solo work together alongside two droids, R2-D2 and C-3PO, and Obi-Wan Kenobi to rescue Princess Leia who is being held under Imperial Forces ruled by Darth Vader.
Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back (1980) - Darth Vader is after Luke Skywalker and his Rebel Alliance. Luke, Han, Leia, and their Wookiee friend, Chewbacca (Chewie), are attacked on the ice planet Hoth by the Imperial Forces. Luckily, Han and Leia escape on the Millennium Falcon. Luke seeks Yoda on the planet Dagobah because he needs the Jedi Master’s help to be able to survive the battle with Darth Vader.
Star Wars: Return of the Jedi (1983) - Han Solo has been captured and is being held by Jabba the Hutt. Luke Skywalker must lead a rescue mission and face Darth Vader one final time. Han and Princess Leia rekindle their love and join forces with Chewie, Lando Calrissian, the Ewoks, and the iconic droid duo, R2-D2 and C-3PO, to defeat the evil emperor.
Star Wars: The Phantom Menace (1999) - A young Anakin Skywalker is discovered to be strong with the Force on the planet of Tatooine where he lives as a slave and partakes in pod racing. Qui-Gon Jinn takes him under his wing as a Jedi apprentice knight. On the other side of the galaxy, the evil Sith are plotting their revenge against the Jedi. Qui-Gon and Obi-Wan are tasked with settling the feud when the Trade Federation cuts off all the routes to the planet of Naboo.
Star Wars: Attack of the Clones (2002) - Anakin Skywalker, now 10 years older, is faced with the decision to choose between his forbidden love and his duties as a Jedi. Meanwhile, Obi-Wan discovers an evil plan targeting the galaxy that eventually leads to the Galactic Civil War (the Clone Wars) and the beginning of the end of the Republic.
Star Wars: Revenge of the Sith (2005) - Jedi Master Obi-Wan Kenobi and Jedi Knight Anakin Skywalker set out to rescue Chancellor Palpatine from the commander of the droid armies, cyborg General Grievous. Grievous escapes and the Jedi Council questions Palpatine’s intentions. Between the bitterness toward the Jedi Council and being under the assumption that he killed his secret wife, Padmé Amidala, Anakin embraced the dark side in hopes to have the power to resurrect Padmé.
Star Wars: The Force Awakens (2015) - It’s been 30 years since the Empire was defeated and Luke Skywalker vanished, and The First Order is the new threat in the galaxy. Han Solo and his allies of the Resistance must face Kylo Ren and the First Order.
Star Wars: The Last Jedi (2017) - As the First Order, led by Kylo Ren and General Hux, is out against the Resistance and Princess Leia, Rey finds Luke Skywalker, the last Jedi. As Rey shows strong signs of the Force and an interest to learn, Luke must make the decision to teach her after years of hiding.
Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker (2019) - The rebels learn that Emperor Palpatine did not die at the hands of Darth Vader. Meanwhile, the First Order is plotting to form a new Empire. And the Resistance, led by Poe (a pilot) and Finn (a reformed stormtrooper), must put a stop to it. While still part of the Resistance, Rey prepares herself for her fated encounter with Kylo Ren.
Star Wars Stories
Rogue One: A Star Wars Story (2016) - Jyn teams up with a former spy and various other Resistance fighters to steal the plans for the Rebel Alliance, knowing her father, Galen Erso, holds the key to the destruction of the most powerful weapon, the Death Star. When Jyn was a little girl, evil Orson Krennic took Galen away from his family to be the Empire’s lead engineer for the Death Star.
Solo: A Star Wars Story (2018) - A look into a young Han Solo’s life and how he became the pilot of the infamous Millennium Falcon. Han teams up with a gang of smugglers and Chewbacca to steal a batch of valuable coaxium from the planet of Kessel to pay back the galactic gangster, Dryden Vos. Han meets Lando Calrissian, the original owner of the Millennium Falcon, just in time when he’s in need of a fast vessel.
Star Wars: The Clone Wars (2008-2020) - This series is set between Star Wars: Attack of the Clones and Star Wars: Revenge of the Sith and focuses on the Republic’s clone army struggling to maintain order against Count Dooku’s (leader of the Separatists) dark side forces. The Clone army, led by Obi-Wan Kenobi and Yoda, fight against the forces of the dark side while Anakin Skywalker and his Padawan learner, Ashoka Tano, head into battle with Jabba the Hutt.
Star Wars Rebels (2014-2017) - This series takes place between The Revenge of the Sith and A New Hope and focuses on the era when the Galactic Empire is spreading amongst the galaxy and the Rebellion is beginning to form.
Star Wars Resistance (2018-2020) - This series happens before Star Wars: The Force Awakens and follows the young Resistance pilot, Kazuda Xiono, and his mission to spy on the First Order.
The Mandalorian (2019-Present) - This series focuses on a lone bounty hunter after the fall of the Empire and before the rise of the First Order. On the outer reaches of the galaxy and far from the New Republic, Mando faces many challenges and is introduced to Grogu, The Child (Baby Yoda).
The Book of Boba Fett (2021-Present) - This brand new series tells the story of the infamous bounty hunter Boba Fett and mercenary Fennec Shand as they return to the planet of Tatooine to claim the land once owned by Jabba the Hutt.
While there are enough terms to write an entire Star Wars dictionary (check out the Wookiepedia), here are a few must-knows.
Jedi: a Force-sensitive member of the Jedi Order whose purpose is to bring peace to the galaxy.
The Force: the mysterious power/energy used by certain-capable individuals in the Star Wars galaxy. It gives the user the ability to perform inhuman abilities.
Sith: the main antagonists and enemies of the Jedi (the dark side).