What Happens Between 'Return of the Jedi' and 'The Force Awakens'

What happened to the galaxy over the last 30 years?

Star Wars: Aftermath book cover
Cover art from Chuck Wendig's novel 'Star Wars: Aftermath'. Scott Biel / Del Rey Books

19 years passed between the end of the prequel trilogy and the original trilogy, aka between Revenge of the Sith and A New Hope. While many stories from those years remain untold, plenty of books, comics, and the TV show Star Wars Rebels, as well as the film Rogue One, are giving us a strong idea of what life was like in those years.

But what about the 30 long years between the original trilogy and Disney's new one?

Return of the Jedi was 30 years ago by the time of The Force Awakens, and that's an even longer amount of time that's unaccounted for. Life goes on, galactic powers come and go, wars are fought, characters change, some die, others are born... There must be countless stories waiting to be told from those intervening years.

Some of those stories are unfolding the pages of novels from Del Rey Books, comics from Marvel, and even in some video games from EA. All of it is canon, so what happens when we combine everything there is to be learned from those materials into a single sequence of events?

It goes without saying, but I'll say it anyway: There are gigantic spoilers ahead for the books, comics, and games set between Jedi and Awakens -- as well as The Force Awakens itself. I'm going to cover them all, and I'll continually update this page as new stories and details come to light.

Aftermath

Most of this novel follows a new group of ragtag Rebel heroes led by one Norra Wexley.

Their story reveals many new details about the post-Palpatine galaxy, and that story continues in two further novels yet to come. Norra's son Temmin, who appears in the novel, will grow up to be an accomplished Resistance X-Wing pilot who goes by his nickname, "Snap" Wexley. He plays a supporting role in The Force Awakens, as portrayed by actor Greg Grunberg.

The Rebel Alliance establishes the New Republic to fill the power vacuum of the Empire, complete with a new Galactic Senate. Abandoning Coruscant, the city of Hanna on the planet Chandrila is named the new galactic capitol. Mon Mothma, a native of Chandrila, is made the first Chancellor of the New Republic. Her first major initiative is a proposal to demilitarize the New Republic by 90%, believing peace should be the new government's standard instead of war. Remarkably, the motion passes, and funds spent on the Rebellion's military are instead funneled into building up the armies of individual member worlds. What remains of the New Republic's army is stationed at a new academy on Chandrila -- a school that takes the place of the old Imperial Academy.

Admiral Rae Sloane of the Empire (first introduced in the Rebels precursor novel, A New Dawn) attempts to regroup with other Imperial power players on the planet Akiva to plan the future of the Empire, but ultimately fails and loses the planet to the New Republic. She retreats and meets with a mysterious, unnamed Admiral who has his own plan for building a new Empire superior to the old. His true identity is a central mystery in the book.

A shadowy organization named the Acolytes of the Beyond emerge, trying to secretly gather Sith artifacts that once belonged to Darth Vader, including his red-bladed lightsaber. (Their purpose is blatantly similar to that of Kylo Ren in The Force Awakens, who has Vader's melted helmet and covets Anakin Skywalker's original lightsaber as well. Might these Acolytes be the precursors to the Knights of Ren?)

Sometime before his death, Emperor Palpatine sent expeditions beyond the edge of the galaxy, from where he believed the source of his dark side powers came. A former aide of his named Yupe Tashu wants the Imperial leaders to go find those explorers and seek the power of the dark side. His idea is shot down, but this "outside the galaxy" thing feels like too big of a reveal to simply be forgotten.

Right after the Battle of Endor, Han Solo and Chewbacca take advantage of the Imperial disarray to try to liberate Kashyyyk from the Empire's occupation. Their adventures there are likely to play out in Aftermath: Life Debt, but The Force Awakens: Visual Dictionary reveals (without any details) that Han and Chewie's efforts on Kashyyyk were successful, restoring the enslaved Wookiees' freedom.

During an interlude scene unrelated to the rest of the novel, a scavenger on Tatooine discovers Boba Fett's acid-damaged Mandalorian armor inside a derelict Sandcrawler. He dons the armor and declares himself the "new lawman of Tatooine." The implication is that Jawas collected the armor after it found its way outside of the Sarlacc. But did the Sarlacc vomit it out after digesting Boba Fett? Or did Fett crawl out and shed the acid-covered armor, striding away to live another day?

Shattered Empire

A married couple of Rebel fighters -- one a foot soldier on Endor and the other a pilot that accompanied the Millennium Falcon on its dive into the Death Star -- are the parents of Poe Dameron, who is a small child at the time of the Battle of Endor. (He does not appear in the comic.) Lieutenant Shara Bey (Poe's mom) stars in all four issues and interacts with major Star Wars characters.

Mon Mothma sends Princess Leia to Naboo to ask the current queen to make Naboo one of the flagship members of the New Republic. She happily agrees.

Palpatine's death triggers something called "Operation: Cinder," a scorched earth initiative that has weapons of mass destruction deployed on numerous worlds throughout the galaxy -- including his own homeworld of Naboo.

Leia, Shara, and the Naboo queen manage to destroy the weapons before the planet is irreparably damaged.

Later, Shara accompanies Luke Skywalker on a mission to an Imperial base to retrieve a lost Jedi artifact. A special Force-strong tree once grew at the heart of the Jedi Temple on Coruscant, but Palpatine had it removed. Two branches are all that remain; Luke takes one to where he plans to build his new Jedi Temple (on Devaron), and allows Shara and her family to plant the other at their new home.

Star Wars: The Force Awakens

As revealed in and extrapolated from The Force Awakens, Han Solo and Leia Organa married almost immediately after the Battle of Endor, and that shortly after that, Leia became pregnant with their son, Ben Solo. According to The Visual Dictionary, Leia went on to become a politician and leader within the New Republic, and Han filled his time by entering races -- most of which he won.

Luke did indeed build a new Jedi Temple/Academy (presumably on Devaron), where he taught a new generation of Force-wielders the ways of the Jedi. Sometime after it began operation, Leia noticed that her son Ben was being tempted by the dark side, thanks to the machinations of a mysterious individual named Snoke. She sent Ben to Luke's academy to receive proper Jedi training alongside Luke's other students. But before any of them could achieve the rank of Jedi Knight, Ben turned to the dark side, took on the name Kylo Ren, and murdered all of Luke's students.

Only Luke himself survived Ren's slaughter.

Distraught at his own failure to help his nephew, he secluded himself, going into hiding while secretly searching for the galaxy's very first Jedi Temple. He found it on a world named Ahch-To, though the details of how and why won't be revealed until Episode VIII.

Meanwhile, Kylo Ren signed on with Snoke's First Order and served as the master of the Knights of Ren. His parents, devastated by his betrayal, each turned to the familiar comforts of their former lives: Leia founded the Resistance to monitor the First Order's actions, while Han went back to smuggling cargo with Chewbacca. Their marriage was never dissolved, however, and their feelings for one another never changed.

Somewhere in the middle of all this turmoil, Rey was brought to the planet Jakku by a person or persons she remembers only as "her family," and told to remain there until their return.

Star Wars: Uprising

With the Emperor dead and the Death Star destroyed, regional governors across the galaxy react in different ways. Governor Adelhard of the Anoat sector institutes a blockade around his region, and blocks all communications in and out while broadcasting messages that insist any talk of the Empire's defeat is Rebel propaganda. (Among its many worlds, Anoat counts both Hoth and Bespin within its borders.) Adelhard's actions prompt the residents of Anoat sector to rise up in opposition against him, creating new Rebel cells that are cut off from the rest of the New Republic.

Star Wars: C-3PO

Coming in March 2016.

Aftermath: Life Debt

Coming in 2016. According to Chuck Wendig, Part 2 of his trilogy is named after the Wookiee debt owed by Chewbacca to Han Solo. Presumably, Life Debt will follow the adventures of Han and Chewie in their attempt to liberate Kashyyyk.

Aftermath: Empire's End

Coming in 2016. The third part of Wendig's trilogy. The plot is unknown, but the title suggests it could chronicle the last days of the Empire.

Lost Stars

Two childhood-friends-turned-adult-lovers, Ciena Ree and Thane Kyrell, find themselves on opposite sides of the war depicted in the original trilogy. The book follows them as they weave in and out of all three movies and beyond, and the consensus seems to be that Lost Stars is the best "Journey to The Force Awakens" tale of all.

About a year after the Battle of Endor, the Battle of Jakku takes place. It's a decisive victory for the New Republic, as the Empire's forces are utterly crushed. During the battle, Ciena has risen to captain of her own ship -- a Star Destroyer called the Inflictor. When the battle goes south for the Imperials, she scuttles the ship, crashing it into Jakku's surface. Thane sneaks aboard and saves Ciena's life, but her fate as a prisoner of the New Republic is left unresolved.

Star Wars Battlefront: The Battle of Jakku

This free DLC pack for EA's video game allows players to experience the chaotic, pivotal ground war on Jakku for themselves.

New Republic: Bloodline

Coming in 2016. Claudia Gray, the author of Lost Stars, pens this tale that's set six years prior to The Force Awakens. Nothing is yet known about its plot.

Before the Awakening

A collection of three novellas by Greg Rucka that reveal the lives of Rey, Finn, and Poe prior to The Force Awakens. (Details are forthcoming.)

Did I miss any important details? Let me know.