The Star Wars Holiday Special has become a cult classic in the Star Wars fandom. Whether people love it, hate it, or love to hate it, it has become an essential part of the franchise. Despite being a failure at the time, the Holiday Special has left its mark on the Star Wars canon.
Whether it is the Extended Universe or the current Disney canon, the lore of the Holiday Special has influenced Star Wars in several ways. Here are some of the more prominent examples.
1. Boba Fett
The Star Wars Holiday Special is the first appearance of the bounty hunter Boba Fett. In the middle of the movie is an animated short, “The Faithful Wookiee.” During the sequence, Boba Fett saves Luke Skywalker from a monster and claims he wishes to aid the Rebellion, but Boba is actually working for Darth Vader. After a skirmish, Boba flies away, saying they will see him again. Boba would make his first movie appearance in The Empire Strikes Back.
Fans consider “The Faithful Wookiee” the best part of the Holiday Special, and the introduction of Boba Fett was massive for the franchise. Boba is the most well-known bounty hunter in Star Wars and was the template for scum and villainy characters that would come later, like Cad Bane in The Clone Wars.
Boba’s story would only grow as his father, Jango, became the template for all of the clones in the Prequel Trilogy. In The Clone Wars, Daniel Logan would flesh out his character as young Boba finding his way into the galaxy after his father’s demise. His rise to fame was detailed in books and comics for both the Extended Universe and current canon culminating in Temuera Morrison reprising the role in The Mandalorian and The Book of Boba Fett.
One of Star Wars’ most prominent named characters started with the Holiday Special. However, Boba wasn’t the only significant development stemming from “The Faithful Wookiee.”
2. The Mandalorians
The Mandalorian is one of the biggest shows on streaming services, breaking the internet with the reveal of “Baby Yoda” and being Star Wars’ first venture into live-action television. But we might not have gotten the series if not for the Star Wars Holiday Special. Boba Fett was the template for Mandalorian culture, and his iconic helmet in “The Faithful Wookiee” would inspire the look of the Mandalorians. His helmet in the animated short would also be called back to in The Clone Wars season two episode “The Mandalore Plot.”
This Clone Wars episode is also the first appearance of Pre Vizsla, who Jon Favreau voices. Favreau is the showrunner for The Mandalorian and has said before that he truly loved the Holiday Special growing up. In interviews in 2019, he also said he would love to make another Star Wars Holiday Special. When creating The Mandalorian, he canonized aspects of the special. Din Djarin fights with an Amban phase-pulse blaster, the same weapon Boba uses in “The Faithful Wookiee.”
The Holiday Special influenced other non-Star Wars creators as well. James Gunn also loved the film growing up and said it inspired 2022’s The Guardians of the Galaxy Holiday Special in the Marvel Universe.
3. Life Day
Life Day has become a movement in Star Wars fandom the same way Festivus has permeated pop culture thanks to Seinfeld. It is essentially the Star Wars version of winter holidays like Christmas. Star Wars fans celebrate Life Day on November 17th, when the Holiday Special first aired.
In canon, Life Day is a recognized holiday that came from the Wookiees. The Mandalorian was the first on-screen recognition of the holiday after it had been mentioned in books and comics before the show’s release. This Wookiee holiday became a widely accepted holiday after the fall of the Empire as it presented love, hope, and the Light Side of the Force.
It is a holiday that ripples throughout canon and non-canon materials. The anthology book Life Day Treasury and the comic Life Day share the holiday’s name. In The LEGO Star Wars Holiday Special, the cast of the Sequel Trilogy gathers together to celebrate as well. In the LEGO special, we also saw the return of Chewbacca’s family on screen as a callback to the original special.
The Star Wars Holiday Special was the first appearance of the Wookiee homeworld of Kashyyyk. Legendary Lucasfilm artist Ralph McQuarrie drew up the concept artwork for the special that would later be used to canonize the planet in Episode III: Revenge of the Sith.
Kashyyyk has become one of the mainstay planets of the franchise in both the Extended Universe and Disney canon. Even non-canon series like LEGO Star Wars: The Freemaker Adventures had several episodes set on this world. Recently, fans returned to Kashyyyk in The Bad Batch episode “Tribe,” where Clone Force 99 helped a Wookiee Jedi, Gungi, return to his homeworld to hide him from the Empire.
“The Faithful Wookiee ” short truly left its mark on the franchise, including behind the scenes. Lucasfilm Animation would not be what it is today without the company that created the short, the Canadian studio Nalvana.
Nelvana is a legend in the animation industry. Look up their catalog. If you were a kid in the '80s or '90s, they more than likely had a hand in one of your favorites. George Lucas was so impressed with their work on 1977’s A Cosmic Christmas that he commissioned them to make “The Faithful Wookiee,” becoming the first piece of Star Wars animation.
Their relationship did not stop there; Lucas was adamant about bringing Star Wars to television through animation. Nelvana was the company that would make Ewoks and Droids, the first Star Wars television series. The company’s influence continued from there.
While creating 2003’s Star Wars: Clone Wars, Genndy Tartakovsky loved the look of Nelvana’s work, especially with C-3PO, and he purposely drew the droid to match Nelvana’s style. Also, Star Wars: Clone Wars honored the legendary studio by naming the planet Nelvaan after them. The inhabitants of Nelvaan were also created to look a certain way, paying homage to the Nelvana animated film Rock & Rule.
Nelvana set the stage for Star Wars on television and kicked off the beginnings of Lucasfilm animation. It was all thanks to their work on the Star Wars Holiday Special.
This article was produced and syndicated by Wealth of Geeks.