If you spend a lot of time on the internet these days, something you’ll hear a lot of people claim is that Star Wars is “dead”. Despite multiple live-action television shows in production, more movies being planned, on-going comic series, new novels, and video games on the way; people seem to think the franchise is in some sort of danger of going away.
All evidence points to Star Wars being stronger than ever following the Disney purchase, but there was a time when Star Wars was dead and there are people who remember it well.
Following the release of Return of the Jedi in 1983, Star Wars was over for most people. Even though fans saw the two Ewok TV movies, the general public started to move on from the trilogy as there was nothing new on the way. Toy sales started to slow down before the line was ended, and the 10th anniversary of Star Wars in 1987 passed as something as a joke to the larger world.
From 1986 until the early 90s, Star Wars was dead.
We didn’t have live action TV shows. We didn’t have comic books. There were no novels being published yet. Outside of some video games, the only thing Star Wars fans had to keep their fire for the franchise alive was the West End Games pen and paper RPG system, where we could make our own content.
Of course all of that changed in 1991 when on a family vacation to Walt Disney World I went into the Star Trader near Star Tours and saw the first new bit of Star Wars content in years:
The publication of Heir to the Empire, and its launching of the Expanded Universe, ended the Dark Times. Star Wars was kicking itself back to life, and not just for fans. The public became aware that the franchise was in some way reviving.
Timothy Zahn’s book kicked off a renaissance for Star Wars that led to things such as the heyday of Lucasarts and their classic games, new comic series being published, new releases of the trilogy on home video, and then eventually the Special Editions and the Prequels.
Star Wars was alive again, just like it is today. If Disney hadn’t purchased Lucasfilm in 2012, chances are very strong that the franchise could be dead by now. But thanks to the purchase, Star Wars is going to be around forever.
So the next time you see someone claiming Star Wars is dead, look around at all of the Star Wars content we’re getting on a regular basis. In the Dark Times of 1986, fans would’ve never dreamed of what we have today.