The Star Wars saga, also referred to as the Skywalker saga, is the main line of Star Wars films that began in 1977 with Star Wars: Episode IV A New Hope, which was originally titled Star Wars. While a larger universe of stories and characters has evolved around it, the saga films tell the story of the Skywalker family through a set of three trilogies. The original trilogy ran from 1977 to 1983, which was followed by the prequel trilogy from 1999 to 2005, and the sequel trilogy from 2015 through its intended conclusion in 2019.
Chronologically, the story begins with Anakin Skywalker, the Chosen One of Jedi prophecy, as the prequel trilogy charts his rise as a Jedi Knight through his fall to the dark side and becoming Darth Vader. The original trilogy tells the story of Anakin's children, Luke Skywalker and Leia Organa, as they lead the fight against the Galactic Empire and as Luke saves Anakin from the dark side and becomes a Jedi in his own right. The sequel trilogy focuses on Rey, a Force prodigy unrelated to the Skywalkers who is swept up into a new galactic conflict and faces off against Anakin's fallen grandson, Kylo Ren, while becoming the first of a new generation of Jedi.
The series was created by George Lucas, who, as the writer and director of A New Hope and the entire prequel trilogy, has written and directed more films in the Skywalker saga than any other person. Other saga film directors include Irvin Kershner, Richard Marquand, J.J. Abrams, and Rian Johnson. Leigh Brackett, Lawrence Kasdan, Michael Arndt, Abrams, Johnson, and Chris Terrio have all been writers on the films. Gary Kurtz and Howard G. Kazanjian produced the original trilogy, Rick McCallum produced the prequel trilogy, and Kathleen Kennedy is producing the sequel trilogy.
In story order:
- Prequel trilogy
- Original trilogy
- Sequel trilogy
The-as-of-present eight released films of the Skywalker saga begin their designation with "Episode" followed by their chronological order displayed as a roman numeral. Star Wars: Episode IV A New Hope was originally released simply as Star Wars, as it was not known whether it would be followed by a sequel. Beginning with its April 10, 1981 re-release, it was renamed to its current title.
The opening crawls of each film in the Skywalker saga follow the same format. The introduction and crawl begins with the blue text, "A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away…" which is then immediately followed-by the Star Wars logo and the slanted, yellow-text-on-starfield summaries of immediately preceding off-screen action. While the typefaces vary slightly, these all follow the same overall general format. These crawls were inspired by the Flash Gordon serials from George Lucas' childhood.
Original trilogy (Out-of-universe: 1977—1983; In-universe: 0 BBY—4 ABY) focuses on protagonist Luke Skywalker, his unbeknownst-to-him sister Princess Leia, the smuggler Han Solo, and the redemption of Darth Vader.
Prequel trilogy (Out-of-universe: 1999—2005; In-universe 32 BBY—19 BBY) focuses on protagonist Anakin Skywalker as he matures from 9-year-old Tatooine slave child to a Jedi Knight. The prequel trilogy also focuses on Skywalker's eventual wife, Padmé Amidala, and his mentor Obi-Wan Kenobi, and sets the groundwork and basis of the plot in the original trilogy.
Sequel trilogy (Out-of-universe: 2015—2019; in-universe: 34 ABY—) focuses on the scavenger Rey as she discovers and trains with the Force, the ex-stormtrooper Finn, the ace pilot Poe Dameron, and the antagonist Kylo Ren, who is the son of Leia Organa and Han Solo.
George Lucas has previously changed the "planned" number of saga films from interview-to-interview over the years (with potentially as many as twelve as far back as 1978). After Disney acquired Lucasfilm in 2012, their "announced" saga films will remain at nine, as they develop animated and live-action television shows, web series, Anthology films, a film series, and a trilogy.