10 Surprising 'Rogue One' Connections to the 'Star Wars' Universe

Grand Moff Tarkin shows up in a pretty unexpected way in "Rogue One." Sunset Boulevard/Corbis via Getty Images
Grand Moff Tarkin shows up in a pretty unexpected way in "Rogue One." Sunset Boulevard/Corbis via Getty Images

Liking some part of "Star Wars" is just the first step of being a "Star Wars" fan. The second step is clamoring for more details about the universe, which is a tapestry of interwoven story lines. Here are some of the coolest connections in "Rogue One" that you might have missed.

To be fair, if you haven't seen the film yet, this article is one giant spoiler — so read at your own risk.


1. Mon Mothma

We've known the character Mon Mothma was going to be in "Rogue One" since the first trailer, but some people might not realize who she is. Mothma, a longtime member of the Imperial Senate, is the rebel leader who briefs the Alliance prior to the battle of the second Death Star. Genevieve O'Reilly, the actress who plays her in "Rogue One," was cast in the part for "Revenge of the Sith," but her scenes were cut.

2. Bail Organa

Another veteran of the prequels, Bail Organa (played by Jimmy Smits) is the adoptive father of Princess Leia. Bail gave Leia her mission in "A New Hope" to bring Obi-Wan Kenobi back to the Rebellion.

3. Chopper

The cartoon "Star Wars Rebels" is set within a year or two of the events of "Rogue One," so it's natural that the film has ties to the show. One of the most fun connections is the inclusion of Chopper, the rebel team's droid. In a "Rogue One" scene set at the rebel base, Chopper exits a hangar at the bottom left of the screen.

4. Hammerhead Corvettes

Princess Leia makes an appearance in season two, episode 10 of the animated "Star Wars Rebels." She's supposedly on a diplomatic mission from Alderaan to give supplies to the occupied planet Lothal. But it's a cover to give three Hammerhead Corvettes to the Rebel Alliance. One of these three ships shows up in "Rogue One," and the rebels use it to stunning effect in the battle over Scarif's Shield Gate.

5. Mustafar and Vader's castle

It's hard to believe that Darth Vader would return to the lava planet Mustafar after losing his wife, and his limbs, there. The planet was also the site of Vader's penultimate confrontation with Obi-Wan Kenobi in "Revenge of the Sith." But it seems he relishes the pain — his castle is in a lava field on Mustafar. The castle's design is an unused creation of illustrator Ralph McQuarrie's that dates back to the original "Star Wars" film.

6. Kyber crystals

These crystals have long powered the Jedi lightsabers. In the opening moments of the movie, Jyn's mother, Lyra, gives Jyn a crystal for safekeeping. But the crystals play a sinister role in the creation of the Death Star. They appeared in "Star Wars: The Clone Wars" and "Star Wars Rebels," but seeing them in "Rogue One" is bittersweet, as the Jedi have become practically extinct.

7. Yavin 4

In "A New Hope," the secret rebel base is on the small moon Yavin 4. The crew for that film shot exteriors of the temples in Guatemala, which became an iconic piece of "Star Wars" lore. "Rogue One" expands our view of the base as the place from which the Rebellion struck its first major victory against the Empire.

8. Red Five

During the space battle over Scarif, a young pilot with the call sign "Red Five" struggles to stay alive in the fierce dogfight. He's blown to smithereens, but the name "Red Five" rings familiar. The poor soul died but Luke Skywalker takes on that same call sign during the battle of the Death Star in "A New Hope."

9. Guardians of the Whills

Donnie Yen and Jiang Wen play characters who are Guardians of the Whills. In the original film's novelization, the story of "Star Wars" is written down in the Journal of the Whills. In the new context, the Guardians protect the Kyber Temple in the holy city of Jedha.

10. Grand Moff Tarkin

Last on the list is the most shocking but obvious connection. It's no surprise that Grand Moff Tarkin, the Imperial commander of the Death Star in "A New Hope," is in "Rogue One." It is a surprise that Peter Cushing, an actor who has been dead for more than 20 years, reprised his role as Grand Moff Tarkin thanks to computer-generated imagery. It's stunning what the crew accomplished to maintain the continuity of the "Star Wars" universe.