Retcon: (in a film, television series, or other fictional work) a piece of new information that imposes a different interpretation on previously described events, typically used to facilitate a dramatic plot shift or account for an inconsistency. (Thank you Google dictionary.) Star Wars, like so many other franchises, is no stranger to the concept. The premier of Genndy Tartakovsky’s 2003 Clone Wars on Disney+ recently is a stark reminder of this. Though it was the original, Dave Filoni’s The Clone Wars series that began in 2008 was a massive retcon of that storytelling era. The new essentially wiped out the old. Other franchise changes, however, were a bit more subtle. While some are certainly understandable, others seems wholly unnecessary. What Lucasfilm did with the Tantive IV falls into the latter category.

Episode IX Footage; Tantive IV; Retcon; Star Wars
The Tantive IV flees the Battle of Scarif in Rogue One: A Star Wars Story. (Image: Lucasfilm Ltd.)

Strangely, a couple of these changes in Star Wars canon stem from E. K. Johnston’s 2016 novel, Ahsoka. First and foremost, The Clone Wars series finale includes a relatively minor retcon to the former Jedi’s escape of Order 66. In the novel, Order 66 takes place when Ahoska Tano and Rex are still on Mandalore. The chaos of that even was easy enough to reference in a written work…. A bit harder to depict in visual media. Hence what occurs in “Victory and Death.” It’s a throw-away reference to the Tantive III in the book, however, that led to a seemingly unnecessary retcon of the Tantive IV.

Why retcon the Tantive IV, Star Wars?

Tantive IV; Star Wars; Retcon
Who can forget this scene aboard the Tantive IV? (Image: Lucasfilm Ltd.)

In the Ahoska novel, Bail Organa assists Ahoska with several Alderaanian ships, including the Tantive III. The two meet aboard that ship as they discuss her return to the fight as Fulcrum. Nothing out of the ordinary thus far. However, Lucasfilm has since retconned the scene in which Obi-Wan Kenobi and Yoda meet up with Organa on the Tantive IV in Revenge of the Sith. Now that meeting also occurs on the Tantive III… begging the question of why.

Tantive IV; Retcon; Star Wars
Obi-Wan and Yoda walk with Bail Organa aboard the Tantive… III, now, apparently. (Lucasfilm Ltd.)

III, we’ve come to learn, is Organa’s personal vessel, the Sundered Heart. As Star Wars canon goes now, it was that ship upon which the fallen Jedi meet the beleaguered Senator. Why the powers that be changed it from the Tantive IV remains a mystery. The retcon really doesn’t add anything to the overall Star Wars story. If anything, it takes away from the notoriously storied history of the ship that we’ve come to understand over the course of three film trilogies and the novel Resistance Reborn.  

Like the added dance number in Return of the Jedi, some changes simply aren’t necessary.

(Thanks to CBR for the inspiration for this report.)