Skip to main content

What you need to know about Star Wars before watching The Mandalorian

The Mandalorian, which debuts on Disney+ on November 12, 2019, is a new frontier for Star Wars. Not only is it the first live-action Star Wars series, but it’s set in the 30 year gap between Return of the Jedi and The Force Awakens, a time frame that Disney’s spin-offs have barely explored.

Thanks to the destruction of the second Death Star, the death of Emperor Palpatine (assuming he’s really dead, that is), and the triumph of the Rebel Alliance, the galaxy is a very different place during The Mandalorian than what you’ve seen on-screen before. Here’s everything you need to know about the state of the Star Wars Universe before diving into The Mandalorian.

Where and when does The Mandalorian take place?

The Mandalorian is set five years after Star Wars: Episode VI — Return of the Jedi, which marked the beginning of the end for the Galactic Empire.

Image used with permission by copyright holder

While plenty of familiar characters are alive and kicking during this time period, don’t expect to see most of them pop up on the show. According to the Disney+ series’ official summary, The Mandalorian is set “in the outer reaches of the galaxy, far from the authority of the New Republic.” That means new worlds to explore, and plenty of new faces to get to know.

What happened to the Empire and the Rebel Alliance?

The Empire didn’t crumble as soon as the second Death Star exploded, although Palpatine’s demise ended up being a fatal blow. A few months after the Battle of Endor, the Rebel Alliance transformed into the New Republic, a new democratic government devoted to bringing peace back to the galaxy. Mon Mothma was elected chancellor of the new Senate, which was headquartered on Chandrila, Mothma’s home world.

The Empire’s remaining forces didn’t give up without a fight, however, and the fledgling republic was forced to split its time between hunting down Imperial holdouts and recruiting new worlds to its cause. Tensions between the Empire and the New Republic came to a head about a year after the Battle of Endor, when the two forces clashed on the planet Jakku. There, the New Republic foiled a plot to destroy Jakku and dealt the Empire a decisive defeat.

Image used with permission by copyright holder

Imperial and New Republic politicians signed a peace treaty called the Galactic Concordance, while a group of Imperial military leaders fled to the Unknown Regions in order to rebuild the Empire. With the Galactic Civil War over and done, Mon Mothma and the senate passed the Military Disarmament Act, cutting the New Republic’s military down to a small peacekeeping force in hopes that diplomacy, not war, would govern the galaxy going forward.

Building a new government takes time, however, and in The Mandalorian the New Republic’s work is just getting started. Worlds on the edge of the galaxy, where The Mandalorian takes place, have yet to join the New Republic. Former Imperials do everything they can to hold on to the last vestiges of their power. It’s a time of transition, and amid the chaos and uncertainty there’s plenty of room for smugglers, bounty hunters, and other criminals to thrive.

What are my favorite characters up to during The Mandalorian?

Image used with permission by copyright holder

Han Solo and Leia Organa have been married for five years. Their son, Ben, is four years old. Leia spends most of her time on Chandrila, where she serves in the senate. C-3PO serves as one of her many aides. Leia’s family history — mainly, that Darth Vader is her father — is not public knowledge.

Han Solo has resigned his military commission and runs his own shipping company, although he still finds time to go on (mostly legal) adventures with his friend, Lando Calrissian, and take part in starship races around the galaxy.

Image used with permission by copyright holder

Luke Skywalker is roaming the galaxy in order to learn more about the Force. With help from R2-D2 and Lor San Tekka, a member of the Church of the Force, Luke hunts down lost pieces of Jedi lore, searches for members of the Jedi who might’ve survived Order 66, and begins dreaming of his own, ill-fated Jedi academy.

Poe Dameron is about eight years old, and lives with his father, former Rebel soldier Kes Dameron, on Yavin IV. Around this time, Poe’s mother, pilot Shara Bey, dies unexpectedly, although her legacy lives on through Poe, who’s already proving himself to be a great pilot.

Image used with permission by copyright holder

Ahsoka Tano, Anakin Skywalker’s former Padawan, has teamed up with Mandalorian Sabine Wren to find Ezra Bridger, who disappeared alongside Grand Admiral Thrawn shortly before the Battle of Yavin. Their current whereabouts are unknown.

Jar Jar Binks has been banished by his people for his role in helping the Empire take power, and makes ends meet as a street performer in Naboo’s capital city, Theed. Children enjoy his antics, but most adults consider him a traitor and refuse to speak to him.

Rey, FN-2187 (also known as “Finn”), and Rose Tico haven’t been born yet.

Editors' Recommendations

Chris Gates
Christopher Gates lives in Los Angeles, CA and writes about movies, TV, video games, and other pop culture curiosities. In…
One year ago, Andor changed Star Wars forever
Cassian Andor looks forward with purpose in Andor episode 3.

When Andor premiered one year ago this week, the general response to its first three episodes, which all dropped on Disney+ at the same time, was … interesting. While everyone seemed to welcome the Rogue One prequel with open arms and positive reviews, some were quick to express their concerns over the show’s pace. On the one hand, it’s not hard to see why. Andor's first three installments essentially serve as both the series' inciting incident and its prologue.

The show’s opening chapters split their time between flashbacks to Cassian Andor’s (Diego Luna) traumatic childhood on the war-torn planet of Kenari and the present-day fallout of his impulsive decision to kill a pair of Imperial-adjacent officials. It isn’t until the end of Andor’s third episode that his backstory has been fully fleshed out and he’s actually left his adoptive planet of Ferrix with Luthen Rael (Stellan Skarsgård), the rebel leader who will jumpstart Cassian’s own radicalization. On paper, that might make it seem very little happens across Andor’s first three episodes.

Read more
Did Andor ruin Ahsoka, and maybe the entire Star Wars franchise, by being too good?
Ahsoka Tano holds one of her lightsabers in Ahsoka episode 4.

Disney+’s Ahsoka is a lot of things: A quasi-sequel to Star Wars Rebels, a spinoff of The Mandalorian, a rollicking space adventure. Above all else, though, Ahsoka is a show made by and for Star Wars fans. Created by George Lucas’ chosen protégé, Dave Filoni, the series is overflowing with details, Easter eggs, and characters from past Star Wars films and TV shows — namely, Star Wars: The Clone Wars and Rebels. These various references have all been collected in a story that seems designed to serve as the bridge between the Rebels finale and Filoni’s now-announced Star Wars crossover film, which will purportedly close out the New Republic story first introduced in The Mandalorian.

At the center of said story is the villainous Grand Admiral Thrawn (Lars Mikkelsen) and the Imperial Remnant’s quest to bring him back into the fold. That mission is the driving narrative force of Ahsoka, which pits the show’s heroes against those who wish to find Thrawn and rescue him from his years-long exile in a foreign galaxy. The series is, in other words, a lot less about Ahsoka Tano (Rosario Dawson) and her personal journey than its title would lead you to believe. In fact, of all of its concerns, Ahsoka’s characters feel increasingly less like its top priority.

Read more
Disney already knows if you’re sharing your streaming account
The Disney World castle as seen in the Disney+ streaming app.

Along with a number of price increases, the other big news to come out of Disney's (fiscal) third-quarter earnings report was that the company is taking a serious look at account sharing — password sharing, if you will — and will begin to crack down on it in 2024.

In other words, it's going to do what Netflix has done, and it's time to pay up. But we don't yet know exactly what that will look like.

Read more