In case you aren’t “in the know,” Star Wars used to be pretty great. I spent a little more than a decade being horribly obsessed with it. I unintentionally memorized long sections of dialog in the movies by simply watching them over and over. I waited in line for 12 hours the day Episode I was released, and saw it six times in the theater. I’ve read several of the novels, attempted the role playing game when in high school, and played many of the video games. So it stands to reason that I like a good reference to the classic space opera. Most of them land in some form of media, and I say “the more obscure and veiled, the better.” Here they are in an order.
10. That one time, when I tried to visit some old coworkers. I’ll do my best to keep this story short. I worked for Rent-A-Center for around 9 or 10 months in 2000/2001, and quit to return to school. After being gone for seven or eight months, I decided to swing in to the store that two of my old co-workers were managing (not the store they and I had worked at). There was only ONE guy there that I recognized, though, and he and I barely knew each other. “Hey, are John or Paul here?” “No, John’s off today, and Paul moved to Indianapolis and is running his own store. Oh, and your old manager is a district manager in Gary, Indiana, now.” “Wow, I’m out of it for a little while and everyone gets delusions of grandeur.” “Yeah.” He didn’t really catch the reference, but I’ve always been so proud of it.
9. The drive from Chicago to Milwaukee after the VNV Nation show at the Metro in early January, 2005. Okay, here’s the situation. I was visiting Steve in Milwaukee with Aaron. One night we drove down to Chicago to go to the Metro to see a show. On the way back, Steve was driving and the weather was atrocious: snow, wind, sleet, ice, everything bad that can be bad in a winter drive. Then his windshield wipers break off. Naturally, he’s a little panicked, but Aaron was lavishing in the chaos, as he so often did. Steve said, “Uggggh! I can’t see a THING!” Aaron responded, “Your eyes can deceive you, Steve; don’t trust them.” Steve was not amused, but I was.
8. South Park: The Chewbacca Defense This is one of the funniest Star Wars references I’ve ever seen. Of course it’s not really a full-on reference to the movies, but there’s no doubt (like, ever) that Parker and Stone are fans. I also love the idea of Johnny Cochran mentioning the planet Kashyyyk.
7. Back to the Future: Darth Vader from planet Vulcan. I would consider this one to be one of the more classic references to Star Wars, but not good enough to be higher in the list. Marty, trapped in the year 1955, dresses up in his yellow radiation suit and uses his Van Halen-loaded walkman to wake up and torture his teenage father, and claims to be “Darth Vader from the planet Vulcan.” Now really . . . Marty just uses Darth Vader’s name, so it’s more of an 80’s pop culture reference rather than an expression of Star Wars love. But you know what? I adore Back to the Future, so it gets included.
6. X-Men: Toad acting like Darth Maul Star Wars, Episode I: The Phantom Menace was released in May of 1999. In July or August 2000, the first X-Men movie came out. One of the more exciting casting choices was Ray Park as Toad. Ray Park had played the not-in-the-movie-enough-for-how-much-hype-there-was-around-him-but-still-cool-to-watch-at-the-time character Darth Maul in The Phantom Menace. So here he is in the climactic final battle at the end of X-Men and does a quick half-second nod to his Star Wars role. It’s at 1:05 in the clip below. Unfortunately, also present in the clip is Storm’s lame “toad struck by lightning” joke.
I also recall watching X-Men with some friends, and one guy commented at that part, “Ha! He looked like that guy from Star Wars!” He didn’t know it was the same actor.
5. Arrested Development: “Out on a Limb” This one’s really hidden, and if it were any show of a lesser quality than Arrested Development, I’d chalk it up to coincidence. But it is in this episode that Buster (careful: spoilers) learns that Oscar is his real father, and then Buster loses his hand. Trust me–it’s on purpose.
4. Family Guy: “Brian Wallows and Peter’s Swallows”
There are a lot of references to Star Wars in Family Guy. And that’s not even counting the full-on spoofs they’ve done of Star Wars and The Empire Strikes Back. There are so many which are so quality, picking the BEST one is really an impossible task, so I’ll just use one of my favorite ones, from when the Meg-as-a-punching-bag gags were still amusing:
During the majority of the 90’s and into the early 2000’s, two of my favorite things were Star Wars (as I’ve already discussed), and the Final Fantasy game series. One of the things that Square does with its RPGs (especially with Final Fantasy) is use certain ideas in new places in different games. Like there always being a character named Cid, who usually has something to do with an airship, or swords like the Masamune or Murasame showing up all the time. Another one they do is naming minor-but-important characters early in their games after X-Wing pilots Wedge Antilles and Biggs Darklighter, and sometimes the Imperial Admiral Piett. Here’s a few spots where they show up:
In the masterpiece Chrono Trigger, there is a game in a mysterious tent at the Millennial Fair that uses three guards in a game that is a slightly more advanced version of the “which cup is the ball under?” game. Their names? Wedge, Biggs, and Piett. Well . . . that is until the bad English translation, which turned “Biggs” into “Vicks” and “Piett” into “Pierre,” but the intention was there.
In Final Fantasy VI (known first as III in the states), the opening of the game shows the game’s heroine in a hypnotic state, operating mechanized armor along side two Imperial soldiers, named Biggs and Wedge.
In Final Fantasy VII, Biggs and Wedge are characters whom you actually fight along side, until their tragic deaths during an early climactic scene.
In Kingdom Hearts II, two shops are ran by Biggs and Wedge.
[no picture available, but trust me on this one]
There are many more (especially in Final Fantasy games), but there’s no room for them here. It was always great to see such awesome nods from forms of media I enjoyed.
2. Hλlf-Life: Opposing Force – Final Conversation
I’ve recently admitted that I’ve been on something of a Hλlf-Life kick, and it was catching this double-nod to Star Wars that actually inspired this post. In Opposing Force, you play as Adrian Shephard, a USM Corporal who was en route to the Black Mesa Research Facility for a mission with undisclosed objectives. His aircraft was shot down before he received his instructions, so he spends his time at Black Mesa trying to survive, while also saving the lives of some scientists and other marines from aliens and the Black Ops. At one point, he comes around a corner to see a scientist and Black Mesa security guard having a conversation just seconds before an alien shows up, knocks out the lights, and kills them both. Their conversation went something like this: “So did you see that new IG-88?” “No I haven’t, I’ve heard it’s quite the thing to see.”
Obscure enough? The casual Star Wars fan can easily catch the reference to IG-88, who is a droid bounty hunter seen briefly in The Empire Strikes Back, and is used a lot in the expanded universe, but the other half of it is the structure of their conversation. It’s reminiscent (though not exactly copied) of the two stormtroopers that Obi-Wan distracted on the first Death Star as he deactivated the tractor beam. Excellent.
1. Lost: “Exodus”
This one is apparently so obscure that no one on the internet is talking about it, except maybe here. As they’re making the final preparations on the raft at the end of the first season, Michael scolds Jinn for doing something wrong, “No! No! THIS one goes here, THAT one goes there!” If you don’t have the Star Wars movies memorized like I do, that one could pass you up. It’s from The Empire Strikes Back, when Han and Chewie are making some final repairs to the Millenium Falcon while the Empire bears down on the base. It’s one of the best small parts of those movies that demonstrated the greatness of Harrison Ford as Han Solo, and only a real fan would think to include that in their TV show.