Star Wars: Tales of the Jedi Explained – What is the Anthology Animated Series?

With Star Wars Celebration 2022 still weeks away, we already know one of the new projects Lucasfilm will be unveiling at the convention. Thanks to a now-deleted panel schedule, we’ve learned that a new animated anthology series called Star Wars: Tales of the Jedi is in the works.

Fans of the classic Legends timeline will likely recognize this special branding. Tales of the Jedi is a name with deep meaning to the Star Wars mythos. The original Dark Horse Comics series was among the first Star Wars stories to flesh out the ancient history of the Jedi Order and their war with the Sith. Will this animated series follow suit? We don’t know much yet, but this is a good opportunity to look back at Tales of the Jedi and see how the original comics could influence the latest Star Wars animated series.

These are the topics we cover here:

  • Tales of the Jedi: The Basics
  • The plot of Tales of the Jedi
  • The connection to the knights of the old republic
  • Tales of the Jedi: The Animated Series

Tales of the Jedi: The Basics

Star Wars: Tales of the Jedi is a series of comic story arcs published by Dark Horse between 1993 and 1998. The series was originally conceived by author Tom Veitch, who is considered one of the key architects of the expanded Star Wars universe. While Veitch’s first Star Wars project, Dark Empire, was a sequel set six years after the events of Return of the Jedi, in this series Veitch incorporated references to ancient Jedi Knights and Sith Lords. These references became the foundation upon which Tales of the Jedi was built.

Tales of the Jedi is largely set 4,000 years before the era of the movies, at a time when the ancient Jedi Order is at war with the Sith (who at this point were portrayed as a unique race of Force-sensitive aliens rather than the Mysterious Ones order they would later become). Later Tales of the Jedi arcs went even further back in the Star Wars timeline, exploring a time 5000 years before the movies.

Along with co-writer Kevin J. Anderson (who also penned the Jedi Academy trilogy of novels around the same time), Veitch fleshed out an era of Star Wars history that fans were almost unaware of at the time. And while Tales of the Jedi, like most of the Expanded Universe, wasn’t rendered canonically, it’s a series that continues to exert a strong influence on contemporary stories.

Tales of the Jedi takes place largely 4,000 years before the era of the movies, at a time when the ancient Jedi Order is at war with the Sith.

The plot of Tales of the Jedi

While Tales of the Jedi is ostensibly an anthology series focusing on various characters and conflicts in the Old Republic era, the various stories combine into one overarching narrative. The series primarily revolves around the rise and fall of Ulic Qel-Droma, a Jedi Knight from Alderaan who is being corrupted by the dark side. Over the course of the series, Qel-Droma battles the Sith Empire and falls in love with fellow Jedi Nomi Sunrider, only to succumb to the temptation of the Darkness himself.

The story of Qel-Droma is closely intertwined with that of Exar Kun, another ex-Jedi who turned to the dark side. Kun was originally created by Anderson for the Jedi Academy trilogy, which reveals that his mind was bound to the abandoned temple on Yavin IV that briefly served as the base of the Rebel Alliance. Working together, Anderson and Veitch integrated Kun into the overall story of Tales of the Jedi, and the comics depict the Sith Lord at the peak of his power and reveal how he met his ultimate end.

Tales of the Jedi proved hugely influential for the franchise, establishing key pieces of Jedi/Sith mythology in a time before the Star Wars prequels began to cover that ground. Among other things, these comics cover key conflicts such as the Freedon-Nadd Uprising and the Great Hyperspace War, and introduce the ancient Sith Empire and warriors of Mandalore. Most importantly, Tales of the Jedi proved that some of the galaxy’s most powerful Jedi were fighting the influence of the dark side thousands of years before the time of Luke and Anakin Skywalker.

The connection to the knights of the old republic

You might be wondering where the Knights of the Old Republic games fit in. The name KOTOR actually comes from the comic as it is the subtitle of one of the great stories of the Jedi Tales. The games themselves are essentially direct sequels to the comic as well. The original Knights of the Old Republic is set approximately 40 years after the conclusion of Tales of the Jedi.

KOTOR builds on the conflict between Jedi and Mandalorians introduced in the comic and introduces Sith Lord Darth Revan and her apprentice Darth Malak. Like Exar Kun and Ulic-Qel Droma before them, Revan and Malak were respected Jedi Knights who succumbed to the temptations of the dark side. The exact reasons for their collective demise were only revealed with the release of The Old Republic, an MMORPG set a few centuries later. The Old Republic ties in with the mythology of the Sith Empire, which was introduced in Tales of the Jedi.

KOTOR puts players in the shoes of an amnesiac protagonist and a ragtag gang of Jedi, smugglers, Mandalorians and an extremely cranky droid trying to stop Malak from unleashing one of the galaxy’s deadliest superweapons. The sequel, set a decade later, shifts the focus to a disgraced Jedi known as the Jedi Exile as they battle a triumvirate of aspiring Sith Lords.

While the KOTOR games are sequels to Tales of the Jedi, there are some storytelling discrepancies between the two. Tales of the Jedi was released before the Star Wars prequels, while KOTOR was released a year after Episode II hit theaters. When Tales of the Jedi was published, George Lucas hadn’t laid down any basic details like that idea "Darth" is an honorific title held by all Sith Lords, not just Vader. KOTOR’s technology and architecture is also very different from Tales of the Jedi. The latter shows the Star Wars universe in a much more original and less technologically advanced state, in which the influence of westerns and samurai films is even more evident.

With the announcement of an animated series of Tales of the Jedi and the upcoming remake of Knights of the Old Republic, it will be interesting to see how closely intertwined the two projects are. Will we see a more unified vision of what the Star Wars universe was like 4000 years before the movies?

Tales of the Jedi: The Animated Series

Very little is currently known about the Tales of the Jedi animated series, and that likely won’t change until the show’s official reveal at Star Wars Celebration 2022 on May 28. Only two details have emerged so far – Tales of the Jedi is an anthology series consisting of short, animated episodes (similar to anime-style Star Wars: Visions), and The Clone Wars executive producer Dave Filoni, is involved. Presumably the series will be exclusive to Disney+, but even that detail has yet to be confirmed.

At this point, it’s unclear whether Tales of the Jedi is directly inspired by the original comics or simply repurposes the name. It’s possible that the series will be set in a similar setting, exploring the Old Republic era and introducing reimagined versions of characters like Ulic Qel-Droma and Nomi Sunrider into the official Disney canon.

However, it’s also possible that the series will cast a wider net. The show could focus on established Jedi like Luke, Rey, and Ahsoka Tano, as well as older generations of Jedi Knights. It could also explore the High Republic era, a setting that has been a major focus of Lucasfilm’s publishing division in recent years. If so, it would be the second Star Wars series set during the High Republic, following Leslye Headland’s Star Wars: The Acolyte.

Stay tuned to IGN for more on Tales of the Jedi and other big Star Wars Celebration announcements. Until then, cast your vote in our poll and let us know which era you would most like to see in Tales of the Jedi:

Jesse is a friendly editor for IGN. Allow him to lend a machete to your intellectual thicket Follow @jschedeen on Twitter. Star Wars: Tales of the Jedi Explained – What is the Anthology Animated Series?

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