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The fascinating story of how a villain from Star Wars' Ewok movies almost ended up on The Clone Wars
Star Wars continuity is a complicated web of dates, characters, locations, creatures, vehicles, events, and a thousand other elements all strung together to create the magic fans love to call the Expanded Universe. In the Disney era, Lucasfilm's had the chance to rebuild the EU in a new, more synergistic way, but back in the days before The Force Awakens the greater Star Wars world was sometimes a bit trickier to navigate, as Lucasfilm Story Group executive Pablo Hidalgo knows all too well.
On his Twitter feed Sunday night, Hidalgo took some time to respond to a question about Charal, the witch who first appeared in the TV movie Ewoks: The Battle for Endor in 1985, and whether or not she had any connection to the Nightsisters, the coven of Force-wielding witches from the planet Dathomir who are now perhaps best known for their appearances in The Clone Wars TV series. In a detailed and fascinating thread, Hidalgo explained how Charal — a character introduced with no real backstory or explanations for her powers, which included a shapeshifting ring — almost ended up a character on The Clone Wars, though the backstory that got her there is no longer canonical.
As Hidalgo explained it, back the mid-1980s George Lucas was developing new stories set in the Star Wars universe and particularly focused on the forest moon of Endor, home of the Ewoks from Return of the Jedi. These stories were very fantasy-focused, and relied less on the ideas of The Force put forth by the Jedi and more on the simple idea of magic, hence witches and sorcerers having adventures on Endor. Charal was one of the most prominent characters in this trend.
The Nightsisters first came along almost a decade later in an unrelated story: Dave Wolverton's Expanded Universe novel The Courtship of Princess Leia, which tells the story of Han Solo and Leia Organa's marriage and features Dathomir, the planet home to the Nightsisters. Subsequent Star Wars guides attempted to flesh out the Nightsisters, incuding Kevin J. Anderson's The Illustrated Star Wars Universe, which explained Charal's magical gifts by naming her as a Nightsister.
In the intervening years the Nighsisters continued to develop. Unused concept art from The Phantom Menace featuring a red-robed "Force witch" ultimately inspired their final look, and the Nightsisters would retain their red outfits in future appearances, including Clone Wars tie-in video games and, finally, The Clone Wars TV show itself. According to Hidalgo, when the series was preparing to introduce the Nighsisters, director Dave Filoni did consider throwing Charal in as a nod to the Ewoks movies, but that ultimately didn't happen. As a result, Charal is still a canonical Star Wars character, but because the books which declared her to be a Nightsister are not canon anymore, she's back to just being an interesting witch on Endor with no major backstory.
The Star Wars universe has always had a lot of moving parts, but those parts got even more complicated when the continuity had to be divided between what officially counted in the Disney era and what didn't. Thankfully, we have the supremely nerdy members of the Lucasfilm Story Group around to parse these things, and the creative decisions behind them, for us.