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Kind of brought to my attention by this answer. The poster mentions non-humans, which infers that there are humans in the Star Wars universe.

However, since it happened "A long time ago, in a galaxy far far away", how could there be any humans in the Star Wars universe?

Are there "humans" in Star Wars there just because it was easier to make the movies that way? Other shows such as Star Trek are about the future of humans, so it's easy to understand the existence of humans in those storylines. However for Star Wars it just doesn't make sense.

It also seems odd that they'd go around creating all these different species and then just leave the main characters as humans. I guess another possibility is that the humans in star Wars eventually populated Earth, but then what happened to all the technology?

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I always though about the humans in Star Wars being ancestors rather than descendants of Earth humans... –  Zommuter Jun 21 '13 at 13:08
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Good question. It has come up before. –  user14111 Dec 5 '13 at 6:20
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panspermia or parallel evolution can explain the existence of beings that look a lot like human beings in a galaxy a long time ago, far far away. Creative license does the rest –  jwenting Dec 5 '13 at 6:39
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And ducks. Don't forget ducks. –  Mr Lister Dec 5 '13 at 17:17
    
@Kibbee Let us not forget that Jaba the Hutt evolved from a human. –  Major Stackings Dec 6 '13 at 4:08

14 Answers 14

The humans in the Star Wars universe are not from Earth. There are millions of planets inhabited by humans.

From Wookieepedia:

Humans were the galaxy's most numerous and politically dominant sentient species with millions of major and minor colonies galaxy-wide. Believed to have originated on the galactic capital of Coruscant, they could be found anywhere, engaged in many different pursuits.

The origin of Humans in Star Wars is unknown (though many in the galaxy believe that they originated on Coruscant). Since they appear to be identical to Humans on Earth, some fans have created theories about a species of extragalactic aliens who transported early Humans from Earth to the "Galaxy Far, Far Away". Other fans suggest that parallel evolution could have produced Humans in the Star Wars galaxy as well as in the Milky Way. A canceled, and therefore non-canon, novel known as Alien Exodus would have explained the origins of Humanity and their connection with Earth, but it was never published for a variety of reasons. The storyline in this novel involved both space travel and time travel, which would have explained the line "A long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away."

From a moviemaking standpoint, yes it was probably because it is easier to have the main characters as humans. It is also easier to relate to characters who are humans (or at least humanoid)

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But are they really "humans"? Why are there humans on earth without the same level of technology. We know (almost certainly) that humans evolved independantly on earth, and didn't come from elsewhere. How did humans become the "most numerous and politically dominant sentient species" before ever making it outside our own solar system. –  Kibbee Jun 9 '11 at 20:01
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There may not even be an Earth in the Star Wars universe. They are referred to as humans and have the same physiology as we do but they don't have to have any connection to Earth. –  Origami Robot Jun 9 '11 at 20:04
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+1 for Alien Exodus. –  dkuntz2 Jun 11 '11 at 22:56
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A "long time ago" might mean a long time ago from the point of the storyteller telling the story to an even later generation, this does not forbid it taking place in our very far future, where mankind forgot where they originated from hundreds of millenia ago. This might be even an explanation why there is Christmas in the Star Wars universe (runs away like hell ....) –  vsz Jan 8 '12 at 17:43
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The universe is infinite. If the universe is infinite then there are infinite planets and species out there. Out of that infinite selection, there are also infinite number of life forms following the same evolutionary path on a similar planet to Earth. Infinite languages, one resembling English spoken by people that call themselves human. –  riv_rec Feb 27 '12 at 15:27

I have no citations for this, but it seems obvious to me that Star Wars drew from many sources, notably the concept of a faery tale (the opening words, the princess, the farmboy turned hero, the "magic" etc, etc). Faery tales are often set "long ago" and "far away" to give them an exotic flavour, and often imply that there was a past when giants, witches talking wolves, etc, etc were normal.

This -- in my opinion -- is more of a stylistic impression than a detailed constructed history. The past is supposed to seem fantastic and magical and hard to verify. There is typically deliberately no attempt to make the world consistent with modern scientific evidence.

Several modern works follow a similar trend (plus some who do offer a more explicit explanation for the "waning" of magic), notably Tolkien, who strongly implied that the Hobbit and the Lord of the Rings were morally if not literally a history of the present day.

I assume Lucas invented humans in a galaxy "a long time ago" because it rang true to our intuition, not because there was a logical reason for it. (And I think he was right to do so.) We're supposed to imagine that maybe the story did eventually lead to colonisation of earth, or maybe it's an allegory with no specific physical existence. And asking "why" is like asking "why there are giants who don't obey the inverse square law", because the story is based on them being there.

That said, it's possible to imagine specific answers -- I assume there are some in the extended universe, but I don't know what they are. Most likely: (a) time travel or (b) humans eventually colonised earth then lost all records, and the anthropological evidence is wrong somehow[1].

[1] After all, Star Wars is awesome, but it isn't, and doesn't pretend to be, biologically accurate :)

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Many fairy tales begin with: "Long ago, in a land far away." Lucas was imitating that classic style. –  pleurocoelus Jan 14 at 0:37

This would have been explained in a series of canceled novels, Alien Exodus. However, having been canceled, it appears to be one of the few pieces of Star Wars that actually falls under "non-canon", rather than just a low level of canon:

"Another place, another time. A world called Earth, in its early 25th
  century, is moving toward a totalitarian, computer-controlled society."
―Robert J. Sawyer, Alien Exodus outline

The Human Exodus begins on Earth, in the 25th century. The three main characters—computer hacker Dale Hender, space pilot Antonia Corelli, and her lover Paxton Solo—are leaders of an underground movement resisting the computers who have taken control of Earth's society. Hender discovers that the computers intend to force-feed the people of Earth drugs to control their emotions. They also learn that the computers intend to strip away the identities and family ties of the Humans under their control by replacing their names with serial numbers (Hender is to become the first of the THX series, THX-0001).

Powerless to stop the computers, the underground decides to secretly convert a comet-mining ship called the Oort Raider to a colony ship, carrying five thousand Humans on a multi-generational journey to Alpha Centauri. After a narrow escape from the computers' forces on Earth, the Oort Raider escapes the solar system. Their long journey is interrupted when they fall through a "cosmic whirlpool" leading to another solar system in another galaxy. To their great surprise, the wormhole is not only a bridge to another galaxy, but to another time, billions of years in the past.

The Wookieepedia page does not give an exact timeline, and this "billions of years in the past" would indeed be much further back than the main Star Wars universe because after arriving in the past, the humans were turned into slaves - it would be a long time before they rose to power. The main character of that era is a descendent of one of the humans who went through the wormhole:

"An even longer time ago, in a galaxy far, far away …." 
―Robert J. Sawyer's opening lines for Chapter 1 of Alien Exodus

The main story opens with Cosmo Hender, leader of the Human slaves on the Varlian planet Forhilnor. Forhilnor's slaves include Humans, Bith, Ithorians, Kubaz, Ortolans, Kitonaks, Twi'leks, Mon Calamari, and Sullustans. The Varlians—giant insectoids who rule a large star empire—have Rodian and Gamorrean henchmen to oversee the slaves. The slaves are being forced to build a massive stone temple, which by this point has reached a height of one thousand meters. A secret council, consisting of the leaders of each slave species, plots to somehow gain freedom, though their people have been enslaved for at least five generations. The slave council note that all their people are weary, even more than can be explained by the hard work and short rations.

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Amazing answer! –  DVK Dec 5 '13 at 15:26
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Those poor Solos. They get screwed by history almost as much as the Skywalkers. –  nomen May 1 at 6:26
    
+1 for spotting the THX reference. –  Richard Aug 27 at 0:46

This is definitely a tough one to answer. As such, I think you answered your question in the last sentence. The most logical answer with the data at hand is that the humans in star wars eventually populated earth.

It makes sense when you think about the shear overwhelming odds against one species evolving into homo-sapien, and then a completely different species, many many years later, evolving into homo-sapien (of course, that would make them the same species in the scientific sense).

Even if it isn't canon, humans from that far away galaxy must have ended up on Earth in some fashion. If a large refugee colony without a ton of tech was marooned here, that could account for the lack of lightsabers and blasters showing up on carvings at Giza.

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Perhaps Battlestar Galactica is a cross over between Star Wars and Star Trek. Sounds like the makings of a good serial of stories. –  Xantec Jun 9 '11 at 21:04
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Makes me think of the "Lost Tribe of the Sith" series of stories on Amazon. –  eidylon Jun 9 '11 at 21:08
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The odds of humans evolving in the same fashion in multiple places are only against you if your only belief system is science. –  BBlake Jun 10 '11 at 12:29
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There's at least one fanfic out there where humans from Earth (specifically, the Federation from Star Trek) are engaged in combat against the Empire and end up getting sent through a wormhole to a world in a galaxy far, far away (and an even LONGER long, long time ago). –  Jeff Jun 10 '11 at 19:40

Any movie or book that claims to cover real events can either be a direct non-fictional account, which will be very dry, or it can be modified slightly to present it as a narrative so it's a good read or entertaining enough to watch that people will pay money to see it.

There may be other in-world answers, for instance, maybe humans in this galaxy are a result of seeding missions from the Star Wars galaxy, but I think it's also safe to say that if the dominant species in the SW galaxy were three-legged, purple, and four-eyed, then it would be much harder for humans to form an emotional bond with the characters. For example, we can connect with the Navi because they are at least humanoid.

So, assuming that Lucas had gajillions to spend and could have made the movies with Luke, Leia, Anakin, and the rest having three legs and four eyes, by taking poetic license and making the main characters something we can identify with, it results in a story that humans will connect with on a deeper level.

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I can't help but to also point out that in SW, Lucas ripped off -- er, I mean "paid homage" to so many movies, with scenes directly from "The Searchers" and much by Kurosawa, that he was definitely thinking in terms of imagery that resonates with the human psyche. –  Tango Jun 9 '11 at 20:03

There's one hypothesis that IMHO makes the most sense (it's one of several that have already been mentioned). On the other hand, making sense is not necessarily a prerequisite for accuracy in the Star Wars universe.

That hypothesis is that some unknown alien species, for some unknown reasons, brought humans from Earth to Coruscant in the distant past, where they built a civilization and spread out to the rest of the Star Wars galaxy.

In our reality, there is ample evidence that humans evolved independently here on Earth. There's been plenty of fiction that has humans being introduced on Earth from elsewhere, but that doesn't fit in with the known fossil record and our genetic similarity to all the other species on Earth.

In the Star Wars universe, the origin of humans is unknown. The most widely accepted theory is that they evolved on Coruscant and spread out from there, but that's difficult to verify; Coruscant is so over-built that archaeology is impractical.

According to this timeline, Coruscant was completely covered by its principal city 100,000 years before the events of Episode IV. Anatomically modern humans appeared about 200,000 years ago. That leaves 100,000 years to be split between (a) time for the human colonists on Coruscant to build their planet-covering city, and (b) time to account for the "a long time ago" in the opening credits.

Humans on Coruscant developed an interstellar civilization much more quickly than Earth humans have, but that could be explained by the influence of whoever brought them to Coruscant.

This assumes that "a long time ago" is relative to our current time. If instead it's relative to the time of the story's hidden narrator, we have a lot more flexibility. Future Earth humans could develop interstellar, and then intergalactic travel, and establish a colony on Coruscant without outside help. Some disaster could then cause them to lose their historical records; as they recover, they build a new interstellar civilization, the one that we see in the movies.

Pulling some numbers out of the air, we could have:

  • 1977: Humans on Earth watching science fiction movies.
  • 2200: Humans have developed interstellar and intergalactic travel.
  • 2500: Humans colonize a planet that will later be called Coruscant.
  • 3000: Human civilization on Coruscant goes through a crisis that results in a loss of historical knowledge.
  • 10,000: Human civilization on Coruscant has recovered and built a single dense city covering the entire planet.
  • 110,000: Battle of Yavin
  • 200,000: The civilization that (re)started on Coruscant has now spread to other galaxies. Someone produces an epic historical drama about the events that happened 90,000 years previously, "a long time ago in a galaxy far, far away".
  • 200,100: The script for this drama falls first into a black hole, then into the hands of George Lucas on 20th century Earth.
  • 201,977: Contact with Earth is re-established. Descendants of Coruscant humans see the original Star Wars. The temporal paradox causes the Universe to vanish in a puff of logic.

Note that some of this is just a little bit speculative.

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the idea that it's the future is interesting. IIRC Dune's narration is semi historical feeling, and of course that occurs a long time in the future. –  zipquincy Oct 4 '12 at 23:14

My friend and I were talking about this very subject just the other day. We came to the conclusion that the events of Star Wars took place in THIS galaxy (in a non-canonical sense, of course). The exact reason for humans losing all their history and technology is still up for debate, but what is not in question is universal expansion. As the universe expands, the galaxies move. Therefore in a purely scientific sense, the events of Star Wars could easily have taken place in our own galaxy. After all, a long time ago, our galaxy was far, far away.

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Science says convergent evolution makes it likely that a near identical primate species would very possibly evolve on planets with similar habitats. Even if it's one in a billion given the size of the cosmos them's not bad odds. In my opinion, science is not just another "belief system." There is a lot of research and peer-reviewed evidence available to research.

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The odds against an alien species evolving to look that much like Earth humans are much much steeper than a billion to one. –  Keith Thompson Mar 31 '12 at 16:42

i always considered that there are humans in the star wars universe because the story is being told from a future perspective and not directly toward us on earth who are watching the films, therefore its our future, and we are the origin of the human diaspora that time forgot.

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I just found a interesting article : A Chart That Explains How Long Ago Star Wars Actually Took Place. It places Cade Skywalker leaving the Jedi Order in 1941. So no, it would not have caught up to our time line yet.

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This answer looks like it was posted in the wrong place and was actually intended for Has the Star Wars universe caught up to our time?, because it does not address the question being asked here. –  Izkata Dec 26 '13 at 7:15
    
Actually someone edited the question after I posted this answer –  arunborn2win41 Dec 26 '13 at 13:36

I think what happened was sometime during the events of the galactic civil war a colony of humans flee the galaxy surrounding coruscant and crash land on what will be known as earth a long time ago and the set up a new colony of humans. The reason no tech exist is it either got destroyed in the crash or ran out of power and with no way to recharge it, it becomes no more then a decoration on the wall. Then humans rebuild and the stories passed on from parent to child about the old world becomes the stories we now know as.... STAR WARS

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Welcome to scifi.stackexchange! Do you have any sources / evidence to back that up? –  Einer Aug 25 at 7:54

Have you given though that humans are not native to earth? Some ancient scriptures report the Adam Kadmon race, from Archurtus came to earth, helped to boost evolution of the species already here, gave start to the different races. But we are talking about Star Wars and not our actual planets history.

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How about this for an explanation; the earth doesn’t exist in the star wars universe. There’s no coincidence to warrant an explanation. It’s no more a coincidence than the movies being set in a galaxy exactly the same as the star wars galaxy. Surely visitors from the star wars galaxy would be a bit baffled if they watched the star wars films to find that they were set in a galaxy just like theirs? They’d think we must have visited their galaxy at some point, wouldn’t they? Well, in any work of fiction, the work of fiction doesn’t exist in-universe. In star wars, earth also doesn’t exist in universe. In-universe, Humans emerged in the star wars galaxy and nowhere else. Actually, I think the fact that Zabrak, as well as a few other species, look pretty similar to Humans deserves more of an explanation. Not a species that evolved on a planet that doesn’t even exist to them.

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Given the # of planets that are rocky and in the habitable zone is estimated in the millions for the Milky Way alone, and untold numbers across the universe. So even at one in a billion, statistically there are trillions of worlds where evolution has produced humans identical to Earth humans throughout the cosmos.

Having said that I am curious where you get the one in a billion odds, since technically we are the only known planet with humans, how did you arrive at this figure?

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I would like to know where you got all of your numbers...they don't seem reasonable. –  SSumner Sep 27 '12 at 15:27

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