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The Internet is awash with criticisms (or is that praise) of how Star Wars Episode VII: The Force Awakens borrows, steals, homages, references, archetype-uses or parallels from Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope.

What are those similarities?

  • I'll start the list and make it a CW so people can add. – DVK-on-Ahch-To Dec 19 '15 at 16:42
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    Related question asks about things that directly appeared in both films (as opposed to being homages/parallels): scifi.stackexchange.com/questions/111228/… – DVK-on-Ahch-To Dec 19 '15 at 17:04
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    For prospective close voters: Note that finite, answerable list questions are generally considered on-topic and not too broad. – KutuluMike Dec 19 '15 at 17:21
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    @JeremyFrench I’d say 90% of the film is based on the first Star Wars while only a few references to the other films—*The Empire Strikes Back* and Return of the Jedi*—are really made in *The Force Awakens. So it is fair to focus on the first Star Wars since this is really a major reboot of that film. – JakeGould Dec 19 '15 at 20:07
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    This article lists eighteen points of similarity. I have added a few that were missing to the answer. I also like the summary in this article which begins "We watch imperial troops from a galactic empire pursue a robot with stolen plans across a desert planet..." – joeytwiddle Dec 30 '15 at 3:39
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In rough order of appearance, here's the list. Note that a lot of these happen in a significantly different order between the two movies, so depending on which movie you're thinking of some things might seem out of place.

  • The film starts with:

    a huge Star Destroyer moving slowly and ominously into view.

  • The action starts on a desert planet:

    Tatooine vs. Jakku

  • The young protagonist, who turns out to be very strong in the Force, has been left on the desert planet, lonely and dreaming of more, with no knowledge of his/her parents:

    Luke vs. Rey

  • The protagonist meets a droid, frees it, and performs maintenance on it while they talk:

    Luke cleans R2 and removes his restraining bolt, Rey cuts BB-8 from a net and straightens his antenna.

  • Said protagonist is subsequently forced to leave said desert planet

    in a spaceship called the Millennium Falcon.

  • Stormtroopers in search of vital information they need:

    Plans of Death Star vs. Map to find Luke Skywalker

  • Stormtroopers destroy innocent inhabitants in search of that vital information:

    Uncle Owen and Aunt Beru’s farm and Jawas vs. village of Tuanul

  • Said information is hidden in a droid when the information carrier is about to fall into Imperial hands:

    Princess Organa hiding Star Wars plans in R2-D2 vs. Poe hiding the map in BB-8

  • The one who had been carrying the information is captured by the Villain and tortured for their knowledge:

    Princess Organa being tortured by Vader for the location of the rebel base vs. Poe being tortured by Kylo Ren for the location of the map

  • A stormtrooper takes off his helmet and says, "This is a rescue.":

    Luke Skywalker to Princess Leia vs. Finn to Poe Dameron

  • The search for information is headed by the featured Villain of the film, who has a mask, heavy breathing, deep voice, follows the Dark Side of the Force, wears all black, and uses a red lightsaber:

    Darth Vader vs. Kylo Ren

  • Said Villain holding someone off the floor by their neck:

    Vader and Captain Antilles vs. Kylo Ren and his subordinate

  • There’s a real Big Bad hiding behind this villain:

    Emperor Palpatine/Darth Sidious vs. Supreme Leader Snoke

  • There is a military commander with no force power but a similar rank, alongside the main villain:

    Governor / Grand Moff Tarkin vs. General Hux

  • Han Solo is confronted over money-related issues and attempts to "talk his way out of it":

    Greedo (also Jabba) vs. the 2 groups of space pirates

  • The Millennium Falcon is caught in a tractor beam and brought on board another vessel. Those on board the Falcon attempt to evade capture by hiding in a compartment underneath the floor:

    Han, Chewie, Luke, and Obi-Wan (successful) vs. Rey, Finn, and BB-8 (unsuccessful)

  • Han says, "I've got a bad feeling about this":

    In the trash compactor vs. when he is trapped by the two gangs

  • Han talks about the Force, using flowery language:

    "Hokey religion" vs. "Mumbo-jumbo"

  • The bad guys constructed a powerful weapon/base capable of destroying (an) entire planet(s):

    The Empire built the Death Star which destroys Alderaan vs. the First Order built Starkiller Base which destroys the Hosnian System

  • A daring rescue is attempted from this base shortly before the final battle.

    Princess Leia vs. Rey

  • The final battle of each movie results in the destruction of the aforementioned planet-destroying base, saving the day with mere moments to spare:

    Luke destroys the Death Star vs. Finn, Rey, Han and Chewie destroy the Starkiller Base

  • The bad guys also do away with part of the galactic government:

    The Emperor dissolved the the Imperial Senate vs. Starkiller Base destroyed the capitol of the Republic on Hosnian Prime

  • The protagonist is given Anakin Skywalker's lightsaber by a friend:

    Luke gets the lightsaber from Obi-Wan Kenobi vs. Rey gets it from Maz Kanata via Finn

  • There is a cantina full of unique aliens and strangely-dressed humans, with strange music playing, where plans for transportation off planet are discussed:

    Mos Eisley vs. Takodana Castle

  • One of the protagonists abandons the crusade out of desire for self-preservation (considered selfish), but later return to save a friend:

    Han and Chewbacca staying out of the Battle of Yavin until the last moment vs. Finn nearly running off with the two aliens from the tavern

  • C-3PO has issues with his left arm

    His left arm was ripped off by Tusken Raiders (Sand People) in the first Star Wars film. In this film his left arm is red because it is a replacement arm due to circumstances that are not mentioned in the movie.

  • Things with "Star" in their names:

    Death Stars and Star Destroyers vs. Starkiller Base

  • A force user sneaks around a large cavernous room while unaware stormtroopers pass nearby, then pulls a lever:

    Obi-Wan on the Death Star vs. Rey on Starkiller Base

  • The Villain and the newly reunited father figure / mentor share a pivotal scene while the other protagonists watch helplessly, and then scream:

    Darth Vader killing Obi-Wan vs. Kylo Ren killing Han Solo

  • X-Wings must do a trench run over the giant superweapon.

  • Political tensions between evil black-masked Force wielding villain, and military top brass:

    Vader and Motti vs. Kylo Ren and Hux

  • Masked villain holding someone off the floor by their neck:

    Vader and Captain Antilles vs. Kylo Ren and his subordinate

  • Someone is left for dead in a trash compactor:

    Leia, Han, Chewie, and Luke nearly die in a trash compactor vs. Captain Phasma gets sent (off-screen) to one

  • A protagonist flies the Millennium Falcon while another protagonist shoots the gun and destroys TIE fighters, and gets cocky about it:

    Leia flying, Luke and Han shooting vs. Rey flying, Finn shooting

  • The reclusive, wisened Jedi being sought after has prominent facial hair

    Gandalf vs. Dumbledore Obi Wan Kenobi vs. Luke Skywalker.

  • Despite the destruction of the super-weapon and the winning of the battle, we do not witness the death of the main villain.

    Darth Vader escaping in his Tie Fighter vs. Kylo Ren presumably being rescued by Hux at Snoke's request

  • R2-D2 carries important secrets that aren't accessed until the end of the movie:

    R2 has the Death Star plans vs. R2 has part of the map to Luke Skywalker

  • The wise old Jedi master finally returns, having previously disappeared after their student turned bad:

    Obi-Wan had disappeared to Tatooine after Anakin turned bad vs. Luke had disappeared after Ben Solo turned bad

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    Daddy issues, nobody has mentioned daddy issues. – Jeremy French Dec 19 '15 at 19:41
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    PS: FWIW, the point of “Star Destroyer moving slowly and ominously into view…” is fairly meaningless. All of the original trilogy films included a Star Destroyer appearing after the intro crawl. I believe the prequels did as well, but I generally have blocked those films from my memory so hey… Someone else please confirm/refute. – JakeGould Dec 19 '15 at 20:16
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    @JakeGould The question asks for similarities between Ep. IV and VII and both start with a Star Destroyer moving slowly and ominously into view. :) – RedCaio Dec 19 '15 at 20:37
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    @JakeGould You're right, and if the question was asking for similarities between Ep. V and VII then the launching of transport ships vs. probe droids would be a great thing to add to such a question. Basically even if other SW films also have something in common, if Ep. IV and VII have it in common then it goes with this question. – RedCaio Dec 19 '15 at 20:49
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    An orphan with latent Force skills ekes out a meager existence on a desert planet until teaming up with a swashbuckling rogue and an old man to return a droid with vital information to the freedom fighters. Along the way there's a cantina, the orphan's eyes are opened to the Force while using Anakin's lightsaber, the Big Bad strikes down the old man with a red lightsaber, the Senate is dissolved, and a single fighter blows up the immense spherical superweapon with a couple of well-aimed shots after said superweapon destroys an entire planet. – Michael Itzoe Dec 23 '15 at 15:58

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