We all know that the Star Wars movies take place "A long time ago, in a galaxy far far away". But relative to what?

The obvious answer is that it's relative to 20th-century Earth (21st for episodes 2 and 3).

But how plausible is it that both phrases might be relative to the place and time of some hidden narrator rather than the modern audience?

If the story is being told by someone in the distant future of the Star Wars universe (and George Lucas is re-telling that story), that opens the possibility that the humans we see are actually our distant descendants. For example, the events of the movies might take place 10,000 years in our future, after Earth humans have colonized other galaxies, and the story is being told by someone living, say, 10,000 years after that.

Are there any canonical sources and/or statements by George Lucas that clearly define what "A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away" actually means?

(My own thought is that placing the story in the distant past gives a more mythic feel.)

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    I would assume this is to the viewers context, attempting to warp it such as this seems to render the entire point of it moot.
    – Ashterothi
    Commented Feb 29, 2012 at 21:10
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    @SachinShekhar: The odds against another species independently evolving to resemble humans as closely as the "humans" in Star Wars do are beyond astronomical. Commented Feb 29, 2012 at 22:15
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    @DVK: Giving it a name doesn't make it any more likely. All species on Earth share common ancestry, and there are no examples of such close convergence. Commented Mar 1, 2012 at 19:52
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    @DVK: Sorry, I was unclear. I'm familiar with the term and the concept. All the known examples are among organisms that share common ancestry; we're talking about independent species in separate galaxies. I stand by my statement about the unlikelihood of the convergence we see in the movies (but I'm willing to accept it as artistic license). Commented Mar 1, 2012 at 20:06
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    This is simply a sci-fi version of "Once upon a time." Commented Jan 7, 2014 at 20:02

5 Answers 5


I don't know if this is canonical, but I believe the answer is that the setting is "a long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away" relative to any given viewer regardless of their position in the space-time continuum. Presenting this up-front tells the viewer that they should put aside any pre-conceptions of how the galaxy, its politics, technology, or life-forms should be constructed. It entirely separates the fantasy world from reality, to provide a deeper immersion into the story.

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    I like it. I don't think I believe it, but I like it. Commented Feb 29, 2012 at 23:24
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    It's basically "Once upon a time..." - except in space!
    – Tacroy
    Commented Mar 1, 2012 at 20:15

Authors and researchers may speculate, but I doubt you'd find a canonical answer from George. From what I remember of George's comments (DVD commentaries, documentaries, etc.), he's inclined to want to include as many "mythological motifs" as possible. Consider also the somewhat whimsical initial conception of Star Wars, which apparently included dialogue references to The Lord of the Rings and was entitled Adventures of Luke Starkiller, As Taken From the Journal of the Whills, Saga 1: The Star Wars. As such, Star Wars is framed in many ways as mythology or a fairy tale, for which the deliberately non-specific "long ago and far away" setting is customary.

So until G.L. tells us, which is probably never, the flippant and yet also accurate answer to your question is "probably somewhere in this universe (since there are humans), during the same time period as Snow White and Ali Baba."


I just found a interesting article that may answer the when part : A Chart That Explains How Long Ago Star Wars Actually Took Place on io9. It place the Battle of Yavin (Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope) in 1804 of ours time.

It bases is math on Into the Great Unknown from Dark Horse's Star Wars Tales #19. Here form Star Wars Tales Wookieepedia article

Issue #1 to Issue #20 were edited by Peet Janes (Issues 1 and 2) and Dave Land (Issues 3-20) and were labeled Infinities, placing them outside the canon (though this is not to say that the events depicted are permanently outside of the official continuity, just that they should not be considered canon unless or until they are endorsed by a canon source)

So, It's not really canon, but its the best we could find.

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    The Star Wars galaxy isn't our Galaxy. If Han and Chewie could cross galaxies, I'm willing to bet they could play fast & loose, temporally. The i09 article is baseless, since the Falcon took a step to the left, a hop to the right, and did the time warp again.
    – Jeff
    Commented Jan 7, 2014 at 20:02
  • @Jeff It's just a jump to the left. Commented Jul 3, 2022 at 12:15
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    @RossPresser And then a step to the right. Commented Dec 19, 2022 at 19:56

This is addressed by Pablo Hidalgo in Star Wars Insider #69. In short, there's no specific time or place.

Q. What is the setting for Star Wars movies? I know it's "A long time ago", but what year exactly?

PH: There is no specific date assigned to the events of the Star Wars movies and there will likely never be. That famous introductory line is supposed to inform audiences that the following two-hours-and-change are pure escapist fantasy, and the rules and preconceptions of the dreary world do not apply. Asking how long "a long time ago" is akin to asking "once upon what time?" at the start of a fairy tale


The timeline on the star wars wiki states that the creation of its Galaxy was 13 billion years prior to the Battle of Yavin (during episodes 4-5-6). Our own Galaxy is 13.2 billion years old and the universe Is 13.8 billion years old. If the galaxies were in fact created at relatively the same point, .6 billion years after the Big Bang. Than we can assume that the original trilogy took place 200 million years ago, but say the galaxies were formed at different points, say the star wars Galaxy was formed around 799700 years after the Big Bang, 199700 years after ours, than Star Wars: into the great unknown could be considered true in the fact that the battle of Yavin occurred around 1804. Although that doesn't seem too "a long time ago". I prefer the former of BOY taking place 200 million years ago.

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    The current universe is about 13.8 billion years old. Star Wars could conceivably take place during a previous universe, one otherwise entirely unknown to us now. That would place the Battle of Yavin has having taken place at least about 14 billion years ago, which is a seriously long time ago. Commented Sep 25, 2015 at 21:00
  • You need to add some zeroes. .6 billion years is 600,000,000 years.
    – Spencer
    Commented Mar 8, 2020 at 14:13

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