In the second book of the Foundation trilogy, Foundation and Empire, written in 1953, the Mule appears, an amazing and intriguing character. Reading this book give me the sensation that George Lucas based his ideas of the Jedi and Sith orders around the influence of the Asimov tale.

Is there any evidence that Foundation series - especially the Mule - influenced Star Wars ideas of Jedi and Sith, given the multitude of acknowledged and unacknowledged-but-obvious influences that Lucas had?


Here's a fragment of the mule description:

One of the greatest conquerors the galaxy has ever seen, he is a mentalic who has the ability to reach into the minds of others and "adjust" their emotions, individually or en masse, using this capability to conscript individuals to his cause. Not direct mind-control per se, it is a subtle influence of the subconscious; individuals under the Mule's influence behave otherwise normally - logic, memories, and personality intact."

Can explain for example, one the Jedi/Sith main talents... and so on.

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    Sorry, but questions that call for speculation are off-topic here. We only accept questions that have verifiable correct answers.
    – Mike Scott
    Commented Nov 16, 2012 at 14:24
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    @MikeScott - I edited this to a (hopefully) more digestible SFF friendly form. Commented Nov 16, 2012 at 14:24
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    @wandarkaf - you said "Reading this book give me the sensation that George Lucas based his ideas of the Jedi and Sith orders around the influence of the Asimov tale". You need to provide some details of WHY you have that sensation, meaning specific examples of similarities of details/ideas from Star Wars and Foundation. Otherwise your question makes little sense. Commented Nov 16, 2012 at 14:26
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    I doubt they are related in any way. Is anyone allowed to just write a story without it being identified as some ridiculous allegory to some other writing? Mind control isn't exactly unique. Even if you had no influence at all, at some point or another you would probably wish you knew what someone else was thinking.
    – Kai Qing
    Commented Feb 11, 2016 at 0:01
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    I think there's a lot more Lensman than Foundation in Star Wars. Commented Jun 14, 2016 at 21:49

11 Answers 11


According to Isaac Asimov: Yes

Asimov did indeed believe that Star Wars was influenced by Foundation, and has said so several times; in an introduction in 1983:

I modeled my “Galactic Empire” (a phrase I think I was the first to use) quite consciously on the Roman Empire. Ever since then, other science fiction writers have been following the fashion, and have written series of their own after the fashion of the Foundation series. In fact, in the late 1970s the Galactic Empire reached the movies in the enormously popular Star Wars, which, here and there, offered rather more than a whiff of the Foundation. (No, I don’t mind. Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, and I certainly imitated Edward Gibbon, so I can scarcely object if someone imitates me.)
Empires (1983), collected in The Tyrannosaurus Prescription (1989)

in his last autobiography:

I borrowed freely from Edward Gibbon's History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire in planning the Foundation series, and I believe that the motion picture Star Wars did not hesitate, in turn, to borrow from the Foundation series.
I. Asimov: A Memoir (1994)

and in a talkshow:

As a matter of fact, if you see these pictures, Star Wars and its sequels, there's a certain amount of stuff that came from my Foundation books. But what the heck, a certain amount of my Foundation books came from Gibbon's Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire. So how far back do you want to go? That's the way things work.
Isaac Asimov on Dick Cavett (1989)

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    I had no idea that Asimov was so cool with it.
    – n_b
    Commented Feb 20, 2018 at 0:30
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    I got the impression that Asimov took a lot of science fiction concepts that had already been around and used them to create a Universe he liked. Commented Oct 25, 2018 at 16:25
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    According to Asimov, fair enough, but has Lucas ever said anything himself about drawing inspiration from works such as Foundation? He has said that the original Star Wars (IV, A New Hope) was heavily inspired by the old black-and-white 30's movie serials like Flash Gordon and Buck Rogers as a heroic action/adventure with a straightforward good guys vs bad guys plot. Would be interesting to find if he had read Foundation prior to penning his first Star Wars outline.
    – Anthony X
    Commented Aug 25, 2019 at 19:53

The only absolutely verifiable one that I'm aware of is Trantor/Coruscant: Trantor - Inspired by Trantor, Wikipedia

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    How is this verifiable? Science-fiction, and its tropes, will/did reach a point where 'city planets' seem an obvious go-to based on scale and story. Lucas has his faults; but with the scale of his story, he would have been led to some of the same ideas Asimov did. Criticize the 'light-saber' invention more.
    – Solemnity
    Commented Dec 25, 2012 at 10:45
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    The name "Jhantor" was used in early drafts for "Coruscant", according to the Wikipedia article cited above. It seems likely that either the name Jhantor was patterned on Trantor, or it was changed because the similarity was pointed out at an early stage. Commented Aug 25, 2019 at 21:11

Though different, I have found some "traces" in Star Wars that somehow resemble Asimov's Foundation saga. I will try to resume those similarities in the following points:

  1. The Mankind is spread over the entire Galaxy (The Milky Way?)
  2. There's a Galactic Empire with a bureaucratic capital world (Trantor / Coruscant)
  3. There are outer provinces whose inhabitants are mainly smugglers and scavengers.
  4. Ships jumps into hyperspace for shortening traveling time.
  5. The Republic (Star Wars) resembles The Scientist Community in Terminus.
  6. Both Hober Mallow (Foundation) and Han Solo (Star Wars) are smugglers that become agents and fighters for their respective worlds.
  7. Princess Leia resembles Bayta Darell. While Leia battled against Darth Vader, Bayta battled against the Mule.
  8. The inhabitants of the Second Foundation have enormous mental power and their minds can control people and objects. In the Universe of Star Wars this power is called The Force.
  9. Darth Vader could be Han Pritcher. Why? Darth Vader (Pritcher) is controlled by Darth Sidious (the Mule). Both Vader and Pritcher were assimilated by the Dark Side.
  10. Yoda (Star Wars) is Preem Palver (Second Foundation's First Speaker).
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    Well done. At least the 'core' parts were most likely inspired by Foundation. galactic empire, credits, hyperspace, capital planet. But same things are in Star Trek. For all we know, Lucas was inspired by star trek, who got it from Foundation. Commented Mar 28, 2016 at 12:37
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    The Star Wars galaxy is explicitly stated as not the Milky Way galaxy. Most SW movies and other SW media begin with a text stating that it takes place in "a galaxy far, far away".
    – Philipp
    Commented Jun 16, 2020 at 9:15

I noticed many common things as well. For example, the couple of robots discussing like in Robots and the Empire, human-like Daneel and robot-like Giskard. Brings to mind C-3PO and R2-D2, doesn't it? Big Galactic Empire was first invented by Asimov, wasn't it? The Force, mental talent which can be trained with hard work, and Asimovs mental talent, based on human nature but hidden. I'm maybe searching, but I see similarity.

I did not consider Mule actually, that was a clever point, because at his own appreciated and rightful community he felt discriminated and escaped and wanted to rule the world with his own way, becoming a villain. And again his plans went wrong when he liked this Darell person, a bit of good came out from a villain. Still Asimov did not have so clear good/evil-assembly as it is in Star Wars, Jedi/Sith and so on. And I get totally different feeling when I see, hear or read from a Jedi than when reading about Hari Seldon or earlier main characters, but still the theme is righteousness/minded justice. And instinct, a very big deal in both works.

And of course there is similarities between Han Pritcher/Han Solo, Trantor/Coruscant, Galactic Empire/Galactic Empire, credits as exchange/credits as exchang and technology stuff. Sorry for speculation, I think this is a very interesting target.


I am re-reading the Foundation trilogy at the same time as my kid trailing through the Star Wars, well, trilogy, and I am aware of many small overlapping details, such as "traders", "mental probe", "jump into hyperspace" and so forth. Even Han Solo's outfit is reminiscent of the "short coat of a soft,leathery plastic", not to mention the rough looks and faux-pecuniary manner, of trader Lathan Devers in Foundation and Empire. Given Asimov wrote these books between 1941-53, I can imagine their incredible imagery as having understandably pervaded Lucas's imagination at an impressionable age.

  • I was thinking that Hober Mallow could have been another Solo inspiration. Darn... now I have to go re-read the trilogy. It's been a while, but remains one of my all time favorites.
    – tj1000
    Commented Jan 28, 2018 at 9:03

For example Second Foundation's initial plot:

Han (Pritcher, not Solo) and Bail (Channis, please) chasing after a bunch of mysterious, possibly nonexistent mental masters (the second foundationers, of course, not talking about Jedi or Sith) in the service of a deformed, rather wicked, would-be empire-builder with his own singular mental powers (the Mule - or maybe Palpatine or Darth Vader).


One thing I found similar is that both Millennium Falcon and the ship of Dever (the trader who was sent by the foundation to investigate the Empire)

  1. They are both claimed to be able to "outrun any Empire's ship".
  2. After Han Solo/Dever managed to escape, they both shot down several pursuing Empire ships and escaped through hyperspace.
  3. Both have cabin for smuggling.
  4. Han Solo and Dever are both really proud of their ships.
  5. Both ships have deflector shields.

Think of it, the notion of "trader" is kind of like the notion of "smuggler" in Star Wars.


I thought I would include a selection of text from the first Foundation book that sounds awfully similar to a certain scene in Star Wars A New Hope. Specifically, the scene where Han, Ben, Luke, Chewie, and the droids are escaping from Tatooine while Star Destroyers chase them...

Devers said huskily, "Quickly to the ship. They'll have the alarm out in no time." He cursed in a ferocious whisper. "It's another plan that's backfired. I could swear the space fiend himself is against me."

It was in the open that they became aware of the jabbering crowds that surrounded the huge televisors. They had no time to wait; the disconnected roaring words that reached them, they disregarded. But Barr snatched a copy of the Imperial News before diving into the huge barn of the hangar, where the ship lifted hastily through a giant cavity burnt fiercely into the roof.

"Can you get away from them?" asked Barr.

Ten ships of the traffic-police wildly followed the runaway craft that had burst out of the lawful, radio-beamed Path of Leaving, and then broken every speed law in creation. Further behind still, sleek vessels of the Secret Service were lifting in pursuit of a carefully described ship manned by two thoroughly identified murderers.

"Watch me," said Devers, and savagely shifted into hyperspace two thousand miles above the surface of Trantor. The shift, so near a planetary mass, meant unconsciousness for Barr and a fearful haze of pain for Devers, but light-years further, space above them was clear.

Devers' somber pride in his ship burst to the surface. He said, "There's not an Imperial ship that could follow me anywhere."

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    This answer seems to be (essentially) a redux of this answer
    – Valorum
    Commented Aug 25, 2019 at 16:37

Star Wars has a huge long list of identifiable influences. Amongst them are Kurosawa, spaghetti Westerns, Swords & Sorcery fantasy, The Dam Busters movie and the 633 Squadron movie.

Likewise the list of tropes (warning: TV Tropes) for the original Star Wars film is very long and includes a lot of stuff that was floating around in the Golden Age of science fiction.

So trying to identify the exact relationship between Foundation and Star Wars is not really a useful exercise (unless Lucas himself has specifically said something about it). Were the parallels between the Mule and the Jedi that you mention due to Lucas consciously copying from the Foundation? Did he read the Foundation novels many years ago and unconsciously reuse ideas from it? Or did he just mash up a bunch of psi-power tropes (TV Tropes again) and new-age hokum? We have no way of knowing.


Some random thoughts after seeing the Last Jedi and re-reading the Foundation Trilogy. I think the mule is somewhat similar to both Palpatine (who secluded himself in his high tower in the prologue to the Original Star Wars novelization) and the physically deformed telepathic Snoke in the Last Jedi (the mule being described as sticklike in his limbs and 120 lbs stretched out over a five foot eight frame). I actually envision the mule as Snoke (who also reminds me of the god in the Star Trek episode who mourns for Adonis, if memory serves), and if I imagine Rian Johnson and or JJ Abrams being inspired by Asimov, and/or Star Trek, then I can at least appreciate how they may have created Snoke's character, even if it was ultimately wasted and undeveloped. The other influence I see Asimov as having on the Last Jedi was the concept of the Hyper-Relay in the second Foundation book, a device that allows a ship to be tracked through hyperspace. Again, I can at least appreciate the influence Asimov had on Johnson, even if Johnson's end result left something to be desired. Kind of like how Lucas so obviously ripped off the giant iguanas from Flash Gordon serial one and used them as Obi-Wan's giant iguana creature in Episode III. Unlike the OT, I don't think either Lucas or Johnson did much to improve upon the original concept in either case, but at least there is a pulpy precedent in each of their questionable plot devices.

  • Do you have any evidence for your claims to influence or are they just possible connections you've made?
    – Edlothiad
    Commented Jan 28, 2018 at 8:05

Asimov called guns "blasters" in Foundation and Star Wars followed suit. The Foundation was set up on the "outer rim of the galaxy" and Luke's home planet of Tatooine is also in "the outer rim". Luke even says something to the effect of a bright, center of the galaxy (Tractor/Coruscant) and that they are the farthest planet from.

  • Where does the Foundation have blasters? I thought they only used nerve whips.
    – b_jonas
    Commented Aug 26, 2019 at 10:36
  • The original Foundation trilogy mentioned "outer rim" once, and "blasters" (in a couple definitions) six times. Not very telling. (Searching a PDF.) Commented Nov 23, 2019 at 0:42

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