Star Wars: Rogue One Easter Eggs and Reference Guide
A complete guide to every easter egg and reference to the Star Wars universe in Rogue One. SPOILERS AHEAD...
This article contains major Star Wars: Rogue One spoilers.
Rogue One: A Star Wars Story brings tons of action, new characters, and beautiful settings we’ve never visited before. But there are also many familiar sights that will make you cheer with joy. From cameos to blasts from the past to easter eggs, there are many nods to the Original Trilogy and beyond. Luckily for you, we’ve decided to compile a list of all the easter eggs and references in Rogue One.
What will you find here? References to other canon things as well as allusions to stories and characters from the Legends canon. That’s all the Star Wars books, comics, video games, and more.
If there’s something we missed, let us know in the comments or give our Star Wars expert John Saavedra a shout on Twitter. If we can verify it, we’ll add it here. Remember, this list will always be a work in progress, so your help is absolutely appreciated!
Again, we can’t stress enough that there are MAJOR SPOILERS for Star Wars: Rogue One in this article. Once you scroll past the picture of Galen Erso, you’re reading at your own risk as far as spoilers are concerned!
Here are the easter eggs and references we’ve found in Rogue One so far:
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– Rogue One is the first Star Wars movie not to feature an opening crawl. It does however have the classic opening line, “A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away.” The opening crawl is a classic trademark of Star Wars storytelling, providing background information and setting up the first scene of the movie.
– The title of the film itself is a callback to the callsign of the leader of Rogue Squadron, the elite starfighter unit of the Rebellion, and later the New Republic.
– Rogue One was originally called “Destroyer of Worlds” when it was first pitched by ILM’s John Knoll. This is undoubtedly a reference to J. Robert Oppenheimer, one of the scientists who helped develop the atom bomb.
– Like every other Star Wars film before it, Rogue One opens in space. While all the other films open by slowly panning toward a planet, Rogue One reveals a planet in the very first shot.
– That planet is called Lah’mu, and it’s actually its second appearance in Star Wars. The first was in the Rogue One tie-in novel, Catalyst, by James Luceno.
– Director Orson Krennic‘s ship is a Delta-class T-3c shuttle and it’s used as a transport by the Empire. This is the shuttle’s first appearance. It may remind you of the Lambda-class T-4a shuttle, which first appeared in Return of the Jedi.
– Krennic, played by Ben Mendelsohn, first appeared in Catalyst, as well. He first served as a Lieutenant Commander for the Republic in the Republic Corps of Engineers during the Clone Wars and later the Republic Special Weapons Group. He was one of the key men responsible for the Death Star project. When the Republic became the Empire, Krennic became the Director of Advanced Weapons Research of the Imperial Military.
– While Krennic’s white Imperial uniform might remind you of Grand Admiral Thrawn from Timothy Zahn’s Thrawn Trilogy and the Rebelsanimated series, the uniform was first used by Colonel Wullf Yularen in A New Hope. It was not common for an Imperial officer to wear a cape, though.
– Krennic’s black stormtroopers are called Death Troopers. They were the special unit of Imperial Intelligence. They’re not the first stormtroopers to sport black armor. The Force-sensitive Shadowtroopers from the video game Jedi Knight II: Jedi Outcast (Legends) come to mind as a particularly cool example. The Death Troopers carry blaster rifles similar to the E-11 as well as SE-14 pistols.
– There’s a brief shot where one of the Death Troopers picks up a stormtrooper doll from the ground. This is likely a nod to Rey’s Rebel pilot doll in The Force Awakens.
– Galen Erso, played by Mads Mikkelsen, first appeared in Catalyst. A brilliant scientist who researched kyber crystals and how they could be used as a clean energy source, Galen met his wife Lyra, played by Valene Kane, while on an expedition on the planet Espinar.
– Fun fact: Galen was also the name of Galen Marek aka Starkiller from the video game The Force Unleashed (Legends). Starkiller was Darth Vader’s secret apprentice during the Jedi Purge.
– As Krennic arrives on Lah’mu, the Ersos are in contact with Saw Gerrera, played by Forest Whitaker, who is the rebel that helped them escape from Krennic’s clutches in Catalyst. Gerrera is the first of the many returning characters in Rogue One. He first appeared in The Clone Wars episode “A War on Two Fronts” as a freedom fighter on the planet Onderon. Gerrera later formed an extremist rebel group known as the Partisans that operated out of the planet Jedha.
– Gerrera was originally created by George Lucas while developing the unproduced live-action TV series Star Wars: Underground.
– If you listen closely, it sounds like you can hear the same “exhale” sound when Saw takes oxygen from his mask that Darth Vader makes as the second part of his famous breathing noise.
– Before Lyra goes back to try and kill Krennic, she gives Jyn a necklace with a kyber crystal. While rare and beautiful, kyber crystals are most often used as weapons. A kyber crystal was the main component of a lightsaber as well as the Death Star’s superlaser. This is why Krennic needed Galen to continue his research on kyber crystals in order to finish the weapon.
– The kyber crystal was first introduced in Star Wars lore as the Kaiburr crystal in the very first Legends novel, Splinter of the Mind’s Eye by Alan Dean Foster. In the book, the Kaiburr crystal is a mysterious gem that could bestow great power over the Force to any who possessed it. But Foster didn’t make up this rare gem. It was actually George Lucas, who first created the “Kiber crystal” as a MacGuffin in one of his earliest outlines for A New Hope.
– Blue milk makes an appearance in an early shot of the Ersos home on Lah’mu. It’s in the kitchen while Lyra is grabbing stuff to make their escape. Blue milk first appeared in A New Hope. It’s from the mammary glands of a Bantha. You’re welcome.
Jyn and the Rebellion
– We first meet adult Jyn, played by Felicity Jones, on the planet Wobani – the location of an Imperial prison camp. Jyn has been a troublemaker ever since she was abandoned on Lah’mu and joined up with Gerrera in his many rebellions.
– As pointed out by one of our commenters (thanks!), “Wobani” is an anagram for “Obi-Wan.” Clever little nod there.
– The vehicle Jyn is being transported in at the beginning of the movie is a HAVw A6 Juggernaut. It first appeared in Revenge of the Sith.
– The Rebel team that rescues Jyn from the Empire is Extraction Team Bravo, who are led by Sergeant Melshi, played by Duncan Pow.
– In the initial pitch for the movie, the Rogue One team was very different than the one that made it into the film. The original squad included Jyn Erso, a rebel pilot named Riat Talla, K-2SO, two other humans named Dray Nevis and Jerris Kestal, and the aliens Lunak and Senna.
– K-2SO is a KX-series Secuity Droid, also known as an Imperial enforcer droid. Enforcer droids actually made their first appearance in the mobile game Star Wars: Commander.
– K-2SO shares a very annoying habit with C-3PO: he’s always telling everybody the odds of failure and assured death.
– You’ll recognize the moon Yavin IV as the headquarters of the Rebel Alliance. The fourth moon was first introduced in A New Hope, of course. There’s a specific nod to A New Hope when a Rebel Guard scans a ship taking off from the Rebel base that’s reminiscent of when a guard scanned the Millennium Falcon as it landed on the moon.
– The Rebels used the Great Temple of the Massassi, built by an ancient alien species killed off by the Sith thousands of years before the events of Rogue One, as their base of operations.
– You’ll recognize several faces in the Rebel briefing room. The first is Mon Mothma, senator from the planet Chandrila and leader of the Alliance to Restore the Republic (the official name of the Rebel Alliance). She would later become the first chancellor of the New Republic. She’s played by Genevieve O’Reilly in Rogue One. O’Reilly played Mothma in Revenge of the Sith as well, but the scene was cut from the film. Mothma first appeared in Return of the Jedi and was played by Caroline Blakiston.
– The second familiar face is General Jan Dodonna, who led the attack on the Death Star in A New Hope. He’s played by Ian McElhinney in Rogue One. You might recognize McElhinney from Game of Thrones in which he played Barristan Selmy. Dodonna was originally played by Alex McCrindle in A New Hope.
– Last is Bail Organa, played once again by Jimmy Smits. He first appeard as the senator from Alderaan in Attack of the Clones. He is the adoptive father of Princess Leia Organa. Bail perished on Alderaan when it was destroyed by the Death Star.
– Before Bail Organa leaves for Alderaan, Mon Mothma suggests that he reach out to his Jedi friend. That Jedi, of course, is Obi-Wan Kenobi, who is first introduced in A New Hope. Help me, Obi-Wan Kenobi, you’re my only hope…
– The stone-faced Rebel general in the briefing room is named Draven, played by Alistair Petrie. This is the character’s first appearance.
– Bail mentions a Captain Antilles at one point. That’s a reference to Captain Raymus Antilles, the dude that gets Force choked to death by Darth Vader in the beginning of A New Hope.
– Cassian Andor’s awesome blue jacket has to be at least a slight nod to Han’s jacket from The Empire Strikes Back. I mean the blue coat he wears while on Hoth. Even if it’s not a reference, it’s a really cool jacket.
– I haven’t found any references or easter eggs that have to do with Cassian Andor, played by Diego Luna, although it’s worth mentioning that he’s by far the first Rebel spy we’ve seen on screen. “Fulcrum” was a common name for Rebel spies and informants in the Rebels animated series.
– As Jyn and Cassian leave on their mission to find Saw Gerrera and Bodhi Rook, played by Riz Ahmed, on Jedha, we get a brief cameo from the droids C-3PO and R2-D2. I don’t need to remind you who they are, right?
– Chopper, the droid from Rebels makes an appearance in the Rebel base on Yavin IV. It’s a blink and you’ll miss it cameo.
– Speaking of Rebels cameos, at one point in the Rebel base, you can hear someone calling for a “General Syndulla” over the intercom. This might be a reference to Twi’lek general Cham Syndulla from The Clone Wars animated series or his daughter, Hera Syndulla, who is one of the main characters in Rebels. Hera is captain of a Rebel starfighter unit called Phoenix Squadron on the show. She might have become a general since then.
– Cassian and Jyn’s ship is a UT-60D gunship, or a U-wing. This is the first appearance of the ship on screen.
– This goes without saying but for the sake of making this as complete as possible: there are X-wings and Y-wings in the movie. X-wings and Y-wings were first introduced in A New Hope.
– This one may or may not be a nod at Return of the Jedi: the Rogue One team hope to get through the shield gates protecting Scarif with a stolen Imperial ship and an old Imperial code. This is basically the same plan the Rebels had to sneak onto Endor in Episode VI.
– In the battle over Scarif, you can spot a Corellian VCX-100 light freighter that’s more than a little reminiscent of The Ghost – Hera’s ship from Rebels. And it can also be seen earlier in the Yavin hangar. This most likely means that Hera and the rest of the crew of the Ghost fought in the battle. Of course, that all depends on who is still alive at this point in the war.
– The Rebel ship that pushes a Star Destroyer into another Star Destroyer during the Battle of Scarif is a Hammerhead corvette, a battleship inspired by the Hammerhead-class cruiser from Knights of the Old Republic, one of the best Star Wars video games ever made.
– Three fighter squadrons fight in the Battle of Scarif: Blue, Red, and Gold. There are a few references here. Let’s start with Blue Squadron. This squadron first appeared in the current canon in the Vader Down crossover comic from Marvel. In Rogue One, the squadron is led by General Merrick in his first appearance. Interestingly enough, a Captain Merrick Simms led Blue Squadron in the Battle of Yavin and the Battle of Endor in the Legends timeline. Nice little reference.
– One more thing about Blue Squadron: Luke Skywalker was originally supposed to fly for Blue instead of Red in A New Hope. In the novelization, this change is not reflected. Luke flies for Blue!
– Both Red and Gold Squadrons were first introduced in A New Hope during the Battle of Yavin. Like in that movie, Red Squadron is made up of X-wings and Gold is made up of Y-wings.
– In two of the coolest cameos in the film, both Red Leader Garven Dreis and Gold Leader Jon Vander appear during the Battle of Scarif. Both of these characters first appeared in A New Hope. Dreis was played by Drewe Henley and Vander was played by Angus MacInnes. Rogue One used stock footage of both pilots during the Battle of Scarif. Both of these character died during the attack on the Death Star.
– Biggs Darklighter, Luke’s pal from Tatooine in A New Hope, is also in the Battle of Scarif for about a millisecond.
– One fun little tidbit from the movie is an explanation of why Luke has the callsign Red Five during the assault on the Death Star. Simple: the last Red Five died in the Battle of Scarif.
– When Jyn and Cassian are going through the archives on Scarif, they mention a project called “Darksaber.” That’s a callback to an ancient black-bladed lightsaber that Darth Maul used to duel and murder a bunch of people in The Clone Wars animated series. Before Maul, it was owned by Pre Vizsla, leader of Mandalorian group Death Watch.
– The final cameo the film is none other than Princess Leia Organa in a scene that takes place just moments before the start of A New Hope. A young Carrie Fisher was created with CGI, although it’s Ingvild Deila playing the actual role.
– Leia’s aboard the same CR90 corvette from A New Hope, too. The ship is called Tantive IV.
– In the Battle of Scarif, you can spot several other Rebel ships from the Original Trilogy, including the EF76 Nebulon-B escort frigate and the GR-75 medium transport. I could go into more detail about these, but I don’t really want to. Okay, fine: they both first appeared in The Empire Strikes Back.
– The Death Star first appeared in A New Hope. It’s the Empire’s planet-destroying superweapon that’s the size of a moon. Chronologically, the very first mention of the battle station is in Attack of the Clones when Count Dooku is discussing the plans with Poggle the Lesser on the planet Geonosis. We first see the Death Star’s construction at the end of Revenge of the Sith. After the Death Star is destroyed during the Battle of Yavin, the Empire starts building another one, which is also destroyed in Return of the Jedi. These bad guys really should stop building these giant superweapons…
– Speaking of the Death Star, Rogue One explains why the almost invincible battle station has a single, tiny weakness in the first place: Galen Erso made sure to include an exhaust port in the design, a direct pathway to the station’s reactor core. One hit with a proton torpedo and… (to be continued in A New Hope).
– Grand Moff Willhuff Tarkin was brought back to life for Rogue One through the magic of CGI. Peter Cushing first played the man in charge of the Death Star in A New Hope. Tarkin dies at the end of that movie, blowing up with his battle station. He’s played by Guy Henry in this movie. He also appeared in Revenge of the Sith, played by Wayne Pygram in very heavy make-up.
– I don’t have to tell you Darth Vader is in this movie. All of those trailers did that for you. Vader appears in his original look from A New Hope, including the different chest plate and the red eye lenses. His armor looks darker and more polished in later movies, and his chest plate is different.
– Vader is once again voiced by the great James Earl Jones. It’s Spencer Wilding in the actual suit, though.
– VADER HAS A CASTLE ON MUSTAFAR. What to tackle first?! Okay, George Lucas loved castles and tried to include Vader’s castle in the Original Trilogy back as early as the first draft of The Empire Strikes Back, which was written by Leigh Brackett. The castle in that draft was located on the planet Ton Muund, “the administrative center of the Empire.”
In the Legends timeline, Vader also had a castle on Coruscant. He also had a castle on the planet Vjun, where he went to study the dark side of the Force while on paid vacation. (Kidding about that last bit.)
– Vader’s castle on Mustafar, the planet where Anakin Skywalker dueled with his former master, Obi-Wan Kenobi. It was on this lava planet that Anakin was burned within an inch of his life and truly became Lord Vader. Good for him.
– I’m not sure if there are any instances from the EU where Vader had robed acolytes. I bet there are, but I can’t think of any. That’s cool, though. I have you to shout out examples in the comments!
Those robed acolytes are at least slightly reminiscent of the Acolytes of the Beyond from the novel Aftermath by Chuck Wendig. This cult of dark side fanatics sought to find relics belonging to Darth Vader, including Vader’s lightsaber, which was thought to have been lost in the Battle of Endor.
– We first see Vader healing in a bacta tank, which should remind you of when Luke healed after being attacked by wampa on Hoth. It’s a stunning first shot of Vader. As confirmed by some very helpful commenters, this isn’t the first time the idea of Vader trying to heal himself has come up. In the novel Shadows of the Empire (Legends) by Steve Perry, Vader attempts to Force heal a part of his body and it works, but the happiness he feels causes him to break his tie with the dark side momentarily and the healing ultimately fails. Very cruel joke, Steve.
– In one of the most horrific scenes in Star Wars history, Darth Vader slaughters a bunch of Rebel troopers on a ship above Scarif. Interestingly enough, Vader uses his one-handed combat style from his later appearances. In A New Hope, Vader uses the samurai-inspired two-handed dueling style while fighting Obi-Wan. Maybe Vader was taking it easy on the old man?
– Eadu, the storm-stricken planet where Galen is completing his research for the Empire, makes its first appearance in Rogue One.
– For the sake of having a complete document, TIE fighters appear in Rogue One. They’re the main class of starfighter in the Imperial fleet.
– But there is one type of TIE fighter we haven’t seen before. It’s called the TIE striker and this is its first appearance on screen. It’s pointed wing design is reminiscent of several fighters from the Legends timeline, such as the TIE hunter, TIE phantom, and TIE defender. It’s also not unlike the TIE interceptor from current canon.
– AT-STs appear during the terrorist attack on Jedha. These Imperial walkers first appeared in The Empire Strikes Back during the Battle of Hoth.
– AT-ACTs are a variant of the AT-ATs from The Empire Strikes Back. Meant to carry heavy cargo, they weren’t designed for combat, and were often found on construction sights or shipyards.
– Besides Death Troopers, which can you can read about in the “Prologue” section, a couple of other Imperial stormtrooper variants are introduced in Rogue One. First, we have the shoretroopers, who were equipped for combat on tropical environments such as Scarif. They used E-22 blaster rifles as their weapon of choice.
Then there’s the tank troopers, who patrolled the streets of Jedha City with their Assault Hovertanks.
– Another group of returning Imperial troopers are the Emperor’s Royal Guard, who can be seen in Vader’s chambers during the castle scenes.
– The armor Jyn puts on to infiltrate the Citadel on Scarif belongs to an Imperial technician. Basically, a maintenance worker.
– Vader shows up in his Star Destroyer, Devastator, during the Battle of Scarif to cause all kinds of havoc. It’s the first Star Destroyer we see in the entire Star Wars saga.
Assorted References & Easter Eggs
– Two very unexpected characters make cameos during one of the early scenes on Jedha. Jyn bumps into none other than the scummy Ponda Baba and Cornelius Evazan. They’re the two criminals that pick a fight with Luke in the Mos Eisley cantina in A New Hope. I hope they enjoy their last few days on Jedha…
– Jedha itself is a moon with a long history with the Force. It was home to one of the first civilizations to study the ancient energy, and was also rich in kyber crystals. Read more about kyber crystals in the “Prologue” section.
– Chirrut Imwe, played by Donnie Yen, and Baze Malbus, played by Jiang Wen, both serve as Guardians of Whills, the protectors of the Temple of the Whills on Jedha. The temple was a sacred to those who followed the teachings of the Church of the Force. We’ll get to the church in a minute…
– But first, the reference to “the Whills” is a callback to one of George Lucas’ original titles for A New Hope (which was originally just called Star Wars): “The Adventures Of Luke Starkiller as taken from the Journal of The Whills.” Try to say that five times fast.
The Journal of the Whills was a concept created by Lucas while drafting the scripts for Star Wars. It was meant to be a record of events in the galaxy, written down by a group of highter beings known as the Whills. The original idea was that R2-D2 would be relating the events of Star Wars to a member of the species 100 years after the Battle of Endor. The Journal of the Whills would’ve connected the fictional world of Star Wars to the real world. Hence, “A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away…”
The Journal of the Whills was first made canon in The Force Awakens novelization by Alan Dean Foster, which opens with a quote from the journal. This is absolutely bonkers stuff.
– Okay, the Church of the Force was an underground faith in the days after the Jedi Purge. The Force Awakens‘ Lor San Tekka, who was played by Max von Sydow, was a member of the Church.
– Chirrut’s awesome weapon is called a lightbow. It can be used as a staff and a bowcaster, and was the weapon of choice of the Guardians of the Whills.
– I can’t recall any other trading outpost quite like the Ring of Kafrene, which is located on what looks like an asteroid. This is an invitation for one of you guys to investigate!
– Saw Gerrera’s Partisans can be seen playing Dejarik in their hideout. It’s that weird chess game first introduced in A New Hope.
– During their infiltration of the Citadel, K-2SO almost manages to deliver the classic Star Wars running gag, “I have a bad feeling about this,” before Cassian shuts him up.
– Several other droids from the Star Wars universe make appearances in the film. An MSE-6-series repair droid appears during the Battle of Scarif. A GNK power droid can be seen in the Yavin base. An Imperial probe droid is floating around Jedha at one point, too.
– On Scarif, there’s a brief snippet of conversation between two stormtroopers where they’re talking about the “T-15” being discontinued. This could be a reference to Luke’s T-16 skyhopper – which Luke mentions in A New Hope. “I used to bull’s-eye womp rats in my T-16 back home.” They could also be talking about a model of hyperdrive first introduced in The Phantom Menace. But probably not.
– There are a couple of new alien species in the film. Bistan, the gunner in the U-wing during the Battle of Scarif, is a Iakaru. Edrio “Two Tubes” and Benthic, the creepy dudes in Saw Gerrera’s group, are Tognath from the planet Yar Togna. Pao, who also fought in the battle of Scarif, is a Drabata. Moroff, the really tall yeti dude who fights for the Partisans during the fight sequence in Jedha City, is a Gigoran. Finally, Weeteef Cyubee, the little grumpy-looking alien, is a Talpini.
– Fun fact about Weeteef Cyubee: he’s played bu Warwick Davis, who first played Wicket the Ewok in Return of the Jedi.
– Some of you guys keep saying the rings around Lah’mu are meant to remind people of the opening shot of the Star Destroyer in A New Hope. I still don’t really see it, but I’m a nice guy, so now it’s on the list. Merry Christmas!
John Saavedra is an associate editor at Den of Geek US. Find more of his work on his website. Or just follow him on Twitter.