Galactic empires are a common trope used in science fantasy and science fiction, particularly in works known as 'space operas'. Many authors have either used a galaxy-spanning empire as background or written about the growth and/or decline of such an empire. The capital of a galactic empire is frequently a core world, such as a planet relatively close to a galaxy's supermassive black hole, which has advanced considerably in science and technology compared to current human civilization. Characterizations can vary wildly from malevolent forces attacking sympathetic victims to apathetic bureaucracies to more reasonable entities focused on social progress and anywhere in between.
The best known such organization to the general public today is probably the Galactic Empire from Star Wars, which was formed in turn from the Galactic Republic. A military dictatorship based upon fear and terror, said Empire is an explicitly villainous force with linguistic and visual traits directly reminiscent of Nazi Germany. For example, their armored forces known as "stormtroopers" are named analogously to the Sturmabteilung (often known as the SA), a paramilitary entity created by the Nazis in 1920. Their best known weapon is the iconic Death Star; the moon-sized space station has the ability to destroy entire planets.
Most of these galaxy-spanning domains depend on some form of transportation capable of quickly or instantly crossing vast cosmic distances, usually measured in light-years, many times faster than regular particles such as photons traveling at light speed. These, instantaneous or faster-than-light (FTL) technologies invariably require some type of propulsion or displacement technology forbidden by Albert Einstein's theories on relativity. Described methods often rely on theories that circumvent or supersede relativity. Examples include the hypothesis of a warp drive (such as, more specifically, an Alcubierre drive) that bend the fabric of space-time.
The term "galactic empire" has, no doubt because of association with the Empire from Star Wars, gained an unfavorable reputation. However, the galactic empires from the Foundation universe and the CoDominium universe are relatively benign organizations. Much of the plot of the Foundation series, authored by Isaac Asimov, revolves around the issue of who can best and most quickly revive the fallen galactic empire, it being taken for granted that this is a positive and worthy aim. In writer Jerry Pournelle's CoDominium series, members of the empire often work to maintain the best interests of humanity despite efforts by violent political extremists to pursue their own ends.
In many cases, the term "galactic empire" is misleading as it suggests an organization encompassing far more star systems than is actually described. This may come about as a result of propaganda exaggerating the spread of an imperial entity in order to appear stronger than is actually the case. The situation is similar to how historical nation-states such as the 'Holy Roman Empire' presented themselves; being roughly equal in size to modern Germany. While some of the noted fictional empires tend to encompass a large portion of the galaxy, many other empires may be classified as interplanetary or interstellar empires since they encompass only a local group of star systems.
Writer Poul Anderson makes the point that the declining empire depicted in his Dominic Flandry series does not span the entire galaxy but only a fraction of one of its spiral arms. Still, however, the institution is vast beyond a regular humans' ability to truly comprehend, and it is in the process of collapsing under its own weight.
Galactic Empires are many cases consciously modeled on historical Earth-bound empires. Asimov stated explicitly that the Galactic Empire whose fall is depicted in his Foundation books is modeled on the Roman Empire, with the author taking direct inspiration from the historical writings of Edward Gibbon, even to the point of basing some individual characters on historical figures. In addition, Anderson's Dominic Flandry series consciously compares the imperial organization for which the protagonist serves with the Roman Empire to the point of tracing out the space equivalents of the Roman 'Principate' and 'Dominate' phases. In the Star wars universe, the fall of the Galactic Republic and its replacement by the Galactic Empire - as depicted in Revenge of the Sith - recall the historic fall of the Roman Republic and its replacement by the Roman Empire headed by Augustus.
The universe established in Frank Herbert's Dune recalls the aforementioned Holy Roman Empire as well as the Byzantine and Islamic empires, especially given the role of hitherto disregarded desert-dwellers who, due to a powerful new religion, expand to topple an old empire and build a new one. For example, the Egyptian-Canadian commentator Khalid M. Baheyeldin has enumerated the obviously Islamic concepts and references appearing in Dune to the level of finding multiple similarities between the career of Herbert's Paul Atreides and that of the Islamic prophet Muhammad.
Another notable example of a galactic empire would be the Imperium of Man from the Warhammer 40,000 universe, which is a theocratic industrial and militaristic totalitarian regime that does in fact span almost the entirety of the Milky Way Galaxy. Despite massive strength, the institution's territories are constantly at risk due to unending conflict with various alien races and rebel factions.
Bertram Chandler wrote two interstellar series – one featuring a Galactic Empire ruled by a series of non-hereditary Empresses while the other has a Republican Galactic Federation. Chandler's Empire and Federation, both relatively benign, have much in common – both covering the same volume of space, having much the same kind of Space Navy and both having the same commercial spaceflight company called "The Dog Star Line", suggesting that these are two alternate history timelines which branched off from the same original space travelling culture.
In Ursula K. Le Guin's Hainish Cycle, the interstellar entity known as "The League of All Worlds" and later as "The Ekumen" is in possession of the 'ansible'. Technology makes possible instantaneous interstellar communications, and the ability to send instantaneous unmanned ships carrying bombs to another planet is exploited as well. However, living beings can't survive such travel, and thus humans are limited to space exploration done at relativistic speeds. Correspondingly, this organization, despite on occasion waging war across interstellar distances, ends up being more loose than a true empire.
Author Orson Scott Card's "Starways Congress", an organization featured in the work Speaker for the Dead (the follow-up to Ender's Game), similarly relies on the ansible. Yet it is more authoritarian and less benevolent than Le Guin's creation. Much of the story-line of the book and its sequels involve attempts to avoid interstellar bloodshed despite difficult circumstances.
In the novel Dune, the empire's power is held within three organizations, these being the Imperial family; the Landsraad, representing the nobility; and the Guild, an interstellar travel monopoly.
Star Wars depicts an empire dictated by Darth Sidious, supported by a powerful space navy. It is stated in the original Star Wars film that there was an Imperial Senate that was later disbanded by the Emperor.
Bel Riose is a fictional character in Isaac Asimov's Foundation series. He was the last strong General of the Galactic Empire, Commander of the legendary Twentieth Fleet, who eventually came to be known as "the Last of the Imperials", and earned this title well. His tactical genius was compared with that of Admiral Peurifoy, and his skill at handling men to be far greater. A man of great military genius, he was also brave, competent, good looking, neither too young nor too old, a taker of calculated risks, and good to his men—in short, he was a popular general.
He was born at a late point during the slow fall of the Empire. Riose yearned for the days when generals proved their worth through the addition of new territory to the empire.Cleon II
Emperor Cleon II is a fictional character from Isaac Asimov's Foundation series. He is the last strong monarch of the Galactic Empire, and reigned during the time when Bel Riose, the last great Imperial general, was engaging in a successful campaign against the early Foundation. Cleon becomes wary of Riose's success and his popularity with both the Imperial armed forces and the general population, and has him recalled and executed. Following Cleon's death, the Empire falls into a civil war.
As the Galactic Empire is based on the Roman Empire, and Bel Riose is based on Belisarius, Cleon II is clearly based on the Eastern Roman Emperor Justinian I. His name however derives from Cleon, an Athenian politician of the Peloponnesian War.Coruscant
Coruscant () is an ecumenopolis planet in the fictional Star Wars universe (in the Coruscant Subsector of the Corusca Sector of the Core Worlds). It first appeared onscreen in the 1997 Special Edition of Return of the Jedi, but was first mentioned in Timothy Zahn's 1991 novel Heir to the Empire. Coruscant was historically referred to as Notron or Queen of the Core; was renamed Imperial Center during the reign of the Galactic Empire (as depicted in the original films) and Yuuzhan'tar during the Yuuzhan Vong invasion (as depicted in the New Jedi Order novel series). The planet's capital city was initially Galactic City (built at least in 100,000 BBY, partially destroyed in 27 and 44 ABY); under the Galactic Empire this was Imperial City, and was Republic City or the City Of Spires under the Galactic Republic. The planet was code-named Triple Zero during the Clone Wars. The demonym and adjective form of the planet name is Coruscanti.
Coruscant is the sixth planet out of 11 planets in the Coruscant System: (Revisse (Venus type), Platoril (Mercury type), Vandor-1 (Mercury type), Vandor-2 (Mercury type), Vandor-3 (Earth type), Coruscant (Trantor type), Muscave (Jupiter type), Stentat (Jupiter type), Improcco (Pluto type), Nabatu (Eris type) and Ulabos (Pluto Type). Coruscant has four moons; Centax-1, Centax-2, Centax-3, and Hesperidium. Beyond the system's planets was the OboRin Comet Cluster (Oort Cloud type), and in between Improcco and Nabatu was an asteroid belt (The Covey). The sun was called Coruscant Prime.
Coruscant serves as the nexus of socio-economic, cultural, intellectual, political, military, and foreign policies activity within the Star Wars galaxy; at various times, it is the central capital of these governing bodies: the Republic, the Galactic Empire, the New Republic, the Yuuzhan Vong Empire, the Galactic Federation Of Free Alliances (Galactic Alliance), the Fel Empire, Darth Krayt's Galactic Empire, and the Galactic Federation Triumvate. The planet's strategic position relative to the galactic center, a population of 2 trillion sentients approx, and control over the galaxy's main trade routes and hyperspace lanes — Perlemian Trade Route, Hydian Way, Corellian Run and Corellian Trade Spine — that must converge and pass through Coruscant space, cemented its status as the richest and most influential habitable world in the Star Wars galaxy.Evil empire
An evil empire is a speculative fiction trope in which a major antagonist of the story is a technologically advanced nation, typically ruled by an evil emperor or empress, that aims to control the world or conquer some specific group. They are opposed by a hero from more common origins who uses their guile or the help of an underground resistance to fight them. Well-known examples are the Galactic Empire in Star Wars, which forms upon the collapse of the more benevolent Galactic Republic and is opposed by Luke Skywalker, as well as the Galactic Empire in Dune, whose Emperor plots the downfall of House Atreides, and is opposed by Paul Atreides. The theme also often appears in video games, such as the Final Fantasy series, starting with Final Fantasy II, which was inspired by Star Wars, and becoming a major part of Final Fantasy VI in the form of the Gestahl Empire.Foundation series
The Foundation series is a science fiction book series written by American author Isaac Asimov. For nearly thirty years, the series was a trilogy: Foundation, Foundation and Empire, and Second Foundation. It won the one-time Hugo Award for "Best All-Time Series" in 1966. Asimov began adding to the series in 1981, with two sequels: Foundation's Edge, Foundation and Earth, and two prequels: Prelude to Foundation, Forward the Foundation. The additions made reference to events in Asimov's Robot and Empire series, indicating that they were also set in the same fictional universe.
The premise of the series is that the mathematician Hari Seldon spent his life developing a branch of mathematics known as psychohistory, a concept of mathematical sociology. Using the laws of mass action, it can predict the future, but only on a large scale. Seldon foresees the imminent fall of the Galactic Empire, which encompasses the entire Milky Way, and a dark age lasting 30,000 years before a second great empire arises. Seldon's calculations also show there is a way to limit this interregnum to just one thousand years. To ensure the more favorable outcome and reduce human misery during the intervening period, Seldon creates the Foundation – a group of talented artisans and engineers positioned at the twinned extreme ends of the galaxy – to preserve and expand on humanity's collective knowledge, and thus become the foundation for the accelerated resurgence of this new galactic empire.Galactic Civil War
The Galactic Civil War is a fictional interstellar war from the Star Wars galaxy. It serves as the setting for the original trilogy of films entitled A New Hope, The Empire Strikes Back, and Return of the Jedi, the 2016 anthology film Rogue One, as well as many novels, comics, and video games in the Star Wars expanded universe.
Within the Star Wars narrative, the war was fought between the Galactic Empire and the Alliance to Restore the Republic. The foundations of the conflict are depicted during the events of the Clone Wars, a conflict depicted in Star Wars: Episode II – Attack of the Clones, Star Wars: Clone Wars, Star Wars: The Clone Wars, Star Wars: Episode III – Revenge of the Sith, and Star Wars Rebels.Galactic Empire (1980 video game)
Galactic Empire is a strategy video game written by Doug Carlston for the TRS-80 and released 1980. It is the first game in the Galactic Saga and became first game published by Brøderbund which was, in fact, created for the purpose of publishing the game. Galactic Empire was ported to the Apple II and the Atari 8-bit family and followed by three sequels. The game was also published by Adventure International.Galactic Empire (Isaac Asimov)
The Galactic Empire is an interstellar empire featured in Isaac Asimov's Robot, Galactic Empire, and Foundation series. The Empire is spread across the Milky Way galaxy and consists of almost 25 million planets settled exclusively by humans. It had a total population of 500 quintillion. For over 12 millennia the seat of imperial authority was located on the ecumenopolis of Trantor, whose population exceeded 40 billion, until it was sacked in the year 12,328. The official symbol of the empire is the Spaceship-and-Sun. Cleon II was the last Emperor to hold significant authority. The fall of the empire, modelled on the fall of the Roman Empire, is the subject of many of Asimov's novels.Galactic Empire (Star Wars)
The Galactic Empire is a fictional autocracy featured in the Star Wars franchise. It was first introduced in the 1977 film Star Wars and also appears in its two sequels: The Empire Strikes Back (1980) and Return of the Jedi (1983) and is the main antagonist faction of the original trilogy. By the time of the sequel trilogy, which starts three decades following the events of the original trilogy, the government has since collapsed and has been succeeded by the First Order.
The Galactic Empire sprawled much of the known Star Wars galaxy, consisted of millions of core systems with major population centers, and billions of more fringe colonies, shipyards, fortress worlds and outer territories. The Empire's origins are depicted in the prequel Star Wars: Episode III – Revenge of the Sith (2005), where it replaces the Galactic Republic at the end of the Clone Wars orchestrated by Palpatine, who was then the Republic's Supreme Chancellor. Palpatine is also secretly the Sith Lord Darth Sidious who intends to purge the Jedi and restore the Sith to power in the galaxy. Palpatine's Sith identity was never revealed to the general public; only known by a select few throughout his life. Palpatine claims that the Jedi attempted to assassinate him and overthrow the Galactic Senate and declares the Jedi to have committed treason. Palpatine declared that the civil war with the Confederacy of Independent Systems (CIS) in combination with the Jedi coup d'état required the reorganization of the Republic into a state that can "provide stability, and a safe and secure society", a Galactic Empire with himself as Emperor. The Senate that he has manipulated overwhelmingly applauds Palpatine's decision.
Emperor Palpatine proceeds to purge the Jedi, who had been the upholders of peace and justice in the Republic, and replaces them by redeeming the Sith. Though Palpatine's Sith identity remains a secret to most, his apprentice Darth Vader is the Sith Lord who is publicly known to the galaxy as the ally of Palpatine who is serving the Empire to purge the galaxy of the Jedi. By the time of Episode IV: A New Hope, the Empire has transformed into a fully authoritarian regime subtly influenced by Sith-philosophies, opposed by the Alliance to Restore the Republic.
The Galactic Empire is described and portrayed in various Star Wars media as a brutal dictatorship, one based on "nationalization, state terrorism, xenophobic hatred, enslavement and genocide of nonhumans, power projection, threat of lethal force, and, above all else, constant fear".Galactic Empire (series)
The Galactic Empire series (also called the Empire novels or trilogy) is a science fiction sequence of three of Isaac Asimov's earliest novels, and extended by one short story. They are connected by their early place in his published works and chronological placement within his overarching Foundation Universe, set around the rise of Asimov's Galactic Empire, between the Robot and Foundation series to which they were linked in Asimov's later novels.Legend of the Galactic Heroes
Legend of the Galactic Heroes (銀河英雄伝説, Ginga Eiyū Densetsu), referred to as Heldensagen vom Kosmosinsel (incorrect German, translating to "heroic tales from the cosmic island") in the opening credits and sometimes abbreviated as LOTGH (銀英伝, Gin'eiden), is a series of science fiction novels written by Yoshiki Tanaka. In humanity's distant future, two interstellar states – the monarchic Galactic Empire and the democratic Free Planets Alliance – are embroiled in a never-ending war. The story focuses on the exploits of rivals Reinhard von Lohengramm and Yang Wen-li as they rise to power and fame in the Galactic Empire and the Free Planets Alliance respectively.
An anime adaptation of the novels, produced by Kitty Films and animated for the most part by Artland and Magic Bus, ran from 1988 to 1997. There is also a manga based on the novels, with art by Katsumi Michihara. In addition, there are several video game adaptations with the most recent release in 2008 being a real-time strategy game. The series did not receive an official English release until 2015, when North American anime and manga distributor Viz Media announced they had acquired the license to the novels. On the same day, North American anime licensor Sentai Filmworks announced their license to the anime and the anime was later released on Hidive starting in June 20, 2017.List of Star Wars cast members
This is a list of Star Wars cast members who voiced or portrayed characters appearing in the film series. The list is sorted by film and character, as some of the characters were portrayed by multiple actors.
Indicators only apply for characters portrayed within multiple categories. All characters without indicators were introduced within the category they are listed on. The cast is divided in six categories: main saga (M), anthology series (A), animated series and Star Wars: The Clone Wars film (S), books (B), comic books (C), and the non-canonical Legends series (L).
^M denotes the character was introduced within the main saga.
^A denotes the character was introduced within the anthology series.
^S denotes the character was introduced within an animated series or The Clone Wars film.
^LS denotes the character originated within a non-canonical Star Wars Legends animated series of film before being introduced into the Star Wars canon.
^B denotes the character was introduced within a novel.
^LB denotes the character originated within a non-canonical Star Wars Legends novel before being introduced into the Star Wars canon.
^C denotes the character was introduced within a comic book or graphic novel.
^LC denotes the character originated within a non-canonical Star Wars Legends comic book or graphic novel before being introduced into the Star Wars canon.
^+ denotes the character introduced within the current category, but also has an extended plot-line within another category. (Example: ^+A would denote the character was introduced within the current category but has an extended plot-line in the anthology series, alternatively ^+S would denote an extended plot-line in the animated series, and ^+AS would denote extended plot-lines on both categories.)New Republic (Star Wars)
The New Republic is a fictional government in the Star Wars universe. The government is a restoration of the Galactic Republic, a democratic state that governed the galaxy for a thousand years (more than twenty-five thousand years in Legends Continuity) until being reorganized into the Galactic Empire. It is first portrayed onscreen in Star Wars: The Force Awakens (2015) where it is depicted as the ruling government of the galaxy and primary target of the First Order, a military power that seeks to restore the Old Empire.Palpatine
Sheev Palpatine (also known by his Sith identity Darth Sidious and publicly as Senator Palpatine, then Supreme Chancellor Palpatine, and later Emperor Palpatine) is a fictional character and the primary antagonist of the Star Wars franchise, mainly portrayed by Ian McDiarmid. In the original trilogy, he is depicted as Emperor of the Galactic Empire and the Sith master of Darth Vader. In the prequel trilogy, he is portrayed as a charismatic Senator from Naboo who uses Machiavellian deception and political manipulation to rise to the position of Supreme Chancellor of the Galactic Republic before transforming the Republic into the Empire.
Though outwardly appearing to be a well-intentioned public servant and supporter of democracy prior to being Emperor, Palpatine's true identity is actually Darth Sidious, the Dark Lord of the Sith—a cult of practitioners of the dark side of the Force previously thought to have been extinct for a millennium, and master of Darth Maul and Count Dooku. As his Sith identity, Palpatine masterminds the Clone Wars, using the conflict as a convenient pretext to grant himself dictatorial emergency powers and to stay in office long after his term has expired.
Palpatine ultimately reorganizes the Republic into the Galactic Empire, invokes martial law, and declares himself Emperor. He then proceeds to all but exterminate the Jedi Order through Order 66, and ends up manipulating Jedi Knight Anakin Skywalker in turning to the dark side and becoming his new apprentice - Darth Vader. Palpatine rules the galaxy for over two decades before his reign is brought to an end in the Battle of Endor, when Vader turns on his master and kills him in order to save his son; Luke Skywalker.
Since the initial theatrical run of Return of the Jedi, Palpatine has become a widely recognized symbol of evil in popular culture, and since the prequel films, also one of sinister deception and the subversion of democracy.Robots and Empire
Robots and Empire is a science fiction novel by the American author Isaac Asimov and published by Doubleday Books in 1985. It is part of Asimov's Robot series, which consists of many short stories (collected in I, Robot, The Rest of the Robots, and The Complete Robot) and several novels (The Caves of Steel, The Naked Sun, and The Robots of Dawn).
Robots and Empire is part of Asimov's consolidation of his three major series of science fiction stories and novels: his Robot series, his Galactic Empire series and his Foundation series. (Asimov also carried out this unification in his novel Foundation's Edge, and its sequel, thus unifying the three series of fiction into a single future history).
In the novel, Asimov depicts the transition from his earlier Milky Way Galaxy, inhabited by both human beings and positronic robots, to his Galactic Empire. The galaxy of his earlier trilogy of Robot novels is dominated by the blended human/robotic societies of the fifty "Spacer" planets, dispersed over a wide part of the Galaxy. While the Earth is much more populous than all of the Spacer planets combined, its people are looked down upon by the Spacers and treated as second-class citizens. For a long time, the Spacers have forbidden immigration of people from the Earth. But Asimov's later Galactic Empire is populated by many quadrillions of human beings on hundreds of thousands of habitable planets; and by very few robots (such as R. Daneel Olivaw). Even the technology to maintain and upgrade robots exists on only a few out-of-the-way planets. Therefore, Asimov's novel attempts to describe how his earlier Robot series ultimately connects to his Galactic Empire series.Star Wars Transformers
Star Wars Transformers is a Hasbro toy line started in 2006. The line features robot versions of various characters from the Star Wars franchise that transform into vehicles from the same series.
The toy characters' factions include bounty hunters, the Galactic Empire, the Galactic Republic, the Rebel Alliance, and the Separatists. According to Hasbro, the vehicles from Shadows of the Empire are not used because the toy line targets collectors who are mostly familiar with the film series and the Clone Wars animated series.In late 2017, TakaraTomy announced a reboot of the line with new designs and higher price points to begin in March 2018 starting with Darth Vader, who transforms into a TIE Advanced X1.Stormtrooper (Star Wars)
A stormtrooper is a fictional soldier in the Star Wars franchise created by George Lucas. Introduced in Star Wars (1977), the stormtroopers are the main ground force of the Galactic Empire, under the leadership of Emperor Palpatine and his commanders, most notably Darth Vader and Grand Moff Tarkin. In The Force Awakens (2015) and The Last Jedi (2017), the upgraded stormtroopers serve the First Order, under the leadership of Supreme Leader Snoke and his commanders, most notably Kylo Ren, General Hux, and Captain Phasma.
The order of battle of the Stormtrooper Corps is unspecified in the Star Wars universe. Accompanying the Imperial Navy, stormtroopers are able to be deployed swiftly and respond to states of civil unrest or insurrection, act as a planetary garrison, and police areas within the Galactic Empire. They are shown in collective groups of varying organizational sizes ranging from squads to legions and for some, their armor and training are modified for special operations and environments.