Star Wars canon has received some criticism for having too many Order 66 survivors, but George Lucas would’ve made it worse had he kept telling new stories. The latest controversy arose after the premiere of The Mandalorian season 3, episode 4 “Chapter 20: The Foundling,” when Ahmed Best returned to play Jedi Master Kelleran Beq. While many fans praised Best’s return, others saw it as one more name on a growing list of Order 66 survivors. The Jedi Purge was supposed to have eradicated most of the Order, the Sith’s ultimate revenge, but new Star Wars stories keep revealing more Jedi who survived Order 66.
Other recent examples of surviving Jedi include Cal Kestis from the Star Wars Jedi series and Ahsoka Tano, who will soon receive her own spinoff TV series on Disney+. Even though these characters have become fan favorites, it’s hard to justify why they aren’t around during some of the saga’s most pivotal moments. This is especially a problem with stories set after Return of the Jedi since Yoda claimed Luke was the last Jedi, but Kestis and Tano are among the Jedi not confirmed to be dead by Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker. However, behind-the-scenes information from Lucas reveals that he would’ve made this apparent problem even worse.
Lucas Imagined 50 – 100 Jedi Surviving Order 66 & The Dark Times
According to The Star Wars Archives: Episodes I – III by Paul Duncan, Lucas believed there were about 50 – 100 total Jedi who had survived Order 66. Star Wars canon has featured several Order 66 survivors, but it’s nowhere near that much, and this means there were as many as 100 Jedi alive during the original trilogy. It also means that Yoda calling Luke the last Jedi would’ve been even farther from the truth, and having so many surviving Jedi would naturally have raised questions about where they were during the original trilogy. Lucas would’ve also had to explain where they were between Return of the Jedi and his sequel trilogy.
However, there are several ways to explain these questions, even in Lucas’ version with more Order 66 survivors. Even with Yoda’s ability to see across the galaxy through the Force, there’s no way he could’ve known about every single Jedi, meaning Luke was simply the last living Jedi that he knew about. The galaxy is a big place, and the Jedi were forced to hide from the Empire, so they could’ve been anywhere while the Rebel Alliance was also in hiding. After the fall of the Empire, it would be safe for Luke to call the surviving Jedi, which would be a big help in restarting the Order from scratch.
Order 66 Was Still A Success For The Sith
Even with Lucas’ 100 Jedi survivors, Order 66 was still a big win for the Sith. In Disney’s Star Wars canon, there were approximately 10,000 Jedi Knights before the purge, so Lucas’ Order 66 survivors would account for only one percent of that. However, Lucas envisioned even more Jedi during the prequel trilogy, saying that “…out of 100,000 Jedi, maybe 50 or 100 are left.” This would’ve made Order 66 an even greater tragedy and had Lucas’ Jedi survivors make up less than 0.1 percent of what the Jedi Order was. Considering how ruthless the Sith were in hunting down the Jedi, Luke would be lucky to have found 50.
Having that many Jedi in the sequel trilogy would also have been a great story opportunity for Luke. Many of the Jedi would certainly hesitate to work with the son of the man who helped destroy the Order, and Luke could hear firsthand accounts of how horrible the purge was throughout the decades. Lucas would also have had Luke recruiting children, like the Jedi of old, so there could be a debate on the right way to restore the Jedi Order. While Star Wars has several Order 66 survivors, Lucas would’ve made this apparent problem worse, and it could’ve been a better approach than Disney’s sequel trilogy.