'Rogue One': Our Ultimate Guide to the Easter Eggs and Callbacks in the 'Star Wars' Prequel (Spoilers!)

As the connective tissue between Revenge of the Sith and A New Hope, Rogue One: A Star Wars Story has to seamlessly weave in many legacy elements from those earlier movies, incorporating enough Star Wars touchstones to make Rogue One feel a part of that long-time-ago galaxy. The new entry feels like a throwback to the 1977 original, with familiar settings, vehicles, droids, and costumes, even though it eschews some basic Star Wars conventions.

“We had a lot of details that we had to work our story into,” co-producer Josh Swartz explained at the film’s Hollywood premiere. “One of the first things we did on Rogue One was to make a reel of everything we did on Episodes III and IV that we had to stick to as we were telling our story — all the little rules that were already set out by George and the other films. It was really important to us to make sure we weren’t breaking anything in the other films.”

Related: The Design of ‘Rogue One’: Exclusive Look at the Concept Art

Of course that means Rogue One is stocked with Star Wars references, callbacks, and Easter eggs, many of which we knew were coming from the trailers and TV spots, many we suspected, and many that left our jaws hanging. Here’s our ranking, from least surprising to most. Please let us know in the comments if we missed anything. And beware, there are lots of spoilers below.

Jyn makes the case that rebellions are built on hope, repeating that mantra many times. That theme gets picked up by key characters throughout the film, which leads directly into Episode IV, a.k.a. A New Hope.

Moisture Vaporators/Blue Milk
The Ersos’ farm has two visual references to the Lars’ homestead on Tatooine in A New Hope. Outside are the familiar moisture vaporators; inside on the counter, a pitcher of blue milk that would make Aunt Beru smile.

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Death Troopers arrive at the Ersos farm hideaway, with a moisture vaporator on the hill in the background (Lucasfilm)

Saw Gerrera
The grizzled freedom fighter and protector of the Ersos, played in Rogue One by Forest Whitaker, first appeared in four episodes of the animated Star Wars: The Clone Wars, fighting to save his planet Onderon with help from Anakin Skywalker and Obi-Wan Kenobi.

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The young Saw Gerrera in Star Wars: The Clone Wars (Lucasfilm)

Related: Deep Inside ‘Rogue One’: Lucasfilm’s Pablo Hidalgo Reveals Secrets of New ‘Star Wars’ (Exclusive)

The Death Star
Rogue One offers more backstory on the planet-killing battle station, including how its superlaser is powered (by the Jedis’ kyber crystals), how Grand Moff Tarkin came to run it, how it wound up with a fatal flaw, and how the Rebels wound up with the plans to exploit that flaw. Meanwhile, inside the station, we see the familiar ginormo-helmeted Death Star squads in charge of operating the various systems, including the big gun.

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Tarkin gives the order to fire as the Death Star moves into range in A New Hope (Lucasfilm)

Imperial Disguises
A classic Star Wars stratagem, dating back to the 1977 original, is having our heroes incapacitate Imperial minions and use their uniforms to infiltrate enemy lines. In Rogue One, Jyn and Cassian knock out an officer and a ground crew member and use their duds to get inside the citadel on Scarif.

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Cassian and Jyn in Imperial garb accompany K-2SO into the Scarif citadel (Lucasfilm)

Yavin 4
The Rebel HQ featured at the end of A New Hope gets more play in Rogue One. We see the base from alternate angles and get a better look at its inner workings.

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Leia confers with Dodanna in the Yavin IV base during climactic battle in A New Hope (Lucasfilm)

Jan Dodonna
Among the familiar faces we see at Yavin 4 is the bearded Rebel general who plots the attack on the Death Star in A New Hope. Here, Dodanna is played by Ian McElhinney (Game of Thrones); in the original it was Alex McCrindle.

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Mon Mothma (left) and Dodanna (in the white coat on the right) in the Yavin war room in Rogue One (Lucasfilm)

Related: Behind the Scenes at the ‘Rogue One’ Hollywood Premiere

Mon Mothma
The Chandrilan senator is depicted as one of the key leaders of the nascent rebellion assembled on Yavin 4 in Rogue One. Following the death of Bail Organa when the Death Star destroys Alderaan in A New Hope, she emerges as the leader of the Alliance in Return of the Jedi. Genevieve O’Reilly, who played Mon in Revenge of the Sith, reprises the role, which was originated by Caroline Blakiston.

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Mon Mothma in the war room at Yavin Base in Rogue One (Lucasfilm)

Related: How Mon Mothma Returned to the ‘Star Wars’ Universe

Bail Organa
Another founder of the Rebel Alliance, Organa first emerged in opposition to Palpatine in Attack of the Clones. In Revenge of the Sith, he adopted Anakin Skywalker’s infant daughter Leia to protect her from the Dark Side. In Rogue One, he supports Jyn Erso’s mission to steal the Death Star plans before flying back to his home world of Alderaan — where he is killed in the Death Star attack in A New Hope. Jimmy Smits reprises his role from the prequels.

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Bail Organa on Yavin in Rogue One (Lucasfilm)

Obi-Wan Kenobi
Although not mentioned by name, Mon tells Bail that he needs to alert “your Jedi friend” and Bail remarks that said friend “served me well in the Clone Wars.” Asked if he has someone he trusts to deliver the message, Bail replies in the affirmative, adding, “I trust her with my life” — an allusion to Leia and her New Hope hologram of “help me, Obi-Wan, you’re my only hope.”

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A hologram of Princess Leia beckons to Obi-Wan Kenobi (Lucasfilm)

The volcanic planet served as the site of the duel between Obi-Wan Kenobi and Anakin Skywalker in Revenge of the Sith. By the time of Rogue One, Vader has established his redoubt there, residing in a monolithic castle (an edifice originally conceived by Star Wars artist Ralph McQuarrie for Empire Strikes Back but ultimately discarded).

Bacta Tank
Darth Vader is first seen in Rogue One outside of his armor, submerged in the restorative fluids that his son Luke would eventually use to recover from the wampa attack in Empire Strikes Back.

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Luke recovers in a bacta tank post-wampa attack (Lucasfilm)

Imperial Royal Guards
Two of the red-cloaked sentinels, among the most elite members of the Stormtrooper Corps, flank Darth Vader’s chamber in his Mustafar stronghold.

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The red-cloaked Imperial guards stand watch outside Vader’s bacta tank (Lucasfilm)

Darth Vader
The dark lord of the Sith is at the height of his terrible powers at the time of Rogue One, where he is dubious of Krennic’s ability to bring the Death Star to full power without a hitch.

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Darth Vader emerges from his chamber for some chit-chat with Krennic (Lucasfilm)

Force Choke
Krennic is on the receiving end of one of Vader’s trademark throttlings; although it is nonlethal for the director, the Sith lord later employs his Dark Side strangling power to devastating effect on some Rebels trying to escape with the Death Star plans, just like he does to both Rebels and insolent Imperials throughout the original Star Wars trilogy.

Related: Rogue One 101 — Everything You Need to Know Before Seeing the Movie

Devastator vs. Tantive IV
Otherwise known as, respectively, Vader’s Star Destroyer and Leia’s blockade runner from A New Hope, these ships are among several familiar vessels that turn up in the climactic moments of Rogue One, as the rebels try to escape the Scarif system with the stolen Death Star plans. There’s even a quick glimpse and reference to the Tantive IV‘s pilot, Captain Antilles.

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The Tantive IV tries to outrun the Devastator above Tatooine in the opening moments of A New Hope and minutes after the climax of Rogue One (Lucasfilm)

Twi’lek Dancer
At Saw’s hideout on Jedha, we briefly see hologram of a dancing Twi’lek female, a callback to the ill-fated Oola, who becomes rancor chow when her moves displease Jabba the Hutt in Return of the Jedi.

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Oola, the ill-fated captive of Jabba the Hutt in Return of the Jedi (Lucasfilm)

Budget Holochess
Two of Saw’s fighters are playing a board game reminiscent of Chewbacca’s favorite pastime holochess; however, the Rogue One version is a low-budget handmade version using physical pieces (including a rancor) in lieu of holograms.

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C-3PO recommends that R2-D2 let Chewie win (Lucasfilm)

Related: Star Wars VFX Guru Talks Holochess Then (‘A New Hope) and Now (‘Force Awakens)

The Odds
Throughout Rogue One, the unfiltered K-2SO (voiced by Alan Tudyk) loves telling Cassian and the other team members the unlikely chances of success, not unlike C-3PO in Empire Strikes Back, who relays Artoo’s calculations for Luke surviving a night on Hoth and then states the improbability of Han surviving a run through an asteroid field, prompting the scoundrel’s rejoinder: “Never tell me the odds!”

May the Force Be With You
The most famous line in the franchise is uttered here initially by Jyn Erso as the team embarks on its desperate mission to Scarif. As the Rebel fighter pilots scramble to head to Scarif, a voice over the intercom invokes the line. And at the end, Admiral Raddus salutes Jyn’s crew using their call sign: “Rogue One, may the Force be with you.”

I’ve Got a Bad Feeling About This
The second-most repeated line in Star Wars films gets delivered by K-2SO in Rogue One.

It’s a Trap!
In Rogue One, it’s Saw Gerrera who puts his spin on this classic quote first exclaimed onscreen by Admiral Ackbar in Return of the Jedi.

Guardians of the Whills/The Force of Others
The blind warrior monk Chirrut Îmwe (Donnie Yen) and his protector Baze Malbus (Jiang Wen) are introduced as members of a sect called the Guardian of the Whills, non-Jedis who believe in the power of the Force and protect the sacred sites on Jedha.

Baze and Chirrut, two very different Guardians of the Whills, former protectors of the Jedi temple on Jedha (Lucasfilm)
Baze and Chirrut, two very different Guardians of the Whills, former protectors of the Jedi temple on Jedha (Lucasfilm)

The Whills is a deep-nerd callback to George Lucas’s earliest scripts, when his movie was still called The Star Wars. The Whills was essentially the Force, and Lucas also referred to the Journal of the Whills, a repository of Jedi lore analogous to the Bible. Meanwhile, when we meet Chirrut, he is greeting passersby with the salutation, “May the Force of Others be with you,” a riff on the classic line that is also a nod to the original incarnation of the phrase from Lucas’s treatment.

Red and Gold Squadrons
The X-wing and Y-wing squadrons, respectively, that led the assault on the Death Star make a cameo in Rogue One, as they accompany the Rebel fleet into battle above Scarif. The filmmakers digitally inserted Gold Leader (Angus MacInnes) and Red Leader (Drewe Henley) from A New Hope into the scene.

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Red Leader barks orders to his X-wing squadron during the Death Star attack in A New Hope (Lucasfilm)

Red 5 (Pre-Luke Skywalker)
In A New Hope, Luke has the call sign “Red 5” in the Death Star battle. In Rogue One, we get the backstory of how that slot opened up — the original Red 5 is obliterated above Scarif.

Wilhuff Tarkin
We learn how the grand moff comes to command the Death Star via the schemings of the computer-generated recreation of Peter Cushing’s A New Hope character, who outmaneuvers Krennic. Tarkin is voiced by British actor Guy Henry, whose credits include a turn as a Death Eater in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows.

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Grand Moff Tarkin grills Princess Leia aboard the Death Star in A New Hope (Lucasfilm)

Ponda Baba and Dr. Evazan
Ponda Baba (perhaps better known by his action-figure name of Walrus Man) and Dr. Cornelius Evazan make a cameo on Jedha, literally bumping into Jyn and Cassian. They apparently got out of town before the Death Star blast, because we know the made it to Tatooine’s Mos Eisley Cantina, where Evazan tells Luke Skywalker in A New Hope, “We’re wanted men. I have the death sentence on 12 systems,” before he and his toothy pal wind up on the business end of Obi-Wan’s lightsaber.

Ponda Baba, with Dr. Evazan looming behind, confronts Luke Skywalker in the cantina in A New Hope (Lucasfilm)
Ponda Baba, with Dr. Evazan looming behind, confronts Luke Skywalker in the cantina in A New Hope (Lucasfilm)

Related: The Cantina Scene — the Out-of-This-World Story of the Galaxy’s Favorite Dive Bar

The Ghost
The ship belonging to the main team in the animated Star Wars Rebels is parked at Alliance HQ on Yavin 4 and then later glimpsed in the dogfight above Scarif. While Rebels has frequently featured cameos from film characters, this is the first time something from that ‘toon has crossed over to film.

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The Ghost in flight in Star Wars Rebels; its presence in Rogue One is pure fan service, since none of its crew appears (Lucasfilm)

C-3PO and R2-D2
Continuing their streak as the only characters who have appeared in every screen incarnation of Star Wars, the iconic droids pop up on Yavin 4. Anthony Daniels, who plays Threepio, extends his personal streak of being in the most Star Wars-related productions of any actor.

C-3PO and R2-D2 on Tatooine after eluding capture aboard the Tantive IV in A New Hope (Lucasfilm)
C-3PO and R2-D2 on Tatooine after eluding capture aboard the Tantive IV in A New Hope (Lucasfilm)

In addition to the golden protocol droid and his astromech BFF, we also see several other models from the original trilogy, including GNK (or power droid), MSE (mouse droid), RA-7 (Imperial protocol droid), and Viper droid (Imperial probe droid).

Princess Leia
As promised, the film ends moments before A New Hope, as Alliance troopers deliver the Death Star plans to Princess Leia on the Tantive IV.

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Leia gives R2-D2 the Death Star plans aboard the Tantive IV in A New Hope (Lucasfilm)

Leia, recreated through the use of a stand-in with Carrie Fisher’s young face animated on, appears in her familiar white robe and Cinnabon-hairdo and utters a single word: “Hope,” which seems like it was snipped from her “help me, Obi-Wan” speech mentioned above.

Watch ‘Rogue One’ Stars Play With Their Action Figures: