The History of STAR WARS’ Ewoks

Luke Skywalker, Han Solo, Leia Organa, and Chewbacca might be the heroes of Star Wars original trilogy, but they never would have defeated the Galactic Empire without a big hand from some small allies. Ewoks played a pivotal role in winning the Battle of Endor. If not for those fierce warriors the Rebel Alliance never would have been able to destroy the second Death Star. But their story didn’t begin or end with Return of the Jedi. So who are those furry little creatures and what else are they known for beyond their legendary heroics? From movies, TV, and print, to both on screen and behind it, here’s the complete history of Ewoks.

Where Are Ewoks From?

Four Ewoks out in the grass in Return of the Jedi

Ewoks are native to the forest moon of Endor, one of nine that orbit the Outer Rim planet. It’s also home to other sentient species and predators, but Ewoks sit atop the moon’s food chain. Though not big inter-planet travelers, Ewoks are not a total mystery to others in the galaxy far, far away. One planet sold Ewok Jerky during the Clone Wars, long before the small furry species etched itself into the galactic history books.

What Are Ewoks’ Physical Traits?

Ewoks are diminutive, fur-covered bipeds who stand roughly three feet tall on average. They have a flat face with small eyes and big ears. Each hand has two fingers and one thumb. Most Ewoks have either solid brown, black, white, or gold fur, but occasionally some have stripes. They also wear garments that cover their head and the upper half of their chests. Despite their size they are powerful, fierce fighters. They can even outmuscle full size human soldiers.

What Kind of Society Do Ewoks Have?

An Ewok on a speeder bike in in Return of the Jedi

Ewok society most resembles that of a primitive Stone Age-era civilization, but that doesn’t mean they lack sophistication. They fish, both hunt and gather, and build elaborate wooden huts high in the trees to stay safe from enemies. They also make stone weapons (knives, slings, spears, bows and arrows, etc) and live in established villages with a social hierarchy. The small beings also construct catapults and use gliders to travel through the air.

Ewoks, who speak Ewokese, also have a rudimentary political structure led by a chief, with established villages of separate tribes each lead by its own Council of Elders. The furry creatures also create art and pottery, hold grand celebration festivals with music, dancing, and feasts, and provide medical care. They also have their own religion and consider themselves descendants of the sacred “Great Tree.”

When Did Ewoks First Appear in Star Wars?

Ewoks first appearance in Star Wars will forever be their most important. Ewok first appeared in 1983, in Star WarsReturn of the Jedi. They helped the Rebel Alliance bring down the second Death Star in the movie. In their first appearance, the Ewoks used their primitive tools, weapons, and fighting techniques to fight back against Imperial Stormtroopers and AT-STs.

Ewoks were able to wage war against their oppressors, who destroyed one of their villages despite never encountering such advanced technology before. For while they might seem uncivilized to some, ewoks are very quick learners who can adapt to new enemies. Especially when their foes do not know and live in harmony with their land the way Ewoks do.

Legend says the Ewok battle with Stormtroopers was the species’ first combat in many generations, but their next one would come soon.

Do Ewoks Really Eat People?

Han Solo hung upside from a pole by Ewoks in Return of the Jedi

Ewoks are omnivorous creatures who were ready to eat Luke Skywalker and Han Solo before C-3PO (who Ewoks believed was their returning “Golden One” god) convinced them not to. Unless you travel with a Jedi master who can levitate a protocol droid fluent in more than seven million forms of communication don’t get captured by Ewoks. They really might eat you.

What Happened to Ewoks After Return of the Jedi?

Ewoks surround Han Solo and Luke Skywalker in Return of the Jedi

The destruction of the second Death Star did not lead to peace on Endor’s forest moon. Not long after Palpatine’s (first) death, civil war broke out among the Ewoks. C-3PO and one of the franchise’s most beloved side characters, the humanoid rabbit-like Jaxxon T. Tumperakki, traveled to the moon on a diplomatic mission.

Some Ewoks also agreed to leave their home to help former Rebel soldiers in the galaxy recover from the trauma of war by serving as “therapy Ewoks.” (Which really is as weird as it sounds considering Ewoks were sentient creatures and not teddy bears.)

Where Else Have Ewoks Appeared in Star Wars?

Ewoks have appeared and been referenced in many Star Wars books, comics, shorts, and other Star Wars media and merchandise since their 1983 debut. They’ve also had a few notable on-screen returns, including a brief cameo at the end of The Rise of Skywalker. Two Ewoks happily watched a First Order Star Destroyer’s destruction.

Wicket and his Ewok son in The Rise of Skywalker

In the 1980s the mighty warriors got their own chance to shine with two ABC made-for-TV movies. The first, The Ewok Adventure, aired in November of 1984. The second, Ewoks: The Battle of Endor, followed 12 months later in 1985. ( Read our love letter to the latter.) And they also got their very own animated series, Ewoks, which aired for two seasons and 26 episodes from September 1985 until December 1986. The cartoon also had its own crossover comic series.

(It’s especially noteworthy “Ewok” appeared in the title of their spinoffs, as the word “Ewok” is never actually said in Return of the Jedi. Neither are any specific Ewok names. The film’s end credits list a few specific characters while most are simply called Ewoks.)

Ewoks not only appear in 2017’s Star Wars Battlefront II video game, players can opt to play as the adorable species.

Who Are the Most Famous Ewoks in Star Wars History?

The Ewok Wicket in Return of the JEdi

The most famous Ewok is Wicket W. Warrick, first played by franchise staple Warrick Davis when he was only 11 years old. Wicket was the Ewok who came across and ultimately befriended Princess Leia after her speeder bike crash. (Wicket also appeared in The Rise of Skywalker with his son Pommet.) And Wicket’s younger brother, the wild Widdle Warrick, also helped Chewbacca hijack an AT-ST.

Other notable Ewoks include Chief Chirpa, the chief of the Council of Elders who welcomed the Rebel force into the Ewok tribe after hearing C-3PO’s story about their fight against the Empire. Without Chirpa’s blessing, the Death Star might still be menacing the galaxy far, far away. His daughter, the warrior Princess Kneesaa, is also one of the most celebrated Ewoks outside of the film. While she was canonically part of the Battle of Endor, she was first mentioned by name in print in 1984. Recently other Star Wars projects have further explored her exploits. That includes how she succeeded her father as tribal chief and even flew on the Ghost with Hera Syndulla.

The chief shaman Ewok Logray talks to C-3PO in Return of the Jedi

Another notorious Ewok hero is Logray, chief shaman of Bright Tree tribe. He originally wanted to cook Luke, Han, and Chewie as a religious sacrifice to C-3PO. After Luke used the Force to make C-3PO look like the god Ewoks believed him to be, Logray ultimately agreed to join the Rebel’s cause after initial reluctance. He later officiated the marriage of Han and Leia in front of the Great Tree.

Though retconned as part of the Battle of Endor in Return of the Jedi, Peekpa still stands out among her tribe mates. A technological genius and hacker, Peekpa was also very fond of Chewbacca for saving her life. She later flew on a crew that included Chewie, Han Solo, and Lando Calrissian.

Where Did the Idea for Ewoks Come From?

Two Ewoks in an AT-ST cockpit with Chewbacca in Return of the Jedi

George Lucas originally wanted a very different type of fur-covered species to appear in Return of the Jedi. His initial idea was to have Wookiees on their home planet help the Rebels. But by that point he’d already established Wookiees as being technologically advanced, which meant they couldn’t play a primitive race, which Lucas wanted to see overthrow the Empire. That led to him creating an entirely new race opposite in size. His new primitive race took its name from rearranging the syllables of “Wookiee” and the Native American Miwok people who also inspired Ewok society.

Lucas has also the Viet Cong, which employed guerrilla tactics against American troops during the Vietnam War, served as the primary inspiration for Ewoks.

Legendary Star Wars makeup artist Stuart Freeborn based the Ewoks look on the Griffon Bruxellois breed of dogs.

What Are the Biggest Controversies Surrounding Ewoks?

Despite being undeniably adorable and heroic, Ewoks remain one of the most divisive elements of the original Star Wars trilogy. While some fans love them, others think they were included in Return of the Jedi solely to sell toys to kids.

There’s also a dark fan theory that says Ewoks ate dead Stormtroopers after blowing up the Death Star. Also, trust us, you never want to see a hairless Ewok.

But the biggest controversy about Ewoks is how George Lucas stole “Yub Nub” from them in his Special Editions. That song was a perfect way to celebrate the galaxy far, far away’s big, brave little heroes. Fittingly, however, removing it is further proof of something Ewoks proved a long time ago: technology isn’t always better than the old ways.

Top Stories
Trending Topics