In 1977, George Lucas released the beginning of sparked one of the biggest movie franchises of all time. A galaxy far, far away set the stage for the iconic, pop culture phenomenon, Star Wars. Since then, there have been five other theatrically release movies, multiple animated spin-off shows and are now slated for another six movies within the next five years. Not only does Star Wars continue to expand within its own franchise, but it has inspired dozens of parody both in movies (Spaceballs, anyone?) and television.
Shows such as Scrubs, That 70's Show and Community have had episodes dedicated to the epic space opera. But some of the most elaborate tributes come from animated cartoons. Without the cost limitations of set design, green screen and the safety of actors, cartoons are able to use every stretch of the imagination to bring out even the most intricate of details in every shot. Here are five of my personal favorites that are just teeming with creativity.
Tiny Toon Adventures - A Quack in the Quarks
Tiny Toon Adventures is possibly one of the most overlooked cartoons from the 90's. Not only did it have its ingenious moments when it came to satire and parody, but to have Steven Spielberg as an executive producer, you know the show is a real gem. In just the second episode of the series, Tiny Toons decides to do a loose parody of Star Wars, borrowing character designs such as Duck Vader, Babs with her ears in Princess Leia buns, and Buster dressed as Han Solo. But what makes this episode awesome are the more subtle tributes the creators included in the episode: using the Duck Dodger rocket to save Plucky and the hidden Easter egg of another sci-fi classic.
Simpsons - Please Homer, Don't Hammer Him
Unlike the other cartoons on this list, The Simpsons is a show that actually acknowledges the existence of the Star Wars universe as entertainment. The show references Star Wars on multiple occasions such as Lenny and Carl having a lightsaber fight with rods of plutonium, creating a parody movie series Cosmic Wars, having the family frozen in carbonite for one of their couch gags, and even getting Mark Hamill to voice himself as he plays Luke Skywalker in a rendition of Guys and Dolls.
Although the show has made plenty of references to Star Wars, there is not an entire parody episode. Despite this, in the season 18 episode "Please Homer, Don't Hammer Him," the creators reimagine a lightsaber battle with Bart and Skinner dueling each other with a peanut on a stick and shrimp on a stick, respectively (Bart being allergic to shrimp while Skinner is to peanuts). As the two battle it out, the battle theme song from The Phantom Menace is playing in the background for the added aesthetic.
Pinky and the Brain - Star Warners
Don't be fooled by the fact Yakko, Wakko and Dot (Animaniacs) are acting as the Star Wars big three, "Star Warners" is actually the final episode of the spin-off series, Pinky and the Brain. This episode tied in the main and minor characters of both series flawlessly, utilizing each characters' individual quirks to the utmost potential. It seemed like every single catch phrase was thrown into this episode as a final goodbye. The creators also managed to combine ALL THREE Star Wars movies together into one episode starting from the attack from the "Mega Star," transitioning to the Warner's finding Skippoda, and ending with Wakko saving the galaxy using "the face." This episode is the perfect balance between utter silliness for kids and clever moments for adults and Star Wars fans. And if you're really observant, you can see plenty of Warner Bros. character cameos!
Family Guy - Blue Harvest
Much like with Pinky and the Brain, Family Guy cast the characters in their show to fit the roles of Star Wars. Creator Seth MacFarlane didn't miss a thing in this parody from Stewie as Darth Vader, to Meg as the garbage creature, and even calling out George Lucas for some of the movies short comings/odd creative discissions (ex. moving slightly to the left counts as a "maneuver"). Blue Harvest also led to parodies of the other two movies the original trilogy (Something, Something Dark Side and It's A Trap!). And, of course, in true Family Guy fashion, MacFarlane broke the fourth wall once in a while and also threw plenty of movie and TV references for fans to appreciate.
Phineas and Ferb - Phineas and Ferb: Star Wars
Last but certainly not least, Phineas and Ferb: Star Wars might be one of the most imaginitive parody episode on the list. The creators brilliantly infused a typical/atypical Phineas and Ferb episode within the background of A New Hope. For example: Perry's first mission is to assure that R2D2 gets to Obi Wan Kenobi, "Darthensmirtz" is responsible for the design of the Death Star (including the "self destruct feature"), a heart to heart between Han Solo and Isabella leads them both to help in the rebel cause, the list goes on. But the cherry on top of this already sweet episode is the innovative songs Phineas and Ferb is known for. The songs they produce specifically for each episode is simply amazing, using Star Wars lingo and references perfectly.
Earlier this week, the latest trailer for Star Wars: The Force Awakens was released and the internet went crazy! It's only a matter of time until a new wave of Star Wars parodies will hit our screens. Which shows do you think will take the first swings?
Sources: Wikipedia - Star Wars; Watch Mojo - Top 10 Star Wards Parodies; Tiny Toons Wikia - A Quack in the Quarks; Simpsons Wikia - Star Wars; Animaniacs Wikia - Star Warners; Family Guy Wikia - Blue Harvest; Phineas and Ferb Wikia - Phineas and Ferb: Star Wars