In 1981, 1983, and 1996, National Public Radio
station KUSC-FM performed radio play adaptations
of the original Star Wars
movie trilogy. Considered part of the Star Wars Expanded Universe
, the plays were made with the full cooperation of George Lucas
, who sold the rights to KUSC-FM (hosted by his alma mater, the University of Southern California) for a dollar apiece.
The first series was released simply under the title Star Wars
. To avoid confusion between it and the franchise as a whole, below it will be referred to as A New Hope
In addition to using most of the same tropes as the movies, the Star Wars Radio Dramas provide examples of the following tropes:
- Adaptation Expansion: The plays included several scenes that were either cut from the films or entirely new.
- From A New Hope, we get Leia using the Tantive IV to smuggle medical supplies to Rebel forces on Ralltiir, learning about the Death Star plans and acquiring them from Rebels on Toprawa, and Luke watching the battle between Tantive IV and the ISD Devastator.
- The Empire Strikes Back showed the Battle of Derra IV, which was alluded to in several later EU materials including the first four books of the X-Wing Series. We also got a conversation between Han and Luke after he got the storm shelter put up in the Hoth wastes.
- Return of the Jedi included Luke constructing his new lightsaber. Being that it was performed after the current EU got into full swing, we also got a Call Forward to The Thrawn Trilogy in the form of a conversation between C-3PO and an undercover Mara Jade.
- Canon Immigrant: The A New Hope play had the first in-story appearancenote of Bail Organa, who would later appear in the prequel trilogy as the Republic senator from Alderaan. Also, Return of the Jedi features a character strongly implied to be Mara Jade, a character never seen in the films and originally introduced in The Thrawn Trilogy.
- Curb-Stomp Battle: Derra IV from the Empire play was a one-sided slaughter that cost the Rebels a valuable supply convoy and most of a squadron of X-Wings. Later-published materials establish that the ambush was planned by Grand Admiral Thrawn, and by the Legacy of the Force novel series it's being used as a Virtual Training Simulation for GFFA fighter pilots.
- Limited Special Collector's Ultimate Edition: All three radio series were available together, in a CD boxed set, with special artwork on the discs not available on other editions, as well as exclusive bonus tracks. The bonus tracks were excerpts of conversations with cast members, select scenes played without music or sound effects, and an audio get well card recoded by the cast for Brian Daley, the writer who adapted all three series for radio and who at the time Jedi was recorded, was sick with pancreatic cancer. (Unfortunately, Daley didn't last long enough to be able to hear it.)
- No Sell: In this version Han lampshades Vader blocking DL-44 shots with his hand, right before Vader yanks said blaster out of Han's.
- Shoot the Dog: In A New Hope episode 2, Bail Organa is forced to shoot Lord Tion dead after the latter deduces from a slip of the tongue by Leia that the Organas know about the Death Star. It shocks the hell out of Leia.
- Space Is Noisy: The New Hope play justifies this through the use of auralization, with Han mentioning it to Luke as they warm up the Falcon's quad lasers during the escape from the Death Star.
- The Starscream: In some cuts of the New Hope play there's a scene where Tarkin and Admiral Motti are plotting to overthrow the Emperor. Nothing ever comes of it.