"A long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away." Those 10 simple words are branded into the mind of every Star Wars fan, and for good reason: they're perfect. They effortlessly convey what makes Star Wars as a franchise unique: its grandiose scope. While the official movies all take place within a sixty year period, the larger Star Wars universe spans untold epochs, at a truly galactic scale. The stories told in Star Wars are simple, but the universe itself, after 30 years of exploration by book, TV, comic, and video game writers? Mind-bogglingly intricate.
Assisted by Switzerland's École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne, French data scientist and self-avowed Star Wars fan Kirell Benzi decided to try to visualize the complexity of Star Wars. For data, he used Wookiepedia, an unofficial wiki of the Star Wars expanded universe containing over 125,000 separate entries. He then cross-compiled them to highlight interesting statistics, as well as visualize them into charts.
Some key takeaways? Spread across Star Wars' vast corpus, the Expanded Universe contains 21,647 separate characters. These characters aren't all bit characters, though: 7,563 of them play an important role in the 35,000-year-long Star Wars saga. Because yes, at least as it's portrayed in games, comics, and books, Star Wars is a lot bigger a story than just the Skywalker clan. Sure, most Star Wars stories take place either during the Rebellion or the formation of the New Republic, but there's almost as many stories that take place thousands of years before Darth Vader, or after Luke Skywalker.
Star Wars is largely defined by the Force, so Benzi also explored how many Jedi and Sith there are in the universe. Jedi are most common—there are 1,367 of them, compared to 724 Sith. It's also defined by aliens, so it's a bit surprising that according to Benzi's research, 78% of all species in Star Wars are human, spread out over 640 communities and 294 planets. Using graph theory, he was even able to chart the most connected characters in Star Wars, and found that Anakin Skywalker/Darth Vader was the person any other character in Star Wars was most likely to know. Not so surprising, I guess, when you consider he ended up killing half of them.
Benzi's visualizations of all this data can look chaotic at first glance. But if you think of each datapoint as a star or planet, they become nebula that afford us the best look we've ever been given of what George Lucas's galaxy far, far away would actually look like—if we could only see it first hand.