Apr 30 2014 2:00pm

Every Human in Star Wars is Really a Humanoid Bee

There are no humans in Star Wars.

This should be obvious from the title card. We’re a long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away. Human beings evolved on this planet, Sol 3, over the last sixty million years or so depending on how you count. If we don’t want to go all “Chariots of the Gods?” we have to throw out the notion that the people represented by human actors in Star Wars movies are in fact human. They’re something else.

Why represent them as human? Let’s assume that the Star Wars movies are dramatizations of real history: that Luke, Leia, Han et. al. actually existed in a galaxy long, long ago (etc.), and that George Lucas accessed this history via the Force and wanted to represent it on film. Star Wars tells the story of a dominant-species empire arising from a pluralistic society, then being overthrown by courageous rebels and warrior monks. Lucas had to cast this drama with human actors, and the obvious choice was to use unmodified humans to represent the most common species.

While convenient, this approach does present one problem: watching the Original Trilogy, we assume that the ‘humans’ of the GFFA (Galaxy Far Far Away) are biologically and sociologically identical to Sol 3 humans. When obviously they’re not! In fact, I think a few important context clues present a very different picture of the dominant race of the Original Trilogy.

Gender is the most important clue. The Original Trilogy has a shortage of women when considered by the standards of a two-sexed mammalian species. Leia is the most prominent female, and the only one to feature in all three movies. Aunt Beru and Mon Mothma also have named speaking roles. Aside from these three, I can’t think of another definitely-female, definitely-‘human’ character in the series. In RotJ Leia describes her mother, who is obviously a queen. These females all possess at least local political and social authority.

Family is a second important clue—or, rather, the absence of family. With one notable exception, people in the series don’t talk much about parentage. No non-Force sensitive male ever describes his family, if I recall correctly. Han, Lando, Wedge, Biggs, Tarkin, Dodonna, and so forth, all might as well have sprung from the brows of their ships. In six+ hours of film about war, I would expect to see someone to drop at least a single reference to parents of some sort. The lack of strong family ties suggests that parenting relationships are much less close for most GFFA ‘humans’ than for Sol 3 humans—which in turn suggests large brood sizes, short gestation periods, young ages of maturity, or all of the above.

So we’re looking for an organism with large brood sizes, young ages of maturity, short gestation periods, and relatively few fertile females who naturally assume positions of social and organizational authority.

Here is my modest theory: the GFFA’s ‘humans’ are in fact sentient hive insects, organized around a single queen, a handful of fertile males, and a horde of infertile female soldiers. For parsimony’s sake, let’s assume that Force sensitivity in this species is possessed by fertile males and females, and that male actors used to represent non-Force sensitive characters are actually representing infertile females.

This explains a few things:

  • The Emperor’s Reproductive and Political Strategy. The Emperor, a fertile male, has replaced the old Queen, substituting the use of clone warriors for ‘normal’ biological reproduction.
  • The Horror of the Clone Wars. The true horror of the Clone Wars thus becomes clear. They’re not just wars in which cloning technology is used. They’re wars in which the fundamental structure of the ‘human’ species is inverted: wars in which queens are killed, hives consolidated, and clones take the place of biological reproduction. Wars about the use of clones instead of queens.
  • The Deal with Jabba’s Humanoid Slaves. Doesn’t it seem weird that a presumably hermaphroditic gastropod should be so fascinated by displaying captive females of another phylum in bikinis? The Hive Insect theory makes this habit a clear and calculated display of dominance, communicating to ‘human’ visitors that Jabba is to ‘human’ queens as queens are to drones and soldiers. (This also suggests that Jabba’s interested in twi’lek girls because they look like ‘humans,’ but may be easier to come by—giving his character a bit of extra complexity, since he wants to communicate dominance to his followers in this way but isn’t able to do more than pretend until Leia comes along.)
  • Why Kill the Jedi? I mean, sure, kill the old ones, but wouldn’t it be easier to convert younglings than wipe them out? Well, drones in the absence of a queen naturally rear fertilized eggs into new queens. If Palpatine is trying to destroy queen-dom, he cannot permit the existence of any drones who are not perfectly loyal to his New Order. Conversion is apparently a brutal process. Vader survived it; Luke might survive it. Perhaps no one else did.
  • What’s with all the Death Stars? It isn’t hard to annihilate all life on a planet from orbit. If you’re in orbit, you’ve already done the hard part—just tractor some rocks into the surface. Obviously a superweapon is nice to have, but why not build just the weapon and the shielding system? That would be cheaper, certainly. It seems that the superweapon is only part of the purpose of the Death Star—the Star is in fact an artificial hive, built as the perfect environment for the Emperor’s new clone-based society.

Admittedly, this doesn’t explain what’s going on between Leia and Han. It’s possible that Han is in fact a drone and doesn’t know it—he is phenomenally lucky, after all, which suggests Force sensitivity. On the other hand, it seems reasonable, given the importance of queens, that some sort of queen-soldier pairbonding could occur. This may even be the sort of relationship that the Emperor is intending to replicate with Vader.

So that’s a theory. I mean, what’s more likely—a Galaxy Far Far Away full of psychic alien super-bees, or one in which you can cross thirty solar systems and run into three women with speaking parts?

DISCLAIMER: I love Star Wars. It rocks. And precisely because of this, it’s fun to tweak. Obviously, the above argument only refers to the OT; the EU features a much broader range of characters and situations, and I don’t want to be responsible for creating a consistent interpretation of the prequel trilogies. (Though just off the top of my head, Naboo-’humans’ do seem to fit with Hive Insect theory.)


This article originally appeared October 21, 2013 on Max Gladstone’s blog.

Max Gladstone writes books about the cutthroat world of international necromancy: wizards in pinstriped suits and gods with shareholders’ committees. You can follow him on Twitter.

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Chris Nelly
1. Aeryl
Hell, there are actual hive insect aliens in the EU. This isn't THAT off base.

But, if this is only for the OT, why the prequel picture?
3. ad
Wouldn't this argument work just as well for Lord of the Rings? And Band of Brothers?

Clearly there was more to WW2 than we have been told...
Leah Schnelbach
4. Cloudyvision
Obligatory reaction from Nicholas Cage:
Anthony Pero
5. anthonypero
And why, exactly, would a site like TOR.COM, not want to go all Chariots of the Gods?
6. olethros
Corrollary: the SW "humans" are the buggers in Ender's Game.
8. Amy E.
glad i'm not the only one who was thinking that.
9. NicoleL
@ 5 Because racism?
Anthony Pero
10. anthonypero
By Chariots of the Gods, I was simply refering to the concept that human life was seeded by extraterrestrials.
Lisamarie LiGreci-Newton
11. Lisamarie
I did laugh (and I know you're not trolling) but I am not sure you can just omit the prequel trilogy because it goes against your theory (although the lack of female characters fits there too).
12. dreamysusan just the best.
13. Stephan Zielinski
More evidence Han Solo is a drone: he brags of having "made the Kessel Run in less than twelve parsecs", which strongly suggests he succeeded in triumphing over all rivals and impregnating the Kessel queen after a remarkably short mating flight.
Lisamarie LiGreci-Newton
14. Lisamarie

Oh yea, and I meant to add, I'm not a fan of any theory that posits the 'Han is actually Force sensitive', as it takes away from his 'Badass Normal' status. In some ways, he is more of the everyman than Luke (I love Luke.) as he does not have the benefit of mystical powers, although he does have other gifts.
Alan Brown
15. AlanBrown
I had thought that the lack of female characters was because Lucas was copying folks like Robert Lewis Stevenson, A. Conan Doyle, and H. Rider Haggard, whose protagonists generally kissed women goodbye in the first chapter, and didn't say hello to any females until they got home again in the last chapter.
But this theory actually makes much more sense!!!
16. Fred Davis
Actually the prequal trilogy works even better with this theory - who would "elect" a teenage "queen" like amidala? Viewed as the result of a sane sol c society it's nonsensical, but for humanoid bees? Even the use of the idea of being "elected" makes more sense - now it's not a thing of democratic votes but of convincing a swarm of infertile females to come nest with a new queen.

Similarly, the anakin/his mother/amidala relationship is one of a fertile male drone produced by an enslaved queen going from one drone/queen relationship to another - and palpatine's usurption of that relationship is ultimately and irrevocably confirmed when the drone lashes out and fatally injures his queen.

This act is in turn is so aborrent and unthinkable that when it happens to amidala she gives up her life out of a sense of shame, presumably in the form of producing epic quantities of royal jelly to feed the pupal leia and luke, rather than live as the queen who was struck by one of her male drones - obviously she'd be unable to form any kind of hive after that and so put all her hopes for the formation of a new hive that could fight palpatine's new clone hive in her children.
Madeline Barnicle
17. barnicle
A very elegant theory. Thank you for this illuminating hypothesis! ;)
Alan Brown
18. AlanBrown
And it explains why some of the dialogue sounds so awkward to human ears! ;-)
19. claritywhisk
What truly undermines the argument here is that, while positing the theory, it doesn't mention the most obvious item of support. Light saber combat, an intricate dance involving rapid flipping, is obviously a depiction of aerial combat and/or wrestling: something akin to the fighting of terran bees. The force concerned is simply gravity. When you think about the repeated emphasis on agility and 'human' nature overcoming imperial forces throughout the films (e.g. downing the imperial walker; also, ewoks) it's apparant there was cleverness in overcoming the flightless limitations of the actors available. But really, forgetting the flight saviours? It's almost as gaping a hole as omitting comment on the dance at the entryway to the death star. Perhaps over time you can elaborate the paper to give it a bit more sting. As it is, I'm puzzled as to the clear trueness of the presented hypothesis, what grade of honey that truth corresponds to and whether further study would find it moldy.
20. Scooba
The "long time ago in a galaxy far far away" set up is to give you a sense of a "future fantasy tale". It doesnt imply that star wars actually takes place in another galaxy than ours, nor does it imply that these events happened a long time ago.
Anthony Pero
21. anthonypero
@20: I think maybe you are missing the tone of this article.
22. Merle
Great read! Though now I'd love to see insectoid redesigns of the main cast...
23. Mike Olson
Aside from these three, I can’t think of another definitely-female, definitely-‘human’ character in the series.
Toryn Farr! Toryn Farr!
24. Duggy
You are aware that most bees are female, right? If this was true of Star Wars all the worker bees (rebel and imperial soldiers and command staff) would be female not male.
25. olethros
male actors used to represent non-Force sensitive characters are actually representing infertile females.
" Perhaps reading the article before commenting would be of benefit.
Joseph Newton
26. crzydroid
I have to object to the use of the terms "bees" and "insects", as these things also evolved on Sol 3.

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