No, Many Bothans Did Not Die in 'Rogue One'

We have all failed Mon Mothma and the 'Star Wars' canon.


There is a great disturbance in the Force. Have you felt it? If you search your feelings and know it to be true, you’ll see it’s because too many dense fans keep trying to get away with the same easy but fundamentally inaccurate Star Wars joke about Bothans.

The collective geek-dom seems fairly pumped about Rogue One, the first standalone Star Wars movie outside the main episodes chronicling the dysfunctional Skywalker family. But unfortunately that misplaced excitement has forced the internet to make lazy jokes mistaking the mission in this movie for one in Star Wars movie from three decades ago.

The film tells the story of how a rag-tag group of Rebels led by the Han Solo-esque Jyn Erso (Felicity Jones) stole the original plans for the Death Star, kicking off the opening scenes of A New Hope. In Rogue One, the leader of the Rebel Alliance is Mon Mothma, a commanding woman who appeared in the original trilogy, but was mostly forgotten — except for one line. When Mothma leads the operation to destroy the Death Star, she explains that the Rebel alliance sacrificed greatly to obtain secret intelligence about the Imperial planet-base. Specifically, “Many Bothans died to bring us this information.”

Of course, after several Rogue One trailers and teasers, there’s still no sign of any Bothans, which are short, furry mammalian humanoids with a penchant for espionage. The internet noticed this, and immediately started making Bothans jokes. The only problem is, they’re all wrong.

Here’s some poor Gundarks that haven’t caught on:

Sure, we would have liked to see a Bothan team member too, but you’re still missing the point.

Funnily enough, this is also the plot of Snow White.

Typical bad action movie where plot development happens off screen, right? Nope, still wrong.

Ok, this one’s fair, that was a long wait.

It’s easy to make the Bothan mistake: MTV, Quartz, and Film School Rejects all fell for it too.

But here’s the problem: Mon Mothma wasn’t talking about the events of Rogue One when she spoke of Bothan sacrifice. She uttered that line in Return of the Jedi, not A New Hope. She was talking about the second Death Star, not the first, which Jyn Erso and her band of merry men helped destroy. Rogue One is a completely different Star Wars story, and as far as we know, no Bothans will die during it.

Fortunately, this is Star Wars, so a lot of other angry fans caught on to the laziness and set out to put casual Bothan-jokers in their place.

Ok, Matt, if we’re being pedantic here most of the jokes weren’t puns.

Some that have resolved to coping with their own fandom that failed them:

And then, main Star Wars canon dude Pablo Hidalgo set the record straight once and for all:

So, now that the mistaken jokes are out of the way, what exactly is a bothan? According to Wookieepedia they are furry mammalian anthropoids, about 1.5 meters tall” that had “canine, feline, and equine features,” and “were known for being master politiciansand spies, craving intrigue and subterfuge.” Also, as far as we know, they haven’t appeared in anything in the official Star Wars canon other than getting that Mon Mothma shout-out.

“But wait!” you say, “What about that weird looking dude in the Rogue One Celebration reel!?

Bistan...not Bothan.

Nope, that guy’s name is Bistan, and while he could be misconstrued as a Bothan, Wookieepedia swoops in for the save again — he’s a “Lakaru,” whatever that is.

So, unless Felicity Jones plays some sort of grotesque shapeshifting camel alien that can be mistaken for a Bothan, then no Bothans died to bring us the Rogue One information. Still, multiple plans have been stolen and or spied on, maybe it could leave room for the Rogue One sequel, Rogue Two?

Seems like another tweet by Hidalgo says Rogue Two starring a bunch of Bothans would be enough for a follow-up adventure:

But in the end, how have we as fans failed the canon so completely? And is this a bigger problem about the general laziness of the Rogue One marketing to not give enough context for the newbies? Probably. One thing is for sure: Don’t expect Bothan spies to bring you any information about Rogue One.

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