Breaking Down That Infamous E.T./Star Wars Fan Theory

The theory had been floating around the fan community for a while, and the earliest online evidence may be a 2013 meme posted on the website 9Gag: Not only was E.T., the title creature from Steven Spielberg's 1982 hit "E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial" a creature from the "Star Wars" universe, but he was an embodiment of the Dark Side of the Force. E.T. was a Sith Lord. 

Theories about E.T.'s place in the "Star Wars" universe began when sharp-eyed theatergoers first spotted members of E.T.'s species — down in the lower left of the frame — sitting in the galactic senate in a scene from "Star Wars: Episode I – The Phantom Menace." While surely intended as a cute visual reference, fans immediately began to speculate connections between "Star Wars" and "E.T." The logic was simple: E.T. comes from a galaxy far, far away. When E.T. goes trick-or-treating in Spielberg's film, he sees a child dressed as Yoda and says "Home." Additionally, E.T. can magically heal minor wounds with his glowing fingertip. In "Star Wars: Episode III – Revenge of the Sith," Senator Palpatine (Ian McDiarmid) mentions to Anakin (Hayden Christiansen) that Sith Lords, unlike Jedi, have the ability to heal the sick and can even create life. 

For many, this was evidence enough that E.T. was a Sith Lord.

It's worth noting that the 9Gag meme manifested prior to the 2019 release of "Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker," so new evidence has come to light. It could be argued that Rey was accessing the powers of the Dark Side when she healed Kylo Ren's wound with her hand. This was the woman who was able to manifest Palpatine-like Force lightning, after all.

More theories

Over the years, other enthused geeks have weighed in on the E.T./Sith Lord theory. A 2015 article in Cracked linked "Star Wars" and E.T., pointing out that E.T.'s abilities to psychically levitate several bicycles is not too far afield from Luke Skywalker or Rey levitating rocks and boulders, proving definitively that he was at least a Jedi. A 2017 article from Film School Rejects also weighed in on all the above-stated theses, and the topic, naturally, has been debated in the trenches of Reddit.

The most comprehensive "Star Wars" fan site on the internet, Wookieepedia, takes the theory a step further, stating that the events of "E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial" are concurrent with the events of "Star Wars: Episode II – Attack of the Clones." The theory goes that E.T. mistook the lush woods of Earth for the verdant climes of Endor's forest moon. Perhaps E.T. was looking to recruit an "untouched" world in an effort to expand a Sith army. E.T., displaying subterfuge, demonstrated his benevolent powers to the young Elliott (Henry Thomas) in an attempt to convince the boy that he was a Jedi. E.T. assumed that Elliott was Force sensitive as he and the child displayed a psychic, empathic bond. The events of Spielberg's film were, in fact, an attempt to convince Elliott to join the dark side. 

It must have been a mere breakdown in communication that prevented the Dark Lord E.T. from convincing Elliott to join the Dark Side. E.T.'s parting words to Elliott — that he "be good" — was either E.T.'s unwillingness to let the façade drop, or a sign that Elliott's innocence had dragged E.T. back from the Darkness. 

But that can't be right

Of course, Wookieepedia made the amateur mistake in forgetting that the "Star Wars" movies all take place "a long time ago in a galaxy far, far away." The actual Earth year in the "Star Wars" universe is never stated explicitly, meaning it could take place millions or even billions of years prior to the formation of Earth. So E.T. could not have slipped away from the events of "Attack of the Clones" to visit our galaxy, Sith Lord or not. The Wookieepedia theory seems to be based on the assumption that the E.T. aliens in "The Phantom Menace" are the same ones seen at the start of Spielberg's film. 

The only explicit facts of the case are: 1. E.T. 's species once interacted with the "Star Wars" galaxy, and 2. E.T.'s species also visited Earth. If one is to assume that "Star Wars" and modern Earth are separated by a gulf of time — evidenced by the "long times ago" descriptor — then one can see that E.T.'s species has not evolved much in that time; both the Spielberg aliens and "Phantom Menace" aliens look the same. 

If the species had stopped evolving, it would imply that E.T.s hail from an environment that hasn't changed in millions of years. Here on earth, species like the horseshoe crab or the goblin shark haven't evolved much over the course of millennia. For an intelligent, high-tech, space-faring species to remain evolutionarily stagnant, their planet's environment would either have to be controlled and held steady by amazing technological means — possible — or they would need access to amazing psychic, life-giving powers to keep their planet blooming despite the industrial manufacturing needed to build space craft. 

If the latter, the E.T.s are in trouble. 

E.T.s might be near extinction

Given the events of "Attack of the Clones" and "Revenge of the Sith," psychic forces in the "Star Wars" universe are all wonky. Mace Windu (Samuel L. Jackson) mentions that the Jedi have been losing their ability to control the Force, and the rise of Palpatine — and his bloody-minded insistence on recruiting Anakin Skywalker to his cause — implies that the entire galaxy may be rippling with the Dark Side. The Jedi will eventually all be executed under Order 66, leaving Force sensitive people few and far between, scattered and hidden. 

With negative energies coursing through the cosmos, the presumably delicate forces needed to keep the E.T. planet verdant would be interrupted. It's possible that a mere change of leadership in the galaxy from a senate to a fascist dictatorship would be enough to cause the entire E.T. home world to die out. The E.T.s only recourse would be to flee their dying planet, climb aboard space vessels equipped with the botanical samples they need to survive, and trek throughout the stars, looking for other planets. They would collect flora for myriad worlds in an attempt to recreate their original environment. Incredibly long-lived, the E.T.s would explore for thousands of generations. 

Eventually, they would find Earth. 

It's less likely that E.T. is a Sith, and more likely a member of a benvolent, Force sensitive species whose world died out millions of years ago. E.T. is not a secret villainous badass, but a sad, lonely alien constantly looking for a new home. At the end of Spielberg's film, E.T. left Earth, but his quest home will continue. Humankind may be long dead before their quest finally ends.