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It’s often been said that Star Wars is not science fiction, but science fantasy - swords and sorcery set across the stars, but renamed lightsabers and The Force, with X-Wings and Star Destroyers in place of steeds and dragons. This is what's so apt about Star Wars' setting setting itself “a long time ago,” and not in some speculative future. But as viewers, we can’t help but rotate these worlds in our minds. How does hyperspace work? Why is there sound in space? And how come we never see anybody go to the bathroom?
I mean, we’ve all had a LEGO Millennium Falcon, or known a friend who built one. Did you ever see a bathroom on there, between the gunnery station and the dejarik table? I sure didn’t. Surely, even in a space fantasy universe, a Wookiee has needs.
A history of heads
But because Star Wars is ultimately a human story, in a wide enough universe, you’re eventually going to get to the toilets. The honor of the first author to write toilets into Star Wars goes to Timothy Zahn, who included bathrooms in 1992’s Dark Force Rising – the second book in the original Thrawn trilogy. Truly the only man we could rely on to open up the Star Wars universe after more than a decade adrift.
Like much of the earliest information we have on the Star Wars galaxy, one of our first windows into these mundane specifics comes in the tie-in modules published in the ‘90s by West End Games for players to have their own adventures in Star Wars: The Roleplaying Game. June 1995’s Galaxy Guide 1: A New Hope, Second Edition refers us to ‘refresher units’ for the first time in any Star Wars media, a term which would mostly stick from there on out. The context was for a point on a map of Docking Bay 99, an original location designed for the module. So next time you’re in Mos Eisley, make sure not to miss the very first refresher in Star Wars.
The first time we see a restroom for ourselves in a Star Wars property is in 1995’s Star Wars: Dark Forces – as played for quite literal bathroom humor, with protagonist Kyle Katarn bursting in on a row of urinals where a cadre of Stormtroopers and mercenaries are doing their business before they turn around and start shooting the intruder. The nomenclature of West End Games’ ‘refresher units’ hadn’t been universally adopted by this point, though, as the Dark Forces tie-in novella Soldier for the Empire refers to these facilities as ‘rest rooms.’
The term ‘refresher’ would be spoken aloud for the first time in the 2004 video game Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic II: The Sith Lords by a corrupt miner named Coorta, from which point onwards it’s mostly stuck. The 2016 sourcebook Star Wars: Complete Locations would shorten the colloquial term further still to a sanitary ‘fresher.’
A refresher on refreshers
But that was all put into place while the modern continuity of Star Wars had yet to come into its calcified Disney form. The first canonical refresher we see in Star Wars media comes in Orders, a Season Six episode of Star Wars: The Clone Wars. Here, the fugitive Clone Trooper Fives rendezvous with his former squadmate Kix at a clone bar on Coruscant to pass a vital message on to Anakin Skywalker – one which might have ended Palpatine’s plans for Order 66 before they begun. As you can see, the lighting isn’t great, which makes for poor personal hygiene conditions, but ideal for clandestine meetings.
Later, a young Wedge Antilles can be found using a refresher in the Star Wars: Rebels Season Three episode “Double Agent Droid.” Perhaps most significantly, a refresher is most prominently featured in the middle episodes during Season One of Andor set at the Narkina 5 Imperial Prison Complex, where Andor himself attempts to cut through the pipes and make an escape. Clearly, whoever said it wasn’t exciting to follow characters to the bathroom lacked a capacity for imagination.
And as for Solo? Well, most detailed sourcebooks and visual guides you can find to the Falcon will include a refresher, if you look for it – see it here on this layout map from West End Games between the triple bunks, labeled ‘head.’
In the many worlds of Star Wars, toilets are just like adventure: if you know where to look, they’re never too far away.