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The Star Wars Holiday Special turns 45 this year - why isn't it on Disney+ yet?

The infamous special isn't legally available anywhere and that needs to change.

Boba Fett in The Star Wars Holiday Special
Image credit: Disney

For more than four decades, Star Wars has been big business. There is almost nothing that Lucasfilm hasn’t slapped that logo onto over the years, including some scented oils so you’ll never be able to forget what the Dark Side smells like. However, there is one piece of Star Wars history that neither Lucasfilm nor Disney have sought to exploit for money – the 1978 Star Wars Holiday Special.

On one hand, we get it. This variety show wasn’t exactly well-received at the time. It was poorly planned, acted, and written, despite featuring most of the original trilogy’s cast and being the most expensive variety show ever made at the time. It was so bad that it has only been aired once on 17 November 1978 and has never been released in any physical or digital format. There are incredibly inappropriate moments involving Chewbacca’s dad and a Virtual Reality helmet called the Mind Evaporator and the Golden Girls’ Bea Arthur singing along with the Cantina band and dancing with Greedo. The whole thing is terrible and embarrassing for everyone involved, prompting George Lucas to try to wipe the show from our collective memories.

And yet we’re sitting here talking about it. 45 years later, with no legal way to watch it unless you happened to record the original broadcast, its influence continues to live on. The plot of the Star Wars Holiday Special, which focuses on Han visiting Chewbacca’s family for their Life Day celebrations, has been referenced in recent Star Wars media like The Mandalorian. Disney released a modern take on the variety show in the form of the Lego Star Wars Holiday Special. It even gave the world its first look at Boba Fett in the form of a terribly animated short - the only portion of the special to ever receive a rerelease over the years - thrown into the show to fill a bit of time. Despite Disney and Lucasfilm’s best efforts, the Star Wars Holiday Special lives on in the memories of fans to this day. There are references to it littered throughout most Star Wars media.

Which is why it is so strange that Disney still refuses to release the Star Wars Holiday Special, with all its questionable decisions and misspent budget. Disney+ is sitting right there, just waiting for them to upload it and let us all stream it in time for the upcoming holiday season. What’s the point of purchasing every franchise under the sun and having your own streaming platform if you aren’t going to use it to let us watch the weird and wonderful stuff in those franchises? Who cares if it's bad? Every series that goes on long enough has a fair share of embarrassing, poorly-made spin-offs to deal with, but that won’t make us love the movies any less.

Listen, Disney. We promise that if you put the Star Wars Holiday Special on Disney+ it won't make us all suddenly hate Star Wars. You have to trust your audience not to abandon the series We sat through Solo: A Star Wars Story – we can sit through this.

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