The knowledgable path: a field guide to identifying Star Wars fan types
When discussing Star Wars with other people, they will often say they are fans, or even really big fans of Star Wars. And I always believe them. This galaxy is extensive and so is the fan base. I just think there are different types of fans within that fan base. I propose this as a beginning of a way to identify those types based on the amount of Star Wars knowledge they have accumulated, which is a measurable variable.
The categories I present are meant to be universal, based on my observations of fan culture and personal experience as a fan. The beliefs and behaviors, in italics, are included to illustrate the category. They reflect my own journey and development of beliefs as my Star Wars knowledge expanded¹. The beliefs may vary for each fan. But you should know that mine are correct.
Self reported. Can be attached to any type, i.e. Basic Nextgen, Sith Lord Firstgen.
Firstgen: Dislikes the prequels, often ignoring them as if they didn’t happen.
Could have seen some portion of the original trilogy in theaters when they were first released. Will definitely let you know if they did. Enjoys watching videos where people crush JarJar toys. Believes George Lucas stole something from them.
Nextgen: They like or appreciate the prequels.
Tired of having to defend movies that people would have totally liked if George Lucas had told the story in a different order. JarJar may still be an issue.
Star Wars Casual: Seen most of the movies at least once. Liked them.
Knows character things and recognizes cultural references. Minimum level required to discuss Star Wars online and have opinions about what Rian Johnson did or didn’t do in Last Jedi. Thinks Yoda is cute and Han Solo is cool. Waits to see the new movie at their own convenience. Shrug emoji.
Star Wars Basic: The galactic language most active Star Wars fans speak. Seen all the movies. Primarily movie based fan, but really enthusiastic about the movies. May have basic knowledge in non-movie areas.
Will discuss at length in any media. Wants a lightsaber so bad. Knows that Han Solo is, in fact, cool. It is indisputable. Takes quizzes online to see what character they are. Played the Star Wars theme on whatever instrument they learned as a child instead of practicing the song for their upcoming lesson.
Star Wars Padawan: Those who discover they have something — a feeling — inside them and they need to understand it better. Movie love accompanied by advanced knowledge in one of any of these areas -
- How the films were made
- Canon books and comics
- Legend books and comics
- Video games or RPGs
- Animated shows
- Toys and collectibles
Their eyes are open to a larger world. Thinks about what kind of droid they would want to have around versus what kind of droid they would want to be. Retakes quizzes online to see what character they can make the quiz tell them they are. Starts to really “get” Anakin. Waves hand in front of automatic doors at the supermarket to feel what it would be like. Surprised that people fight about Star Wars.
Star Wars Knight: Advanced or basic knowledge in at least three areas listed above.
Viewed all films multiple times. ALL OF THEM EVEN IF IT HURTS. Occasionally loses sleep thinking about Star Wars. Thinks the Jedi were on the right track and the Rebellion was morally justified in their actions against the Empire. Thinks about how sad Obi Wan must have been on Tatooine. Realizes George Lucas is a primarily visual artist and any of the OT and PT films’ emotionally satisfying moments came from another director, the actors, the music or the editing. All of which he still had a hand in. Refers to trilogies and film titles with acronyms. Won’t read or join hostile discussions about Star Wars to support a positive vibe. Fan level might not be apparent on the surface, but minimal probing required to access. Light side all the way.
Star Wars Master of the Knights of Star Wars: Basic and/or advanced knowledge in majority of areas listed.²
Fanatical and passionate, has a hard time containing their enthusiasm in non-Star Wars company. Believes the Jedi failed because of their dogma and seeks a new path. Comprehends how people can support the Empire/First Order. Wonders about how one might engineer a planet to be a weapon so one can get one’s point across that much better. Remembers that no one knew anything about the Emperor in the OT, and has issues with your Snoke complaints. Ahsoka Lives even if they kill her on screen in front of everyone. Doesn’t understand why you can’t see how right they are about Star Wars. Even if they don’t fight with people about it out loud, they know they are correct. Seduced by the dark side. Wants to be free of this pain.
Star Wars Sith Lord: Advanced knowledge. IN. ALL. AREAS. Full immersion.²
Probably wearing something Star Wars at all times. Stan or Lucasfilm employee. Can identify which version of the Main Title is playing within the first minute. Pretty much believes the universe is fucked no matter who is in charge, but still interested in the journey, the engineered chaos. The Rebellion is the Vietcong! The Empire is the U.S.! Morality is contextual! Canon is malleable! Light side, dark side, all of it. Here for ALL. OF. IT. Laughs maniacally when people fight about Star Wars.
 I started as a Basic Firstgen and developed over many years into a Master of the Knights of Star Wars Nextgen, but slipping occasionally into Sith Lord territory. I would have to take up gaming to truly reach that level, so I sleep at night knowing I am okay.
 You will note that after Knight, it are only dark side naming conventions with no light side equivalent. This knowledge is not a path to the light side.