I've been trying to figure out how episodes 3 and 4 of Star Wars fit together. I've tried flowcharts, concept maps, contour maps, Mercator projections, overhead projectors, life planners, and everything else I can come up with to help me make sense of it, but I can only conclude that there is room for Star Wars Episode 3.5: Everyone Somehow Forgets About the Jedi. At the start of Episode 4 (the first real Star Wars, for those of you new to the series), Luke is in the 18-24 age range. At the end of Episode 3, he is in the 0-0 age range. This means that there is a gap of about 18-24 years between the end of Episode 3 and the start of Episode 4. For those of you who haven't seen Episode 4, nobody really remembers the Jedi. Old Ben is just "some bloke who lives in the desert." Yoda is just "some bloke who lives in a swamp." Darth Vader is just "some bloke who strangles his employees." Bail Organa is just "some bloke who was left out of Episodes 1-3." Luke's mom, Ms. Skywalker, was just "some bloke who didn't actually die during Luke's birth." When I saw Episodes 4-6, I assumed that the Jedi Order was a secret society, kind of like the Illuminati, NOM, or the International Red Cross. They couldn't have played that public a part in the fate of the galaxy and then be completely forgotten by the next episode. It's taken people longer than that to forget about what really happened during World War II, after all.
Those of you who haven't seen Episodes 1-3 may be surprised to learn that the Jedi Order was, in fact, pretty darned popular in the time of the Republic. Everyone knew about them. They had a big council. They were the big heroes of their day, and everyone knew they could be scary. What happened in those 18-24 years that caused the entire galaxy to forget them? Surely there were Jedi breakfast cereals, cartoon shows, movies, novels, board games, console games, trading cards, caps, shoes, ships, key chain fobs, speeders, notebooks, coffee drinks, greeting cards, LPs, soft drinks, furniture, silverware, candy bars, car seat covers, teas, and action figures. There were probably also plastic light sabers, how-to-draw-Jedi books, and a couple of pencil-and-paper Jedi RPGs. It's likely that one or more members of the Jedi Council appeared on the news every week. I would suspect that Mace Windu had his own late-night talk show, and that Ki-Adi-Mundi and Sora Bulq hosted their own weekly automotive-repair/comedy radio program.
I would estimate that Han Solo was about 30 when he met Luke. That means that he was in the 6-12 age group at the end of Episode 3, which was shortly before the end of the Jedi. He must have seen the cartoon shows. He probably wore Jedi CouncilTM jeans and took a Kit Fisto lunchbox to school. He undoubtedly saw images on the news of Jedi fighting during the Clone Wars, throwing cars, leaping 25 meters at a time, and cutting huge combat machines in half with light sabers. How is it that he forgot all of this in time to make fun of Obi-Wan in the Mos Eisley cantina?
Even if the rest of the galaxy somehow forgot the Jedi, you would think that the Empire would have something about them in its training manuals. At the very least, you'd think that at some point during Officer Training, one of the instructors would say something like, "You know this Vader character? Yeah, the one on all the tee shirts. He can kill you with a thought. He doesn't even need a tray, although he could certainly kill you with one of those, too." How is it, then, that all of the Imperial officers are so casual around Vader in Episode 4? Neither Grand Moff Tarkin nor General Motti seemed the least bit scared of getting strangled to death for contradicting him, making fun of the Force, or playing the "Your shoes are untied" trick, and they were certainly old enough to have known better. You can't say that the Empire had a blind spot for Vader like voters in the United States have for Bush, either. People were much more scared of Vader in Episodes 5 and 6, presumably after all of the Imperial employees noticed that he could kill people with the "I'm squishing your head!" gesture. Hadn't they noticed this before? Hadn't any of them, or any of their parents, cousins, aunts or uncles, or older siblings, heard of him prior to his capture of the Tantive IV? If that was the case, wouldn't the Rebel troops on the Tantive IV stopped their shooting long enough to ask, "Hey, who's the new guy?" when they saw him?
I'm not suggesting that anyone actually go out and create Episode 3.5. Lord, no. I don't think it would sell that well. It would be 75 minutes of young Sith running from store to store buying everything Jedi-related, 10 minutes of said Sith eating ton after ton of Plo Koon Chocolate-Coloured Lumps beakfast cereal, and 5 minutes of Palpatine using some wicked force powers to make everyone in the galaxy slip while taking a shower and develop selective amnesia. Of course, I couldn't see Episodes 1-3 selling that well, either, especially after Episode 1 proved to have less plot than the maze on the back of a box of Plo Koon cereal.