The Emperor was killed at the end of Episode 6 (along with a massive military defeat)... and there wasn't going to be an Episode 7... so everyone has just assumed this meant the Rebels would inevitably go on to win back the entire galaxy and restore the Republic. But with Episode 7 now being created... what if that assumption was wrong? And what if the other main assumptions... that Han and Leia get married and have kids (who get trained as Jedi), and that the Jedi are recreated by Luke... are also wrong? This is one way it could work, for an example... In the year following the Battle of Endor, the Empire is weakened and in turmoil, but still possesses the most powerful starfleet ever seen... and now no longer underestimates the Rebels. Palpatine's son is revealed to the galaxy (shunned and hidden by his father for not being able to use the Force), and he takes command of the Empire. With both the Imperial leaders and Rebel leaders sensing a long and bloody war that could take years or even decades to finish, the new Emperor proposes a compromise after negotiating with Rebel leaders in a deal brokered by Luke Skywalker.. The Empire retains control of the galaxy, but will undergo reforms that give more rights to the people and create a more constructive and egalitarian Empire. Also, Emperor Palpatine II proposes marriage to Princess Leia, and will allow their children to be trained in the Jedi arts by Leia's brother, as a grand symbolic gesture to seal the deal of peace and reform. Leia decides to sacrifice her own happiness, and marries Palpatine II, becoming Empress of the galaxy (which is actually very similar to how Lucas planned to use Leia in his original version of the Sequel Trilogy too). Han disappears and never marries. Luke trains Leia's son and daughter in the Jedi arts when they're children, as well as Force-sensitive Royal Guards to become the Imperial Jedi (serving the Empire like how the old Jedi served the Republic). Luke mysteriously disappears a few years before Leia Palpatine's children become adults, however. The Emperor and Empress are in a loveless marriage, but their marriage does keep the galaxy at peace (with Leia continually suggesting more reforms to her husband, and training her children in her point of view), and the two are always respectful and kind toward one another even though they both have very strong differing opinions. As for how Episode 7 could begin? Emperor Palpatine the Second is on his deathbed from sickness (older than Leia, in his 70's) and talks to his wife one last time. He's certain that their son, now a fully-trained Imperial Jedi in his 20's, will make an excellent Emperor. And is glad that his father would hate him for allowing his son to be a Jedi, and that a Jedi will soon sit on the Imperial throne... and that he beat his father as a ruler too, having a much longer reign, and it being one of peace and prosperity and reform. He says the galaxy owes it to Leia, for her personal sacrifice to marry him, 40 years earlier. He says that once he is gone, and their son coronated, Leia will be free, and hopes she can find Han Solo and spend the rest of her days in happiness with him. He dies. Days later, Leia's son is about to be coronated, when there is an attack. Leia Palpatine's son is apparently assassinated, along with many of his Imperial Jedi bodyguards. A 40 year old military man, who is an Admiral in the Empire's Starfleet, reveals he's behind it, abducts Leia's teenage daughter and forces her to marry him, and declares himself Emperor and a return to the old ways. Leia escapes capture with some Imperial Jedi, and goes to find Luke and Han to help rescue her daughter. Rebel groups begin to spring up, in backlash against the new Emperor, but they resort to terrorism. So begins the Sequel Trilogy. What do you think about the Empire potentially still being in control as Episode 7 begins? Or Han and Leia not being married? Or Luke not recreating the Jedi (or creating something very different instead)? It is all theoretically possible. What other assumptions do we have?