I think we have the definitive list here. 59 (59!) ways The Force Awakens “borrows” from Star Wars: A New Hope. We’re not counting things like “has an opening scroll,” because they all have that. Here we go!
1. Giant Star Destroyer passing onscreen at beginning of movie.
2. Action starts on a desert planet.
3. Secret file being transported to help fight bad guys.
4. Secret file hidden in a droid.
5. Stormtroopers kill lots of locals.
6. Good guy captured by bad Force user.
7. Good guy tortured by bad Force user for info.
8. Interrogator droid used on good guy.
9. Good guy rescued by person in Stormtrooper uniform.
10. Good droid takes off on his own.
11. Good droid captured by locals.
12. Good droid assisted by human local.
13. Bad Force user wants the secret file.
14. Bad Force user lets troopers go to get the file.
15. Bad Force user is paired with military commander.
16. Bad Force user reports to shadowy big baddie.
17. Droid is selective about with whom he shares info.
18. Droid is very loyal, and even emotional.
19. Hero is desert dweller eeking out existence.
20. Hero doesn’t know about own Force powers.
21. Hero doesn’t know about true lineage.
22. Hero left in custody of person(s) other than parents at young age.
23. Hero escapes desert planet on the Falcon.
24. TIEs have to be shot with Falcon turrets to effect an escape.
25. Two TIEs shot from the belly turret on the Falcon.
26. Good guys hide under the deck of the Falcon.
27. Underworld people trying to collect money from Han.
28. Bad military guy speechifying before blowing up a planet.
29. Senate dissolved.
30. Good guy inadvertently reveals location of base to bad guys.
31. Good guys operating from a secret base.
32. Countdown to destruction of the secret base.
33. Leia/C-3PO monitor mission to prevent bad guys from blowing up secret base planet.
34. Giant planet killing weapon.
35. Giant planet killing weapon actually kills a planet.
36. Cantina scene.
37. Imperial spy informs on good guys’ location.
38. Anakin’s lightsaber passed on to new generation.
39. Falcon caught in tractor beam.
40. Falcon gets onto planet killing weapon.
41. X-wings attack planet killing weapon.
42. Giant planet killing weapon has Achilles’ heel.
43. Giant planet killing weapon’s Achilles heel is a small target above a larger feature.
44. Trench run required to complete destruction mission.
45. TIEs come out to defend against the attack on the giant planet killing weapon.
46. Most X-wings shot down, outlook for success looks grim.
47. Something must be sabotaged in the giant planet killing weapon for the heroes to survive.
48. The giant planet killing weapon is ready to fire when it’s destroyed.
49. The giant planet killing weapon is destroyed.
50. Older character with historical knowledge serves as mentor.
51. Older mentor is killed by bad guy with lightsaber.
52. Mentees witness murder of older mentor.
53. Good guys shoot the heck out of stormtroopers in response.
54. Older mentor disappears after death.
55. Artoo insults Threepio.
56. Artoo shares data at crucial moment.
57. Bad Force user senses the Force inside good person.
58. Bad Force user senses presence of person he later kills.
59. Jedi mind trick is used.
Got any we missed? Share them in the comments!
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Yesterday’s answer: The Eravana
Today’s question: How many X-wings survive the attack on Starkiller Base?