Dune is a Total Star Wars Ripoff

Dune and Star Wars movie posters

After rewatching Dune with the family at home last week, I took them all to see Dune Part 2 yesterday in the theater. We liked it but our biggest takeaway was that Dune is such an obvious ripoff of Star Wars.

Like how is George Lucas not suing the pants off of these guys?

Sure, Dune is an epic tale of war, religion and betrayal, told in a slower, more cerebral manner than George Lucas’ near perfect films. Sadly, there’s no ship-to-ship combat. No hyperspace. And no perfectly cast voice of James Earl Jones.

But so many of the characters, environments and plot points in Dune are pulled straight out of Star Wars. I think the only thing missing was droids.

Seriously, how has no one else noticed this?!?

Consider this your SPOILER WARNING if you haven’t seen both parts of Dune yet. (I refuse to offer spoiler warnings for Star Wars, though, since you should’ve already seen those by now!)

So Much Sand

Let’s start with the main planet. In Star Wars, we spend a lot of time with our young hero Luke Skywalker on the desert planet known as Tatooine. There’s just sand everywhere. That means there’s a real lack of water, hence the moisture farms all over the place. Pretty cool concept.

In Dune, we spend a lot of time with our young hero Paul Atreides on the desert planet known as Arrakis. There’s just sand everywhere. With a real lack of water, the inhabitants of Arrakis can’t go two minutes without trying to suck the moisture out of every dead person they find. Pretty sick twist on Star Wars’ cool moisture farm concept.

Spice of Life

Spice is basically Star Wars’ version of recreational drugs. In fact, Jabba the Hutt was hunting down Han Solo in the first place because he dumped an entire cargo of spice when he thought he was about to be caught by Imperial ships.

Spice is a much bigger deal in Dune. Maybe that was to make it sound so different from Star Wars. Spice is only found on Arrakis and can cause visions and hallucinations. It’s also used in space travel, so I guess that was also done to make it different from Star Wars.

Darth Vader and Baron Harkonnen action figures

Darth Harkonnen

Arguably the greatest villain of all-time, Darth Vader struck fear into his peers and enemies alike, dealing death blows (or choke holds) without a second thought. He also wore all black, had pasty white skin and was hooked up to all sorts of tubes and machines to keep him alive.

The big baddie in Dune Part 2 is a rotund tyrant named Baron Harkonnen. Yep, he struck fear into his peers (family too) and enemies alike, killing without a second thought. He wore black, had pasty white skin and was hooked up to all sorts of tubes and machines to keep him alive. So basically, he’s a fat Darth Vader.


The one person in the Star Wars Universe not afraid of Darth Vader? Yeah, the man pulling his strings. A wrinkly, old manipulative man called The Emperor.

Shockingly, the bad guy pulling the strings is a wrinkly, old manipulative man called… yeah, you guessed it… The Emperor.

Mind Tricks

At the heart of Star Wars is the mystical energy called The Force. It can be turned to good or evil and do everything from being a weapon to getting people to do what you want with the old Jedi Mind Trick. It’s the very core of all things Star Wars. In fact, “May the Force Be With You” has become a universal greeting around the world!

It’s no surprise then, that in Dune some of the characters have the ability to “Force” people to do what they want, simply by speaking in a certain tone. It’s called The Voice but it’s nothing more than a super strong Jedi Mind Trick. So they took the Jedi Mind Trick and just made it really loud, so it’d seem different somehow. Didn’t fool me.

Sandworm and Sarlacc pit

Worm Food

Return of the Jedi’s opening scene at Jabba’s palace in the Tatooine is just a great fight scene. It also introduces the ginormous Sarlacc pit. All you see is the huge toothy, tentacled mouth of the giant worm-like Sarlacc creature buried in the sand. It’s as creepy as it is deadly.

Arrakis’ sands are inhabited by ginormous sand worms that eat everything in their path. Their mouths? Yeah, big huge openings with lots of toothy tentacles coming at ya. I know we never saw the Sarlacc outside of its mouth, but I’m pretty sure it’d look exactly like the sand worms in Dune. I’m sure Dune’s crew saw a full Sarlacc in some Star Wars book or cartoon somewhere.

All in the Family

The biggest shocker in Star Wars was learning that Luke is really the son of big baddie Darth Vader. It’s like one of the biggest, coolest moments in movie history, not just in Star Wars. I still remember the shock on my face when I first heard the words, “I am your father.” I spent soooo many hours of recess in Elementary School arguing with my friends over whether or not Vader was lying.

The big shocker in Dune lore was learning that our hero Paul is really the grandson of big baddie Baron Harkonnen. Wow. Seriously? Grandson instead of son. That’s easily the biggest slap in Star Wars’ face.

Case Closed

I mean, I could go on and on. There are just so many blatant things from Star Wars that were ripped off and put into Dune. I didn’t even get into the sword fighting (Hello, lightsabers?), Fremen (Tusken Raiders without the grunting), Paul as the Mahdi (Anakin as the Chosen One).

Plus, Star Wars came out back in 1977. That’s like more than 40 years ago.

And Dune? Well I just saw the movie this weekend. And apparently it’s based on a book series by Frank Herbert that just came out in… uh… in.. uh.. 1965?


I, um…

I… um,  may have gotten a few things wrong here.

[USING THE VOICE] Forget you read this!

Dune paperback book cover

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