13 years ago.
Continuity is a double edged sword.
At first glance, having your stories add depth to a universe is a great way to make fans feel as if they are investing in a greater narrative. The long epics of old were long for a reason.
When I was much younger and running the Star War d6 role-playing game, we had everything happen in the game for a reason. If a player was absent for a session, maybe their character had been kidnapped and the rest of the group was out to rescue him. That worked great the first three times it happened. We eventually realized that these various detours only delayed us from the main story arc of the game.
When I got older, "continuity" went out the window. If a player was absent, his/her character vanished for the day. The story stayed on track , we had fun and our characters never "noticed" an absentee party member. Our gaming group finally admitted that sometimes, continuity could be trap if bogged down our entertainment instead of enriching it.
So now we have Disney rebranding all of the old Star Wars EU stuff under the Legends banner. And the reasons they put down sound pretty good.
In order to give maximum creative freedom to the filmmakers and also preserve an element of surprise and discovery for the audience, Star Wars Episodes VII-IX will not tell the same story told in the post-Return of the Jedi Expanded Universe. While the universe that readers knew is changing, it is not being discarded. Creators of new Star Wars entertainment have full access to the rich content of the Expanded Universe. For example, elements of the EU are included in Star Wars Rebels. The Inquisitor, the Imperial Security Bureau, and Sienar Fleet Systems are story elements in the new animated series, and all these ideas find their origins in roleplaying game material published in the 1980s.
First off, that's a classy nod to both the EU and the d6 Star Wars RPG coming a Fortune 500 company. Especially since that game laid a bit of the EU ground work. So yeah, the EU is a mismash of video games, RPGs and tie-in novels. A real Frankenstein creation of continuity for over 30 years.
Star Trek, even more so.
That franchise has recently gotten an interdimensional reboot to allow what, at first glance, looks like the same thing. Neither one actually invalidates their pseudoconical material and allows future writers to be inspired by the past without being shackled to it. (Shackled may sound too harsh, but a lot of the ideas and characters in these set ups have long convoluted histories that make cherry picking a tough thing to do.)
The difference is that with the Star Wars announcement, fans have a clear message from about how they are handling things going forward and the bits and pieces Disney borrows may only be bits and pieces. An homage can be an homage without a lot of baggage.
Before this though, there was a Temporal Cold War (TCW)going on during Star Trek's Enterprise show. For me, it was an obvious that the plan was to have the end of the TCW reboot the Enterprise universe back to the old ST timeline.
And like the interdimensional reboot, both had fans ending up confused and complaining. For Enterprise, the complaints were enough to wrap up the TCW early and get on track with some of the better episodes of the series.
At some point, when have more than a generation's worth of continuity, a reboot has to happen. Regardless of what you do some fans will feel left out in the cold, as their favorite corner of a larger universe has now become less official. When you take a cutting from the branches of your old universe, these fans are the scar you leave behind. There are SW fans right now feeling betrayed about the Legends move.
The main difference is that Disney, like a master gardener, has found a way to keep growing the story and still honor Star Wars roots in a way that leaves as few scars as possible.
So if Enterprise had been given the same sort of creative elbow room 13 years ago, I think we would have seen a completely different show. One that didn't have to hide it's Fernegi or come up with an overarching plot that muddled continuity even more.
And maybe we would have had a continuing ST TV tradition today.