I am more of a visual person than a verbal person.
In high school, George was a car buff, and wanted to be a professional racer, until a near-fatal crash days before graduation; EMTs actually declared him dead at the scene. After recovering, he attended a community college and turned his passion to filmmaking.
His first work was Freiheit, but his best known pre-Star Wars works are THX 1138 and American Graffiti. He co-founded American Zoetrope with Francis Ford Coppola, to get away from the oppressive Hollywood studio system, and with the success of Graffiti and Star Wars, founded Lucasfilm. THX 1138 in particular is a frequent source of references, with "THX" and "1138" appearing in various forms in American Graffiti, Star Wars and the Indiana Jones films, not to mention providing the name for the THX soundsystem.
After American Graffiti, George wanted to revive the old serials' spirit, and pitched two ideas: one based on the Flash Gordon and Buck Rogers serials (Star Wars); and one based in the Republic serials with an Adventurer Archaeologist (the Indiana Jones series, produced by Lucas and directed by his friend Steven Spielberg).
To create his vision for Star Wars, George revolutionized special effects and post-production techniques. Before, the "spaceship flyby" effect was accomplished by pulling a model ship across a starfield backdrop with a string; very limiting and very cheap. George (with a LOT of help from John Dykstra) decided to leave the model static, put it against a bluescreen, and move the camera around it.
George is infamous for his iron-fisted grip on the Star Wars franchise. This may be from Warner Bros.'s Executive Meddling in THX-1138 to cut it down and reduce its marketing budget. Many fans blame the perceived faults of the series on Lucas's refusal to accept creative input from others; in other words, he's considered a great producer when he simply oversees his staff developing his general ideas such as Lawrence Kasdan who did script rewrites, but now a terrible director and writer when he tries to do that himself.
He's also infamous for writing cheesy dialogue - during the filming of A New Hope, Mark Hamill is alleged to have told him that "people don't talk like this!", Harrison Ford complained "you can type this shit, George, but you sure can't say it" and Empire co-writer Lawrence Kasdan recalled frequently saying "This is a terrible scene, I can't believe George wrote this" while reading Lucas' draft. Even Lucas called himself "the King of Wooden Dialogue".
He also seems to have a fondness for cute alien critters, a fondness which many older Star Wars fans don't share. This, has contributed to the sizeable Hatedom he seems to have gathered and the fracturing of the Star Wars fandom between older fans (who grew up with the first three movies) and younger ones (who grew up with the prequel trilogy and animated series).
Lucas is still indisputably a pioneer in film technology and special effects, both in his own films and through Industrial Light and Magic. He's a strong advocate for digital filmmaking, having shot the last two Star Wars prequels digitally (and turned Robert Rodriguez onto the technology), and firmly believes that digital filmmaking will lead to an increase of independent productions (at a much lower cost than studio films, due to film reel development) and be surprise successes. He predicted this in the early 90's, well before the release of District 9.
Lucas was married to film editor Marcia Lucas (formerly Griffin) between 1969 and 1983. Marcia worked as an editor for A New Hope and Return of the Jedi, participating in the production of all the three original trilogy movies. In a notable example of Creator Couple, her main contribution to the original trilogy was to serve as The Heart, balancing out Lucas' highly technical, visual-minded vision with an emphasis on character development, plot and emotional response - Mark Hamill in particular has confirmed this. Lucas' divorce from Marcia, occurring at the same time as Spielberg's divorce from Amy Irving, is cited as a leading cause for the Darker and Edgier nature of Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom, as well as the fate of the Prequel Trilogy.
- Creator Breakdown: As mentioned above, his divorce from Marcia is often considered one.
- Executive Meddling: Experienced this with his pre-Star Wars movies so much that it literally traumatized him, which led to a near-patholigical fear of being told how to make his own movies, which led to his habit of updating Star Wars every few years.
- Fan Service: Puts it in his movies quite regularly.
- Fantasy-Forbidding Father: His own father was a Real Life example, never supporting his filmmaking ambitions.
- Flip-Flop of God: Some of his ideas about what his "original vision" were, although a lot of this was exaggerated by the fandom. He does not say that every change was his original vision or that the prequels were intricately mapped out ahead of time, only that specific items were unable to be realized at the time.
- Memetic Outfit: His flannel shirts and jeans.
- Old Shame/My Greatest Failure: Has said he wishes to hunt down every copy of the Star Wars Holiday Special and destroy it, even though he wasn't directly involved with it.
- Only Mostly Dead: Happened in his teenage years.
- Otaku: A major eiga otaku, for many different classic film genres, including jidaigeki.
- Recut: There is precidence of filmmakers re-editing their movies after the original release long before Lucas became the poster-boy for it, including friends Francis Ford Coppola for Apocalypse Now and Steven Spielberg for Close Encounters of the Third Kind. South Park featured a joke that had Lucas remastering home movies.
- Retcon: Has been accused of this with the Special Edition and prequels to Star Wars.
- Screw the Rules, I Have Money: George dislikes production companies messing with other people's movies, violating their "moral rights", and has spoken before Congress about this, but he's allowed to mess with his own movies, as any artist has the moral right to.
- Not as hypocritical as it sounds. He's arguing that only a work's creator should be allowed to make changes to their work as they see fit.
- Special Edition: Trope Namer and, with Steven Spielberg, the co-Trope Codifier.
- Stock Scream: Loves using the Wilhelm Scream in his movies.
- Technician Versus Performer: Technician, in contrast with Steven Spielberg, who is a performer.
- Trolling Creator: One possible interpretation of his more recent behavior. Then again, if you had a fanbase like that, you would too.