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Ahsoka’s real-life backstory is a bigger redemption than Darth Vader

Few Star Wars characters have had as tumultuous a history as Ahsoka Tano, who now has her own Disney Plus series. It's a bigger redemption than Darth Vader.

Ahsoka from Ahsoka and Clone Wars in Star Wars

Right now, Ahsoka is one of the biggest names in entertainment. A new Star Wars series is always a must-watch for fans, and Ahsoka is perhaps the franchise’s most exciting TV attempt since the first season of The Mandalorian, with endless potential as the plot of the kicks into gear.

But, for Ahsoka, getting to this point has been far from simple. Ahsoka Tano, the mysterious ex-Jedi is rightly ranked among the best Star Wars characters now, but this certainly wasn’t always the case. In fact, Ahsoka’s real-life story of redemption is even more impressive than Darth Vader‘s return to the light.

When you’re watching the Star Wars movies in order from start to finish there’s likely one film you always skip, either intentionally or not. In fact, you might not even know it exists. Star Wars: The Clone Wars released in 2008 as a precursor to the now-beloved series Clone Wars. It introduced Ahsoka to the universe, and the animated movie centered around her becoming Anakin’s Padawan at the outset of the Clone Wars and their joint initial adventures.

It was a rocky start. Not only was the film pretty bad (with an 18% score on Rotten Tomatoes to prove it), but the beginning of Ahsoka’s journey fell flat too. She was widely disliked by the Star Wars fandom at large, criticized as a character for being an obnoxious and irritating screen presence.

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In a recent panel appearance, Ahsoka’s voice actor Ashley Eckstein described the immense outpouring of negativity directed at her character. “When it came out, so many people hated Ahsoka,” she said, via CBR. “I sobbed.”

The reaction didn’t change much in the early stages of the Clone Wars series. Ahsoka’s character development was slow, and for at least the first season she continued to be seen as more of an annoyance than a character who fans were rooting for. With season 3, things started to change.

The writing on the show generally improved, and Ahsoka’s character was taken in a new direction as she matured. Her development continued as the series progressed, and Ahsoka became the driving force behind some of the show’s best arcs, culminating in ‘The Wrong Jedi’ and its aftermath. But, at the same time, Clone Wars was drawing to a close. The progression of Ahsoka from pesky side character a genuine friend for Anakin seemed like it was over.

Rosario Dawson as Ahsoka in Star Wars

During the time Clone Wars was off the air, Ahsoka’s popularity only expanded as new fans got onboard with the series and watched her growth. The growing fan support for Ahsoka saw her become a central figure in the follow-up series Rebels, and eventually even justified a final season of Clone Wars, which brought her story full circle and showed how she survived Order 66.

As, arguably the main character of Star Wars’ TV output, Ahsoka has become a source of fascination for devoted Star Wars fans. It’s that devotion and love for her character which saw the development of her own series, where she would unequivocally take on the leading role.

Now, the Ahsoka series has arrived with Rosario Dawson taking over from Eckstein as an older, wiser, version of this celebrated character. And, the numbers speak for themselves: the first episode of the new series drew in a whopping 14 million views, making it the biggest show on Disney Plus right now. It’s positioning itself as one of the best TV series of 2023, too.

So Ahsoka has conquered the Star Wars fandom, and now she’s conquering streaming, too. Somehow, this character who was so despised upon her introduction a decade and a half ago has become one of the only threads of continuity that connects the prequel, original trilogy, and sequel eras of Star Wars. And, with a new Star Wars movie from Dave Filoni scheduled to arrive in the next few years, Ahsoka’s next target might be to conquer the big screen. After she’s done hunting down Grand Admiral Thrawn, that is.

For more on Ahsoka, check out our Ahsoka episode 3 recap for the latest on the series. Or, see our speculation on the identity of Inquisitor Marrok and our explainer on the Eye of Sion.

You can also learn about our favorite Star Wars villains, including Baylan Skoll, and see what’s in store for the Andor season 2 release date and The Mandalorian season 4 release date. If that’s not enough, find out more about the best Star Wars movie you’ve never seen, and learn what else is new on Disney Plus this month.