If her live-action solo series showed us anything, it’s that Ahsoka Tano is one of the greatest Star Wars characters ever made. She was first introduced as Anakin’s apprentice in 2008’s The Clone Wars, before going on to play a role in the animated series of the same name and its subsequent sequel: Star Wars Rebels. Ahsoka’s longevity as a character, both in animated shows and Disney’s live-action series, was made possible by two things: her popularity, and one key creative choice that kept her alive through the prequels.
While the Clone Wars movie and series take place before Revenge of the Sith, Star Wars Rebels is set a decade later. This means that, unlike most of the Jedi, Ahsoka Tano somehow survived Order 66. But pre-Rebels, deciding whether or not to kill Ahsoka was an issue Dave Filoni struggled with. When you watch the Star Wars movies in order, an integral part of the story is how pretty much all the Jedi were wiped out when the Empire usurped the Republic. So, how the hell did Ahsoka survive?
Filoni, the showrunner for both Star Wars Rebels and the live-action Star Wars series Ahsoka, told Vanity Fair that there was a “possibility” of the Star Wars character being killed off pre-Rebels, but admitted he was reluctant to take this step.
“I thought that there was a possibility that the character died before the end of The Clone Wars, but I didn’t really want the character to exist just to become another thing that pushed Anakin [to the dark side],” he explained. “If that was an important element of his story, it would have been in the movies.”
But even though Ahsoka wasn’t technically in the prequels, that isn’t mean she was any less important — it’s worth remembering that it was George Lucas who wanted Anakin to have a Padawan in the first place. So, would Filoni really have the guts to kill off someone the architect of Star Wars created?
Either way, the looming possibility of Ahsoka’s demise is something that Ashley Eckstein, Ahsoka’s long-time voice actor, has felt “since the beginning.”
“Fans would say, ‘OK, well, she’s not in Episode II, and she’s not in Episode III, so therefore she must die.'” Eckstein recalled. “I remember at convention after convention, fans would say, Ahsoka is going to die. It wasn’t even a question. I always said, How do you know she has to die? What if something else happens?”
In season 5 of the Clone Wars animated series, Ahsoka left the Jedi Order after being falsely accused of bombing the Jedi Temple. While her innocence was later proven, her trust in the Jedi was damaged beyond repair.
This made it easier for her to evade a pretty much guaranteed death under Order 66. While her plight wasn’t part of Anakin‘s fall to the dark side, the importance of their relationship was reinforced in Ahsoka, with Star Wars cast member Hayden Christensen reprising his role as Anakin from the prequels and helping Ahsoka complete her training in the World Between Words.
Ultimately, its a good thing Ahsoka wasn’t killed off after all — Star Wars Rebels remains one of the best TV series Star Wars has ever done, and it wouldn’t be the same if Ahsoka wasn’t part of it. For more on Star Wars, check out our guides to the Acolyte release date, the Skeleton Crew release date, and all the new Star Wars movies.