The Mandalorian‘s thirteenth episode finally introduced fan favourite character, Ahsoka Tano, to the live action Star Wars universe. But who is Ahsoka, and why is she important to Star Wars canon?
Ahsoka Tano debuted in Star Wars: The Clone Wars, the 2008 animated spin-off film set between episodes two and three of the prequel trilogy. While the film was designed to explore the events of the titular Clone Wars it also served as a coming-of-age story for Ahsoka, who became Anakin Skywalker’s Jedi Padawan in the film.
The Clone Wars was received poorly by fans for its cheap animation, poor writing and for its characterisation of Ahsoka — who was portrayed as an annoying sidekick. But thankfully she was given a chance to shine in the follow-up Clone Wars TV show.
It’s here that Ahsoka really came into her own, embracing her role as a Jedi Padawan and growing in both skillset and maturity. She later appeared in Star Wars: Rebels, but her path wasn’t always easy.
Ahsoka was a fast learner, but faced resentment and rejection along the way
Ahsoka Tano was assigned as Anakin Skywalker’s Padawan at the height of the Clone Wars, but she was only reluctantly accepted at first. Anakin’s attachment issues, paired with his ‘lone wolf’ attitude meant Ahsoka faced major challenges even being accepted in the first place. She fought to become a powerful Jedi and earned her position as a trusted Padawan.
Despite learning quickly, mastering her Jedi skills and proving herself on countless occasions it wasn’t until the later seasons of The Clone Wars that she was truly accepted by Anakin.
Her struggle mirrored the problems she had with the Star Wars fanbase. While she’s grown to be a beloved character, she was often derided in the early days as a ‘self-insert’ character and labelled annoying and unnecessary. Slowly, through all her trials and tribulations, she proved herself to be a worthy addition to the Star Wars universe.
The Clone Wars jaded her and she ultimately left the Jedi Order
Throughout the course of the Clone Wars TV series Ahsoka faced mounting challenges, including the rise of Darth Maul, political plots against the Republic and the delivery of the Jedi-killing Order 66. Along the way, she met Mandalorian Bo-Katan and worked with her to take down Darth Maul and restore peace to the planet of Mandalore.
Ahsoka was a young and impressionable Jedi in Clone Wars and the struggles of the outside world had a major impact on her sense of justice.
The most pivotal moment for Ahsoka came in season five, when she was accused of killing a suspect who allegedly bombed a Jedi temple. Despite Anakin’s protests and her proven track record as a Padawan, the Jedi Order forced her into military prison and labelled her as guilty. While Ahsoka escaped and ultimately brought the perpetrator to justice, she lost her faith in the Jedi Order and chose to abandon her training.
Ahsoka is not a Jedi
Throughout The Mandalorian Ahsoka is referred to as a Jedi but she because she never completed her training, she is not considered an actual Jedi.
After Order 66 put a major target on the back of every Jedi, Ahsoka went into hiding and actively tried to hide her abilities. It wasn’t long before she was back in action once again, but for several years she chose to hide her true origins.
Prior to the events of The Mandalorian, Ahsoka was working with the Rebels
Animated spin-off Star Wars: Rebels continued Ahsoka’s story and followed her recruitment in to the Rebellion. After hiding out for years following Order 66, she was eventually recruited by Bail Organa to spy on the Republic under the codename ‘Fulcrum’.
When she appears in The Mandalorian, she’s still carrying out this role.
In the course of the episode, Ahsoka demands to know where Admiral Thrawn and Ezra are. At the conclusion of Rebels, both characters vanish together without a trace so it’s likely Ahsoka is on their trail.
While it’s unclear whether The Mandalorian will pick up the threads of this plotline, it’s fantastic to see the Star Wars animated universe bringing these characters into live action. Ahsoka Tano is a fantastic character and deserves more time in the sun. Her history is rich and covers many significant decades in Star Wars lore so if you want to know more about her, the Clone Wars TV series comes highly recommended.
Hopefully she also continues to feature as a regular character in The Mandalorian.
The Mandalorian is currently on Disney+ with new episodes airing weekly. You can also find all of the Star Wars animated series there.