Star Wars’ Ahsoka Tano Explained: Who Is the Clone Wars Jedi? | IGN

With the news that Ahsoka Tano is reportedly finally coming to live-action in The Mandalorian — and played by Rosario Dawson no less! — it’s time to take a look again at the history of the Clone Wars character and her importance to the world of Star Wars…

If you’ve paid much attention to the Star Wars franchise over the past decade, you might recognize the name Ahsoka Tano. Though Ahsoka never appears in the Skywalker Saga movies, she’s played a key role in both the Clone Wars and the early years of the Rebel Alliance. It’s no exaggeration to say the Empire never would have been defeated without Ahsoka’s help.

Ahsoka returned to the spotlight in the seventh and final season of Star Wars: The Clone Wars, and now she’s reported to be heading to The Mandalorian Season 2, so read on for a primer on the character and her connection to characters like Anakin Skywalker. The topics covered in this article include:

  • Who Is Ahsoka Tano?
  • Ahsoka Tano’s Species and Force Powers
  • Ahsoka in the Clone Wars
  • Ahsoka’s Role in the Rebellion
  • Is Ahsoka Dead?
  • Ahsoka’s Future – The Mandalorian Season 2, and Will She Appear in a Movie?

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Who Is Ahsoka Tano?

Did you know Anakin Skywalker once had a Padawan of his own before becoming Darth Vader? If you’ve only watched the movies, you might not know Ahsoka Tano, but she’s come to play a huge role in the Star Wars franchise. Ahsoka is one of the main characters (arguably the main character) in the animated series Star Wars: The Clone Wars. She came of age in a time when the Republic was torn apart by civil war. Only after leaving the Jedi Order and watching the Empire rise from the ashes of the Republic did Ahsoka find her true destiny. She may no longer be a Jedi, but she’s one of the greatest forces for good in a galaxy ruled by darkness.

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Ahsoka Tano’s Species and Force Powers

Ahsoka is a member of an alien race known as the Togruta. Like Jedi Master Shaak Ti, Ahsoka’s appearance is marked by bright orange skin, white facial pigment and three large head tails known as Lekku. These Lekku grow larger with age, which can be clearly seen as Ahsoka grows up over the course of Star Wars: The Clone Wars and resurfaces years later in Star Wars Rebels.

Ahsoka showed strong Force potential at an early age and was recruited into the Jedi Order as a young child. Like her master Anakin, Ahsoka is especially gifted in combat-oriented Force abilities, particularly piloting ships and wielding lightsabers. In fact, as an adult Ahsoka’s sword-fighting prowess rivals the best in the galaxy, including the legendary Darth Vader himself. Ahsoka has mastered a particularly difficult form of lightsaber combat known as Jar’Kai, where she pairs a traditional lightsaber with a second, shorter saber.

Ahsoka has also shown a unique ability to purify the kyber crystals that power lightsabers. After claiming a red, dual-bladed saber from one of the Empire’s Sith Inquisitors, Ahsoka was able to remove the aura of the Dark Side and use the crystals to construct a pair of white-bladed sabers.

Ahsoka in the Clone Wars

Though she played a vital role in the Clone Wars, Ahsoka never appeared in the Star Wars prequel trilogy. She didn’t actually debut until 2008, several years after the release of Episode III. Ahsoka was introduced in the 2008 animated movie Star Wars: The Clone Wars, which spawned the TV series of the same name.

The Clone Wars movie picks up shortly after the events of Episode II, as newly minted Jedi Knight Anakin Skywalker is assigned to mentor Padawan Ahsoka Tano. Though the two predictably butt heads at first, Anakin eventually finds a kindred spirit in Ahsoka. Like her Master, Ahsoka is headstrong, fond of flying and always ready to bend or break the rules in the interest of helping those she cares about.

Ahsoka’s growth – both in terms of her Force abilities and her moral code – is one of the main focal points of the animated series. That journey culminates at the end of Season 5, when Ahsoka is framed for a bombing at the Jedi Temple and tried before a military tribunal. Though she’s eventually exonerated and allowed to return to the Order, Ahsoka’s growing disillusionment with the Jedi and their role in the war causes her to turn her back on the Order. And for Anakin, a Jedi doomed to fall to the Dark Side because of his inability to let go of his personal attachments, losing Ahsoka is another heavy blow.

02-Ahsoka-Bariss Star Wars' Ahsoka Tano Explained: Who Is the Clone Wars Jedi? | IGN
Ahsoka was framed for a bombing at the Jedi Temple by her former friend Barriss Offee at the end of The Clone Wars Season 5.

Ahsoka’s Role in the Rebellion

One of the most common themes of Disney’s new Star Wars projects has been that the Rebellion was composed of many more heroes than just Luke Skywalker, Han Solo and Princess Leia. Numerous other freedom fighters played their part in ending the scourge of the Empire, including Ahsoka Tano. That’s where Star Wars Rebels comes in.

A followup to Clone Wars set during the years leading up to Episode IV, Rebels focuses on the crew of the Ghost and their guerrilla missions against the Empire in the Lothal system. Throughout Season 1, the main characters are assisted by a mysterious Rebel intelligence officer codenamed Fulcrum. Season 1 ends with the reveal that Fulcrum is none other than Ahsoka, older and more powerful but still dedicated to the goal of restoring peace to the galaxy.

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Ahsoka plays a heavy role in Season 2 as she joins the Ghost crew and even forms a fleeting alliance with Darth Maul. Over the course of the season, Ahsoka battles members of the Sith Inquisitorius, culminating in a showdown with her former master, Darth Vader, on the Sith world of Malachor.

Vader only narrowly survives that encounter, and Ahsoka is feared lost in the rubble of the Sith temple. However, her ally and fellow Jedi Ezra Bridger is able to reach through time and rescue Ahsoka from certain death. When she resurfaces at the end of the series, Ahsoka has seemingly achieved her full strength in the Force. She enlists her friends’ aid in finding Ezra after he’s stranded on the far end of the galaxy following a confrontation with Grand Admiral Thrawn.

Is Ahsoka Dead?

Ahsoka’s fate following the events of Star Wars Rebels is unclear. While we now know she didn’t die fighting Vader on Malachor – and in fact returns to her friends around the time the Empire is defeated in Return of the Jedi – Disney has yet to explore her journey after that point.

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Unfortunately, many Ahsoka fans fear her story may have already come to an end. Ahsoka “appeared” in Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker via a vocal cameo – one of many Jedi who encourage Rey during her final confrontation with Emperor Palpatine. That cameo led to the obvious assumption that Ahsoka is dead by the time of the Star Wars sequels. Because we hear the voices of many other dead Jedi alongside Ahsoka – Anakin, Obi-Wan, Yoda, Aayla Secura, Luminara Unduli, etc. – this suggests Ahsoka has joined her fellow Jedi in becoming one with the Force.

However, Lucasfilm Animation head Dave Filoni downplayed those fears by tweeting out a cartoon sketch of Ahsoka hanging out with famously hard to kill wizard Gandalf. If not exactly indisputable proof Ahsoka is still alive, this at least gives fans reasons to hope. And even if Ahsoka is dead by the time of Episode IX, that still leaves more than 30 years of history in between the two trilogies to explore. One way or another, we probably haven’t seen the last of Ahsoka.

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Ahsoka’s Future – The Mandalorian Season 2, and Will She Appear in a Movie?

Given the open-ended way in which Star Wars Rebels wraps, there’s plenty of potential for Ahsoka to play a key role in future Star Wars projects. In the past we’ve speculated the series finale of Rebels may be setting up the next Star Wars animated series, one that follows Ahsoka, Hera and Sabine as they travel to the far end of the galaxy in search of Ezra. Given that this series would be set after the events of Return of the Jedi, it could help flesh out this murky part of the series’ timeline. We could even see Jedi Master Luke Skywalker and learn what role Ahsoka played in helping to restore (if only temporarily) the Jedi Order. The series could also tie into The Mandalorian, particularly with that live-action series making its own Clone Wars connections.

But now we know that Ahsoka will appear in live-action on Disney+ in Season 2 of The Mandalorian, where she’ll be played by Rosario Dawson. With Disney’s decision to pump the brakes on Star Wars movies for a few years, it’s not surprising that this is where the character will make her live-action debut. In fact, we think it’s a good idea for Star Wars to pivot from movies to TV. And yet, could she get her own movie eventually? Don’t rule it out.

Whether Ahsoka is alive or dead by the time of the sequel trilogy, there’s certainly plenty of room left to explore her journey. With Ahsoka back for The Clone Wars: Season 7, in a season that takes place at least partly during the events of Episode III, fans are finally seeing the fabled Siege of Mandalore firsthand and how Ahsoka survived a run-in with Darth Maul and the carnage of Order 66. Once that story is told, the next major phase of Ahsoka’s journey can begin.

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For more on Star Wars: The Clone Wars, check out how to watch the series in chronological order as well as our Clone Wars Recap in 4 Minutes.

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Jesse is a mild-mannered staff writer for IGN. Allow him to lend a machete to your intellectual thicket by following @jschedeen on Twitter.
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