The first time the wider Star Wars audience was introduced to Ahsoka Tano was in 2020. Rosario Dawson played the newly introduced character in The Mandalorian’s second season. The episode was titled “The Jedi,” but Ahsoka is no Jedi—which might be confusing for those just meeting her since she, you know, has two lightsabers. To viewers that had only seen her in her live-action form, she was a mysterious, powerful, and stoic Force-user who refused to train Baby Yoda/Grogu, because of his attachment to Mando (Pedro Pascal). But Ahsoka Tano is so much more than that; she has a very long history within the Star Wars canon and long-time fans of the franchise’s hearts.
As Dawson said in a featurette for the new Ahsoka series, which premieres Aug. 22 on Disney+, “Ahsoka is one of the most well-developed characters in Star Wars, period.” And she’s not exaggerating. Ahsoka has already appeared in a handful of series (The Clone Wars, Star Wars Rebels, and The Mandalorian); her death hasn’t been shown in any of them yet, which adds to her compelling story; and her voice (performed by Ashley Eckstein’s, who originated the character in her animated form) even appeared among the slew of prominent Jedi voices speaking to Rey in The Rise of Skywalker.
But for those that only just met Ahsoka, why should you care about her enough to watch a whole show about her? What’s her backstory, and how does it tie into what’s being told in the Ahsoka series? This spin-off for one of the most beloved Star Wars characters (who was actually widely disliked when first introduced) is years in the making, and you ought to catch up—because Ahsoka’s the moment for a reason.
Who is Ahsoka Tano?
Ahsoka was introduced all the way back in 2008 in the (admittedly not great) Star Wars: The Clone Wars animated movie. She was the 14-year-old padawan Master Yoda dumped on Anakin Skywalker’s figurative doorstep when he wanted nothing to do with training a snippy child. Anakin had only just become a full-fledged Jedi Knight himself after spending more than a decade as the whiny, rebellious padawan to Obi-Wan Kenobi. But by the end of the movie, Anakin saw something in Ahsoka and decided to keep her on as his padawan (even though this was basically like throwing two attitude-prone children together to fight villains across the galaxy with laser swords), and the rest is history.
For five seasons of follow-up The Clone Wars TV series, Ahsoka trained as Anakin’s padawan; his Snips to her SkyGuy. Their brother-sister bond was tough, considering you had a Jedi (Anakin) who finds it hard to release tight bonds with people (just look at how well his secret marriage to Padmé turned out). And Ahsoka was more invested in following the ways of the Jedi than serving herself, but even she was pushed to her limits once she realized how tainted the Jedi Council actually was by the end of Season 5. While Anakin never left the Jedi Order—he opted for turning to the Dark Side, becoming Darth Vader, and destroying the Jedi instead—Ahsoka stepped away from Anakin and the Order altogether.
The Clone Wars Season 6 is a bit of a smorgasbord, since it was released fairly unfinished after the show was canceled; it debuted without the conclusion that series creator Dave Filoni had intended. But the show was brought back for a seventh and final season in early 2020, with the advent of Disney+. It gave fans Ahsoka’s final arc before the Jedi Purge (Order 66), which showed what was going on simultaneously with Star Wars: Episode III — Revenge of the Sith on her end of things. (Spoiler: It involved the clones, Mandalore, and Maul). It also showed how she escaped death during the Purge with the help of Captain Rex, a clone trooper who was able to overcome his behavioral chip and not commit to Order 66, and Maul (weirdly enough, considering he was the longtime villain).
After the end of The Clone Wars series and the actual war, Ahsoka went on to become a key member of the Rebel Alliance as a leader of their intelligence network under the codename “Fulcrum.” This is where we meet her again, years later, in Star Wars Rebels. She and the Spectres team, led by Hera Syndulla (played by Mary Elizabeth Winstead in Ahsoka but voiced by Vanessa Marshall in the animated series), work together on various missions. This eventually leads Ahsoka to face off against Darth Vader in one of the best lightsaber duels in all of Star Wars, partially due to the emotional stakes of him being her former master (and her only just allowing herself to realize it at that moment). Following the battle, Ahsoka was thought to have died, but she was actually saved by future Ezra Bridger (voiced by Taylor Gray) and sucked into the World Between Worlds (which we might see more of in Ahsoka). And that’s where we leave Ahsoka in her animated form in Star Wars Rebels’ epilogue: in a long white robe that gives off Gandalf vibes, waiting for Sabine Wren in their potential search for Ezra after he goes missing (more on that in a bit).
What does the Ahsoka series have in store?
Ahsoka is already fun because—even with its great trailer—there’s a lot to still discover about its plot. The most basic synopsis of the series is that Ahsoka Tano has heard rumors that Grand Admiral Thrawn (Lars Mikkelsen, who also voiced the character in Rebels) has returned as “heir to the Empire.” Thrawn was a Chiss Imperial leader and one of the main antagonists in Star Wars Rebels. Based on Ahsoka’s story in The Mandalorian, after her fight with Morgan Elsbeth (Diana Lee Inosanto) in “The Jedi,” we know that she was already looking for clues to find Thrawn then.
The ending to Thrawn’s story in Rebels was very much an unfinished one, entangled with that of Ezra Bridger. They both went missing thanks to space whales known as Purrgils, who Ezra can communicate with. Purrgils can travel through hyperspace at will, so Ezra urged them to send Thrawn and his fleet through hyperspace without a known destination. Ezra was unfortunately lost in the scuffle as well.
Ahsoka was trying to find Thrawn in The Mandalorian, and she’s now teaming up with live-action versions of Star Wars Rebels characters Hera (Winstead) and Sabine Wren (Natasha Liu Bordizzo) in her own show. Sabine in particular seems to be training under Ahsoka with her own lightsaber. All of this suggests that the Ahsoka series is as much a sequel to Rebels as it is a continuation of Ahsoka Tano’s epic story arc.
When does Ahsoka take place in Star Wars canon?
The series Ahsoka takes place in 9 ABY, Star Wars time. For reference, Star Wars: Episode VI — Return of the Jedi takes place five years prior in 4 ABY. All three seasons of The Mandalorian took place in 9 ABY as well, along with The Book of Boba Fett. They’re all within the same timeline, so not much time has passed at all since Ahsoka grilled Morgan Elsbeth about Thrawn, making her mission still pretty timely. There are theories, however, that there will be time jumps, so Ahsoka could end up being all over the place.
In 9 ABY, Ahsoka Tano is about 46 years old (she was born in 36 BBY). Star Wars years are similar to BC and AC in our real world, but they’re marked as BBY (Before the Battle of Yavin) and ABY (After the Battle of Yavin), in reference to the battle in Star Wars: Episode IV — A New Hope where Luke Skywalker blows up the Death Star. The more you know!
Which other familiar characters will we see in the new series?
We’ve already mentioned several familiar names and faces, including Ahsoka herself. We know we’re getting the first live-action iterations of Hera and Sabine, along with Thrawn. While we’re not sure if Ezra will materialize in this series, Eman Esfandi does play a hologram version of him in the trailer. And while the droid Huyang is familiar to fans of The Clone Wars—he’s an ancient droid that assisted Jedi in crafting lightsabers—his voice, performed by David Tennant, might be much more familiar to the general audience.
Hayden Christensen can be heard in the trailer for Ahsoka, and flashbacks to Anakin and Ahsoka’s time together seem imminent. This makes sense, considering how close Ahsoka was with her former master and how much his teachings influenced her life and still continue to guide her as an adult. It’s unclear if there will be more substantial flashbacks with Christensen coming back in new scenes, or even as a Force ghost, but fingers are all the way crossed for SkyGuy lovers everywhere.
Who are the villains in Ahsoka?
When it comes to newer faces popping up in Ahsoka, the series’ antagonists definitely come to mind. Baylan Skoll (Ray Stevenson) and Shin Hati (Ivanna Sakhno) are two lightsaber-wielding antagonists who aren’t really Sith but aren’t good news either. Baylan used to be a Jedi and survived Order 66, and it’s notable that he and Shin possess orange lightsabers, not red ones. That’s on purpose, according to Filoni; they’re obviously not Sith or of the Dark Side, but again they’re also not heroes. They’re seen killing people in the trailers and there’s some big tension going on between Baylan and Ahsoka in the trailers—they’re definitely opposing forces to Ahsoka and Sabine.
Of course, Thrawn isn’t a good guy and poses a threat to the peace the rebels won in Return of the Jedi. The New Republic is still very young (and we know it doesn’t last that long before the First Order rises by the sequel trilogy), so another war can break out at any moment. That possibility is what Hera and Ahsoka are fighting against in this series.
Ahsoka Tano truly represents the heart of what it means to be a Jedi, something that we really only saw with Qui-Gon Jinn before her, as Filoni has said. She doesn’t blindly follow orders or rules just because she’s trained as a Jedi; this is, in fact, why she steps away from it all at just 17. She’s selfless and fearless, wanting to serve others and help bring people hope.
While Ahsoka definitely struggles like anyone else—either with loss, pain, or anger—her story has always been about how she’s a powerful being who continues to come out alive because of her skill, determination, and her goodness. Even though this iteration of Ahsoka isn’t the one die-hard fans grew up with and became attached to, Dawson’s Ahsoka is carrying on the legacy of one of the greatest Star Wars characters of all time.