For more than a decade now Ahsoka Tano, the feisty young padawan turned Force-using Rebel, has been a vital part of the Star Wars franchise and the broader world of Star Wars fandom. Ever since she was introduced in The Clone Wars movie in 2008, fans have been drawn to Ahsoka's spirit, something that's carried her through two different animated series, her own standalone novel, a voice cameo in The Rise of Skywalker, and, reportedly, an upcoming appearance in Season 2 of The Mandalorian. Ahsoka is without question one of the most important Star Wars characters ever, but one of her creators admits there was a time when we might have lost her sooner.
In a new oral history in Vanity Fair, celebrating the impact of the character as The Clone Wars heads into its final episodes in the coming two weeks, supervising director Dave Filoni, voice actor Ashley Eckstein, and others discuss Ahsoka's journey from concept to fully realized character to Star Wars icon. Ahsoka was introduced in the years that followed the live-action conclusion of the prequel trilogy, which meant fans had already seen how far Anakin Skywalker would fall and how brutal he'd get during the Great Jedi Purge. That led a lot of people to assume, with often savage frankness, that his young padawan was not long for this world.
"That movie threat has been with me from the beginning, because fans would say, 'Okay, 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?'"
The Clone Wars was always a show about what happens around the prequel films, though, and as the series wore on it grew into an epic all its own, with Ahsoka at the center of major battles and emotional struggles the films simply didn't have time to cover. It wasn't just an all-ages supplement to the films, but a chronicle of parallel events in a vast galaxy. Still, given what we knew about Order 66 by the end of 2005, the threat of Ahsoka's death always loomed over everything, and though her story ultimately took a different path, there was a point — however momentary — when it was definitely on the table.
"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]," Filoni said. "If that was an important element of his story, it would have been in the movies."
Though The Clone Wars was shut down after Disney purchased Lucasfilm in 2012, Filoni opted to use the Star Wars Rebels animated series that followed to show that Ahsoka had indeed survived, and now existed as a rogue operative helping the Rebel Alliance to battle the empire. Now that we've known for years that the character has life beyond her original animated series scope, the question of where Ahsoka might turn up next looms. So, what does Filoni — who made his live-action directing debut on Season 1 of The Mandalorian — have to say about the character showing up in the post-Empire years, in live-action for the first time?
"I’ve done way more Ahsoka stories than I ever thought I would. It seems to be an unstoppable force at this point," he said. "I think we just have to be careful and make sure the bar is high and always tell good stories and ones that are adding to the character’s depth and dimension. We’ll see. But it’s potential. Potential energy is always very exciting."
The final two episodes of Star Wars: The Clone Wars will air May 1 and May 4 on Disney+.