After the fall of the Galactic Republic, the crew of the Ghost almost had to undertake a completely different but eerily familiar mission in Star Wars Rebels.
Those Rebels easter eggs in Rogue One (and vice versa) are no mistake. There is a reason you get a glimpse of Chopper and the Ghost, and also hear Hera Syndulla’s name, in the movie. They were hidden there as a tribute to what it almost was. Producer Dave Filoni recently revealed that early concepts for the animated series imagined stealing the plans for the Death Star to be one of the main covert operations for Ezra, Kanan, Hera, and their allies as they tried to thwart the Empire. Recognize that from anywhere?
"There were some really early on conversations with Rebels about it being about them finding the Death Star plans. But as Rogue One came about and took shape, it was obvious we weren't gonna do that story," Filoni told ComicBook.com. "I didn't wanna do that story, frankly, honestly, with Rebels because I thought I don't want their whole existence to just serve and hand off to another part of the plot. I want it to be its own story about this kid."
That explains why Filoni flew the Ghost in another direction and instead decided to focus on new characters who emerged in the Star Wars universe rather than make Rebels a bridge between Revenge of the Sith and A New Hope. Ezra may not be Luke Skywalker, but he still has to save his family and an entire planet in the grip of a corrupt empire. Filoni and co-executive producer Simon Kinberg ultimately wanted friendship, family, and the fate of Lothol to be the beating heart of Rebels.
“The story grew out of that, for what he is attached to, and what he needs to let go of,” Filoni said of how he and Kinberg envisioned Ezra’s journey. “How his friends become more a part of his life. You kind of build to the point, and, in the end, we got where I wanted it to be in the beginning.”
The fourth season of Star Wars Rebels is now out on Blu-ray.