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The Tragic Life Story Of Ahsoka

Outside of the first six "Star Wars" films, there may not be a more beloved or storied character in the franchise than Ahsoka Tano. The old Expanded Universe had its Jacen Solos, Darth Revans, and Starkillers. The Disney era has introduced new fan favorites like Ezra Bridger, Sabine Wren, and Cassian Andor. But in the decade and a half since her introduction in the "Star Wars: The Clone Wars" animated film, Ahsoka has risen decisively above the crowd.

Part of that is due to her staying power. Ahsoka thrived as a protagonist in the "Clone Wars" TV series — one of many core characters in the show's anthology structure, but one around whom the main brunt of the story revolved. Most of the other characters had predetermined paths. Their roles in the movies dictated what they could and couldn't do. But Ahsoka was completely open, and she quickly became the lens through which the show explored the widespread destruction of the Clone Wars.

Ahsoka came back in "Star Wars Rebels," and in "The Mandalorian," and in a self-titled canon novel. Eventually, she even got her own live-action Disney+ series set years after "Return of the Jedi." Today, Ahsoka is a character with decades of fascinating in-universe history. She's been a key player in multiple eras of the "Star Wars" timeline, and her story is far from over. Of course, Ahsoka has also had a troubled life in many ways, living through some of the most tumultuous times in galactic history. Here's a full breakdown of her tragic life story.

Ahsoka was taken from her family as a child

When the concept of a Jedi was first introduced in 1977, the mystical monks were treated as paragons of good in the galaxy. Obi-Wan Kenobi represented the patience, discipline, and purity of heart that seemed to define the Jedi Order, and he instructed the young Luke Skywalker in the same traditions. But then George Lucas made the "Star Wars" prequels, and everything changed. Through the films and the "Clone Wars" series, fans got to see just how corrupt and dogmatic the Jedi became before the order fell.

One of the more unsettling traditions of the Jedi is seeking out potential recruits at extremely young ages. Yoda explains in "The Phantom Menace" that this is meant for safety — to instill in Force users the values of the Jedi before they become too attached to the material world. In practice, though, it means taking children away from their homes and families, often with no promise of them ever seeing each other again.

Such was the case with Ahsoka, whose impressive Force abilities as a baby drew the attention of the order, as shown in "Tales of the Jedi." She never exactly complains about being taken away from them, but then, she never got to know them. That choice was made for her, as it was made for thousands of other younglings throughout history.

A child soldier in a pointless war

Normally, a Jedi youngling would grow up in the temple on Coruscant. Eventually, they'd be paired with a master and go on adventures around the galaxy. While some of these missions could be quite dangerous, they tended to be more humanitarian in nature. Once the master deemed their apprentice ready, they'd be allowed to attempt the Jedi trials to become a knight.

During the Clone Wars, however, that traditional process ground to a halt. There were roughly 10,000 Jedi at the start of the war, and nearly 200 died right away during the First Battle of Geonosis. As the war quickly expanded to cover the galaxy, the Republic struggled to fight back against the superior numbers of the Separatists' droid armies. This led to Jedi padawans being sent right out onto the fields of battle to command clone troopers.

When Ahsoka is assigned to Anakin as his apprentice, he's in the middle of a military campaign on Christophsis. Ahsoka is brought right into the middle of the war and immediately begins commanding troops and fighting in battles. She's 14 at the time. Though she seems to take all of the violence in stride, the "Clone Wars" series details how many other young Jedi broke under the strain of the war — a conflict orchestrated by Darth Sidious in secret to expose and exploit the corruption at the heart of the Republic. But, of course, Yoda just keeps sending the children into battle.

Ahsoka's first traumatic brush with death

Ahsoka fights in several major campaigns during the early days of the Clone Wars, but her first big brush with death comes during the Second Battle of Geonosis. Along with Anakin, Obi-Wan Kenobi, council member Ki-Adi-Mundi, Jedi master Luminara Unduli, and her apprentice Barriss Offee, Ahsoka joins a strike team sent in to locate and destroy a reopened Separatist droid factory. The mission is ultimately successful, but during an underground expedition to the heart of the facility, Ahsoka and Barriss are trapped. The explosives they use to destroy the plant's reactor cause a structural collapse, and the two young padawans are left stranded in a Separatist tank where they quickly start to run out of air.

Both characters — and even Luminara — believe that this will be the end. Barriss and Ahsoka make peace with the idea that they might die in a nondescript hole on an Outer Rim planet, fighting in a war that they never really had a say in. Fortunately, they're able to find a way out, but the experience sticks with them both. The trauma of it all bonds Ahsoka and Barriss, showing them both how quick and brutal death can be when the galaxy is at war.

Ahsoka is corrupted and killed by the dark side

After her traumatic experience on Geonosis, Ahsoka continues to fight beside her master, while also occasionally returning to Coruscant for lessons and more peaceful assignments. In "The Clone Wars" Season 3, she ventures out into deep space with Anakin and Obi-Wan in search of an old Jedi distress signal, which leads the three to the magical world of Mortis. An ancient world rife with the Force, Mortis is ruled by a "family" of three "Force Wielders," also known simply as "The Ones." The Father is the leader, representing balance in the Force, while the Daughter embodies the light side and the Son embodies the dark.

The Jedi arrive to find the Ones on the brink of chaos, with the Son succumbing more and more to the will of the pure dark side. A conflict breaks out, resulting in Ahsoka being kidnapped by him and infected with a piece of his dark spirit. She's turned loose on her friends like an evil weapon, and when the Son no longer has any use for her, he drains the life out of her, killing her in a brutal fashion. It's only through the last life force of the Daughter, channeled through Anakin, that Ahsoka is ultimately resurrected. The journey to Mortis ends as suddenly as it begins, leaving the three Jedi to wonder if what they saw and did really happened or was merely a dream. Regardless, the effect on Ahsoka lingers.

Ahsoka is framed for bombing the Jedi Temple

Over the course of the Clone Wars, Ahsoka grows up and becomes a fearsome fighter and commander. Anakin trains her constantly in special offensive and defensive techniques, and she contributes greatly to the training of several younglings, the Republic's campaign on Mon Cala, and a top-secret rescue mission to the anti-Jedi prison known as the Citadel, among other deployments. Toward the end of the war, she and Anakin are called back from the Outer Rim to investigate a bombing at the Jedi Temple.

The nature of the attack implies that a Jedi was involved, and since Anakin and Ahsoka were both halfway across the galaxy, they're seen as impartial agents. However, their investigation winds up with Ahsoka behind bars after a key witness is killed by the Force with Ahsoka in the room. The increasingly militant nature of the Republic means the Jedi can't just extricate her and find out the truth. Since she's caught in a Republic facility, she's held prisoner without aid from her master or her friends.

What makes this all truly tragic is that the Jedi council is easily convinced of her guilt. Previous deviations from the Jedi code and a stack of convincing evidence mount against her, and a young(er) Wilhuff Tarkin pressures the council to expel Ahsoka so that she can be tried as a regular citizen. She escapes custody, but the council complies, and Ahsoka is forced to go on the run to clear her name.

Ahsoka is betrayed by almost everyone she knows

Ahsoka's expulsion from the Jedi Order is one of the most important moments in all of "The Clone Wars," and it's also the turning point for her character. Any dream of becoming a Jedi master like the ones who trained her in the temple before the war disappears. And the worst part is just how many people who once claimed to be in Ahsoka's corner betray her.

Yoda, Mace Windu, and most of the rest of the council are easily convinced to kick her out so that Tarkin and Palpatine can put her on trial. Obi-Wan and Plo Koon stand up for her in the council, but they aren't enough. For Palpatine, it's a chance to separate Anakin from one of his closest friends and allies. The soon-to-be-emperor knows that Ahsoka could prevent Anakin from falling to the dark side, so he jumps at the possibility of removing her from the equation.

The saddest betrayal, though, comes from one of Ahsoka's peers — the very same friend with whom she first faced death on Geonosis. It's revealed that Barriss Offee is the real temple bomber, having grown frustrated with the corruption of the Jedi, the Republic, and the never-ending violence of the war. Bariss' anger is entirely understandable, and her criticisms of the council's warmongering are valid. Unfortunately, those passions lead her to betray one of her closest friends.

Leaving the Jedi Order behind

With a little help from Anakin and Asajj Ventress, Ahsoka is able to clear her name. Barriss is arrested and tried in her place, and the Jedi Council offers Ahsoka a chance to return to the order. But she rejects them.

Completely disillusioned after being so casually tossed aside, Ahsoka can't bring herself to come back. She leaves the council chambers and walks out of the temple for what might be the last time. Devastated, Anakin chases after her, catching her on the steps outside the temple. He begs her to reconsider, but she's made up her mind. "The council didn't trust me, so how can I trust myself?" she asks. "I can't stay here any longer. Not now." Anakin admits that he, too, often considers leaving the order — something Ahsoka already knows well.

As she leaves him, the signs of night gather overhead. The sky above Coruscant is clouded, with the last light of the day fading and casting long shadows across the ancient stones of the temple floor. It's twilight — both for the city and for the Jedi Order, though they don't know it yet.

Ahsoka is left all alone

After leaving the Jedi Order, Ahsoka does a bit of soul searching. She explores the lower depths of Coruscant and discovers just how unpopular the Jedi have become in the eyes of the public. Many of the galaxy's normal citizens blame the order for the war, which is causing people all over to suffer. Since the Jedi were technically the ones to put in an order for the clone army, that frustration isn't exactly misplaced.

Ahsoka befriends two sisters and hustlers named Trace and Rafa Martez, eventually getting pulled into a dangerous underworld scheme. It's through this adventure that Ahsoka discovers that Darth Maul is still alive and ruling Mandalore in secret. Knowing how dangerous he is, she contacts the Jedi to inform them.

The reunion with Anakin and Obi-Wan is bittersweet but brief. They plan to take Captain Rex and the 501st Legion to Mandalore, but that plan is disrupted when General Grievous attacks Coruscant. Obi-Wan and Anakin are called away to help the chancellor — the rescue mission seen at the beginning of "Revenge of the Sith." Instead of going to Mandalore, they decide to split the 501st and promote Rex to the rank of commander, as Ahsoka is no longer qualified to lead a clone force. The old friends part ways, with Anakin and Obi-Wan racing to Coruscant and Ahsoka and Rex voyaging to liberate Mandalore.

Facing Maul on Mandalore

It's fitting that Ahsoka ends the Clone Wars fighting to help free a beleaguered world, and equally fitting that she does so outside the official military sanctions of the Republic. With Rex and his elite clone troopers by her side, she leads an assault on the Mandalorian capital city of Sundari, battling Maul's Mandalorian loyalists as she goes. Her squad eventually makes its way into the tunnels beneath the city, where Maul emerges.

The whole operation culminates in a climactic duel between the two Force users as their respective forces battle across the city. Maul tells Ahsoka the truth — that Anakin has been groomed to become Darth Sidious' new apprentice, and that the time of his turning is near. She refuses to believe him, seeing the claim as an attempt to bring her over to his side.

They fight through the old palace and pursue each other through Sundari as the city is slowly engulfed in flames. Finally, with the help of Rex and his clones, Ahsoka manages to capture Maul. As he's taken in, he screams a warning to them, heralding the twist of Sidious' Imperial ascension. But, once again, Ahsoka disregards him as a madman.

Ahsoka sees the evils of Order 66 first hand

With Maul in custody, Ahsoka and Rex set course for Coruscant, where they hear that the Chancellor has been successfully rescued. Ahsoka tries to reach Anakin remotely to warn him of Maul's words, but she can't get through to him. Had she been able to speak with him, is it possible that his turn to the dark side might never have happened? Would her caution and the reminder of their friendship have been enough to preserve him? We'll never know for sure.

Ahsoka doesn't see Anakin again for many years. During the voyage to Coruscant, Order 66 is enacted, and she's forced to fight back against her friends in the 501st as they all turn their blasters on her. Thanks to a tip-off from Rex before his brain is fully assimilated, she manages to capture him and remove his inhibitor chip, gaining her one ally on a cruiser full of hostile clones. The duo hatch a plan to escape, but it requires them to free Maul and set him loose on the ship.

It's a devastating scene. Ahsoka tries to get through the ship without killing any clones, but they just keep coming. Maul damages the engines, forcing the whole craft out of hyperspace into a crash landing on a nearby planet. The fall is metaphorical as well, perfectly encapsulating the doomed collapse of the Republic and the disposable soldiers created to serve Palpatine's scheme. Ahsoka leaves one of her lightsabers behind at the crash site, which Darth Vader later finds.

Ahsoka is helpless to stop the rise of the Empire

In the wake of Order 66, Ahsoka goes into hiding. "Tales of the Jedi" shows that she briefly visits Naboo to attend the funeral of Padmé Amidala. She assumes that Anakin is also dead, killed in the Jedi Purge. Though Bail Organa invites Ahsoka to join him in a burgeoning rebellion, she refuses. The whole ordeal of the war weighs heavy on her shoulders. What she needs, it seems, is time to heal and think, away from all of the death and trauma of the last few years.

There's also clearly some serious survivor's guilt in play. What if Ahsoka had stayed with the order? What if she had been by Anakin's side when the clones turned on the Jedi? Why should she live when so many of her former friends and teachers were dead? Through Ahsoka, we see how Order 66 even scarred the Jedi who managed to escape. Palpatine's ambition was always to break the order at the heart, and he does just that.

Alone again and on the run

Like most Jedi who survived Order 66, Ahsoka goes into hiding on the fringes of the galaxy. Slightly different accounts of her time on the run are detailed in the "Ahsoka" novel and the animated "Tales of the Jedi" series on Disney+. Both versions show her wandering from small town to small town, working as everything from a mechanic to a farmhand to make ends meet and stay under the radar.

Of course, she isn't always successful at avoiding Imperial agents. "Tales of the Jedi" shows an instance where Ahsoka's Force powers are seen and reported by her employer, leading to a deadly showdown with an inquisitor, which she wins. Eventually, Ahsoka leverages some battle trophies into a new set of white lightsabers and takes Bail Organa up on his offer of joining the rebellion.

Using the codename "Fulcrum" — once the name of a secret communications line with Obi-Wan and Anakin during the Clone Wars — Ahsoka begins recruiting freedom fighters and organizing guerrilla activity around the galaxy. Five years before the Battle of Yavin, Ahsoka starts working with a group of rebels in the Lothal Sector that includes Jedi survivor Kanan Jarrus, his apprentice Ezra Bridger, ace pilot Hera Syndulla, and Mandalorian outcast Sabine Wren, among others.

Ahsoka discovers what really happened to Anakin

Her work with the so-called Spectres and the larger rebel faction of Phoenix Squadron brings Ahsoka into more direct conflict with the Empire. Most notably, an attack from Darth Vader himself on the rebel fleet causes her to sense his identity in the Force. The shock of feeling Anakin alive and fully turned to the dark side puts Ahsoka briefly in a coma. She doesn't reveal the truth of his identity to the other rebels and decides instead to strike out on her own to find out the truth.

Over the course of the ensuing months, Ahsoka reunites with Captain Rex, who joins Phoenix Squadron and the larger rebel cause. She also helps Kanan and Ezra in their quest to gain knowledge that could help them defeat the Imperial inquisitors pursuing them. This mission leads the trio to the ancient Sith world of Malachor, where one of the most important encounters of Ahsoka's life takes place. The two-part "Star Wars Rebels" episode "Twilight of the Apprentice" details the fateful battle.

The tragic showdown on Malachor

Aided by Kanan and Ezra, Ahsoka locates an ancient Sith temple on Malachor, where Yoda previously recommended the three look for a way to stop the inquisitors. However, they aren't the first ones to arrive. After getting separated from the others, Ezra encounters an older, world-weary Maul who's journeyed to the temple in search of power. He tricks Ezra into aiding him, and after more Imperial inquisitors show up, he convinces Kanan and Ahsoka that they should all work together. The inquisitors don't last long, and Ezra makes it to the top of the temple, where he activates a powerful Sith holocron.

As an ancient weapon begins to activate within, Maul turns on Kanan, and Darth Vader appears to claim the holocron for the emperor. What follows is an emotional duel between Ahsoka and her old master. He tells her that Anakin Skywalker was weak and that he killed him in order to become stronger. "Then I will avenge his death," Ahsoka responds. In their fight, she breaks through his mask, revealing the unaltered voice she knows so well. Maul flees, Ezra retrieves the holocron and escapes with Kanan, but Ahsoka refuses to leave Anakin again, and their brutal battle continues. First-time watchers of the episode may be confused as to Ahsoka's fate, but she does indeed survive her encounter with Vader through mystical means.

Setting off alone once again

Explaining what happens to Ahsoka after her battle with Darth Vader on Malachor is a little tricky. It involves ancient Force magic, time travel, and a strange parallel dimension that still hasn't been fully explained in canon. Essentially, long after the battle takes place, Ezra Bridger makes his way into the World Between Worlds — a realm that allows those in it to view and travel between different points in time. Ezra uses the magic of the realm to save Ahsoka from Vader, pulling her out of the battle before the Sith has a chance to finish her.

After being rescued by Ezra and facing off against Darth Sidious (who tries to weaponize the World Between Worlds for evil), Ahsoka once again sets off on her own, escaping back into her own timeline. Her whereabouts from that point on are still a bit fuzzy. Ahsoka doesn't seem to be fighting with the rebels during the original trilogy, but she does return to action during the New Republic era. Where she was during all of those years in the middle is currently a mystery.

Where is Ahsoka during the original trilogy?

The big gap in Ahsoka's life story is the years covering the original "Star Wars" trilogy. In theory, she could have rejoined the Rebel Alliance, helped train Luke Skywalker, and continued fighting against Darth Vader and Emperor Palpatine, but she doesn't appear in any of the major events of George Lucas' first three films. The real reason for that is that the character wasn't created until years later, but "Star Wars" has yet to provide a satisfying retcon explaining how she spends all that time.

What we do know from the live-action "Ahsoka" series is that at some point, she took Sabine Wren on as an apprentice. This may have happened either during the Galactic Civil War or shortly after the fall of the Empire, but, regardless, it didn't end well. Though the two repair their relationship in "Ahsoka," there's obvious tension between them. However, the desire to stop the return of Grand Admiral Thrawn and find the missing Ezra Bridger brings them back together.

The war ends, but Ahsoka fights on

Wherever Ahsoka is during the Galactic Civil War, she comes back into the story after the fall of the Empire. We next see her in canon in "The Mandalorian" Season 2, where she journeys to the planet Corvus in search of information concerning Grand Admiral Thrawn and his whereabouts. The Chiss Imperial is banished to a far and unknown corner of space by Ezra Bridger at the end of "Star Wars Rebels," removing both characters from the picture before the start of the original trilogy. "The Mandalorian" Season 2 takes place in 9 ABY, or about 5 years after "Return of the Jedi," but it's unclear what Ahsoka has been up to during that time.

Eventually, though, she makes her way to Corvus, where the lingering Imperial magistrate Morgan Elsbeth is holding the city of Calodan hostage. Because Morgan was a great ally to Thrawn in particular during the early days of the Empire, Ahsoka rightly assumes that she has information about where he might be. With the help of the Mandalorian bounty hunter Din Djarin and his Force-sensitive foundling Grogu, Ahsoka manages to defeat Morgan's forces, best her in a duel, and capture her for the New Republic.

Din tries to convince Ahsoka to train Grogu in the Jedi arts, but she refuses, stating that he has developed too many attachments to become a Jedi. Given her own complicated history with the order, it's curious that she upholds the old doctrine so strictly here. Perhaps she feels inadequate because of her failed mentorship of Sabine, or maybe she fears anyone else falling to the dark side like Anakin did.

She helps but refuses to join the new Jedi Order

Sometime after encountering Din Djarin and Grogu on Corvus, Ahsoka journeys to Ossus, where Luke Skywalker, the son of her old master Anakin, is constructing a new Jedi temple. In the time since she last saw the Mandalorian, Luke found him and took Grogu for proper Jedi training. Din arrives on Ossus to check up on Grogu's progress and give him a gift, but he ends up encountering Ahsoka before either the foundling or Luke.

Apparently, she's just there visiting and checking up on Luke's progress. Though she repeatedly stands with old Jedi codes concerning attachment and training — even dissuading Din from delivering the gift himself for fear of Grogu wanting to leave with him — she has not joined the order. Later on, after the Mandalorian leaves Ossus, she speaks with Luke about Grogu's training. It's clear that the two have had prior conversations, likely about the time she spent with Anakin during the Clone Wars. But again, she doesn't stay, opting instead to leave Ossus and continue on her quest to find Ezra and defeat Thrawn.

It may be due to the big gap in her timeline, too many writers handling the character, or just some weird inconsistencies, but Ahsoka's overall connection to the Jedi during this time is murky at best. She repeatedly claims not to be one of them, yet she seems to hold most of the old tenets — even the ones that contributed to her being expelled by the council in her youth.

The quest to stop Thrawn's return

In her self-titled live-action Disney+ series, Ahsoka continues her search for Ezra Bridger and Grand Admiral Thrawn. After Morgan Elsbeth is rescued from her New Republic captivity by mysterious dark Force users Baylan Skoll and Shin Hati, the race is on. Ahsoka knows that Morgan will try to bring Thrawn back in a bid to restore Imperial rule. In order to preserve peace in the galaxy, she has to get to him first.

Fortunately, Ahsoka isn't alone in that mission. Along with the ancient Jedi lightsaber droid Huyang, she scours the galaxy for clues to Thrawn's location, digging through forgotten temples and solving dusty riddles along the way. She also gets help from New Republic general Hera Syndulla, a friend from the "Star Wars Rebels" days, and her one-time apprentice Sabine Wren.

The larger New Republic government is hesitant to take Ahsoka and Hera's warnings seriously. Having just recently ended decades of war, no one on Coruscant wants to prep the fleets again for yet another galactic conflict. Given Thrawn's immense influence and skill as a military commander, Ahsoka and Hera are understandably frustrated by this passive stance. They have no choice but to follow Thrawn and Ezra's path to the edges of the "Star Wars" galaxy, and even beyond. No matter where this takes them, it's clear that Ahsoka Tano's journey is far from over.