Sometimes we’re wrong about characters. After the release of the Star Wars: The Clone Wars film, many fans hated Anakin’s new padawan. She was annoying and seemed unnecessary. You’re giving Anakin a padawan? Where was she during Revenge of the Sith? These sorts of questions lingered around the Star Wars fandom around 2008.
Skip forward 12 years and the character that so many disliked at first may be the most celebrated character in the whole saga. Why is this? How can a character go from being hated to adored? The answer isn’t simple, but there are two main people who are responsible for the rise of Ahsoka Tano: Ashley Eckstein and Dave Filoni.
Ahsoka was originally named “Ashoka” after George Lucas wanted to model her after the great Indian conquerer known as “Ashoka the Great.” I never knew this until recently and it really makes some sense when you look at it.
Ashoka the Great was an Indian conquerer who spent years fighting battle after battle before converting to Buddhism. This is a really interesting parallel to our beloved Ahsoka, who after years of fighting during the Clone Wars decided to leave the Jedi Order to become someone new. To become someone greater.
This is where my love for Ahsoka really begins. I enjoy her in The Clone Wars animated show a lot. The first few seasons have her growing up and learning more by example than by the book (she is the padawan of Anakin Skywalker after all). She starts the show out as “Snips,” the annoying padawan of Anakin. But by the conclusion of season 5 of The Clone Wars, Ahsoka is a completely different character than she was at the show’s start. Cunning, thoughtful, and aggressive, Ahsoka Tano is everything a Jedi should be. By the end of the show, even though she’s not a Jedi by title, she’s a Jedi to us.
Ahsoka leaving the order is the single most important event to happen in her life. It separates her from the only family she’s ever known, the only friends she’s ever had, and the only cause she knows that is worth fighting for. She could have stayed a Jedi, but she knew in her heart of hearts that to become the person she’s destined to be, she had to do things on her own.
This is where I really started to see myself in Ahsoka. I was raised Catholic. I went to Catholic School from ages 3-18. It’s all I knew for so long. This is until I left home and decided to go to school far away in Florida. I was able to become who I really was because I was indeed on my own, just like Ahsoka was after leaving the Order. These aren’t the end of our parallels, however. Ahsoka left the Jedi Order not because she didn’t believe in the force, but because she didn’t believe in the Jedi anymore. They accused her of bombing the Jedi temple on Courscant. The Jedi nearly even sentenced her to death. A simple apology from the order wasn’t enough for Ahsoka.
As I mentioned, I was raised Catholic. My religion is not the point of this article, but it is important in why I love Ahsoka Tano so much. She left the Jedi Order. I left the Catholic Church. It isn’t because of what I do or don’t believe in anymore, it’s because of the institution of the Church. If you really know me then you know how vocal I’ve been about a young woman named Alana Chen. Alana died because a priest made her hate herself for being gay. He brainwashed her and completely turned his back on her just because of something she had no control over. The people in charge of governing the religion let her down. The Archdiocese of Denver has taken no accountability in Alana’s death. They’re absolute cowards.
Ahsoka chose to leave the Jedi Order because she felt like they stopped being what they were supposed to be. They had lost their way. Not everyone in the Order was bad, but she couldn’t go back to an institution that had fundamentally let her down. I felt that to the bone. I cannot go back to the Church knowing all the hideous things that they’ve let happen throughout the years.
Ahsoka decided to go on her own path even though it meant that she was losing love and respect from those she loved most. She had to cut her ties with everything she knew from birth in order to grow not only as a person but as a true Jedi. Being a Jedi isn’t about titles. It’s not about the lightsabers, the armor, or the battles. It’s about who someone is inside: about what they fight for, and more importantly, why they’re fighting. I’m sorry, Master, but I’m not coming back” is the single toughest thing Ahsoka ever had to say. Telling those close to me that I am no longer a member of the church was something that was also hard. Nonetheless, it was for the best.
Moving on from my own life, the character of Ahsoka Tano post-leaving the Jedi Order is the most badass and pure character in Star Wars. If you’ve seen Star Wars Rebels then you know just how amazing the character of Ahsoka is. She went from the padawan of Anakin Skywalker to someone totally independent. She is no longer a Jedi, but she is a conduit of the light side of the force. The “sister” in The Clone Wars died so she could give life back to Ahsoka who was nearly killed by the dark (foreshadowing asf). The sister saw something in Ahsoka that she saw in herself: pure light. This can be seen in Ahsoka’s lightsabers in Rebels that are quite literally white. She is pure, powerful, and the absolute definition of what it means to be a hero in Star Wars. She fights to defend the peace, to protect the innocent, and to help others.
I haven’t even mentioned Ahsoka’s battle vs Darth Vader in Star Wars Rebels yet. It is my single favorite moment in Star Wars. If you haven’t seen Rebels, please do yourself a favor and watch it for this scene alone. She has to fight against the person she looked up to. The person she adored. Or rather, something that once was the person she loved. It’s an emotional and powerful battle that shows not only how far into darkness Anakin has gone, but how hard it is to let go of someone we love. The score, choreography, and design of the scene is just absolutely epic. Words can’t describe how cool this episode is. There’s also more Ahsoka coming post-Rebels, but that’s for another article.
Ahsoka had to let go of who she wanted to be in order to become who she was truly meant to be (similar to the logic of Ben Solo). By leaving the Order she truly became a Jedi, even though she technically wasn’t one. Ahsoka is a great example of independence in Star Wars. She’s an example of what it means to be good. She’s a role model for young women, and people in general. She is Star Wars. She’s the balance between light and dark. She is, Ahsoka the White.
If this article has made you interested in Ahsoka Tano, season 7 of The Clone Wars comes out this month. Show your vocal support for the character on social media and show people how much this character means to you. To me, she’s everything.