If you only have the Star Wars live action movies and none of the TV series, you may not know who Ahsoka Tano is.
The former Jedi was Anakin Skywalker’s padawan during the Clone Wars, set after the events of Star Wars: Episode II – Attack of the Clones and before Star Wars: Episode III – Revenge of the Sith.
She was introduced in the 2008 Clone Wars feature film, which kicked off the 133-episode animated series (the first five seasons of which aired on Cartoon Network starting in 2008, followed by a sixth season on Netflix in 2014 and a final season on Disney+ in 2020). She has also appeared in Disney+’s Stories of the Jedi And Star Wars Rebels and delighted fans with a live-action debut in the second season of The Mandalorian.
On August 22, Disney+ will launch a live-action series centered around the character (played by Rosario Dawson in the live-action series and voiced by Ashley Eckstein in the animated series). The show will premiere with two episodes at 6 p.m. PT.
“The character has found new legs with the work we’ve done, and called a show The Mandalorian really did a great job on that,” said Dave Filoni, who created the series, at last summer’s D23.
Below is a list of key episodes to watch to get to know the character, compiled by The Hollywood Reporter digital editor-in-chief Kimberly Nordyke and her 14-year-old son (and Star Wars fanatic), Braden. (All episodes are available on Disney+ via subscription or available to rent/download on various other streaming services.) This list is by no means exhaustive (yes, we realize there are other great episodes we could have added, but we don’t know that newcomers have so little time to catch up!), but it does provide some insight into the character and her backstory.
Warning: Major spoilers are coming.
‘Star Wars: The Clone Wars’
Date of publication: August 15, 2008
The animated film, directed by Dave Filoni and written by Henry Gilroy, Steven Melching and Scott Murphy, started out as a few episodes of the series, but George Lucas decided to piece them together into a theatrical film to launch the show. The plot introduces Anakin to Ansoka, his newly assigned apprentice, as they track down Jabba the Hutt’s kidnapped son. Anakin is hesitant to take on an apprentice, but is left with no choice. “You’re stuck with me, Skyguy,” she tells him, to which he replies, “Don’t let me get bit,” creating their nicknames for each other: Skyguy and Snips.
Braden’s thoughts on why you should see this episode: “It’s important because she was introduced as a character and has character development. Over the course of the show, you can see how she changes after becoming Anakin Skywalker’s Padawan.”
‘The Clone Wars’, Season 5, Episode 7: “A Test of Strength”
Premiere date: November 10, 2012
Ahsoka is tasked with leading a group of youngsters, including Petro, who appears in later episodes, and the Wookiee Gungi, who also appears in Bad batch – as they build their lightsabers. But things go awry when Hondo Ohnaka and his band of pirates intercept the Jedi training cruiser they are traveling on. Ahsoka must use her leadership skills to get the boy to safety.
Braden’s thoughts on why you should see this episode: “It shows how she’s grown and doing her part in preserving the Jedi Order.”
“The Clone Wars,” Season 5, Episodes 17-20: “Sabotage,” “The Jedi Who Knew Too Much,” “To Catch a Jedi,” and “The Wrong Jedi”
Premiere dates: February 8, 2023; February 15, 2023; February 22, 2023; March 1, 2023
In this emotional four-episode storyline, Ahsoka is betrayed by a friend, leading to her being tried for crimes she didn’t commit after the Jedi Council refuses to believe her pleas of innocence and decides to expel her. She is cleared of the crimes, but she feels betrayed by the Jedi and heartbreakingly decides to leave the Jedi Order once the truth is discovered. (As an aside, all four episodes are named after Alfred Hitchcock movies: Sabotage, the man who knew too much, to catch a thief And The wrong man.)
Braden’s thoughts on why you should watch these episodes: “They show how she is betrayed and kicked out of the Jedi Order and how she loses her faith in the Jedi.”
‘The Clone Wars’, Season 7, Episode 9: “Don’t Forget Old Friends”
Premiere date: April 17, 2020
Darth Maul has taken Mandalore and Ahsoka is teaming up with Bo-Katan (Katee Sackhoff, who also plays the live-action character in The Mandalorian) to try and free the planet. Ahsoka contacts her former master, Anakin, and Obi-Wan Kenobi to help, but she rebuffs Anakin’s attempts to catch up, saying they have a mission to accomplish. Later, Anakin and the clones, led by Captain Rex, surprise her by painting their helmets to honor her.
Braden’s thoughts on why you should see this episode: “It shows her reaction when she went back to work with the Jedi Order.”
‘The Clone Wars’, Season 7, Episodes 11-12: ‘Shattered’ and ‘Victory and Death’
Premiere dates: May 1, 2020; May 4, 2020
These nerve-wracking series finale episodes overlap with the events of Revenge of the Sith, including when Palpatine executes Order 66, a directive for the clones to kill all Jedi. Ahsoka and clone Rex must escape from a spaceship where the clone troopers try to kill them. They succeed, but the spaceship crashes into a moon. In a poignant ending to the series finale years later, Darth Vader finds the starship and Ahsoka’s lightsaber, which he ignites, presumably assuming she is dead, before turning and walking away.
Braden’s thoughts on why you should see those episodes: “They are important because it shows her point of view when Order 66 is executed.”
‘The Mandalorian’, Season 2, Episode 5: “Chapter 13: The Jedi”
Premiere date: November 27, 2020
Ahsoka (played by Dawson here) makes her live-action debut in this episode of the Disney+ series, where she reveals important details about Grogu’s backstory to Din Djarin (Pedro Pascal), including the youngster’s name. It turns out he had in fact been a youngster in the Jedi Temple when Palpatine enacted Order 66, but he was rescued by Jedi Master Kleren Beq, sparing the fate of so many others. In the end, Ashoka tells Din that she cannot train Grogu due to his attachment to Din, but points him in the direction of a destroyed Jedi Temple where Grogu may be able to find a Jedi who will train him. Oh, and she and Din team up to defeat Imperial Magistrate Morgan Elsbeth and liberate the city of Calodan, despite the history of bad blood between their two peoples. “A Mandalorian and a Jedi? They’ll never see it coming,” says Din. Perhaps a reunion for the two is in store for Ahsoka?
Braden’s thoughts on why you should see this episode: “We see her return to her Jedi ways and fight to restore peace.”
‘Tales of the Jedi’, Season 1, Episode 1: “Life and Death”
Premiere date: October 26, 2022
We meet Ahsoka as a newborn and then catch up with her as a toddler, where she shows signs of having the Force, namely by taming a saber tooth ready to attack. After the villagers realize what she has done, the village chief notes that Ahsoka is a Jedi.
Braden’s thoughts on why you should see this episode: “It shows her childhood and how she was strong with the Force from a young age.”
‘Tales of the Jedi’, Season 1, Episode 6: “Resolving”
Premiere date: October 26, 2022
Ashoka lives a quiet life on an agricultural planet under Order 66. But she reveals her secret when she rescues one of the villagers, whose brother decides to report her to the Empire. An Inquisitor comes to find and kill Ahsoka (the Inquisitors’ job is to hunt down surviving Jedi and kill or recruit them to serve as one of their ranks) and burns the village to the ground. Ashoka kills him. But the incident has stirred something in Ahsoka, who summons Bail Organa and tells him that she is ready to join the Rebellion in the fight against the Empire.
Braden’s thoughts on why you should see this episode: “It shows how she has chosen a new view of the realm. After being attacked, she decides that instead of fleeing, she wants to become a rebel to prevent the Empire from gaining more control and lead it to its eventual demise.
“Star Wars Rebels,” Season 2, Episode 22 and Season 4, Episodes 12-13: “Twilight of the Apprentice,” “The Wolves and a Door,” and “A World Between Worlds”
Premiere dates: March 30, 2016; February 26, 2018
In a list full of spoilers, the plot points in these episodes seem too spoilery to even describe here, so we won’t go into detail. But trust us: it involves a confrontation with Darth Vader. That’s right, Ahsoka’s former Master, when he was known as the Jedi Anakin Skywalker. Need we say more? And viewers will also get to know Ezra Bridger (voiced by Taylor Gray), who pops up in the live-action Ahsoka (where he will be played by Eman Esfandi).
Braden’s thoughts on why you should watch these episodes: “Darth Vader!”
Ashoka premieres on Disney+ on August 22 at 6PM PT.