An Abridged Retelling of the Life of Star Wars’ Ashoka Tano
Few characters in fiction have gone from being hated to beloved as Ashoka Tano. Introduced in 2008’s The Clone Wars pilot film as Anakin’s Padawan, fans first hated her. She seemed like another Jar Jar, a character shoehorned in for the younger audience to enjoy. Many even wondered if she would survive the series. She did better. Not only did she live to see the end of the Clone Wars, but she also went from being the annoying tagalong to one of the best characters in the franchise. By the time she grew up, she had fought everything from General Grievous and his Battle Droids to Darth Maul to her former Master. And she survived all of them! That alone is a testament to how good she was, and I’m honored to have seen her journey from the start.
I’m RJ Writing Ink, and in anticipation of the upcoming Ashoka series, I will be recapping the life and legend of Ashoka Tano. This will be an abridged retelling, so if you want a more in-depth look, I recommend watching any Star Wars product that has Dave Filoni on it. Ashoka was his creation, so she meant a lot to him.
From Humble Beginnings
Born in 36 BBY on the planet Shili, Ashoka’s infancy was largely uneventful. One day, though, her mom took her on a trip into the woods, at which point they ran into one of the local predators. As a result, Ashoka got separated from her mom. Instead of dying, though, the baby used her connection to the Force to make a connection with the beast. It then proceeded to give her a lift back to town, none the worse for wear. Realizing Ashoka was Force-Sensitive, the village elder knew that she was meant for bigger and better things in life. So, around the time Ashoka was three, Jedi Master Plo-Koon came and brought her to the Jedi Temple to start training. As a side note, the two remained close over the years, with Ashoka seeing Plo as a surrogate Uncle.
Over the years, Ashoka proved a natural with the Force. So much so that by the time the Clone Wars broke out, Master Yoda decided she was ready to become a Padawan. So, he and Obi-Wan chose to assign the impressionable teenager to…Anakin Skywalker. The guy who only became a Jedi Knight a few months prior. They hoped that having someone to look after would teach Anakin greater responsibility and help with his inability to let people go.
Spoiler alert: it didn’t work.
Becoming an Effective Team
At first, Anakin didn’t want a Padawan, and Ashoka’s eagerness didn’t help matters. However, after working to shut down a Separatist shield generator, Anakin realized that the kid was fearless and reckless as he was. And while he couldn’t teach her how not to get in trouble, he could teach her to get out of trouble. Thus, he took her as his Padawan full-time. By the time they finished their first mission together, rescuing Jabba the Hutt’s son, the two cemented their roles as mentor and student.
Indeed, Anakin and Ashoka would go on to accomplish great things together, with the former having a lot to teach the latter. For example, he taught her how to bend the rules to do the right thing, like looking for missing friends and allies even after being ordered not to. And Ashoka would prove her mettle on several occasions. She fought against Asajj Ventress, Count Dooku’s assassin, on several occasions. Even more impressive, she fought against General Grievous, the cyborg who kills Jedi for the fun of it and lived. Few Jedi could pull that off! She also made friends with many of the Clones, most notably Captain Rex, and fellow Jedi like Barriss Offee.
However, as time passed, she also began to look at what her fellow Jedi would do and see the faults in their thinking. For example, one time, she and Master Luminara Unduli faced Asajj Ventress. Luminara told Ashoka to stay behind, thinking that Ashoka wasn’t ready to fight Ventress. Guess who had to come to bail the Jedi Master out? Another time, when she and Barriss were trapped underneath a ton of rubble, that same Jedi was ready to accept their deaths. Anakin didn’t, and he saved them both.
Gaining a Greater Perspective
Being a teenager forced to fight in a full-blown war, Ashoka had to learn to grow up fast to survive. Part of that also meant realizing that the Galaxy wasn’t just black-and-white but gray. Case in point, when Senator Padme went behind the Senate’s back to contact a former colleague now part of the Separatists, Ashoka joined her. She ended up meeting and befriending the woman’s son, Lux Bonteri, and she realized something: the Separatists weren’t wholly evil. There were good people amongst them, and they had valid reasons to want to leave the Republic.
Alas, this chance at peace was for naught due to the meddling of the Sith. Worse, Lux’s mother was assassinated by Dooku, leading Lux to fall in with the Mandalorian group Death Watch. Ashoka bailed him out, but then he joined a resistance group on his homeworld against the Separatists, and the two friends’ lives went in separate paths.
Then came the big moment that changed Ashoka’s life forever.
Loss of Faith in the Jedi
Late in the war, Anakin and Ashoka were recalled back to Coruscant. Someone had orchestrated a bombing of the Jedi Temple, killing several Jedi, Clones, and civilians. Ashoka managed to catch the one responsible, but then the woman admitted she was ordered to do it by someone else. Before Ashoka could learn more, the woman was Force-choked to death.
So the Republic now thought Ashoka was the mastermind, and things got worse when she was found with a group of already dead Clones. Ashoka had to go on the run but was eventually captured. And despite telling the Council that she was framed, they didn’t believe her. What happened next changed her life forever. They threw her out of the Jedi and left her at the Republic’s mercy to be tried by their courts. She came dangerously close to receiving the death penalty until Anakin came in and revealed the real culprit: none other than Ashoka’s best friend, Barris Offee. She did it because she’d become so disillusioned with the Jedi and wanted to point out how they had failed everyone.
Then, afterward, most of the Council had the gall to say the whole thing was her Great Trial for knighthood. They wanted to accept her back and act like they didn’t throw her to the Loth-Wolves. But Ashoka refused. Instead, she walked away from the Jedi for good. That decision ended up saving her life.
Order 66 and Forced into Hiding
Time passed, and Ashoka tried to find her way in the Galaxy. However, circumstances dragged her back into the Clone Wars she left behind. When she and Bo-Katan Kryze learned the former Sith Lord Maul was hiding on Mandalore, the two joined forces to capture the renegade. Reuniting with Anakin once more, Ashoka saw her Master one last time before he and Obi-Wan left to rescue the Chancellor at the Battle of Coruscant while she, Bo-Katan, and Rex went to capture Maul.
While their mission was a success, it became a moot point when Order 66 went down. Forced to flee from the Clones she fought alongside mere moments ago, Ashoka narrowly managed to escape death when their ship went down. Not before bringing Rex back to his senses, though. It was too late, though. The Empire had risen in the Republic’s place.
After the Empire rose, Ashoka tried to leave her past as a Jedi behind. However, her moral compass and the Empire’s reach meant she couldn’t stay quiet for long. When an Imperial Inquisitor came to the planet she was living on, Ashoka was forced to kill them in self-defense. After that, she couldn’t stay away from the fight.
Rebel Leader and Reuniting With Vader
Before she’d gone into hiding, Ashoka had been given the means to contact one of the Jedi’s strongest allies, Senator Bail Organa of Alderaan. The two would spend the next fifteen years covertly building resistance movements and rebel cells across the Galaxy, with Ashoka going by the code “Fulcrum.” Then, in 5 BBY, one such cell from Lothal, the crew of the Ghost, came onto the Empire’s radar. Especially when it was discovered that one member, Kanan Jarrus, was a former Jedi Padawan. When Kanan was captured by the Empire and his Padawan, Ezra Bridger, mounted a rescue, Ashoka led a Rebel Task Force to cover their escape.
This marked a turning point for the Rebellion, which began to unify and operate more openly. However, the crew of the Ghost was driven from Lothal by Lord Vader himself. As Vader pursued the Rebels, he realized that his former Padawan was alive…and Ashoka got her first hint of her Master’s fate.
There was no time to think about that at first. The Rebels had to find a new base and gain new allies. Thanks to the Ghost crew, they managed to bring Captain Rex out of retirement, letting him and Ashoka reunite for the first time in years. Despite this, Ashoka Tano remained troubled by how familiar Vader was. She knew the truth but didn’t want to believe it.
Things came to a head in the ancient Sith world of Malachor. There, Vader caught up with the Ghost crew, forcing Ashoka to confront the Sith Lord once and for all. Despite not wanting it to be true, Ashoka had no choice but to recognize that Darth Vader was her fallen Master, Anakin Skywalker. Ashoka refused to run away from her past once more, and the two engaged in a vicious duel while Ezra and Kanan escaped. Everyone presumed Ashoka to be dead, though.
Her Story’s Not Over Yet
It wouldn’t be years later, but it was eventually revealed that Ashoka didn’t die. Just as Vader would’ve struck her down, she was pulled into the World Between Worlds, a part of the Force from which one could access all of space-time. The person who pulled her in was none other than an older Ezra Bridger, who had found himself in the World Between Worlds. Together, the two stopped the Emperor from gaining access to this realm, but they were forced to return to their separate times. Nonetheless, Ashoka promised to find Ezra in the present day.
What happened to Ashoka next has yet to be told. However, she eventually got off Malachor and lived to see the fall of the Empire. By now, though, Ezra had gone missing. He sent himself and Grand Admiral Thrawn into unknown space to help liberate Lothal. Thus, Ashoka reunited with Ghost crew member Sabine Wren and began a quest to find the Jedi Padawan and bring him home.
Years passed, and Ashoka’s quest evolved into a search not just for Ezra but for Thrawn himself. Her quest brought her in contact with not just The Mandalorian and Baby Yoda but Luke Skywalker, son of her former Master, but she kept looking for Thrawn and Ezra.
What’s Next for Ashoka
There you have it. That’s more or less the full story of Ashoka Tano thus far. If you want to know some of the finer details, you’ll have to watch Dave Filoni’s works.
When we first met her, few could predict that Ashoka would become one of the best characters in the franchise. Yet she did it. She went from the unwanted tagalong to an absolute badass warrior. She’s become a legend in her own right, able to stand alongside decades-old characters like Luke, Han, Anakin, and Obi-Wan. Looking back, it’s pretty impressive.
The public has yet to know where Ashoka’s story will take her next. If we want to know that, we’re going to have to wait until August for the miniseries that sees her continue her quest for Thrawn and Ezra. One thing’s for sure, though: I’m glad to have seen her story from the very start. It’s been a wild and entertaining ride, and I can’t wait to see what happens.