|Star Wars character|
Ahsoka in the costume introduced in the third season of The Clone Wars and used for the remainder of the show
|First appearance||The Clone Wars (2008)|
|Last appearance||Ahsoka (2016, novel)|
|Created by||George Lucas|
|Voiced by||Ashley Eckstein|
|Occupation||Jedi Padawan (assigned to Anakin Skywalker)
Commander (Grand Army of the Republic)
Ahsoka Tano is a character in the Star Wars franchise. Introduced as the Padawan apprentice of Anakin Skywalker (the future Darth Vader), she is a protagonist of the 2008 animated film Star Wars: The Clone Wars and the subsequent TV series. Ahsoka reappears in Star Wars Rebels, is the main character of an eponymous novel, and is featured in other Star Wars media.
Although initially not popular, Ahsoka developed into a well-rounded, complex character who received positive popular and critical reaction. Ahsoka serves as an important foil for Anakin Skywalker, and she has been highlighted as one of the stronger female characters in the franchise.
Creation and development
Ahsoka was developed to illustrate how Anakin Skywalker develops from the brash, undisciplined Padawan apprentice in Star Wars: Episode II – Attack of the Clones (2002) to the more reserved Jedi Knight in Star Wars: Episode III – Revenge of the Sith (2005). Star Wars creator George Lucas, who had two daughters, also wanted the character to appeal to girls. Early in development, Ahsoka's name was "Ashla".
Clone Wars supervising director and writer Dave Filoni wrote a fable about Ahsoka's early childhood to help develop the character. He imagined the discovery that she has "the right stuff" to become a Jedi would be a cause for celebration in her hometown. Filoni said he is protective of the Ahsoka character.
Giving Anakin responsibility for a Padawan was meant to place the character in a role that forced him to become more cautious and responsible. It would also give him insight into his relationship with his own master, Obi-Wan Kenobi, and depict how their relationship matured. Ahsoka and Anakin's relationship was seen as an essential story arc spanning both the animated film and Clone Wars television series.
Filoni initially struggled with writing Ahsoka because he had "zero perspective" on what it was like to be a 14-year-old girl. He therefore shifted his focus and instead wrote Ahsoka primarily as a Jedi who just happens to be an adolescent female. Filoni said he "has always had a story in mind" for Ahsoka's overall development. He began thinking about the final confrontation between Ahsoka and Vader ever since he created Ahsoka; different iterations had different endings, including one in which Vader kills Ahsoka just as she slashes open his helmet to reveal Anakin's scarred face.
Ashley Eckstein, who primarily voiced Ahsoka, said she and the writers were aware of audiences initially finding the character annoying, and that there was a "fine line" between Ahsoka being bratty and becoming endearing. Because production was a year ahead of what was broadcast, with Ahsoka developing over that time, Eckstein implored fans to be patient with the character's growth.
Although Ahsoka leaves the Jedi Order at the end of The Clone Wars' fifth season, the storyline initially had her return to the Order. Filoni said this would be the "normal" arc and suggested to Lucas that she instead remain expelled; Lucas agreed. Lucas believed Ahsoka survived "Order 66", the command that led the Republic's clone army to murder the Jedi.
The Fulcrum character introduced early in Star Wars Rebels was always conceived as being Ahsoka. Filoni, who serves as executive producer and co-creator of Rebels, worked with Lucas on identifying what Ahsoka would know about Anakin's fate. Filoni also collaborated with executive producer Simon Kinberg and season one executive producer Greg Wiseman on developing Ahsoka's role as a Rebel agent.
The show's writers were excited for Ahsoka's return in the second season, and Filoni was anxious about Rebels instead becoming "The Ahsoka Tano Show". Consequently, Filoni required that Ahsoka play a role in service of Rebels' main characters, Ezra and Kanan; he saw Ahsoka's new role as similar to the one played by Obi-Wan Kenobi in Star Wars. Although Ahsoka is more mature in Rebels, Filoni wanted "aspects of that kid who was there to shine through". He initially envisioned Ahsoka as a more "passive player" not engaged in combat, but later decided it was more appropriate to see Ahsoka as a warrior during a turbulent time. Ahsoka's presence was necessary to allow Darth Vader to encounter the show's lead characters without the latter being "destroyed"; Ahsoka can "stand toe-to-toe" with Vader.
Filoni cites fans' passion for the character as one reason for Ahsoka's prominence in Clone Wars and Rebels.
Eckstein said Filoni wanted her to bring some of her own personality into the Ahsoka character; he told her that her actions and speech between audition takes had a bigger impact on her getting the role than the actual audition. Once production on The Clone Wars began, it took about six months for Eckstein and the writers to understand Ahsoka well; consequently, much of the dialogue for the first half of season one was re-recorded to better depict the character. Eckstein also credits the casting of Matt Lanter as Anakin, which occurred halfway through the first season, with helping solidify the Ahsoka character.
Eckstein reprised the role of Ahsoka for Rebels, although she did not do all of Fulcrum's voice work. She learned about Ahsoka's return about a year before the first season's finale aired and said it was hard to keep it a secret. Eckstein said Ahsoka developed a quiet confidence and quiet strength the younger character doesn't possess, but sometimes she played Ahsoka too seriously; she pointed out that "snippiness" and determination are still part of Ahsoka's personality. Eckstein pitched her voice down a bit but, because she and Ahsoka were close in age, generally spoke like herself.
Not knowing Ahsoka's experiences between The Clone Wars and Rebels at times presented challenges for Eckstein's performance. Filoni avoids giving the actors plot details that might inappropriately affect their performance; for example, he did not tell Eckstein whether Ahsoka survives her duel with Darth Vader lest Eckstein telegraph something in her performance that the character would not know.
Ahsoka initially appears in what Wired called a "tube-top-and-miniskirt costume". In the third season, Ahsoka and other characters received new costumes. Filoni said the changes were meant to bring the show's aesthetic closer to Revenge of the Sith and were made possible by improved animation techniques.
Ahsoka's armor in Rebels is based on a "pseudo-samurai look" influenced by photographs of samurai women. The armor is meant to appear as if she found it in an ancient Jedi temple, and her lightsabers' colorless blades indicate she is neither a Jedi nor evil. Filoni said the white lightsabers appear much better than he anticipated. Her facial markings were changed to show that she has aged. It was "new ground" for the production team to shift Ahsoka's animation style to reflect her older age.
Star Wars: The Clone Wars film
Ahsoka first appears in the Clone Wars film as a 14-year-old Padawan apprentice newly assigned to Anakin Skywalker. Yoda assigns her to Anakin to teach him a greater sense of responsibility, and Anakin is initially frustrated by this decision. Their early interactions are "playfully contentious", with Anakin calling her "Snips" for her "snippy" attitude and Ahsoka calling him "Skyguy" as a pun on his surname. After earning Anakin's respect on a dangerous mission, Ahsoka joins him on a quest to rescue Jabba the Hutt's infant son. Her impetuous nature both annoys and endears her to her master, and, by the end of the film, Anakin reveals a newfound affection for his apprentice.
Star Wars: The Clone Wars TV series
Ahsoka is a lead character in all five broadcast seasons of The Clone Wars. She is a commander in the Republic army and continues to learn the ways of the Jedi as Anakin's apprentice. The two develop a mutual fondness, at times taking great risks to protect or save one another. Some of Anakin's actions taken out of concern for Ahsoka expose his darker tendencies, such as his torture of prisoners who may know her location when she goes missing. Ahsoka also finds mentorship from Captain Rex, a clone trooper with whom she and Anakin serve throughout the war. During the final arc of season five, Ahsoka is framed and imprisoned for a deadly explosion and a subsequent murder. Although eventually exonerated, she is frustrated with the Jedi Council and leaves the Jedi Order in the season finale. Filoni said Ahsoka surrendered her lightsabers to the Jedi. Filoni said an initial finale concept for Clone Wars would have had Rex escape Order 66, and their presence elsewhere would have explained both characters' absence from Revenge of the Sith.
Star Wars Rebels
Ahsoka is a secretive rebel agent in the first season of Star Wars Rebels, which takes place 14 years after The Clone Wars concludes. Operating under the codename "Fulcrum", she provides the rebel crew of the Ghost with intelligence and supplies. Until her identity is revealed in the season finale, she disguises her appearance by using an altered voice and appearing as a hooded hologram.
She becomes a recurring character in the second season, continuing to help lead a group of rebel forces and working with the Ghost's crew. Having assumed that Anakin died like most other Jedi at the end of the Clone Wars, she is overwhelmed to recognize her mentor under "a layer of hate" in Darth Vader. Later in the season, a vision of Anakin blames her for leaving him and allowing him to fall to the dark side. In the season finale, Ahsoka duels with Darth Vader inside a Sith temple, allowing her friends from the Ghost to escape Vader and the temple's destruction. As the episode concludes, she is briefly shown walking through the temple's ruins. Filoni said Ahsoka's fate is ambiguous and "a bit open-ended", and Eckstein believes the character is still alive.
Filoni said he does not want Ahsoka thought of as an animated character, but rather as a Star Wars character who can exist "in all forms of media". Ahsoka is a playable character in a variety of video games, and several novels feature the character. At Star Wars Celebration Europe 2016, Filoni, Eckstein, and Lucasfilm Story Group member Pablo Hidalgo held a panel about Ahsoka's "Untold Tales" that occur between The Clone Wars and Rebels. Filoni said E. K. Johnston's Star Wars: Ahsoka novel, which depicts Ahsoka's life between The Clone Wars and Rebels, makes several references to these stories. Filoni was heavily involved in developing the novel, and cover art shared at the Celebration panel is based on a sketch he created several years previously.
After her introduction, some critics called Ahsoka annoying and predicted the character would die before The Clone Wars series ended because she does not appear in Revenge of the Sith. The Los Angeles Times called Ahsoka a "carefully calculated-to-be-cute" character in The Clone Wars film. Wired criticized Ahsoka's "half-naked" appearance in The Clone Wars' first two seasons, calling her third-season costume change "more appropriate". Blastr said Ahsoka's initial immaturity gives the character room to grow, saying she becomes "a well-rounded and complex character in every sense". Ahsoka's youth aided her in being a point-of-view character for younger viewers. io9 called Ahsoka's development arc one of the best aspects of The Clone Wars, highlighting the character's role in exploring the nuances of war and the flaws of the Jedi Order. According to Tech Times, Ahsoka's maturation and development mirror the show's, and the producers chose wisely in making Ahsoka the audience's "entry point" to The Clone Wars. Chris Taylor called Ahsoka's decision to leave the Jedi Order "the show's most shocking cliffhanger". Ashley Eckstein was nominated for the 2012 and 2013 "Best Female Lead Vocal Performance in a Television Series - Action/Drama" awards from Behind the Voice Actors.
The Mary Sue said Ahsoka's relationship with Anakin is critical in understanding his development between Attack of the Clones and Revenge of the Sith, and the publication called Ahsoka a foil for Anakin's growth. Blastr commented that Anakin's interactions with Ahsoka help show that he is a powerful Jedi and war hero. Blastr also hypothesized that Anakin's sense of failure when Ahsoka leaves the Jedi contributes to his fall to the dark side; io9 posited that Anakin might have succeeded in reforming the Jedi if Ahsoka had stayed with him. io9 said Ahsoka, more than Anakin, articulates moral guidance in The Clone Wars.
Blastr identified Ahsoka as one of the most important characters in Star Wars, especially for young girls who, until that point, had not seen a potent female Jedi depicted on screen. Erika Travis of California Baptist University said Ahsoka is "compassionate and feminine, without being overtly sexualized". Peter Lee called Ahsoka a feminist icon, adding that Ahsoka is one of several characters that make The Clone Wars superior to the original and prequel trilogies in depicting strong females. Lee added that Ahsoka probably shows the most growth of any female in the Star Wars canon.
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