The Clone Wars Creator Dave Filoni Used To Tease Ashley Eckstein About Ways Ahsoka Could Die

"The Clone Wars" is one of the best things to ever happen to "Star Wars." It reinvigorated the franchise and introduced the galaxy far, far away to a whole new generation, but it also improved what was already on the screen, fleshing out characters and stories and expanding their scope. Anakin suddenly became the tragic figure he was originally meant to be, the hero we were led to believe he was. Meanwhile, the Clone Troopers became distinct characters with different personalities. The show even filled in plot holes and expanded the lore in fascinating ways, like the Ghost of Mortis arc or bringing Darth Maul back from the dead.

Arguably the biggest contribution "The Clone Wars" gave the franchise at large was the character of Ahsoka Tano. First introduced as Anakin's padawan, she grew from a rash, precocious kid with a lot in common with her master, to one of the most complex Jedi in all of canon. She is a character who learned the flaws of the Jedi, got disillusioned with the order, and became the first Jedi we saw who called it quits (at least without going to the dark side). 

However, before Ahsoka became one of the most beloved characters in the "Star Wars" universe, she was believed to have a sealed fate from the day she arrived on screen. Even one of Ahsoka's creators, Dave Filoni, would tease voice actor Ashley Eckstein about the Jedi's potential fate. 

"[Dave Filoni] would always tell me theories of how Ahsoka would die," Eckstein said during a rather emotional retrospective panel for "The Clone Wars" at Star Wars Celebration 2023. "I kid you not, it's like after the first season, he's like, 'Hey, come here. So let me tell you, I came up with a storyline of how Ashoka dies,' and then he tells me."

More than a padawan

According to Eckstein, "In the beginning, the number one question the fans would ask me is, 'How is Ahsoka going to die? Because she has to die before episode three.' But I would always say 'Well, does she? does she have to die?'"

This was the easy assumption, simply because Ahsoka didn't show up "Revenge of the Sith." It was just easier to assume she didn't matter to the larger story than to come up with a narrative that would make her retroactively fit, to think Ahsoka's entire purpose was to telegraph Anakin's fall to the dark side a bit sooner.

As Eckstein tells it, Filoni would often come up with different yet equally gruesome and tragic deaths for Ahsoka. "At one point you had Ventress kill Ahsoka," the actor revealed. "And I had to deal with this, the emotional turmoil of hearing it."

Then there was the time Darth Vader did the job, which would have been rather tragic but poetic. "That one was really cool," Filoni said. "I mean, you gotta admit that would have been gripping television."

More than a Jedi

But then things changed. The longer the show went, the more pivotal Ahsoka felt, not only to Anakin's story but to the franchise as a whole. With this, the question of where Ahsoka was during "Revenge of the Sith" became not just an afterthought, but a genuine concern. 

"At some point, the tide turned, and no one asked me how Ahsoka was going to die," Eckstein continued. "They all said, 'Ahsoka lives, right?' and at some point [Dave Filoni] stopped sharing theories of how Ahsoka died, and I was like, 'Yes! Dave is going to make her live!'" But if Ahsoka lived through "The Clone Wars," someone else had to die. 

"And then [Filoni] started talking about Satine," said James Arnold Taylor, the "Clone Wars" voice of Obi-Wan Kenobi, igniting thunderous applause. 

Much like Kim Wexler in "Better Call Saul," the most interesting conclusion for these characters' stories became, what if they lived, but were unable to change things? It wasn't just that Ahsoka left the order, which helped make Anakin more disconnected from the Jedi and more vulnerable to Palpatine's manipulation. What was really heartbreaking was seeing Ahsoka almost able to stop Anakin from heading to Palpatine's office and turning to the dark side in the final episodes. 

The fact that Dave Filoni and the writers were able to find a way to bring Ahsoka back in the timeline after the original "Star Wars" trilogy, thanks to "The Mandalorian," is truly great. Now Ahsoka is as integral to "Star Wars" as Obi-Wan, and like just like her former mentor's Jedi Master, she is now about to lead her own TV show.