Dave Filoni On The 'Star Wars Rebels' Ending, Who Survives, And The Future Of 'Star Wars' Stories

The Star Wars Rebels finale raises just as many questions as it answers. I very much enjoyed this final installment of the Disney XD series, but am surprised that the story seems far from concluded. The ending even appears to feature a cliffhanger that teases a new adventure which could be explored in another Star Wars animated series or feature film. But was that the intention? Find out what showrunner Dave Filoni had to say about the Star Wars Rebels ending.

Star Wars rebels ending

What Happened In The Star Wars Rebels Ending

Spoilers for the ending of the finale of Star Wars Rebels coming up.

Ezra takes down General Thrawn with the help of his purgil (space whale) friends, seemingly sacrificing himself as the creatures take Thrawn's starship and make the jump to hyperspace. Were Thrawn and Ezra killed in this jump? We can make assumptions, but the answer is actually unknown.

The rest of the Ghost crew was able to blow up the Galactic Empire's facilities on Lothal, giving hope to the people of this world who overtook the remaining Stormtroopers on the ground. The city waited in fear for the Empire to return, but they never did. The final coda jumps six years forward in time, after the original trilogy in the Star Wars timeline, to introduce that Hera has a kid named Jason, the son of Kanan. Kallis and Zeb have become good friends.

But the final image is probably the most interesting. Sabine, through voiceover, says that she "used to think Ezra was counting on me to protect Lothal, the planet and people he cared for so much, but one day I realized there was more to it. There was something else I was meant to do. Ezra is out there somewhere, and it's time to bring him home." Sabine takes off with Ashoka into the galactic sunset on a new adventure.

Dave Filoni on the set of Star Wars Episode 8

Dave Filoni Explains The Happy Ending For Rebels

At the premiere of the Star Wars Rebels finale held at Walt Disney Studios on Friday night, Dave Filoni was asked by moderator Amy Ratcliffe about how he came to this conclusion for the series. Here was his answer:

"Well, the difficult thing is there is so much story at the end of this part of the story. I wanted people to understand that once they got rid of the Empire that there were expectations of a large battle that never happened because basically our story ends and then Scarif and the whole Luke Skywalker thing happens. When Luke happens, the Emperor's attention is completely refocused and things like Lothal, he had a series of defeats, but his entire plan of fear is based on having the Death Star. Now his trying to subject fear across the galaxy is completely inversed and now the Emperor is now afraid because that wasn't supposed to happen.

And so when evil starts to sense a series of events that aren't supposed to happen, they become afraid. Because the secret of every real villain is that they are the most afraid, and the reason they have accumulated this power is because they are terrified inside. And so they cause pain and devastation to compensate for this fear. So his fear of Luke Skywalker draws his attention away from Lothal and those people end up benefiting in the end.

So it ends up being a matter of timing. But I wanted to get through a part of the story that you understood the happy ending... So many people are obsessed with everyone dying. I've seen the original trilogy that people like so much and it's not like a death count type of movie. It's a rather positive outcome that I enjoy."

It's also interesting because he's able to get around the plot hole of "Ezra can't be alive because there were no Jedi when A New Hope begins" by essentially freezing Ezra in a theoretical carbon chamber for the entire timeline of the original trilogy. And in the ending, we are left with the realization that he could still be out there somewhere. And since it's after Return of the Jedi in this coda, it creates a loophole in Star Wars canon.

are Ezra and thrown dead?

Are Ezra and Thrawn Still Alive?

On The final episode of Rebels Recon, Dave Filoni does confim that Ezra Bridger and General Thrawn survive the climactic sequence in the finale. Asked where Ezra and Thrawn ended up, Filoni offered the following tease:

I've thought about that. It's one of those things where you go, I'd love to do an end credits scene but as tempting as that is, I go, if I ever cover that, I want to do it right and I dont want to commit to things right now because things might change. I have a lot of theories about it and what I think happens, where they are... I'll say this much, they're not dead — both of them, both Ezra and Thrawn survive it!

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Filoni on The Last Scene of Star Wars Rebels

As for the final moments of the episode, Filoni explains that he wanted to emulate the feeling he gets from some of the westerns and serials that inspired the Star Wars series:

"I've always felt that the best stories end and others begin. There's no better way than taking two of my favorite characters and have them ride off into the sunset like I've seen so many cowboys over the years, like Indiana Jones, and you just wonder like, 'What do they get to do?' I always like that in stories – one thing ends, another begins, and the story continues. That's a saga – so there you go!"

So the question now is, will we ever find out what happened to Ezra? Is he still alive? How about Thrawn? Where could we possibly explore this story further? Could this be Dave Filoni's next animated series? Will the adventure be relegated to the novels or comic books? Or could this be Filoni's chance for a big screen movie? We'll explore that question on the next page.

Ashoka in Star Wars rebels

Does The Star Wars Rebels Ending Tease A New Animated Series?

At the premiere, Star Wars superfan and actor Donald Faison (Scrubs) showed up at the mic to grill Filoni at the Q&A:

Donald Faison: So how soon can we expect a Sabine Wren / Ashoka Tano show? (Fans go crazy in response to the question) I had to go to the bathroom, so I'm not sure if you announced it already, or if you didn't talk about it, so I'm asking now.

Dave Filoni: Why? Would you watch that show?

(Fans again go crazy)

Tiya Sircar, who voices Sabine Wren in Rebels and was in attendance at the premiere/Q&A, said she's interested.

Dave Filoni: Ah yeah, I know you like it.

Donald: And is that in the works? Is it something you've talked about? Is it something that's gonna happen or is it just a tease for us to wish for but to never happen?

Dave Filoni: I don't know.

Donald: YOU DON'T KNOW?!?!

Dave Filoni: (hating to admit it) I do know. I know, I know, I know.

Clearly, Filoni has some plans and is keeping his plans close to the vest, as per usual.

Tiya: Can you tell some of us?

Dave Filoni: No. I've told you enough, and now it's all out, so you know nothing again, which it's much better that way. You know, obviously, it's intriguing. It would probably make a good story. And it would be a good idea. So I don't know. We'll have to see... there are so many stories to tell, Donald, and I've been too busy finishing this story to think of another one. And that would just be not right. Here's the crazy thing: I have to know what the story's about before I can tell it. I have...

Donald: You know what it's about: they're looking for Ezra!

(Fans go crazy again)

Dave Filoni: No, no no. It's gotta be more than that. So we'll see. (laughs) It's so clear to you. Let's talk later; we'll brainstorm. (laughs) You're so excited about it. That's so great!

Vanessa Marshall, who plays Hera Syndulla, spoke up and asked, "What about Hera and her baby mama?"

Dave Filoni: Yeah, who knows? Everyone could just start showing up, and it will be like we never ended the show. Alright, that's good, we'll see, you never know...

Filoni makes a good point here: if they were just going to continue Rebels after the original trilogy, why not just continue with Star Wars Rebels? That's why I believe whatever comes next has to be different. If it's an animated series, then it can't just bring back the remaining Ghost crew.

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Will It Be A Star Wars Animated Series Or A Live-Action Show Or Movie?

Later in the evening, another fan asked Filoni about his future plans – namely if he was going to be doing another Star Wars animated series next. Filoni responded:

"The future's always in motion, and I have a mortgage so I think it's safe to say I'll be doing something."

I think it's safe to say that Filoni has something planned on the horizon, but I guess it's just a matter of the medium. Will the Sabine/Ashoka story continue in animated form? Perhaps on Disney's upcoming streaming service launching in 2019? Or could we see Sabine and Ashoka cross the portal into live action, either as a standalone Star Wars movie or one of the live-action Star Wars TV shows that Walt Disney Company CEO Bob Iger has teased for the aforementioned streaming service?

Remember, Filoni was asked late last year about his next plans, teasing that he wants:

"...to keep pushing myself into areas that are challenging and new. I've had a lot of experience now interacting with live-action directors like Rian Johnson who's been really wonderful to me and showing me what their production is like. I want to celebrate stories, and it doesn't matter what medium it's in. I don't care — big screen, small screen — I just need space to tell a story. And do it as best I can. That's my goal in the end. So we'll have to see what form that takes in the future. ...But let's just put it this way. I learned from the best."

Looking at that quote makes me think Filoni's next project may be live action, but we're left to speculate until something official is announced.