hen I was a kid, I, unfortunately, didn’t have the opportunity to watch many of the Star Wars movies in theaters. I was just two-and-a-half years old when I saw Attack of the Clones and five-and-a-half when I saw Revenge of the Sith. I was old enough to remember going to see them in theaters but not old enough to remember what that experience was like. Instead, the first movie I vividly remember watching in theaters was Star Wars: The Clone Wars.
My “First” Star Wars Movie
Like many children who grew up with Star Wars, I was obsessed with it. I remember owning many Star Wars action figures and ships, including a very large Millennium Falcon. But my favorite was a toy of Luke’s X-Wing. When I heard that a new Star Wars movie was coming out in 2008, I remember asking my parents continuously if we could watch it during the opening weekend — something my parents never liked doing — because I was so excited. I couldn’t wait two to three weeks later to go see it, like how we normally would. It was also around the time of my birthday, which made me want to go see it even more.
I remember being sick at the time but not telling my parents because I desperately wanted to see the movie. A rising temperature and a sore throat weren’t going to hold me back. Instead, I sat in the theater surrounded by my family, bundled up in a sweater, having popcorn and soda, and enjoying my “first” Star Wars movie in theaters. Little did I care that the movie was being lambasted critically. I read many negative reviews at the time, including one from Roger Ebert, who gave the movie an extremely low rating of one-and-a-half stars. But it was a Star Wars movie, and that was all a child could ask for.
Even though I was initially excited at the idea of watching a Star Wars movie, I think my little childhood brain had difficulty understanding what I was watching. As a fan of the original 2003 Clone Wars animation, I asked myself, “Was it a prequel?” “Was it a sequel?” And
“Who is this new character, Ahsoka?” And “Why are they going after a baby Jabba?”
I was confused by the movie until I found out that the movie was an introduction to a series that would later come out on Cartoon Network. It was then that I fully understood what I was in for: even more Star Wars.
Watching The Animated Series
Following the movie, I remember watching the TV series very zealously, checking the TV guide ahead of time, and always sitting in front of the TV with anticipation minutes before an episode would start. For every single episode, I was like this, including the reruns. I’d also record the episodes on my DVR so that I could go back and rewatch them when I wanted to. There were plenty of nights on the weekend when I would stay up late watching old episodes of The Clone Wars before the new ones dropped. I also remember watching them with my oldest brother and my dad, and how we collected even a few of the toys. I had a toy Ahsoka, and my brother had a toy Cad Bane, who was his favorite.
At the time, it was all the Star Wars I had. The Clone Wars series — especially the very early episodes — may not be people’s favorites. But I was young at the time, and there weren’t other Star Wars shows or movies coming out that I could’ve watched like there are now. But I think part of the reason why I gravitated to The Clone Wars so much was because the show was made for me. I was its target audience.
My Childhood Friend
The character of Ahsoka was created with younger audiences in mind. Ahsoka was meant to be a character that kids could relate to. She was meant to be the eyes that they got to experience Star Wars through. And it worked. Part of the reason why I gravitated so much to Star Wars: The Clone Wars was because of Ahsoka Tano — because she became my childhood friend.
I remember often putting on Star Wars: The Clone Wars as soon as I got home from school. On tough days, maybe when other kids had picked on me, or when a teacher had chewed me out in front of everyone else in class, I’d put on The Clone Wars, and it would always help pick me up. Hearing the initial opening theme would always brighten my day a bit. And I’d always happily hum along to the music at the end during the credits. And I remember watching Ahsoka go through similar experiences that I was going through in real life.
The lessons she was being taught were some of the same ones that were being instilled in me in real life: learn to be patient, listen to your elders, accept correction, and so forth. For example, in “Holocron Heist,” the first episode of season 2, I remember watching Ahsoka face the consequences of her disobeying orders. And I remember how she had to talk with those on the Jedi council — the adults in her life — about how to repair the damage she had done. It’s a situation every child has or has had to experience before. The show somehow didn’t make me feel like I was alone. It felt like someone understood what I was going through at the time. I also wanted to be like Ahsoka and be a Jedi, fighting bad guys and fighting alongside other cool aliens and lightsaber-wielders.
As a kid, I also had a toy lightsaber. It was a replica of Yoda’s lightsaber that I would swing around in my living room and fight imaginary battle droids with. I grew up in a small, cramped apartment, and it was a miracle that I never broke anything. But as I was going through these made-up battles in my mind, I also imagined myself fighting alongside Ahsoka. She and I would go on battles, fighting alongside Master Skywalker and Master Kenobi, fighting bad guys like Darth Maul and General Grievous.
But eventually, the series came to an end. Ahsoka had to leave the Jedi order. And eventually, Star Wars: The Clone Wars stopped airing on television.
I remember the day I saw Ahsoka leave the Jedi order. It’s the last episode of Season 5, and I remember the initial glee I felt seeing her leave because it meant she could’ve possibly escaped Order 66. It meant she was probably still alive. But after she had left, and after it was announced that they would end the show soon afterward, heartbreak had set in. I realized I was no longer going to see my childhood friend.
It felt like when school friends found out that one of them was leaving home and being transferred to another school. When will I ever see you again? Will we ever be able to hang out again?
A few years passed, and I did, in fact, see Ahsoka again in Star Wars: Rebels. But it wasn’t the same as when I was a young child. This isn’t to say that this version of Ahsoka was bad; it’s just that she was different — different from what I had remembered. She was much older, wiser, and more experienced. I was still relatively young at the time, just entering high school, and now Ahsoka was an adult — much older than I was. Ahsoka was different, and so was I. And so I moved on with my life, thinking that that childhood friend I grew up with was probably gone.
Life went on, and I graduated from high school, made new friends, went through heartbreaks, got into college, and never really thought about my childhood friend again. I thought that she wasn’t ever really coming back. I had moved on, grateful for the stories I did experience with that character, but never actually revisiting them. And I certainly never thought there were more stories from her younger days. But in 2018, I was proved wrong.
At that year's San Diego Comic-Con, a seventh season of Star Wars: The Clone Wars was announced, and a trailer was shown to the public. I wasn’t even looking for the trailer. I hadn’t searched for it. I didn’t even come across it on my social media feed or any news websites I frequented. The trailer was just recommended to me by the Youtube algorithm. In the final closing shots of that trailer, I got to see my childhood friend again.
Dressed in the blue Mandalorian outfit, I recognized my friend. She was also around the same age as me again. Younger than she was in Rebels but older than in The Clone Wars, it felt like staring into a mirror. I saw how an old friend had grown up with me, and I also realized that I had grown up with her as well.
Watching Star Wars: The Clone Wars season 7 was like catching up with an old friend. How are you? What have you been up to? Are you staying for a while? The season was also released in 2020, at the height of the COVID-19 pandemic. It was perfect timing as I, like many individuals during lockdown, felt the desire to connect with old friends.
Sadly, however, season 7 also came to an end, and I was left questioning whether I’d see Ahsoka again. It felt like she had just come back, and before I knew it, she was gone again. But that still wasn’t the end of her story.
Rumors swirled around the internet during the summer of that year that Ahsoka would be making an appearance in The Mandalorian season 2. But it wasn’t until Bo Katan said these words in The Mandalorian season 2, episode 3, that I truly believed it: “Take the foundling to the city of Calidan on the forest planet of Corvus. There you’ll find Ahsoka Tano.”
I remember watching that moment with my dad at home, sitting on the edge of my seat, waiting the entire episode for her to name-drop my friend throughout that episode. And when Bo-Katan said those words, I gasped. I gasped so loudly that I put my hand to my mouth, barely containing my excitement. And after the credits rolled, I texted my friends enthusiastically, telling them to watch the recent episode. I went into my room, closed my door, and jumped from wall to wall. I even bought the Black Series toy of Ahsoka soon after to display on my desk. Star Wars: The Clone Wars wasn’t the end of Ahsoka’s story. I was going to see Ahsoka once more in The Mandalorian, and I didn’t have to wait too long.
Not long after, I watched episode 5 of The Mandalorian season 2 first thing in the morning with my dad when it was released. I sat there in awed silence as my childhood friend I had seen go through so much had finally made it to live-action and in front of perhaps the largest audience to have ever seen her. She had made it.
In the final moments of that episode, a music track plays in the background as Ahsoka simply turns away from the camera and walks off into the distance. The music track is titled “Ahsoka Lives.” The scene is a recreation of when Ahsoka leaves the Jedi temple in the season 5 finale of The Clone Wars. There, Ahsoka also walks away from the camera and off into the distance.
The track in The Mandalorian episode is based on one titled “Ahsoka Leaves,” the theme that plays when Ahsoka leaves the Jedi temple in The Clone Wars. The same music that I listened to as a kid when I said “goodbye” to my childhood friend I was now listening to again as an adult. This time, the music was in a more upbeat and triumphant key. With water in my eyes and my hands shaking, the credits rolled, and I knew then that my childhood friend wasn’t going anywhere. She was truly alive and finally here to stay.
My story may sound silly, but I hope everyone reading has a friend — real or fictional — that they can connect with and experience life with like I do with Ahsoka Tano. And I also hope that my story gives hope, just like how Ahsoka gives me hope. Ahsoka gives me hope because she continues showing me that true friends and people we love will always find a way back to one another. She shows me that we can and will see the friends we haven’t seen in years again. She shows me that we can always connect with others, even when they are distant from us. Ahsoka shows me that we will see them, perhaps even sooner than we may realize.
Editor’s Note: This post is adapted from a script prepared for an upcoming Patreon exclusive podcast focusing on our favorite Star Wars memories. If you’re not a member of our Patreon and would like access to exclusive content before the general public while supporting Youtini, head over to https://www.patreon.com/youtini.
Notice: This piece was written during the 2023 WGA and SAG-AFTRA strikes. Without the labor of the writers and actors currently on strike, the character being covered here wouldn't exist.