Ahsoka Tano’s long-awaited live-action debut didn’t happen until halfway through season 2 of The Mandalorian – why did Dave Filoni wait so long?
Fan-favorite former Jedi Ahsoka Tano’s long-awaited live-action debut in The Mandalorian happened towards the end of its second season. Why did Dave Filoni, the co-creator of both Ahsoka and The Mandalorian, wait so long to introduce her? There are several likely and confirmed reasons for why Ahsoka wasn’t included as early as season 1, including a similar situation in one of Filoni’s previous shows: Star Wars Rebels. As shown by the first two seasons of both TV shows, Filoni ultimately made the right decisions as both a creator of Ahsoka and as a storyteller.
The first season of The Mandalorian largely kept itself at a distance from popular Skywalker Saga and TV characters. Aside from an at the time unconfirmed cameo by Boba Fett in Chapter 5, the only exception was the former torture droid EV-9D9, now working as a bartender in Mos Eisley. This allowed viewers to become accustomed to new characters like Din Djarin, Grogu (nicknamed “The Child” or “Baby Yoda” at the time), Cara Dune, and Greef Karga without the added baggage of returning characters like Ahsoka Tano or Luke Skywalker. Filoni’s Star Wars Rebels similarly focused on its new characters in season 1 before introducing fan-favorite returning heroes like Ahsoka. That said, it did include two major film characters: Lando Calrissian and Grand Moff Wilhuff Tarkin, but not at the expense of the new heroes.
By the time Ahsoka Tano appeared in The Mandalorian, viewers had already grown to love Din Djarin and Grogu, and seeing the two interact was a highlight of season 2. Though her appearance was brief, it had a profound impact on the series. Grogu’s real name and past as a member of the old Jedi Order were revealed, as was the confirmed survival of Grand Admiral Thrawn. Ahsoka’s introduction in The Mandalorian was also tied to several other surprise guest appearances from fan-favorite characters, such as Bo-Katan Kryze, Boba Fett, and Luke Skywalker. Similarly, Rebels made Ahsoka’s involvement in its second season tied to the reappearance of other fan-favorite characters like Captain Rex and Darth Vader.
In Disney Gallery/The Mandalorian: Making of Season 2, Dave Filoni says that the main reason why he didn’t include Ahsoka in season 1 was that he was worried that he’d mess up a character who is so important to fans and Filoni himself. Dave Filoni wanted to take his time with both The Mandalorian as a show and how he’d handle the live-action debut of Ahsoka before getting to work on her first live-action appearance in a way that honors her roles in Star Wars: The Clone Wars and Rebels. Filoni certainly made the right choice, because Chapter 13: The Jedi was received extremely well by viewers, especially longtime fans of Ahsoka Tano.
What The Mandalorian and Star Wars Rebels also prove, whether intentionally or not, is that taking the time to get viewers used to and invested in its new characters before introducing tried and true fan-favorites is also a wise move. Ahsoka and Captain Rex’s tutelage of Ezra Bridger is made all the more satisfying when Ezra already has a whole season’s worth of adventures and character development before meeting the Clone Wars-era heroes. Ahsoka’s connection to Grogu and brief partnership with Din Djarin was far more impactful because viewers became invested in the latter two characters over the course of the previous twelve episodes.