If you’ve seen only the Star Wars live-action movies and none of the TV series, you may not know who Ahsoka Tano is.
The former Jedi was Anakin Skywalker’s padawan during the Clone Wars, set after the events of Star Wars: Episode II — Attack of the Clones and before Star Wars: Episode III — Revenge of the Sith.
She was introduced in the 2008 Clone Wars feature film, which kicked off the 133-episode animated series (which aired the first five season on Cartoon Network starting in 2008, following by a sixth season on Netflix in 2014 and a final season on Disney+ in 2020). She also has appeared in Disney+’s Tales of the Jedi and Star Wars Rebels and delighted fans with a live-action debut in the second season of The Mandalorian.
On Aug. 22, Disney+ will launch a live-action series set around the character (played by Rosario Dawson in the live-action series and voiced by Ashley Eckstein in the animated series). The show will premiere with two episodes at 6 p.m. PT.
“The character has found new legs with the work we’ve been doing, and a show called The Mandalorian really set that up beautifully,” said Dave Filoni, who created the series, at last summer’s D23.
Below, find a list of key episodes to watch to get to know the character, as curated by The Hollywood Reporter digital managing editor Kimberly Nordyke and her 14-year-old son (and Star Wars fanatic), Braden. (All episodes can be found on Disney+ through a subscription or for rent/download on various other streaming services.) This list is by no means comprehensive (yes, we realize there are other great episodes we could have included, but we know newcomers have so little time to catch up!), but it does give some insight into the character and her backstory.
Warning: Major spoilers ahead.
‘Star Wars: The Clone Wars’
Release date: Aug. 15, 2008
The animated feature film, directed by Dave Filoni and written by Henry Gilroy, Steven Melching and Scott Murphy, started out as a few episodes of the series, but George Lucas decided to weave them together into a theatrical film to launch the show. The plot introduces Anakin to Ansoka, his newly assigned apprentice, as they hunt down Jabba the Hutt’s kidnapped son. Anakin is reluctant to take on an apprentice, but has no choice. “You’re stuck with me, Skyguy,” she tells him, to which he responds, “Don’t you get snippy with me,” thus giving birth to their nicknames for each other: Skyguy and Snips.
Braden’s thoughts on why you should see this episode: “It’s important because she’s introduced as a character and has character development. Over the course of the show, you see how she changes after becoming Anakin Skywalker’s Padawan.”
‘The Clone Wars,’ Season 5, Episode 7: “A Test of Strength”
Premiere date: Nov. 10, 2012
Ahsoka is tasked with leading a group of younglings — including Petro, who appears in later episodes, and the Wookiee Gungi, who also shows up in Bad Batch — as they construct their lightsabers. But things go awry when Hondo Ohnaka and his pirate band intercept the Jedi training cruiser they’re traveling on. Ahsoka must use her leadership skills to get the younglings to safety.
Braden’s thoughts on why you should see this episode: “It shows how she has grown and is doing her part in maintaining the Jedi Order.”
‘The Clone Wars,’ Season 5, Episodes 17-20: “Sabotage,” “The Jedi Who Knew Too Much,” “To Catch a Jedi” and “The Wrong Jedi”
Premiere dates: Feb. 8, 2023; Feb. 15, 2023; Feb. 22, 2023; March 1, 2023
This four-episode, emotional story arc finds Ahsoka betrayed by a friend, leading to her being put on trial for crimes she did not commit after the Jedi Council refuses to believe her pleas of innocence and decides to expel her. She’s acquitted of the crimes, but she feels betrayed by the Jedi and, heartbreakingly, decides to leave the Jedi Order once the truth is discovered. (As a side note, all four episodes are named after Alfred Hitchcock films: Sabotage, The Man Who Knew Too Much, To Catch a Thief and The Wrong Man.)
Braden’s thoughts on why you should see these episodes: “They show how she is betrayed and expelled from the Jedi Order and how she loses her trust in the Jedi.”
‘The Clone Wars,’ Season 7, Episode 9: “Old Friends Not Forgotten”
Premiere date: April 17, 2020
Darth Maul has seized Mandalore, and Ahsoka teams up with Bo-Katan (Katee Sackhoff, who also plays the live-action character in The Mandalorian) to try to liberate the planet. Ahsoka reaches out to her former Master, Anakin, and Obi-Wan Kenobi to help, but she dismisses Anakin’s efforts at catching up, saying they have a mission to carry out. Later, Anakin and the clones, led by Captain Rex, surprise her by painting their helmets to honor her.
Braden’s thoughts on why you should see this episode: “It shows her reaction going back into working with the Jedi Order again.”
‘The Clone Wars,’ Season 7, Episodes 11-12: “Shattered” and “Victory and Death”
Premiere dates: May 1, 2020; May 4, 2020
These nail-biting series-finale episodes overlap with the events of Revenge of the Sith, including the moment when Palpatine executes Order 66, a directive to the clones to kill all Jedi. Ahsoka and clone Rex must escape a starship where the clone troopers are trying to kill them. They succeed, but the starship crashes on a moon. In a poignant ending to the series finale, years later, Darth Vader finds the spaceship, and Ahsoka’s lightsaber, which he ignites, presumably assuming her for dead, before he turns and walks away.
Braden’s thoughts on why you should see those episodes: “They are important because it shows her point of view when Order 66 is executed.”
‘The Mandalorian,’ Season 2, Episode 5: “Chapter 13: The Jedi”
Premiere date: Nov. 27, 2020
Ahsoka (played here by Dawson) makes her live-action debut in this episode of the Disney+ series, where she reveals key details to Din Djarin (Pedro Pascal) about Grogu’s backstory — including the youngling’s name. It turns out he had in fact been a youngling in the Jedi Temple when Palpatine executed Order 66, but he was saved by Jedi Master Kelleren Beq and spared the fate of so many others. Ultimately, Ashoka tells Din that she cannot train Grogu due to his attachment to Din but points him in the direction of a ruined Jedi temple where Grogu might be able to find a Jedi who will train him. Oh, and she and Din team up to defeat Imperial Magistrate Morgan Elsbeth and free the city of Calodan, despite the history of bad blood between their two peoples. “A Mandalorian and a Jedi? They’ll never see it coming,” Din says. Perhaps a reunion for the two is in store for Ahsoka?
Braden’s thoughts on why you should see this episode: “We see her returning to her Jedi ways and fighting to restore peace.”
‘Tales of the Jedi,’ Season 1, Episode 1: “Life and Death”
Premiere date: Oct. 26, 2022
We meet Ahsoka as newborn and then catch up with her as a toddler, where she exhibits signs of having the Force, namely by taming a sabertooth that’s ready to attack. After the villagers realize what she’s done, the village chief notes that Ahsoka is a Jedi.
Braden’s thoughts on why you should see this episode: “It shows her childhood and how she was strong with the Force from a young age.”
‘Tales of the Jedi,’ Season 1, Episode 6: “Resolve”
Premiere date: Oct. 26, 2022
Ashoka is living a quiet life on a farming planet following Order 66. But she reveals her secret when she saves one of the villagers, whose brother decides to report her to the Empire. An Inquisitor comes to find and kill Ahsoka (the Inquisitors’ job consists of hunting down any surviving Jedi and either killing them or recruiting them to serve as one of their ranks) and burns down the village. Ashoka kills him. But the incident has sparked something in Ahsoka, who summons Bail Organa and tells him she’s ready to join the rebellion in the fight against the Empire.
Braden’s thoughts on why you should see this episode: “It shows how she’s chosen a new view on the Empire. After being attacked, she decides that instead of running, she wants to become a rebel to stop the Empire from getting more control and lead it to its ultimate demise.”
‘Star Wars Rebels,’ Season 2, Episode 22 and Season 4, Episodes 12-13: “Twilight of the Apprentice,” “The Wolves and a Door” and “A World Between Worlds”
Premiere dates: March 30, 2016; Feb. 26, 2018
In a list filled with spoilers, the plot points in these episodes seem too spoilery to even describe here, so we won’t go into detail. But trust us: It involves a showdown with Darth Vader. That’s right, Ahsoka’s former Master, when he was known as the Jedi Anakin Skywalker. Need we say more? And viewers also will get to know Ezra Bridger (voiced by Taylor Gray), who shows up in the live-action Ahsoka (where he’ll be played by Eman Esfandi).
Braden’s thoughts on why you should see these episodes: “Darth Vader!”
Ashoka premieres at 6 p.m. PT on Aug. 22 on Disney+.