Ahsoka is quietly bringing in elements of Star Wars’ Legends continuity never seen before in live-action. The first two episodes of Ahsoka have made subtle references to the Old Republic period. This gestures at a greater sense of a historical timeline within the Star Wars canon that future projects can follow up on. For fans frustrated by Star Wars’ focus on canonical stories lately, the return of Legends characters, events, and themes marks a hopeful future for the franchise.
The merging of Legends lore with Star Wars’ canon television shows is an unexpected development. In 2014, after Disney’s acquisition of Lucasfilm, they removed existing novels, video games, comic books, and other non-mainline Star Wars films or the 3D animated Clone Wars television show from canon. Disney placed them under a new banner called “Legends.” With old stories out of the way, Disney was free to construct their sequel trilogy and new slate of video games, comic books, and novels without any burdens. While some characters, like the cyborg bounty hunter Beilert Valance, have managed to cross over from Legends into canon media, there are still hundreds of unused characters waiting in the wings.
The creation of Legends purged considerable portions of the historical timeline before and after the Skywalker Saga in the Star Wars universe. Legends had stories ranging from 37,000 years before Episode IV: A New Hope, to at least 140 years after Episode IV. There were wars and important origin stories that helped elucidate the political climate of the Skywalker Saga and beyond. While many Legends novels and comics are still in print today, the loss of their canonical status dealt a heavy blow to longtime fans. These stories sustained their love of the franchise for decades.
As a result, one problem for Star Wars under Disney has been the historical vacuum that the films, television shows, and video games take place in. Star Wars has always chronicled a political struggle and its effects on people throughout the galaxy, but the status quo of these conditions certainly arise from something. Just a cursory glance at history will reveal that the past often luminates the future, no matter how distant. This is precisely what drove scores of writers and storytellers to construct these narratives in Legends to begin with.
But now, with Ahsoka Tano (Rosario Dawson) making the jump to live-action, Star Wars has increasingly sprinkled elements of Legends into official canon, perhaps to remedy this problem. The Old Republic, originally in Legends, spanned 5,000 to 67 years before the events of Episode IV. One of the most important stories set during the Old Republic was the 2003 video game, Knights of the Old Republic. It introduced Darth Revan, a human Sith who later reformed himself as a Jedi. Also important to note that Revan quietly joined canon in Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker Visual Dictionary. As it turns out, elements of Knights of the Old Republic and its novel spinoff, The Old Republic: Revan by Drew Karpyshyn, are making their way into official Star Wars canon.
Ahsoka begins with the former Jedi fighting a team of fearsome droids, later revealed to be the HK class of droids in episode 2 (“Toil and Trouble”). The show goes as far as to confirm that the HK class are “assassin droids.” While Ahsoka and Hera’s (Mary Elizabeth Winstead) conversation at the shipyard may seem ordinary, it officially canonized the HK droids from Knights of the Old Republic. Fans will remember the droid HK-47, an ally of Revan with a comically homicidal personality. Ahsoka’s HK droids look considerably different from that of Knights’s, but it’s a design choice that makes sense. HK-47 originates at least 3,954 years before A New Hope.
The confirmation of HK droids in Ahsoka also affirms their previous, unnamed appearance in season 2 of The Mandalorian. In episode 5 of the season (“The Jedi”), HK droids are bodyguards for Morgan Elsbeth (Diana Lee Inosanto). Coincidentally, Morgan mentions to Ahsoka in the episode that Mandalorians and Jedi have historically been enemies. This fact refers to the Mandalorian Wars outlined in Knights of the Old Republic and Revan.
The Mandalorian Wars are another vital piece of Old Republic Legends lore. The combatants were the Jedi and the united Mandalorian clans, whose leader, Mandalore the Ultimate, had attacked the Republic. The war ended in a bitter defeat for the Mandalorians. They became leaderless and splintered across the galaxy after Revan hid the central symbol of their culture, the Mask of Mandalore. As the Revan novel explains, the Mandalorian culture never recovered from this loss. With this historical context in mind, the effects of the Mandalorian Wars certainly help to explain the state of Mandalorian culture in The Mandalorian.
Ahsoka Tano’s live-action counterpart has ushered in a slew of elements from the Old Republic into official Star Wars canon. Considering no canon movie, television show, or video game takes place during anywhere near the time of the Old Republic, Ahsoka is paving the way for an essential part of Star Wars history to be canonized. This is especially important considering that next year’s Star Wars show, The Acolyte, will be set during The High Republic. The High Republic, the period before the prequel trilogy, has some chronological overlap with the Old Republic, as defined by the Legends timeline.
Could some of the Old Republic threads left by Ahsoka be followed up on in The Acolyte? Only time will tell. Given the trail of hints in Ahsoka and The Mandalorian, if fans wish to know what lies ahead in the future for Star Wars, perhaps they should look to the past.