How Rosario Dawson's Ahsoka Tano Differs From Animated Versions of the Star Wars Jedi

By Tom Drew Posted:
Various incarnations of Ahsoka Tano, Rosario Dawson

Warning - This article contains spoilers for The Mandalorian Season 2.

Ahsoka Tano has quickly become one of Star Wars' most popular characters, with many calling her one of the most well-developed characters in the franchise. Originally portrayed by Ashley Eckstein, the character has appeared in a wide array animated series and has even gone on to appear in novels, comics, and films.

From deep dives into the Togrutan’s struggles in hiding from the Empire in the book Ahsoka (2016) to the more simplified rendition of her character in Star Wars: Forces of Destiny , Ahsoka has been interpreted and altered in many ways throughout her various appearances.

Fans were thrilled by the news that Rosario Dawson would be taking on the role in live-action, leading to speculation as to how Ahsoka would be portrayed. Now that "Chapter 13 - The Jedi" has graced the halls of Disney+, fans have been treated to an almost seamless transition from animation to full-fledged live action for Ahsoka Tano.

With a now expansive history associated with the character, one may wonder how Ahsoka has progressed over her journey through the galaxy. Here's where Ahsoka Tano came from and how her past stacks up to her appearance on The Mandalorian.


Ahsoka in Star Wars the Clone Wars Movie
Star Wars

Ahsoka Tano was first introduced into Star Wars canon in the 2008 animated film Star Wars: The Clone Wars , being brought in as the apprentice to Anakin Skywalker. This decision was deemed as essential for Anakin's story by the creative team, adding more responsibility to his character, providing greater insight into his desire to be given the title of 'Jedi Master' in Revenge of the Sith, and resulting in greater tragedy upon his turn to the Dark Side.

While the two were often at odds, Ahsoka and Anakin shared many similar personality traits. Both were incredibly rash when going into battle, using reckless combat techniques to often fruitful results (much to the dismay of their respective masters). The two were also a much more lighthearted pair in comparison to Obi-Wan's more orderly teaching style. Ahsoka's quick wit and 'snippy' comments quickly earned her the nickname 'Snips' from her master, who she jokingly referred to as 'Sky-Guy.' These remarks sometimes extended beyond her usual snark too. Ahsoka often questioned authority and Jedi protocols, a character trait that would be explored later on in The Clone Wars.

Ahsoka's naivety as a young Padawan has all but shed away in The Mandalorian, now being wiser than ever. Her reckless behavior seems to remain in some form though, as she has no issue with forging ahead into danger against the settlers of Calodan. Star Wars: The Clone Wars is also the first instance of Ahsoka's classic lightsaber technique of holding her blade backwards, which she has continued to use even when wielding two sabers. This fighting technique was inspired the Japanese film character Zatoichi, who bears a reverse samurai sword grip. Ahsoka has not forgotten this technique by any means, still incorporating it into her fighting style.

Ahsoka was notably entrusted with taking care of Rotta the Huttlet, and returning the young Hutt to his father Jabba. This plot sounds eerily familiar to one fans have been watching on The Mandalorian , where Din Djarin is tasked with caring for a young Grogu before delivering him to the Jedi. It's like poetry, it rhymes. While Ahsoka clearly has her own plans, one can only wonder whether she turned down Mando's demands to teach the Child because of her tumultuous experience with Rotta (or as she calls him, Stinky).


Ahsoka in Star Wars: The Clone Wars (Season 5)
Star Wars

Season 5 of The Clone Wars saw a major shift in Ahsoka's character, caused by an accusation that she orchestrated a bombing on the Jedi Temple on Coruscant. After being framed by fellow Jedi Knight and friend Barriss Offee, Ahsoka was expelled from the Jedi Order. Eventually, Ahsoka was proven innocent and officially pardoned by the Jedi Council, but the damage had already been done. This event caused Ahsoka to become disillusioned with the Jedi Order, leading to her leave her life as a Jedi to forge her own path.

After having seen aspects of the Clone Wars that conflicted with the notion that the Jedi were always morally right, this event was what finally pushed Ahsoka away from the Order. The bombing of the Jedi Temple started Ahsoka on the path that she is on now, neither identifying as a Jedi nor a Sith. While civilians in The Mandalorian still refer to her as a Jedi, Ahsoka still seems to be on her own journey separate from the Order. Her refusal to teach Grogu the ways of the Force likely stems from the hubris of the Council and how she saw the Jedi fail to prevent the creation of Darth Vader, a fact that was also acknowledged by Luke Skywalker in The Last Jedi . Because of this, Ahsoka is hesitant to share her Jedi teachings, in fear of sending another being on that dark path.

Ahsoka leaves the Jedi Order in order to stand own her own two feet, and she has clearly gotten closer to that goal that by the time she returns in "Chapter 13." However, while she is much wiser and in tune with the Force, it seems that she is still unsure about continuing the legacy of the Jedi beyond herself.


Ahsoka in Star Wars: The Clone Wars (Season 7)
Star Wars

The seventh season of The Clone Wars sees Ahsoka mature even further, having ventured off into the galaxy on her own. Her encounter with the Martez sisters demonstrated what impact the Clone Wars have had on regular civilians and how the Republic had failed in its duty to protect. Ahsoka also found herself briefly reuniting with the Jedi Order and the Republic, due to a request from Bo-Katan Kryze to reclaim Mandalore from Darth Maul. Although they were former enemies, Ahsoka's separation from the Jedi gave her better judgement in who to provide aid to, no longer having to consider politics or trade deals. Instead, Ahsoka was able to focus on the reason she was part of the Order in the first place: to help others in need.

Season 7 is where Ahsoka's fighting abilities really shine through, with her demonstrating how adept she has become with her dual sabers. The Togrutan Jedi held her own against Darth Maul, a formidable opponent that Ahsoka was able to make quick work of. This battle stands out in The Clone Wars by being fully choreographed and mo-capped, enabling the animation to fully display Ahsoka's impressive moves. These skills have continued to be sharpened, as Ahsoka is able to take on large groups of enemies with ease. In "The Jedi," she has learned even more tricks with her dual lightsabers, using them in creative ways to take down Magistrate Morgan Elsbeth's forces.

Ahsoka's appearance is much closer to how she looked in The Mandalorian, now having longer lekku (the appendages that come from her head) and vambraces similar to the ones found in "The Jedi." This is the first chronological time that Ahsoka has worn a head brace too, a part of her outfit that has continued to be incorporated in Star Wars: Rebels and The Mandalorian . Ahsoka has had dual lightsabers since Season 3 of The Clone Wars , bearing one lightsaber that is slightly shorter than the other. Originally having green blades, Ahsoka is now in possession of blue ones, edging her ever so slightly closer to the white blades she would eventually gain.


Ahsoka in Star Wars: Rebels (Season 2)
Star Wars

Ahsoka’s experiences in the novel Ahsoka (2016), where she first comes into contact with Bail Organa and the Rebellion, directly leads into her place in Star Wars: Rebels. After operating under the alias 'Fulcrum,' Ahsoka revealed herself to Ezra Bridger and co. in the animated series, now much older than her prior appearances. While not entirely taking on the role of teacher, she does offer guidance and wisdom to Ezra and Kanan along their journey. Many years on the run from the Empire and in aid of the Rebellion have taught Ahsoka much about how to fend for herself.

Nothing could have prepared her, however, for her encounter with Darth Vader on Malachor. This battle reaffirms to fans that Ahsoka is done with the Jedi Order, who confidently states "I am no Jedi." Her white lightsabers further convey this fact, bearing no colour to exist between the light and the dark. Both of these ideas would be carried over to The Mandalorian , where Ahsoka still maintains her white blades and somewhat rejects the Jedi title that is forced upon her by others. Star Wars: Rebels also introduces a move that was brought over to "Chapter 13," where Ahsoka points her lightsaber hilts together before igniting them.

While she still has faith in Anakin Skywalker, her former master seems to be too far gone. A fleeting moment where Vader utters a faint "Ahsoka" conjures back old memories and gives her hope that Anakin is still somewhere in that cold shell. Flashes of this tragic part of Ahsoka's backstory are seen in "The Jedi," when her wariness of Grogu's fear and anger causes her to reminisce on "what such feelings can do to a fully-trained Jedi Knight." While Ahsoka is finished with the ways of the Jedi, it is clear that many of their teachings and principles still influence her approach to others.

As Vader is now long gone by the time The Mandalorian rolls around, it would be interesting to see whether Ahsoka caught wind of Vader's demise and his turn to the light side. There is always the possibility that Anakin could visit Ahsoka as a Force ghost, so perhaps a translucent Hayden Christensen is in the cards later down the line.


Ahsoka in Star Wars: Rebels (Season 4)
Star Wars

After an uncertain fate in the Season 2 finale, Ahsoka briefly returned in the fourth season of the series. Here, she was plucked out of time through Ezra Bridger's usage of the World Between Worlds, saving her from a premature death at the hands of Darth Vader. As she is still the same Ahsoka from Season 2 in a temporal sense, she has not changed all too much from her fight with Vader.

However, Ahsoka does display how she has become more in tune with the Force, demonstrating her knowledge of how the dead can influence the living through the Force. She also displays a greater level of caution, being much more careful when entering the unknown. These traits have found themselves in Rosario Dawson's portrayal of the character too, who uses her knowledge of the Force to guide her and prevent her from venturing too far off the known path. While Ahsoka is still willing to help others in "The Jedi," she ultimately has to serve her own mission first and foremost.

Ahsoka's appearance in Star Wars Rebels differs quite a bit from her return in The Mandalorian , ditching her Jedi robes in favor of makeshift armor. Notably, Ahsoka's lekku are much longer in Star Wars Rebels, contrasting their shorter appearance in The Mandalorian . Crew members associated with the production attributed this change to accommodating for stunts, allowing greater freedom and movement.

Ahsoka was last seen in Star Wars Rebels now opting for white robes, which has clearly influenced her fashion sense in The Mandalorian . The character now bears a gray hood and robes, once again pushing this Gray Jedi narrative that Ahsoka exhibits.


Ahsoka in The Mandalorian
Star Wars

Finally, what Star Wars fans have all been waiting for, is Ahsoka’s portrayal in The Mandalorian. This is the first time a new actor has stepped into the role, with Rosario Dawson now playing the fan-favorite character in live-action. While Dawson is instantly recognizable as the character, both in appearance and performance, there have been a few updates to her character.

Her costume has seen an update, now sporting armor-hybrid robes similar to the ones worn by other Jedi during the Clone Wars. Ahsoka even sports a three-piece belt similar to that of Anakin and Obi-Wan, suggesting that, even though she isn’t a Jedi, she is still comfortable bearing their iconography. While Ahsoka has somewhat dismissed the Jedi Order, she is still referred to as a Jedi by many. It is likely that this is a consequence of others still giving her this title, which her lightsabers and outfit likely contribute to.

Ahsoka has gained a vast amount of knowledge of the Force over the years, but her experience with the Ghost crew and run in with Vader have certainly influenced her approach to other Force users. Gone are the days of Ahsoka's snarky comments, as she is now fully focused on her mission and has no time for messing around.

A younger, more naive Ahsoka may have taken on the challenge of teaching the foundling, but after everything that she has seen during the Clone Wars, the task is far too great for a disillusioned Jedi. While the prospect of another being from Yoda’s species is certainly enticing to her, Ahsoka has bigger issues at hand and is clearly set on finding Ezra at whatever cost in “Chapter 13.”

Ahsoka is notably alone when we find her in The Mandalorian , venturing in search of Grand Admiral Thrawn by herself. Ahsoka gained many friends and allies over her Star Wars journey, including Captain Rex, Ezra Bridger, Sabine Wren, and Bo-Katan Kryze, the latter of whom appeared in The Mandalorian herself. Why these characters have been scattered across the galaxy on their own quests is unknown, especially considering Ahsoka had teamed up with Sabine in order to search for the lost Ezra.

Ahsoka The Mandalorian animated comparison
Star Wars

Hopefully Ahsoka will be able to reunite with her former comrades either at a later point in The Mandalorian or in a separate spinoff series that focuses on her own adventures. In the grand scheme of things, Ahsoka Tano is still a relatively new character, so to see her progression into being granted the privilege to transition into live-action is nothing short of amazing. Despite being a recent addition to the galaxy, it still feels as though Star Wars has so much more to tell in Ahsoka’s story.

Whether Ahsoka Tano’s future returns to animation or continues in live-action, it can’t be denied that it is brighter than ever.

- In This Article: Ahsoka
Release Date
August 22, 2023
Mary Elizabeth Winstead
Natasha Liu Bordizzo
- About The Author: Tom Drew
Tom Drew is the Executive Editor at The Direct. Tom writes for The Direct's Marvel, Star Wars, and DC branches while specializing in all things movies, from blockbuster to indie darlings.