The Season 1 finale of Ahsoka is approaching, unfortunately with Season 2 not currently guaranteed. In fact, not much about the finale is guaranteed, including whether or not there will be a happy ending. Thrawn seems to have almost every advantage against Ahsoka and Co. on Peridea, and the New Republic is woefully unprepared for his return despite Hera’s best efforts. Yet I can’t help but be optimistic for a happy ending, and I’ve finally made up my mind about how Star Wars Rebels fans can get an uplifting moment that we deserve without undermining that show’s biggest tragedy. And it’s all thanks to how many times I watched Return of the Jedi as a kid…but there’s a catch.
The tragedy I’m referring to is the death of Kanan Jarrus, which packed an incredibly emotional punch despite the fact that his demise was almost inevitable as the young protagonist’s Jedi mentor in the Star Wars franchise. I’ve seen fellow fans hoping for Kanan’s return in Ahsoka in Force ghost form. Honestly, I’ve had my issues with that idea, but I think that kind of return could work if Ahsoka goes full Return of the Jedi in a very specific and iconic way. Before we get into that, though, I have a confession to make about why I’ve had reservations about Force ghost Kanan, even though he was my favorite Rebels character.
My Star Wars Confession: I Don’t Love Force Ghosts
Hear me out! This may be Star Wars blasphemy to admit, but I just don’t like Force ghosts when they majorly change the direction of the plot. Obi-Wan Kenobi's voice guiding Luke to use the Force to destroy the Death Star? Totally fine. Force Ghost Obi-Wan dropping by Dagobah to deliver a bunch of exposition in Return of the Jedi? A bit much. Luke and Leia appearing to Rey at the end of Rise of Skywalker? No problem. Luke having the full conversation with Rey that he did in Rise of Skywalker? No thank you. Even Qui-Gon’s fun cameo at the end of Obi-Wan Kenobi put me a little on edge, because it indicated that he'd be heavily working with Obi-Wan off-screen.
And I don't love Force ghosts quite simply because I prefer when a death can't be taken back. Death needs to matter in fiction if stakes are ever going to remain high, and coming back as a Force ghost can lessen the impact of an epic death. For all that The Last Jedi isn’t exactly in my Top 3 Star Wars movies, I thought that Luke had a fantastic last stand and a powerful death, complete with a beautiful score and a binary sunset. I didn’t need him back to pep talk Rey in Rise of Skywalker.
And as a Star Wars Rebels fan, I’ve felt ever since the episode aired in 2018 that Kanan Jarrus got one of the very best on-screen deaths in the franchise. He showed off some powerful Force moves, saved his family, and regained his eyesight to see the woman he loved one last time, and then died in a huge explosion. The scene was beautifully animated and scored. It was an incredible sacrifice that he made, and Kanan popping up to hang out with his family as a Force Ghost might lessen the impact for me.
But there’s a way that it could be perfect, and it originated way back in Return of the Jedi in 1983.
The Iconic Return Of The Jedi Moment
As any Star Wars fan worth their spice will remember, Return of the Jedi concluded with a very happy ending. All the main heroes lived, Luke brought Vader back to the light, the Emperor was dead, Han and Leia were in love, the twins knew they were siblings, John Williams was in fine form, and there was nothing to rain on their parade – or their Ewok dance party, as it were – with the sequel trilogy still decades away.
And it was made all the more emotional when the Force ghosts of Obi-Wan, Yoda, and an unburned Anakin Skywalker appeared to Luke. They didn’t speak with him or interact with him at all, so they made the scene more emotional with their presence without making the scene actually about them.
Of course, whether or not Darth Vader actually redeemed himself by the end is up for debate, but I’ve loved the ending to Return of the Jedi ever since I was a youngster watching the VHS copy with my older brothers and insisting that no, the Ewoks were not dumb. Even though the Force ghost use early in ROTJ doesn't entirely work for me, the three Jedi appearing to Luke was a great way to bookend the original trilogy.
Why It Makes Sense For Kanan
For all that Star Wars Rebels fans know that Kanan was so key to the lives of several Ahsoka characters that it’s downright weird they haven’t mentioned him, viewers who don’t know Rebels wouldn’t know Kanan if they saw him. He was only even name-dropped once, and that was by Huyang rather than Hera or Sabine or Ezra. Even if you’re a big fan of Force ghosts in a way that I’m not, Kanan appearing and interacting with characters in Ahsoka hasn’t really been set up. But I am totally on board with the idea of a Force ghost Kanan getting a cameo if and when the Ghost crew from Rebels finally reunites on screen.
Kanan speaking with any of them could lessen the impact of him giving up his life so they could go on, but Kanan looking on at his loved ones from afar in Force ghost form? I’m good with that. I could even go for eye contact between Kanan and Ezra or Kanan and Jacen. After all, Kanan died about ten years prior to the events of Ahsoka, so he won’t have any relevant exposition to drop a la Obi-Wan on Dagobah in Return of the Jedi or Luke in Rise of Skywalker or even Qui-Gon in Obi-Wan Kenobi. But he matters to the people he left behind.
Like how Obi-Wan, Yoda, and Anakin were important to Luke rather than the plot at the end of Return of the Jedi, Kanan’s importance to Ahsoka at this point is to the characters, not the plot in the slightest. A silent cameo with him looking on could be amazing, particularly if it’s paired with Ezra finally finding out about and/or meeting Jacen, and wouldn't need a ton of setup in the finale to make sense. He can come back as a Force ghost, with the ROTJ catch that he just doesn't speak or interact.
Who Could Play Kanan If He Appears?
A popular opinion that I’ve seen online is that it would be great if Freddie Prinze Jr. played Kanan in live-action, since he voiced the Jedi for Star Wars Rebels. Plus, Lars Mikkelsen was Thrawn’s voice actor before taking over the live-action role in Ahsoka, so there’s precedent. At the same time, Prinze has said that he doesn’t want to reprise the role. That doesn’t have to impact Kanan getting a Force ghost cameo, however. After all, none of the other main Rebels characters are played by their voice actors in Ahsoka, and Prinze doesn’t quite match Kanan physically. If Kanan does appear via Force ghost, he could well be played by somebody unexpected.
And I for one would be fine with that. The actors playing the Rebels characters have been great, as far as I’m concerned, and Eman Esfandi in particular is absolutely killing it as Ezra. If Kanan appears, I’m guessing that whoever plays him would work. Besides, for all that I can be a grouch about Force ghosts, what matters is how they're handled.
I love Return of the Jedi despite Obi-Wan coming back as a ghost to summarize the end of Revenge of the Sith for Luke to get the plot moving, and I will still defend those Ewoks. I was as hyped as anybody to see Liam Neeson in Obi-Wan Kenobi. Heck, play the right score over the scene, and Force ghost Kanan could come back with a battle plan against Thrawn. I'd even suspend the hell out of disbelief if Hera could somehow see him again. At the end of the day, I'm a Star Wars fan.
And in all seriousness, it's all speculation at this point, with no guarantee that the surviving Rebels characters will even be in the same galaxy by the time the final Ahsoka credits roll, let alone alive and unscathed enough for a happy reunion. I may have much bigger concerns than about Force ghosts when it comes to the finale, but for now, here's hoping that if Kanan makes an appearance, he gets the understated Return of the Jedi ending treatment. Find out if we Rebels fans get a happy ending of any sort in Ahsoka with the Season 1 finale on Tuesday, October 3 at 9 p.m. ET with a Disney+ subscription.