Star Wars: Rebels has more connections to the franchise’s greater lore than any other show or movie, with these being the coolest of them all.
There are many components to Star Wars: Rebels that make it one of the most underrated projects in the Star Wars canon, but one of the most significant ways in which it is overlooked is how connective it is. Fans of the show who have loved the storytelling and characters throughout have been treated to a slew of references, details, and easter eggs that connect it to the wider on-screen Star Wars.
The show is filled to the brim with connective tissue, from technology to story callbacks to locations, and so many of them, whether they be significant or more subtle details, are such cool Star Wars connections for fans.
A Bunch Of Characters
Rebels has such a fantastic catalog of characters throughout its four seasons. There is, of course, a slew of great original characters in the show, some of the best in canon, but there are so many who appear in the show that comes from other on-screen properties.
Ahsoka, Captain Rex, Darth Vader, Hondo Ohnaka, Maul, and Wilhuff Tarkin all have significant roles in the show. Beyond those, characters like Mon Mothma, Bail Organa, the Emperor, Yoda, various rebels, Wulf Yularen, Lando Calrissian, Leia Organa, Saw Gerrera, Obi-Wan, Bo-Katan Kryze, and more all appear. It would be easy for many of these appearances to have been poorly done. But, while a couple of them were not amazing, the characters were all cool to see, adding a layer to the show and being incredibly fun for fans.
Yavin IV Rebel Base
Set during the rise of the rebellion, Rebels has so many fantastic original trilogy/Galactic Civil War connections; not least of all is Yavin IV’s iconic rebel base and the various rebels who work there.
The rebel base on Yavin IV only appeared in one original trilogy movie but was a crucial and beloved location. Seeing it again in Rebels and Rogue One was a joy, especially when it was utilized by the likes of heroes such as Mon Mothma, Bail Organa, General Dodonna, and many others whom fans love.
Speaking of Rogue One, that movie is a crucial point in the Galactic Civil War, and with Rebels set not too many years before it and the movie released during Rebels’ run, the show fits in references.
The best is the reference from Tarkin, where he talks about Project Stardust and Orson Krennic’s role in the project. What is so great about that connection is the fact that Thrawn’s time in Rebels is spent formulating his own project, the TIE Defender program. With Tarkin pointing out the cost of time and resources in Project Stardust, Thrawn’s program, had he completed it successfully, could have been preferred by the Emperor, changing the course of Star Wars.
Kanan Jarrus is one of the very best characters to come out of the Disney-era of Star Wars. His arc throughout Rebels is incredible, and the more fans get to know about the character, the better he is.
In season 1, the Grand Inquisitor taunts Kanan, asking if he remembers his Master’s [Depa Billaba] last words to him, with Kanan finally admitting those words were “Run.” as she died during Order 66. Up until recently, this acted as a connection to Kanan’s wonderful self-titled comic run. In the first episode of The Bad Batch, though, fans see this play out as Order 66 is unleashed on Billaba, who tells Kanan, in her last words, “You must run. Run, Caleb.”
Geonosis & The Death Star
One arc in Rebels sees the Specters go to Geonosis in search of Saw Gerrerra’s lost team and answers to what had happened to the planet, eventually finding Saw alongside a singularly surviving Geonosian.
Geonosis is obviously a connection to the prequel trilogy, but what makes it even more important is the fact that Klik-Klak, the Geonosian, was trying to tell the rebels about the Death Star, drawing it on the ground for them. Geonosians were the original builders of the Death Star and were wiped out at the behest of Tarkin in order to keep the battle station under wraps.
Ahsoka Tano is a fantastic part of Star Wars: Rebels, joining the show at the end of season 1, for season 2, and shortly again in season 4. She never came alone, though.
Morai, a Convor with some sort of cosmic, spiritual connection to the Daughter, joined Ahsoka throughout, always in the background. The same can be said for Ahsoka during her appearance in The Mandalorian, with Morai subtly visible in the sky. Even ignoring the Daughter’s connection, Morai is also connected to The Clone Wars, given her flying above Vader’s head in the finale.
“From The Battle Of Christophsis To The Siege Of Mandalore.”
Sticking with Ahsoka Tano-related connections in Rebels, at the time season 2 of the show was released, Captain Rex was a shocking yet welcome addition to Rebels and gave a great quote about his friend.
Saying he fought side by side with Ahsoka “From the Battle of Christophsis to the Siege of Mandalore.” Rex not only references the past chronologically but the future for fans. Audiences obviously saw the Battle of Christophsis play out early in The Clone Wars, but the Siege of Mandalore played out in season 7 of the show, a story that had Rex and Ahsoka at its heart.
The Last Time Ahsoka Saw Anakin
Ahsoka and Rex likely did see each other after the Siege of Mandalore and before Rebels, but two characters who never saw each other in between the two animated shows were Anakin and Ahsoka.
When talking about Anakin, Ahsoka states that the last time she saw her big brother and Jedi Master, he was “running off to save the Chancellor.” This did, originally, simply reference the events of the Battle of Coruscant in Revenge of the Sith. Since then, though, season 7 of The Clone Wars came out, and audiences get to see their final goodbye as Anakin runs off to save the Chancellor.
Obi-Wan’s Callback To The Duel Of The Fates
The duel in “Twin Suns” between Obi-Wan Kenobi and Maul is a masterpiece of poetic storytelling. The duel was not long or action-packed and did not need to be in order to tell an elegant story and give a fitting ending to Star Wars’ best rivalry.
A small moment in the duel connects it masterfully back to the Duel of the Fates, their first meeting. As they prepare to duel, lightsabers ignited, Obi-Wan subtly changes his stances, going from the classic prequel Ewan McGregor pose, to more of a Ben Kenobi style, finally, to the perfect connective tissue, which was Qui-Gon’s stance from The Phantom Menace. The way Kenobi holds his lightsaber at that moment draws Maul in with a false sense of superiority, allowing Obi-Wan to defeat him with minimal effort; he dismantles Maul in a psychological game.
Mandalore, Mandalorians, & The Darksaber
Whenever Star Wars delves into Mandalore and the Mandalorians, the franchise strikes gold. It was a consistently excellent part of The Clone Wars, and now there is a smash-hit show revolving around them.
Rebels also dealt with Mandalorians quite a bit, mainly through Sabine and her family. The darksaber is a crucial part of her story, and the history of the blade is fascinating. The fact Sabine gives it to Bo-Katan connects it directly to Kryze’s story in The Mandalorian, as does the sorry state of Mandalore under the Empire. On top of that, there is Ursa Wren, Gar Saxon, and Sabine’s weapon being called ‘the Duchess,’ connecting it to The Clone Wars. As The Mandalorian and the franchise expands, there will be more and more connecting Rebels’ Mandalore stories to the wider on-screen franchise.
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Star Wars Rebels Complete Series