Star Wars fans demand a tight continuity, with story lines that deliver emotion, action, and clearly defined endpoints for plots and characters. To be clear, none of that is an unreasonable expectation….except for when it is.
In extrapolating the eventual outcome for Star Wars: Rebels, we fans assume the body count among our heroes will be high. Very high.
The crew of the Ghost? They aren’t around in A New Hope, so they have to be dead, otherwise they’d be still be around to take on the Death Star, right? Hera was so involved and dedicated to the Rebel cause that something must happen to her during Rebels that explains why she isn’t around in the original trilogy era. Ezra and Kanan? If Luke is the only Jedi (with a potential Jedi in Leia), then again, something bad must happen to these two; either death or a turn to the dark side (which presumably also leads to death). Ahsoka? We all know how that HAS to end, right? Sabine, Zeb, and Chopper? Admittedly it is easier to write them out of the show without killing them. On the other hand, they are the easiest to kill on the show in terms of driving consequences without breaking too many hearts. Why not add to the growing pile of loose ends, with Rex & crew now joining the fray?
By my count, Hera, Ezra, Kanan, Ahsoka, and Rex will all bite the dust according to most fans of The Wars…or ought to bite the dust…or are expected to bite the dust. Whatever.
Nobody outside of Lucasfilm, Disney and Dave Filoni is quite certain how long Rebels will go on for, but the common belief is that season three will be the show’s last. After all, there’s only so much you can cram in to the time period that they’re playing with here. So if all of the above characters have to die in order to keep the existing canon clean, then we’re in for even more stress and heartbreak than a Walking Dead or Game of Thrones fan.
And then there’s the other side of the argument, which is gaining more sway with me. We have to keep in mind the very stark reality that Rebels is a show primarily aimed at children as an entry point to Star Wars lore. Yes, long time fans also adore the show but any time a show is aired on Disney XD, adults are NOT the target demographic. So, will Lucasfilm/Disney push a show that continuously kills off beloved characters? Maybe it’s “good” for continuity and in some cases it’s good for the overall story. But is that good for sales? None of these characters have been killed off yet, and it doesn’t appear that any of them will drop any time soon, so the longer these characters live, the more entrenched they become in fandom (especially with the younger set). It will be jarring, especially for younger fans when the dominoes do start to fall because the remaining runway to do away with them will become compressed. Try explaining to little Timmy and Susie why Hera was killed one week, then Kanan, then Rex, then Ezra, then Ahsoka. Kids don’t like seeing their favorites killed off. Just ask any Transformers fan who freaked out when Optimus Prime was killed in the 1986 animated movie. Fans had such a fit of rage that Optimus was eventually resurrected. Kids lose interest when their favorites are gone, and when interest is gone, sales follow. Maybe that’s not such a crime since the show will have a relatively short life, and sales will be finite anyway. But the longer Ahsoka sticks around, the more beloved and bankable she becomes. Want to know what Disney really likes? Bankable characters. In fact I think it’s already safe to say that regardless of whether or not Ahsoka dies in Rebels, fans will want more of her in some form after Rebels is in the can. They could explore her life between Clone Wars and Rebels, or they could get really, really creative and find a satisfying way for her to live on somehow and continue to be a player in the Star Wars universe.
I’m not naive enough to think that all of these characters are untouchable and I’m sure that at least a couple of them are as good as dead. But all of them? Possible, I guess. No doubt hard-headed fans will say that they all absolutely must go otherwise the original trilogy is cheapened, but as we know, only a Sith deals in absolutes. The Star Wars galaxy is a big place and there’s a lot of place for wiggle room.
We’re going to have to approach this week-to-week as Dave Filoni has taken a master class in how to mess with fans. Teasing Ahsoka vs Vader is as predictable as it is compelling, and there are countless other threats to dangle in front of us fans. Surely they want to walk the line of providing excitement and anticipation, while also having this show mean something through grave consequences for the good guys.
What’s your take? Do all of these good guys have to die? How do you reconcile the story “need” to have them dead with the fact that the show is for kids?
Let me know below, or @tumblingsaber.