20 Times ‘Star Wars Rebels’ Made Surprising Connections, and 1 Unforgettable Moment
Star Wars Rebels may be Disney’s most successful attempt in the Star Wars universe to date. It isn’t the money-maker that the sequel trilogy has been, but as far as fan reception goes it stands head and shoulders above the rest. One of the biggest reasons is that Dave Filoni’s show has excellent characters that are easy to identify with. But another huge reason for Rebels‘ success is all the little connections that the show has made to the original and prequel trilogy’s over its four-season run.
Let’s take a look at 20 major connections that tie Rebels to the rest of the universe, including one huge moment in the series that could change Star Wars forever.
20. Princess Leia
Princess Leia did show up for one episode of Rebels, voiced by Julie Dolan. Back in Season 2, Leia needed some help with a mission on Lothal. So of course, the crew of the Ghost was there to lend a hand.
The end result was that a handful of Hammerhead Corvettes were stolen from the Empire, and that actually is somewhat of a fun Easter egg in Rogue One: A Star Wars Story. It’s one of those Corvettes that rams the Star Destroyer at the Battle of Scarif.
Next: The father of the rebellion
19. Bail Organa
Much like his appearance in Rogue One, Bail Organa has been seen briefly in Rebels as well. Voiced by veteran voice actor Phil LaMarr, Organa first appeared in a Season 1 episode titled “Droids in Distress.”
He has since resurfaced in several different Rebels plot lines, appearing in seven episodes of the series. Considering that he’s pretty much the father of the rebellion, it makes sense for him to have a small role in Rebels.
Next: The mother of the rebellion
18. Mon Mothma
Speaking of the parentage of the rebellion, if Bail Organa is its father than Mon Mothma is the mother. And of course, she also makes some appearances in Rebels. This time, Lucasfilm shied away from using a voice actor and went straight for the big screen actress.
Genevieve O’Reilly has portrayed Mon Mothma in both Rogue One and Star Wars: Revenge of the Sith (deleted scenes), and she also voiced her character in five Rebels episodes spanning Season 3 and 4.
Next: The droids
17. R2-D2 and C-3PO
Star Wars‘ most famous pair of droids only made one appearance, and it was in the Season 1 episode “Droids in Distress.” Anthony Daniels returned to voice C-3PO, and Paul Reubens — yes, Pee-Wee himself — made a cameo to voice RX-24, a droid in the image of Rex, the Disney Parks ride tour guide.
The plot centers around the crew of the Ghost thieving an Imperial shipment of weapons but ending up with the two lovable droids on board. It’s a fun callback to the live-action movies, but it’s good that the droids didn’t become recurring characters on Rebels. It would’ve been distracting.
Next: The scoundrel.
16. Lando Calrissian
Another original trilogy character to make a short appearance on Rebels is everyone’s second-favorite scoundrel, Lando Calrissian. In a two-episode arc in Season 1, Lando wins Chopper from Zeb in a game of Sabacc. Instead of turning over their droid, however, the Ghost crew reluctantly agrees to help Calrissian smuggle some cargo past the Imperial blockade.
Billy Dee Williams returned to voice his character for the first time in official canon since Star Wars: Return of the Jedi back in 1983.
Next: The first apprentice
15. Darth Maul
Though Darth Maul made his first Star Wars appearance in Star Wars: The Phantom Menace, he only had a few minutes of screen time and one cool fight before he was unceremoniously killed off. Or, so we thought. George Lucas righted one of Episode I’s biggest wrongs by writing Maul back into the story in Star Wars: The Clone Wars, giving him a whole lot of backstory and several episodes of story arc.
Then, at the end of Season 2, Maul reappeared on Rebels in “Twilight of the Apprentice.” He made a handful of other appearances in Season 3, and that officially wrapped his story within Star Wars. When you look at the comic books, movies, and cartoons, Maul did eventually get a fitting beginning, middle, and end.
Next: The 501st Battalion.
14. The clones
The commander of the 501st Battalion and popular Clone Wars character, Captain Rex, made his first appearance alongside fellow clones Wolffe and Gregor in “The Lost Commanders,” early in Season 2. It’s explained that Rex, Wolffe, and Gregor didn’t turn on the Jedi during Order 66 because they had removed their chips, leaving them with the ability to make decisions for themselves.
Rex made appearances in 23 Rebels episodes, and another cool thing is that his design helped to retcon Rex into the rebellion and an appearance in Return of the Jedi.
Next: The ultimate power in the universe.
13. The Death Star
Although the Death Star is not seen specifically in any episode of Rebels, it’s heavily hinted so that fans watching would be able to piece things together. In the two-episode arc “The Ghosts of Geonosis,” the crew finds that there’s a massive abandoned shipyard around the planet Geonosis. That happens to be where the Death Star was being constructed in secret.
In Season 3, “In the Name of the Rebellion” also had several connections to the looming presence of the Death Star.
Next: The Red Squadron.
12. Wedge and Hobbie
Star Wars fans will remember Wedge fondly from the original trilogy as the only non-major character to play a role in all three movies. In fact, he even destroyed the second Death Star. He gets a bit of an origin story in Rebels, as a young pilot in the Imperial academy that gets extracted by the Rebel Alliance.
He, along with Battle of Hoth pilot Hobbie, make a handful of appearances in Season 3 and 4. But where is Biggs Darklighter?
Next: The other Rebel pilots
11. Gold Squadron
Speaking of rebel pilots, we also got an appearance from Gold Squadron back in Season 3. That also involved cameos from Mon Mothma and Gold Leader, the latter of which was originally seen during the Battle of Yavin in Star Wars: A New Hope.
Gold Leader unfortunately did not survive the battle, but Star Wars has been able to retrofit him into Rebels for a mission and even used archived footage to slide him into the Battle of Scarif.
Next: The violent extremist
10. Saw Gerrera
True Star Wars diehards will know that Saw Gerrera’s first appearance in canon wasn’t Rogue One, but actually back in Clone Wars. He was originally trained as a rebel by none other than Anakin Skywalker, Obi-Wan Kenobi, and Ahsoka Tano.
After making his big-screen debut, Gerrera made the transition to Star Wars Rebels in a short, Season 3 story arc. Gerrera was voiced by Rogue One actor Forest Whitaker, and ended up double-crossing Ezra and Sabine on a mission.
Next: The rebel base.
9. The base at Yavin IV
One of the biggest connections to the original trilogy in Rebels is the base at Yavin IV. In the last two seasons, the rebel base that was originally seen at the end of A New Hope has seen some major screen time. It helps to better cement the timeline between the last season of Rebels and connect us to Rogue One, where the Ghost, Chopper, and Hera (at least in name) all make cameos.
The rebel base at Yavin IV is one of the biggest ways the series connects to the movies.
Next: The elite Stormtroopers
8. Death Troopers
The Death Troopers were first rolled out in Rogue One as black-wearing soldiers carrying high-powered weapons and serving as Director Krennic’s escort. Since the release of the movie in December of 2016, Death Troopers have popped up on Rebels a handful of times during important missions. This includes the mission on Lothal at the Jedi temple at the very end of Season 4.
The fun thing about the existence of Death Troopers? Their absence from the original trilogy is easily explained with all of them when the Death Star destroyed the base at Scarif.
Next: The references to Rogue One.
7. Tarkin, Krennic, and ‘stardust’
Speaking of Krennic, he gets his own mention in season four of Rebels. Although he’s not seen, his name is briefly mentioned during a hologram conversation between Grand Admiral Thrawn and Grand Moff Tarkin. Apparently, the Emperor is putting more resources into Krennic’s pet project, “stardust,” than Thrawn’s TIE Defender.
It wasn’t Tarkin’s first appearance on the show, however, as he has been featured as a background character on and off since Season 1.
Next: The old man.
6. Obi-Wan Kenobi
As previously mentioned, Rebels wrapped Darth Maul’s tragic story at the end of Season 3with “Twin Suns.” In doing so, the show also brought out one of the coolest original trilogy connections in one of its most satisfying scenes. Maul faced off against Obi-Wan Kenobi on Tatooine, and this was no Ewan McGregor Kenobi — this was Alec Guinness Kenobi.
With Guinness being unable to voice the character from beyond the grave, Rebels turned to talented voice artist Stephen Stanton to replicate the original Kenobi’s pitch. The duel ended quickly, with old Ben killing Maul.
Next: The new hope
5. Luke Skywalker
At the very end of “Twin Suns,” there is one more little cameo that Rebels gives us. After defeating Maul, Kenobi stops near the Lars homestead on his way home. Off in the distance, we hear Aunt Beru calling to her nephew Luke, and a small figure running on the horizon.
That’s a close as we’ve gotten to Luke Skywalker in the time just prior to A New Hope. Even if it wasn’t a true cameo, it was a nice little nod toward what was to come and completely in the spirit of the episode.
Next: The great warrior.
Yoda returned in Rebels twice (three times, including archive audio in Season 4), voiced by Frank Oz. But he is only actually seen on screen once, when speaking to Ezra from across the galaxy near the end of season two in “Shroud of Darkness.” Unbeknownst to Ezra, he actually is inside the world between worlds communicating with the Jedi Master, who appears as if he’s sitting on the branch of a disembodied tree in the middle of space.
Yoda makes sure to pass along some helpful wisdom to Ezra, warning him about his anger and fear of loss.
Next: The lost apprentice.
3. Ahsoka Tano
One of the most popular new characters added to Star Wars canon outside of the live-action movies is Ahsoka Tano, the young apprentice to Anakin Skywalker in Clone Wars. We see her grow up under Skywalker’s tutelage, only to walk away from the Jedi Order just before her master’s fall to the dark side. Tano returns in Season 2 of Rebels, and even faces off against Darth Vader in the season finale.
This is a huge moment in the show, for several reasons. Tano learns of Anakin’s true fate, and Vader even goes as far as cast blame on her for not being there to help guide him. The battle is extremely emotional, and the result is left ambiguous for two years.
Next: The fallen one.
2. Darth Vader
Vader was seen a handful of times throughout season two, with James Earl Jones reprising his role. The Dark Lord of the Sith goes head to head with Ezra and Kanan Jarrus, with the two Jedi escaping his clutches. Later, he has that emotional battle with Ahsoka, and it appeared that he was on course to kill his former apprentice and close friend.
But near the end of the series, Ezra learned the secrets of the world between worlds and reached through a time portal to pull Ahsoka out. In essence, Ezra used time travel to save her life at the last moment. This opens up a lot of possibilities for the future of Star Wars, with one final connection tying it all together.
Next: The evil master.
1. Emperor Palpatine
Emperor Palpatine makes his first on-screen appearance in Rebels at the end of Season 4, badly wanting to learn the secret of the temple on Lothal. By the end of the episode, we know exactly why; Palpatine wants to obtain this time-traveling power. There’s an interesting idea as to how the Emperor first learned of the world between worlds and its power, and the whole thing is a major trip.
Because Ezra pulled Ahsoka out of her battle with Darth Vader, it’s likely that this event was reported directly from Vader to Palpatine. It’s for this very reason that the Emperor would be searching for the source of this power in the first place. A very strange time-loop, indeed. The end of Rebels is a huge moment for Star Wars canon, and could have ripple effects throughout future media.
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