Star Wars has always been one to draw inspiration from different sources. George Lucas, for one, was inspired by a combination of Arthurian mythology, Old Western culture, and Japanese samurai movies. Of course, Dave Filoni has followed suit with the fact that his works, particularly ‘Star Wars Rebels’ and ‘Ahsoka,’ have also drawn inspiration from different fictional works. And Ahsoka Tano’s character comes to mind.
Ever since she was reintroduced into the Star Wars world as an adult in ‘Rebels,’ Ahsoka Tano has shown great wisdom and patience as a former Jedi. But it was when she reappeared in the epilogue after many years that fans realized that her character has a lot of different parallels with another famous character from fantasy literature. We are talking about Gandalf from ‘The Lord of the Rings.’ So, in that regard, let’s look at the connections and parallels between Gandalf and Ahsoka.
The road toward self-improvement
One thing that fans noticed about Gandalf’s character in the storyline of ‘The Lord of the Rings’ was that he was never perfect. It might be true that he was brought to Middle-earth as a powerful wizard and as someone with the powers of an angelic being. But the thing was that he was always looking to try to become a better version of himself.
For hundreds of years, Gandalf wandered Middle-earth to get to know different people and obtain knowledge from different places and experiences. He made many friends from different races, so he became the most popular out of all of the five wizards the Valar sent to Middle-earth to assist the different races while Sauron’s darkness still loomed over the land in secret. As such, despite how great of a leader and powerful of a wizard he already was, Gandalf still understood that there were many things he needed to learn.
In the same way, Ahsoka Tano has always been someone who never rested on her laurels. She may have been a headstrong Padawan during her youth, but she eventually realized that there were many things that she didn’t know. Her experiences in life transformed her into a better version of herself, which was why she was always open to learning more about the galaxy and its different people. And that was one of the things that drew actress Rosario Dawson to the role of Ahsoka in the live-action series.
“In the animation, you saw her go to the white, but what I loved is the idea that there was even another level to her. Dave and I talked a lot about Gandalf the Gray and Gandalf the White—talking about that transition and how she’s someone very capable and excellent and looked up to as a leader, but she still has levels of development to go. That push for more, that desire for more, that challenge that she pushes herself to is okay—and it’s actually remarkable and important. That’s one of the reasons I’ve been drawn to her over the years, the fact that even with her excellence, she continues to push further.”
Ahsoka was already wise, strong, and accomplished. But the more important part of her character was her need to constantly improve. Her evolution and growth were never completed, which made her different from the other Jedi during the time of the Jedi Order.
Names such as Yoda, Mace Windu, and the other members of the Jedi High Council often rested on their laurels and were unwilling to evolve or adjust to the changing times. This eventually led to the destruction of the Jedi Order, as Yoda realized that the Jedi never evolved in the 1,000 years since the apparent destruction of the Sith Order, which survived in secret while learning how to adapt and evolve.
In Ahsoka’s case, she was shown as a character who personified the Jedi Order’s need to adapt and evolve because her character went through many different evolutionary processes ever since she was introduced. And that is one thing that makes her similar to Gandalf, as they never stopped improving and growing.
Returning wiser and more enlightened
In ‘The Lord of the Rings,’ Gandalf fell and died after his tough battle with the Balrog of Moria, known as Durin’s Bane. Upon Gandalf’s death, Eru Ilúvatar, the supreme god of the world in JRR Tolkien’s legendarium, decided to do something that he vowed he would never do, and that was to interfere with the events happening on Middle-earth.
Ilúvatar brought Gandalf back to Middle-earth as a wiser and more powerful version of himself. Gandalf became Gandalf the White as he turned into the wizard and leader that Saruman the White was meant to be when the Wizards were sent to Middle-earth to aid and guide the people. And it was during his time as Gandalf the White, he understood the threat that Sauron posed to Middle-earth.
But even if Gandalf hadn’t returned stronger and wiser, he would have still tried to fight Sauron and the forces of evil. Still, dying and spending time in the afterlife with the supreme god of the universe allowed him to have a deeper understanding of what he needed to do. His personality changed upon returning to Middle-earth, but he was still the same wizard he once was in terms of his goals of helping the people of Middle-earth defeat the darkness that had engulfed the land.
In the same way, Ahsoka Tano went through the same experience of “dying” in ‘Rebels’ when she was about to get struck by Darth Vader before Ezra Bridger pulled her into the World Between Worlds. Eventually, she went through her own spiritual journey in this mystical plane of existence as she came back wiser and more enlightened than ever. In the epilogue of ‘Rebels,’ she was seen wearing the same white cloak that symbolized Gandalf’s transformation from the Grey to the White.
While we are yet to see Ahsoka wearing her white robe in ‘Ahsoka,’ it goes without saying that she is set to undergo this massive transformation in the series, especially because she is currently wearing a grey cloak instead of a white one. And because she is set to undergo a transformational journey in the World Between Worlds, it goes without saying that she will turn into “the white” and will become wiser and more enlightened as the series progresses.
Acting as guides instead of heroes
One of the most important things fans needed to realize about Gandalf was that he wasn’t sent to Middle-earth to become a hero or a great leader. The wizards were sent to guide the people of Middle-earth and ensure they walked the right path. But only Gandalf was serious about this role, as all the other wizards sought to follow their own paths.
As such, Gandalf became the ultimate companion to Middle-earth’s many different heroes when he served as a guide to them by offering counsel and wisdom. Then, during the War of the Ring, he accompanied the Fellowship of the Ring not as the main hero but as a guide. He didn’t try to be the one to take the One Ring to Mordor but simply supported the heroes who were supposed to save Middle-earth and prevent Sauron’s return to power.
In that regard, he understood that he was brought to Middle-earth not to be a god among men or to reign supreme over lesser beings. Instead, he knew that his role was to give the people of Middle-earth a little push in the right direction so that they could learn how to govern themselves without the aid of the Ainur.
In her case, Ahsoka was a true hero in every sense of the word. But ever since she returned as an adult in ‘Rebels,’ she was a guide. She was one of the mentors of both Kanan Jarrus and Ezra Bridger, as she served as a guide to the pair of Jedi heroes.
Then, during the Rebellion period, Ahsoka wasn’t close to the meat of the action as she had to go through a spiritual journey that she understood would be important in her own development and growth as a person. In the ‘Ahsoka’ series, she took on the role as the mentor of Sabine Wren, who she thought had the makings of a true Jedi despite her apparent lack of talent and potential.
We also saw in ‘The Book of Boba Fett’ that Ahsoka was firm in her decision to allow Luke Skywalker to be the one to bring back the Jedi Order because she understood that this wasn’t her role. She knew that she had an entirely different purpose in life: to serve as more of a guiding hand to the people who needed a little push toward the right direction.
As such, Ahsoka is very similar to Gandalf in terms of her wisdom and role as a character. She may have the makings of a true hero and be the main character of an entire saga. But she understands that her role in life lies elsewhere, just like how Gandalf was the only one of the Five Wizards who understood his role on Middle-earth.
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