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The Ending Of Star Wars Rebels Explained

After "The Clone Wars," it might've been easy to think the world of "Star Wars" couldn't expand any further. Then, the loveable rogues of the TV show "Star Wars Rebels" came along to prove us wrong. Following a motley bunch of rebels on their journey to try and destroy the Empire as part of the ever-growing Rebellion, the series has arguably helped to inform plenty of future developments for the franchise. In addition to introducing fans to new characters like protagonist Ezra, "Star Wars Rebels" weaves in existing stories in the effortless way we've come to expect from the saga. Sabine and Hera, in particular, look to be playing major roles in the Disney+ "Ahsoka" series.

Much of the excitement over the future for the cast of "Rebels" is thanks to the show's drama-filled finale, leaving fans with plenty of details to mull over while waiting for upcoming installments of the franchise. While some characters (such as Hera) receive clear-cut endings that should directly feed into new shows, others (like Ezra) have personal journeys left intentionally vague, possibly setting up something bigger down the way. Regardless, fans largely agree that it's the ending that makes "Star Wars Rebels" such a treat to watch. Here's exactly what you need to know about what went down in the final episode.

What you need to remember about the plot of Star Wars Rebels

Keeping its focus on the "Star Wars" style of adventure, the 4-season run of "Star Wars Rebels" exists between the time frame of "Star Wars: Episode III — Revenge of the Sith" and "Episode IV — A New Hope." It follows an eclectic group of rebels who live onboard the starship Ghost, and eventually help the Rebel Alliance to rise up. 14 years into the reign of the Galactic Empire, the focus of the show primarily rides on Ezra Bridger, a con artist and thief who will do just about anything to survive.

This survival theme keeps the drama moving forward, as Bridger crosses paths with the localized Rebellion movement and learns to be a Jedi. He has a complicated relationship with the other characters aboard the Ghost and often gets wrapped up in his own family trauma and murky past. As the series continues, the presence of the Rebellion becomes more noticeable, becoming a "spark" that will eventually help to end the Empire. There's also plenty of crossover with the Mandalorians and other external players in the Rebellion, such as the former Padawan of Anakin Skywalker, Ahsoka Tano.

What happened at the end of Star Wars Rebels

When "Star Wars Rebels" was ready to close out its fourth season, its ending towed a fine line between answering questions and leaving mysteries. Taking viewers through what each member of the crew did throughout the timeframe of the original trilogy, the rebels of Lothal manage to fight their way inside the Imperial Complex, with Ezra able to second-guess Thrawn's last-minute arrival. We learn Kanan's fate in the middle of the season, though Ezra's own path follows suit at the end. His journey as an outsider comes full circle, as he sacrifices himself in order to save his friends and the city of Lothal.

It's not only Ezra that has a lot on his plate — with Emperor Palpatine trying to tempt him to reopen the gate to the World Between Worlds — but Hera also ends "Star Wars Rebels" on a climactic note as viewers find out that she has a son. Sabine looks to join forces with Ahsoka to find Ezra in order to bring him home after he disappears as a captive of Thrawn. Meanwhile, Zeb and Kallus receive a happier ending, remaining friends while Kallus joins Zeb back on Lira San.

How Star Wars Rebels changed Thawn's character journey

Though the "Star Wars Rebels" story is mostly from Ezra's perspective, fans will have noticed the re-introduction of Grand Admiral Thrawn in the show's third season. A character that was initially created for the Timothy Zahn book series "Heir to the Empire," Thrawn becomes the main antagonist of "Rebels" up until the Season 4 finale, with his threats of bombing the city leading to Ezra sacrificing himself. However, many viewers have noticed substantial changes between his appearance in the show and the original character depicted in Zahn's novels. Pivoting Thrawn from an antihero into a full-blown villain, some fans argue that this change of character in "Star Wars Rebels" ultimately does his initial setup of being chaotically good an injustice.

However, there might be a good reason why we've seen such a drastic change in Thrawn's sense of self. The Season 4 finale leaves viewers on a cliffhanger in terms of his current whereabouts, but thanks to Ahsoka in Season 2 of "The Mandalorian" and the arrival of Zahn's book "Thrawn Ascendancy: Lesser Evil," the character will undoubtedly make a return. The difference in Thrawn's temperament could be a narrative arc that's in it for the long haul, with Thrawn's loyalty to the Empire already subtly challenged in "Star Wars Rebels." A new question now faces the "Star Wars" franchise — if Ahsoka is right, why has Thrawn returned?

Ezra's personal ending is vague

Out of all of the characters featured on "Star Wars Rebels," Ezra is the one who holds the most ambiguity. During the Season 4 finale, his personal journey is certainly geared toward sacrifice when he diverts the Purrgils to do some nasty damage to Thrawn's incoming fleet. At only 15 years old, his path from minor pickpocket to taking on the destruction of the Empire itself is a hearty one — and it makes complete sense that the minds behind "Star Wars" don't want that to be quite over just yet.

Ezra's lack of a clear ending holds the key for the "Star Wars Rebels" story to continue in other forms. With Thrawn's character set to return, Ezra's journey to Rebellion glory — and his personal safety — are both thrown into disarray. Though initial rumors of a sequel series following Sabine and Ahsoka's search to find him never took off, that doesn't mean that the idea won't be revisited in some form further down the line (including in the upcoming "Ahsoka" series). With the flash-forward in the finale's closing moments set some years into the future, some fans seem certain that an uneasy alliance has been formed elsewhere.

Hera was always a sure-fire bet to survive

While Ezra was the most obvious character to allude to potential new storylines, Hera's journey throughout the series made her a sure-fire bet to survive her time with the Ghost crew. As the pilot of the starship, she already played a crucial role in the forming of the Rebellion, and her appearances in "Star Wars: Forces of Destiny" and the impending "Ahsoka" series only further cement her value to the overall franchise. It's Sabine's speech that confirms Hera's character trajectory during the finale flash-forward, revealing that Hera was pregnant during the final scenes of "Star Wars Rebels," later giving birth to Kanan's son Jacen.

Hera's return in future "Star Wars" projects opens the door for Jacen to become a major character as well. Not to be confused with Jacen Solo from the old Expanded Universe, this newborn has only received one further mention in the canon novel "Victory's Price" to date. The scope of his character could go just about anywhere, with supervising director Dave Filoni explaining to Cinema Blend that clues of Hera's pregnancy were there all along. "There are little clues that I would talk to the animation supervisor and I would say, 'We'll do this and just have her put her hand here on her stomach at this certain moment,' or just little tiny things. But I kept it pretty secretive," he said.

Ahsoka's journey could tell us about her Disney+ series

Though "Star Wars Rebels" met its end a few years ago, the name on the lips of most "Star Wars" fans these days is that of Ahsoka. With her own series scheduled to be released in August 2023, Ahsoka's next moves are likely to take place after the events of "Star Wars: Episode VI — Return of the Jedi." Even though she has also been integral to the events of "The Mandalorian," Ahsoka's journey in "Star Wars Rebels" might tell us more about what's to come. In order for Ezra to return, Ahsoka would need to be involved directly, after Sabine asked for Ahsoka's help in the season finale.

Though we currently have no idea of Ezra's whereabouts, one of the only ways he could make it back from the unknown is through Ahsoka. If she chooses to open a door to the World Between Worlds in an effort to pull him out before he reaches hyperspace, the level of chaos she could be getting herself into is stratospheric. Given that the only plot outline we know to expect in the Disney+ "Ahsoka" show is that she's faced with some kind of emerging threat, there's nothing to say that this threat isn't Ezra or Thrawn, keeping the two programs incredibly intertwined.

Why Ezra and Thrawn should probably be dead

Though it might be a nice thought to imagine that Ezra is out there somewhere merely floating about, there's a huge chance that the events of the "Stars Wars Rebels" finale have ended his and Thrawn's lives. When the Purrgils were diverted to try and bring down Thrawn's fleet, the possibility of Ezra and Thrawn being left at the mercy of hyperspace was too close for comfort. Though fans will know that hyperspace kills anyone who comes into contact with it, the fact that Ezra's elusive plan involved leaving a message to the crew saying he couldn't wait to come home means the chances of survival are left up in the air.

Even though death is a likely outcome, some "Star Wars" fans think they have sussed out how the pair might have survived. Reddit user 549632 recognizes that there is no logical canon explanation, yet Ezra could have attempted something similar to Luke in the book "Darksaber" by putting the pair into a hibernation trance. Meanwhile, u/JC-Ice argues that the Purrgils themselves could have been protection, while u/Tradewinds369 suggests gateway portals hold the answer to the biggest mystery in "Star Wars Rebels." In the eyes of many viewers, it's a case of "should" be dead rather than "will" be dead.

Sabine's ending is the one to revisit

As the weapons expert aboard the Ghost, Sabine's time on "Star Wars Rebels" was always going to be an exciting ride. By the time of the finale, Sabine has been able to refine her leadership skills with Ezra's help, leaving the two with the strongest bond on the ship. Their friendship is so sturdy that Sabine stays behind in order to help Ezra out — though the reason why Ezra says he's counting on her in his final message remains unknown. Thanks to his disappearance, the spotlight is firmly thrust back on Sabine, particularly given that she narrates the final fates of the others rather than her own.

With Sabine asking Ahsoka for help in finding Ezra, it goes without saying that the final events of "Star Wars Rebels" set Sabine up for her journey in "Ahsoka." Some Reddit users have suggested that the new series could be shaping up to be a reunion of the Rebels, while the closing moments may also have an effect on the characters' future appearances on "The Mandalorian." Even though she and Ahsoka don't exactly have a rescue plan, Sabine has a lightsaber that she's intent on returning to Ezra.

Chopper's voice is revealed

If "Star Wars" is excellent at nothing else, it excels at bringing mechanical entities to life in an incredibly cute way. Chopper — also known as C1-10P — assists the "Rebels" crew with keeping the Ghost running. While the focus for much of the show's finale spotlights the rest of the team, the closing credits finally reveal whose voice was behind the loveable astromech. Though it was a mystery that might not have intended to make itself one, Chopper's vocal chops belong to none other than series supervising director Dave Filoni.

Though it makes sense to keep the expanding "Star Wars" family close to home, Filoni made sure that his involvement was a well-kept secret. As he explained at a fan event (via Comic Book) that was held after the series ended, Filoni explained that it wasn't his original intention to voice the droid. "I wound up playing Chopper ... we had to deliver the first short to Disney to watch and we didn't have a final Chopper voice. And I said, 'Alright, I'm going to just do this.' We did it right in the editorial in Lucasfilm," Filoni recalled. "I knew what a likable jerk is like and what I wanted him to be like. Then when we screened it, [Disney CEO] Bob Iger said, 'I really like that little droid.' And I was like, 'Well, now I'm stuck.'"

Rex survives, but what's next?

One character that doesn't manage to get bogged down in the meaty epilogue during the "Star Wars Rebels" finale is Rex. Sabine reveals that Rex's presence within the Rebellion continues on, participating in the Battle of Endor. It arguably confirms something about Rex that fans have long since speculated to be true — that Rex is actually the Rebel Commando with the nickname "Nik Sant." He's a character that has a consistent legacy set up behind him, particularly during his appearances on "Star Wars: The Clone Wars." However, there's plenty of ambiguity still surrounding where Rex goes from here.

As some fans have pointed out, Rex is getting on a bit, possibly around 82 years old at the time of Ezra's disappearance. His age could be a factor that sets him up to be a martyr for the cause, though there are viewers who would prefer that he peacefully retires without too much drama. Though there currently may not be anything concrete set up for Rex, Filoni has reassured fans during an interview with IGN that everything is being thought through. "I just look at, always, the big picture of 'Star Wars,' not just the stuff I'm working on," he explained. "I try to be aware of what everybody's doing and look for tiny opportunities or make sure we're not repeating."

What have the cast and crew of Rebels said about the ending

Viewers probably weren't fully ready to say goodbye to "Star Wars Rebels," so it's hardly surprising that its cast and crew had a lot to say after the finale aired. During an audience Q&A following a Season 4 fan screening, Filoni explained how the team came to end the series with its stark flash-forward. "I wanted people to understand that once they overthrew the Empire that there were expectations of a large battle that never happened," he said. "I wanted people to understand the happy ending. So many people are obsessed with everybody dying!"

As for the future, the creators are understandably vague. "There are so many stories to tell and I've been so busy ... I have to know what the story is about before I tell it," Filoni explained. He expanded on this in an interview with /Film, possibly explaining why big chunks of "Star Wars Rebels" are left intentionally ambiguous. "I've always felt that the best stories end and others begin. There's no better way than taking two of my favorite characters and have them ride off into the sunset like I've seen so many cowboys over the years, like 'Indiana Jones,' and you just wonder like, 'What do they get to do?'"

What the ending of Star Wars Rebels could mean for the franchise

Though 2018 saw the end of the "Star Wars Rebels" story, the show is merely a small branch in the bigger picture of the franchise. With more time passing since its end, there's arguably a question of how important the crew of the Ghost starship is to the future of "Star Wars" as a whole. In some ways, the answer is not at all. The franchise can easily carry on by exploring other facets of the timeline, such as the impending second season of "Andor" and newly confirmed films like the as-yet-unnamed Rey adventure. Even though it was revealed at Celebration 2023 that Filoni was set to direct another "Star Wars" film, that doesn't automatically mean there will be any crossover with his previous work.

However, the events of "Star Wars Rebels" have certainly set the characters on a path to potentially impact the shows and films that come next. This is particularly true for both "The Mandalorian" and "Ahsoka," each fitting into the show's timeline and already featuring some of its essential characters. It seems hugely likely that "Ahsoka" will follow Sabine and Ahsoka's quest to save Ezra from near-hyperspace, assessing in further detail how Ezra was even able to survive his lengthy time away.