The ending of Star Wars Rebels was sure to bring with it many shocking surprises that reflected the mature storytelling on display throughout the series' four seasons. With Kanan Jarrus being the mentor of budding Jedi Ezra Bridger, some fans had anticipated the character would bite the dust before the series was over. Fans weren't at all prepared to see the character perish with multiple episodes left in the season, which was one of the goals producerDave Filoni had when deciding the timing of the demise.
"Well, it was something we knew was going to happen from very early on," Filoni confirmed with CinemaBlend. "It's something that [actor] Freddie [Prinze Jr.] was adamant, he felt needed to happen. And he was right. But you have to do it in a way that's not like, 'Well, of course that was going to happen because he's the mentor character.' George [Lucas] had taught me a long time ago [that] when you kill off a character, especially a main character, that it has to be meaningful. The kids watching especially have to understand why we're doing it, why was that necessary, how does it feed the story."
Knowing that the ending was on the horizon, it felt like a safe bet that Kanan, and possibly more characters, could die in the series finale. Instead, Filoni knew that the character's sacrifice would have more of an impact if we could see how the Ghost crew reacted to the tragic moment.
"So something that we spoke about very early on in the story was that I wanted to do this episode but I wanted to have several episodes after that deal with that event," Filoni admitted. "That they could not just go back to being on an adventure the next episode, that the characters had to really feel the loss, because I felt the audience would feel the loss. And I wanted them to understand why Kanan does what he does and that it's a selfless choice, that it's out of love and compassion for his friends."
Kanan made his sacrifice to help his allies escape the Galactic Empire in the episode "Jedi Night," giving audiences six full episodes to come to grips with the character's heroic act. This mirrored how George Lucas killed off Obi-Wan Kenobi in the second act in A New Hope, allowing the audience, and the characters, to reflect on the sacrifice.
The fourth season of Star Wars Rebels is out now on Blu-ray.
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