Lost Legends

31 Years Later, Ahsoka Could Bring Back the Strangest Evil Plot in Star Wars

An admiral is nothing without his fleet.


Thrawn’s blue fingerprints are all over Ahsoka, and not just because he’s the main villain. From the first teaser trailer when Ahsoka uttered the words “Heir to the Empire,” the name of the first novel Thrawn appeared in, it was clear series writer Dave Filoni was going to pull from Thrawn’s non-canon Legends narrative as much as possible without clashing with the existing Star Wars timeline.

But just how much can truly be pulled from Thrawn’s books? One key threat could play a huge role and honor Thrawn’s origins, while still adding something completely new to Star Wars canon. Here’s how.

Redditor jsanta8290 suggests that Ahsoka’s most mysterious elements are actually connected: the Heir to the Empire namedrop, those mysterious star maps that keep appearing in teasers, and Thrawn’s return. The thing that ties them all together? The Katana Fleet.

Lost Legends is an Inverse series about the forgotten lore of our favorite stories.

Ahsoka’s Star Map could be a map to the long-lost Katana Fleet.


The Katana Fleet, otherwise known as the Dark Force, was a 200-ship armada created by the Galactic Republic 46 years before the events of A New Hope. (For perspective, that’s the year Padmé Amidala was born.) It was meant to be the last word in galactic defense, but then tragedy struck: a crew member picked up a horrific virus that quickly spread throughout the entire fleet, driving them insane. The crew clung to sanity long enough to jump deep into hyperspace and avoid further tragedy, but the entire fleet was lost, and the incident remained an embarrassing black mark to the Republic for years.

Decades later, Grand Admiral Thrawn heard rumors of the fleet’s existence. What followed was the Battle for the Katana Fleet, as the New Republic and Thrawn’s Imperial Remnant fought for control of assets that could swing the course of their ongoing conflict. In the books, Thrawn won the vast majority of the ships.

How could this help Thrawn in Ahsoka? Aside from throwing a bone to excited Legends fans, it would give Thrawn the materiel he needs to be a major threat, even after his disappearance at the end of Rebels.

Smuggler Captain Hoffner stumbles across Dreadnaughts from the Katana Fleet in Dark Force Rising #1, published May 28, 1997.

Dark Horse Comics

That said, there’s already infrastructure in place for Thrawn’s return. Remember The Mandalorian Season 3, when Moff Gideon was revealed to be part of a council of surviving Imperial commanders trying to amass resources for him? Maybe some abandoned “ghost ships” like the Katana Fleet could be part of his big comeback, or maybe they’re the source of the conflict between Ahsoka and Thrawn, as she tries to keep him from bringing down the nascent Republic.

Timothy Zahn’s Thrawn books are full of elements that would make intriguing but bizarre additions to the Mando-verse, like the morally nuanced Force user Mara Jade, insane Jedi clone Joruus C’baoth, and, infamously, an evil Luke clone named Luuke. Those are a lot to ask of modern Star Wars canon, but a few cool-looking ships aren’t.

We’ve seen Thrawn in the books and in Rebels, and now we’ll see a new version of him in live action as he returns from exile in the Outer Regions. Hopefully, we’ll still see remnants of his original plans in Ahsoka. He is, after all, the Heir to the Empire.

Ahsoka premieres August 23, 2023 on Disney+.

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