Star Wars Rebels continued the tradition of great animated projects based on the franchise. It might not have been perfect but the show did provide fans with plenty of memorable characters and emotional moments. Both of those terms apply to Kanan, the series' Jedi mentor who not only had a great character but also had one of the franchise's best deaths.
Series showrunner Dave Filoni recently talked to CinemaBlend about the impactful death and why it had to happen. Filoni revealed that the death had been planned for some time and that Kanan's voice actor Freddie Prinze Jr was also onboard for it happening. The showrunner says that Kanan's death was important to the story and would continue the progression for the Ghost Crew.
"Well, it was something we knew was going to happen from very early on. It's something that Freddie 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. 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, 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."
Filoni also pointed out how important it was to have these characters react to his death so that it wouldn't feel like a cheap tactic. Rather than just have one epilogue episode the series had the Ghost Crew come to terms with Kanan's death after six episodes, showing that death will always take its toll on people.
Many see the death of Kanan as the series' highpoint, along with the episodes that dealt with the fallout. Another episode fans really liked was The World Between Worlds, which had Ezra save Ahsoka and contemplate saving Kanan but decided not to in the end since it would have resulted in the death of the Ghost Crew. Filoni goes into great detail about this and revealed that directing these episodes were emotional since his father died around that time as well.
"And so you just try to start to formulate, to get him in a position where you believe that he can't get out of it, and then later I stressed that in 'The World Between Worlds,' when Ezra sees the whole thing unfold again, and I think naturally thinking that 'I wish there was something I could do, if I could just done something differently' are natural things, so I kept comparing it not to events in the StarWars universe but in our universe, in our real world. How do you feel when these things happen? And at the end of the day, very personally, while I was in the middle of directing those episodes and staging them, my father passed away, so you're suddenly confronted with these very real feelings and what it's like to be on the other side of that, losing a parent, which is a very very different thing. And I talked a bit with Freddie about it while I was doing it, while I was staging the actual scene, because I wanted it to be important and heartfelt and meaningful, because we all liked that character and I think that you can relate to it and then it has meaning. Because if you're doing it, you have to do it not just for shock value. That'd be pretty meaningless to me, so if it was heartfelt and sad for people, I think that's good, but I think they hopefully got through it with the rest of the crew who survived and went on to help everyone else and you see the outcome of it."
Star Wars Rebels season four is now available on Blu-Ray.