Throughout the last decade, the Star Wars galaxy has expanded in many new and unexpected ways. After Disney’s purchase of Lucasfilm in 2012, more new Star Wars films and series have been produced than ever before. The franchise had previously been considered dormant in the realm of mainstream live-action storytelling, but it is active and alive now more than ever. In addition to the sequel trilogy of films (Episode VII – The Force Awakens, Episode VIII – The Last Jedi, and Episode IX – The Rise of Skywalker), there have been several spin-off anthology films as well as numerous live-action shows ranging from The Mandalorian to Andor and Obi-Wan Kenobi.
Most of these new films and shows have been fairly self-contained, and they did not rely too heavily on their audience’s familiarity with the more obscure elements of the Star Wars canon. However, many people believe this not to be the case with the newest series, Ahsoka, which is nearing the end of its first season on Disney+. From the creative mind of Dave Filoni, who previously created animated shows like The Clone Wars, the new show follows up on many of the plot threads left over from Star Wars Rebels. Several of the lead characters of Ahsoka have been carried over from previous shows, and the series has shown a willingness to play with the deeper and crazier elements of the Star Wars galaxy.
Among all the references to lore that are included within Ahsoka, both obvious and hidden, the one that has been receiving the most attention is the inclusion of the World Between Worlds in episodes four and five. While that mystical realm, which exists beyond space and time, is certainly exciting for Star Wars fans, it’s far from the most obscure reference that has been included in the series. In fact, one of the deepest cuts of the show has also been sitting in plain view since the first episode. Of course, we’re talking about the lovable droid, Huyang.
Who is Huyang in Ahsoka?
In Ahsoka, Huyang (voiced by Doctor Who’s David Tennant) is a droid that has joined Ahsoka Tano on her various adventures throughout the galaxy. In particular, the show sees Huyang as part of the main crew of the mission to locate the missing persons of Ezra Bridger and Grand Admiral Thrawn. He appears alongside Ahsoka right away from the beginning of the season, and it’s unclear how long they’ve been running together. He demonstrates on numerous occasions that he’s more than capable of handling himself in a fight, and his expertise on traditional Jedi protocol makes it clear that he has a long history with the Jedi Order.
It’s also apparent that Huyang has been hanging around Ahsoka long enough to be familiar with Sabine Wren, her former apprentice. It’s clear that Huyang was with Ahsoka when she first took on Sabine as a padawan, and the droid was also a frequent teacher to her. He already has a rapport with both Ahsoka and Sabine, and he speaks very bluntly and honestly to Sabine throughout the show. Whether it’s about her lack of sensitivity to the force or her choppy combat training, Huyang isn’t afraid to pull any punches when it comes to teaching and criticizing Sabine.
His Previous Appearance
As he is introduced in Ahsoka, it would seem to newcomers that Huyang has been an active part in the lives of these characters for a long while. One would even be forgiven for assuming that he was a key character in Rebels, but that isn’t actually the case. In actuality, his inclusion in the show comes somewhat out of nowhere. Previously, he had only appeared in a single three-episode story arc in the fifth season of The Clone Wars. Prior to Ahsoka, Huyang was a one-off character. He had appeared in The Clone Wars, but then he had never been carried into any other shows or films.
He had only ever been referenced conversationally in a few of the canon Star Wars novels and comics, such as Brotherhood or The High Republic: The Rising Storm. Because of this, the only people familiar with Huyang were die-hard Star Wars fans.
The episodes of The Clone Wars in which Huyang appears showcase him when he was still an important educational figure within the Jedi Order. The droid is established as a professor who has been teaching young Jedi essentially since the beginning of the Jedi Order, and he is even outright confirmed to be over 25,000 years old. This animated story follows Huyang and Ahsoka (when she was still a padawan) as they teach a group of younglings how to create their own lightsabers.
The group travels to the planet Ilum, and they each go on their own quests to find the Kyber crystals that will power their blades. However, this lesson is interrupted by a gang of pirates, which then shifts the course of the entire story arc altogether. Throughout these episodes, which aired 11 years ago in Nov. 2012, Huyang was also voiced by Tennant.
Why Bring Him Back?
So, if Huyang was such a minor character in The Clone Wars and the broader Star Wars canon, why did Filoni decide to bring him back for Ahsoka? Well, there are a number of clear reasons. Firstly, the Star Wars franchise has an obvious history with quippy droid characters, and Filoni is nothing if not faithful to the original Star Wars roadmap laid out by George Lucas.
On top of that, the droid’s deep connection with the Jedi Order provides some connection to that establishment in the show. Since the character of Ahsoka had left the Jedi Order many years prior, this show could have easily ignored its existence altogether. However, Huyang’s inclusion in the story adds some further context for the overall background of the galaxy and Ahsoka as a character.
Without Huyang, Ahsoka would really be lacking the droid-energy that the Star Wars franchise makes frequent use of. Plus, it also means that the show has an actor of David Tennant’s caliber among its cast, which is a major plus. The dry sense of humor mixed with genuine emotion that Tennant brings to the role instantly establishes Huyang as one of the best droids in the franchise’s history, right there alongside R2-D2, Chopper, K-2SO and BB-8.
By bringing Huyang back, Filoni is able to do all of this while also providing a fun reference for the die-hard fans to get excited about. There was really no downside to the character’s return, and he has become one of the consistently great aspects of the show as a whole.