Why Your Favorite Animated Star Wars Characters Will Never Look the Same in Live-Action

Droves of Star Wars fans cheered when Ahsoka Tano made her first live-action appearance in Season 2 of The Mandalorian in 2020. But among the praise came underlying criticism — something wasn’t quite right with Ahsoka’s look. According to many fans, the Togruta’s montrals and lekku were too short. Based on her look at the end of Star Wars: Rebels, where the character made another series of appearances in an animated TV show, the montrals and lekku should have been longer due to her age.

Many fans loved seeing Ahsoka in live-action for the first time. But the criticism overshadowed so much of that joy, as the heated online discourse surrounding Star Wars so often does.

The Grand Inquisitor

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A similar wave of criticism emerged more recently when the first Obi-Wan Kenobi trailer dropped early in March 2022. Once again, Star Wars Rebels fans were ecstatic to see another familiar character make the jump from animation to live-action. But many fans were also livid: The Grand Inquisitor looked nothing like he did in animation! Demands that Lucasfilm “fix” the inquisitor’s look sprang up on Twitter. To many, the difference simply could not be tolerated.

As more Star Wars characters leap from animated shows to live-action series — and many more likely will, possibly beginning with Sabine Wren’s Ahsoka casting — this type of online outcry will only intensify. People generally don’t like change, and any Star Wars fan can tell you that trying to propose something different to a loyal follower of a galaxy far, far away is an even greater struggle than usual.

But while we do have to accept that some fans who love Star Wars will never be satisfied with the Star Wars they get, it’s also essential to consider that perhaps Ahsoka or the Grand Inquisitor looking different in live-action form might actually be a good thing.

Why it’s a good thing

Animated and live-action media aren’t direct imitations of one another. They are instead two drastically different ways of telling stories. Star Wars, however, slightly complicates this. Every on-screen Star Wars story builds upon and is inspired by other on-screen Star Wars stories. Characters appear across different narratives. Sometimes, the story of Din Djarin and Grogu requires Ahsoka to appear in a medium different from the one in which she emerged. To make this as seamless yet eye-catching as possible, some sacrifices might be made to the character’s look. This isn’t the creative team deliberately sabotaging the look of a beloved character. Animation is a unique art form and is often stylized a certain way that live-action can honor, but not directly replicate.

And there shouldn’t be anything wrong with this. Sure, the Grand Inquisitor’s eyes may not be the same, and his head isn’t shaped the way fans expected it would be. But are these really creative crimes worth enough criticism to make Obi-Wan Kenobi impossible to watch? Instead, it might benefit the fandom as a whole to take a moment to consider how lucky it is to be getting new Star Wars content at all — and a show about a beloved character at that.

In Star Wars storytelling, the story itself is and should be more important than whether or not every small detail of a character’s look fits exactly like the original. If Darth Vader can change his look in every single movie he’s in with few complaints, Ahsoka can have short montrals in several episodes of Star Wars TV without becoming a Twitter trend.

Here’s to more Star Wars and spying the differences without dampening the fun.

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