In the Star Wars universe, there is nothing as iconic as the Jedi. From Yoda to Cal Kestis, there is nothing more recognizable than the members of this order. And there are plenty of them. With a long history to pull from, Star Wars tells the story of multiple generations of Jedi. And there is no shortage of stories. Every new piece of Star Wars media seems to add its own Jedi to the mix, which would be fine, except they were meant to be wiped out with Order 66. With the Jedi on the brink of extinction, there are still an awful lot of familiar faces floating around. It’s not that each new project needs another Jedi. Andor doesn’t include any, and the first season of Star Wars: The Bad Batch and The Book of Boba Fett don’t introduce new Jedi survivors. Yet there is an unspoken expectation for Star Wars content to have Jedi, with constant theories circulating about who else may be a Jedi. What is easy to forget is that, for Order 66 to have the impact it is meant to, even beloved and powerful Jedi must die. In the original trilogy, the lack of Jedi increases the stakes for the Rebellion, especially Luke Skywalker (Mark Hamill). So the more that survive, the more complicated that becomes.
What is Order 66 and Who Survived?
The key to the issue is the definition of Order 66 itself. The devastating event can be seen in The Revenge of the Sith, the seventh season of Star Wars: Clone Wars, and the beginning of The Bad Batch. When Palpatine (Ian McDiarmid) enacts the inhibitor chips, forcing the clones to turn on their generals, the Jedi are all but wiped out. The original trilogy featured only two known survivors: Obi-Wan Kenobi (Alec Guinness) and Yoda (Frank Oz). This effetely left the Skywalkers as the galaxy’s final hope. But as the world expanded, things didn’t stay quite so simple. And many more survivors started popping up.
With The Clone Wars came many new Jedi, including Anakin’s (Matt Lanter) padawan, Ahsoka Tano (Ashley Eckstein). Though she eventually walks away from the Jedi order, Ahsoka is fighting beside the Clones in Mandalore during Order 66, yet she makes it out. The video game Star Wars: The Fallen Order introduces Cal Kestis and Cere Junda. Cal is a padawan during Order 66, and his quick-thinking master sacrifices herself for him to escape. Cere was a Jedi knight who escaped with her padawan, Trilla Suduri, and a few younglings. Caleb Dume or Kanan Jarrus (Freddie Prinze Jr.) can be seen in Star Wars Rebels, but The Bad Batch shows him during Order 66. He makes it out due to both the sacrifice of his master Depa Billaba (Archie Panjabi) and the presence of the bad batch clones, who are not affected but the inhibitor chip.
The Mandalorian tells of Grogu, a youngling who survived. Obi-Wan Kenobi introduces Reva (Moses Ingram), another youngling who had to pretend to be dead when her peers were slain. The show also has an early Rebel movement helping to smuggle the Empire’s targets to safety. The safe house includes the name of Quinlan Vos (Al Rodrigo), who apparently lived beyond the fall of the Jedi. Other materials tell of Jocasta Nu and Luminara Unduli’s survival through the initial wave of destruction. And finally, the Season 2 trailer for The Bad Batch shows Gungi, a Jedi youngling seen in The Clone Wars, alive and seemingly on the run. That brings the count to 13 survivors, though this isn’t by any means an extensive list. With all these Jedi running around, how is it that with minimal training, Luke is as important as the original trilogy makes him out to be?
What Did the Survivors Do?
While it presents a problem for so many to survive, there are other things to consider. Most notably, Vader’s Inquisitors, who hunt these survivors. Force-sensitive people who accepted the Darkside were allowed to join the elite group of Jedi killers. The Inquisitors are rampant in Rebels and Obi-Wan Kenobi. Despite their initial success, the Jedi survivors are far from safe in the Empire’s galaxy. While Obi-Wan and Yoda bide their time, the others have different paths. Ahsoka and Caleb fight for the Rebellion. Like Vos, they elude the Inquisitors with the help of early Rebels. Jocasta Nu attempts to preserve Jedi records, only to be caught and killed by the Inquisitors. Similarly, the Grand Inquisitor (Jason Isaacs) kills Luminara before Rebels, and her remains are used to lure the few remaining Jedi to the Empire. Still, others are tempted by the Darkside. After the horrors they endure, Reva and Cere become inquisitors themselves, though they realize the error in their ways.
The Empire and their inquisitors make life after Order 66 a meager prize. Surviving the event does not mean they make it too long. Only Ahsoka and Grogu are seen after the events of the original trilogy. With Ahsoka no longer being an official Jedi and Grogu too young to do much by himself, their existence doesn’t change Luke’s status as the last Jedi. The others appear during the 19-year gap between the prequels and the originals, so they may have been killed before Luke began his journey. In fact, many of them are. In these dangerous and turbulent times, even their Jedi abilities can’t save them.
How Do the Survivors Change the Story?
While the ever-growing list of Jedi living past Order 66 seems to detract from the desperation in the original films, it really doesn’t. The reality is, no matter how many Jedi survive the Empire’s attack, it will only ever be a fraction of the Jedi that were killed. The Jedi Order faced extension during the reign of the Empire, and no amount of survivors will change that. While adding to the list should be done carefully, more Jedi can have survived Order 66. And with the Inquisitors, even that is no guarantee. Order 66 resulted in the depletion of the Jedi ranks, the destruction of sacred artifacts, and the loss of Jedi knowledge. Those few who survived were hunted for years. No matter who made it out, Order 66 will always be a tragedy that shaped the Star Wars galaxy.