How Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker Might Connect to Rebels

A fan-favorite ship in Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker has connections to the wider saga.

Star Wars Rebels: Ghost

After the Resistance limped away from the First Order in Star Wars: The Last Jedi, General Leia Organa needed to find allies. Judging by the final trailer for December’s The Rise of Skywalker, she has succeeded. A fleet’s worth of old allies are back, including Lando Calrissian and the Mon Cal, for what looks like a big final clash with the First Order. 

In our own breakdown of the final trailer and the massive fleet on display, we spotted two ships in particular that might have some major implications for the movie: the Ghost and the Shadow Caster.

Both ships are staples of recent Star Wars stories, having first appeared in the Rebels series. It’s possible that their appearance in The Rise of Skywalker are simply fun cameos, the kind of “everything but the kitchen sink” approach that lead to an actual kitchen sink appearing in a Revenge of the Sith space scrum. 

But there is also precedent for the Ghost to canonically appear in the film, and linking Rebels to the movies would be a good way to make the Star Wars universe feel more cohesive. So what is the significance of these ships, and how might it lead to Rebels hero Hera Syndulla? 

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The Ghost

The Ghost, technically a VCX-100 light freighter, was the home base of the heroes of Rebels. An animated show that ran from 2014 to 2018, Rebels showed the very early days of the Rebellion, before Princess Leia acquired the Death Star plans in A New Hope. Pilot Hera Syndulla ran a squad of six before the Rebellion was formally unified. In this era, keeping information on a need-to-know-basis was key, so the squad didn’t always know the wider Rebellion even existed. But the Ghost crew did have a significant advantage over other cells: along with Hera’s unmatched piloting skills, it also included two Jedi, Ezra Bridger and Kanan Jarrus.

A freighter might not sound like an intimidating part of a fleet, but just like the Millennium Falcon, the Ghost has modifications that make it a lot stronger than it looks. It’s fast, maneuverable, and has enough firepower to destroy large cruisers in Star Wars Rebels

The Ghost appeared briefly as a cameo in the final battle of Rogue One. You can also hear an intercom announcement calling for General Syndulla during the preparations on Yavin IV. 

Who is Hera Syndulla? 

Hera’s crew had worked with the Rebellion since Leia was a teenager, so it’s no surprise she would be one of the soldiers the Resistance called after The Last Jedi. She’s also been involved in resistance efforts even earlier than that, with her childhood set on the war-torn planet of Ryloth during the Clone Wars. 

By the time Rebels was over, one of the crew’s two Jedi was dead and the other had disappeared. But Hera’s career was far from over. She and her young son Jacen stayed with the Rebellion.

In the canon novel Alphabet Squadron, Hera continues working with the Rebellion after the Original Trilogy ends. She becomes a member of New Republic intelligence, commanding a large ship and its various pilots. Yet again, she’s responsible for maintaining secrecy even among her own crews, and is known for being a kind, motherly presence while also maintaining military discipline. 

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While it’s unclear whether Hera will have a cameo in The Rise of Skywalker, the presence of the Ghost seems to indicate that she’s at least still affiliated with Leia. It’s also possible that this is an adult Jacen flying the ship!

The Shadow Caster 

Another Rebels shoutout in the new footage is a silhouette of a ship that looks a lot like one called the Shadow Caster. In the animated series, it belonged to Ketsu Onyo, a bounty hunter played by Gina Torres. She was a former classmate of Sabine Wren, the Ghost crew’s demolitions expert. The two were forced to fight when Ketsu took a job to retrieve a droid holding important Rebellion information. 

Later, they became friends after resolving some of the conflict that forced them apart back in school. Ketsu helped the Rebels take the droid back to their allies. She stuck around with them after that, becoming one of the many members of the galactic underworld who tended to side with the underdog good guys. 

The Shadow Chaser is technically a Lancer-class pursuit craft, which means it has space for two crew members and four passengers. Laser cannons can be brought to bear to defend itself, and a tractor beam is equipped for trapping other vessels. According to the Star Wars expanded universe, this was a common craft of choice for smugglers because of its speed and ease of modification. 

Ketsu helped the Rebellion during the liberation of the planet Lothal, further proving her loyalty. This means it’s no surprise that she might be involved with the Resistance, if she’s still alive. Ketsu was born several years after Leia. Hera, born almost a decade before, would also be getting along in years, but that doesn’t necessarily mean anything in the mythic, high-tech world of Star Wars

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Rebels was beloved by fans, and in the oncoming era of live-action Star Wars TV shows, it’s nice to see that it isn’t forgotten. The flurry of ships in The Rise of Skywalker is just one part of the movie advertised to bring the entire Skywalker saga together.  While they’re likely to be small parts of the almost 2-hour movie, they do make the Star Wars galaxy feel more connected.

Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker hits theaters on Dec. 20.

Megan Crouse writes about Star Wars and pop culture for StarWars.comStar Wars Insider, and Den of Geek. Read more of her work here. Find her on Twitter @blogfullofwords.