Star Wars Rebels: How did Kanan Jarrus die?

Once known by the name Caleb Dume, Kanan Jarrus survived the Emperor’s purge, going underground for years. Photo:
Once known by the name Caleb Dume, Kanan Jarrus survived the Emperor’s purge, going underground for years. Photo: /

Star Wars Rebels introduced us to a fan-favorite Jedi who survived Order 66 and went on to help establish the Rebel Alliance against the Empire. Kanan Jarrus, whose real name was Caleb Dume, was a mere Padawan when Order 66 happened. After witnessing his master Depa Billaba executed by a squad of clone troopers, Caleb spent the next several years living in hiding from the Empire, eventually changing his name to Kanan Jarrus and keeping his identity as a Jedi a secret.

Kanan and the Ghost crew

When we meet him in Star Wars Rebels, he’s part of a small group of rebels determined to provide aid to people under oppression by the Empire wherever they can. Led by Hera Syndulla, the Ghost crew are like family. And on a mission to Lothal, they encounter Ezra Bridger, a young Force-sensitive boy surviving on the streets by taking whatever he needs. Ezra discovers Kanan’s secret when he finds Kanan’s Jedi Holocron, and the two enter into a relationship as Jedi Master and Padawan.

Kanan’s secret revealed

On a mission to rescue Wookies enslaved by the Empire, Kanan is forced to expose his secret to the Empire, and he becomes a target of the Inquisitors, Darth Vader’s personal Jedi hunters. Throughout the rest of the series, Kanan and Ezra develop a close relationship, but it isn’t without conflict. Through a storyline that has Ezra deceived by Darth Maul and tempted by the Dark Side of the Force, Kanan is blinded and forced to cope with a life without sight. His blindness, however, makes him even stronger in the Force, able to “see” without his eyes by using the Force.

Kanan’s attachments

Kanan is a mentor and a father figure to Ezra and Sabine Wren and a friend and confidante to Zeb Orrelios, but his relationship with Hera Syndulla is perhaps the most impactful of the series. The two grow to love each other deeply, though they don’t allow themselves to be distracted by it. Kanan isn’t concerned with the Jedi rule about no attachments, and like Anakin before him, he’s placed in a position that his attachment is tested when Hera is kidnapped by the Empire.

But unlike Anakin, Kanan doesn’t sacrifice his connection to the light to rescue her. Instead, he trusts in the Force and his friends, and they’re able to retrieve her from Governor Pryce. Standing atop one of the fuel pods at the TIE Defender factory as they await Sabine and Ezra to fly in and rescue them, Hera confesses her love to Kanan and kisses him.

Kanan and Hera, a love cut short: How Kanan Jarrus dies

It’s a sweet moment that’s tragically cut short when Governor Pryce orders her men to shoot the fuel container they’re on. Kanan, sensing the danger, manages to hold back the explosion with the Force, but he can only do it long enough for Hera to jump into the ship with Sabine and Ezra. Hera tries to jump from the ship and run to him, but he uses the Force to push her back. He won’t be able to hold back the explosion and escape with the others, and in his final moment, his sight returns as he pushes the ship safely away from the explosion before he dies in the blast.

Kanan’s legacy

His death becomes a catalyst for Ezra to become the kind of sacrificial hero his friends and the Rebel Alliance need and free Lothal from Imperial rule. The epilogue after the series’ final episode reveals that Hera went on to have a child named Jacen Syndulla, the son of Kanan Jarrus.

Years later, Kanan’s voice, saying, “In the heart of the Jedi lies her strength,”  is among the Jedi voices Rey Skywalker hears in the moments before she rises from the ground to face and defeat Emperor Palpatine with the power of all the Jedi of the past.

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