In Star Wars, characters make quite a habit out of changing their names — you know, mostly because of identity reasons and such. Take, for example, Anakin Skywalker and Ben Solo, who adopted the names Darth Vader and Kylo Ren. Or how about Obi-Wan Kenobi who simply went as Ben Kenobi? Even at the end of Episode IX, Rey adopted the last name of Skywalker. Really, just about anyone in Star Wars can and sometimes will adopt a new name for themselves.
So what about one character who’s only appeared in the animated series from Star Wars, Kanan Jarrus? If you’re a fan of Star Wars Rebels or know a little something about it, then you know that Kanan Jarrus is the former Jedi who’s part of the Ghost crew. Hera Syndulla is his love interest, and he acts as a mentor of sorts to the newer member of their team, Ezra Bridger.
But, you may have been surprised to learn at one point that Kanan Jarrus was just a name that he adopted just like “Ben Kenobi” or “Darth Vader.” (Well, it’s certainly not as dramatic as Darth Vader, but it’s a name change nonetheless.) So, what was the change for?
What was Kanan Jarrus’ original name?
Originally, Kanan Jarrus was named Caleb Dume. Depending on how deep you’re into Star Wars, you may have learned this by watching The Bad Batch, for example, where we got to see how Dume escaped during Order 66. Or you may have even learned so from reading his comic book, Star Wars: Kanan, which began running in 2015.
But, the answer to why he changed his name in the first place is quite simple. Per the Emperor, all the Jedi had committed treason, and a swift execution was in store. The Jedi who did escape the immediate purge were not safe, and teams were formed within the Empire to help track down any remaining Jedi who may have escaped.
So, much like Obi-Wan Kenobi, Kanan’s name change was mostly due to the fact that he had to become a new person to avoid the Empire. And in a way, his new identity was bound to form anyway.
While on the run, Kanan Jarrus took up a few odd jobs, and those are detailed in his comic book run. But after an arc in Kanan #5, it is revealed when Kanan makes the switch to Dume. As he revealed to the people he was working alongside, “Caleb” had died with his master Depa Billaba, who was a casualty of the first Order 66 strike.
That makes sense, seeing as Kanan didn’t really align with the ways of the Jedi after that. So, Caleb marked his life as a young Jedi, and Kanan represented the new man that he had become: a fugitive on the run whose main goal was to bring down the Empire.
Certainly, there’s a lot more to be learned about Kanan’s life from his comic book run. But just note that Star Wars has already begun to change that canon a bit, especially when it came to his appearance in The Bad Batch.
Star Wars Rebels is currently streaming on Disney+.