The history of Asajj Ventress

Dive into Asajj Ventress' canonical history in Star Wars

Star Wars: The Bad Batch. Asajj Ventress Returns. Image Credit: The Walt Disney All Access Pages
Star Wars: The Bad Batch. Asajj Ventress Returns. Image Credit: The Walt Disney All Access Pages /

In true Star Wars fashion, a popular villain character long thought deceased is, in fact, not dead! Everyone’s favorite Nightsister, fallen Jedi padawan turned Separatist dark side assassin, is back. None other than Asajj Ventress.

We first (officially) learned about Ventress's return with the release of the trailer for the third and final season of The Bad Batch, which featured Ventress with her yellow lightsaber. More on that later.

Rumors of the return of Count Dooku’s former apprentice had been circulating in the Star Wars community consistently for months if not years. In fact, so frequently was discussion around her resurrection that any supposed leaks about the possibility of her reintroduction were not taken seriously at all.

Now that she is indeed back let's take a look at the (surprisingly) long history of everyone’s favorite girl from Dathomir (not counting Merrin, of course!).

The History of Asajj Ventress

Asajj Ventress first appeared in the old Star Wars Legends continuity all the way back in 2003. Prior to her debut, she started life as a piece of concept art for the pre-production of Attack of the Clones as the story team was creating the character of the Sith apprentice who would eventually become Count Dooku. The name Asajj is a reference to a character called Asaji from the Akira Kurosawa 1957 film Throne of Blood. Kurosawa was a major influence on George Lucas, who based much of the story progression of A New Hope on the Kurosawa masterpiece Hidden Fortress.

Her first ever story was in a Clone Wars-era comic featuring Mace Windu in February of 2003, with her on-screen debut being in November of that same year in the legendary 2-D animated series Star Wars: Clone Wars from Genndy Tartakovsky. The comic and animated series establishes Ventress as the disciple of Count Dooku and cements her as one of the Jedi’s greatest foes of the Clone Wars era.

After the 2014 continuity reset, Ventress’ first canon appearance was the 2008 The Clone Wars movie, which served as a launch pad for the 3-D series that would be the bulk of Ventress’ story exposure. During this time, we would learn more about Ventress and her tragic past.

A child of the blood-red planet Dathomir, Ventress was born to the clan of the Nightsisters, a sisterhood of witches and assassins who use the Force more like magic and are some of the galaxy's most feared and secretive killers. As a child, she was stolen from her home world by pirates before being rescued by Jedi Master Ky Narec. Again, Ventress was the victim of pirates after they killed her master, precipitating her fall to the dark side of the Force. This would eventually lead Ventress into the hand of Count Dooku, who would instruct her in the ways of the dark side and give Ventress her iconic pair of curved red lightsabers.

Ventress then suffered a betrayal from her own master. Under instructions from Darth Sidious, who felt Ventress was becoming too strong in the dark side, Dooku tried to have her killed to prove his loyalty to his Sith master. After failing to exact her revenge on her old master with her Nightsister family, Ventress wandered the galaxy alone for a time.

Now a bounty hunter, Ventress replaced her two red blades with a single yellow one bought off the black market, this time with no curved hilt like her old masters. During this time, she met the Jedi Quinlan Vos, who had been tasked with assassinating Count Dooku. This natural ally was the perfect opportunity for Asajj to finally exact her revenge on her former teacher. Although the attempt failed, Ventress would come to fall in love with Vos, whom she helped rescue from Dooku at the cost of her own life.

The events of Ventress’ final attempt to kill Count Dooku are recounted in the 2015 novel Dark Disciple by Christie Golden. Originally planned as a colossal eight-part arc for The Clone Wars, the show's cancelation left this story in the dark for a time. It was repurposed for the novel which was intended to serve as the epilogue for Ventress’ story as well as a nice call back to Vos’s dark side arc from the fantastic Star Wars: Republic comic line from Dark Horse.

While it seemed like an ending for the character, the creators had other ideas. Dave Filoni heavily considered bringing back Ventress in Star Wars Resistance. However, it was decided she would take away focus from the series' new characters. So instead, the character of Mika Grey was inspired by Ventress as a "What if Asajj survived to the sequel trilogy?"

Ventress is indeed back in The Bad Batch, as is her yellow lightsaber. Although, interestingly, this is not the same one as when she was a bounty hunter during the Clone Wars. Her new blade, as seen in the most recent episode of The Bad Batch, has a curved hilt like that of her old dark master. The significance of this may yet be revealed, but perhaps we can now interpret some of what is going on in Assaj’s head.

She is no longer playing the part of the ruthless killer that made her so feared during the Clone Wars. This new Ventress may still be cold and calculating, but she is certainly not a force of evil. This Ventress takes the time to instruct a child in the ways of the Force, and instead of cutting down a sea monster that threatens her, as she very easily could have, she used the Force to bring peace to the creature. Perhaps now, Ventress has found a measure of her own peace and has come to terms with her dark and violent past. Her curved lightsaber hilt may even signal a sense of forgiveness for her former master.

Although the ‘un-deadening’ of characters in Star Wars is said to be overdone, especially in recent years, Ventress’ return has thus far been received positively, with fans expressing their enthusiasm for seeing how Ventress has been given the opportunity to grow as a character beyond the trappings of her shadowy past. There is a lot to look forward to here, and rather than Asajj being at the end of her story, we could be witnessing just the beginning.

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