Star Wars: The Force Awakens: What Happens After Return of the Jedi

After being produced for Star Wars: Rebels in 2014, Hera Syndulla has taken place to come to be a small-but-important personality in the general Star Wars canon, appearing in numerous stories as well as comics – but what about her appearances after Return of the Jedi? This is one of the most interesting – as well as least developed – of all the eras of the Skywalker saga, and it looks as if Hera is being positioned to figure prominently in it.

Hera, it turns out, has always been intertwined with the greater Star Wars Expanded Universe right from day one: after being introduced in a Rebels short, she co-starred in the first canon book, A New Dawn, before moving on to the television show proper. And though her appearances in the mythology were mostly constrained during Rebels’ four-year run, she’s since found her way into a handful of other stories, most especially the Star Wars and Doctor Aphra monthly comic book series that take place throughout the original trilogy.

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Which leads to her post-Return of the Jedi arc. Thanks to the 4-minute-or-so epilogue in the Rebels series finale – and to a smattering of Forces of Destiny YouTube minisodes – it's known that General Hera Syndulla piloted her trusty Corellian freighter, the Ghost, in the Battle of Endor, helping to defeat the second Death Star (also present aboard her trusty ship were Captain Rex, the Clone Wars veteran, and the indefatigable droid Chopper). Immediately afterwards, she helped distribute food rations and supplies to the wanting Ewok populace – and to defend them from a holdover Imperial garrison on the other side of the moon that was hellbent on revenge. (Han Solo, along with Poe Dameron’s parents, would end up leading the push to raze this last Endor base, as seen in the comic book miniseries Shattered Empire.)

But it’s in the months after the Rebel Alliance’s victory, as it quickly transitions itself from a ragtag fighting force to the New Republic government, that Hera begins to shine. As seen in the still-releasing Alphabet Squadron trilogy of stories, the general is given both her own battle group as well as her own flagship, the Lodestar, which is a hand-me-down Acclamator-class battleship (the pre-Star Destroyers that were originally seen in Attack of the Clones). From here, she oversees Hail, Meteor, Vangaurd, as well as, eventually, Alphabet Squadrons, along with a smattering of support vessels, as they go from system to system in that galaxy far, far away to try and put down whatever remaining Imperial remnants there are. Along the way, she learns of the continued existence of the deadly 204th Imperial Fighter Wing, better known as Shadow Wing, and partners with New Republic Intelligence to try and eliminate one of the Empire’s biggest threats once and for all – and becomes a target for assassination by the ace pilots for her troubles.

By the end of the second Alphabet Squadron installment, Hera is left some six months before the Battle of Jakku (the event that formally ends the Galactic Civil War and sees the leftover Imperial leadership retreat into interstellar space to reconstitute itself as the First Order) – and some 4-and-a-half years before The Mandalorian, whose upcoming second season promises to include a number of legendary animated characters, including Ahsoka Tano and, just perhaps, Captain Rex. While the canon has actually yet to reveal whether Admiral Hera Syndulla survives the continued Imperial wrath up until this point, it’s entirely possible that, if she does, viewers might be treated to a live-action version of her in one particular Disney+ production or another – or, failing that, then her young pilot son, Jacen Syndulla, who would be nine years old at this point. It’s easy to see how the progeny of a Jedi Knight and one of the New Republic’s top military brass could have a bright future in the Star Wars folklore, whether on the web page or on the (little) display.

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