Warning: Spoilers for the series finale of Star Wars Rebels
Star Wars Rebels had some major crossovers and tie-ins with some other Star Wars movies, namely Rogue One, but at the end of the day it was mostly a stand-alone story. Instead of the series finale featuring the Battle of Scarif or bringing in a major character, it instead turned back to its own roots as the Ghost Crew and friends battle for the freedom of Lothal. Even so, the conclusion of the show could have implications that shape the face of the Star Wars franchise for years to come.
Coming to a close with some shocking twists, Rebels saw Ezra calling the Purgil (hyperspace whales) to come and jump him and Thrawn to a mysterious location, followed by the reveal that Ahsoka and Sabine will team up to go find them, teasing what many hope is the next Star Wars animated show.
It's not clear where Ezra a Thrawn went, but the Unknown Regions are the most logical explanation. After all, Star Wars has been building the region up in various forms of canon media since the franchise was revived with The Force Awakens. It's where Thrawn comes from, where the Empire became the First Order, and also where Snoke comes from. With some additional historical significance in non-canon Legends continuity, it only makes sense that the franchise would find its future by leaving the known galaxy and funding something untouched by previous events in the saga.
This page: What Are the Unknown Regions?
What Are the Unknown Regions?
The Unknown Regions is a fairly nebulous term that could refer to a specific area or just any region of uncharted space, as suggested by the word "unknown." Despite the fact that they're shrouded in mystery, we have slowly learned a few details about them.
First, part of the reason they're unknown is travel to and from them can treacherous. As explained by Han Solo, "Traveling through hyperspace ain't like dusting crops, boy! Without precise calculations, we could fly right through a star or bounce too close to a supernova and that'd end your trip real quick, wouldn't it?" Most ships in the Star Wars galaxy get around by following pre-established hyperspace routes certifying safe passage, but there are no well-known routes charting navigation through to the Unknown Regions. It's too dangerous to just jump straight through because the expanse between is full of space debris and other anomalies, but it's also devoid of easy landmarks or habitable planets at which to stop, making it nearly impossible to chart a proper route through at sublight speed.
Nevertheless, it's not entirely impossible to traverse the expanse, as it has been done by some, such as Thrawn, who hails from the Chiss Ascendency in the Unknown Regions. The Chiss were concerned about the existence of a massive threat within the Unknown Regions, so they tasked Thrawn with infiltrating the Galactic Empire to determine if they were a suitable ally to repel this threat.
Curious about the Unknown Regions himself, Palpatine gave Thrawn a position within the Imperial Navy and even leaned on him to chart routes back into the Unknown Regions. Palpatine had sensed a dark energy coming from outside the known galaxy, and believed it could be the very source of the dark side of the Force. He died before he could complete this investigation himself, but he was able to establish a number of research outposts in the Unknown Regions and instructed his top Imperial officers to retreat there after the Battle of Jakku.
In the Unknown Regions, the Imperial Remnant once again began to grow, joining with the forces Palpatine had sent ahead, but they were unprepared for a number of the threats that they encountered there, eventually turning to Snoke, who, like Palpatine before him, used his knowledge of the dark side of the Force to shepherd the Empire as it grew into the First Order, becoming the Supreme Leader, and eventually returning to the known galaxy to reclaim what the Empire had lost.
In the old Legends continuity, the threat encountered by the Chiss was the Yuuzhan Vong. The Vong would eventually go to war against the New Republic and reborn Jedi Order in a conflict that would ultimately be bloodier than the Galactic Civil War between the Empire and the Rebellion. Outside of the similar story with the mysterious threat to the Chiss, there's no indication that the Vong will show up in new canon, but it is interesting to note that Dave Filoni had plans to incorporate them (and possibly Thrawn) into one of the canceled seasons of The Clone Wars.
- Solo: A Star Wars Story (2018) release date: May 25, 2018
- Star Wars 9 / Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker (2019) release date: Dec 20, 2019