[Mild SPOILERS for Rogue One: A Star Wars Story ahead.]
Rogue One: A Star Wars Story hasn't even been playing in U.S. theaters for a week at the time of writing this, yet fans of all things based in a galaxy far, far away have wasted no time documenting the film's many Easter Eggs and nods to other Star Wars movies, novels and TV shows alike. While there are (naturally) several references in Rogue One to the movie that takes place shortly after it, Episode IV - A New Hope, there are also multiple shout-outs in the film to Star Wars Rebels: the Disney XD animated TV series that takes place not too long (read: a few years) before the events of both Rogue One and A New Hope.
Rebels co-creator and showrunner Dave Filoni has already spoken publicly about the many nods to the show in Rogue One, most notably the appearance of the Ghost (the spaceship that Rebels' main crew of heroes calls home) during Rogue One's climactic space battle - and of course, the brief cameo that Rebels droid Chopper makes in a scene set at the Rebel Alliance's main base on Yavin IV. An official screenshot of Chopper's cameo in Rogue One has now been revealed, along with some words of insight about the droid's appearance from Lucasfilm Story Group member Matt Martin.
Matin, as it were, actually got to operate the practically-built Chopper robot (the same one that is used weekly in the Rebels Recon YouTube video news series) that was featured in said Rogue One sequence, as depicted in the screenshot below. In an interview published on Star Wars.com, Martin spoke about how the Rebels Easter Eggs in Rogue One reflect the Lucasfilm Story Group's larger efforts to make the various parts of the multimedia Star Wars franchise (which comprises movies, TV shows, novels, comic books and video games) feel more interconnected with one another. He also noted that "It's a reciprocal thing; elements of Rogue One could naturally find their way back into Rebels."
Martin's comment about how elements of Rogue One may "find their way back into Rebels" isn't just empty talk. It's already been confirmed that the character of Saw Gerrera, who originated in the animated Star Wars: The Clone Wars TV show and has been name-dropped on Star Wars Rebels episodes past, will show up in person on Rebels in 2017, voiced by Rogue One's Saw Gerrera actor Forest Whitaker no less. Filoni has similarly indicated that Rebels may one day even depict the Battle of Scarif in Rogue One from the perspective of the Ghost and its crew - or failing that, may at least show the TV series' characters making their way to the famous rebel based located on Yavin IV, down the line.
For longtime Rebels fans, the nods to the show in Rogue One is a welcome move that makes the TV show feel more like a relevant and important part of the larger Star Wars continuity. There are a number of reasons why Rebels felt somewhat disconnected from the rest of the Star Wars universe in its earlier seasons, not least of all because of its more kid-friendly tone (being a Disney XD TV show and all that). However, as Rebels continues to integrate everything from Clone Wars characters (Ahsoka Tano, Captain Rex) to famous live-action Star Wars characters (Darth Maul, Darth Vader) and even elements of the old Star Wars Expanded Universe once thought lost (Grand Admiral Thrawn) into its proceedings, it continues to make a case for itself as a worthwhile extension and expansion of the mainline Star Wars franchise.
Source: Star Wars.com