On Monday, Lucasfilm released the Star Wars: The Bad Batch Season 3 trailer, confirming the surprising return of Asajj Ventress, a fan-favorite character from Star Wars: The Clone Wars. Ventress is one of the Nightsisters, a group with renewed relevance to significant events in the Star Wars galaxy (or galaxies), who became Sith assassin and apprentice to Count Dooku. However, her last appearance in Star Wars canon ended with her death. How has Asajj Ventress returned from the grave, yellow lightsaber in hand? And who was she in the first place?
Here, we’ll look back at Asajj Ventress’ creation and Star Wars history. We’ll also consider how she may return in Star Wars: The Bad Batch.
When did Star Wars introduce Asajj Ventress?
Star Wars fans first met Asajj Ventress in Genndy Tartakovsky’s 2003 Star Wars: Clone Wars 2D animated series, now categorized as non-canon, part of Star Wars Legends. Ventress’ visual design was initially conceived during pre-production on Star Wars: Attack of the Clones to be a powerful female Sith. However, Lucas scrapped the character in favor of Count Dooku.
In Star Wars: Clone Wars, Ventress appeared as Dooku’s vicious apprentice sent out to kill Anakin Skywalker. This portrayal, which offered little nuance, continued into the Star Wars comics, with Ventress appearing in Dark Horse’s ongoing Star Wars: Republic series and Star Wars: Obsession as a part of the Clone Wars multimedia project.
Asajj Ventress returned in the Star Wars: The Clone Wars animated movie and the expansive 3D animated series that followed. Star Wars: The Clone Wars provided Ventress (voiced by Nika Futterman) with much more depth.
Early episodes of Star Wars: The Clone Wars used Ventress similarly to how she had been used in Star Wars: Clone Wars, with Dooku sending her on various covert missions that often brought her into conflict with Anakin Skywalker, Ahsoka Tano, and Obi-Wan Kenobi, but a much more complicated picture of who Ventress is eventually emerges.
Asajj Ventress’ origin
Ventress was born on Dathomir. Nightsister leader Mother Talzin gave the infant Ventress over to the pirate Hal’Sted to prevent further harassment of the tribe. Hal’Sted took Ventress to the planet Rattatak, a volatile world where warlords and criminals constantly vied violently for power and territory. There, he treated Ventress well while beginning the process of turning her into an unparalleled assassin, a weapon to wield against his enemies.
Ventress’ life was interrupted by the arrival of the Jedi Knight Ky Narec. Narec had become stranded on Rattatak. Coming across the pirates, he slew them, including Hal’Sted. Sensing Ventress’ power in the Force, Narec took her as his apprentice, telling her the lie that a pirate uprising had led to Hal’Sted’s death.
Unable to leave Rattatak, Narec trained Ventress in the ways of the Force independently of the Jedi Order for 21 years. During a battle with Weequay raiders, Narec took a fatal wound from a sniper’s blaster and died in Ventress’ arms. This led to Ventress’ first steps toward the dark side as she took up her slain master’s lightsaber and exacted lethal vengeance on the raider who killed Narec.
Ventress eliminated many of Rattatak’s squabbling warlords, claiming herself as the planet’s ruler. However, the warlord who had ordered her master’s death remained. She attempted to kill him but failed and was again enslaved, this time forced into gladiatorial combat in an arena with a stun collar around her neck.
The dark side power emanating from Ventress eventually called to Count Dooku, who came to Rattatak and freed her. Impressed with how much power she managed to gain alone on Rattatak, Dooku took her in as his apprentice and assassin, turning her against the Jedi Order by telling her that the Jedi had left Ky Narec on Rattatak to die and later revealing the truth about how Hal’Sted had died.
Dooku gave Ventress two curved lightsabers with red blades to wield. Under his tutelage, Ventress grew stronger. Darth Sidious, Dooku’s master, began to recognize her as the threat Dooku intended her to become and ordered Dooku to have Ventress killed. Unable to oppose his master, Dooku gave the order, but Ventress escaped.
Ventress and the Nightsisters
Ventress returned to Dathomir and reconnected with her Nightsister tribe, learning the truth of where she came from. Together with Mother Talzin, they hatched a plot for revenge against Dooku. The Nightsisters used their magic to transform a NIghtbrother (a Zabrak under the influence of the Nightsisters’ power) named Savage Opress (brother of Darth Maul, another NIghtbrother) into a fierce fighter, attracting Dooku’s attention. Savage became Dooku’s new apprentice while still under the influence of the Nightsisters, but even he and Ventress combined proved incapable of defeating Dooku.
Having had her fill of galactic conflict, Ventress began working as a bounty hunter, building a new lightsaber to help her. This lightsaber had a yellow blade from a kyber crystal she acquired on the black market, replacing the Sith-red lightsaber pair that Count Dooku had previously given her. Her skills helped her become the first to find her old rival, Ahsoka Tano after Ahsoka was framed for murder. However, Ventress believed Ahsoka when she said she was innocent and chose not to turn the young Jedi in. Instead, she helped Ahsoka and Anakin discover the true culprit, Bariss Offee.
(Photo: Lucasfilm Ltd.)
Ventress in Star Wars: Dark Disciple
Ventress’ story in Star Wars: The Clone Wars was meant to continue with an eight-episode arc planned for the show’s seventh and eighth seasons. Those episodes were scrapped when the series was canceled, but the story became the basis for Christie Golden’s 2015 novel Star Wars: Dark Disciple, Ventress’ final appearance in canon until now.
Star Wars: Dark Disciple sees Ventress – possessed of a new sense of self apart from the Jedi and the Sith – joining forces with the bold Jedi Knight Quinlan Vos on a mission to assassinate Count Dooku. Ventress is dubious of the plan at first but begrudgingly agrees to help Vos on the condition that he learn the ways of the dark side of the Force, believing them vital to defeating Dooku.
During their training on Dathomir, where Ventress initiated Quinlan in several Nightsister rituals, Ventress and Vos fell in love, an all but forgotten emotion for Ventress during her days as a dark side disciple. However, the pull of the dark side of the Force proved too much for Vos. He fell to the dark side, becoming Dooku’s apprentice in earnest.
Ventress eventually breaks Dooku’s control on Vos, bringing the Jedi back to the light. However, during a final battle with Dooku, Ventress sacrifices her life, taking the brunt of a Force lightning attack from Dooku to save Vos’ life. Vos carries Ventress’ body with him to Dathomir and leaves her in the waters by her former village.
How has Asajj Ventress returned in Star Wars: The Bad Batch?
Since Ventress seemingly died during the waning days of the Clone Wars, there are questions surrounding her return. Was she not truly dead to begin with? Or has she returned from the dead, in a fashion, with the help of the necromantic energies that permeate Dathomir? Although, revived Nightsisters typically have a zombie-like demeanor (ask anyone who has played Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order).
Alternatively, Dave Filoni may have decided to rewrite Ventress’ fate. It wouldn’t be the first time he’s contradicted in television events that have appeared in Star Wars books and comics. He’s contradicted the Star Wars: Ahsoka novel twice, first in his depiction of the Siege of Mandalore and later in how Ahsoka joined the rebellion against the Empire. The first episode of Star Wars: The Bad Batch also rewrote what happened to Jedi Padawan Caleb Dume, a.k.a. Kanan Jarrus, when Order 66 came down, which had previously been depicted in the Star Wars: Kanan – The Last Padawan comics. He may offer a new take on what happened to Ventress during the war’s last days.
There’s also a question of where Ventress has been since then. It’s possible that she returned to work as a bounty hunter, which might explain how she winds up crossing paths with the Bad Batch. Another possibility is that she reunited with Quinlan Vos, who we know survived the Jedi Purge, and began working with the Hidden Path network to find refuge for other Jedi and Force-sensitives seeking safety from the Empire’s Inquisitors.
Whatever the answer, fans should look to Star Wars: The Bad Batch Season 3 on Disney+. The final season debuts its first three episodes on February 21st.