Star Wars is a television empire now. While at first the TV side of the franchise was limited to The Clone Wars and Rebels (animated shows often seen as superfluous to the main timeline), the success of The Mandalorian and the announcement of nine new Star Wars series mean there will soon be more Star Wars shows than flagship movies. However, one wild new theory suggests these two different mediums may not be connected at all.
The theory — Redditor u/ORION93 suggests the world of The Mandalorian — and the other upcoming Disney+ spinoffs Ahsoka and Rangers of the New Republic — exists in a separate timeline from the sequel trilogy of movies. According to this theory, the two timelines diverged during the "world between worlds" arc of Star Wars: Rebels, when Ezra Bridger was able to save Ahsoka via time travel. The timeline of The Mandalorian is the one where she survived, but the sequel trilogy of movies exist in the timeline where she dies.
This explains why Ahsoka's voice was in the montage of other dead Jedi during The Rise of Skywalker, and could even explain Ben Solo's fall to the Dark side. Without Ahsoka, there's no visit to Tython. Without Tython, Grogu doesn't make the call to all the Jedi in the galaxy. Without the call, Luke doesn't train Grogu. Without Grogu showing Luke how to handle such a powerful (and reckless) padawan, Ben's transformation into Kylo Ren seems inevitable.
This would allow The Mandalorian to circumvent all of the stuff Star Wars fans didn't like about the sequel movies — like cranky Luke Skywalker — while without breaking canon. It also sets up what's essentially a Star Wars multiverse, which clearly seems to be the trend these days with other big franchises like Marvel and DC.
The problem — But for this to work, The Mandalorian Season 3 could reincorporate the time travel elements from Rebels and set Ahsoka up for her own series, which is already speculated to include some time travel itself. It's one thing to mess with time travel in an animated series, but bringing the concept into live-action Star Wars might be a stretch.
This theory really works more as a thought experiment than an actual prediction for The Mandalorian Season 3. After all, there are already connections between the shows and the movies — the proto-Snokes in The Mandalorian, for example — that make this difficult to believe. Star Wars is one of the few franchises that doesn't majorly include some form of time travel with multiple timelines, and it's unlikely Lucasfilm would write off an entire third of its main canon so easily.
Plus, if the divergence point of these two timelines is the "world between worlds" scene of Rebels, this would mean the original trilogy is in a different timeline from The Mandalorian, which doesn't make much sense considering original trilogy easter eggs are treated like an art form by Jon Favreau and Dave Filoni.
Speaking of which, Filoni has also hinted that Ahsoka doesn't have to be dead to give Rey a boost in The Rise of Skywalker. So that pretty much shuts the door on this trippy Mandalorian theory.
The Inverse analysis — As much as some fans would like to pick and choose between what is and isn't canon, the main nine films will always be the core the rest of the Star Wars galaxy is built around. And as much as I might want the rebellious teen Palpatine depicted in James Luceno's Darth Plagueis to be canon, it isn't. Canon isn't going to always be perfect for everyone, which is the benefit of Star Wars: there's so much in the Legends non-canon universe to explore if what is canonical doesn't suit you.
Even though it's probably not true, this theory proves just how influential one character is as a whole. If it weren't for Ahsoka, the entire trajectory of Star Wars would be different.
The Mandalorian Season 2 is now streaming on Disney+.