The World Between Worlds might seem very confusing at first, considering just how mystical the concept is. The strange realm was first introduced in Rebels season 4, and it could be essential to the Ahsoka show. That means it’s worth getting up to speed on just what this ethereal plane of existence is – and whether it actually introduces time travel to Star Wars.
We’ve got everything you need to know about the World Between Worlds right here, including essential backstory from The Clone Wars that helps to understand this mysterious realm. We’ve also looked at what the World Between Worlds could mean for the Ahsoka show as it continues. That means we’ve gone pretty deep, so get settled in.
If you’re looking to catch up on Rebels now that Ahsoka is here, try our guide on everything you need to know about Rebels to understand Ahsoka. There’s also our roundup of what to watch before Ahsoka and our rundown of how to watch The Clone Wars in order, too.
What is the World Between Worlds?
To explain the World Between Worlds, first, we have to explain Mortis – and that’s no easy task, so buckle up.
The mysterious realm of Mortis is first introduced in The Clone Wars, when Anakin Skywalker, his Padawan Ahsoka Tano, and Obi-Wan Kenobi are brought there from space together. In Mortis, they discover a family of gods with a curious connection to the Force: the Daughter (the light side), the Son (the dark side), and the Father (the balance).
It turns out that the Father has lured Anakin there to find out if the Jedi really is the Chosen One. To test this, the Father, Son, and Daughter kidnap Obi-Wan and Ahsoka, and try to force Anakin to choose which one to save. Naturally, Anakin uses his tremendous power to make the Son and Daughter release both Ahsoka and Obi-Wan.
This proves to the Father that Anakin is the Chosen One after all, and he asks Anakin to stay and take his place – if Anakin doesn’t, he’ll be putting the galaxy in grave danger, according to the Father (and we know he’s correct, after all). Anakin, though, refuses and leaves Mortis with Ahsoka and Obi-Wan, as the Imperial March ominously plays in the background.
Except, the trio don’t actually manage to escape. The Son kidnaps Ahsoka and imprisons her, then attacks the Father. The Daughter gives Obi-Wan the Dagger of Mortis, which can kill these strange beings, but the Son corrupts Ahsoka with the dark side – and Ahsoka gets the Dagger in a fight with Anakin and Obi-Wan. After she hands it over to the Son, he kills her and mortally wounds the Daughter by mistake while trying to kill the Father. The Son flees, and Anakin and the Daughter are able to transfer the Daughter’s remaining life force into Ahsoka and bring her back to life. The Padawan awakens with no memory of her ordeal. But, with the Daughter dead, Mortis is succumbing to darkness, which the Father says means the dark side will come out on top in the galaxy, too.
Anakin, on the hunt for the Son, is directed to a sinister place called the Well of the Dark Side by the spirit of Qui-Gon Jinn. The Son gives Anakin a vision of his future as Darth Vader, and, horrified, Anakin agrees to go with the Son in order to prevent these dark events from coming to pass. This means Anakin falls to the dark side, which Obi-Wan discovers when he arrives.
The Father eventually erases Anakin’s memory of his vision, which reverts him back to the light side. A fight ensues with the Son, but the Father ends up using the Dagger on himself to take away the Son’s power. It works, and the Son and the Father end up reconciling – before Anakin kills the Son. As the Father dies, he tells Anakin that he is the Chosen One since he’s brought balance to Mortis, and tells him that he’ll bring balance to the galaxy if he stays on the same path.
But, with his dying words, he gives Anakin one disturbing warning: “Beware your heart.” The Father then dies, which means the Force powers of Mortis also wane. Ultimately, Ahsoka, Anakin, and Obi-Wan wake up on their ship, in space, with only a moment having passed since they were last there. Weird, huh?
The World Between Worlds in Rebels
Why did we go through all that, you might be asking? Well, that’s because the Mortis gods are essential to the World Between Worlds.
In Rebels, Ezra Bridger is lured by Loth-wolves (giant wolves with a mysterious connection to the Force) to his home planet Lothal’s Jedi Temple, which has been captured by the Empire. One wolf, named Dume – who could be Ezra’s late Jedi Master Kanan Jarrus living on after death, since his real name is Caleb Dume – gives Ezra strange instructions in the form of a painting of hand signals.
On the Jedi Temple wall is a mural of the three Mortis gods, and Ezra realizes the hand signals correspond to one of the Father, Son, and Daughter to open and close a portal. He follows the instructions, then the Loth-wolves on the painting move and form a circle. Ezra is able to pass through this circle and enters the World Between Worlds itself.
This is a mystical place in a black void with pathways that lead to gateways, each with mysterious markings. As Ezra walks through this strange land, he hears voices from the past and present: Obi-Wan, Anakin, Ahsoka, Rey, Kylo Ren, Yoda, Qui-Gon Jinn, Darth Vader, Kanan, Maz Kanata, Chirrut Îmwe, Jyn Erso, Poe Dameron, the Daughter, and Leia Organa can all be heard. Interestingly enough, Obi-Wan and Qui-Gon Jinn’s exchange on Mortis is one of the first things heard in the World Between Worlds: Obi-Wan asks, “what is this place?” and Qui-Gon responds: “a conduit through which the entire Force of the universe flows.”
Ezra approaches one particular gateway, which has a green and white bird perched atop it. This is Morai, a convor (which looks a lot like an owl), a bird associated with the Daughter – in fact, she might even be the Daughter herself. Morai is often seen with Ahsoka, and even potentially appeared in The Mandalorian season 2, episode 5, when Ahsoka made her live-action debut.
Through this gateway, Morai shows Ezra the battle between Ahsoka and Vader from the Rebels season 2 finale, which takes place in a Sith Temple. With encouragement from the convor, Ezra reaches through and pulls Ahsoka to safety, meaning she narrowly avoids a killing blow from Vader’s lightsaber.
Ezra then thinks he could use the World Between Worlds to save Kanan, but Ahsoka reminds him that, if he did, that would result in the Ghost crew being killed – Kanan sacrificed himself to save them. Instead, Ezra has to learn to let go.
Emperor Palpatine also wants access to the World Between Worlds, though, and tries to reach Ahsoka and Ezra through a gateway. They manage to escape his clutches, and Ahsoka leaves the World Between Worlds and ends up back in the Sith Temple.
When Ezra leaves the Jedi Temple, he once again has to interact with the painting of the Mortis gods to shut the portal. As he does, the Son can be heard saying: “The future, by its nature, can be changed.” The gods then move out of view on the mural, and the Temple begins to collapse.
Is the World Between Worlds in Ahsoka?
From what we’ve seen of Ahsoka so far, it certainly looks like the World Between Worlds will come into play. For one thing, the first logo unveiled for the Ahsoka show appears to feature the same markings seen on the mural of the Mortis gods.
The markings around the edge of the Ahsoka logo also seem to match closely to the markings seen around the portal that Ezra used to rescue Ahsoka.
Also, it looks like a showdown between Ahsoka and new villain Baylan Skoll could have something to do with the World Between Worlds, as seen in the trailer.
Though they’re not actually inside the realm, instead inside the hologram of the galaxy first unveiled by Morgan Elsbeth, the glowing dome bears some resemblance to the pathways and markings within the World Between Worlds. Interestingly enough, these markings are also found within the Ahsoka end-credits. Since Baylan, Morgan, and Shin Hati are looking for Grand Admiral Thrawn, who is stranded in a distant galaxy, it’s possible that the World Between Worlds will come into play in the search for the Imperial.
Plus, Morgan unveils the dome after using what looks to be magick, probably thanks to her ancestors being the Nightsisters of Dathomir. Things are certainly looking very mystical.
How or if the World Between Worlds will factor into the plot of Ahsoka remains to be seen. But, with all of time potentially accessible through this strange plane of existence, it’s clear that the possibilities are endless.
Is the World Between Worlds time travel in Star Wars?
In theory, yes. We haven’t strictly seen it used for time travel purposes just yet, however, as Ahsoka returns to the ruined Sith Temple – suggesting she went back to her own timeline. If Ezra had stepped through the portal into the fight with Vader, he would have been time travelling to the past, and if Ahsoka had gone back with Ezra, she would have been time travelling to the future.
Rebels is also clear on the consequences for meddling with time, as Ahsoka warns Ezra against using the World Between Worlds to save Kanan, considering that would have resulted in the deaths of the Ghost crew.
Whether there are Force-related ramifications for time travel remains to be seen, however. We can’t help but imagine messing with the timeline could cause some major disturbances to the Force, though, but who’s to say at this point.
In the meantime, check out our guide to all the upcoming Star Wars movies and TV shows through the link – or, if you’re in the mood for a movie marathon, try our roundup of the best Star Wars movies ranked.