Jyn Erso (Felicity Jones) dies at the end of Rogue One: A Star Wars Story, but the original plan was to have her survive. The Jyn Erso death scene and the deaths of the other members operating under the callsign “Rogue One” has often split fans. Their ultimate sacrifice is what Princess Leia says brings “hope” to the rebellion, but the movie broke Star Wars tradition by killing off pretty much every hero that was featured. With these opposing viewpoints, and the fact that an alternate ending where Jyn survives actually exists, it’s an interesting thought experiment to consider what would happen to the Star Wars canon had she indeed escaped from Scarif with her life.
The original plan was to have Jyn survive in Rogue One in an effort to appeal to Disney, but this was later changed and the Jyn Erso death scene added. According to the creators, Jyn Erso was meant to become a sergeant in the rebellion, so she likely would have had a fairly prominent role in the Galactic Civil War. This would have had major ramifications in the wider Star Wars canon. For example, spin-off show Andor could have been a sequel, instead of a prequel, centering on the adventures of Cassian Andor and Jyn Erso. Here are all the ways that Star Wars would have changed if the Jyn Erso death scene never made it to Rogue One.
How Jyn Erso Could’ve Survived Scarif’s Destruction In Rogue One
Gary Whitta, Rogue One’s screenwriter, said in an interview that in the last scene of the movie, in the original script, “a rebel ship came down and got them off the surface. The transfer of the plans happened later. They jumped away and later [Leia’s] ship came in from Alderaan to help them. The ship-to-ship data transfer happened off Scarif” (via Entertainment Weekly). In the actual ending, it looks pretty obvious that Jyn and Cassian died, based on the Jyn Erso death scene, but Star Wars has retconned deaths, like Maul’s for example, in the past. Though the blast radius from the Death Star’s super laser seems to engulf the two rebels in Rogue One on the beaches of Scarif, that shuttle Whitta mentioned could perhaps have still arrived in just the nick of time.
The bigger question is how to retcon why others believe her to be dead in other Star Wars media if she was indeed rescued. Whitta had Jyn and Cassian escaping off of the Tantive IV in an escape pod. Given that Whitta has also said the plan was to have her be a sergeant, it sounds like she would have held a fairly prominent role in the rebellion later on. Though not based on anything in particular already in the Star Wars canon, perhaps leadership could have tried to hide her identity in order to protect her going forward. Whitta said that Jyn and Cassian “got away in an escape pod just in time” after they passed off the plans (via Entertainment Weekly). Given this, the Empire may never have learned that she actually survived. The point is, Star Wars could certainly come up with a retcon to make her survival happen.
Jyn Erso’s Bigger Role In Star Wars’ Rebellion
Jyn’s death may have indirectly saved Leia’s life. Davits Draven, a general with the Rebellion who oversaw the extraction of Jyn from the Imperial labor camp in Rogue One, expressed doubt in the young rebel to Mon Mothma. It was no secret that he was not impressed at first by Jyn, who he considered to be a Rebel deserter. But in the comic Star Wars #54, which features Davits and Leia between A New Hope and The Empire Strikes Back, the former sacrifices himself to Darth Vader, saving the latter’s life but not before saying, “It always bugged me that Jyn Erso got to be the hero and I got to be the guy who was wrong.” Had Jyn not died for the cause in Rogue One, Davits may not have sacrificed himself to Vader in place of Leia.
Rumors About Jyn Erso Being Rey’s Mother Would’ve Intensified
With Star Wars: The Force Awakens having been released in 2015, Rogue One’s 2016 release had fans speculating about connections between the two movies. One such theory involved Jyn being Rey’s mother. Felicity Jones and Daisy Ridley, who play Jyn and Rey respectively, share some similar physical features and of course, there’s the English accent. However, it was revealed in Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker that Rey was indeed a Palpatine, but that wouldn’t be until 2019.
With Jyn assumed to be dead at the end of Rogue One, the timeline just wouldn’t have added up if she had given birth to Rey before her death considering The Force Awakens takes place in 34 ABY and Rey was just a teenager by then. However, had Jyn survived in Rogue One, rumors about her possible maternal connection to Rey would have intensified. Rey was born in the year 15 ABY, which would have made Jyn 36 at the time of Rey’s birth had she survived. The theory that Jyn was Rey’s mother would have likely gained more traction throughout Star Wars’ sequel trilogy’s tenure.
Rogue One 2 May Have Happened Instead Of Rogue Squadron
The Rebel Alliance Starfighter Corps includes many squadrons of starfighters and of course Rogue Squadron referred to the one created by Luke Skywalker and Wedge Antilles in the comic Star Wars #52. They derived the name from Jyn’s “Rogue One,” honoring her and her team, the ones that had given a new sense of hope to the Rebellion. If Jyn had survived in Rogue One, it’s likely a “Rogue One 2” could have happened as an actual sequel in lieu of the now-canceled Rogue Squadron, which was supposed to function more as a spiritual sequel.
With Whitta originally planning to have Jyn be a sergeant with the Rebellion, “Rogue One 2” could have explored this new role of hers. While Rogue Squadron is one of the most well-known X-Wing Squadrons in Star Wars canon, and their story was an interesting one that’s worth telling, Felicity Jones had been under contract to make a sequel to Rogue One, and she has been very clear that she would love to come back to the franchise to reprise her role as Jyn in some way. If Jyn had survived in Rogue One, it’s likely that a sequel would have been made, perhaps instead of the canceled Rogue Squadron movie.
Andor Would Be Very Different
Disney’s Andor show takes place in the year 5 BBY and is, therefore, 5 years before the events of Rogue One. Andor chronicles the very beginning stages of the rebellion, and acts as a Rogue One prequel. Andor features several Star Wars characters that are familiar to fans, with Diego Luna returning as Cassian. Cassian was also supposed to survive after the Battle of Scarif along with Jyn. In this scenario, Andor very well could have ended up being a sequel series to Rogue One, rather than a prequel series. Given the close bond Jyn and Cassian had formed over the course of Rogue One, as well as their commitment to the Rebellion, such a sequel series could very well have followed their adventures together after their victory on Scarif.
Jyn’s death really meant something at the end of Rogue One. She had gone from a life of petty crime to being a hero of the Rebellion in just a short period of time. Her actions thwarted the Empire’s plans in Rogue One and since her sacrifice resonated with many future Rebels, to rob her character of that act undermines the weight of what was at stake. Whitta and his team wanted Jyn and her entire team to die from the get-go, but they went into talks with Disney planning to keep her alive because they felt the company wouldn’t go for their plan. However, Kathleen Kennedy gave them the go-ahead and so the original plan prevailed: to have Jyn and her team die. Given that Whitta and Director Gareth Edwards both stand by their decision to kill off most of the heroes in Rogue One: A Star Wars Story, it’s unlikely Jyn’s death will be retconned, but regardless, the many connections she had to the greater Star Wars canon goes to show that her role could easily have gone far beyond one movie.
Can Jyn Erso Appear In Andor?
Despite Cassian and Jyn meeting for the first time in Rogue One, it’s extremely probable that she’ll show up somewhere in Andor. While Cassian may be the focus of Andor, there are plenty of other titular Star Wars characters that appear in the show. Couple that with the fact that Felicity Jones is still under contract to appear in another Star Wars story, and it’s all but a guarantee. Saw Gerrara, who was at one point Jyn’s guardian, already has a presence in the series, just greasing the wheels for her return. Therefore, filling out Jyn Erso’s pre-Rogue One story doesn’t just make sense, but it’s highly likely given what the series has shown thus far. Obviously, she won’t be able to run into Cassian, but a separate Jyn storyline about how she came to be a part of the rebellion could definitely be in the cards. Felicity Jones’ character is a huge fan favorite, and many have openly expressed that they’d like to see more of her. Considering that the Jyn Erso death scene made anything post-Rogue One: A Star Wars Story impossible, the next best thing would be exploring her character’s origins in Andor.