The Tusken Raiders have been a part of the Star Wars mythology ever since A New Hope, but they haven’t been given any sort of real backstory or characteristics outside of the fact that they travel in single file to mask their numbers and are typically portrayed as unintelligible savages. But now, The Mandalorian has finally depicted the sand-dwellers with some personality.
In George Lucas’ opening chapter, the Tuskens are one of the first alien races audiences are introduced to when Obi-Wan Kenobi warns Luke Skywalker about their violent tendencies. Both The Phantom Menace and Attack of the Clones further that notion during the Tatooine sequences, with the Tuskens still nothing more than savages that pop up to cause havoc every now and again.
They even played a small but integral part in pushing Anakin Skywalker towards the Dark Side after abducting his mother, leading to the future Darth Vader exacting violent revenge on an entire Tusken village. However, The Mandalorian‘s season 2 premiere marked the first time they’d actually been treated as three-dimensional parts of the Star Wars universe instead of mere cannon fodder. Not only can Mando speak their language fluently, but we get a glimpse into their culture and customs throughout the episode, before they forge an alliance with the title hero and Cobb Vanth in an effort to take care of the Krayt Dragon, a common enemy that all parties would be much better off without.
As ScreenRant explains:
The Mandalorian did what Lucas could not: It turned the Tusken Raiders into real people, not xenophobic savages who wouldn’t let anyone near them or accept anyone into their ranks. In many ways, The Mandalorian brought what the Expanded Universe did with the Tuskens – exploring their history, their humanity, and their perspective things – into Star Wars canon. It’s easy to dismiss what the Expanded Universe/Legends did because those stories were always extra, but The Mandalorian grasped at the perfect opportunity to fix one of George Lucas’ original mistakes with A New Hope.
Of course, one of The Mandalorian‘s greatest strengths is adding more depth and texture to locations and species that are instantly recognizable to Star Wars fans, and it was about time the Tusken Raiders finally got something meaningful to do.