The events of Rogue One lead directly into A New Hope, providing zero room within the storyline to insert a sequel – unless it were to take place concurrent with Episode IV, and the new trilogy picks up a few decades after the events of Episode VI: Return of the Jedi. Although it’s possible, if Lucasfilm were so inclined, for the heroes of Rogue One who didn’t definitively die on screen in the film to return as their older selves in the new episodic installments — with the explanation that they were healing or otherwise occupied during the original trilogy — it seems unlikely. Not only would it take away from the impact of Rogue One’s ending in which so many sacrificed their lives to obtain the plans to the Death Star (punctuated by the scene where one Rebel after another scrambles to hand-off the plans only to be killed by Vader in the process), fans would undoubtedly question the validity of whatever explanation is given for their absence from the original trilogy.
That said, unlike the episodic installments, the anthology films of the Star Wars franchise can be set at any point during the universe’s timeline — as proved by Rogue One. For instance, the next spinoff film scheduled to debut in the Star Wars universe follows a younger version of Han Solo than the character who appeared in A New Hope (to be played by Alden Ehrenreich). Although exactly where in the timeline the Han Solo movie will take place has yet to be revealed, it will need to be set between the events of Episode III: Revenge of the Sith and Rogue One. Depending on how long before Rogue One the Han Solo film ultimately takes place, Jyn and/or any of the other heroes could potentially appear as younger versions of themselves.
Additionally, a third anthology film is in development from Lucasfilm and is expected to hit theaters sometime after Star Wars: Episode IX. It was rumored the third spinoff would follow the bounty hunter Boba Fett, but Lucasfilm may go in a different direction and, again, depending on when the film is set, it could feature an appearance from one or more characters introduced in Rogue One. Of course, even if the Rogue One heroes were to appear in another Star Wars anthology film, they likely wouldn’t be part of the main cast and would probably be relegated to cameos or small supporting roles.
However, though there may be ways of having the heroes of Rogue One return in future Star Wars films — or other media within the extended universe — it seems unlikely. Certainly, the marketing for Rogue One and the film itself established these characters well enough that fans may want to see more of them. But, considering Rogue One was always meant to be a standalone anthology film, without any plans for sequels or future installments following the movie’s heroes, it’s entirely possible this will be the last we see of Jyn Erso, Cassian Andor, Bodhi Rook, Chirrut Îmwe, Baze Malbus, Saw Gerrera, and K-2SO — though it remains to be seen why the Rebel Alliance didn’t simply rebuild the droid. While that might be disappointing at face-value, fans can take heart in the fact that the original saga is forever changed by the addition of the characters – as Luke Skywalker’s fateful run on the original Death Star is the culmination of a much greater story and is, as a result, all the more poignant because of Rogue One‘s heroes.