As audiences prepare for a whole new generation of Star Wars stories on the big screen, fans are also looking back at the last four decades of Star Wars stories across a variety of mediums. In addition to the now non-canonical Expanded Universe of books, video games, and fan films, Lucasfilm has also released official canonized spinoff tales that provide added exploration of the Galaxy Far, Far Away, in the form of animated series The Clone Wars and Rebels.

We already made it clear The Clone Wars and Rebels are essential to getting the full Star Wars saga story ahead of The Force Awakens; however, with over 130 episodes between the two series, and episodes that aired out of order, we’ve put together a viewing guide to help readers navigate the animated Star Wars series, with a roadmap to the best and most crucial episodes of The Clone Wars and Rebels.

The guide will begin with the Star Wars: The Clone Wars CGI animated movie from 2008; it will NOT include Genndy Tartakovsky’s hand-drawn animated series that aired from 2003 to 2005. For those who are interested, that Emmy-winning hand-drawn miniseries is, in total, just over two hours long and easy to find on YouTube; but following Disney’s acquisition of Lucasfilm, the series was relegated to theLegends Universe (along with the Droids as well as Ewoks series) – and is no longer part of the official canon. For that reason, we’ll be focusing our guide solely on the 3D animated installments that directly tie-into the larger Star Wars film series.

Background on Clone Wars & Rebels

 Star Wars Animated Series Guide: Best Episodes & Canon Timeline


Much like the upcoming Star Wars Anthology films, which will present solo adventures at a specific time and place in the Star Wars story, The Clone Wars and Rebels both chronicle previously unexplored events within the Star Wars canon.

Some viewers may already be familiar with where exactly the two series fit into the larger ongoing narrative but, for those who are unaware, we’re going to break both shows down to their fundamentals.

The Clone Wars

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When: The Clone Wars begins shortly after the events of Star Wars – Episode 2: Attack of the Clones and chronicles the three years of all-out galactic warfare between the Trade Federation and the Republic – leading directly into Episode 3: Revenge of the Sith.

Who: Anakin Skywalker, Obi-Wan Kenobi, and Ahsoka Tano (Anakin’s young Padawan) headline the series, but The Clone Wars was not focused on famous Jedi warriors alone. In addition to Anakin, Obi-Wan, and Ahsoka, several other prequel characters were heavily featured (especially Padmé Amidala, high-ranking Clone Troopers, as well as the malevolent General Grievous) – allowing for a variety of perspectives on the Clone Wars (political maneuverings, humanitarian missions, and the struggles of people – both good and bad – caught in the middle). For that reason, many episodes sidelined Jedi heroes for a fresh look at The Clone Wars, which, despite unmatched influence from the Dark Side (via Darth Sidious), was not the tale of blatant good versus evil that some movie viewers might have assumed.

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Production Background: After the success of Tartakovsky’s hand-drawn Clone Wars TV miniseries, Cartoon Network and Lucasfilm teamed to create an episodic cartoon series (this time through 3D animation) that explored Anakin’s planet-hopping adventures during The Clone Wars. The show ran for five seasons but was eventually cancelled following Disney’s acquisition of Lucasfilm (a brief set of “Lost Missions” aka season 6 was released shortly after on Netflix). Instead of focusing on a storyline with roots in the divisive Star Wars prequel trilogy, Disney wanted to shuffle The Clone Wars team into launching a new animated series that would usher in a revival based on the Star Wars trilogy that all fans know and love (as well as plant seeds for ideas that J.J. Abrams could utilize in Episode 7). The result? Star Wars: Rebels.

Rebels

Star Wars Rebels Cast Star Wars Animated Series Guide: Best Episodes & Canon Timeline


When: Rebels kicks-off fourteen years after Episode 3 – Revenge of the Sith (which is five years before Episode 4 – A New Hope) and chronicles the early formation of the Rebel Alliance following years of harsh military dictatorship under the Galactic Empire. Since Rebels is currently an ongoing series, it is unclear when the Rebels story will come to a close within the larger Star Wars canon.

Who: While Force-sensitive teen Ezra Bridger is the main protagonist in Rebels, the Jedi-in-training is joined by a crew of do-gooding smugglers (known as the Lothal Rebels): Hera Syndulla is the team’s ace pilot (and owner of their ship, Ghost); Sabine Wren is a 16-year-old Mandalorian graffiti artist and explosives expert (who escaped the Imperial Academy); Zeb Orrelios is a survivor of an early Imperial massacre – a former Lasat honor guard with a gruff demeanor, he serves as the team’s brutish enforcer; C1-10P (aka “Chopper”) is Hera’s astromech droid, cobbled together with scrap parts into an eccentric, brave, and sometimes crazy robot assistant; and Kanan Jarrus, the Lothal Rebels’ roguish de-facto leader who has a dangerous secret known only to a few: he’s a former Jedi who fled following the Great Jedi Purge in Episode 3.  Even though the Lothal Rebels are at the center of the series, the group is also joined in their fight by several fan-favorite Star Wars heroes – and pursued by ruthless Dark Force-weilding “Inquisitors” under the command of Darth Vader.

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Production Background: As indicated, despite critical success of The Clone Wars, Disney opted to cancel the series in favor of a new show that, while continuing select threads from the prequel trilogy plot, was more closely connected to the classic Star Wars saga (and straightforward tale of rebels versus fascist Dark Side control). Given that the series is still in its infancy, it remains to be seen how Rebels will tie into the larger Star Wars storyline – not to mention how the Lothal Rebels (and the Dark Force Inquisitors that hunt them) will connect with Episode 4 and become a significant part of Star Wars mythology – possibly influencing events in Episode 7 and beyond.

Next Page: The Best Storylines and Episodes

The Best Storylines & Episodes

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Unfortunately, it took awhile for The Clone Wars to find its footing and become a key part of the Star Wars saga canon. Early episodes were, understandably, aimed at younger audiences – with a number of eye-rolling Jar Jar Binks-centric episodes, as well as goofy supporting characters and antagonists (such as Ziro the Hutt). However, much like the Harry Potter series, and other franchises that matured alongside their fans, The Clone Wars evolved into a genuinely powerful, sometimes dark, and exciting exploration of the Star Wars universe and its legendary inhabitants – an approach that carried into the development of Rebels.

For completionists, there’s no substitute for watching every episode of The Clone Wars and Rebels – since even the silliest outings still feature fun action and, more importantly, small story threads that payoff down the line. Yet, with over 130 episodes between the two series, it’s understandable that many fans would rather limit their viewing to only the best episodes. As a result, we’ve put together a selection of The Clone Wars and Rebels episodes that curious fans should check-out – whether or not they ultimately decide to invest time in the full series. First, we’ve identified five great Clone Wars and Rebels episodes for viewers looking to get a taste of why the animated series are so rewarding – followed by a breakdown of several multi-episode storylines that viewers can check-out based on specific subjects.

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If at any time viewers decide to jump in from the beginning, make sure to check out the next page of this article – which lists all of The Clone Wars and Rebels episodes in chronological order (more on that later). In the interest of preserving the stories for new viewers, we’re not going to detail what happens in each episode, but without a doubt, these are some of the series’ best.

Have a favorite that isn’t listed? Make sure to share your own choices in the comments.

Best Episodes & Storylines from The Clone Wars & Rebels

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  1. The Clone Wars – Season 5,  Episode 6: The Gathering
  2. The Clone Wars – Season 3, Episode 1: Clone Cadets
  3. The Clone Wars – Season 3, Episode 10: Heroes on Both Sides
  4. The Clone Wars – Season 2, Episode 17: Bounty Hunters
  5. Rebels – Season 1, Episode 13: Fire Across the Galaxy
  6. Honorable Mention: Rebels – Pre-Season 2 Film: The Siege of Lothal

For those who want to dabble further but aren’t committed yet, here are our picks for the best storylines and character arcs in The Clone Wars and Rebels – based on subject matter.

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The Clone Troopers Saga – Gives insight into the lives and personalities of the Clone Troopers

  • The Clone Wars – Season 3, Episode 1: Clone Cadets
  • The Clone Wars – Season 1, Episode 5: Rookies
  • The Clone Wars – Season 2, Episode 9: Grievous Intrigue
  • The Clone Wars – Season 2, Episode 10: The Deserter
  • The Clone Wars – Season 3, Episode 2 ARC Troopers
  • The Clone Wars – Season 4, Episode 7: Darkness on Umbara
  • The Clone Wars – Season 4, Episode 8: The General
  • The Clone Wars – Season 4, Episode 9: Plan of Dissent
  • The Clone Wars – Season 4, Episode 10: Carnage of Krell
  • The Clone Wars – Season 6, Episode 1: The Unknown
  • The Clone Wars – Season 6, Episode 2: Conspiracy
  • The Clone Wars – Season 6, Episode 3: Fugitive
  • The Clone Wars – Season 6, Episode 4: Orders

General Grievous BackstoryProvides Backstory on General Grievous

  • The Clone Wars – Season 1, Episode 9: Cloak of Darkness
  • The Clone Wars – Season 1, Episode 10: Lair of Grievous

The Separatists – Shows A Different Side of the Clone War

  • The Clone Wars – Season 3, Episode 10: Heroes on Both Sides
  • The Clone Wars – Season 4, Episode 14: A Friend in Need

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The Jedi Order – Offers Insight into the Successes and Failures of the Jedi Order

  • The Clone Wars – Season 2, Episode 11: Lightsaber Lost
  • The Clone Wars – Season 5, Episode 17: Sabotage
  • The Clone Wars – Season 5, Episode 18: The Jedi Who Knew Too Much
  • The Clone Wars – Season 5, Episode 19: To Catch a Jedi
  • The Clone Wars – Season 5, Episode 20: The Wrong Jedi
  • The Clone Wars – Season 6, Episode 10: The Lost One
  • The Clone Wars – Season 6, Episode 11: Voices
  • The Clone Wars – Season 6, Episode 12: Destiny
  • The Clone Wars – Season 6, Episode 13: Sacrifice

Obi-Wan Backstory – Before He Was a Legend Obi-Wan Also Struggled with the Jedi Rules

  • The Clone Wars – Season 2, Episode 12: The Mandalore Plot
  • The Clone Wars – Season 2, Episode 13: Voyage of Temptation
  • The Clone Wars – Season 2, Episode 14: Duchess of Mandalore

The Saga of Young Boba Fett – Reveals Boba Fett’s Early Days as a Bounty Hunter

  • The Clone Wars – Season 2, Episode 20: Death Trap
  • The Clone Wars – Season 2, Episode 21: R2 Come Home
  • The Clone Wars – Season 2, Episode 22: Lethal Trackdown
  • The Clone Wars – Season 4, Episode 20: Bounty

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The Darth Maul Saga – Discover What Happened to Darth Maul After His Defeat in Episode 1: The Phantom Menace

  • The Clone Wars – Season 4, Episode 21: Brothers
  • The Clone Wars – Season 4, Episode 22: Revenge
  • The Clone Wars – Season 5, Episode 1: Revival
  • The Clone Wars – Season 5, Episode 14: Eminence
  • The Clone Wars – Season 5, Episode 15: Shades of Reason
  • The Clone Wars – Season 5, Episode 16: The Lawless

The Foundation of Rebellion – Sets the Stage for the Full Rebel Alliance Depicted in the Original Star Wars Saga

  • Rebels – Season 1, Episode 1: Droids in Distress
  • Rebels – Season 1, Episode 13: Fire Across the Galaxy
  • Rebels – Pre-Season 2 Film: The Siege of Lothal

Stories of the Force – Explores the Nature of the Force and How Various Groups Have Harnessed It

  • The Clone Wars – Season 3, Episode 12: Nightsisters
  • The Clone Wars – Season 3, Episode 13: Monster
  • The Clone Wars – Season 3, Episode 14: Witches of the Mist
  • The Clone Wars – Season 3, Episode 15: Overlords – Force Beings
  • The Clone Wars – Season 3, Episode 16: Altar of Mortis
  • The Clone Wars – Season 3, Episode 17: Ghosts of Mortis
  • The Clone Wars – Season 5,  Episode 6: The Gathering
  • Rebels – Season 1, Episode 8: Path of the Jedi

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Familiar Faces – Cameos from Fan-Favorite Star Wars Heroes and Villains

  • The Clone Wars – Season 3, Episode 18: The Citadel
  • The Clone Wars – Season 3, Episode 19: Counter Attack
  • The Clone Wars – Season 3, Episode 20: Citadel Rescue
  • The Clone Wars – Season 3, Episode 21: Padawan Lost
  • The Clone Wars – Season 3, Episode 22: Wookiee Hunt
  • The Clone Wars – Season 4, Episode 1: Water War
  • The Clone Wars – Season 4, Episode 2: Gungan Attack
  • The Clone Wars – Season 4, Episode 3: Prisoners
  • Rebels – Season 1, Episode 9: Idiot’s Array

As eluded to earlier, The Clone Wars did not always follow a clear chronology – which, for some viewers, made the expansive show even more confusing. For that reason, we’ve compiled a clear episode chronology for readers who would prefer to watch the story as it unfolded over time (rather than follow the basic episode release order).

Next Page: Series Timeline & Episode Chronology

Animated Series Timeline & Episode Chronology

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With over 130 episodes (and counting) to watch, The Clone Wars and Rebels are a daunting task for any fan to undertake. Making matters more challenging, Lucasfilm did not release The Clone Wars episodes in a clear chronology. As a result, certain episodes would drop new characters in without formal introduction or allude to events that viewers had yet to see play-out in the series.

Combined with the already disorienting position of The Clone Wars within the larger film series, as an exploration of the massive galactic war that occurred between Episode 2 and 3, unclear jumps in time and space made the animated TV show even more difficult to follow.

To help ease the transition into the series, we’ve put together a revised viewing guide, based on the Star Wars timeline, rather than episode order – in the event that viewers would prefer to experience the shows in chronological order. That said, there is no one “correct” way to view the episodes (watching in episodic order is just as good) but this guide provides an added option for fans who think a chronological viewing would make the series easier to follow and, subsequently, more enjoyable for them in the long run.

Star Wars: The Clone Wars (2008 – 2015)

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  1. Season 2, Episode 16: Cat and Mouse
  2. Season 1, Episode 16: Hidden Enemy
  3. The Clone Wars Theatrical Film
  4. Season 3, Episode 1: Clone Cadets
  5. Season 3, Episode 3: Supply Lines
  6. Season 1, Episode 1: Ambush
  7. Season 1, Episode 2: Rising Malevolence
  8. Season 1, Episode 3: Shadow of Malevolence
  9. Season 1, Episode 4: Destroy Malevolence
  10. Season 1, Episode 5: Rookies
  11. Season 1, Episode 6: Downfall of a Droid
  12. Season 1, Episode 7: Duel of the Droids
  13. Season 1, Episode 8: Bombad Jedi
  14. Season 1, Episode 9: Cloak of Darkness
  15. Season 1, Episode 10: Lair of Grievous
  16. Season 1, Episode 11: Dooku Captured
  17. Season 1, Episode 12: The Gungan General
  18. Season 1, Episode 13: Jedi Crash
  19. Season 1, Episode 14:Defenders of Peace
  20. Season 1, Episode 15: Trespass
  21. Season 1, Episode 17: Blue Shadow Virus
  22. Season 1, Episode 18: Mystery of a Thousand Moons
  23. Season 1, Episode 19: Storm over Ryloth
  24. Season 1, Episode 20: Innocents of Ryloth
  25. Season 1, Episode 21: Liberty on Ryloth
  26. Season 2, Episode 1: Holocron Heist
  27. Season 2, Episode 2: Cargo of Doom
  28. Season 2, Episode 3: Children of the Force
  29. Season 2, Episode 17: Bounty Hunters
  30. Season 2, Episode 18: The Zillo Beast
  31. Season 2, Episode 19: The Zillo Beast Strikes Back
  32. Season 2, Episode 4: Senate Spy
  33. Season 2, Episode 5: Landing at Point Rain
  34. Season 2, Episode 6: Weapons Factory
  35. Season 2, Episode 7: Legacy of Terror
  36. Season 2, Episode 8: Brain Invaders
  37. Season 2, Episode 9: Grievous Intrigue
  38. Season 2, Episode 10: The Deserter
  39. Season 2, Episode 11: Lightsaber Lost
  40. Season 2, Episode 12: The Mandalore Plot
  41. Season 2, Episode 13: Voyage of Temptation
  42. Season 2, Episode 14: Duchess of Mandalore
  43. Season 2, Episode 20: Death Trap
  44. Season 2, Episode 21: R2 Come Home
  45. Season 2, Episode 22: Lethal Trackdown
  46. Season 3, Episode 5: Corruption
  47. Season 3, Episode 6: The Academy
  48. Season 3, Episode 7: Assassin
  49. Season 3, Episode 2: ARC Troopers
  50. Season 3, Episode 4: Sphere of Influence
  51. Season 3, Episode 8: Evil Plans
  52. Season 1, Episode 22: Hostage Crisis
  53. Season 3, Episode 9: Hunt for Ziro
  54. Season 3, Episode 10: Heroes on Both Side
  55. Season 3, Episode 11: Pursuit of Peace
  56. Season 2, Episode 15: Senate Murders
  57. Season 3, Episode 12: Nightsisters
  58. Season 3, Episode 13: Monster
  59. Season 3, Episode 14: Witches of the Mist
  60. Season 3, Episode 15: Overlords
  61. Season 3, Episode 16: Altar of Mortis
  62. Season 3, Episode 17: Ghosts of Mortis
  63. Season 3, Episode 18: The Citadel
  64. Season 3, Episode 19: Counter Attack
  65. Season 3, Episode 20: Citadel Rescue
  66. Season 3, Episode 21: Padawan Lost
  67. Season 3, Episode 22: Wookiee Hunt
  68. Season 4, Episode 1: Water War
  69. Season 4, Episode 2: Gungan Attack
  70. Season 4, Episode 3: Prisoners
  71. Season 4, Episode 4: Shadow Warrior
  72. Season 4, Episode 5: Mercy Mission
  73. Season 4, Episode 6: Nomad Droids
  74. Season 4, Episode 7: Darkness on Umbara
  75. Season 4, Episode 8: The General
  76. Season 4, Episode 9: Plan of Dissent
  77. Season 4, Episode 10: Carnage of Krell
  78. Season 4, Episode 11: Kidnapped
  79. Season 4, Episode 12: Slaves of the Republic
  80. Season 4, Episode 13: Escape from Kadavo
  81. Season 4, Episode 14: A Friend In Need
  82. Season 4, Episode 15: Deception
  83. Season 4, Episode 16: Friends and Enemies
  84. Season 4, Episode 17: The Box
  85. Season 4, Episode 18: Crisis on Naboo
  86. Season 4, Episode 19: Massacre
  87. Season 4, Episode 20 Bounty
  88. Season 4, Episode 21: Brothers
  89. Season 4, Episode 22: Revenge
  90. Season 5, Episode 2: A War on Two Fronts
  91. Season 5, Episode 3: Front Runners
  92. Season 5, Episode 4: The Soft War
  93. Season 5, Episode 5: Tipping Points
  94. Season 5, Episode 6: The Gathering
  95. Season 5, Episode 7: A Test of Strength
  96. Season 5, Episode 8: Bound for Rescue
  97. Season 5, Episode 9: A Necessary Bond
  98. Season 5, Episode 10: Secret Weapons
  99. Season 5, Episode 11: A Sunny Day in the Void
  100. Season 5, Episode 12: Missing in Action
  101. Season 5, Episode 13: Point of No Return
  102. Season 5, Episode 1: Revival
  103. Season 5, Episode 14: Eminence
  104. Season 5, Episode 15: Shades of Reason
  105. Season 5, Episode 16: The Lawless
  106. Season 5, Episode 17: Sabotage
  107. Season 5, Episode 18: The Jedi Who Knew Too Much
  108. Season 5, Episode 19: To Catch a Jedi
  109. Season 5, Episode 20: The Wrong Jedi
  110. Season 6, Episode 1: The Unknown
  111. Season 6, Episode 2: Conspiracy
  112. Season 6, Episode 3: Fugitive
  113. Season 6, Episode 4: Orders
  114. Season 6, Episode 5: An Old Friend
  115. Season 6, Episode 6: The Rise of Clovis
  116. Season 6, Episode 7: Crisis at the Heart
  117. Season 6, Episode 8: The Disappeared
  118. Season 6, Episode 9: The Disappeared: Pt. II
  119. Season 6, Episode 10: The Lost One
  120. Season 6, Episode 11: Voices
  121. Season 6, Episode 12: Destiny
  122. Season 6, Episode 13: Sacrifice

Star Wars: Rebels (2015 – )

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  1. Season 1, Prequel Short 1: The Machine in the Ghost
  2. Season 1, Prequel Short 2: Art Attack
  3. Season 1, Prequel Short 3: Entanglement
  4. Season 1, Prequel Short 4: Property of Ezra Bridger
  5. Star Wars: Rebels – Spark of Rebellion Film
  6. Season 1, Episode 1: Droids in Distress
  7. Season 1, Episode 2: Fighter Flight
  8. Season 1, Episode 3: Rise of the Old Masters
  9. Season 1, Episode 4: Breaking Ranks
  10. Season 1, Episode 5: Out of Darkness
  11. Season 1, Episode 6: Empire Day
  12. Season 1, Episode 7: Gathering Forces
  13. Season 1, Episode 8: Path of the Jedi
  14. Season 1, Episode 9: Idiot’s Array
  15. Season 1, Episode 10: Vision of Hope
  16. Season 1, Episode 11: Call to Action
  17. Season 1, Episode 12: Rebel Resolve
  18. Season 1, Episode 13: Fire Across the Galaxy
  19. Star Wars: Rebels – The Siege of Lothal Film
  20. Season 2, Episode 1: TBD

MORE: Why Clone Wars & Rebels Are Essential Viewing For Episode 7

Star Wars: Rebels Season 2 returns October 14, 2015.

Star Wars: Episode 7 – The Force Awakens hits theaters on December 18th, 2015, followed by Rogue One: A Star Wars Story on December 16th, 2016, Star Wars: Episode 8 on May 26th, 2017, and the Han Solo Star Wars Anthology film on May 25th, 2018. Star Wars: Episode IX is expected to reach theaters in 2019, followed by the third Star Wars Anthology film in 2020.