Prequel-era Star Wars, especially in the nostalgia-laden wake of The Force Awakens, doesn’t get enough love. Despite the flaws of the films themselves, George Lucas still managed to craft an intriguing and often exciting galaxy full of Jedi, aliens and scheming. The Clone Wars TV show built on the vision of the galaxy as presented in the Prequel Trilogy, fleshed out characters, introduced others, and offered a fun romp through the twilight of the Republic.
The titular conflict caused more upheaval in the galaxy than a lot of casual viewers realize. Clone Wars aired for five seasons on Cartoon Network, and for a sixth on Netflix (where all seasons are still available for viewing pleasure). Clone Wars also remains one of the few non-film iterations of Star Wars to survive the sale of Lucasfilm to Disney and remain in canon. For that reason, and because characters and events in Clone Wars continue to pay off in everything from Star Wars: Rebels to Rogue One, fans wanting to stay abreast of all the important events in the long go, far away galaxy should take note! Presented here is an abbreviated version: 15 Important Plot Points from Clone Wars!
15. Anakin had an Apprentice
Let’s begin with the basics. One of the most controversial plot developments to come out of the entire Clone Wars TV series had Anakin Skywalker taking on an apprentice of his own. Despite Anakin’s rebelliousness and arrogance, the Jedi Council assigns Ahsoka Tano to the tutelage of Anakin. The Togurta woman initially attracted criticism as another prequel-era “cute” character, though she would later evolve into one of the most complex and beloved characters of the series.
In one of the most drastic plot twists ever on the show, Ahsoka abandons the Jedi Order following a frame-up for murder. Much like her master, Ahsoka finds herself at odds with the Council, and with the rigid dogma of the Jedi. Ahsoka’s resignation would also prove crucial to Anakin Skywalker’s turn to the Dark Side, and hatred of the Jedi Order.
14. Darth Maul Survived
Viewers of The Phantom Menace hoping for another Darth Vader-style big bad found themselves disappointed. Darth Maul, the new villain created for the film had very few scenes, and the film culminated in his demise at the hands of Obi-Wan Kenobi. Or did it?
Clone Wars wisely returned to the popularity of Darth Maul, and decided to give his fans a gift—he survived! Clone Wars revealed that Maul survived his confrontation in The Phantom Menace and escaped to a garbage planet, albeit without his lower half. His brother, Savage Opress, later found Maul half-mad, rescued him, and took him back to their home planet of Dathomir. There, their mother (more on her to come) used her powers to heal Maul’s mind. With a new pair of cybernetic legs, Maul renounced his allegiance to Darth Sidious, and went on a rampage against the Jedi and Sith alike. After joining forces, Maul and Savage Opress would later launch an attack on Darth Sidious, which would leave Maul captured and Opress dead.
13. Qui-Gon contacted Yoda
The Prequel Trilogy left one dangling plot thread, about which even George Lucas has expressed frustration. The death of Qui-Gon Jinn would have had a much larger payoff in the prequels, had an automobile accident not forced actor Liam Neeson to decline a ghostly appearance in Attack of the Clones. Revenge of the Sith would later reveal that Qui-Gon had contacted Yoda from the “netherworld of the Force” with the secret to life after death, which came as something of a proverbial curve ball given its placement in the movie. Clone Wars goes a long way to setting up the plot twist.
Beginning in season six, Yoda begins having premonitions of Qui-Gon, and begins a quest to seek out the secret to eternal consciousness. Along the way, Yoda starts having dire visions of Darth Sidious and the rise of Darth Vader. The Jedi Master later appeals to Qui-Gon’s spirit to help end the Clone Wars, but Qui-Gon can only train Yoda to manifest his being after death.
12. The Clones were Programmed with Order 66
Revenge of the Sith offered up a great plot point in the form of Order 66, the evil command the Emperor uses to dispatch the Jedi out commanding armies during the Clone Wars. Clone Wars goes even further into detail regarding the Order, and just why the clones accepted it so willingly.
As it turns out, the clone scientists on Kamino programmed the clones with Order 66 at birth. A computer chip embedded in the skull of every clone would activate the protocol, and make the troops helpless to resist it. A few clones learned of this chip prior to Palpatine issuing Order 66 and tried to warn the Jedi, but the Emperor managed to dispatch them first. Yoda would later have visions of the clones turning on the Jedi during his quest to contact the spirit of Qui-Gon, though the muddled premonitions misled him about the real danger of the Clone Army.
11. The Story of Sifo-Dyas
Jedi master Sifo-Dyas gets only a passing mention in Attack of the Clones, and his name does not come up again in the Star Wars film series. Ostensibly the one who commissioned a Clone Army for the Republic, Sifo-Dyas, Obi-Wan recounts, had died years before as a member of the Jedi order.
The films don’t go into any detail about how Sifo-Dyas managed to raise an army without the Jedi knowing, or just what happened to Sifo-Dyas. Fortunately, Clone Wars goes a long way to clearing up the mystery.
Sifo-Dyas had served as a loyal Jedi for years when he began having visions of the future. Sensing the coming civil war, he journeyed to Kamino to commission the clone army. Unfortunately, he did so in the midst of the Trade Federation blockade of Naboo, which allowed Darth Sidious to take advantage of the moment and have Sifo-Dyas killed on the planet Felucia. After the death of Sifo-Dyas, Count Dooku continued funding and overseeing the construction of the clones, selecting Jango Fett as the template for the troops.
10. Dooku had an Apprentice
Sith never seem to trust each other for very long. Then again, they have good reason not to: they’re Sith!
Long before Count Dooku met his end at the hands of Anakin Skywalker, he’d begun to suspect the treachery of his Sith Master, Palpatine. Thus, Dooku opted to train an apprentice of his own: the Nightsister Asajj Ventress.
Ventress grew up on Dathomir before a pirate named Hal’Sted took her as a slave. His untimely death left Ventress orphaned until a Jedi named Narec discovered her and took her as a Padawan. His death left Ventress alone and dangerous. Her Force training made her powerful, though without proper discipline, she succumbed to the Dark Side. Years later, Count Dooku would sense her presence and seek her out, taking her as a Sith apprentice.
For a time, Ventress served Dooku well, fanning the flames of the Clone Wars and performing clandestine missions to undermine the Jedi and the Republic. Eventually, her skill grew enough to capture the attention of Darth Sidious, who perceived her as a growing threat. Dooku, at Palpatine’s behest, tried to have Ventress killed on the planet Ryloth. She managed to escape, recover and become a bounty hunter.
The cancellation of Clone Wars blocked what would have been a final curtain for Asajj Ventress. Fortunately, the novel Dark Disciple reveals her final fate. After several failed attempts to kill Dooku, Ventress managed to trap the dark lord on the planet Christophis. With the Jedi in pursuit, Dooku finally killed Asajj Ventress. Obi-Wan Kenobi would see her body returned to Dathomir.
9. Obi Wan had a Love Interest
Speaking of Obi-Wan, the famed master gets a love life of his own, and like his apprentice Anakin, falls for a woman of nobility.
Kenobi met Dutchess Satine Kryze during a civil war on the planet Mandalore. As the leader of a group of pacifist Mandalorains, Satine found her life threatened during the war, and thus the Jedi Council appointed Obi-Wan Kenobi and Qui-Gon Jinn to protect her. Kenobi and Satine fell in love, though his commitment to the Jedi order would separate them for years.
Kenobi and Satine would reunite more than a decade later during the Clone Wars, and their affections would once again ignite. Obi-Wan would become her protector as Satine tried to keep Mandalore neutral during the galactic conflict.
As the Clone Wars waned, leaving the galaxy in chaos, Darth Maul staged an uprising on Mandalore and managed to take control of the planet. Maul managed to take Satine prisoner in an attempt to bait his old nemesis Obi-Wan Kenobi into returning to Mandalore. The plan worked, and Maul killed Satine before Obi-Wan’s eyes. Kenobi’s distraction with Satine would bring the Jedi perilously close to the Dark Side, and blind him to the increasing aggression of his apprentice, Anakin. For those keeping track, Kenobi’s relationship with Satine Kryze would also seem to discount the “Rey is a Kenobi” theory…Obi-Wan wasn’t much of a ladies’ man!
8. Boba Fett tried to kill Mace Windu
Revenge becomes a recurring theme in Clone Wars, as the series picked up on another plot thread from Attack of the Clones. After the death of bounty hunter Jango Fett at the hands of Mace Windu, Fett’s orphaned son Boba struck out on his own. He eventually followed in his father’s footsteps, becoming a bounty hunter in his own right, and vowing to avenge his father’s death.
Boba Fett got his chance in Clone Wars. Partnering with several other bounty hunters, Fett devised a trap for Windu on the planet Coruscant. Fett had intended for Windu to die in a spaceship explosion, though with the help of Anakin Skywalker and R2D2, he escaped. The plan failed, and Boba ended up in prison. The imprisonment would only fuel Fett’s anger. Upon emerging from prison, he formed a bounty hunter network which included noted bounty hunters Dengar and Asajj Ventress.
7. Anakin knew Tarkin as a Jedi
The scenes between Grand Moff Tarkin and Darth Vader in the original Star Wars have long perplexed die hard fans. Just who is in charge aboard the Death Star? Vader or Tarkin?
The confusion stems from the development of Star Wars as a series, which included elevating Vader’s role from that of an enforcer to the main villain of the movies. Fortunately Clone Wars managed to take advantage of the inconsistency, and forge an intriguing story from it.
In Clone Wars, Anakin Skywalker meets the young Captain Tarkin during the eponymous conflict. At first distrustful of one another, the two develop an unlikely friendship during an imprisonment on the planet Lola Sayu. Like Anakin, Tarkin has a close relationship with Chancellor Palpatine, which helps the two learn to trust one another.
Tarkin and Anakin’s relationship continues to grow in the novel Tarkin which details the construction of the Death Star and Tarkin’s further rise to power. Tarkin becomes one of the very few to deduce that Vader is actually Anakin Skywalker reborn as a Sith, and their complex friendship continues to evolve.
6. There are Force wielders beyond the Jedi & Sith
Maybe it should come as no surprise, but far more species around the galaxy know about the Force and how to use it than just the Jedi and the Sith. The two saber-wielding clans are, by far, the highest profile, though even their reaches have limits.
Case in point: the Nightsisters of Dathomir. An insular, secretive tribe, the Nightsisters grew up on the planet Dathomir—home of Darth Maul and Asajj Ventress. In fact, both grew up as part of the Nightsisters clan. The Nightsisters use the Dark Side of the Force less as a pseudo-religious entity than as a form of magic, weaving spells through the Dark Side. As a group, the Nighsisters function like a matriarchal witch’s coven, wary of outsiders, including the Jedi and the Sith. Unlike the Sith, in fact, the Nightsisters do not lust for power or conquest, preferring to remain on Dathomir practicing their ancient rites.
The Sith would, nevertheless, still perceive the Nightsisters as a possible threat. In the midst of the Clone Wars, General Grievous initiated a genocide of Dathomir, annihilating all but one of the Nightsisters in the process.
5. Darth Maul’s Mom is a Nightsister
Speaking of the Nightsisters, one fascinating bit to come out of Clone Wars revealed the lineage of Darth Maul: not only did he come from Dathomir, but his mother is also the high priestess of the Nightsisters!
Mother Talzin of the Nightsisters had amassed an incredible amount of power and knowledge of the Dark Side before the scheming Senator Palpatine sought her out. The two agreed to join forces and exchange teachings under the auspice that Talzin would join the Sith as Palpatine’s apprentice. Palpatine’s attention instead drifted to Talzin’s son, Maul. The Dark Lord double crossed Talzin, kidnapping Maul and taking him as a Sith apprentice instead.
Talzin would vow revenge, and after the Battle of Naboo left Darth Maul injured and maddened, she and Maul’s brother Savage Opress would work to restore their lost child to health. The family would then set sights on Darth Sidious. Maul and Savage Opress would fail to destroy the Sith, and Talzin would later meet her end at the hands of General Grevious.
4. People Keep trying to kill Padme
The Prequel Era is wrought with plots to kill Padme Amidala, usually to the benefit of Chancellor Palpatine, who uses her as a pawn to secure power. The attacks on Padme extend beyond the movies, however, and into the Clone Wars series.
Padme made her own share of enemies during the Naboo Crisis as seen in The Phantom Menace. Nute Gunray, Viceroy of the Trade Federation, would forever vow revenge on Amidala for foiling his attempt to invade her homeworld. During the Clone Wars, Padme would travel to the planet Rodia only to find herself captured by Gunray. Amidala escaped with the help of Jar Jar Binks, and succeeded in taking Gunray into custody.
The Trade Federation would strike again, this time when Padme and her friend Rush Clovis journeyed to the Federation homeworld of Cato Neimoidia. Senator Lott Dod managed to poison Amidala at a state dinner. As the poison began to take effect, Clovis would run for help, giving Padme time to complete some espionage for the Republic. Anakin Skywalker would arrive and manage to save Padme’s life and escape with the information Padme had procured.
3. The Show Canonizes a Good Deal of EU Material
The nullification of the Star Wars Extended Universe in 2013 after the sale of Lucasfilm to Disney will long resonate as the day part of Star Wars died. However, with Clone Wars in the midst of its final season, Disney opted to leave the series as in-canon material. That should come as good news to the fans of the old EU, now known as Star Wars Legends—a good chunk of the EU still survives. Elements like the Nightsisters, planets liky Ryloth or various ships still remain as part of the Star Wars canon thanks to their inclusion in Clone Wars. Further backstories of the Sith and Jedi remain in continuity as well, including characters like Darth Revan who helped forge the order of the Sith, and Darth Bane who established the Rule of Two.
Even if an element of the old EU didn’t quite make it into Clone Wars, that some of the material survives as canon should give fans hope. With Rebels still going strong, further elements of the EU continue to pop up as part of canon, including the fan favorite Grand Admiral Thrawn.
2. Palpatine engineered a Financial Crisis
Shades of reality blended into the colorful fabric of Star Wars when the long ago, far away galaxy experienced a financial meltdown of its own. With the Clone Wars raging out of control and dragging on through the years, the Galactic Senate under Palpatine’s watch began deregulating banks to extend their funds for the war. Senators like Padme Amidala adamantly opposed initiatives for reregulation, as the increased cash flow would have also increased production of clone troopers and expanded the militarization of the Republic. Padme feared that an expanded clone army would only prolong the already devastating Clone Wars.
Palpatine and Count Dooku managed to stage a terrorist bombing of the Coruscant power grid, which wreaked havoc on the Senate. The bill managed to pass in the reactionary atmosphere following the bombing, further entrenching the Republic in the long slog of war, and eventually granting Palpatine even more power over the Republican government, paving his way to become Emperor.
1. Darth Maul Conquered Mandalore
Never count a Sith Lord out, or a fan-beloved character anyway. Darth Maul continued his renaissance during Clone Wars, having his mind and body restored by his mother Talzin, and joining forces with his brother Savage Opress to destroy the Sith. Maul and Opress spent years consolidating their power throughout the galaxy, forging alliances with organized crime and mercenaries. Several years into the Clone Wars, Maul staged his revenge. Using his connections, he and Opress oversaw a number of attacks designed to destabilize the planet Mandalore, home of Boba Fett. Mandalore had managed to remain neutral during the Clone Wars, under the watchful guidance of Dutchess Satine Kryze.
Maul and Opress captured Dutchess Kryze, which sent Mandalore into upheaval. Maul took control of the planet as a ruthless dictator, though the arrival of his nemesis Obi-Wan Kenobi complicated Maul’s rule. Maul would later murder Dutchess Kryze to assume absolute power, only to get foiled again, this time by Darth Sidious. Sidious managed to kill Savage Opress and capture Maul, leaving Republic forces to capture and occupy Mandalore.
Did we leave out your favorite Clone Wars tidbit? Tell us in the comments!
Star Wars Rebels airs Saturdays at 8:30 p.m. EST on Disney XD. Rogue One: A Star Wars Story opens in U.S. theaters on December 16, 2016, followed by Star Wars: Episode VIII on December 15, 2017, the Han Solo Star Wars Anthology film on May 25, 2018, Star Wars: Episode IX in 2019, and the third Star Wars Anthology film in 2020.