Star Wars has seen the release of some great new content in the years since Disney purchased Lucasfilm, but one big loss has left a number of stories dangling for years. At the time of the acquisition, The Clone Wars had just finished its 5th season, Ahsoka leaving the Jedi Order cliffhanger and all, only to be canceled. A partial 6th season was released for Netflix as 'The Lost Missions', and while it provided a few great answers for fans, it still left a lot of questions on the table.
Revenge of the Sith continued and concluded the stories of a number of the main characters, particularly Anakin, Obi-Wan, Padme, Palpatine, and the Jedi Order, but for the characters who's spotlight came only in the show, like Ahsoka and the clones, fans were left without a sense of closure. Thanks to Star Wars Rebels, Dave Filoni was able to return Ahsoka and the clones to the forefront, giving them character arcs that finally wrap the thematic questions of The Clone Wars, while setting some of them up for a new direction.
This Page: Rebels Gave the Clones The Freedom of Choice
Rebels Gave the Clones The Freedom of Choice
Attack of the Clones and Revenge of the Sith may have featured the origin of the clone troopers and part of the war, but aside from some snippets of dialogue (mostly from Commander Cody), the clones didn't really exist as characters. This all changed with The Clone Wars animated series, where the clones took center stage, serving as the heart of much of the show. Characters like Rex, Fives, Echo, Cody, and more often got their own arcs, with Dee Bradley Baker expertly voice acting all of them with unique personalities.
The difference between clones and stormtroopers was always interesting because clones were all born with the same DNA, the same face, and assigned numbers at birth. Despite their identical origin, they all gained unique character traits and tried to differentiate their appearances, something their Jedi Generals allowed. They cut and styled their hair differently, got different tattoos, took on nicknames instead of numbers, and custom painted their armor. Conversely, their stormtrooper successors in the Empire were recruited from natural born humans, required to maintain a nondescript personal appearance, assigned a number, discouraged the use of real names, and disallowed from painting or personalization of armor.
Every clone had an individual identity, which made the fact that they were basically soldier slaves to the Republic, "meat-bag" variants of the Separatist battle droids, a little unsettling at times. The clones didn't always resent this status, though. There were some dissenters and a few deserters, but most were proud of their service, even if it was conditioned into them, including a special chip, thanks to Palpatine, to make them turn on the Jedi when the time came.
Some of the clones in The Clone Wars saw their story concluded, such as Fives, who uncovered Sheev Palpatine's plot for Order 66, but with the show's untimely cancellation, many of those loose threads were left by the wayside, leaving most fans to assume that the clones they knew and loved were all a part of Order 66 in Return of the Jedi, helping Darth Vader hunt down and destroy the Jedi Knights.
Fans were thrilled when Rebels re-introduced some of their favorite clones in season 2, revealing some of them had removed the implant chip and avoided participating in Order 66. The show didn't have much for them to do, with Rex taking part in some of the arcs, mostly serving as a secondary character, occasionally telling Ezra about what it was like fighting under Jedi like Anakin Skywalker.
Rebels prevents them from simply fading away like old soldiers are known to do, with Gregor summing up their legacy with his dying words, telling Rex "it was an honor fighting for something we chose to believe in." They may only be the last few clones of the thousands, if not millions, that fought for the Republic, but that doesn't make the moment any less poignant to fans of the show, serving as a nice footnote to the unfinished stories of The Clone Wars.
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