Updated: Jan 27
When most people think of Star Wars, they think of the movies. Whether that be the awesomeness of Darth Vader, the annoyingness of Jar Jar Binks, or the ultimate pinnacle of filmography that is the Star Wars Holiday Special. But there's more to the Star Wars universe than just the movies. Since the original release of A New Hope, there have been hundreds of books, comics, video games, and tv shows that help to expand the universe and tell more of the stories that have happened within it. And, if you've read the title of this article, then you probably know that there's a certain show in particular that I'd like to talk about, and that show is called The Clone Wars.
This show is amazing, and if you have any interest in Star Wars, you should watch it. It's a bit of a commitment, as it's seven seasons long, but I would say it's worth it. It has an interesting format, as every episode is a part of an "arc" that lasts for 1-4 episodes. These arcs are usually very distinct from one another, and often contain completely different characters from one another. There are a lot of recurring characters, and there's still character development throughout the series, but the lack of an overarching big picture is somewhat unique. I guess this is because you already know the overarching story from watching the movies. By the way, this show fits in between Movies II and III chronologically.
The show has a bit of a rocky start, with a pilot that they turned into a movie, and a not very good first season. Unfortunately, you kinda need to watch the movie to understand the show, as it introduces a lot of the characters that you'll see throughout the show. One of these characters is perhaps my favorite character in the entire Star Wars franchise, and that character is none other than Ahsoka Tano.
Ahsoka's a bit annoying when the show starts off, and she has a stupid skimpy outfit, but executive producer/writer/creator Dave Filoni manages to turn her into an amazing character that is now regarded as a fan-favorite (and halfway through season three she manages to get some sufficient clothing). She's a great example of the good version of a strong female character: A fully-developed character that goes through growth and change, and unlike Rey from Disney's sequel trilogy, is an actual character.
The show does everything that the prequels don't. It has good dialogue, the animation is pretty good, and you actually care about the characters. It manages to make the clones who we saw for like twenty seconds in the movies into these great characters who you really are invested in. And if you watch Revenge of the Sith after watching The Clone Wars, you actually might get emotional by the end, which is something that would not have happened without this series (granted, if the movie was actually good you'd feel like this without having to see the show, but whatever).
The show also helps make the Star Wars universe more coherent. Season six covers a lot of the information about the creation of the clones, as well as Palpatine's master plan from behind the shadows that was (in my opinion) insufficiently explained in the movies. The arcs in which this is discussed are probably my favorites of the whole show. The show also provides more explanations as to why Anakin turned to the dark side, and it highlights the hypocrisy of the Jedi Council, even making them look like the bad guys at some points. As the show went on, they veered away from kids' content and gave us complex, emotional, and mature stories. The only thing that I think they could have expanded upon more is Anakin and Padme's relationship. There are a few arcs about their relationship, but I still don't really see how Padme was worth turning to the dark side over. Don't get me wrong, they have more chemistry than in the movies, but that's not saying much.
In the later seasons, the show took a lot of risks in terms of making darker, more complex, or less kid-targeted content, and I think that most of them paid off. Not all of them did, however. Some of the arcs are really weird, for example (minor spoiler alert) there's a scene containing Jar Jar Binks making out. But because of the show's unique format, if you come to an arc with senator Binks in it and you start hating existence, you can just skip that arc and you probably won't miss anything important. If you're way too obsessed with Star Wars and as insistent on knowing everything about it like me, however, you'll watch it anyway and want to punch the TV. If it's any condolences, there are some (canon) books that explain Jar Jar Binks' fate after the movies, and, well, everyone in the galaxy hates him and he lives a miserable life. So that's good.
The show was canceled due to Disney's acquisition of the franchise in 2012, turning the planned eight full seasons into only six-and-a-half. In February 2020, they realized that the show they made to take its place (which is called Star Wars rebels) was not that good, and that they should have just continued with the Clone Wars. So, they polished and released twelve of the fifty-five canceled episodes in a seventh and final season. They're hit or miss, with four of them being decent, four of them being bad, and four of them being the best thing since The Empire Strikes Back. Some of the characters from the first arc of season seven are getting a spin-off series which will be called The Bad Batch. It's almost as if Disney decided to release that arc just so they could make a spinoff. It's almost as if they have no care for the franchise and just want money. But hey, I'm not complaining (actually I kinda am). At least part of season seven was amazing.
The Clone Wars, like all Star Wars movies and shows, can be streamed on Disney+.