The Essential Clone Wars Stories Every Star Wars Fan Should Watch

Heroes of the Clone Wars.
Heroes of the Clone Wars.
Image: All images Lucasfilm

Star Wars: The Clone Wars is back in our lives for one last time, with its seventh season now airing on Disney+. Maybe you dismissed it when it first aired because it’s “just” a cartoon, maybe you just never got around to watching, but either way, you’ve missed out on one of the greatest pieces of the galaxy far, far away. Want to dive in? Here are some choice story arcs.

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Kit and his eager young Padawan are confronted by true horror.
Kit and his eager young Padawan are confronted by true horror.
Image: Lucasfilm
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Season 1

The Malevolence Arc (Episodes 2-4)—A much better introduction to the show than the less-than-stellar theatrical movie. You get a good sense of Anakin and his new padawan Ahsoka’s relationship, while General Grievous wreaks havoc on the Republic. Plus, Plo Koon! He’s cool.

Rookies (Episode 5)—The first of many great Clone-Trooper centric Clone Wars storylines. You start to see what this show is capable of when it comes to giving character to these samey-looking grunts, and it’s a great “base under siege” story.

Cloak of Darkness (Episode 9)—As you skipped the movie, this is your proper introduction to Dooku’s assassin apprentice, Asajj Ventress.

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Lair of Grievous (Episode 10)—If your only experience of Grievous is Revenge of the Sith, this Kit Fisto-centric standalone will teach you why he can be such a chilling villain.

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The Ryloth Arc (Episodes 19-21)—Twi’leks! Mace Windu kicking ass! All-out war! Truly begun, the Clone war has.

Hostage Crisis (Episode 22)—Meet Cad Bane, another great villain from the show who is most interestingly a bounty hunter, rather than a Dark Sider or a Separatist. Plus, it’s a great use of the Senators and Padmé.

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Pre Viszla takes the Darksaber into action against a Jedi for the first time in generations.
Pre Viszla takes the Darksaber into action against a Jedi for the first time in generations.
Image: Lucasfilm
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Season 2

Cad Bane’s Heist Arc (Episode 1-3)—A continuation of the finale of season one, as Ahsoka and Anakin chase after Cad Bane.

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The Second Battle of Geonosis (Episodes 5-8)—Return to the battle that kicked off the war in Attack of the Clones with this major battle arc, but also see Ahsoka strike up an important friendship with her fellow padawan-in-training, Bariss Offee.

The Mandalore Arc (Episodes 12-14)Clone Wars radically re-interpreted what we knew about Mandalorian society in a way that was initially controversial, but now it’s one of Clone Wars’ most beloved stories. Plus, see the Deathwatch in action, and the origins of that mysterious blade glimpsed at the end of The Mandalorian season one...

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Bounty Hunters (Episode 17)—Meet Hondo Ohnaka, current Disneyland park attraction and frenemy of our heroes. Here he’s a bit more enemy, as Anakin, Ahsoka, and Obi-Wan go Seven Samurai in a tag-team with some bounty hunters to save a village from Hondo’s pirate crew.

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Boba’s Revenge Arc (Episodes 20-22)—Speaking of bounty hunters! They return here, alongside a young Boba Fett, eager for revenge on Mace Windu after the whole “lopped your dad’s head off because he brought two blasters to a lightsaber fight” sitch.


Anakin wrestles with a malicious embodiment of the Force on the mysterious planet Mortis.
Anakin wrestles with a malicious embodiment of the Force on the mysterious planet Mortis.
Image: Lucasfilm
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Season 3

Clones on Kamino Arc (Episodes 1-2)—Get to know the origin story of the clones you met in “Rookies” back in season one, plus meet the best of the best: the Arc Troopers, as elites and grunts alike defend the Clone’s homeworld from assault.

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Heroes on Both Sides (Episode 10)—Not everyone in the Republic is an angel, and not every Separatist is the devil. Ahsoka learns a valuable lesson about the murky greyness of war when she and Padmé meet with Separatist senator Mina Bonteri and her son, Lux.

The Nightsisters Arc (Episodes 12-14)—Asajj Ventress returns to her homeworld Dathomir, betrayed by Dooku for the last time. Meet the creepy Force witches that will become very important to the return of another infamous Dark Sider.

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The Mortis Arc (Episodes 15-17)—A heady, heavy, and wild trio of episodes that ask you to unlearn everything you thought you’d known about how the Force works. Gorgeous, weird, and incredible Star Wars storytelling at its best.

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Mission to the Citadel Arc (Episode 18-20)—Remember how I said not everyone in the Republic is an angel? Meet a younger Tarkin, before he became the calculating Grand Moff, as he works with Anakin and Ahsoka to stage a costly breakout from a Separatist war prison.


Darth Maul takes up arms once more. Legs too, I guess.
Darth Maul takes up arms once more. Legs too, I guess.
Image: Lucasfilm
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Season 4

Crisis on Umbara Arc (Episodes 7-10)—We come back to “not everyone in the Republic is an angel” again. That includes the Jedi. This brutal storyline sees Rex and his fellow Clones attempt to reconcile taking orders from a bitter, cruel new Jedi General.

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Zygerrian Slavers Arc (Episodes 11-13)Clone Wars did a much better job than the prequels ever could of fleshing out the emotional arc that would explain Anakin’s fall to the Dark Side. This is an important part of that journey, as an undercover Anakin and Ahsoka root out slavery on the fringes of the Republic.

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A Friend in Need (Episode 14)—Ahsoka reunites with Lux Bonteri, and we get to check in on what Deathwatch is up to after their coup failed on Mandalore. Might seem inconsequential now, but important going forward.

Maul’s Revenge Arc (Episodes 19-22)Darth. Maul. Is. Back. Oh, and he brought his brother with him, the hilariously named Savage Opress. Oh, and also, he’s very, very mad. See how Clone Wars began the rehabilitation of one of the prequel’s biggest missed opportunities.

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Ahsoka finds herself surrounded by suspicion in the show’s original, emotional climax.
Ahsoka finds herself surrounded by suspicion in the show’s original, emotional climax.
Image: Lucasfilm
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Season 5

Onderon Rebels Arc (Episodes 2-5)—Ahsoka flies solo when tasked with helping a group of violent resistance fighters on Onderon battle a proxy war against the Separatists. Oh, and one of them is none other than Rogue One’s Saw Gerrera, who got his origins here.

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The Mandalore Coup Arc (Episodes 1, 14-16)Clone Wars at its biggest and best, as Maul and Deathwatch make an alliance of opportunity to upend Mandalore in a shocking power play. A huge arc we’re going to revisit in the currently streaming final season, and a big emotional turning point for Obi-Wan.

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The Wrong Jedi Arc (Episodes 17-20)—If the last arc was Clone Wars at the apex of its action, this is its emotional apex: Ahsoka is framed for a crime against the Republic she didn’t commit, and in the process, learns a vital lesson that will change her life forever. This is why we love this character so much.


The prequel era’s deadliest secret almost gets out.
The prequel era’s deadliest secret almost gets out.
Image: Lucasfilm
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Season 6

The Order 66 Arc (Episodes 1-4)—This experimental season of Clone Wars first aired on Netflix (the show actually got canceled after season five, when Disney bought Lucasfilm), and is made of episodes that had been finished for a potential sixth season already. This one’s got a hell of a premise: What if a Clone Trooper discovered the existence of Order 66 before they were supposed to?

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Yoda and the Force Arc (Episodes 11-13)—Another fascinating deep dive into the mysteries of the Force, as Yoda goes on a solo journey to understand the most profound questions of Dark and Light.

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Get ready to meet the Bad Batch. They’re cool.
Get ready to meet the Bad Batch. They’re cool.
Image: Lucasfilm
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Season 7

All of it so far—I mean...it’s kinda why you’re doing this, right? Might as well.

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All seven seasons of Star Wars: The Clone Wars are streaming on Disney+ now.

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James is a News Editor at io9. He wants pictures. Pictures of Spider-Man!

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DISCUSSION

larry-indiana
Larry Indiana

Thank you so much, James. This is the article I have been waiting for, the amount of episodes is so daunting and I only have time to watch the ones that are either really good, or really important.

Then it’s on to Rebels!