2016 Update: So with the success of The Force Awakens, it looks like a lot of you folks are looking to check out The Clone Wars, which is great! I originally wrote this article back in 2014, so some of the information in it was a little out of date. With that in mind, I’ve gone in and included a few edits here and there, just to bring it up to date.
Every episode of Star Wars: The Clone Wars hits Netflix today. Around the net a lot of new potential fans are asking about the series. With question topics ranging from what the bonus content is, to should they even watch the show at all.
So in response I’ve put together a quick guide that should answer any basic questions you’ve got.
Is Clone Wars good?
The most basic question of all, the answer is a resounding yes. Whether you’re a huge Star Wars aficionado or you’ve not seen the movies in years, then it’s a very enjoyable piece of TV either way. That’s the short answer anyway, the long answer is a bit more complicated as you’ll see below.
What is it about?
As you’ve no doubt guessed, it’s about the Clone Wars (surprise!), which is the war fought between the Republic and the Separatists. Set between Episodes II and III, characters from the films such as Anakin and Obi-Wan play important recurring roles, while there are also lots of guest characters from other parts of Star Wars lore both big and small.
Another main character is Ashoka, created specifically for the show. She’s introduced as Anakin’s new apprentice and as the series continues so does her Jedi training. As time goes on more new characters are introduced. By the end there’s quite a large cast, with entire story-arcs taking place with only minimal appearances from the movie characters.
Is Clone Wars just for kids?
No, despite the common misconception Clone Wars is not simply a children’s TV program.
However, it is true that the earlier episodes are more catered towards entertaining the kids. Later on some quite intense and serious themes are explored. If you watch the first set of episodes and find that you think it’s too simple, I suggest sticking with it. It does change as time goes on. If you still can’t get into it, then try skipping to season 3, as by then the show had really found its feet and established a fairly consistent tone.
How many seasons are there?
There are 5 full seasons of Clone Wars, a movie and a single half-season. Altogether that’s 121 episodes and a movie.
The reason for the half-season is that Disney cancelled the show before production was finished on season six, so the 13 episodes that were already far along have been finished and released on Netflix as the sixth season, alternatively called The Lost Missions.
Update: There are now also two sets of unfinished story-arcs that you can watch online at The Clone Wars Legacy. They’re fully voiced but contain very rough test animation. Chronologically they represent what would have been the latter half of season 6.
Do I have to watch the Clone Wars movie?
Ideally yes, you should watch the movie to understand the TV show better. Don’t think of it as a movie, it’s basically an extended pilot episode. It introduces some of the main characters of the show and essentially sets the stage.
Is the movie good?
Yes, it’s good. It’s not as fantastic as some of the latter episodes but it’s still enjoyable. It was panned upon release, but I think it was a strange choice to bring it to the cinema in the first place. As I said, it’s not really a movie, it’s just a long episode. So adjust your expectations accordingly.
What order should I watch Clone Wars in?
The Clone Wars was produced almost entirely out of chronological order, at least at first. Later seasons are more linear but early on things jump around quite a bit. There are plenty of lists around the internet about what order to watch in if you want to see it chronologically.
However, I want to mention that as someone who watched the series in air-date order, it’s still very enjoyable and you don’t really lose much. Many episodes stand alone and their precise positioning in the timeline is quite irrelevant.
That said, I will admit there are a couple storylines in particular that would benefit from being watched back-to-back. Whether you think it’s worth the hassle of jumping around is up to you. If you’re worried the series will be too messy in regular order you can relax, it works fine.
Update: Stupidly in the original article I didn’t make clear the answer to a very common question: Yes, the movie was released first, before season 1.
Will there be any more bonus episodes of Clone Wars?
Unfortunately it doesn’t seem so. The half season that is season 6 is likely the last we’ll see. One unfinished story is being adapted into a comic by Dark Horse. But with the licence heading to Marvel soon, it’s unlikely we’ll see any more Clone Wars comics. Instead Star Wars Rebels is the closest thing we have to a continuation.
Update: The comic in question is a potential spoiler if you’re not aware of a certain returning character, who arrives in a later season. For those curious you can follow (or mouse over) this link to see the title of the comic in question.
Is Star Wars Rebels a sequel?
No it’s a new show. However, it is made by mostly the same staff. So it’s a spiritual sequel, but it’s not a continuation of the story. At least it isn’t yet, it’s entirely possible it could tie in down the line. But that seems unlikely.
Update: Scratch that. Although season 1 of Star Wars Rebels was almost entirely a fresh start, season 2 has increasingly incorporated leftover plot threads from The Clone Wars. You don’t need to have seen The Clone Wars to enjoy Star Wars Rebels, but you’ll get more out of it if you have. Think of Rebels not as a sequel per se, but most certainly a spin-off.
Do the actors from the Star Wars movies voice their characters in Clone Wars?
Mostly no. Anthony Daniels does and Christopher Lee returns for the movie only, but the recurring characters are done by a new voice cast of very talented actors. Some have a history with the franchise in the past, for instance Sam Witwer, who played Starkiller in the Force Unleashed video games, voices a number of episodes later in the show’s lifespan.
Is Clone Wars related to that other Clone Wars cartoon?
No. Despite sharing the name, the CG animated series has very little in common with the original 2003 animated shorts, other than being set during the same war of course. Both are worth seeing however.
What if I want to watch Clone Wars on Blu-ray, are the extras worth it?
The extras on the first boxset are great, but they start to get a bit lighter from then on. But every set contains behind the scenes videos as well as the ‘Holocron Vault’ which is a type of interactive menu where you can look at concept art, early renders and deleted scenes. It depends entirely on how interested you are in the actual act of how it was produced.
Update: Is The Clone Wars canon to the films?
Yes, every episode of Star Wars The Clone Wars is canon, meaning it’s part of the same universe that all of the Star Wars movies take place in.
If you have any questions that weren’t covered here, just give me a shout on Twitter, or leave a comment below, and I’ll do my best to get back to you.