The Essential Clone Wars Episodes Every Star Wars Fan Should Watch

The Essential Clone Wars Episodes Every Star Wars Fan Should Watch
Image: Disney

In 2014, Disney de-canonised the bulk of existing Star Wars media, aside from the core movies, select novels, and the Clone Wars TV show. With so much extra content wiped from the canon, Clone Wars‘ 121 episodes were the only remaining trace of a broader canon, depicting a vibrant galaxy outside the Skywalker family’s drama.

It’s no surprise that so many subsequent Star Wars movies and TV shows have drawn from its rich characters and story arcs.

Subsequent Star Wars media has followed on — directly or indirectly — from The Clone Wars, including Star Wars: Rebels, Rogue One, The Mandalorian, and, most recently, The Bad Batch. Clone Wars character Ahsoka Tano is even getting her own live-action TV show, after making a cameo appearance in The Mandalorian.

Despite its significance to the Star Wars canon, The Clone Wars is still a kids show made over a decade ago with over 130 episodes, making it one of the hardest Star Wars shows to fully get into. Much of the first few seasons can be considered filler (often starring Jar Jar), and many of the episodes were aired outside of their in-universe chronological order.

This list cuts the required watching down to 89 episodes and one movie, arranges them in chronological order, while still making sure you don’t miss anything that will be important background to any of the more recent Star Wars shows. Happy watching!

This story has been updated and rewritten since its original publication, adding new episodes that reference to The Bad Batch and other Star Wars series.

The Clone Wars theatrical release

The movie tells the story of Ahsoka becoming an unwilling Anakin’s padawan — while the plot itself is nothing groundbreaking, it’s a good start to the relationship between the two. It’s the only one that’s not on Netflix, so it’s worth hunting down first.

S3E01: Clone Cadets

The first episode of season 3, Clone Cadets introduces a handful of the clones that we follow through the series, all the way through to season 6. Seeing as they all essentially look the same, it’s good to get a feel for them early.

S1E05: Rookies

Oh look, here are those clones again.

S1E09: Cloak of Darkness

As we’re skipping the underwhelming first episode, this is a good one to introduce Dooku and his apprentice, Asajj Ventress.

S1E10: Lair of Grievous

Another one that focuses on the baddies, you won’t find many of the recurring main characters here, but the dark side machinations are still interesting.

S1E11: Dooku Captured

S1E12: The Gungan General

A two-part story, this arc exemplifies some of the silliest moments of early Clone Wars, with a bizarre Dooku-Jedi team-up and the unfortunate inclusion of Jar-Jar Binks.

Still, it’s worth watching for the first appearance of space pirate Hondo Ohnaka, a sometimes loveable recurring character through Clone Wars and Star Wars: Rebels.

S1E19: Storm over Ryloth

S1E20: Innocents of Ryloth

S1E21: Liberty on Ryloth

This three-parter is both the start of some deeper character development for Ahsoka and a bit more adventure for the clones. One of the characters in this arc is also pretty important if you’re planning on watching Rebels later.

S2E01: Holocron Heist

S2E02: Cargo of Doom

S2E03: Children of the Force

Another three-parter that introduces bounty hunter Cad Bane and further builds on the relationship between Ahsoka and Anakin. You’ll see Bane again both through Clone Wars and in more recent Star Wars media.

S2E17: Bounty Hunters

While this episode isn’t vital to the larger narrative of the Star Wars saga, its loving tribute to Akira Kurosawa, in the form of a Seven Samurai-inspired storyline, is worth a watch. Many of the bounty hunters in this episode will return in later seasons, too.

S2E18: The Zillo Beast

S2E19: The Zillo Beast Strikes Back

Some people love the Zillo Beast episodes, some people hate them. For me, they’re memorable enough to be worth an inclusion.

S2E05: Landing at Point Rain

S2E06: Weapons Factory

This two-parter introduces padawan Barriss Offee — who eventually becomes Ahsoka’s friend. It also provides a broader view of the Clone Wars as a whole, and expands on the relationships between Jedi and their padawans.

S2E07: Legacy of Terror

S2E08: Brain Invaders

Another two-parter that leads on from Weapons Factory, this arc is about brain-invading zombie worms. Other than that, it’s mainly worth watching for the moments between Ahsoka and Barriss.

S2E10: The Deserter

While not originally on this list, The Deserter introduces two characters who have been returned to relevance thanks to a story arc in The Bad Batch.

S2E12: The Mandalore Plot

S2E13: Voyage of Temptation

S2E14: Duchess of Mandalore

The Mandalore arc introduces Obi Wan’s ex-girlfriend, Satine, who happens to be the Duchess of Mandalore — yes, that place with the armour where Boba Fett comes from. Except for some reason they’re pacifists. Mandalore has some of the show’s best moments, so they’re all worth watching.

S2E20: Death Trap

S2E21: R2 Come Home

S2E22: Lethal Trackdown

These episodes follow young Boba Fett as he sets out to get revenge on Mace Windu — the Jedi who killed his father. Featuring other bounty hunters from the Star Wars canon such as Bossk from Empire Strikes Back and Aurra Sing, the bald, pale bounty hunter with a short cameo in The Phantom Menace.

S3E02: ARC Troopers

This episode continues the story of the clones from Clone Cadets and Rookies — well, some of them, at least.

S1E22: Hostage Crisis

S3E09: Hunt for Ziro

While this Hutt subplot is a little odd (though more so when watched in its original order) it’s also more screentime for Cad Bane, and a look at Quinlan Vos, one of the more entertaining members of the Jedi order.

S3E10: Heroes on Both Side

S3E11: Pursuit of Peace

This two-parter is a heavily political one, where Padmé tries to broker peace between the Senate and the Separatists. While it might not appeal to everyone, it’s an interesting depiction of grey morality in a universe that loves its blacks and whites.

S3E12: Nightsisters

S3E13: Monster

S3E14: Witches of the Mist

A three-parter that expands on Asajj Ventress, Dooku being a dick and gives us a peek at Darth Maul’s people and home planet.

S3E15: Overlords

S3E16: Altar of Mortis

S3E17: Ghosts of Mortis

The Mortis arc sees Anakin, Ahsoka and Obi Wan stumble on a strange planet occupied by living embodiments of the Force, where Anakin has to grapple with his identity as the Chosen One. Mortis raises a lot of interesting questions about the Force, and some of its ideas are echoed in later Star Wars media.

S3E18: The Citadel

S3E19: Counter Attack

S3E20: Citadel Rescue

Anakin and Tarkin become bros in one of the series’ few nods to the original trilogy. Things also get pretty intense during this high-stakes prison break in/out arc. This arc is directly referenced in the new series The Bad Batch, so pay attention.

S4E07: Darkness on Umbara

S4E08: The General

S4E09: Plan of Dissent

S4E10: Carnage of Krell

A series of clone-centric episodes that have some very illuminating things to say about the state of the Jedi Order. Again, an indicator of the darker direction the series takes.

S4E11: Kidnapped

S4E12: Slaves of the Republic

S4E13: Escape from Kadavo

This arc focused on Zygerrian slavers may not be vital to Clone Wars‘ broader plotlines, but it includes some interesting moments involving Anakin’s history with the galaxy’s slave trade. The Zygerrian slavers make appearances in other Star Wars media, making this arc a good crash course on their culture.

S4E14: A Friend In Need

This episode re-introduces Ahsoka’s low-key love interest, Lux Bonteri, as well as being the first appearance of Satine’s sister and important Death Watch member Bo-Katan Kryze.

S4E15: Deception

S4E16: Friends and Enemies

S4E17: The Box

S4E18: Crisis on Naboo

Obi Wan goes undercover with a group of bounty hunters. A lot of it is just him showing off, but the culmination of the arc is a surprisingly intense moment born of Palpatine’s plotting.

S4E19: Massacre

E4E20: Bounty

Two episodes that continue Asajj Ventress’s increasingly interesting plotline, as she leaves the dark side behind to form her own morality.

S4E21: Brothers

S4E22: Revenge

A very surprising return from a film character who really deserved more screen time.

S5E02: A War on Two Fronts

S5E03: Front Runners

S5E04: The Soft War

S5E05: Tipping Points

Ahsoka is sent to train a group of insurgent rebels. Wait, is that really something that’s okay for the Jedi to do? Well, apparently yes.

This arc introduces Saw Gerrera, a character who has since been seen in Rebels, The Bad Batch, and even Rogue One.

S5E06: The Gathering

While the younglings this arc focuses on are generally pretty obnoxious, this episode is an interesting look at a Jedi rite of passage: collecting a Kyber crystal from Ilum to build a lightsaber.

The “Young Jedi” arc continues through to episode 9, but I don’t consider the rest vital watching. Interestingly, Ilum is the planet that is eventually converted into The Force Awakens‘ Starkiller Base, due to the power of its Kyber crystal deposits.

S5E01: Revival

S5E14: Eminence

S5E15: Shades of Reason

S5E16: The Lawless

Darth Maul and his brother have some really crazy plans for the world of Mandalore, deciding to capitalise on all that Sith training he has to build a criminal empire. Things get really crazy as the Mandalore plotline winds up.

S5E17: Sabotage

S5E18: The Jedi Who Knew Too Much

S5E19: To Catch a Jedi

S5E20: The Wrong Jedi

For a long time these four episodes were the culmination of Clone Wars‘ main plot lines, especially Ahsoka’s story, but now we have season seven to finally finish her arc. These episodes are still some of Clone Wars‘ best, and together with season seven help flesh out more of the motivation for Anakin’s fall to the Dark Side in Revenge of the Sith.

The sixth season was produced just for Netflix, and mainly consists of tying up previously unclear plot points:

S6E01: The Unknown

S6E02: Conspiracy

S6E03: Fugitive

S6E04: Orders

“Wait, so if the clones are so loyal to the Jedi, why did Order 66 happen?”

S6E10: The Lost One

“What happened to that Master Sifo-Dyas guy anyway?”

S6E11: Voices

S6E12: Destiny

S6E13: Sacrifice

“Why are there so many Force ghosts in the original trilogy but none in the prequels?”

Clone Wars season 7 was released in 2020, six years after season 6. The whole season is worth watching thanks to much-improved animation quality, as well as plot threads that are being brought forward into Disney’s new Star Wars shows.

S7E01: The Bad Batch

S7E02: A Distant Echo

S7E03: On The Wings Of Keeradaks

S7E04: Unfinished Business

clone wars
Image: IMDB

The Bad Batch arc, as the name suggests, introduces the mutant clones who are now starring as the lead characters in their own show, The Bad Batch. The arc also finishes the story of the group of clones first introduced in Clone Cadets, the first episode on this watch list. Bad guy Admiral Trench is also a recurring character, who you will have seen in season 6’s The Unknown.

S7E05: Gone With A Trace

S7E06: Deal No Deal

S7E07: Dangerous Debt

S7E08: Together Again

While this Ahsoka-focused arc wasn’t all that popular during its airing for its perceived filler-like quality, it still has something to add to Ahsoka’s overall growth as a character. The other characters introduced in this arc have appeared in new Star Wars media, too.

S7E09: Old Friends Not Forgotten

S7E10: The Phantom Apprentice

clone wars
Image: IMDB

The last 4 episodes of The Clone Wars are some of the best the show has ever been. The first two episodes in this arc act as a finale to the ongoing Mandalore storyline, tying the show in better with story arcs in Rebels and The Mandalorian. As well as some satisfying storytelling, these episodes have some of the best lightsaber duelling in the entire Star Wars saga.

S7E11: Shattered

S7E12: Victory And Death

clone wars
Image: Disney

The second part of this arc crosses over with Revenge of the Sith, showing Order 66 from a different perspective. This arc is vital background for episodes of The Bad Batch, but also leads perfectly into Revenge of the Sith. If you’re watching The Clone Wars in tandem with the movies, you could arguably even watch Revenge of the Sith between episode 10 and episode 11, letting the masterful Victory and Death close out this section of Star Wars mythos.

If you’ve watched all the episodes in this list, congratulations! You’re all set to enjoy some of the subsequent Star Wars media that calls back to the mythos of The Clone Wars, including The Bad Batch, Rebels, Rogue One, and The Mandalorian. If you still can’t get enough, take the time to go back through and watch the episodes that were skipped — you never know what a new Star Wars show or movie is going to choose to resurrect from this classic series.


What other Clone Wars episodes do you consider mandatory watching? Let us know in the comments!

Comments

  • Yep, it’s on Netflix and worth watching. A lot of great episodes – some actually moving more than you would imagine. And yes, it is canon.

  • Loved the way Clone wars ended in season 5 with Ashoka and her trials. And loved they brought her back in Rebels for a season, looking forward to seeing where they go with her in season 3 of Rebels

  • I would add S4E14 “A Friend in Need” to the list. It develops the relationship between Ashoka and Lux Bonteri which is relevant to watch S5E02.

  • I am going to disagree with watching the show in chronologically. I say this, as there are some things that are explained in seasons 1&2, but when you get to prequel eps, they just expect you to know it already. And you get a good feel for the main clone cast before that S3 ep, S3 just takes it up a notch, given you there backstory.

  • No mention of the Mortis arc? Really? Those three episodes were awesome. Such an interesting exploration of Anakin’s struggles with light and dark.

  • Wait, I’m confused, this says this site was updated on January 1st, 2018, and that Star Wars: The Clone Wars (film) is “the only one that’s NOT on Netflix.” But not only is it on Netflix, but it’s been on Netflix for years, literally, more than one. In addition to Star Wars: The Clone Wars (2008 TV series) of course.

  • I’m glad the article is back! I started watching Clone Wars December 2017 and used it as a guide and suddenly it was gone, I have to say that indeed the Mortis arc is a must! , the first and last episodes at least 🙂

    • Thanks! I hope it’s helped some new people get into Clone Wars over the last year or so 🙂

      I’m not a big fan of Mortis, it has some good moments but overall I think it’s very clunky with the way it handles the mysteries of the Force and the Anakin prophecy.

      That being said that’s just my preference, and I’m all about people adding/subtracting whatever episodes they value most!

    • You can thank Disney for that, they are making their own streaming service and slowly removing everything from netflix

      • Ergh. I hate having multiple streaming services. It’s bad enough having to pay for Stan for the one or two things I want to watch on there, along with Foxtel, Netflix and Prime.

  • What about the episode where Asoka is poisned, and it’s for a moment where Anikin falls a little bit to the Darkside

  • >clone wars
    >down to 66 episodes
    My jedi senses are tingling

    Good article Hayley, or should i say, Darth Sidious!

  • Lair of Grievous is S1:E10, not E12. E12 is about Anakin, Obi Wan and Dooku trying to escape being held hostage. it’s fun but not essential.

  • This is a really great list and hard to fault. The only arc I would remove is The Zillo Beast arc. I actually liked it quite a lot but at the end there’s a setup that they’ll clone it but they never do. So story wise it doesn’t add anything to the series. I would say if that arc is here than Mortis should be on the list too.

    The only arcs I wondered why they aren’t on any lists are the Hondo arc 1×11-12 as it introduces Hondo and he comes back into the show frequently and the Mondo Academy arc 3×05-06 as it shows the corruption on Mandalore which I think is quite important. Surprisingly I couldn’t find the Mondo Academy arc on any lists. Also I’d add The Gathering episode 5×06 as it shows how young Jedis learn and where they get their lightsaber crystal from.

    Nonetheless this is a pretty great list and I will combine it with the Disney+ essential list to watch it with my Dad.

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