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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Two episodes that continue Asajj Ventress’s increasingly interesting plotline, as she leaves the dark side behind to form her own morality.
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.
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.
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
“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?”
“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
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
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.
S7E12: Victory And Death
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!