‘Star Wars: The Clone Wars’ Shows the Franchise is at Its Best When It Understands the Audience

Disney+

Star Wars: The Clone Wars originally aired on Cartoon Network in 2008, but in 2020, six years after its original ending in 2014, Disney brought back the fan-favorite show to Disney+ for one final season. There have been plenty of cases of shows being brought back after abrupt endings, or revived by streaming networks, but Star Wars: The Clone Wars did something that other revived shows often fail to do: it captured the magic of the original series.

What makes The Clone Wars so special is that it genuinely understands its audience. Recently, The Rise of Skywalker was met with disappointment from fans –– this was not universal, of course, but a significant number of long-time fans felt let down by the trilogy’s ending. The Clone Wars found its success in understanding what the fans truly love about Star Wars, rather than overly indulging in what they think fans want. Perhaps this is a result of creative consistency over the course of the series: Dave Filoni has been with the show since its conception, and clearly had a vision he wanted to execute – the result was a strong final season that saw it through.

The four-part finale was certainly the final season’s strongest arc –– stakes were high as the timeline crept nearer to the events of Revenge of the Sith, yet it never felt like it was attempting to re-write the narrative. Instead, it offered a new perspective on major events such as Order 66 and Anakin’s fall to the darkside. Since this season focused on Ahsoka’s story during this time, it allowed for an unseen perspective on the events. In the earlier seasons, Anakin’s story was one of the greatest strengths of The Clone Wars, and I always found it easier to connect with Filoni’s version of Anakin more than the prequel trilogy. This was especially true through his relationship with Ahsoka, so seeing their reunion in this season after she had left the Jedi order was an incredibly emotional moment. Relationships such as these, as well as Ahsoka’s relationship with the Clone troopers, are the heart of what makes The Clone Wars so special. It would have been easy for the show to cross into fan-service territory, but it walked the line with grace, allowing fans to say goodbye to beloved characters without it feeling like pandering. 

After The Mandalorian last year, and now with the final season of The Clone Wars, it’s clear that these Star Wars TV shows have a lot to offer, and shouldn’t be blindly dismissed in favor of the films. There are certainly creative benefits to doing things on a smaller scale, and if Disney continues to put time and effort into more Star Wars shows, I think they’ll find that there are plenty of niche stories to be told. Star Wars fans don’t need every story to be about the Skywalkers –– in fact, plenty of fans are asking for the Skywalker stories to be completely shelved in favor of new characters and adventures. By focusing on some of these smaller stories, we can explore the galaxy we know and love from fresher perspectives. Star Wars Rebels has also taken this approach –– it introduces us to a new gang of characters we grow to know and love, and while other well established characters will pop-in occasionally, they aren’t the focus of the story arcs. 

There are reasons people keep returning to Star Wars — they love the world, the stories, and the themes. But when there is so much Star Wars content out there to work with, it’s hard to understand why Disney is so focused on oversaturating its films. If this keeps up, the fatigue will catch up and hit even the most hardcore fans. I can only hope that in the future of Star Wars, and the potential new trilogy in the works, Disney takes the success of The Mandalorian and The Clone Wars into account, and gives us something new.

Star Wars: The Clone Wars is available to stream on Disney+.

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Ezra Farner

Ezra Farner is an undergraduate student attending Southern Oregon University to study graphic design and film. In his free time, he enjoys watching movies, writing, playing video games, and wasting time on Twitter.

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