Star Wars: The Clone Wars (2008 — 2020) is the longest-running TV series in the Star Wars franchise, and even has the theatrical movie of the same name under its belt, which was released shortly before the series premiered back in 2008.
While live-action shows like The Mandalorian (2019) and The Book of Boba Fett (2022) are relatively new and yet to build up a healthy library of episodes, it’s plain to see that, for the time being at least, the Force is much stronger on the animated side of things.
The Clone Wars boasts 133 episodes and among that collection are some of the best episodes you’ll find in the entire Star Wars franchise! However, there are two things you must know about the show before watching.
First of all, the episodes aren’t listed in chronological order on Disney+, so you’ll have to visit StarWars.com for the official episode guide. And secondly, for the most part, the series is made up of several story arcs which usually span two or more episodes.
So what are the best episodes in The Clone Wars? Well, the entire show is incredible, but if we had to pick the top 10 episodes, here they are…
10. “Lightsaber Lost” — Season 2
As you work your way through The Clone Wars, one of the things you’ll notice about the show is how it often likes to dip its toes into the water of other genres — something we wish the Star Wars movies would do. With that said, The Clone Wars does have a lot more flexibility. Either way, if you happen to be looking for an episode that feels like a film noir, look no further than “Lightsaber Lost”.
The episode follows Ahsoka Tano (Ashley Eckstein) as she searches the dark streets of Coruscant after her lightsaber is stolen by a pickpocket. Afraid to tell her master Anakin Skywalker (Matt Lanter) what’s happened, Ahsoka sets out to find her saber by enlisting the help of elder Jedi Tera Sinube (Greg Baldwin), who works in the Archives of the Jedi Temple and has knowledge of the planet’s criminal underworld.
It’s thrilling to see a Jedi play detective, which remains one of the strongest points of Star Wars: Episode II — Attack of the Clones (2002). And while “Lightsaber Lost” is the only episode on this list that isn’t part of a greater story arc, it feels like a short noir film, reminiscent of movies like Blade Runner (1982), with its police droids, rooftop chases, dark apartments, and airspeeders!
9. “The Zillo Beast Strikes Back” — Season 2
Remember what we were just saying about Star Wars experimenting with other genres? Well, if you haven’t yet had the pleasure of watching The Clone Wars, you’ll be very surprised to learn that the series is also home to its very own monster movie! Yes, “The Zillo Beast Strikes Back” — whose title is an excellent play on a certain Star Wars movie — is the faraway galaxy’s answer to Godzilla!
The emergence of the last Zillo Beast forces the Jedi into a serious debate: destroy an entire species or use it to aid the war. However, after the creature is taken to Coruscant (a perfect setting, of course), where Chancellor Palpatine (Ian Abercrombie) hopes to use its skin to synthesize stronger armor for the clone troopers, it breaks free and rampages across the city.
So it’s up to Padme Amidala (Catherine Taber), Anakin Skywalker, Mace Windu (Terrence Carson), Obi-Wan Kenobi (James Arnold Taylor), Yoda (Tom Kane), Aayla Secura (Jennifer Hale), C-3PO (Anthony Daniels), and R2-D2 to save the day! The episode follows on from “The Zillo Beast”, so you’ll need to watch that one first to fully understand what’s happening (the same applies to any story arc on our list).
8. “Ghosts of Mortis” — Season 3
If you’re unfamiliar with The Clone Wars, you might assume that it focuses on the titular wars in their entirety. While, of course, the series does bridge the gap between Attack of the Clones and Star Wars: Episode III – Revenge of the Sith (2005), it does deviate frequently, usually to expand upon the Star Wars mythology and to flesh out certain characters.
And if we were to list a small number of episodes in The Clone Wars that you must watch in order to understand the Force even more, then the ‘Mortis’ story arc — “Overlords”, “Altar of Mortis”, and “Ghosts of Mortis” — would be at the top. But the reason we’ve chosen “Ghosts of Mortis” is simply because it’s the best of the three.
After being stranded with Obi-Wan and Ahsoka on the spiritual world of Mortis — home to powerful otherworldly beings, the Father, the Son, and the Daughter — Anakin experiences a vision of the future (Darth Vader, to be specific) as the Son attempts to lure him to the dark side. However, as we know, this doesn’t come to pass (not yet anyway), and Anakin’s memory of the vision is consequently wiped.
7. “Wookiee Hunt” — Season 3
“Wookiee Hunt” follows on from “Padawan Lost”, in which Ahsoka is kidnapped by Trandoshans during a battle on the planet Felucia, before being dropped on a jungle planet where, along with three Jedi younglings, she is hunted for sport by their reptilian captors. It sounds like something out of the sci-fi sequel Predators (2010), but then it’s possible that the episode is paying some sort of homage!
But the reason we’ve picked the second and concluding episode “Wookiee Hunt” is probably quite obvious. While Ahsoka and the younglings desperately try to survive the Trandoshans, a new captive arrives in the jungle — yes, it’s the most lovable Wookiee, Chewbacca, in his first and only appearance in The Clone Wars (sadly, he doesn’t even return in Star Wars: Rebels)!
Seeing everyone’s favorite “walking carpet” show up in The Clone Wars is a real treat, but it’s also a great episode overall. Needless to say, it’s very entertaining to watch Ahsoka and Chewie team up for the first time, and, along with other Wookiee warriors, overthrow the cruel Trandoshan hunters!
6. “Kidnapped” — Season 4
Unlike many other episodes on this list, “Kidnapped” is actually the first part in a three-part story arc, and not the middle or last. But if we were able to take liberties, we’d probably group all three of them together. Nevertheless, “Kidnapped” is among the best episodes in The Clone Wars, and, in part, an interesting exploration of the trauma Anakin lives with having been a young slave on Tatooine, as seen in Star Wars: Episode I – The Phantom Menace (1999).
The ‘Zygerrian’ story arc revolves around the titular cat-like race who enslave people from across the galaxy. The first episode sees Anakin, Ahsoka, and Obi-Wan investigate the disappearance of the Kiros colony, which ultimately leads them to planet Zygerria, where Anakin recalls his own time as a slave on Tatooine.
There’s plenty of action too, and it’s always fascinating to explore the root of Anakin’s anger (because we all know where anger leads!). At the end of the episode, the Jedi Council tasks Anakin, Ahsoka, and Obi-Wan with infiltrating the Zygerrian slavers to find the missing people of Kiros. And if you thought the slaver Watto from The Phantom Menace was despicable, just wait until you meet the Zygerrians!
5. “Revenge” — Season 4
Savage Opress (Clancy Brown) has found his brother Maul (Sam Witwer), who hasn’t been seen since he was cut in half by Obi-Wan Kenobi in The Phantom Menace 12 years earlier, and the fallen Sith is hellbent on vengeance. But Obi-Wan isn’t alone — having watched her fellow Nightsisters slaughtered under the instruction of her old master Count Dooku (Corey Burton) for failing to control Opress, Asajj Ventress (Nika Futterman) decides to join forces with the Jedi.
“Revenge” concludes a four-part story arc (following “Massacre”, “Bounty”, and “Brothers”) which focuses on the fall of Asajj and the rise of Maul. In fact, this is where Asajj Ventress starts to steer away from the dark side somewhat and becomes pretty likable in the process — perhaps more so than Maul, who, despite how much of a fan-favorite he is, is still despicable for all his actions.
“Revenge” is a stand-out episode, and the rematch between Obi-Wan Kenobi and the Son of Dathomir (whose quest for vengeance is pretty audacious considering he murdered Qui-Gon Jinn!) keeps you on the edge of your seat. And needless to say, seeing Asajj Ventress team up with one of the most iconic Jedi of all time, is equally thrilling.
4. “The Wrong Jedi” — Season 5
“The Wrong Jedi” is yet another that concludes a four-part story arc, with the first three episodes being “Sabotage”, “The Jedi Who Knew Too Much”, and “To Catch a Jedi”. This story sees Ahsoka being framed for murder by fellow Padawan Barriss Offee (Meredith Salenger), which leaves the Togruta Jedi desperately trying to prove her innocence to the Jedi Council.
In the Season 5 episode in question, Ahsoka is summoned to the High Courts after she’s expelled from the Jedi Order. In trying to help their friend Ahsoka, fortunately, Padme and Anakin discover that Barriss Offee was behind the explosion, but sadly, it isn’t enough to keep a now-disenfranchised and betrayed Ahsoka in the Jedi Order.
In a twist that shocked fans at the time the episode originally aired, Ahsoka Tano leaves the Order and says an emotional farewell to Anakin. While it would be some time before the fan-favorite returned, this remains one of the most character-defining moments in the show and would go on to shape the rest of Ahsoka’s journey in Star Wars canon.
3. “Voices” — Season 6
“Voices” is the second part of a Yoda-centric story arc in the show, and sees the Jedi travel to the Dagobah System where he begins to discover the true origins of the Force. He also hears the voice of Qui-Gon Jinn (Liam Neeson), which is the first time a dead Jedi has been able to commune with the living! And it’s this that leads Yoda on his quest, which concludes in “Sacrifice”.
Along with the ‘Mortis’ story arc, the four episodes in which the wise Jedi Master Yoda learns even more about the Force is perhaps the most engaging in the entire show. Not only do we learn about the first Force ghost, but we also find out why Yoda decides to go into exile to Dagobah at the end of Revenge of the Sith in the first place, a revelation that also enrichens his time in the original trilogy.
It’s incredibly nostalgic to see Yoda visit Dagobah before we ‘officially’ meet him there in Star Wars: Episode V — The Empire Strikes Back (1980), and we’re even treated to some iconic music along the way too. Ultimately, this four-episode adventure bridges the gap between Revenge of the Sith and The Empire Strikes Back, and does a pretty great job in the process.
2. “The Lawless” — Season 5
The Clone Wars is home to a wealth of Star Wars characters, some we first meet in George Lucas’ prequel trilogy, others entirely new to the show, many of whom have become just as iconic over the years. One of those characters is Bo-Katan Kryze (Katee Sackhoff), who is a key figure in The Clone Wars, especially during the show’s four-part finale.
Bo-Katan has since appeared in Star Wars: Rebels (2014 — 2018) and in live-action in The Mandalorian (with Katee Sackhoff reprising her role in both). However, if you want to learn more about her character, then the three-part story arc that’s made up of “Eminence”, “Shades of Reason”, and “Lawless” is the best place to start.
In “Lawless”, Obi-Wan is captured by new Mandalorian ruler Maul and is forced to watch the disgraced Sith Lord execute Duchess Satine Kryze (Anna Graves). However, Bo-Katan soon comes to Obi-Wan’s rescue and leads her loyal Death Watch members against Maul. But the action doesn’t stop there — Darth Sidious also arrives to fight Maul and his brother Opress in what is one of the most epic duels in the series (and boy can the old Chancellor fight!).
1. “Victory and Death” — Season 7
“Victory and Death” isn’t just the concluding chapter in the four-episode story arc that marks the end of Season 7 — it’s also the final episode in The Clone Wars. The first three episodes are “Old Friends Not Forgotten”, “The Phantom Apprentice”, and “Shattered”, all of which, along with the finale, depicts the last few hours of the Clone Wars, mostly from Ahsoka’s point of view.
The tetralogy-topping “Victory and Death” finds the Jedi trying to escape the cruiser with her friend Captain Rex (Dee Bradley Baker), as they evade all the other clone troopers who have now been given orders to kill the Jedi. Meanwhile, a loose Maul has his own plans of escape, which could compromise Ahsoka and Rex’s chances.
You will of course need to watch the first three episodes, but speaking strictly of “Victory and Death”, Star Wars hasn’t felt this emotionally engaging since Revenge of the Sith. The final few moments, combined with a haunting score by Kevin Kiner (and a chilling Darth Vader cameo), help make this episode something of a masterpiece.
All seven seasons of The Clone Wars are now streaming on Disney+. And while the show ended in 2020, some of its characters live on in live-action shows such as The Mandalorian, The Book of Boba Fett, and the upcoming Ahsoka. The latter will hopefully launch this year but it could be 2023.
What are your favorite episodes from Star Wars: The Clone Wars?