The Best ‘Star Wars: The Clone Wars’ Arcs, Ranked
The Force is strong with these episodes.
The Clone Wars is among the best Star Wars media. It was even brought back from cancellation thanks to fans’ love for the show. But with seven seasons and 133 episodes, there’s a lot of debate over what the best arcs are. Here’s our ranking of the nine(ish) best arcs in The Clone Wars.
And if you’re interested in watching The Clone Wars but don’t know where to start, consider this list a helpful resource.
9. Ryloth Arc / Geonosis Arc
Ryloth arc: season 1, episodes 19-21; Geonosis arc: season 2, episodes 4-8
The Ryloth and Geonosis arcs are similar in that they both follow the Jedi and clones as they invade a planet, though the difference between invading to free the Twi’leks from Separatist occupation and invading to destroy a droid factory on Geonosis is palpable. Both arcs also feature major growth points for Ahsoka Tano as she comes to terms with the responsibility of being a leader and a Jedi.
The Ryloth arc has Anakin and Ahsoka committing war crimes to stop other war crimes, followed by two clones rescuing a Twi’lek girl as they attempt to free a town and make a landing spot to help free the rest of the planet. The arc also introduces us to Cham Syndulla, a freedom fighter on Ryloth who struggles to have faith in systems that frequently leave his planet behind. His daughter, Hera, would later become a main character in Star Wars Rebels and will appear in the Ahsoka show later this year.
The Geonosis arc is a fun mix of genres that goes from spy-romance-political thriller to all-out D-Day invasion to a duo of horror-driven episodes about Geonosian zombies and brain worm body snatchers. The episodes have a lot of action, but plenty of character-driven moments too, and were some of the earliest episodes to show Anakin’s slow descent to the dark side.
8. The Domino Squad Arc
Season 1, episode 5 and season 3, episodes 1 and 2
“Rookies” was one of the best episodes of season 1, introducing us to a squadron of Rookie clones who would later be known as Domino Squad as they try to stop the Separatist invasion of Kamino. We got a prequel to this episode in season 3 that showed the squadron passing the final test needed to graduate, followed by an episode where Fives, Echo, and other clones fight off invading droid forces that threaten their homeworld.
7. Mortis Arc / Yoda Arc
Mortis arc: season 3, episodes 15-17; Yoda arc: season 6, episodes 10-13
Again, we have two similar arcs that explore some of the more fantastical sides of the Force. I personally would suggest the Mortis arc for how it later features in Star Wars Rebels.
The Mortis arc basically introduces us to the physical manifestations of the Force: the Lightside Daughter, the Darkside Son, and the Father who keeps them both in check. The arc is rife with foreshadowing and does a surprisingly deep dive into Anakin’s psyche, exploring how he is so broken that he is willing to turn to the dark side … to prevent himself from turning to the dark side. It’s weird but definitely worth a watch, and the middle episode in this arc may have some far-reaching effects on the Ahsoka show.
Yoda’s season 6 arc has him learning the secrets of the Force from the deceased Qui-Gon Jinn, which the Jedi do not believe to be possible. The Council even goes so far as to suggest that Yoda is having a breakdown, only for him to go on a spiritual journey where he sees the fall of the Jedi coming. I personally have mixed feelings about this arc because it does explore Yoda as a flawed character who made mistakes and has many regrets. However, the arc also makes it clear that Yoda knew what would happen and did very little to stop it. It also explains why he was so callous to Anakin about the death of a loved one in Revenge of the Sith, though I don’t know if that makes his actions better or worse.
On the other hand, we get Mark Hamill voicing Darth Bane, which may be the best cameo in the whole show.
6. Death Watch Arc
Season 2, episodes 12-14; season 4, episode 14; season 5, episodes 14-16
I mostly suggest the Death Watch arc because I love Obi-Wan Kenobi and Satine Kryze being sassy exes while still being friends, but this arc does explain a lot about the past of Mandalore and why groups like Din Djarin’s covert broke away from other Mandalorian clans. The one issue is that you also need to watch the Darth Maul arc to understand what’s going on in the later episodes.
5. Darth Maul’s Arc
Season 4, episodes 21-22; season 5, episode 1 and episodes 14-16
Bringing Darth Maul back was a gamble, but it’s one that I believe paid off. Darth Maul and his brother Savage Opress ended up being breakout stars of The Clone Wars; they were both intimidating villains and compelling and (somewhat) tragic characters. Their surprise takeover of Mandalore also led to a unexpected duel with Maul’s former master, Darth Sidious himself, which I think is one of the best lightsaber duels in the series.
Note: I would also suggest watching “Monster” and “Witches of the Mist” (season 3, episodes 13-14) to get more background on Savage Opress, who honestly did not deserve any of what he got.
4. The Order 66 Arc
Season 6, episodes 1-4
Perhaps the biggest tragedy of The Clone Wars is seeing all of the little moments that build toward the coming tragedy; this arc is that taken to the maximum. ARC Trooper Fives (who we thought was the sole survivor of the Domino Squadron from a previous arc) discovers the inhibitor chips implanted in every clone to ensure they carry out Order 66. He tries to bring it to the attention of those who can stop it, only to realize too late that Chancellor Palpatine is behind it all and no one will believe him. Fives is gunned down by a fellow clone, not knowing that his brother Echo is still out there or that his intel would be essential for saving Captain Rex.
3. Wrong Jedi Arc
Season 5, episodes 18-20
March 2013 was a tough time for Clone Wars fans. The Wrong Jedi arc saw Ahsoka betrayed, framed for treason, expelled from the Jedi Order, and on trial—with Anakin and Padme as her only defenders. Even when her innocence is proven, the Jedi Council doesn’t own up to their mistakes, writing it off as “the will of the Force” and implying they would give her the knighthood as a consolation prize. This led to her leaving the order, breaking the hearts of Anakin, fans, and herself.
Even worse, The Clone Wars was canceled when Disney bought Star Wars, meaning fans had to wait years to find out if Ahsoka survived the Clone Wars, and only saw how it happened seven years later.
2. Umbara Arc
Season 4, episodes 7-10
The Umbara arc is often referred to as Clone Wars’ Vietnam due to its brutality and moral ambiguity. As the 501st (Anakin’s men) deal with a new Jedi General, they are thrust into a dehumanizing meat grinder that challenges what doing the right thing means for a soldier. Is it following your orders above all else? Is it standing up for your fellow men? The worst part is that the arc ends with the clones—and viewers—wondering what will happen to them after the war.
Note: I would suggest adding “Senate Murders” (season 2, episode 15) to this arc as it gives an explanation for why they wanted to leave the Republic, adding to the ambiguity of the clones’ actions as an invading army.
1. The Siege of Mandalore Arc
Season 7, episodes 9-12
The Siege of Mandalore arc was literally decades in the making, and somehow it made me thankful that The Clone Wars was canceled so that the animators could have the resources of Disney to pull off this incredible, beautiful, heart-wrenching arc. It beautifully mirrors The Clone Wars movie in a lot of ways, coming full circle and showing how far Ahsoka, Rex, and the others have come—which makes it all the more tragic to know that, just across the galaxy, Anakin is making the worst mistakes of his life and his friends aren’t there to help him.
What’s your favorite Clone Wars arc? Is there one you would have included on this list instead? Let us know in the comments!
(featured image: Disney)
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