Star Wars hit the small screen in a big way with The Clone Wars animated series, which filled in the gaps between the Attack of the Clones and Revenge of the Sith films and gave Star Wars fans a lot more exposure to beloved prequel-era characters. Starring Anakin Skywalker and Obi-Wan Kenobi and featuring a number of major movie characters like Yoda, Padme, and even the Emperor himself, The Clone Wars delivered a lot of what fans wanted between movies. As it turns out, The Clone Wars was originally imagined as a show much more along the lines of Star Wars Rebels. The Clone Wars supervising producer and Rebels creator Dave Filoni had this to say:
That was something that when I was working early on with Henry Gilroy, we were trying to figure out what the character makeup of the show was going to be and how we could produce a TV series based in the time of the Clone Wars because the Clone Wars is so vast and would require literally thousands of clones battling thousands of battle droids, and so we were shooting around more of an original trilogy idea of a crew, two Jedi that worked with these smugglers and black market. And we were coming up with a character makeup. Frankly, that character makeup is very similar to what we ended up with in Rebels. It just goes to show you that those ideas don't really die.
When Dave Filoni and The Clone Wars co-producer Henry Gilroy first imagined the show, the main cast was quite similar to the cast that would eventually lead the action on Star Wars Rebels. His comments at San Diego Comic-Con's 10-year anniversary panel for The Clone Wars reveal that the show's original focus was going to be on a small band of what sound like misfit good guys who can't always stay on the straight and narrow.
In Star Wars Rebels, we got Jedi-in-hiding Kanan Jarrus, Jedi padawan Ezra Bridger, rebel leader Hera Syndulla, refugee warrior Lasat Zeb, teenager-on-the-run Sabine Wren, and cantankerous droid Chopper, all working together to smuggle and swindle their way into doing good deeds for those in need. Rebels sounds more or less like an original trilogy-era version of what The Clone Wars was originally intended to be back when Dave Filoni was first working on a Star Wars series. Instead, fans got a show starring iconic characters from the first six movies of the franchise, and the premise of a small misfit crew was held until Rebels launched in 2014.
In case you're wondering why the misfit crew was held until Rebels and The Clone Wars went in a very different direction with action following some of the biggest names in Star Wars history, Dave Filoni has an answer, and it has everything to do with a conversation he had with George Lucas regarding his original Clone Wars vision. Here's how Filoni described what happened:
But when we took this idea in to George, he looked at me, he was like 'Mmm.' So Anakin Skywalker is going to be doing this and Obi-Wan Kenobi's going to be doing this, and we just never presumed that we would be working with those characters. Because my idea was who am I to write Anakin Skywalker? That's a hugely important character. But George was like, 'Well, I'm going to teach you all about this.' And he did. So we wound up with the show we did under his direction.
Dave Filoni never imagined that he and his co-producer would be able to tell original stories for characters like Anakin and Obi-Wan, which is definitely understandable. Prior to the reset of Star Wars canon following the Lucasfilm sale to Disney that wiped out the Expanded Universe, there were already a lot of stories about characters like Anakin and Obi-Wan, and writing for such iconic characters for an animated TV show must have felt inconceivable. Well, there's nothing like a vote of confidence from George Lucas himself to give the blessing for some twists in Star Wars canon, and Dave Filoni has contributed to and created two series that brought Star Wars to TV in a wonderful way.
Sadly, Star Wars Rebels came to an end earlier this year with some episodes that both delighted and devastated viewers. The good news is that The Clone Wars is returning with a new batch of episodes on the Disney streaming service to potentially answer a big question, and another animated series is in the works as well. Throw in that live-action show in development, and there's a lot to be excited about on the Star Wars TV front. If you're looking for more news out of that galaxy far, far away, check out the big news regarding Episode IX and the Skywalker saga.