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The Star Wars franchise that began as an epic film saga now counts a couple of epic TV series in its canon. Star Wars: The Clone Wars and then later Star Wars Rebels expanded the Star Wars universe and told the stories of characters who didn't appear much or at all in any of the films. Clone Wars supervising director and Rebels showrunner Dave Filoni spoke to CinemaBlend following the conclusion of Rebels this year, and he had this to say about how Clone Wars impacted its successor on the small screen:
I think the biggest impact was we had made over a hundred episodes of an animated series, so I was I think a lot better at it when I got to Rebels. I was more prepared. Clone Wars was a trial by fire and super fortunate that we had George [Lucas] there teaching, so I took all of that and I got a chance to do another story with Rebels and I was able to go back and salvage some ideas. That's one of the things I learned from George is that you never throw away ideas. You always find a place somewhere and we were able to. Carrie Beck very much wanted to do this story that she referred to as very A-Team-like, which is a crew of strange people coming together to help other people, and I was like, 'I have something like that,' and we looked at that and we did some new things and then the time period, and we formed Rebels. So Clone Wars affected it in a lot of ways.
The Clone Wars kicked off with an animated film and then went on to air 121 episodes over six seasons from 2008-2014. Until very recently, it seemed like the only way Star Wars TV fans would get to see more of the Clone Wars characters on the small screen would be via other shows, or web series like Forces of Destiny. When Star Wars Rebels premiered in the fall of 2014, viewers discovered a very different show than what they got on Clone Wars, but according to Dave Filoni, Clone Wars did have a profound impact on how Rebels worked. Experience with more than a hundred episodes with George Lucas on board gave Filoni and Co. and edge when kicking off Rebels.
Apparently, part of what drove the process of developing the Ghost crew on Rebels was Lucasfilm Animation Vice President Carrie Beck's suggestion of an A-Team-esque dynamic for the new series. Given what Dave Filoni revealed at the 2018 San Diego Comic-Con about how The Clone Wars was originally a lot more like Rebels, it's no wonder that the Ghost crew came together the way they did!
Now, as Star Wars TV fans know well, The Clone Wars also had a very visible impact on Rebels. The Season 1 finale of Rebels revealed that none other than Ahsoka was active in the Rebellion in the years ahead of the original trilogy, and Season 2 incorporated both Ahsoka and Rex into the action. The series finale revealed that Rex actually popped up in the original trilogy (in new canon, anyway) and featured Ahsoka at the very end of the epilogue! Dave Filoni went on in our chat to discuss when he felt the time was right to incorporate Clone Wars characters into the new show:
I think it added dimension to Rebels because we took our time bringing the characters from Clone Wars into Rebels. We wanted the rebels to get their own space first and we weren't sure what would happen when we brought Clone Wars characters into it, but it turned out that they loved it. People really gravitated to it.
In a fun twist, the upcoming return of The Clone Wars to the small screen will be impacted by Rebels, even despite the fact that Rebels took place almost two decades after the end of the Clone Wars in Star Wars canon. Given that Star Wars Resistance is set years after the end of of Rebels, we could potentially see both Clone Wars and Rebels impacting that new series when it hits the airwaves later this year. We'll have to wait and see.
The Clone Wars will return with 12 all-new episodes after the Disney streaming service launches. A live-action TV show is in the works as well, also with the potential to show impact from the events of Clone Wars and Rebels. If you're now in the mood to relive the glory days of The Clone Wars, you can find the first six seasons streaming on Netflix now. For some viewing options set elsewhere than the galaxy far, far away, swing by our fall TV premiere schedule.