After #Disney purchased #Lucasfilm in 2012, the company decided that the best way forward with #StarWars was to not be held hostage by the existing lore created in various books, comics and games outside of the main "saga" films. Fans were saddened to learn that many of their favorite novels had been wiped from the timeline; the old Expanded Universe is now dubbed "Legends."
Thankfully, the already existing show The Clone Wars was exempt from this rule — and soon the series' creator, Dave Filoni, created another show titled Star Wars: Rebels.
Both shows have produced some fine episodes, and now have quite the following. Between the two seasons, Filoni has delivered great character moments that improved the prequel films (and Darth Maul) and made great use of James Earl Jones as Vader. Here are 10 moments from these Star Wars animated shows that have truly stood out so far, though many others have as well.
(Spoilers follow for Star Wars Rebels and The Clone Wars.)
10. Kanan Jarrus Becomes A Jedi Knight
Having only been a Padawan during Order 66, Kanan (nee Caleb) never completed his Jedi training and never completed the trials. Hiding his Jedi ways, Kanan operated with a blaster for many years, keeping his head down and being a bit of a drunk.
Fast forward years later: Kanan engages in a furious duel in a Jedi temple with former Temple Guards, one of whom happens to be the Grand Inquisitor himself. The duel is a manifestation of the will of the Force, and while it was a dazziling display of animation, it was the moment where the guard (through the will of the Force), finally knights the reclusive Padawan. This scene is only amplified further if you've read New Dawn and the Kanan comic series.
9. Zeb And Agent Kallus Stranded In 'The Honorable Ones'
Late in the second season of Rebels, Zeb (who is modeled after the original Ralph McQuarrie concept art for Chewie) and Agent Kallus of the Empire (voiced by David Oyelowo) find themselves trapped on a frigid icy planet together after an ambush goes south. Kallus and Zeb have some pretty intense history that has been developed over the two seasons, with Kallus being revealed early on to have participated in the near extinction of Zeb's species.
With Kallus injured in the landing, however, the two must put aside their differences and work together if they are to survive. Seeing the two sworn enemies cooperate in the name of survival allowed for some great character moments and ultimately left a lasting impression on Agent Kallus himself, who begins to view the Empire in a different light after the incident.
8. Ahsoka Tano Gets Framed For Murder
At the end of Season 5, Ahsoka Tano unexpectedly gets framed after the Jedi Temple is bombed. Security footage appears to show her as the culprit.
On the run to clear her name, she finds herself in the lower levels of Coruscant. From there she is hunted by (and eventually allied with) Asajj Ventress, longtime villain of the series, who is there to collect the bounty on her head — yet becomes convinced that proof of innocence could result in a pardon for Dooku's former apprentice.
By the end of the four-episode arc, Ahsoka is proved innocent and the real culprit arrested, but the damage was done and Ahsoka Tano leaves the Jedi Order, not to return until the finale of the first season of Rebels. Plus, it's awesome to see a young Admiral Tarkin presiding over the investigation for the government with some clear shots of the architecture that alludes to the imminent Empire.
7. Kanan And Ezra Vs. The Grand Inquisitor
The Season 1 finale of Rebels saw Kanan and Ezra finally confront the Grand Inquisitor in an epic duel complete with large room filled with catwalks. Unlike the Inquisitors of Season 2, the Grand Inquisitor actually felt like a threat — and his presence was only given more weight by the excellent voice acting by Jason Isaacs (also known as Lucius Malfoy from the Harry Potter films).
It was a great moment for Kanan as well; the reluctant Jedi declares that he's no longer afraid after he believes he witnesses Ezra's death. Seeing that the two have grown so close over the season, to the point of Ezra's safety topping Kanan's priorities, was a great end to this particular arc.
The music, the camera work and the satisfying duel itself led to a great payoff by finally seeing our villain defeated...but not before he declares that something much worse than death will pursue them now, ultimately killing himself due to that fear. He was right...and Vader was introduced for Season 2.
6. Yoda Learning The Power Of Everlasting Life
In the final season of The Clone Wars, dubbed the "Lost Missions," Yoda undertakes an effort to learn how to live on after death. This arc is where Yoda gains the knowledge to become a Force ghost in Return of the Jedi.
With the guidance of Jinn, Yoda ventures to other worlds to complete a set of trials, including facing his biggest fear (himself) and confronting Darth Bane himself (voiced by Mark Hamill) on the Sith planet Morriban.
5. Sabine's Revelation About Her Family's Past
In Trials of the Darksaber, an episode from Season 3 of Rebels, Kanan helps teach the young Mandolorian Sabine the ways of saber combat with the help of her new toy, the Darksaber. Reluctant to take hold of it, as it comes with the heavy responsibility of representing the head of a house and leading her people, an angry yet determined Sabine confronts Kanan about her past, delivering some much-needed backstory on her family, who saw her as a traitor when they aligned with the Empire.
Kanan pushes Sabine to the edge, calling her out and easily feinting around her swings, fueling her drive. Not bound by the Jedi code, it was great to see such a rare and emotional conflict happen within a duel — and the revelation that Sabine built weapons that the Empire later used on her people was a great moment for the character.
4. Darth Vader Vs. Kanan And Ezra
This Rebels episode boasts one of the coolest Vader moments ever. After an establishing shot that now evokes the hallway scene in Rogue One, Vader comes in and mops the floor with our heroes Kanan and Ezra, the latter being laughably outmatched. In order to get the upper hand, the remaining members of the Ghost (aboard a stolen Imperial shuttle) decide to blow up some walkers to take down the Sith Lord.
After being pushed under the falling debris, Vader ever so nonchalantly blocks and lifts up the walkers around him, amidst a hanger full of flames and stormtrooper bodies. The imagery is powerful and lets the audience know that the show is on a new, darker path in this Season 2 premiere. Our heroes know they're outmatched and they make the best possible decision after that show of power: run.
3. The Mortis Episodes
Back in the third season of The Clone Wars, fans were treated to an excellent and compelling three-episode arc that has become something of a fan favorite. I, of course, am referring to the Mortis episodes.
So just who is Mortis? Well, Mortis isn't a "who" for starts; rather it's a realm within the Force that may exist beyond the limits of the known galaxy. Inhabiting Mortis are three beings: the Father (balance), the Daughter (light) and the Son (dark), who are constantly engaged in conflict with each other.
After receiving a 2,000-year-old Jedi distress code, Anakin, Obi-Wan and Ahsoka inexplicably find themselves on (in?) Mortis. So many things happen in these episodes, from learning the mysterious ways of the Force to delving deeper into the "Chosen One" prophecy. The Father is dying and seeks a replacement to become balance, a position that Anakin is tested for and ultimately rejects but not before getting a preview of the dark path that awaits him, a path that the Father decides to wipe from Anakin's memory.
Liam Neeson also reprises his role as Qui-Gon Jinn again, planting the seeds for the Force ghosts while serving as an aid for Anakin and Obi-Wan.
2. Darth Maul's Entire Arc In The Clone Wars
One of the biggest surprises The Clone Wars pulled was resurrecting Darth Maul from the dead. Previously thought sliced in half at the bottom of a long pipe (as one does in Star Wars), he was actually shown to have survived his duel with Kenobi through pure hatred, emerging many years later.
From there, he embarked on a crusade to create a new crime syndicate and exact revenge against Kenobi, which he achieved in a most brutal fashion by executing the Jedi's friend and romantic interest in front of him — but not before running a coup on the Mandolorian capital and coming out on top. Helping him through his campaign was his beloved brother, Savage, and while they are evildoers, they have no love for the Sith or Emperor Palpatine.
1. Darth Vader Vs. Ahsoka Tano
I love seeing a long arc pay off. After the six seasons of The Clone Wars, the feature film and Season 2 of Rebels, Ahsoka Tano finally came face to face with her former master and now ultimate villain extraordinaire, Vader. This episode was one for the long-term fans; seeing the two former friends and partners engaged in an epic duel was something to behold.
But it only got better from there as Vader loses half of his mask in the duel, showing off Anakin's face. In this moment, we hear both James Earl Jones and Matt Lanter's (who voiced Anakin in The Clone Wars) voices layered over each other, giving an epic character moment for Vader, who seemingly has abandoned Anakin for good and is the pure manifestation of evil.