It’s impossible to create a top 10 episode list for Star Wars: The Clone Wars that everyone will agree with. In fact, it’s difficult for any fan to nail down the top 10 episodes. For every great episode, there are four more just as good but we tried nonetheless.
The episodes are listed in broadcast order and there will be spoilers.
- Directed by Justin Ridge
- Written by Steven Melching
At a remote outpost on the Rishi moon, newly minted clone troopers Cutup, Droidbait, Echo, Fives, and Hevy are restless and want to fight on the front lines. Captain Rex and Commander Cody are scheduled for an inspection, but commando droids arrive first. The droids take the station and kill four clones. The remaining troopers escape to join up with Rex and Cody when they arrive.
The troopers take back the station, but General Grievous arrives in the system and sends reinforcements. The troopers decide to blow up the base rather than let the Separatists retake it. Hevy, wounded from combat, stays behind to ignite the liquid tibanna, allowing his comrades to escape. Rex awards medals to Echo and Fives, but the two troopers mourn their lost comrades.
This episode is significant because it’s the first to put the clones at the center of the story instead of supporting characters for Generals Kenobi and Skywalker. The story explores what the war and their existence means to the clones.
S1E10: Lair of Grievous
- Directed by Atsushi Takeuchi
- Written by Henry Gilroy
Kit Fisto and his former apprentice Nahdarr Vebb chase Nute Gunray by following a tracking beacon to the Vassek moon. They soon discover the lair of General Grievous and learn they’ve been led there by Count Dooku who offers up Grievous for their taking. Fisto devises a plan to catch Grievous.
The Jedi and troopers ambush Grievous, but he escapes. The group then explores the fortress looking for Grievous, but instead find deadly traps. Grievous is contacted by Dooku who explains this is a test to see if he is still worthy to lead the Separatist’s war effort. Grievous accepts the challenge and sets off with his MagnaGuards to finish off Fisto and friends.
The over-confident Vebb defeats a group of MagnaGuards and then attempts to do the same to Grievous, but is quickly killed by the Separatist general. Grievous then tries to end Fisto, who barely escapes. Dooku is somewhat satisfied with Grievous’ success but warns him to improve his game or else.
This episode is significant because it gives Grievous’ character more depth, including the fact that his position in the Separatist army is not secure. This makes his character more relatable as he still has to please his boss to keep his job.
S3E2: Arc Troopers
- Directed by Kyle Dunlevy
- Written by Cameron Litvack
Skywalker and Kenobi learn of a planned attack on Kamino, so they head there with troopers Captain Rex, Commander Cody, Broadside, Echo, and Fives to support the defense of the cloning facility. Echo and Fives see young clones and reminisce about their time as cadets. They run into 99 (from the “Clone Cadets” episode), and they mourn the loss of Hevy.
Soon Asajj Ventress and General Grievous attack the base from below, coming out of the ocean with a droid army. Kenobi and Anakin take on Ventress and Grievous, while the clones fight like hell to save their “home.” The Republic wins the day, but clone 99 dies during the combat. The clones honor 99 as a true soldier. Echo and Fives get promoted to ARC troopers.
This episode is important as it further develops the clones in terms of distinct personalities, as well as the ability to feel emotion and kinship with their brothers.
S3E10: Heroes on Both Sides
- Directed by Kyle Dunlevy
- Written by Daniel Arkin
Padmé, ever the peacemaker, has Ahsoka Tano sneak her into Separatist space to visit an old friend and senator, Mina Bonteri. They travel to Raxus and Ahsoka is less than pleased to meet Padmé’s Separatist friends. This is not surprising as Ahsoka is actively fighting the war against the Separatists.
Bonteri’s son Lux tries to befriend Ahsoka despite her standoffish attitude. As she listens to Mina’s side of the conflict, Ahsoka begins to see a different side of the war. Ahsoka and Lux continue to debate the idea of good and evil, which further blurs the lines of Ahsoka’s view of the war.
Mina and Padmé work out a tentative peace agreement with the blessing of the Separatist Council. However, Dooku sets the peace plan up for failure by organizing an attack on the Senate on Coruscant. The attack sours the Senate’s view of the Separatists, and instead of passing a peace agreement, they deregulate the banks further prolonging the war. The episode ends with Ahsoka being more open-minded about the conflict with the Separatists.
What the Clone Wars series does really well give faces to all the participants in the on-going conflict between the Republic and Separatists. This episode shows us the separatists aren’t just battle droids, but people who have legitimate issues with the Republic.
S3E10: Night Sisters
- Directed by Giancarlo Volpe
- Written by Katie Lucas
Darth Sidious doesn’t much care for Asajj Ventress’ growing mastery of the dark side, so he tells Dooku to take her out. Ventress survives the attack and goes home to Dathomir to rejoin the Nightsisters. Mother Talzin tends to Ventress and nurses her back to health. Ventress dreams about how she was rescued as a child by a Jedi and served as his apprentice until he died, and her turn to the dark side.
Back to health, Ventress plots revenge against Dooku, aided by two of her warrior sisters, Naa’leth and Karis. The three Nightsisters sneak into Dooku’s castle on Serenno and attack. Dooku is caught off guard but still manages to drive off his attackers. Dooku believes he was attacked by Jedi since they used lightsabers, so he agrees to Mother Talzin’s offer of a new apprentice, a male Zabrak warrior.
Katie Lucas becomes more involved in the Clone Wars in Season 3. One of her greatest contributions is the humanizing of Ventress. When we first meet Ventress in the original Star Wars: Clone Wars series, she’s more one-dimensional. Katie Lucas transforms Ventress into a likable character by the end of the Clone Wars. This episode is the first real step in Ventress’s evolution.
S4E10: Carnage of Krell
- Directed by Kyle Dunlevy
- Written by Matt Michnovetz
In this four-episode Umbara arc, Captain Rex and the clone forces are forced to serve under the difficult Jedi General Pong Krell. On the dark Separatist world of Umbara. Pong and the troopers have a mission to take the capital, but the Umbarans work to make this a nearly impossible task. Pong puts the troopers in harm’s way over and over without any regard for their lives.
In the final episode, “Carnage of Krell,” the calloused Krell demands that Rex execute troopers Fives and Jesse for insubordination. Five makes an emotional appeal to his brothers who are lined up to shoot him and Jesse. Five argues that clones are not droids and shouldn’t follow orders that are wrong. The execution squad is ordered by trooper Dogma to shoot, but they all intentionally miss.
Pong orders the platoon to attack a group of Umbarans disguised as clone troopers. After fighting breaks out between the two groups, it is discovered they are all clone troopers and Krell set them up to kill each other. Krell is eventually apprehended by the clones as traitor, and killed by Dogma. The episode ends with Rex questioning the rationale for the war and asking what will happen to the clones when the war does end.
The Umbara arc is beautifully animated. Perhaps one of the most interesting worlds featured in the Clone Wars series. The dark world is the perfect backdrop for the moral conflict of the troopers dealing with the uncaring and murderous Krell, as well as the war in general.
S4E13: Escape From Kadavo
- Directed by Danny Keller
- Written by Henry Gilroy
The Umbara arc is followed by another three-episode arc that focuses on Anakin, Obi-Wan, Ahsoka, and Rex as they investigate and are eventually captured by Zygerrian slavers. “Escape from Kadavo” is the final episode in the arc and it puts the four heroes in very dark places as they are slowly broken down by their captors.
Anakin’s moral resolve is tested again by the Zygerrian queen as she threatens others’ lives if he doesn’t do what she orders. Anakin eventually convinces the queen that she too is a slave, but it comes too late for her as Dooku force chokes her to death. The group eventually overcomes the slavers and escape along with the Togrutan colonists they went there to free.
This episode works so well because the four heroes essentially work on their own to free themselves, showcasing their special skills. It also shows how slavery can take the mightiest of warriors and take away all their power. For Anakin and Obi-Wan who are used to being in control, their captivity is especially depressing.
- Directed by Steward Lee
- Written by Katie Lucas
This is another defining episode for Ventress, as she returns to the Nightsisters on Dathomir despondent about her career choice to be a Sith. Mother Talzin tells her to forget about her Sith aspirations and return to the sisterhood. Ventress follows the advice and rejoins the Nightsisters.
Dooku is still angry about Ventress trying to kill him (again), so he sends Grievous to wipe out Ventress and the Nightsisters. The battle doesn’t go well for the Nightsisters so Ventress challenges Grievous to one-on-one combat. She gets the upper hand only for Grievous to cheat. He is about to finish Ventress for good when the undead Nightsisters are woken from their eternal sleep to fight the droid forces.
Ventress escapes as her sisters (living and dead) are slaughtered by the droid army. When Grievous tries to deliver a killing blow to Mother Talzin, she pulls a Kenobi, vanishing and reappearing as an apparition to the depressed Ventress, encouraging her to follow a new path before she dissipates, leaving the desolate Ventress to face an uncertain future.
This is a great episode because of the further development of Ventress and the excellent battle between the droid army and the Nightsisters. It also works because it shows Dooku dealing with the fallout from past mistakes with Ventress. He eventually wins, but just barely.
Season 4 / Episode 22
Air Date: March 16, 2012
Directed by Brian Kalin O’Connell
Written by Katie Lucas
Having rescued his brother, Maul, from the junk planet of Lotho Minor, Savage Opress return to Dathomir. Mother Talzin heals Maul’s body (with new cybernetic legs) and his mind. He’s soon got his fighting spirit back and determines everything bad that’s happened to him is Obi-Wan Kenobi’s fault.
The brothers lure Kenobi to the planet Raydonia and is quickly subdued. They take Kenobi back to their ship where they intend to torture him to death. Ventress comes to his rescue and the two fight Maul and Opress. Ventress and Kenobi realize they can’t win, so they blast off in the freighter’s cockpit, abandoning Maul and Opress without power and drifting in space.
This episode is important because it brings Maul back into the Star Wars timeline as a critical player, as seen throughout the rest of the Clone Wars and Rebels series, as well as the Solo movie. Additionally, the amazing vocal talents of Sam “Starkiller” Witwer are on display as Maul.
S5E2: Wrong Jedi
- Directed by Dave Filoni
- Written by Charles Murray
In a four-episode story arc to end the fifth season, Ahsoka stands accused of murdering a key suspect in the bombing of the Jedi Temple, and possibly being the bomber. She manages to escape and finds help in the form of Asajj Ventress. However, Ahsoka is apprehended again, with Admiral Tarkin seeking to make an example of her.
The Jedi Council cowardly bows to the wishes of Tarkin and the Senate, and casts Ahsoka out of the Jedi Order. As a further humiliation to Ahsoka, they remove her Padawan braid.
Anakin eventually tracks down the true murderer and bomber, Jedi Padawan Barriss Offee. Anakin interrupts the trial of Ahsoka just before Chancellor Palpatine announces her conviction of the crimes. Barriss confesses to everything and Ahsoka is set free. The Jedi Council asks Ahsoka to rejoin the Order but stuns everyone when she refuses. Anakin asks her to reconsider, but Ahsoka sticks to her guns and walks away from Anakin and the Order.
This episode is one of the defining stories of the Clone Wars. It sets both Ahsoka and Anakin on different paths that will reconnect later in Star Wars Rebels. I’m not sure how Dave Filoni will reconcile Anakin and Ahsoka in the upcoming season of Clone Wars, but I have every confidence he’ll make it work.
The season-ending allowed an exit for Ahsoka before Order 66, as many viewers were concerned about Ahsoka dying. The episode also showcases Anakin’s strong feelings for protecting those he loves, which foreshadows dark times ahead for him and Padmé.