When Star Wars made the leap to modern animation in 2008 with the theatrical release of The Clone Wars movie, few fans could have predicted how great its impact would be. The movie, which introduces Ahsoka Tano, Anakin Skywalker’s new Jedi apprentice, became the bedrock for six seasons of a television series of the same name. Built on the conflict first mentioned by Obi-Wan Kenobi in A New Hope in 1977, the animated series dramatizes the Jedi at the height of their power, as the Old Republic slowly turns into an Empire.
Disney and Lucasfilm have revived the show for a new era in 2020, with the seventh (and final) season streaming on Disney+. If you’ve never watched The Clone Wars and want to binge the show now that all episodes are on the streaming service, you should know that the viewing order, like the order in which the movies themselves have been released, is a little jumbled.
The seasons are mostly chronological, but not all of the episodes aired in order, especially in the beginning. So if you want to watch the show in the canon order in which events took place, check out our watch order below. This list is based on the StarWars.com timeline.
1. Begun, The Clone Wars Have…
The opening episodes of The Clone Wars aren’t actually set at the very beginning of the conflict itself. Instead, it’s a mix of season 2 and 3 episodes that make up the chronological opening of the story. Here’s how you should watch these specific episodes:
The Battle of Christophsis
The first battle in the titular Clone Wars (besides the Battle of Geonosis in Attack of the Clones) is set on the planet Christophsis. It marks the beginning of all-out war between the Republic and the Confederacy of Independent Systems.
Episode numbers: 2.16, 1.16, the Star Wars: The Clone Wars movie
Vital viewing?: Yes. This arc introduces Ahsoka Tano, Anakin’s apprentice and a key point-of-view character, as well as the opposing armies.
A team of young clone soldiers struggles to fight as a group while training. This episode introduces future elite troopers Fives and Echo, both of whom will have important roles to play in the future.
Episode numbers: 3.01
Vital viewing?: Yes. This is a good episode in which to learn who and what exactly the clones in The Clone Wars are, and several characters introduced here become key players later on.
Another standalone episode, this one takes a look inside the Republic senate while the war comes to the planets Ryloth and Toydaria.
Episode numbers: 3.03
Vital viewing?: No. Unless you’re particularly interested in galactic politics, all the major players in this arc are re-introduced just as well later on. And it’s a Jar Jar and Toydarians episode, so it’s heavy on goofy voices.
2. Season One
Season one takes place in chronological order following “Supply Lines,” with the exception of episode 16 listed above. General Grievous becomes a force to be reckoned with this season, and the battle on Ryloth grows more desperate.
Episode numbers: 1.01 – 1.21
Vital viewing?: Yes. Here are a lot of the staples of The Clone Wars; Ahsoka’s early adventures, General Grievous and Count Dooku’s dastardly scheming, and a taste for how the show jumps around in time and space even when it is technically in chronological order.
3. The Cad Bane Arc
Bounty hunter Cad Bane is on the hunt for Jedi artifacts and Force-sensitive children, and Anakin, Ahsoka, and Obi-Wan have to stop him.
Episode numbers: 2.01-2.03
Vital viewing?: Maybe. Cad Bane is a cool character and shows how The Clone Wars can embrace Star Wars‘ Western inspirations while still feeling utterly sci-fi. This arc also features Palpatine’s machinations as Sidious, a direct look at what it was like for him to wear a friendly face in the Senate one minute and descend into the darkness to scheme as a Sith Lord the next. But Cad Bane himself doesn’t affect the larger plot much, and if you’ve watched season one, you know what you need to know about the Jedi already.
4. “Bounty Hunters”
Ahsoka and Anakin face off against the pirate Hondo Ohnaka and a gang of bounty hunters.
Episode numbers: 2.17
Vital viewing?: Yes. Unlike Cad Bane, Hondo Ohnaka becomes a big part of the rest of the Star Wars saga, including as an animatronic character in Galaxy’s Edge at the Disney parks.
5. “The Zillo Beast”
A giant monster menaces the capital of the Republic.
Episode numbers: 2.18-2.19
Vital viewing: No. Unless you’re particularly keen on the Godzilla homage or the idea of clones and Jedi fighting a kaiju, these are standalone episodes.
6. Season Two
The Separatists become more ruthless and inventive this season, deploying countless ships and stranger threats such as a deadly virus and “Geonosian brain worms.” On the planet Mandalore, Duchess Satine has tried to keep the peace, moving her people away from their culture’s more warlike traditions. But with a war brewing all around them, many Mandalorians join a splinter group called the Death Watch and start to shake things up.
Episode numbers: The rest of season two, so episodes 2.04 – 2.14, 2.20 – 2.22
Vital viewing: Yes. The Mandalorian politics, in particular, affect everything from Star Wars Rebels to season seven of The Clone Wars.
7. Intrigue with Ahsoka and Padmé
The beginning of season three jumps around in time quite a lot. You’ll want to check the episodes out in this order: 3.05, 3.06, 3.07, 3.02, 3.04, 3.08, 1.22, 3.09, 3.10, 3.11, 2.15. This covers Ahsoka’s work as Padmé’s bodyguard and her burgeoning friendship with some other people her own age. When the senate is threatened by either direct attack or conspiring politicians, Padmé steps in. You’ll note that 3.02 is a bit of an exception, as it’s a clone-focused episode, but to make watching these in order a bit easier, we’ve listed them together.
Vital viewing: Maybe. Many of the character interactions in this section are fan favorites. Overall, the two interlocking arcs (Padmé and Ahsoka working as politicians and fighting bounty hunters) vary widely in quality. “The Hunt for Ziro” (3.09) is one of the weirdest episodes in the series. But if you ever wanted to see the Old Republic crumble in real-time or ever wondered what it really means to have heroes on both sides of a galalctic war, these arcs are for you.
8. Season Three
The rest of season three follows three main arcs: ex-Separatist Dark Jedi Asajj Ventress goes searching for her blood relatives, the Nightsisters of Dathomir, the war rages on across the galaxy, and Anakin and Obi-Wan reach the strange planet Mortis.
Episode numbers: 3.12-3.22
Vital viewing: Yes. The Mortis arc helped establish a new view of how the Force works and becomes an important plot point in Star Wars Rebels. The Nightsisters arc fleshed out Ventress and introduced the mechanisms by which Darth Maul eventually returns to life after his “death” in the films.
9. Season Four
By this point in the series, most of the episodes are already in chronological order. The morality of the Old Republic gets murkier, as a dark Jedi emerges from within the ranks of the clone commanders, and Obi-Wan Kenobi goes undercover as a bounty hunter.
Episode numbers: 4.01-4.22
Vital Viewing: Yes. If you want to skip around in the season, check out the Umbara arc (starting with 4.07, “Darkness on Umbara”) for some chilling betrayals and effective clone characterization. Maul returns, setting the stage for his confrontation with Palpatine. Eventually, he’ll end up in Solo: A Star Wars Story.
10. Season Five
Season five takes place mostly in chronological order. Simply watch 5.01 between 5.13 and 5.14 for the complete chronological experience. The Onderon arc further muddles the idea that the Old Republic is a benevolent institution, showing how the planet Onderon has suffered because of it. When Ahsoka’s friend is accused of bombing the Jedi Temple on Coruscant, Ahsoka must decide which side she’s on.
Episode numbers: 5.01-5.20
Vital viewing: Mostly. As the last season to air on Cartoon Network, this was the one fans thought for a long time would be the show’s last. The final two arcs set up a lot of stories that came after, including Maul’s takeover of Mandalore and why Ahsoka left the Jedi. You could consider skipping the droids arc (5.10-5.13), an experimental series of episodes that mix R2-D2 cuteness with weird existential musings and goofy characters. But the rest are key. You’ll see Saw Gerrera from Onderon in Rogue One.
11. Season Six
The “Lost Missions” episodes, as they were called when they premiered on Netflix, edge the show ever closer to Revenge of the Sith and the destruction of the Jedi. A clone almost discovers Palpatine’s plans. Padmé and Anakin’s relationship is tested. And Yoda discovers how Qui-Gon became a Force ghost.
Episode numbers: 6.01-6. 13
Vital viewing: Mostly. The final arc features one of the best explorations of how the Force works and what Yoda thinks of the gathering darkness. The season slumps in the middle with the Clovis arc, taking a rather heavy-handed approach to Anakin and Padmé.
12. Season Seven
Along with more standalone storylines, like season premiere “The Bad Batch,” which is finally seeing the light of day as a finished product despite first being released in an unfinished state after the show was canceled, the final season covers the Siege of Mandalore, which is one of the biggest events of the Clone Wars.