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The Star Wars TV episodes to watch before The Mandalorian

Season 2 of The Mandalorian on Disney+ is off to a memorable start, introducing a host of new characters along with plenty of fan-favorite heroes and villains from elsewhere in Star Wars lore.

Along with forging some important connections to the Star Wars film franchise, The Mandalorian has drawn heavily from two beloved animated series set within the saga’s timeline: Star Wars: The Clone Wars and Star Wars Rebels. The two series are set between the events of Star Wars: Episode II — Attack of the Clones and Star Wars: Episode IV — A New Hope (occasionally overlapping with the events of Episode III — Revenge of the Sith), so there’s a lot of background material covered in both shows, as well as some key characters who now play important roles in The Mandalorian.

If you’re interested in learning more about the elements The Mandalorian has borrowed from these series, but don’t want to sift through more than 200 episodes, you’re in luck. We’ve put together the following list of individual episodes and story arcs to watch that have direct ties to the live-action series.

Warning! The content below contains spoilers. Proceed at your own risk! 

Star Wars: The Clone Wars

Star Wars: The Clone Wars motion picture

Star Wars: The Clone Wars movie

Released in 2008, this film served as the pilot for The Clone Wars series that followed, and provided the first introduction to Anakin Skywalker’s apprentice, Ahsoka Tano, who would go on to become one of the lead characters of the series before making the leap to The Mandalorian (and her own, upcoming Ahsoka solo series). The film chronicles Ahsoka’s introduction to Anakin and one of the pair’s earliest adventures together, setting the stage for everything that follows.

Season 2, Episodes 12-14

This three-episode arc provides the series’ first introduction to the planet Mandalore and its society, as Obi-Wan Kenobi is tasked with protecting Mandalore’s leader, Duchess Satine Kryze, from an assassination attempt. Over the course of the story, Mandalore’s militaristic past and its efforts to remain neutral during the war between the Galactic Republic and the Separatists are put in the spotlight, and we learn why Mandalorian are feared throughout the galaxy. The first episode in the arc, titled The Mandalore Plot, also features the first appearance of the Darksaber — so it’s particularly important for anyone who wants to know more about the mysterious weapon Moff Gideon wields in The Mandalorian.

Boba Fett in Star Wars: The Clone Wars
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Season 2, Episodes 20-22

Anyone wondering what happened to Boba Fett after the events of Attack of the Clones will have some of their questions answered in this story arc, which has a young Boba team up with a group of bounty hunters to avenge the death of his father, Jango Fett. Not only do we learn more about Boba’s early years, but we also get to see more of his iconic ship, Slave I, and see what a few other familiar bounty hunters were up to in the time between the live-action films.

Season 4, Episode 14

Titled A Friend in Need, this episode has Ahsoka get caught up in a young nobleman’s quest for revenge — a quest that ends up putting her in the crosshairs of the Mandalorian terrorist group Death Watch and its violent leader, Pre Vizsla. This episode also features the first, official introduction of Bo-Katan, the Mandalorian warrior voiced by actress Katee Sackhoff, who now portrays the live-action version of the character in The Mandalorian, too.

Bo-Katan and Ahsoka Tano in Star Wars: The Clone Wars
Image used with permission by copyright holder

Season 5, Episodes 14-16

Arguably one of the most important story arcs for anyone interested in learning more about Mandalore’s history in the time leading up to The Mandalorian, this multi-part story chronicles the conquest of Mandalore by the terrorist group Death Watch and their allies. Fortunes shift, key characters die, and allegiances change dramatically in this defining arc for many of the characters involved — including Obi-Wan, Bo-Katan, and other important figures in Star Wars lore.

Season 5, Episodes 17-20

Immediately following the climactic events on Mandalore, The Clone Wars dives into one of Ahsoka’s most important story arcs. Over the course of the four episodes, Anakin’s apprentice finds herself framed for murder, forced to go on the run, and pushed into an uneasy alliance with one of her former enemies. The conclusion of the arc reveals one of the reasons Ahsoka is reluctant to associate herself with any remaining Jedi when we see her in The Mandalorian, and it’s likely to shape her future in both The Mandalorian and her own series.

Ahsoka Tano, Bo-Katan, Anakin Skywalker and Obi-Wan Kenobi in Star Wars: The Clone Wars

Season 7, Episodes 8-12

The final five episodes of The Clone Wars bring Ahsoka, Bo-Katan, the Jedi, and the planet Mandalore all crashing together in an arc known as “The Siege of Mandalore.” With Ahsoka and Bo-Katan battling to free Mandalore from its occupying force, the events of the series overlap with those of Revenge of the Sith, revealing what happened to many of the key characters when Darth Sidious issued Order 66 — the command that turned the clone troopers against the Jedi.

Star Wars Rebels

Season 2, Episodes 1-4

This series about a small group of rebels battling the Galactic Empire forged a connection to the greater Star Wars universe when it introduced Ahsoka Tano in the season 1 finale. Her role in the series expanded over time, and this first set of episodes revealed what she was up to since The Clone Wars.

Ahsoka Tano in Star Wars Rebels
Image used with permission by copyright holder

Season 2, Episode 18

In this episode, we learn how Ahsoka finally came to terms with the fact that her former mentor succumbed to the dark side of The Force. When Ahsoka tells Din Djarin in The Mandalorian that she’s well-acquainted with how the dark side can transform even the greatest Jedi, it’s the realizations she reached in this episode that she’s referencing.

Season 2, Episodes 21-22

Ahsoka’s final appearance in Star Wars Rebels culminates in a confrontation Star Wars fans have longed for ever since her introduction. After the series’ cast of characters travels to the Sith planet Malachor, their actions attract the attention of the Galactic Empire — and more importantly, Darth Vader.

Grand Admiral Thrawn in Star Wars Rebels
Image used with permission by copyright holder

Season 3, Episodes 1-2

If you’re wondering about the mysterious villain Ahsoka is pursuing in The Mandalorian, you can find out more about him in this set of episodes, which introduce Grand Admiral Thrawn to the series. His shadow will loom large over the remainder of the show’s run — and judging by The Mandalorian, the rest of the Star Wars saga, too.

Season 3, Episode 11

The Darksaber returns in this episode, which finds the mysterious weapon returning to the hands of a Mandalorian. It’s only a small part of this episode, but an important one in the events to come.

The Darksaber
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Season 3, Episode 15-16

The saga of Mandalore — and the Darksaber — continue in this story arc, which explores the Darksaber’s past and the place it holds in Mandalorian history. If you want to learn everything there is to know about the Darksaber prior to its appearance in The Mandalorian, these are the episodes to watch.

Season 4, Episode 1

Bo-Katan makes her debut in Rebels during the season 4 premiere, which also has her confront the legacy of the Darksaber and her own role to play in the future of Mandalore. These episodes provide the last we see of Bo-Katan before her appearance in The Mandalorian.

Season 4, Episodes 15-16

The final episodes of Rebels bring the series to a close, but also feature some important plot points in the closing moments that tie into The Mandalorian — including a scene that features Ahsoka and a certain Mandalorian setting off on a new quest together.

All episodes of both Star Wars: The Clone Wars and Star Wars Rebels are available to watch on the Disney+ streaming service.

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Rick Marshall
A veteran journalist with more than two decades of experience covering local and national news, arts and entertainment, and…
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