I’m probably being facetious with this comment, but I’ll go out on a limb anyway: If you consider yourself a Star Wars fan, the animated Clone Wars show is an absolute must watch. So much so that I don’t think fans who haven’t watched Clone Wars are allowed to have outspoken opinions about Star Wars lore.

In preparation for Season 7, I’ve watched every episode from S1:E1 to S6:E12 in entirety — yes, even the episodes with Colonel Gascon (rolls eyes). And the story building inside Clone Wars is second to none. We see:

  1. Additional reasons — better, believable reasons — for Anakin’s turn to the Dark Side, namely in how the Jedi Council treats his padawan.
  2. The sheer toll of the Clone War on all participants — the clones, the Jedi, the Separatists, the civilians — and how the sentiment surrounding the war in Episode III is one of desperation and not hope. I have rewatched Episode III twice since finishing the Clone Wars series and don’t feel the level of desperation to end the war that is depicted in the animated show.
  3. The depth of the deception of Darth Sidious, up to and including the very creation of the clone army. We knew he was responsible for creating the clone army, but who Master Sifo Dyas was, how he contracted out the creation of the army, and how this was a direct manipulation to make it look like the Jedi created the army to take over the Senate was never properly explained in Episode III.
  4. The humanity of the clones, among many other valid life lessons.
  5. The unbelievable character arc of Darth Maul and how he may be responsible for driving multiple prequel stories and between-the-trilogies stories. I imagine many would-be watchers would roll their eyes when they discover Maul survived his dismemberment in Episode I. But once it’s explained, Maul’s story arc is one of the greatest Star Wars stories ever told.
  6. The unique story of Ahsoka Tano. She begins as an annoying know-it-all teenager, but grows into a wise Jedi. More importantly, Tano’s story is a much more believable and valid reason for Anakin’s treachery than anything related to Padme. Ahsoka acts as a perfect rendition of humanity today (or, perhaps, humanity in the late 2000s and early 2010s) and her personal growth is very easy to admire and to relate to. She’s a tremendous character, one which would be duly served as a live action character in a television series.
  7. Hondo Ohnaka. He gets a reason all unto himself.

That’s seven reasons, but I could go on — Season 6 in particular depicts how and why the clones turn their back on the Jedi and how Yoda becomes the first Jedi to learn how to become a Force Ghost after death (which, by the way, directly contradicts Ben Solo’s ability to become a Force Ghost).

Disney Plus currently has a special “Clone Wars 20 Essential Episodes” section with all the required watching before Season 7 debuts on Friday. If you have an alternative method to watch, the episodes are:

  • S1:E1: Ambush
  • S1:E5: Rookies
  • S2:E5: Landing at Point Rain
  • S2:E6: Weapons Factory
  • S2:E7: Legacy of Terror
  • S2:E8: Brain Invaders
  • S2:E12: The Mandalore Plot
  • S2:E13: Voyage of Temptation
  • S3:E2: ARC Troopers
  • S4:E21: Brothers
  • S4:E22: Revenge
  • S5:E6: The Gathering
  • S5:E1: Revival
  • S5:E14: Eminence
  • S5:E15: Shades of Reason
  • S5:E16: The Lawless — This is the best Clone Wars episode in all the seasons.
  • S5:E17: Sabotage
  • S5:E18: The Jedi Who Knew Too Much
  • S5:E19: To Catch a Jedi
  • S5:E20: The Wrong Jedi

If you have additional time, watch the first four episodes of Season 6, the last four episodes of Season 6, the General Krell storyline beginning at S4:E7 and ending at S4:E10, and the Clone Wars animated movie, wherein Ahsoka Tano is assigned to be Anakin’s padawan. This will build out more than enough story to comfortably enter into Season 7.

The Clone Wars timeline is governed by a beginning and ending, so it’s understandable this story can’t go on forever. But to know Season 7 is the actual, for-real-this-time final season is truly bitter sweet. This is Star Wars storytelling at it’s finest.

The linked YouTube video is a tad rough around the edges, but it perfectly discusses why The Clone Wars animated TV series is the best Star Wars story available today.