With the release of four live-action Star Wars spin-off series since 2019, and with five more on the way, it seems like the Star Wars franchise is having a moment.
But Star Wars TV shows are not a new phenomenon by any means. The first spin-off series, Droids, was released in 1985, and over the following four decades over a dozen spin-off animations, shorts and micro-series have followed.
Ahsoka is the next Star Wars series to land on our screens. Following former Jedi Ahsoka Tano (Rosario Dawson), whom audiences may have met in Star Wars’ other spin-off show, The Mandalorian, the series drops on Disney+ tomorrow.
In anticipation of the new show’s release, here we rank our favourite Star Wars TV shows so far, from least good to best.
6. Star Wars: The Bad Batch (2021)
The Bad Batch are a group of clone troopers (the Empire’s foot-soldiers, which have become a feature of the franchise), who have turned good because of a genetic mutation. They now have the ability to resist the influence of the killing protocol Order 66, which means they can follow their own will – and, happily, they choose to go on missions to undermine the Emperor.
Set between Revenge of the Sith (2005) and A New Hope (1977), there’s no subtlety here, and the script is a bit clunky, but the series is fun and action packed which makes it somewhat of a winner. And, crucially, you don’t need to have read up on your Star Wars lore to dive right in. The first and second seasons of the animated series were both made up of 16 episodes. A third and final season of the show is currently in the works and is set to be released in 2024.
5. Star Wars Rebels (2014)
We thoroughly enjoyed this 3D, more kids-angled, animated spin-off series – and so did other Star Wars fans: it has a whopping 98 per cent Tomatometer rating.
Created by Simon Kinberg (who wrote Mr. & Mrs. Smith and X-Men: Days of Future Past) alongside Star Wars mastermind Dave Filoni (who directed The Mandalorian, The Book of Boba Fett and the upcoming Ahsoka, and who wrote Tales of the Jedi, Star Wars: The Bad Batch, and Star Wars: The Clone Wars) the story is set over a decade after the Galactic Empire has seized power. It follows a group of rebels, the Spectres, who are all working to try and undermine the Empire’s many operations.
4. Andor (2022)
This series starring Diego Luna as Cassian Andor tells the story of the birth of the Rebellion, aka The Rebel Alliance (the resistance movement that works in secret to try and restore a liberal government in the place of the evil Galactic Empire).
Unfortunately, despite a starry cast (Adria Arjona, Stellan Skarsgård, Fiona Shaw and Kyle Soller also star), and despite incredible special effects and what could have been a fascinating plotline, the series failed to come together. There are confusing flashbacks, too much focus on routine activities and not enough action. It feels like “a slow-moving series that makes you feel like you’ve been trapped in carbonite,” said the Standard.
It should be noted, however, that others loved it: Rotten Tomatoes, for example, gave it a stellar 96 per cent Tomatometer rating, and a second series is set to be released in August 2024.
3. Obi-Wan Kenobi (2022)
Ewan McGregor returned to play Obi-Wan Kenobi in this smash series last year, which is set a decade after the events of Star Wars: Episode III – Revenge of the Sith (2005). Fans of the franchise will remember that as a very dramatic film: the Jedi were all but wiped out after the killer protocol Order 66 turned robots into Jedi killers. In the wake of all the drama, Kenobi fled to the planet Tatooine, which is where the new series picks up.
Now Kenobi is looking after the son of his old apprentice, wrong’un Anakin Skywalker, aka Darth Vader (Hayden Christensen). But after Anakin’s daughter, Leia (Vivien Lyra Blair), is kidnapped, he goes on a mission to save her. The series pulled in mixed reviews, with some loving the action scenes and praising McGregor’s acting, while others saying the series didn’t bring anything particularly new to the franchise.
2. Tales of the Jedi (2022)
This six-episode animated anthology series splits in two, following the lives of Ahsoka Tano (Ashley Eckstein) and then Count Dooku (Corey Burton). Even though the episodes fly past at just 15 minutes each, they still manage to fill out the back stories of the two Jedis by providing snapshots into some of the most pivotal moments in their lives.
The show was widely praised (it has an incredible 100% Tomatometer rating), but was generally seen as being a treat for Star Wars devotees rather than a series created for people joining the franchise: Empire rated the series, saying, it “reminds fans why they fell in love with those animated portrayals in the first place”; The Hollywood Reporter said it was, “strictly for fans”.
1. The Mandalorian (2019)
For most Star Wars fans, The Mandalorian was everything they had dreamed a spin-off series could be. “The Mandalorian is too cool to resist,” said The Guardian in 2020; “The Mandalorian is perhaps the ultimate expression of what George Lucas was getting at all along… Star Wars should never have been a set of films, it should just have been a TV show. Thank the Maker we finally have it,” said the Standard about The Mandalorian’s third season.
The space western, whose fourth season will be released sometime next year, is set after the fall of the Empire, and stars Pedro Pascal as warrior and bounty hunter Din Djarin / The Mandalorian. The story focuses on the adventures of Djarin and Grogu (Baby Yoda). Action-packed, fun and thrilling, made up of a starry cast (Katee Sackhoff, Werner Herzog, Nick Nolte, Taika Waititi and Omid Abtahi star) and with a score by Ludwig Göransson, it was no wonder that the series was nominated for 12 Emmy awards (winning seven) in 2020.
Ahsoka is available on Disney+ from August 23