Star Wars Rebels is notable as the first major Star Wars project after Disney bought Lucasfilm. It’s also among the best as it builds on the long-running Clone Wars saga while standing on its own quite well.
Set five years before the original Star Wars trilogy events, Rebels shows the Empire at the height of its power, but the Rebellion slowly growing.
When a young thief stumbles onto the crew of a ship balancing smuggling with Rebellion missions, he’s pulled into a fantastical world.
It ran less than Clone Wars (four seasons for a total of 75 episodes), but Rebels is notable in that there are rarely “filler” episodes. Each one has great character development, and often a minor episode can have larger implications down the road.
That makes it trickier to choose, but these ten storylines are the most important in the run of Star Wars Rebels, and as themes of it play into other projects (such as The Mandalorian), it’s worth a rewatch to enjoy one of the best Star Wars series ever.
Honorable mentions: Idiot’s Array (the team get help from Lando Calrissian), The Lost Commanders (the return of Clone trooper Rex), Princess of Lothal (the crew aids Princess Leia), Shroud of Darkness (Ezra meets Yoda), Trials of the Darksaber (Sabine learns more of her mystical weapon), Heroes of Mandalore (the crew aids Bo-Katan taking back Mandalore).
Spark of Rebellion (Season 1, episodes 1&2)
Obviously, the first episodes of a series should be among the most essential, and Rebels did a great job pulling fans in from the start.
Small-time thief Ezra is pulling jobs on the planet Lothal where he runs into the Ghost’s crew: Former Jedi Kanan; ace pilot Hera; Mandalorian warrior Sabine; rough-and-tumble warrior Zeb; and feisty droid Chopper.
Guided by the mysterious “Fulcrum,” they’re a Rebel cell, and when Kanan realizes Ezra can use the Force, he lets the youth on the team face the Sith-like Inquisitors.
It’s a great kick-off that sets the tone for the fun to follow.
Fire Across the Galaxy (Season 1, Episodes 13-15)
After a slow start, the first season ended in a fantastic three-parter.
Grand Moff Tarkin arrives on Lothal and immediately starts cleaning things up, getting rid of the bungling Imperial officers, and stepping up the efforts against the Rebels.
Kanan is captured, and the team’s mission to rescue him leaves Ezra literally scarred.
It culminates with the realization that Fulcrum is really Clone Wars star Ahsoka Tano and the arrival of a certain Sith Lord at the end, capping off a solid first year that would lead to amazing storytelling down the road.
Siege of Lothal (Season 2, episodes 1&2)
As soon as Darth Vader arrives, the entire series suddenly amps up the power.
James Earl Jones himself reprises Vader, who is shown as nothing but a pure, unstoppable “force” of nature.
Ezra and Kanan are helpless before him as Vader uses everything from the Force to an exploding walker to track the team down. While they escape, Vader learns Ahsoka is still alive while she’s horrified to realize who is under the mask.
The entire series took a huge leap forward with this fantastic premiere that kicked off an epic second season.
The Honorable Ones (Season 2, Episode 17)
It may have seemed a “filler” episode at the time, but it would become more important down the road.
Since the start of the series, Imperial officer Kallus had been a regular foe of the team and loyal to the Empire.
When he and Zeb are stuck on an icy moon, they have to work together to survive. As they fight the elements and monsters, the audience learns what drives Kallus, and the two enemies slowly come to respect each other.
It would transform this seemingly one-dimensional character into one of the series’ best figures and some fun turns down the line.
Twilight of the Apprentice (Season 2, episodes 21&22)
This epic two-part season finale weaved together moments fans had long waited for.
Ahsoka, Ezra, and Kanan head to the dark world of Malachor to hunt the origins of the Inquisitors.
Ezra meets up with an old hermit who turns out to be none other than Darth Maul, still seeking power.
They defeat the Inquisitors only for Kanan to suffer a brutal injury. It leads to the showdown of Ahsoka facing Vader in a sensational duel of the former friends.
Nothing was the same for the crew after this storyline which boosted the entire show.
Steps into Shadows (Season 3, Episodes 1&2)
After years only appearing in novels, one of the greatest characters of the Expanded Universe finally entered the canon.
A better trained Ezra helps rescue conniving thief Hondo who knows of a new Imperial project the gang hopes to sabotage.
But the Empire has brought in brilliant tactician Grand Admiral Thrawn, who instantly becomes a major foe for the team.
It has a good turning point of blind Kanan learning new abilities, but the arrival of Thrawn pushes the entire series to an exciting new degree and gives the Rebels their toughest test yet.
Twin Suns (Season 3, Episode 20)
When they hear that Darth Maul is headed to Tatooine, the crew is quickly on the case.
They’re thrown at evidence that Obi-Wan Kenobi is still alive, with Ezra going on his own to help the Jedi Master.
It’s great to have Clone Wars actor James Arnold Taylor reprising the role of an older Obi-Wan who wants to sit out the coming war and focus on protecting young Luke.
It all comes down to one last duel between the old enemies that closes out Maul’s story while giving Obi-Wan a chance to finally put an old ghost to rest.
Zero Hour (Season 3, episodes 21&22)
The huge season 3 finale has Thrawn finally discovering Kallus has switched sides to be a Rebel spy.
He uses that to lure the Alliance into a trap that seems ready to destroy them. But Kannan convinces the Bendu, the legendary Force entity, to aid the Alliance at the last minute.
It’s a thrilling storyline that shows Thrawn’s genius at work while also emphasizing the Rebels’ bravery and ingenuity.
While it sets up bigger conflicts down the line, it can serve well as a great action piece.
Jedi Night (season 4, episode 10)/A World Between Worlds (season 4, episode 13)
One of the most critical moments of the series occurs during a longer arc of the Rebels attempting to free Lothal from Imperial control, unaware of how close they are to stumbling onto the plans for the Death Star.
This also involves the rescue of Hera, which leads to one crew member making a shocking sacrifice.
“World” is a great follow-up as Ezra stumbles on the way to travel through time which includes saving Ahsoka but discovering some things cannot be changed.
These amazing episodes change Ezra’s entire life and prove the stakes of war.
Family Reunion & Farewell (Season 4, episodes 15&16)
The grand finale of the series takes place just before the events of the original Star Wars film.
The team gathers for a massive attack on Lothal to free it from Imperial control.
This leads to a conflict between them and Thrawn, with the Emperor himself tempting Ezra to his side. The final battle is notable as explaining why Thrawn wasn’t around for the original trilogy and sent Ezra on a new quest.
The final scenes take place after Return of the Jedi to reveal the crew’s fates and how, while an ending, it also serves as a bold beginning for the characters’ journey.
Star Wars Rebels Seasons 1-4 streaming on Disney+.