The 2003 Star Wars: Clone Wars animated series is not canon today. However, Clone Wars was canon when it came out in 2003. Developed by Genndy Tartakovsky for Cartoon Network, the series is set between Attack of the Clones and Revenge of the Sith. Here is everything you need to know about the 2003 Clone Wars series and the changes to its status as canon within the Star Wars Universe.
What is the 2003 Clone Wars?
If you haven’t heard of the original Clone Wars series, you are not alone. Clone Wars is a micro-series that aired on Cartoon Network starting 2003. Known for Dexter’s Laboratory and Samari Jack, Genndy Tartakovsky developed the story in connection with George Lucas and Lucasfilm.
The series debuted on November 7, 2003, about six months after Attack of the Clones was released. Season 2 started on March 26, 2004. The final season began on March 22, 2005, about two months before Revenge of the Sith hit theaters.
Seasons one and two included 10 episodes each, lasting 3 to 4 minutes. The third and final season of 5 episodes ran 9 to 14 minutes. Episodes premiered on Cartoon Network on Friday nights before their popular ‘Fridays’ content block.
The episodes were also released simultaneously on StarWars.com and CartoonNetwork.com. As a result, Clone Wars 2003 is technically the first Star Wars web series.
Is the 2003 Clone Wars Series Canon Today?
The 2003 Star Wars: Clone Wars series is not canon today. The series was removed from canon in 2014 when Lucasfilm reset the Star Wars timeline.
Even before the timeline reset, there were numerous inconsistencies between the 2003 Clone Wars (CW) series and the later 2008 The Clone Wars (TCW) series. Notably, Anakin remains Obi-Wan Kenobi’s Padawan throughout most of Genndy Tartakovsky Clone Wars.
He is knighted in “Chapter 21,” the first episode of the final season of the Clone Wars micro-series. In contrast, Anakin Skywalker was already a Jedi Knight in the 2008 TCW movie and continuing series.
Other inconsistencies between the series include the character development of Anakain, the Clones, Asajj Ventress, General Grievous, and the general arc of the Clone Wars. Clone Wars focuses predominantly on the action, often omitting story details and character development.
While The Clone Wars features a lot of action throughout the series, it also focuses on the story and characters. This is especially true in the last several seasons of the series. Seasons five, six, and seven focus almost entirely on character development while setting up or expanding the events of Revenge of the Sith.
What Are the Key Differences Between the Two Star Wars Clone Wars Series?
Here are the main differences between Genndy Tartakovsky’s Clone Wars (CW) and the later 3D animated series (TCW). The differences are mostly spoiler-free and only deal with broad topics.
- CW features a 2-D animated style consistent with Genndy Tartakovsky’s style, while TCW uses a 3-D animation style.
- Anakin is still a Padawn throughout most of CW, while he was promoted to Jedi Knight before TCW.
- Anakin does not have a Padawan in CW, but he takes Ahsoka Tano as his Padawan learner in TCW.
- The bounty hunter Durge appears in CW, while Cad Bane is the main bounty hunter in TCW.
- Captain Fordo serves as the main clone commander in CW and Captain Rex is Anakin’s clone commander in TCW.
- Mat Lucas voices Anakin in CW, but Matt Lanter does the voice for TCW.
- Grey DeLisle voices Padmé Amidala, Asajj Ventress, and Shaak Ti in CW, while Catherine Taber, Nika Futterman, and Tasia Valenza voice the characters, respectively, in TCW.
What Are the Similarities Between the Two Clone Wars Series?
There are a number of key similarities between the two series. Again, spoilers are limited to broad strokes and will not impact your enjoyment of either story.
- Both series revolve around the war between the Galactic Republic and the Separatists.
- Anakin Skywalker, and to a lesser degree Obi-Wan Kenobi, are the main characters in both shows.
- General Grievous appears in both series, but he is more vicious and sinister in CW than in TCW.
- Asajj Ventress appears in both series, but has a more complex storyline in TCW.
- Commander Cody appears in both series, playing a more major role in TCW.
- Members of the Jedi Order that appear in both series include Yoda, Mace Windu, Kit Fisto, Ki-Adi Mundi, Shaak Ti, Aayla Secura, Luminara Unduli, and Barriss Offee.
- James Arnold Taylor, Tom Kane, Anthony Daniels, Corey Burton, and Terrence C. Carson voice Obi-Wan Kenobi, Yoda, C-3PO, Count Dooku, and Mace Windu, respectively, in both shows.
What Order Do You Watch Both Clone Wars Series?
Despite Clone Wars not being canon, the two series fit together surprisingly well. Star Wars fans frequently have their own headcanon about a galaxy far, far away. With a little creativity, you can still watch the two series for a more robust story about the Clone Wars.
- Attack of the Clones (2002)
- Star Wars: Clone Wars (2003) Season 1, Episode 1 through Season 3, Episode 1
- Star Wars: The Clone Wars (2008) [feature film]
- Star Wars: The Clone Wars (2008) Season 1, Episode 1 through Season 7, Episode 8
- Star Wars: Clone Wars (2003) Season 3, Episodes 2 through 5
- Star Wars: The Clone Wars (2008) Season 7, Episodes 9 through 12*
- Revenge of the Sith (2005)
* Episodes 10, 11, and 12 run concurrently with Revenge of the Sith
Frequently Asked Questions About Genndy Tartakovsky’s Clone Wars Series
When Was the 2003 Clone Wars Series Canon?
Technically, Clone Wars was canon from 2003 to 2014, when Lucasfilm reset the Star Wars timeline. However, The Clone Wars created several inconsistencies. Some aspects of the original series conflicted with the 2008 series almost from the start.
Is the 2003 Clone Wars Series a Prequel to the 2008 Series?
Strictly speaking, the 2003 Genndy Tartakovsky Clone Wars series is not a prequel to The Clone Wars series. However, it is the predecessor to the later series. Even before the 2014 Star Wars timeline reset, George Lucas created the 2008 series as a soft reboot of stories about the Clone Wars.
Where Does the Clone Wars Take Place in the Star Wars Timeline?
Known as the Clone Wars or just the Clone War, the war between the Galactic Republic and the Confederacy of Independent Systems occurs between 22 and 19 BBY. The war begins in 22 BBY with the First Battle of Geonosis, as depicted at the end of Attack of the Clones. Revenge of the Sith starts with the Battle of Coruscant in 19 BBY, which leads to the end of the war. Both the 2003 Clone Wars series and the later 2008 series take place over those three years.
Which Clone Wars Series Should I Watch First?
Ultimately, it is up to personal preference which series to watch first. The 2003 Clone Wars series came out first, but the 2008 series is canon and fits the ongoing timeline of Star Wars movies and TV shows. If you are trying to catch up on canon stories before watching Star Wars live-action series like Ahsoka on Disney+, start with the 2008 series. If you want a quick glimpse into what happens during the Clone Wars era, the 2003 series is a great place to start. Just remember that the stories and some characters are no longer canon.
How Long is Star Wars: Clone Wars?
The 2003 Star Wars: Clone Wars series is about two hours and twenty-five minutes. There are a total of three seasons and twenty-five episodes. Episodes in Seasons One and Two are three to four minutes, while Season Three episodes range from nearly nine minutes to almost fourteen minutes. In comparison, The Clone Wars 2008 includes a feature film and one hundred and thirty-three episodes spread across seven seasons, totaling more than fifty-four hours of content.
How Do You Watch Clone Wars 2003?
Since April 2, 2021, the 2003 Genndy Tartakovsky Clone Wars series has been available on Disney+. Search for “Clone Wars” or look under the Star Wars Vintage category. The series was also released on DVD. The first two seasons are included in Volume One, which came out on March 22, 2005. Released on December 6, 2005, Volume Two included the final season. So far, Clone Wars 2003 is not available on Blu-ray or high-definition media.
Is Captain Fordo Canon?
While Captain Fordo was canon when the series first came out in 2003, he has not been canon since 2014. At this point in time, it seems unlikely that Captain Fordo will return to the Star Wars canon.
Is Durge Canon?
The bounty hunter Durge was originally canon when he was first introduced in Star Wars: Republic 52 – The New Face of War, Part 2. He was removed from canon in 2014 during the Star Wars timeline reset. Durge was reintroduced into canon in the 2020 comic book Doctor Aphra #10. He went on to appear in other Doctor Aphra comics and several issues of the Bounty Hunters series.
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