How Star Wars Rebels changed my Star Wars fandom

STAR WARS REBELS - "Visions and Voices" - Haunted by visions of Maul, Ezra must journey across the galaxy to engage in a strange ritual to sever his connection to Maul. (Lucasfilm)DARTH MAUL, EZRA BRIDGER
STAR WARS REBELS - "Visions and Voices" - Haunted by visions of Maul, Ezra must journey across the galaxy to engage in a strange ritual to sever his connection to Maul. (Lucasfilm)DARTH MAUL, EZRA BRIDGER /

As we celebrate #RebelsRemembered this week, it feels like the perfect opportunity to reflect on how Star Wars Rebels opened a gateway to the rest of Star Wars for me.

After seeing The Force Awakens in 2015, I was hungry for more new Star Wars content. I’d always loved the movies. I repeatedly watched my VHS (and eventually DVD) copies of the original and prequel trilogy films and practically knew those movies by heart.

Yet, I hadn’t ventured into Star Wars much outside of the movies. I tried watching an episode of The Clone Wars when it was on Cartoon Network, but just couldn’t get into it. When I was in elementary school, I checked a few random Star Wars books out of the library, but none of them really grabbed me and made me want to dive deeper into Star Wars books.

All of that changed and my itch for new Star Wars content after The Force Awakens was scratched when I saw the season 2 midseason trailer for Star Wars Rebels. This epic trailer featured Darth Vader, Leia, Yoda, and to my surprise, Darth Maul. Knowing that there was about to be new content with these characters I loved from the movies convinced me to dive into Rebels.

Initially, I just watched the season 2 episodes that featured Vader, Leia, Yoda, and Maul. But then I started to get invested in the Ghost crew, so I went back and watched every episode of Rebels that had been released. As I started getting invested in Ahsoka Tano and Captain Rex, I decided to give The Clone Wars another chance, and this time, I couldn’t get enough of it.

After catching up with Rebels and watching The Clone Wars, my love for the movies was stronger than ever. The galaxy far, far away felt richer and more nuanced and I wanted to explore it further.

I liked how Rebels was filling in the gaps between Revenge of the Sith and A New Hope, kind of giving me the Star Wars: Episode 3.5 movie I fantasized about when I was younger. I wanted stories that filled in the gaps between A New Hope and The Empire Strikes Back, so I jumped into the canon comics that took place during that time period.

I also wanted to fill in the gaps between Return of the Jedi and The Force Awakens. I heard about the upcoming novel Star Wars: Bloodline and was immediately obsessed with how perfectly Claudia Gray captured the essence of Leia’s character, how it provided more context for the fall of the New Republic and the rise of the First Order prior to The Force Awakens, and how it tapped into the dangers of deepening political divisiveness occurring in the real world. Even after reading many other Star Wars books, I still think Bloodline might be the best novel in Star Wars canon.

As of now in 2022, I have seen every episode of television in Star Wars canon. I have consumed almost every book, comic, and audio drama in the High Republic. While there are many canon and Legends books and comics I still want to read, I have read more than I can count since 2016.

Rebels taught me not to judge a story too quickly. I started watching for Vader, Leia, Yoda, and Maul, and I found some of the characters and stories to be childish. I specifically remembered deciding to skip “The Forgotten Droid” episode in season 2 because I thought an episode primarily focused on Chopper would be too childish.

By the end of the series, though, I cared about Chopper, Sabine Wren, Kanan Jarrus, and the rest of the Ghost crew just as much as I cared about the iconic characters from the original and prequel trilogies. I saw how each little piece of the story–even things I didn’t think would be important like the Purrgil–ended up mattering and came together for a beautiful and powerful ending.

This is why I watch and read as much Star Wars content as I do now. I want to experience as many stories as I can–no matter how big or small–so I can see all the little pieces fit together and culminate as wonderfully as they did by the end of Rebels.

Without Rebels, I would not be the Star Wars fan I am today. I would not have the joy and the hope that all these stories give me and I probably would not be writing Star Wars articles for Dork Side of the Force or any other websites. For all of these reasons and more, Rebels is my favorite Star Wars story outside of the movies, and it probably always will be.

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What is your favorite Star Wars story outside of the movies? Let us know in the comments!