Star Wars TV doesn’t need cameos to thrive

Captain Rex in a scene from "STAR WARS: THE BAD BATCH", exclusively on Disney+. © 2021 Lucasfilm Ltd. & ™. All Rights Reserved.
Captain Rex in a scene from "STAR WARS: THE BAD BATCH", exclusively on Disney+. © 2021 Lucasfilm Ltd. & ™. All Rights Reserved. /

The bigger the Star Wars sandbox gets, the more characters its creators have to play with.

This is great if you love stories that interconnect, creating an increasingly complex web of narratives where characters dip in and out of stories as they go about their lives.

Admittedly, there is something quite exciting about seeing your favorite characters appear in other characters’ stories. When Ahsoka Tano showed up in The Mandalorian, fans all over the globe rejoiced. To see a beloved character from The Clone Wars return made a galaxy far, far away feel familiar, even among so many new elements the show brought to life.

But just because something is exciting when it happens and often does enrich the larger story doesn’t mean it has to happen all the time. Or that when it doesn’t happen, the quality of the story somehow diminishes.

Have you ever noticed that the all-too-common “filler episode” criticism most often arises when an episode of Star Wars television airs that does not feature a “cameo” from a familiar character?

That’s because some fans have latched on to the assumption that no cameo = boring. That because an episode focuses on character development over cameo-of-the-week, it must be poorly written or gravely divulge from the plot. If it even has a plot at all, right?

“Cameos” are fun. Sometimes. Who doesn’t love seeing Rex in The Bad Batch or Maul in Star Wars Rebels? But this constant demand for familiar characters to show up every week was tiring the moment it began, and continues to feel exhausting now.

A familiar character showing up is not what makes a Star Wars story good. Creating hype for the sake of creating hype cheapens the experience, and when you rely on the possibility of your favorite character showing up when it’s not guaranteed, you’re only setting yourself up for disappointment.

And when you’re constantly disappointed … what’s Star Wars worth to you then? It’s a story meant to be enjoyed. That’s what it has always been about. It is the thing that will keep it going for decades to come, possibly long after we’re all gone.

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