It feels like Star Wars Rebels always gets forgotten when thinking about the television shows that take place in a galaxy far, far away. But with Ahsoka coming very soon, now is a great time to revisit Disney’s first Star Wars show they produced after acquiring LucasFilm back in 2012. Rebels first aired in 2014, and I’ll admit that seasons one and two are a bit slower, with more of a “mission-of-the-week” vibe. However, the show really picks up with the season two finale, all the way through the series finale in season four.
With the recent influx of live-action shows making their way to Disney Plus, Star Wars Rebels has been out of sight and out of mind. That, along with it often being thought of as a “kid’s show” has really drained the public interest in recent years. However, don’t let this recent lull in attention deter those who have yet to watch the Rebellion-era show. This show is fantastic and an absolute must-watch for all fans. Here are four reasons why Star Wars Rebels is underrated.
1. New Characters
If nothing else, Rebels gave us great new characters. In the pilot episode, we were introduced to the Phoenix Squadron, a rebel cell operating out of the (new to us viewers) planet of Lothal. This small group of rebels consisted of former Jedi padawan Kanan Jarrus, pilot Hera Syndulla, Mandalorian Sabine Wren, former Lasat honor guard Garazeb “Zeb” Orrelios, and droid C1-10P, aptly nicknamed Chopper. The group’s last member is an orphaned young boy, Ezra Bridger, who is living on his own in Lothal and steals and sneaks his way into the squad.
Ezra is found to be Force-sensitive and is trained to be a Jedi by Kanan (reluctantly at first). This relationship blossoms and grows stronger and stronger over time, and it is really amazing to watch.
Each character has their own backstory and tribulations with the Empire. As the show goes on, the character growth is amazing, and the connection this group forms is nothing short of a family. With that connection comes the highest of highs and the lowest of lows. As fans, it is very easy to get fully invested in every single character’s arc.
Not only are we blessed with exciting, new characters in Star Wars Rebels, but we are also treated to many familiar ones as well. Co-creator Dave Filoni has somewhat of a reputation for bringing old faces into new places, and he absolutely did not hold back in Rebels, which is just another reason why the show is very underrated.
If you’re a fan of The Clone Wars (another Star Wars show with heavy Filoni influence and involvement), you will love seeing some of your favorite characters in Rebels. Ahsoka, Captain Rex, Darth Maul, Obi-Wan Kenobi, and even famed pirate Hondo Ohnaka are all seen multiple times in the show.
But that’s not all, Leia Organa and Lando Calrissian even make an appearance in an episode or two. Jedi Master Yoda also makes contact through the Force with our Jedi Kanan and Ezra and even bestows some teachings onto Ahsoka.
Last but certainly not least, Darth Vader/Anakin Skywalker has an absolutely epic contribution to Star Wars Rebels. He isn’t seen much throughout the seasons, but his prominent appearance is some of the very best Star Wars has to offer. I also include Anakin and not just Darth Vader as the character name on purpose. I will not go into any spoilers here, but there is a reason for mentioning Anakin specifically. Remember, this show takes place between Revenge of the Sith and A New Hope, so Darth Vader was at the height of his power, and Anakin Skywalker was assumed to be no more. However, in the two-episode finale for season two, we get a wonderful call back to Anakin in “Twilight of the Apprentice.”
Loaded with nostalgia, Rebels was the perfect bridge for both new and old fans alike.
Another way in which Star Wars Rebels is underrated is because it has connections to so many other Star Wars shows, movies, and even books.
I just went over how many characters connect Rebels to The Clone Wars, and there is even an episode back on Geonosis where we see Saw Gerrera. If you enjoyed the episodes on Ryloth with Cham Syndulla, you’ll be thrilled to find out that our favorite pilot, Hera, is the daughter of the Twilek revolutionary leader, and we see Cham again as well. How about the Father, Son, and Daughter from the Mortis arc? There is more with them as well.
Rebels is also a direct tie-in to Rogue One, and we get so much world-building for the Rebellion. Senator Mon Mothma makes a triumphant call to all the Rebel cells across the galaxy to form one true Rebellion and fight the Empire. Fans are treated to the trials of building the Rebellion and the difficulties of finding a base. But we do see the wonderful planet of Yavin IV, where ultimately, the band of rebels settles. One lesser-known tie-in to Rogue One is often missed if you do not watch the movie with subtitles. During a scene in the hangar, “Captain Syndulla” is requested over the PA system on the base. Referencing, of course, Rebel Captain Hera Syndulla once more.
One final tie-in, and a personal favorite of mine, is that Star Wars Rebels brought Grand Admiral Thrawn into Canon! Prior to Rebels, Thrawn was a Legends character from the Heir to the Empire novel trilogy written by Timothy Zahn. That means he was not canonically included in the Disney Star Wars universe. But when the blue-skinned villain appeared in season three, he officially became a Star Wars character. I cannot wait to see Thrawn’s return in the Ahsoka series.
4. The Lore
For those fans that are on the fence because Rebels is animated or has the stigma of being a show for kids, the Star Wars lore that is delved into in just four seasons is exceptional. Jedi Temples and Force visions come up early on, and both Sith and Jedi Holocrons are scattered across seasons two and three.
A Force-sensitive entity called the Bendu helps guide Kanan and Ezra, yet is not a user of the Light Side of the Force. Nor is he a Dark Side user. He is simply the Bendu.
Do you remember the space whales from season three of The Mandalorian? These animals named Purrgil first appeared in Rebels also. There is little information about them, but they have been known to travel through hyperspace. The Purrgil play a massive part in the final season of Rebels, and they are incredibly mysterious creatures.
All of this lore in just one show is just another reason why Star Wars Rebels is underrated. But wait! There’s more. In season four, things get even more interesting, complex, and deep. Back on Lothal, we see giant wolves known as Loth Wolves. They are thought to be extinct and are guardians of the Light Side and take Ezra on an incredibly profound journey through the Force.
Lastly, and maybe the most essential piece of Star Wars lore ever explored on screen, A World Between Worlds. I do not want to spoil anything, so I won’t go too in-depth here, but just know that if you only watch one episode of Rebels, make sure it is season four, episode 13. What is presented is so incredibly significant, powerful, and just a cherry on top of a delicious and underrated dessert that is Star Wars Rebels.