A Guest Post by Sarah Long
Are you ready to set off on an epic journey of suffering and terribleness?! You may have a bad feeling about this but trust me, 'cause you'll thank me later!
The episodes below are largely organized according to release date, but I've add a few to season one which are chronologically set at that point, and which work well watched earlier than their release date order.
I've also just cut out all the episodes you definitely want to skip to save time. The real goal here is to fast track you from season 1, through the two essential arcs in season 2, and then on to when the show gets really good in season 3. If you're already a die hard Star Wars fan, then you might enjoy the "maybe" episodes, too.
Essential - Watch - Maybe
3.1 Clone Cadets - Watch - This is a prequel to the next episode, you could watch this one first if you want, but it just better familiarizes you with the clones.
1.5 Rookies - Essential - This is a great place to start with the clones, and a beloved early episode.
The Clone Wars Movie - Watch (part of) - This movie is really quite bad, but I would watch it as long as the characters are on Christophsis, (the first part of the movie) this is enough to introduce you to the relationship between Anakin Skywalker and his obnoxious new padawan, Ahsoka. If you only have time for the highlights, watch this clip and this one.
Maybe - There are two early Ventress episodes - and you have to watch one or the other if you’re not familiar with her (the other one is in season 3), before you jump into an important arc featuring her. This is just an okay episode, otherwise.
1.10 Lair of Grievous - Maybe - Nonessential, but cool. Fleshes Grievous out as a villain, which is nice.
1.11 - 1.12 Dooku Captured/ The Gungan General - So Bad It’s Kinda Good - These episodes have Jar Jar, which is terrible, but it introduces one of the greatest side characters in all Star Wars, the Jack Sparrow of the Clone Wars: Hondo Ohnaka. Also it has some really great Anakin/Obi-Wan stuff. You don't have to watch it.
1.13 - 1.14 Jedi Crash/ Defenders of the Peace - Maybe - Quite good but skippable. Filler episodes, but they have Aayla Secura, who I think is cool.
1.16 Hidden enemy - Maybe - Quite good but not essential, a clone-focused episode.
1.19 - 1.21 Storm Over Ryloth/Innocents of Ryloth/Liberty on Ryloth - Maybe - Nonessential but I would recommend the first two, especially Storm Over Ryloth. Some good Anakin-Ahsoka character development stuff. Innocents of Ryloth is more like "probably watch." It's definitely a fan favorite - just found it cringey as a kid. It definitely makes later moments more powerful.
1.22, 2.1 - 2.3 Hostage Crisis/Holocron Heist/Cargo of Doom/Children of the Force - Watch - I would definitely watch these, but they're skippable if you really want to. Introduces a great villain in the suave bounty hunter Cad Bane and they're a good showcase for the more healthy Anakin-Padme relationship in this show.
2.17 Bounty Hunters - Watch - Nonessential, but I really enjoyed it. It has Hondo being evil, interesting side characters who are actually good bounty hunters, Hondo, pirates in flying saucers, Anakin, Ahsoka and Obi-Wan banter, an actual plot, and Hondo. It's very much a basic "train the villagers to fight outlaws" plot, but...Hondo.
2.18 - 2.19 The Zillo Beast/The Zillo Beast Strikes Back - Maybe - I'm not crazy about these but some people really like them. Do you like Godzilla? You’ll probably like these. Skippable.
Essential - Do not skip these; they're very good. Ahsoka shows some important growth and we start to see Anakin's tragic flaw. This is the second battle of Geonosis.
2.10 The Deserter - Watch - Nonessential, but really good. One of the central missions of The Clone Wars is to humanize the clones, and this one does that in such an interesting way. This is where the fun begins! Get ready for a very good show from this point on!
2.12 - 2.14 The Mandalore Plot/Voyage of Temptation/Duchess of Mandalore - Essential - Very essential and good - do not skip! Obi-Wan reunites with Satine, an old friend whose ideals challenge his commitment to the Order.
2.20 - 2.22 Death Trap/R2 Come Home/Lethal Trackdown - Maybe - These episodes are definitely optional, with a very boring, mediocre middle episode, but an epic Western-inspired finale. They center around young Boba Fett, who is important in future episodes. But again, not essential. Main reason to watch is just that they introduce where Boba is at this point.
3.2 ARC Troopers - Watch - A nice introduction to Asajj Ventress if you skipped Cloak of Darkness. Definitely watch this one. It's also the third in the Cadets/Rookies trilogy.
3.10 Heroes On Both Sides - Maybe - Nonessential, but good, I would recommend it. Main thing you need to know is that Ahsoka ends up with a crush on a Separatist boy named Lux Bonteri. This subplot continues in a later arc.
3.15 - 3.17 Overlords/Altar of Mortis/Ghosts of Mortis - Watch - These aren't essential but please watch them. They're amazing. A significant and strange addition to the Star Wars mythology.
3.18 - 3.19 The Citadel/Counterattack/Citadel Rescue - Essential - Good and essential. These episodes introduce an authority figure who will be important to Anakin and Ahsoka going forward.
3.21 - 3.22 Padawan Lost/Wookie Hunt - Essential - Extremely good - don't skip! Dave Filoni always used to say these were his favorite episodes. Really important for Ahsoka and Anakin.
4.7 - 4.10 Darkness on Umbara/The General/Plan of Dissent/Carnage of Krell - Essential - These are my all time favorite clone episodes, they are amazing don't skip! A riveting and excellent arc finds the clones more vulnerable than they’ve ever been. Essential Rex development.
4.11 - 4.13 Kidnapped/Slaves of the Republic/Escape from Kadavo - Maybe - Okay, but skippable. You get to meet Ahsoka’s people, which is cool, and there’s some interesting character work with her, Anakin, and Obi-Wan.
4.14 A Friend in Need - Maybe - Nonessential but it has an awesome Saber fight. Also you need to have seen Heroes on Both Sides first! This is the next episode in the Lux Bonteri subplot.
4.15 - 4.18 Deception/Friends and Enemies/The Box/Crisis on Naboo - Watch - Nonessential but I love these episodes and highly recommend them! These episodes push Anakin into very uncertain waters, and Obi-Wan finds himself in way over his head.
4.19 Massacre - Essential - Basically a great action-focused, dark side, evil-tastic episode. Sets up the Brothers/Revenge plot.
4.20 Bounty - Watch - Not exactly essential but I would definitely watch it. A good Ventress episode.
4.21 - 4.22 Brothers/Revenge - Essential - Very good, very essential! Spooky, intense, huge stakes for the characters. An all-time great lightsaber fight. You need to see these to understand the big arcs in season 5.
5.2 - 5.4 A War on Two Fronts/Front Runners/The Soft War/Tipping Points - Maybe - Kinda meh but not bad - the conclusion of the Lux Bonteri arc. You need to have seen Heroes on Both Sides and A Friend in Need. There’s a big Rogue One tie-in.
Watch - Nonessential, but cool. Ahsoka likes younglings more than Anakin does.
5.10 - 5.13 Secret Weapons/A Sunny Day in the Void/Missing in Action/Point of No Return - Maybe - These aren't great, but Gregor from Missing in Action is a fan favorite and rightly so, you might skip the other episodes. George Lucas came up with these as weird concept episodes.
5.14 - 5.16 Eminence/Shades of Reason/The Lawless - Essential - These episodes are amazing - some of the best ever and unskippable! The next episodes in the Duchess Satine arc.
5.17 - 5.20 Sabotage/The Jedi Who Knew Too Much/To Catch a Jedi/The Wrong Jedi - Essential - These episodes are amazing and essential. Possibly my favorite arc. In these episodes...everything changes.
6.1 - 6.4 The Unknown/Conspiracy/Fugitive/Orders - Essential - Very important to watch and some of the greatest episodes of the show. A paranoid thriller-style story follows a character who's starting to realize there's a galaxy-wide conspiracy at work.
6.5 - 6.7 An Old Friend/The Rise of Clovis/Crisis at the Heart - Watch - Nonessential but good. It gives some good perspective on Anakin’s…state of mind.
6.10 - 6.13 The Lost One/Voices/Destiny/Sacrifice - Watch - These Yoda-centric episodes are very good, but not essential? I'd still watch them. They set up an otherwise out-of-the-blue plot point in Revenge of the Sith.
7.1-7.4 The Bad Batch/A Distant Echo/On the Wings of Keeradaks/Unfinished Business - Watch - Mostly action-focused, but some good Rex character moments.
7.5 - 7.8 Gone with a Trace/Dead No Deal/Dangerous Debt/Together Again - Watch - These aren’t great episodes, but they do some important work setting up where Ahsoka is leading into the finale. I think their ratings will improve once fans have some perspective - right now they hate them because they feel like this was wasted space.
7.9 - 7.12 Old Friends Not Forgotten/The Phantom Apprentice/Shattered/Victory and Death - Essential - These episodes have the high ground.