The Mandalorian Makes One Star Wars Project Mandatory Viewing And It’s Infuriating

Watching and enjoying The Mandalorian seems more and more dependent on having watched the animated series.

By Michileen Martin | Updated

Season 3 of Disney+’s flagship series has proven to have a much different flavor and it’s clear some fans are tuning out. Among the things that have changed about The Mandalorian is that it’s becoming more and more necessary to have watched the 21st century Star Wars animated shows to enjoy the adventures of Pedro Pascal‘s Din Djarin and his foundling Grogu. As someone who has tried and failed, twice, to have my attention held by The Clone Wars, staying in The Mandalorian‘s audience is proving frustrating.

The Star Wars creators behind The Clone Wars did not make it particularly easy for me to get through the shows. It’s not because I don’t like cartoons — I’m a Gen Xer with more Hulk memorabilia in his home office than pens (and I have a lot of pens) — I am totally a-okay with cartoons. I just can’t stand The Clone Wars and think it’s ridiculous that, to fully appreciate The Mandalorian, trying one more futile time at the animated series will likely be necessary.

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The live-action debut of Katee Sackhoff as Bo-Katan Kryze in Season 2 of the series was the beginning, which was soon followed by Rosario Dawson‘s first appearance as Ahsoka Tano. Both brought with them baggage and mythology to The Mandalorian that began in the animated shows. Not long after, Cad Bane walked his first live-action steps just before gunning down Cobb Vanth in The Book of Boba Fett.

You don’t necessarily need to have seen The Clone Wars or Star Wars Rebels to completely understand the debuts of these characters, but a lot of their significance is lost otherwise. There’s no reason for you to care about Ahsoka demanding the location of Grand Admiral Thrawn in her Mandalorian appearance if you’ve never seen the animated villain in Rebels. If you’ve never watched The Clone Wars you have no context to appreciate the history between Boba Fett and Cad Bane.

Likewise the whole history of Mandalore, the schism between Din Djarin and Bo-Katan that’s evident in their very first scene together, and the importance of the Darksaber is lost without the animated series for help.

Guys, I really tried with The Clone Wars, and when it didn’t work, I tried a second time. The fact that whenever any of the characters run they appear to have invisible bedsprings attached to the soles of their feet doesn’t help. Nor does the show’s penchant for telling stories out of order, or just stopping stories dead in their tracks and never returning to them.

The first time I noticed this last confusing bit was when Padme’s Rodian mentor Onoconda Farr inexplicably showed up a second time. I wasn’t surprised at his return because he was a particularly annoying character, he wasn’t, but rather because he was assassinated in his very first appearance. Is it any mystery why I think I should be able to enjoy The Mandalorian without these animated messes?

There’s no warning by the way — no note for the fans that this episode takes place before this other one. You just get the order you get and deal with it. Fans have assured me all I need to do is find one of the online guides people have made that list the episodes in chronological order, because you know it’s perfectly normal to need a study guide in order to watch a TV show.

I realize that to younger generations, The Clone Wars and Star Wars Rebels have become as essential as the original trilogy was to mine, but if it was ever true that Star Wars was “just for kids,” it’s not true anymore. Watching The Mandalorian shouldn’t take a 100+ hour investment into animated fare, and that probably isn’t helping the show’s shrinking viewership.