Ranked: The 13 Best Character Arcs of Star Wars Animation

Darth Maul

Lucasfilm Animation continues to be one of the defining mediums of Star Wars. It has been at the forefront of crafting the canon with groundbreaking series shaping live-action stories with The Clone Wars, Star Wars Rebels, Star Wars Resistance, and The Bad Batch.

These series also have brought beloved, fantastically written characters who have gone on powerful journeys. Who has the best character arc, though? Ranked here are the best-written character arcs of Star Wars animation. While Tales of the Jedi did wonders for Count Dooku, no anthology series like that show or Star Wars: Visions will be considered. Ranked here are the 13 best-written characters in Star Wars animation.

1 – Ahsoka Tano – The Clone Wars, Star Wars Rebels 

Star Wars: The Clone Wars, Overlords, Ashley Eckstein
Image Credit: Lucasfilm.

Regarding Star Wars animation, Ahsoka Tano is the most recognized character that has risen to prominence. Even many casual fans who have never watched an episode of The Clone Wars are aware of her, especially now with her own live-action show.

After her first appearance in The Clone Wars movie, Ahsoka was a sassy, overeager teenager assigned to Anakin Skywalker. Throughout the show, she is forged in war and the unorthodox training given to her by Anakin. Her faith in the Jedi was shaken when the High Council refused to listen when she was framed for murder. Ahsoka saw firsthand how normal people grew to dislike the Jedi through the Martez sisters. In the season seven finale, she set her path to become something new, not a Jedi.

The novel Ahsoka by E.K. Johnston filled in her life between the animated shows, which the anthology series Tales of the Jedi adapted. She rose from the destruction of Order 66 to reforge herself once again as a leader in the Rebel Alliance, becoming the first Fulcrum agent. She would shape other Fulcrums like Alexsandr Kallus and Cassian Andor. From afar, she guides the Ghost crew in Star Wars Rebels and learns the true fate of Anakin Skywalker. Ten years in the making, Ahsoka faces Darth Vader in the battle of the ages.

Ahsoka is evolving again, thanks to live-action shows like The Mandalorian, The Book of Boba Fett, and her titular series. She’s not that spunky little kid anymore, becoming one of the most significant figures in the franchise.

2 – Anakin Skywalker – The Clone Wars

clone wars movie Anakin Skywalker Matt Lanter
Image Credit Lucasfilm.

The Clone Wars was a gift to Anakin Skywalker. Over seven seasons, his fall to the Dark Side is fully fleshed out and makes sense. The show carefully crafts Anakin's emotional and mental burdens while introducing new hurdles. Palpatine continues to groom him from afar. Anakin struggles with keeping his marriage to Padmé Amidala a secret, bringing out the worst of his controlling fears. Becoming the master of Ahsoka Tano and having someone in his care adds extra pressure on him.

Of course, this is against the backdrop of war, where all the Jedi are pushed to their limits. Anakin’s faith in the Jedi Order corrodes, especially after Ahsoka is framed for a murder she didn’t commit and kicked out of the Jedi.

How and why Anakin falls to the Dark Side to become Vader is painstakingly laid out. Since the audience already knows the destination, it's a slow, downward spiral of a journey that's incredibly rewarding to watch. 

3 – Darth Maul – The Clone Wars, Star Wars Rebels

Star Wars: The Clone Wars Animated Tv Series
Image Credit: Lucasfilm.

The gift of television, animation, books, and comics is that these mediums give more time to flesh out movie characters fully. The character who got the most benefit from this was Darth Maul. He went from the cool guy in the lightsaber scene in The Phantom Menace who barely spoke to a Shakespearean-caliber villain.

His actions from The Clone Wars have rippled out and helped define canon. Maul creates Crimson Dawn which is not only at the center of Solo: A Star Wars Story but also a pivotal organization in the comics. The character is a catalyst throughout Star Wars Rebels and a significant push for Ezra and Kanan in their character arcs. Animation gave Maul a second chance to become one of the franchise's greatest villains.

4 – Crosshair – The Bad Batch

Star Wars: The Bad Batch (2021)
Image Credit: Lucasfilm.

What makes The Bad Batch great is the emotional drama at the core of the series: Crosshair chooses to stay with the Empire. At first, it’s clear that this clone’s inhibitor chip tells him to join the baddies. As the first season unfolds, Crosshair reveals that he had it removed and he’s staying with the Empire willingly.

Functionally, this choice gives the audience a point-of-view character for the Empire to watch the transition from the clones to stormtroopers. For Crosshair, it becomes a fascinating tale of hurt pride, stubbornness, and realizing that this life isn’t better on the other side. Crosshair might believe in the Empire, but he realizes that the Empire doesn’t care if he’s a specialty clone. He’s just as disposable as the rest.

The slow burn of this realization throughout season two of the series builds until the best-written episode, “The Outpost.” Crosshair reaches his breaking point and blasts his way into a redemption arc. The only thing missing now is atonement to go with it.

5 – Tam Ryvora – Star Wars Resistance

Tamara Ryvora Star Wars Resistance Suzie McGrath
Image Credit Lucasfilm.

Tam Ryvora is a story about how and why fascism and radicalization prey on hurt people. Her narrative is focused on the pitfalls of walking the middle ground rather than picking sides. It focuses on why education about the past is important to avoid being doomed to repeat itself.

As the deuteragonist with Kaz in Star Wars Resistance, his actions and growth directly affect Tam. His successes are her failures which pushes her away. From her point of view, Tam’s father figure, Yeager, starts constantly lying to her. He gives a ship he’s promised to Tam that she has repaired with her own time and money to achieve her dreams of becoming a pilot to some newcomer named Kaz. Kaz then constantly wrecks the ship with no consequences for Tam to repair. Whenever she brings this up to Yeager, he shuts down her questions. He refuses to tell her the dangers of the Empire even when she says her grandfather was forced to work in Imperial factories out of necessity, and that doesn’t make him evil.

Of course, the audience understands that Kaz is a Resistance spy and needs to succeed in his mission. Tam is the collateral in the process which is how Agent Tierny radicalizes her for the First Order—fascist groups like this prey on hurt people. Tam doesn’t care about the First Order; she only wants to belong and stop hurting.

Season one lays this out step by step, while season two focuses on Tam coming to her senses and realizing she’s joined the villains. It’s a powerful and needed story for all ages to see how and why fascism functions and traps people.

6 – Captain Rex – The Clone Wars, The Bad Batch, Star Wars Rebels

Captain Rex Clone Wars
Image Credit Lucasfilm.

Captain Rex is the Paragon clone. As one of the main characters of The Clone Wars, he became an instant fan favorite who worked with Anakin Skywalker and Ahsoka Tano. Unlike other characters on this list who start as incredibly flawed people, Rex starts the show as what the perfect clone should be like. He’s a good soldier who follows orders and values experience over rank.

Thanks to the influence of Anakin, Rex thinks outside the box. Working with Fives and meeting deserter clones like Cut Lawquane forces Rex to have unorthodox thoughts, which goes against his perfect clone programming. He begins questioning the war, his place in the galaxy, and what it all means. It culminates in the season seven finale with Order 66 and Ahsoka saving his life.

Rex becomes a rebel in the Imperial era, fighting to save his fellow clones. He inspires the Bad Batch, helps Kanan work through his past trauma, trains Ezra and Sabine, and liberates the planet of Lothal. He might have been in Return of the Jedi in some versions too.

Rex is one of the most important characters in all Star Wars animation.

7 – Sabine Wren – Star Wars Rebels

Sabine Wren, Star Wars: Rebels, Legacy of Mandalore, Tiya Sircar
Image Credit: Lucasfilm.

Star Wars Rebels shifts in the later seasons to finally give Sabine Wren her due. While she had a few episodes here and there in the earlier half, seasons three and four tear into the core of who Sabine is and what this Mandalorian is running from.

While in the Imperial Academy, she built a weapon that attacked beskar armor, which only Mandalorians use. This weapon was turned on her people, and the teenager fled her family and planet out of shame. The Empire forced her family to disown her. This story all pours out in her episode “Trials of the Darksaber,” where Sabine’s voice actress, Tiya Sircar, showcases her best performance of the series. It’s criminal that Tiya didn’t get any award nominations for the episode.

With all her past wounds open and raw, Sabine marches on, setting out to make all her mistakes right. She reconnects with her family, pushes back against the Empire on her planet, and destroys the machine of her making. These episodes are also critical to setting up events for The Mandalorian with Bo-Katan Kryze’s arc.

Sabine is the best-written character of Star Wars Rebels which is no surprise why she’s back for Ahsoka.

8 – Echo – The Clone Wars, The Bad Batch

Star Wars: The Bad Batch (2021)
Image Credit: Lucasfilm.

Echo is the first of many characters on this list who benefit from being in multiple shows, allowing his story to be fully fleshed out. He first appears in The Clone Wars season one episode “Rookies” with the rest of the Domino Squad. He’s the meek, nerdy one of the group, getting his nickname from repeating orders and regulations. As members of his squad follow their namesake and literally begin to fall like dominos, only he and his friend Fives are left.

Fives would become an essential figure for Echo and Rex, who is coming up on this list. Fives would inspire Echo to be one of the best fighters of the 501st until Echo's capture by the Separatists. Maimed and forced to become a cyborg, Echo has a slew of trauma to overcome, leading to him not fitting in with other regular clones anymore. So, he joins the Bad Batch.

Echo is a vital Batch member, pushing Hunter to do more against the Empire and acting as a caretaker for Omega. He’s not the quiet man who started in The Clone Wars but a vocal fighter. As a rebel leader, Echo becomes a figure to help save other clones from the grasp of the Empire.

9 – Ezra Bridger – Star Wars Rebels

Star Wars: Rebels
Image Credit: Lucasfilm.

Ezra Bridger rubs some fans wrong because he starts Star Wars Rebels as a selfish, arrogant, and sarcastic teenager, which is very much the point. Ezra hides his abandonment issues and the pain of his parents’ death behind these tactics.

As the series progresses, these traits in Ezra fall away as he becomes a Jedi and a rebel fighter. He rises to become a selfless young man who makes the ultimate sacrifice in the finale, becoming a true hero. Ezra’s character arc is powerful, and seeing him come into live-action with Ahsoka is exciting.

10 – Alexsandr Kallus and Garazeb “Zeb” Orrelios – Star Wars Rebels

Star Wars: Rebels (2014)
Image Credit: Lucasfilm.

Move over, Darth Vader! Agent Kallus’ is one of the best-written redemption stories in Star Wars. It wasn’t something he did alone. His story is so intricately tied in with Zeb's that they must be featured together. Both walked away from the genocide of the Lasats, Zeb’s people, from opposite sides of the conflict to become bitter rivals through the first season and a half of Star Wars Rebels.

The episode “The Honorable Ones” is the turning point when Zeb pokes through Kallus’ propaganda with kindness and logic, showing that the Empire does not care for Kallus. The Imperial realizes he is nothing to his system, while Zeb has a family who loves him. Zeb’s actions make Kallus defect and join the Rebellion, where the two battle side by side for the rest of the series. The finale epilogue with Zeb showing Kallus that he did not destroy all the Lasats is a beautiful and earned moment. Kallus could not be one of the best-crafted animated characters without Zeb. 

11 – Kanan Jarrus – Star Wars Rebels, The Bad Batch

Kanan Jarrus, Star Wars: The Clone Wars
Image Credit: Lucasfilm.

The first season of Star Wars Rebels often gets a bad rap for being the worst, but it’s vital storytelling for the characters. The entire show would fall apart without the groundwork of season one, especially for a character like Kanan Jarrus.

Kanan’s trauma over Order 66 cripples him at times, as he doesn’t think he’s a good enough Jedi master for Ezra. He was a padawan and a teenager, never finishing his training, so what makes him think he can train another? Kanan didn’t have all the dogmatic rules of the Jedi Order, so he had no choice but to trust the Force and Ezra while learning to trust himself. Throughout the show, Kanan rises to become a strong Jedi Knight and shines as a teacher by not hiding away his traumas but learning to heal with his found family.

12 – Kazuda Xiono – Star Wars Resistance

Kazuda Xiono Star Wars Resistance Christopher Sean
Image Credit Lucasfilm.

Kaz is a lovely representation of the importance of kindness. Despite focusing on a younger demographic, Star Wars Resistance does not shy away from heavy topics, very much being Andor for kids. Kaz takes the brunt of these hardships but never loses his positive and goofy outlook.

This doesn’t mean he doesn’t have a character arc. This senator’s son learns firsthand how to check his privilege and that the Resistance isn’t some cool social club he can join with Princess Leia and Poe Dameron. Watching his planet get destroyed takes Kaz to dark places as he learns the cost of war. But unlike his rival, Jace Rucklin, who lies and cheats his way through problems, Kaz never loses his kindness and heart. He might not be the person he is in the first episode, but Kaz doesn’t burn his soul.

13 – Hunter – The Bad Batch

Star Wars: The Bad Batch (2021)
Image Credit: Lucasfilm.

While slow and frustrating at times, Hunter has a meaningful character arc. He’s constantly torn between the burdens of leadership while trying to raise Omega, a child who literally barged into their lives. The Batch starts with no experience of the real world, so Hunter does everything to keep his men safe, especially after the pain of Crosshair leaving them.

Over time, though, he realizes there is no true safety as long as the Empire is around. The suffering of the regular clones becomes a vital fight for Hunter. It's well earned when he finally has the breakthrough that the Batch must fight the Empire.

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Hope Mullinax is a freelance writer with over ten years of experience working for various publications. She’s the Site Expert at Dork Side of the Force, a Freelance News Writer for Collider, and the Animation Staff Writer at The Geeky Waffle. When she’s not writing, she loves on her cats, collects Pokémon cards, and rolls dice on For Light and Dice, a Star Wars TTRPG podcast.