When considering the legacy of Star Wars: The Clone Wars, currently wrapping up its seventh and final season, you’d be forgiven for immediately thinking of now-legendary characters like rogue Jedi Ahsoka Tano, Order 66-defying clone Rex, and rebel freedom fighter Saw Gerrera. But let’s not forget about all the amazing villains gifted to us throughout the show’s run, either.
Heroes, after all, are only as good as their adversaries. And the creators of the first animated show of the new canon made sure that the bad guys going up against the likes of Anakin Skywalker and Obi-Wan Kenobi were worthy of the Jedi’s time. Running the gamut from greedy gangsters to shunned Sith to megalomaniacal warlords, the villains introduced by The Clone Wars are, unequivocally, the worst. But in a good way.
Poor Savage. He looked cool and none other than Clancy Brown voiced him. However, he only ever really existed to be used by others. First the Nightsisters manipulated him, then Count Dooku, and then his brother Darth Maul. And then he died, all so his brother could have a reason to swear even more revenge on Darth Sidious. Nevermind that he was saddled with the least subtle name in all of Star Wars.
Ziro the Hutt
While the Legends stories were full of Hutt shenanigans, Ziro the Hutt was our first introduction to the expansive crime family in the new canon. And what a way to start: upset with his nephew Jabba’s control of the clan, Ziro teams up with Count Dooku to kidnap Jabba’s son—his own great-nephew—hoping to cause an intergalactic incident in the meantime. Instead, the Jedi and the Hutts turn on him, and Ziro flees. His ex, lounge singer Sy Snootles, shoots him, like something out of a film noir.
Thanks to Star Wars Rebels, Hondo Ohnaka got something of a redemption, becoming more of an anti-heroic smuggler and occasional ally to the crew of the Ghost than a villain. But let’s not forgot that during the tenure of The Clone Wars Hondo was a straight-up gang leader, capable of kidnapping not just Count Dooku, but Anakin Skywalker and Obi-Wan Kenobi, too.
A quick-talking pirate who only ever thinks of himself, every scene with Jim Cumming’s Hondo was a gift. No wonder he’s the one guiding guests into the Millennium Falcon at Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge.
A force-sensitive shaman and Clan Mother to the Nightsisters, Talzin was more concerned with her homeworld of Dathomir than anything else going on in the galaxy. Add in the fact that she counted Count Dooku as a mortal enemy and it’s almost hard to paint her as a true villain.
Well, except for the parts where she basically enslaved the Nightbrothers and trained the Nightsisters as assassins, hiring them out to the highest bidder, no questions asked. Kinda hard to come back from that.
Pre Vizsla and Death Watch
Like Ziro the Hutt before him, Pre Vizsla was our first introduction to a new continuity for the long-storied warrior race of Mandalorians. But rather than noble isolationists, Vizsla’s Death Watch clan is a straight-up terrorist cell, adamantly against Duchess Satine Kryze’s reign of peace and pacifism. In short order, the power-hungry Vizsla sides with Maul, tries to betray him, and then dies, ceding control of Mandalore to the former Sith Lord.
Vizsla’s actions set a new standard and paved the way not only for the fabled Siege of Mandalore, but also for Rebel’s Sabine Wren and the reclusive bounty hunter at the heart of The Mandalorian.
Building on the longstanding Star Wars tradition of drawing inspiration from older films, Cad Bane is what happens when you combine Lee Van Cleef’s Angel Eyes from The Good, The Bad, and the Ugly with a blue-skinned alien straight out of a 1950’s B-movie. The galaxy’s foremost bounty hunter, Bane was a constant thorn in the Republic’s side, and even the Jedi occasionally seemed powerless to stop him. (See: the near-impossible heist of a holocron from the Jedi Temple.)
Still alive and kicking last we saw him, let’s hope that the end of The Clone Wars [editor’s note: we’re not looking at the unfinished animatics for the final word] doesn’t mean the end of Cad Bane. There’s a certain Western-inspired Disney+ show about the “complicated profession” of bounty hunting that we’d love to see him on.
A Jedi turned Sith turned bounty hunter, Asajj Ventress was constantly at the edges of The Clone Wars, ready to turn up and cause problems—or lend a helping hand. Skilled enough at combat to regularly battle Anakin and Obi-Wan and win (or at least walk away), and so dark side-adept that Darth Sidious tried to have her murdered, Ventress was a force to be reckoned with, regardless of what side she was playing for at the time.
(Yes, OK, technically, Asajj Ventress first appeared in Genndy Tartakovsky’s Clone Wars, but her first canon appearance was in The Clone Wars, so …)
Is this cheating? Well, yes and no. Darth Maul first appeared in The Phantom Menace, true, but the mononymous Maul, the constantly-monologuing Shakespeare villain, was born solely from The Clone Wars. This Maul has so little in common with the taciturn big-screen version (other than, y’know, swearing vengeance on Obi-Wan for cutting him in half) it seems fair to consider him a different villain entirely. Or maybe supervillain is more appropriate. He did wrest control of most of the criminal underworld and then conquer a planet, after all.
Not that the show has completely forgotten Maul’s roots: they brought back Ray Park for that amazing lightsaber duel in “Phantom Apprentice.”
Because when it comes to bad guys, The Clone Wars isn’t messing around.
Featured Image: Lucasfilm