Star Wars Rebels has come to an end, but fans have little to worry about, as there will be plenty of big things coming to the franchise on the TV front. But while news like Jon Favreau directing a Star Wars live-action series is great, there's now a dedicated section of the fandom that wants to see the Star Wars animated universe continue.
Right now, the Star Wars canon has so many new open pathways that there's plenty of room for one or more new animated shows to fill in some important storytelling. We've already been teased that new Star Wars animated series are coming, and Clone Wars / Rebels architect Dave Filoni has promised those announcements are coming sooner before later.
Read below for our options for where the Star Wars animated franchise should go next!
The first and most straightforward idea would be to have the next Star Wars animated series be a sequel to Rebels. Rebels ended with Ezra trapping Grand Admiral Thrawn aboard his flagship, and sending them both into hyperspace. Dave Filoni has already confirmed that Ezra and Thrawn are still alive, so eventually the franchise will have to deal with those major dangling threads.
A good way to clean up Rebels and connect it to the Star Wars sequel trilogy, would be to pick up Ezra's story in the era between Return of the Jedi and The Fore Awakens. It would bridge so many sides of the franchise that need connective tissue, and the storyline could unfold freely, wrapping neatly just before Rey's story begins. Changes to Ezra and Thrawn could also be tied back to the origin of The Resistance, First Order, or even Snoke. As the title suggests, this could even borrow loosely from the Force Unleashed video game series, substituting Ezra in the "Starkiller" role.
A similar concept as the one described above, except with more official canon focus, and less concern with continuing the Rebels storyline. Basically, Shadows of the First Order would fill in the tumultuous times between Episodes VI and VII. The advantage is that it could run for years, feature all kinds of headline-generating characters (Han, Luke, Leia, Snoke, Ben Solo, The Knights of Ren), and actually offer some of the most relevant canonical content that fans want to see. It would also be a great bridge between the main ST Episodes, any possible live-action TV shows set in that era, and all of the ST tie-in novels and comics that are either out or in development.
If you were upset by Luke Skywalker's storyline and ending in Star Wars: The Last Jedi, then this could be the curative you've been looking for!
Right now, there's very little room for Star Wars icon Mark Hamill to keep playing Luke in live-action (other than being a Force Ghost) - and certainly no way for him to go back in time to play out Luke's storyline after Return of the Jedi. There's already been talk of having Marvel's Winter Soldier, aka Sebastian Stan, take over the role of "Young Luke Skywalker," but if fans want Hamill to stick around longer, than an animated series detailing Luke's path from Episode VI to VII could deliver that (along with a lot of other great Hamill voice acting).
Star Wars fans have been asking for this adaptation of the '90s video game for decades now, and it may be time for an animated series to deliver it. Shadows is set between Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi, and tells the story of a crimeboss (Prince Xizor) who tries to outmaneuver Darth Vader for the Emperor's favor. Meanwhile, a smuggler named Dash Rendar is hired by Leia to track down Boba Fett, who still has a Carbonite-fused Han Solo as his prisoner.
Shadows of the Empire was a great old-school attempt to create a Star Wars bridge piece between Episodes. In this expanded canon, it could start on its traditional arc, but eventually move on to include more story (like Luke's training and Leia's evolution into a full Rebel general) - or even jump forward in time to cover things after the Battle of Endor. The fan service would be appreciated.
The Phantom Menace is still criticized for its very truncated and unsatisfying storylines for major characters like Darth Maul and Qui Gon Jin; well, the Star Wars animated franchise has already fixed the former - so maybe it's now time for the latter to get his due, as well?
Qui Gon is significant because he is the first Jedi Master to transcend death, appearing to Yoda as the very first Force Ghost. There were several Expanded Universe novels dedicated to his backstory during the Prequel Trilogy era - but now we need the official canon version. The great thing about a series based on Qui Gon is that it could cover so many lead-in years to the PT: Qui Gon training under his master, Dooku, and their falling out; his discovery of a young Obi-Wan Kenobi; his secret discovery and mastery of the Force ghost technique; or his own growth into a Jedi master, and realization of his destiny regarding Anakin Skywalker. This would be quite a good foray into a playground that is both fixed in direction, and wide open in regards to character and narrative details. And if it better contextualizes the prequels, even better.
This one is a simple concept: do what Shadows of the Empire tried to do with the OT trilogy, and Clone Wars did for the PT trilogy: namely, fill in the time jump between the 2nd and 3rd films!
Star Wars: The Last Jedi made a point of reiterating that the last members of Leia's Resistance would be (paraphrasing) 'the spark, that becomes the fire, that burns The First Order down.' An animated series set just after Last Jedi could show how the near-dead Resistance grows into a much stronger force (no pun) in Episode IX. The bonus would be having now-popular actors and characters like Rey, Finn, Poe, and Rose getting more development in preparation for their respective new status quos in Episode IX.
Moreover, the question of how to deal with Carrie Fisher's Leia could easily be handled - that is if the character's passing already fit into Episode IX's story. Thanks to good voice acting, Leia could get a final run of stories and a proper send off, without J.J. Abrams' ST finale being tripped up by the issue.
Fans have never given up on this, so we aren't giving it up either!
The recent news that HBO's Game of Thrones showrunners David Benioff and D.B. Weiss are making their own trilogy of Star Wars films, has gotten fans buzzing with speculation that it could finally be a film series based on the Knights of the Old Republic video games. However, since Knights of the Old Republic is set in a time that's thousands of years earlier than the prequel trilogy, the era of the Old Republic will need more than just a trilogy of films to fully present its world and characters. A lead-in animated series would be great way to start introducing fans to the KotOR era before the films arrive, as well as continuing to flesh it out between each film installment.
As a fan-fav subject with few continuity threads tying it down, the Old Republic animated series would likely be a big branding win before it even premiered.
Those are our ideas for the next Star Wars animated series - what are yours? Let us know in the comments!
Star Wars: The Last Jedi will soon be on Digital HD and Home Video. Solo: A Star Wars Story hits theaters on May 25, 2018; Star Wars: Episode IX arrives on December 20, 2019.