Western Animation: Star Wars Rebels

"We have been called criminals, but we are not. We are rebels, fighting for the people. Fighting for you... I see what the Empire has done to your lives, your family, and your freedom. It's only gonna get worse. Unless we stand up and fight back. It won't be easy; there'll be loss, and sacrifice, but we can't back down just because we're afraid — that's when we need to stand the tallest. That's what my parents taught me. That's what my new family helped me remember. Stand up together, because that's when we're strongest: as one!"
Ezra

Star Wars Rebels is a CGI Western Animation series in the Star Wars franchise, produced by Lucasfilm and Lucasfilm Animation with the distinction of being the first Star Wars project released following Disney's acquisition of the franchise in their takeover of Lucasfilm.

Set between Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith and Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hopenote , as the Galactic Empire is securing its grip on the galaxy and hunting down the last of the Jedi Knights, a fledgling rebellion against the Empire is taking form. The series premiered on October 3, 2014 as a one-hour special on Disney Channel and aired regularly on Disney XD starting October 13. Dave Filoni, Simon Kinberg, and Greg Weisman have all been announced as executive producers, though Weisman will be leaving the show after the first season.

The show is also notable for being greenlit for a second season before the premiere of the television movie, which aired a little over a week before the series itself did, based on positive fan reception at private screenings alone. Freddy Prinze Jr., who plays Kanan on the show, has stated that this season will be "nearly twice as long" as the first.

While the show primarily focuses on an entirely new case of characters, it has also brought back talent from the movies into the series itself. James Earl Jones reprises his role as Darth Vader for "Spark of Rebellion" and "Fire Across The Galaxy", Anthony Daniels lends his voice to C-3PO in "Droids in Distress", Frank Oz returns as the voice of Yoda for "Path of the Jedi", and Billy Dee Williams reprises his role as Lando Calrissian for "Idiot's Array". Interestingly, while neither Ewan McGregor (Obi-Wan Kenobi) nor Jimmy Smits (Bail Organa) reprise their roles, their voice actors from Star Wars: The Clone Wars (James Arnold Taylor and Phil La Marr, respectively) came back for cameos. Stephen Stanton, who played Wilhuff Tarkin in The Clone Wars, also returned to reprise his role here.

A prequel novel released about a month before the start of the series, A New Dawn, provides backstory about two of the show's major characters: Kanan Jarrus and Hera Syndulla. A prequel comic further detailing the past of Kanan Jarrus is slated to come out in April 2015, set at the very end of the Clone Wars and the beginning of the Dark Times; the first five issues (collectively known as "The Last Padawan") will be written by former showrunner Greg Weisman. There are also a number of other supplementary books to the series, including The Rebellion Begins, a novelization of the premiere film Spark of Rebellion and Servants of the Empire, a four-book series focused on Zare Leonis, an Imperial cadet who ends up serving as a spy for the rebels.

The show provides examples of:

  • Action Girl: Sabine, the graffiti-making Mandalorian weapons expert, and Hera Syndulla, the pilot of the Ghost.
  • Air Vent Escape: Played with in the pilot. When Ezra does this in the Ghost, Sabine and Zeb can hear him clanking around in the vents. On the much larger Imperial Star Destroyer, however, it works perfectly.
  • Air-Vent Passageway: It seems Ezra is quite accustomed and fond of using these to get around. He does it three times in the pilot and again in "Droids in Distress". His comments to Kanan along the way give the implication that he's no stranger to doing so.
  • The Alcatraz: "The Spire" on Stygeon Prime appears in the third episode, "Rise of the Old Masters". This is the same place Darth Maul was contained at the beginning of Darth Maul: Son of Dathomir. By the time frame of this series, Jedi Master Luminara Unduli (or her corpse, at least) is being held there.
  • Alien Sky: Lothal has two moons.
  • All-CGI Cartoon: Much like The Clone Wars, this series is also entirely generated on computer.
  • Arc Welding: The audience finally gets to see and hear Obi-Wan's unseen message from Revenge Of The Sith almost a decade after the film came out.
  • Armor Is Useless: Played straight for Stormtroopers in regards to blocking blaster bolts, but averted in regards to explosions, which they can survive as indicated by "Art Attack" and "Entanglement". Subverted when it comes to Ezra's energy slingshot; the bolts are too weak individually to stop a Stormtrooper, though several in quick succession will do the trick, and the Inquistor's armor blocks them completely. Averted entirely for Kallus; he takes a blaster bolt to the chest and is no worse for wear.
  • Artistic License – Gun Safety:
    • Hera's blaster pistol is noticeably lacking a trigger guard.
    • This gets lampshaded during Ezra's first few experiences holding Kanan's lightsaber. The first time he ignites it (while looking through Kanan's room), Kanan warns him that he'll cut his own arm off if he's not careful. The second time, Ezra activates it (this time with Kanan's permission) with the emitter pointed towards Kanan's face and almost skewers him through it. Kanan wisely decides to shorten the blade length to avoid any repeat accidents.
  • Awesome but Impractical: The Inquisitor's double-bladed lightsaber has a spinning-mode, which is very flashy but logically should not be really effective in a fight. The Rebels Encyclopedia actually invokes this, explaining that the weapon is meant to unnerve inexperienced Jedi opponents, making them more vulnerable for the real deadly strike. At the end of "Rise of the Old Masters", he is shown to use this to some practical effect when he uses it as a long-range, Force-controlled Deadly Disc. In Ezra's dream sequence in "Path of the Jedi", the Inquistor uses the spinning mode to rapidly hit at Kanan's lightsaber, throwing off his guard, then goes for a precision strike before Kanan can recover.
  • Badass Beard: Zeb's got one. According to the visual guide, facial hair is a status symbol for Lasats.
  • Berserk Button: When the Inquisitor taunts Ezra, threatening to kill his master and friends, Ezra's anger summons a huge creature to attack the darksider.
  • BFG: The T-7 Ion Disruptor that first appears in episode 3, "Droids in Distress"; it's a powerful hand-held rifle designed to disable starships and when used on living beings the results are rather nasty. Zeb doesn't like them because he has gotten a real good look at what they can do when the Empire invaded his homeworld.
  • Big Bad: Tarkin seems to be stepping into this role, for Season One at least, much like he did in A New Hope. After all, Tarkin is the military governor of the entire Outer Rim and it is hinted Palpatine pretty much lets him do what he wants as long as he produces results. All Imperial forces the Rebels have fought have been Tarkin's troops. All other main Imperial characters were shown to be subservient to him in "Call to Action", including the Inquisitor. Everything that has occurred on Lothal — the seizure of farmland, the rapid mining and industrialization — has been largely because of his orders. The slums and shanty towns are called "Tarkin Towns" for a reason. It's strongly implied that his five-year plan for the Outer Rim is supplying/funding the construction of the Death Star.
  • Bigger Bad: Darth Vader, for training the Inquisitor, and Emperor Palpatine, for running the Empire. As Lothal is pretty out of the way, most of the work is left to the Inquisitor and local security.
  • The Big Guy: Zeb.
  • Big Good: After R2-D2 and C-3PO are returned to him by the Ghost crew, Bail Organa starts to get ideas about forming the Rebel Alliance proper, establishing him as this even though he isn't technically aligned with the same group of rebels.
  • Big "NO!": At least twice with Ezra, when he's saving Zeb from Agent Kallus and when the Inquisitor threatens to kill his friends. Kanan also invokes this three times in concern for Ezra, in "Rise of the Old Masters", "Gathering Forces", and "Fire Across the Galaxy".
  • A Birthday, Not a Break: The "Empire Day"/"Gathering Forces" two-parter takes place on Ezra's birthday. Throughout the Ghost crew has to protect a Rodian with sensitive intel from the Empire, Ezra's forced to deal with his long-repressed issues about his parents, and Ezra taps into the dark side in a moment of desperation. On the bright side, Sabine found a holo-image of his parents.
  • Bottle Episode: Or rather, bottle season - the first season of the show seems to be largely concerned with the affairs of the planet Lothal, which is Ezra's home. Given that the theme of the series is that the spark of rebellion will spread like wildfire, it can be presumed that the rest of the series will explore a greater number of settings.
  • Brilliant but Lazy: Chopper's personality in a nutshell.
  • Butt Monkey: TIE pilot Baron Valon Rudor. He's been shot down and robbed by Ezra, beaten up by Zeb twice (once his TIE fighter was blown up, the other time it was stolen). And at the Empire Day ceremony his new prototype fighter was blown to bits in a very public attack, while he was being praised by the Minister no less. Pretty much every appearance ends with him lying unconscious on the ground.
  • Cannot Spit It Out: Ezra has a crush on Sabine, but he's too nervous to say anything to her outright, so he resorts to unpolished, cheesy "smooth" talking.
  • Casual Danger Dialog: This seems to be a staple of Kanan and Hera's interactions. In the pilot alone, she discusses recruiting Ezra with Kanan while he's trying to get her to focus on TIE Fighters trying to kill them.
  • Character as Himself: Chopper is credited "as himself" in the credits. Given that Lucasfilm actually went the extra mile and built the character, this isn't too much of a stretch.
  • Chekhov's Gunman: Senator Gall Trayvis appears as a hologram in "Rise of the Old Masters" and briefly in "Empire Day" before showing up in person in "Vision Of Hope".
  • Chronic Hero Syndrome: It appears to be contagious, as spending a little time with the Ghost's crew inspires Ezra to help them out and to rescue a Wookiee child despite his earlier cynicism. The crew doesn't try to right every wrong they see, but they still take on very dangerous missions for no other reason than it being the right thing to do.
  • Continuity Nod:
    • In Revenge of the Sith, Obi-Wan said that he sent out a message to tell the Jedi to go into hiding. In this show, we actually get to hear it when Ezra takes a look at a Holocron.
    • The promotion-campaign revealed several nods towards Star Wars: The Clone Wars:
      • Hera Syndulla, the Twi'lek pilot and captain of the Ghost, is the daughter of Cham Syndulla, the leader of the Twi'lek freedom fighters during the Separatist occupation of Ryloth.
      • The visor-shape of Sabine's helmet has the same owl-face design as Bo-Katan's helmet, who was the second-in-command of Death Watch.
      • Concept art also shows that Sabine has created graffiti-portraits of Cad Bane and Embo on the walls of the Ghost.
    • In the pilot, the Empire harasses some Lothal citizens over jogan fruit, which were first introduced in Star Wars: The Clone Wars.
    • In the pilot movie, the Empire makes the same mistake they did in Return of the Jedi, jamming the Rebels before the trap was fully sprung.
    • In "Droids in Distress", Bail Organa checks R2-D2 to find more about the rebels while on an Alderaan Diplomatic ship, a nod to how his adopted daughter Leia uploads a message to R2-D2 during A New Hope while her Alderaan Diplomatic ship is being boarded by the Empire.
    • "Breaking Ranks" features Kanan and Hera stopping a Kyber crystal from being delivered to the Empire. In the Star Wars: The Clone Wars Crystal Crisis on Utapau story reels, a giant Kyber crystal was featured as the MacGuffin that Obi-Wan and Anakin tries to prevent from falling into Grevious's hands, and it's heavily implied to be the power source of the Death Star's laser.
    • In "Out of Darkness", the rhydonium Sabine uses were also used by clone commando Gregor in Star Wars: The Clone Wars.
    • In "Path of the Jedi", Yoda appears to Ezra as a swarm of fireflies; Qui-Gon Jinn appeared to Yoda the same way in the Yoda arc for Star Wars: The Clone Wars.
    • Also in "Path of the Jedi", when Kanan questions how Yoda can commune with him, he responds with "I am here because you are here". Qui-Gon said the same thing to Obi-Wan on Mortis in Star Wars: The Clone Wars, when Obi-Wan questioned Qui-Gon's presence.
    • We get to see how Jedi obtain their lightsaber crystals, which was also previously introduced in Star Wars: The Clone Wars.
    • In "Call to Action", Tarkin mentions his past experience with Jedi.
  • Crapsack World: Let's just say society on Lothal really went to hell after the Empire took over the planet. Aside from environmental pollution caused by the factories and strip-mining and the farmers being forcefully removed from their homes for land development, there are also plenty of corrupt Imperials taking advantage of middle-to-lower class citizens. One would get arrested for "treason" if they say anything negative about the Empire (and being compared to the Old Republic). Also, explosions are incredibly common in Capital City.
  • Curtains Match the Window: Ezra has indigo blue hair and eyes. On the Imperial side, Kallus has brown hair and brown eyes.
  • Dark and Troubled Past: Practically the entire crew. Kanan is a survivor of Order 66, Zeb's people were nearly wiped out, Hera's people were also victims of the Empire (and was personally hurt by Order 66 according to her voice actress), Sabine was a former Imperial cadet and her family is implied to have been killed by the Empire, and Ezra grew up on the streets alone after his activist parents vanished on his seventh birthday.
  • Distracted by the Sexy: Ezra by Sabine, to the point of Skewed Priorities. In "Rise of the Old Masters", he takes a moment to smile at her as he's about to fall off the Ghost and towards the distant ground.
  • Does This Remind You of Anything?:
    • The town full of homeless people displaced by the Empire is ironically called "Tarkintown". It's clearly inspired by the Hoovervilles of The Great Depression.
    • Another episode shows that the Empire has a five-year plan for Lothal and the majority of worlds in the Outer Rim. A "five-year plan" was the term for a series of economic intervention plans within the Soviet Union and other communist states; the Nazis employed similar four-year plans.
  • Do Not Call Me Paul: According to his voice actor Steve Blum, Zeb "is also know as Garazeb Orrelios, but only to his mom." Hera uses it as a Full Name Ultimatum whenever she's mad at him.
  • Doomed by Canon: Kanan is a Padawan who has so far managed to survive the Empire's purge of the Jedi. How long this lasts remains to be seen. If Ezra keeps training under him and becomes a Jedi himself, the same applies to him. Of course, Yoda may simply have decided against mentioning them to Luke, for whatever reason.
  • Dramatic Irony: For people that have seen Revenge Of The Sith, Obi-Wan's hopeful message becomes a bit darker in hindsight when one remembers that he delivered the message just before learning that Anakin Skywalker became Darth Vader. "Our friendships will be tested," indeed.
  • Drone of Dread: The sound effect used to indicate the dark side of the Force takes the usual high tone used for the light side and pitches it up until it's piercing.
  • Elite Mooks: The Inquisitor has his own special forces units that are a cut above the regular Imperial troops on Lothal.
  • The Empire: Palpatine's Galactic Empire, of course. According to the official announcement, the series takes place during the time when the Empire is securing its grip on the galaxy.
  • The Emperor: Palpatine/Darth Sidious, naturally.
  • Everyone Calls Him Barkeep: So far the Inquisitor has No Name Given, and even he refers to himself simply as "the Inquisitor".
  • Evil Brit: Par for the Star Wars course, almost every Imperial character that isn't a Stormtrooper speaks this. Ezra exploits this trope by speaking in their accent when he's on their own communication channels. The Inquisitor is also voiced by British actor Jason Isaacs, making him one of the few Star Wars aliens with a British accent. According to the Servants of the Empire tie-in series, it's called a Core Worlds accent in-universe.
  • Evil Laugh: The Inquisitor laughs twice as he taunts Ezra, threatening to kill him, his master and his friends, which really sets the boy off.
  • Expressive Ears: Zeb and Cikatro Vizago.
  • Expy:
    • The Inquisitor with his Bald of Evil, grey skin and red Facial Markings looks suspiciously similar to the Son of Mortis from Star Wars: The Clone Wars.
    • Chopper, the Ghost's resident astromech, will obviously fill in R2-D2's role, but according to what the creators said about his personality being grumpy, and not always doing what he's told, he also has a bit of C-3PO and R3-S6 in him. Dave Filoni told his crew "If R2-D2 was a dog, then Chopper is a cat."
      • He has hands attached to his dome head, much like in the early designs for R2-D2.
    • Ezra, the Force-sensitive tinkerer, has shades of The Phantom Menace-era Anakin Skywalker in him.
      • He looks like the concept art for a 10-year old Han Solo who only appeared in the first few drafts of the Revenge of the Sith screenplay.
      • He's also been compared to Aladdin due to their similar designs and him being a Street Urchin who's been stealing from and making fools out of the Imperial forces in his home town.
    • Zeb, the alien muscle of the group, is essentially an articulate Chewbacca and is himself based on early concept art for the character.
    • Kanan, who's described as a "cowboy Jedi", has drawn quite a few comparisons to Kyle Katarn. He also shares a few traits with Cade Skywalker in both appearance and personality, though he is much more heroic.
    • Hera seems to be one for Jan Ors. Both are voiced by Vanessa Marshall and are the pilots of ships captained by Jedi who use blasters.
  • Faceless Goons: Not just the Stormtroopers, but done with the generic Imperial officers, as well. Almost all of them have their visors angled in such a way that their eyes are hidden, and they all share the same chin. This is particularly noticeable in "Gathering Forces", where the Inquisitor walks down the bridge of a Star Destroyer and past a half-dozen identical officers.
  • Fangirl: Sabine has graffiti of Cad Bane and Embo (with the latter circled with a heart-shape) on the wall of her quarters aboard the Ghost.
  • Fantastic Racism: According to the visual guide (and carrying over from the Legends Expanded Universe), the human-o-centric Empire looks down on aliens, and it is rare for them to serve in high-ranking positions. Apparently, the Inquisitor (a Pau'an), is one of those exceptions, as is Grand Vizier Mas Amedda (a Chagrian).
  • Flirting Under Fire: Ezra tries to flirt with Sabine while she's shooting down TIE fighters, which she responds to by rolling her eyes and getting back to shooting.
  • Foregone Conclusion: Zig-zagged, just like in The Clone Wars — they obviously won't be the ones to defeat the Emperor, though they do have a hand in the fledgling Rebellion itself, and by necessity, any characters from the films must survive, but anyone else is fair game.
  • Foreshadowing:
    • In "Spark of Rebellion", Ezra says that the Ghost crew aren't going to come for him, because people don't do that. In "Gathering Forces", he tells Sabine that if he believed that his parents would save him he wouldn't have been able to survive.
    • Sabine pretends to be an Imperial cadet in "Droids In Distress". In "Out of Darkness", it's revealed that she is a former Imperial cadet.
    • In "Rise of the Old Masters", the Inquisitor offers to train Ezra in the dark side, and Ezra replies that he's never heard of it. In "Gathering Forces", Ezra taps into the dark side to hold him off.
  • Genius Bruiser: Zeb, who's strong but far from stupid.
  • Genre Savvy: Kallus is off to a good start: when Ezra is captured, he fully expects an attempt to be made to rescue him (even if Ezra doesn't), and when he discovers they were able to listen in to internal communications that had a mention of where the wookies really were, he knew where a group with a proven record of attempting heroic rescues would head next.
  • Godzilla Threshold: In the pilot, Kanan actually using his lightsaber and revealing himself to be a Jedi was seen as an absolute last resort by the Ghost crew. It's no longer the case later on, now that the cat of Kanan being a Jedi is out of the bag, though he still doesn't use it at all times so as to avoid drawing attention to himself.
  • Gory Discretion Shot: The Inquisitor's decapitation of the two Imperial officers is blocked by Tarkin's shoulders, and a cutaway to Tua and Kallus's shocked expressions.
  • Grievous Harm with a Body: Zeb disables a couple of Stormtroopers by grabbing them and throwing them at their partners. He shows fondness of this trope when does it again in a later episode.
  • Groin Attack: Hera punches Lando in the nads after he puts her through trouble in "Idiot's Array".
  • The Guards Must Be Crazy: In the pilot, Ezra fakes being sick to trick two Stormtroopers into the cell while hiding behind the steps. He then runs out and traps them in.
  • Guns Akimbo: Sabine dual wields blaster pistols.
  • The Heavy: The Inquisitor, a Pau'an Dark Jedi who's one of Vader's top lieutenants, seems to be set up as this.
  • Helmets Are Hardly Heroic: Averted with Sabine, who does wear the helmet belonging to her Mandalorian armor when appropriate.
  • Hero of Another Story: Dave Filoni mentioned/hinted in an interview that this is what the Ghost crew are and would end up as through the course of the story with relation to the Rebel Alliance from A New Hope.
  • Hero with Bad Publicity: Any surviving Jedi are largely dismissed by Imperial citizens, who view them as traitors to the Republic/Empire, disappointments, inefficient, or any combination of the above.
  • I'm Standing Right Here:
    • The rebels have to come up with a different plan when they're trying to free Jedi Master Luminara Unduli. In the elevator, Sabine and Zeb voice their frustration:
      Sabine: Ugh, his plan gets worse all the time.
      Zeb: Just hope he doesn't change it again.
      Kanan: I'm standing right here.
      Sabine and Zeb: ...We know.
    • In "Out of Darkness", Zeb and Ezra decide to tell Kanan that Hera and Sabine are stranded without fuel, but not that it's their fault for not checking the diagnostic. He finds out anyway, since they're yelling at each other right outside his door.
  • Imperial Stormtrooper Marksmanship Academy:
    • Sabine lampshades this to the Trope Namers themselves during a diversion on a TIE flight pad. She even tells them they could benefit from more time at the academy.
      Sabine Wren: You call that shooting? I think you boys a need a little more time on the practice range.
    • A pretty noticeable case occurs in "Spark Of Rebellion", in which Kanan jumps out of cover while Stormtroopers are shooting at him and walks directly toward them slowly and without a weapon, and they all keep missing him. The only ones that come close come within inches of him, but he tilts his head a bit to avoid the blaster fire. Of course, given that this is the point where he pulls out his lightsaber and reveals himself as a Jedi, Rule of Cool is in effect.
  • Interquel: The series bridges the nineteen-year gap between Revenge Of The Sith and A New Hope.
  • Ironic Name: The Greek Goddess Hera was Zeus's wife and patron of marriage, but she's also known for her vengeful nature, hunting Zeus's illegitimate children, and being an Abusive Parent for Hephaestus. Considering this, it's quite ironic that Hera Syndulla, the Team Mom of this series, is named after her.
  • I Work Alone: In Spark of Rebellion, Ezra Bridger says this to Agent Kallus when he accuses him of being a Jedi Padawan training under Kanan Jarrus. Not long after, however, the accusation ends up becoming true.
  • Jerkass: Lando Calrissian. He's such an asshole that nearly everyone in the show hates him...but he's such a smooth asshole that most of the audience loves him.
  • Jerk with a Heart of Gold: Pretty much every crew member of the Ghost is this at one point or another.
  • Knight of Cerebus:
    • Although Agent Kallus brought a decent level of threat with himself, the Inquisitor is the real one for the show. Right up until he showed up in "Rise of the Old Masters" the series was rather light, with only occasional and momentary dips into a serious tone. Then, in the span of just a few moments, a holo-recording of Luminara Unduli's last moments and her mummified corpse was shown, followed up by the Inquisitor curb-stomping Kanan, and a chase sequence that the heroes barely get out of.
    • Tarkin showed up in "Call of Action" and, in order: executed Aresko and Grint for their incompetence and to warn Kallus and Tua that failure would not be tolerated, managed to trap the rebels, and captured Kanan. His final lines imply that he's just getting started.
  • The Leader: Kanan is the de facto leader of the group.
  • La Résistance: The series starts on a planet recently occupied by the Empire, where the youths start to resist conscription into the army and for labor for its war-facilities.
  • Live-Action Escort Mission: The "Empire Day"/"Gathering Forces" two-parter has the Ghost crew trying to get Tseebo, a Rodian with half the Empire's secrets in his implant, off Lothal and to safety. Unlike most examples, Tseebo's catatonic most of the time, and actively helpful for the rest.
  • Lost Him in a Card Game: In "Idiot's Array", Zeb bets Chopper in a game of Sabacc, believing his hand is unbeatable. Lando, however, has an "Idiot's Array" and takes Chopper, forcing Kanan to broker a deal so Lando will give him back.
  • Meaningful Name: Kallus is a very callous person, indeed. But surprisingly less so than most Imperials, or at least, that is what it seemed like at first. Not only does he murder a stormtrooper for making a sly remark, but we later learn that he was the one who gave the order to decimate Zeb's people, driving them to near extinction. A fact that he mocks Zeb with.
  • Mix-and-Match Weapon: Ezra's lightsaber has a small blaster built into it as well.
  • Mythology Gag:
    • As in the original trilogy films, the first ship we see in the series is an Imperial Star Destroyer. (Uniquely, this time it's in a planet's atmosphere.)
    • During one scene, Zeb poses as a Wookiee in order to infiltrate an Imperial compound. Zeb's design is based on the early concept art for Wookiees.
    • Obi-Wan's holocron message (itself a Continuity Nod to Revenge of the Sith) ends with him saying the remains of the Jedi Order need to stay in hiding until "A New Hope rises."
    • The pilot droid RX-24 from "Droids in Distress" was the pilot in the original Star Tours ride. They're both even voiced by Paul Ruebens.
    • In "Breaking Ranks", Kanan and Hera go after a powerful kaiburr crystal, mention of which goes all the way back to a May 1975 synopsis of an early draft of A New Hope (although its first actual appearance was as the MacGuffin in Splinter of the Mind's Eye and it's now spelled as "kyber crystal").
    • The Imperial troop transports bear a strong resemblance to this 1979 toy, down to the prisoner cells mounted on the sides.
    • The training obstacle course in "Breaking Ranks" is confirmed by Dave Filoni to be based on both the Box and the clone training yard from Star Wars: The Clone Wars.
    • The lines that the Inquisitor says to Ezra in "Gathering Forces" is similar to what Emperor Palpatine says to Luke in his throne room in the Death Star in Return of the Jedi.
    • "Path of the Jedi":
    • The title of the episode "Idiot's Array". In the old Expanded Universe an "Idiot's Array" is a winning hand in sabbac.
  • Never Say "Die": Averted, most of the time. A notable exception is in "Spark of Rebellion", which uses "end" as a verb twice in places where the meaning was obviously "kill", even though it's still used later on in the same special.
  • Never Trust a Trailer: Based upon the early trailers and especially the character shorts released on YouTube, the show appeared to go for a Lighter and Softer direction to the point that was on the verge of becoming Denser and Wackier. Then the pilot premiered, and while it turned out to be Lighter and Softer compared later seasons of The Clone Wars, it also became clear that the show does take itself seriously.
  • No Flow in CGI: Played with. The characters have specific locks of hair that flow fairly realistically with motion and the wind. Outside of these sections, however, their hair tends to stay still even when it shouldn't be. Averted completely with Hera's lekku, since they're much easier to animate.
  • No Gravity for You: In the pilot, the team disables the gravity on a prisoner transport to trip up some Stormtroopers.
  • Non-Indicative Name: Some episode titles. "Rise of the Old Masters" only involves one Jedi Master, and she turns out to be Dead All Along. "Vision of Hope" does involve an actual vision, but it's one that was horrifically misinterpreted.
  • No OSHA Compliance: According to the visual guide, the working conditions in the spice mines of Kessel are brutal, as the workers are constantly exposed to a mineral that is also used for a dangerous drug without protective gear (for Real Life analogies, it's like working in a salt mine). The Empire takes advantage of this and sends prisoners there as a subtle means of executing them, including children. If the old lore is anything to go by, spice is produced by energy spiders and are highly flammable. So spice mining without proper gear or protection is suicide, and the Empire has no problem in sending slaves to their deaths for fast drug credits.
  • Nom de Guerre: The Ghost's crew refer to each other as "Spectre (Number)" when they're on missions or else don't want people to know their names. If she happens to be piloting at the time, Hera is simply referred to as "Ghost" (she's Spectre 2 otherwise).
  • Our Weapons Will Be Boxy in the Future:
    • Sabine's blasters are basically bricks with a grip, which is pretty standard for Mandalorian weapons.
    • Ezra's lightsaber, built from whatever parts the crew had lying around, looks like a staple gun with the saber hilt as the handle. It doubles as a blaster.
  • Passing the Torch: Obi-Wan's message at the end of the pilot can be seen as this, not just from the Jedi to whatever new hope rises, nor from The Clone Wars to Rebels, but potentially from the entire pre-Disney era to the current era of Star Wars itself.
  • Pastiche: The series's art-style has been repeatedly described as "Ralph McQuarrie's concept-arts brought to life in CG", as a deliberate homage to the late artist's work. While it may be harder to see in individual stills, it's easier to notice in the actual animation.
  • Pink Means Feminine: Sabine wears pink Mandalorian armor.
  • Police Brutality: Some of the Imperials on Lothal (including the Stormtroopers) use their positions for personal gain and sometimes take advantage of the weak and helpless, such as demanding protection money from factory workers who are essentially working as slave labor. They'll even consider showing dislike for the Empire as "treason".
  • Propaganda Machine: HoloNet News acts as this, routinely twisting events to make the Empire look better.
  • The Purge:
    • Order 66 already got most of the Jedi. It's the Inquisitor's job to hunt down those who are left.
    • Zeb's race was subjected to this; he is one of the few Lasats left.
  • Railing Kill: Subverted when Agent Kallus and a random Stormtrooper are knocked over a railing into a pit, as they both manage to hold on to one of the pylons. Double subverted when Agent Kallus kicks the Stormtrooper down anyway.
  • Reality Ensues: For most of the first season, the crew is regularly skirmishing with the local Imperials. In "Call to Action", Tarkin has grown tired of this incompetence and shows up to handle things personally.
  • Red and Black and Evil All Over: The Inquisitor has gray skin with red Facial Markings, wears black armor, and wields a double-bladed red lightsaber.
  • Retired Badass:
    • Kanan has forsaken his past as a Jedi since the Order was destroyed. He's forced to come out of retirement at the start of the series.
    • Dave Filoni confirmed that all of the surviving Clone Troopers from the Clone Wars were relieved from combat duty and were reassigned to managing various Imperial projects due to their Clone Degeneration. He also notes that a number of them are either bitter or distraught over Order 66.
  • Run or Die: Whenever the Inquisitor shows up, the only option is to hold him off long enough to escape.
  • Sampling: The music used in the show often borrows and reworks music from the first six Star Wars movies. Interestingly, the show also borrows a bit of the soundtrack of the Indiana Jones movies on occasion.
  • Samurai Cowboy: Kanan is described as a "Cowboy Jedi", he uses blasters, has a lightsaber with a Chokuto-style tip, and wears his hair in a samurai-esque ponytail.
  • Secret Police: The Imperial Security Bureau, or the ISB for short, is tasked with taking out hidden Rebel cells.
  • Secret Test of Character: Kanan allows Ezra to steal his holocron as a test to see if Ezra can open it. He also allows Ezra to steal his lightsaber later on, offering to let him keep it as a trinket or make his own as a Jedi.
  • Sensor Character: Ezra and Kanan first meet when they sense each other's presence in the marketplace.
  • Silent Snarker: Chopper is a variation: while he can't speak a language discernible to viewers, everyone in-show can understand his quips.
  • Silly Rabbit, Cynicism Is for Losers!: Ezra finds the idea that anyone would act selflessly to help others to be ridiculous. Hera calls him out on this, telling him his life is worth nothing if it only means something to himself. Surprisingly, even Kallus shares this view; when Ezra repeats the sentiment after being told he'll be used as bait, Kallus just smiles and says nothing, clearly knowing better.
  • Ship Tease:
    • A little between Kanan and Hera at the end of "The Machine In The Ghost", which is promptly interrupted by Chopper. In the show itself, Hera calls Kanan "love" as an Affectionate Nickname. It helps that they're the Team Dad and Team Mom of the group, respectively.
    • Ezra is a bit surprised to see Sabine is Beautiful All Along without her helmet in "Spark Of Rebellion". Sabine mostly responds with irritation at his attempts to flirt in succeeding episodes, until "Empire Day" and "Gathering Forces" give them some moments.
    • Both Ezra and Kanan's intense dislike of Lando in "Idiot's Aray" stem from his flirting with Sabine and Hera, respectively.
  • Shoo Out the Clowns: Bumbling Imperial officers Aresko and Grint are executed on Grand Moff Tarkin's order for their embarrassing defeats at the hands of the rebels. This serves as a sign that Tarkin and the Empire are taking the kid gloves off, and as a warning to Kallus and Maketh Tua that further failure is unacceptable.
  • Sir Not-Appearing-in-This-Trailer: Fulcrum's voice actor/actress has remained uncredited in either of the character's appearances, most likely to avoid bringing an Interface Spoiler about.
  • Space Navy: The Imperial Navy, naturally.
  • Spiritual Successor: The show is basically Firefly in Star Wars. A crew that smuggles and transports cargo while working against a corrupt government.
  • State Sec:
    • According to a commercial for the upcoming show, the Inquisitorius is a secret division consisting of dark side Force-sensitive agents tasked by the Emperor to hunt down the remaining Jedi.
    • The Imperial Security Bureau is, according to the developers, a combination of the FBI and a military police force. In Legends the ISB had their own Stormtroopers that operated outside the command structure of the regular Imperial Military, their own specialized warships and enforcement; a branch responsible for providing specialized enforcers and muscle to assist in the Bureau's operations (mainly by hiring mercenaries). The devs have hinted many of these features are making it over into the new canon.
  • Stock Scream: The Wilhelm scream is heard when Ezra knocks a Stormtrooper off a bridge.
  • Street Urchin: Ezra is an orphan who lives on the streets, looking out for only himself, and often steals from the Imperials.
  • Supernatural Gold Eyes: The Inquisitor has gold eyes, signaling his status as a Dark Jedi.
  • Swivel-Chair Antics: Ezra whenever he's in the copilot's chair.
  • Team Mom: Hera is described as the one who keeps the team together, by both providing emotional support and keeping the members in line.
  • Teeth-Clenched Teamwork: Ezra and Zeb are the epitome of this.
  • "The Reason You Suck" Speech: When he lands on Lothal, the first thing Grand Moff Tarkin does is call out each of the main Imperial characters (Minister Tua, Agent Kallus, and the Inquisitor) for their individual failures in dealing with the Ghost crew.
  • Theme Naming: The ship is the Ghost, the auxiliary craft is the Phantom, and each crew member is identified as "Specter (number)."
  • Theme Tune Cameo: At the beginning of the "Property of Ezra Bridger" short, Ezra's whistling the Rebels main theme while taking a walk on Lothal's plains.
  • Those Two Bad Guys: Commander Aresko and Taskmaster Grint are slated for these roles, with Aresko being the brains and Grint being the brawn. They even have the same voice actor.
  • Title Drop: Kallus drops the "Spark Of Rebellion" episode title into one of his lines during the series premiere.
  • Too Dumb to Live: A Stormtrooper stands mere inches from an explosive charge seconds before it goes off. Somewhat justified as the short "Art Attack" shows the events leading up to this; namely it is the second time the trooper saw the graffiti (the first time the bomb wasn't there). He does have an Oh, Crap moment a second before it detonates.
  • Trailers Always Spoil: An Entertainment Weekly clip featuring the Inquisitor's first duel with Kanan revealed the episode's Plot Twist - namely, that prisoner Luminara Unduli was Dead All Along by means of a Freeze-Frame Bonus during a close-up of Kanan.
  • Trojan Prisoner: In "Spark of Rebellion", the crew of the Ghost attempt to infiltrate an Imperial Cruiser, by claiming that Zeb is a captured Wookie. A rare, hairless Wookie.
  • Two Girls to a Team: Hera and Sabine are the only women on the team, though given the team's size, that comes to 40%, not counting the droid.
  • Unexpected Character:
    • Obi-Wan Kenobi's holocron cameo in the pilot wasn't expected.
    • Why hello there, Luminara Unduli. Up until the SDCC 2014 trailer for the show, it had been presumed that she had died along with all the other Jedi with the advent of Order 66, especially considering that she was on Kashyyyk with Yoda, and that there was no indication that she had escaped from the other Clone Troopers. The fact that she was simply taken prisoner instead of simply being executed is also surprising. Played with in that Luminara is Dead All Along and her being "alive" was simply a trap set by the Inquisitor.
    • Darth Vader was expected to show up at one point — that his appearance in the series was slated to happen less than a month after the series premiere threw people off-guard. Bonus unexpected points should be added by being voiced by James Earl Jones when Matt Sloan seems to be the go-to guy for Darth Vader voices in official Star Wars media.
    • Yoda's appearance (or more accurately, his voice) in "Path of the Jedi" was also unexpected, as Yoda was isolating himself on Dagobah at the time. And similar to Darth Vader above, being voiced by Frank Oz was even more unexpected, as Tom Kane is usually the go-to-guy for a Yoda voice outside the films, including Lucasfilm Animation's previous project, Star Wars: The Clone Wars.
    • Lando makes his appearance in "Idiot's Array" when he ropes the Ghost crew into his schemes after winning Chopper in a game of Sabacc.
    • Tarkin shows up in "Call to Action" and things get serious real quick.
    • Hondo Ohnaka is set to make an appearance on the show.
  • Unflinching Walk: Kanan walks straight at the Stormtroopers' blaster fire just before he pulls out his lightsaber.
  • The Unreveal: A lot of characters comment on what a T-7 disruptor will do to an organic being, but they never specify exactly what happens, possibly as a Nothing Is Scarier situation.
  • Villain with Good Publicity: Up until they start carrying out pointlessly oppressive actions, the Empire's more authoritative rule has largely been seen as a step up from the Republic in the eyes of many citizens, and a key reason that a major Rebellion hasn't started since the Empire's formation.
  • Voice of the Resistance: Senator-in-exile Gall Trayvis, who frequently interrupts the Imperial HoloNet News broadcasts with "news the Empire doesn't want you to hear." It remains to be seen, though, if he is real or merely a ploy to root out dissidents. It's revealed in "Vision of Hope" that he's an Imperial Agent.
  • What Measure Is a Mook?: Unlike Star Wars: The Clone Wars, which had a greater number of droids being shot and Expendable Clones, the heroes regularly gun down Stormtroopers, who are recruits. However, in "Call to Action", it's reported that the crew's latest heist resulted in no casualties, even though Kanan clearly guns down one of the Stormtroopers; whether this is meant to suggest no civilian casualties or their Stormtroopers are surviving getting shot is hard to say.
  • Wrecked Weapon: Kanan destroys the Inquisitor's lightsaber in "Fire Across the Galaxy".
  • Wolverine Publicity: R2-D2 and C-3PO appear in "Droids In Distress" even though any other two droids could serve the same purpose in the story.
  • The Worf Effect:
    • Zeb and Kallus get into a staff-to-staff duel. Kallus is ultimately victorious in spite of fighting an alien with greater physical strength using a weapon designed specifically for the latter's species. This is partially thanks to Kallus playing on Zeb's past tragedy to unbalance him, though Kallus is legitimately skilled regardless.
    • Kanan's first duel with the Inquisitor is pretty one-sided, due to the Inquisitor's status as a Knight of Cerebus. He and Ezra are lucky to escape. While Kanan does get better in subsequent duels, he's still outclassed.
  • Would Hurt a Child:
    • In the "Property of Ezra Bridger" promo short, we meet Baron Valon Rudhor, the pilot of a crashed imperial TIE fighter. He fires on Ezra with his ship's guns after Ezra has stolen his helmet. An imperial naval officer, bringing anti-vehicle grade guns to bear on a teenager. Fortunately, Ezra has a Force-sense moment and handily dodges.
    • In the series proper, a Wookie child is sent to the spice mines, and Kallus has no problem with killing Ezra for being a Jedi, even though Ezra is only a Force-sensitive just now getting clued in.
    • The Inquisitor is perfectly willing to murder Ezra if he refuses to join the Empire. Darth Vader explicitly says that his task is to hunt for "Children of the Force", pretty explicitly stating that the target's age is not an issue for the Empire.
  • You Gotta Have Blue Hair: Ezra has indigo hair, despite being an "ordinary" human.
  • You Have Failed Me: Tarkin has two of his officers beheaded in his office for this reason, and as an example to the other Imperials on Lothal.
    "From now on, failure will have consequences."
  • Zorro Mark: When she strikes, Sabine always leaves the phoenix-symbol of the Rebels on walls of the scene, either as graffiti, or using her blasters. Beware, the graffiti ones might explode.