As a franchise Star Wars has always prided itself on being a family-friendly product that can be enjoyed by both children and adults. It would be safe to assume that the mantra is still valid for a program like Star Wars, Clone Wars, maybe even more than usual, since cartoons are traditionally made for children (at least in the West). That assumption would be wrong.
Of course, The Clone wars it does not go into full graphic territory and can still be enjoyed by the whole family. However, there are enough intense, violent, and horribly dark moments throughout the show that make older audiences think twice about whether this show was for kids to begin with.
10 Darth Maul is captured after warning the Jedi
Despite aligning the good and the bad with the light side and the dark side, most Clone wars the characters are represented as morally gray characters. Including Darth Maul, who is captured in “The Phantom Apprentice” after failing to warn the Jedi of the takeover Sidious plans to unleash on the galaxy and his plans to take Anakin Skywalker under his wing.
Knowing not only their fate, but that the fate of the galaxy is set in stone, Darth Maul begs them to let him die and fights to convince them of the impending doom of the universe. It’s bittersweet and disturbing to hear a dreaded villain reduced to being seen as a scared individual, especially when he was right. Order 66 began shortly after.
9 A clone is cut in half
In the episode “Counterattack”, Obi-Wan Kenobi and his team escape through the vents, but their presence there causes the security doors to quickly close between each door. Obi-Wan knows the danger that awaits them and warns his staff: “Move or they will cut you in half!”
Fortunately, the team can evade each of the doors. Except for one unfortunate stormtrooper clone, at least, whose death is off-screen, but his blood-curdling screams are enough to make any squeamish viewer wince a bit.
8 Merrik’s Stab
Tal Merrik, prince of Kalevala, was cornered by the Duchess of the planet and Obi-Wan Kenobi at the conclusion of the episode “Voyage of Temptation”. Merrik was convinced that despite threatening to blow up the ship they were on, neither of them would kill him because the Duchess would go against his pacifist beliefs, while the Duchess of Kenobi’s beloved lover would never forgive him if attacked.
Just when Merrik said that anyone who killed him would be marked as a cold-blooded murderer, Anakin stabbed him with a lightsaber through the chest from behind and shrugged, much to Obi-Wan’s horror. The philosophical implications, not to mention the foreshadowing of Darth Vader, are even darker than the images themselves.
7 Darth Maul kills the Duchess in front of Obi-Wan
Satine was kidnapped by Darth Maul so that he could lure Obi-Wan Kenobi into a trap in “Shades of Reason”. As Obi-Wan looked at Maul, the latter pierced his stomach with his lightsaber as he choked her with the Force.
This is another moment where the implications and emotions behind the scenes are much more intense than the visual itself. The scene puts a strong focus on Obi-Wan’s face and Satine’s face rather than the blade piercing his stomach. After seeing and understanding the connection the couple had in different episodes, this was brutal.
6 Cad Bane tortures Bolla Ropal to death
Hoping to find a Jedi to cooperate with him using the kyber crystal, Cad Bane tortures Jedi Master Bolla Ropal brutally and mercilessly in “Cargo of Doom.” The voltage and force of the torture machine becomes so great that even the droids worry, telling Bane that increasing the voltage could kill Bolla. Bane doesn’t care and continues the torture until a defiant Bolla dies.
The images of torture are heavy enough for the viewer, but seeing a character tortured to death creates a whole new level of discomfort.
5 Anakin and Clovis punch fight
Star Wars stories tend to have a habit of focusing on exaggerated, space-based sci-fi plots. This is fine, but since most of us haven’t even been to space, it’s not exactly identifiable. This is why Anakin’s fight with Clovis in season 6’s “The Rise of Clovis” strikes such an intense emotional chord with some viewers.
They weren’t fighting over an unreachable space object, but because Clovis put the moves on Anakin’s partner. And contrary to the usual lightsaber duel, this was just a tug-of-war between two men using their fists. Anakin hardly even used the Force. Only the direct hits and the identifiable conflict mixed with the identifiable offense made this more intense than the usual fights in the franchise.
4 Darth Maul kills a village
Sometimes the darkest and most horrible moments of Clone wars the story takes place off-screen. This is one of those cases. Hoping to bring out Obi-Wan Kenobi to enact his revenge, the exile Darth Maul conspired with his brother Savage Opress to slaughter an entire village full of children on the planet Raydonia in “Revenge.” Maul even goes so far as to send images to Obi-Wan.
Without seeing the commotion, the moment is sold by Maul’s mad hatred as he taunts Obi-Wan, and the sinister look he gives moments before looking at the innocent with his lightsaber in hand.
3 Brutal methods of interrogation of Anakin
One of the first moments where Anakin unleashed his Dark Side also turned out to be one of the most notable in the series. In the season 2 episode “Brain Invaders”, Anakin interrogates Poggle the Lesser, who refuses to speak. But Anakin does not plan to use any Jedi mind tricks on him.
Instead, he slams Poggle the youngest on the ground and takes his life, intending to make Poggle speak and make Poggle wish he had done it before Anakin killed him.
two Jedi Cad Bane Torture
Back to Cad Bane, he is finally brought in for his crimes, not only for torturing Bolla Ropal, but for abducting Force-sensitive children, in the episode “Sons of the Force”, Mace Windu, Anakin Skywalker and Obi-Wan Kenobi. collaborate to pry Bane for information.
To get him to speak, the trio collectively use a Jedi Mind Trick technique to the point where Bane feels clear agony and pain as he fights the urge, until he finally agrees. Especially when the camera is focused on Ahsoka Tano’s horrified and conflicted face, the scene makes audiences think twice about how indisputably good Jedi are.
1 The scene that Cartoon Network had to censor
This may very well be the most brutal scene in Clone wars story, just because it was censored by Cartoon Network because it was too dark for a children’s show.
In the scene in question from “Eminence”, Darth Maul tries to convince The Black Sun to join his Shadow Collective. When all else fails, Maul’s brother, Savage Oppress, uses Maul’s double-sided lightsaber to decapitate everyone at the Black Sun table, including his figurehead. The beheading itself was removed from the televised cut, but preserved for the DVD Director’s Cut.
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