Star Wars Rebels recently aired its mid-season finale, going into hiatus for the holiday season and returning Monday, January 5, 2015, on Disney XD. Only a handful of episodes are left before the first season officially ends, and even with the second season already secured, it’s unclear how many seasons the animated series will remain on air.
We do know that series takes place five years before Star Wars: Episode IV A New Hope, giving fans the impression that the series would have a short run given its limited time span. However, Star Wars: The Clone Wars took place between Episode II and Episode III–a total span of three years–and the series was originally scripted to go eight seasons before it was prematurely canceled and the direction turned to a new animated series.
That direction is now being steered towards a new animated series, according to a rumor from popular entertainment site /Film.
“Rumor has it that Disney and Lucasfilm are planning to do ‘about’ three or four seasons of Star Wars Rebels before starting a whole new Star Wars animated series, with all new characters, set in the timeline of the current movies (the Star Wars sequel trilogy),” wrote /Film author Germain Lussier.
Planning three or four seasons obviously sounds better than unexpectedly canceling the series (like its predecessor) after the second season, so if there is any truth to the rumor, at least the groundwork is there to give Star Wars Rebels a middle and an end.
To be honest, animated shows normally only last a few years, and Forbes contributor Merrill Barr explained the reason behind this practice, “At best, most animated series are capable of surviving 3-5 years on average, and the reason for this is simple: target demographic aging. If an animated series is shooting for a market aged 8-12, what happens when children in that key demo reach 13? The truth is, most fall off regular viewing patterns.”
Star Wars: The Clone Wars was a rare exception, and with the vision clearly set on the sequel trilogy and the spin-off films, the need to expand and reach out to a growing audience calls for newer content.
Lussier also stated, “Since this is so early, there aren’t a lot of specific details. The new cartoon series will be set during the Sequel Trilogy timeline (Episodes VII and beyond), which will be very familiar to fans by that time. If Rebels does go three or four seasons, the new show would hypothetically start in 2017 or 2018, around the same time we’ll see Star Wars Episode VIII. That means we’ll have at least one, possibly two movies of world building in which to set up a new story and set of characters.”
Despite my preference to focus on the present and leave the future in the future, an animated series set in that time period with new characters does strike interest. The creators of Star Wars Rebels have done exemplary work in introducing diverse and likable characters to the universe. Seeing those efforts move forward and evolve into a new series that connects more with the films would be fascinating to watch, as long as Star Wars Rebels gets a proper ending.