During the final season of Star Wars: The Clone Wars, fans were introduced to Clone Force 99, otherwise known as "The Bad Batch." Each member of this experimental group of clone troopers possesses their own unique skill, and the last time fans saw this crew, Clone Trooper Echo had joined their ranks.
But a lot has happened since then considering the Republic has fallen, Anakin is now Darth Vader, and the galaxy is at the mercy of the now Emperor Palpatine.
Lucasfilm's newest animated series Star Wars: The Bad Batch debuting on Disney+ on May the 4th will tell how Clone Force 99 navigated the early days of the Galactic Empire.
But in light of the cameo fest that was The Mandalorian Season 2, and Lucasfilm's intent to further interweave their characters and stories, what characters from that galaxy far, far away can audiences expect to see alongside The Bad Batch?
THESE ARE THE CHOSEN ONES
Several character cameos have been already been confirmed due to trailers for the series.
Fennec Shand, who was Boba Fett's partner in The Mandalorian, appeared in The Bad Batch's debut trailer. Since this series grapples with the fallout of Order 66, perhaps bounty hunters are high in demand?
Her appearance may also serve a different purpose, providing context to her character before The Book of Boba Fett debuts on Disney+ this December.
Grand Moff Tarkin
Grand Moff Tarkin from Rogue One and A New Hope who oversaw the construction of the Death Star and worked with Darth Vader has appeared in both trailers for the series.
Perhaps audiences will see more of Vader and Tarkin working together, especially since Tarkin already worked with Anakin in Star Wars: The Clone Wars.
The last time viewers saw Rex, he was with Ahsoka following the events of Order 66.
Rex appears years later in Star Wars Rebels, living in an old AT-TE on Seelos alongside other clones. But since he's back for The Bad Batch, fans may finally learn how he copes with what's happened to his brothers, Anakin, and the Republic, as well as how he winds up on Seelos.
This complicated character popped up in The Clone Wars, Star Wars Rebels, and Rogue One. Best guess is that Saw Gerrera will be used to further muddy the morality and convictions of the clones while continuing to lay the groundwork for his own role in Rogue One.
WE MEET AGAIN, AT LAST
Since Lucasfilm has already revealed a slate of characters, it's likely the studio has a few surprise cameos up their sleeve. Here's a look at whom they might be.
In a series about the beginning of the Empire with Tarkin and the Emperor, there's little doubt Vader won't make a cameo. To date, fans have only seen glimpses of Vader's early years. Seeing Anakin find his way as Vader is something most have wanted for some time.
If Captain Rex is part of The Bad Batch, Ahsoka seems like a given.
If so, this could be interesting considering Ahsoka is receiving her own live-action Disney+ series. Perhaps fans will learn how she becomes Fulcrum in Star Wars Rebels?
So, yes, technically Obi-Wan should be hiding out on Tatooine. But that doesn't mean Clone Force 99 or Rex won't have dealings with him.
Also, if the name of the game is indeed connectivity, it will be interesting to see if The Bad Batch helps lay the groundwork for the upcoming Kenobi series coming to Disney+.
Maul has a habit of popping up in Star Wars projects A LOT. So it's likely fans we'll see Maul in his element, manipulating the chaos unleashed on the galaxy and building Crimson Dawn.
At the end of The Clone Wars, Bo-Katan enlisted the help of the Republic in taking back Mandalore from Maul. Now that the Republic has been replaced by the Empire, there's an abundance of storytelling potential for this Mandalorian that may contribute to where audiences find her in The Mandalorian series.
NEVER TELL ME THE ODDS
Jyn Erso's father, Galen Erso was an Imperial scientist before he and his wife went into hiding on Lah'mu. Considering both Tarkin and Saw Gerrera are in The Bad Batch, it would be interesting to see a conflicted Galen Erso playing some sort of role in the series.
Could The Bad Batch be a sort of Rogue One reunion prequel? Maybe.
Whether Galen Erso appears or not, a Krennic cameo is definitely possible. It's likely former Republic officials will be eagerly climbing the ladder to establish positions in this new Empire. And let's be honest, who's more ambitious than Krennic?
Yes, Yoda should be hiding out on Dagobah. But there's no reason why that couldn't play into the show, and wouldn't every Star Wars fan enjoy seeing it?
After all, Yoda was pivotal in introducing the concept of individuality to the clones. If The Bad Batch is an extension of The Clone Wars and Yoda does not make an appearance, the Jedi Master's presence would be dearly missed.
The thing is, voice actor Tom Kane who voiced Yoda for The Clone Wars suffered a stroke in December 2020 that affected his speech.
If Yoda is indeed part of this new series, it's possible Kane had recorded the Jedi Master's dialogue prior to his stroke if the project was far enough along and if COVID-19 didn't delay production.
The thing is, there's a little less than two decades spanning between Revenge of the Sith and Rogue One. So Cassian is probably a child at this point.
But he did say in Rogue One that he's been in the fight since he was six years old, didn't he? Maybe audiences will see his parents or a young version of his character in the series, and perhaps that may provide background for the upcoming Andor Disney+ series.
If Lucasfilm does indeed plan to interweave characters about to receive their own series into The Bad Batch, why not Boba Fett? He did appear in The Clone Wars as a kid, after all.
Who would complain seeing him make a name for himself in The Bad Batch, as well as gaining Vader's attention and setting in motion the events of The Empire Strikes Back?
Also, since Fennec Shand is in the immanent Disney+ series, and with The Book of Boba Fett coming in December, why not promote the character where now?
Yes, this may be a stretch, but fans did see a young version of Rebels character Kanan (a.k.a Caleb Dume) alongside his master Depa Billaba in the final season of The Clone Wars.
If The Bad Batch involves hunting down any surviving Jedi, as Vader did for years, young Kanan can easily cameo.
Bail Organa & Mon Mothma
The foundation for the Rebel Alliance was laid at the end of Revenge of the Sith. As the Emperor tightens his grip on the galaxy, surely Bail Organa and Mon Mothma will be behind-the-scenes finding allies and making plans.
Which Star Wars characters appear in The Bad Batch depend on two things: the story being told and the studio's commitment to replicating the MCU's overlapping universe.
While The Clone Wars was an animated series, it explored serious, complex themes like free will, loyalty, and the mental toll of warfare against the backdrop of a galactic war.
Will The Bad Batch continue exploring these topics, even though the war is over, or do Filoni and Co. have new themes in mind? Naturally, that will directly impact the show's supporting cast and who fans see in the upcoming series.
Secondly, is Lucasfilm committed to connecting their stories and characters through in their new animated series?
For some studios, the answer would be no. But Lucasfilm has already brought animated characters to live-action through The Mandalorian. It wouldn't be a stretch to revisit them through the medium of animation, especially if their appearances during this critical time in the galaxy's history will enhance their individual stories and promote their own future Disney+ series.
While Star Wars films haven't always succeeded with the fan base, the studio's track record of animation has. The question is how Lucasfilm's success on Disney+ and their new storytelling direction will lend itself to the studio's great tradition of animation.