Now that Star Wars: The Bad Batch Season 1 has finished, it's only natural that fans have some questions about the show. What will happen in Season 2? Will any of the characters show up in future shows? Will Crosshair ever join his brothers again? But as we dive back into the waters of Kamino, perhaps the biggest question that needs answering is whether Star Wars: The Bad Batch is canon. In other words, does it have an official place in the faraway galaxy, alongside the likes of all the movies and The Mandalorian?
It might be self-explanatory, but sometimes new material requires further analysis, largely because it's difficult for some fans to accept that an animated show belongs in a universe that was first established in live action. But Star Wars has already given us two canonical animated shows in the form of The Clone Wars and Rebels, both of which gave characters who are now set to appear in live-action shows, like Ahsoka Tano and Sabine Wren. Those shows also utilized live-action characters too, from both the original trilogy and prequel trilogy.
While given the canonical stamp of approval from the get-go, both shows also earned their place in the faraway galaxy. Being animated is immaterial – it's nothing more than a storytelling medium. In the case of The Bad Batch, the doubt around its canonicity has actually emerged from the fact that the show ‘retcons' some elements from other well-established canons, largely in the films and graphic novels. But first, let's take a quick look at what happened throughout the first season.
Warning: The following contains spoilers for Star Wars: The Bad Batch Season 1.
After Clone Force 99 discovers that the Empire had ordered the clones to kill all Jedi, Hunter, Echo, Tech, and Wrecker go on the run, taking with them young clone Omega, whom we later learn is an exact copy of the original clone Jango Fett, making her hot property to the Kaminoans. As the team makes their way across the galaxy, taking on missions as they go, fellow squad member Crosshair, under the influence of his chip, and the Empire, are hot in pursuit. Meanwhile, the Empire starts phasing out clones, replacing them with human volunteers.
After being baited, the Bad Batch ends up back on Kamino, and with no further interest in cloning new troopers, the Empire destroys the facility with the heroes inside. Fortunately, the team – including Crosshair – survive – but it's revealed that Kaminoan Nala Se will begin 'new work' for the Empire.
So, as you can see, from a narrative and chronological perspective, The Bad Batch fits perfectly into the canon, depicting the events that follow on directly from The Clone Wars - to which the show is a sequel, or spin-off. It even utilizes several characters from The Clone Wars, including the Bad Batch themselves, sisters Trace and Rafa, Cut Lawquane, Captain Rex, and Cad Bane. And it's not just The Clone Wars it acknowledges -The Bad Batch tethers itself to lots of long-established canon stories.
But here are some of the ways it appears to retcon those stories.
In serving as a follow-on to The Clone Wars, the show is automatically associated with the prequel trilogy too. And Rebels is also an official follow-up to The Clone Wars, and The Bad Batch even borrows Hera Syndulla, Chopper, and Caleb Dume (who grows up to become one of the most powerful Jedi Kanan Jarris).
Hera Syndulla is obviously much younger when we meet her on Ryloth in The Bad Batch, and her character is consistent with her older and highly experienced rebel and pilot-counterpart in Star Wars: Rebels, as is her erratic yet reliable Astromech droid Chopper. Except for one thing.
Many fans were left scratching their heads after hearing Hera's Twi'lek accent in the new animated series (which is actually a French accent), whereas in Rebels, Hera has an American accent. With that said, it is of course possible for one to change their accent over a number of years. So, while jarring at the time and on first glance a glaring inconsistency, this is no retcon.
Caleb Dume (aka Kanan Jarris)
Speaking of Rebels, this one is something fans are still questioning, even several weeks after the pilot - and rightly so. In The Bad Batch, the young Force-wielder witnesses the death of his Jedi Master during Order 66, before Hunter protects the fleeing Padawan, telling the other clone troopers he has carried out his duties and killed the boy.
In the Star Wars comic book seriesKanan 1, however, this scene plays out very differently and doesn't include the Bad Batch whatsoever (who at that point, hadn't even been developed). Oddly enough, the comic book series is also described as a ‘prequel' to Star Wars: Rebels. So which of the two origin stories for Caleb Dume is correct..?
It's fair to say the fans are right on this occasion, especially considering that said-comics are also canon, having been published in 2015, three years after Disney acquired Lucasfilm and declared that only pre-merger material would be non-canonical, calling it Star Wars: Legends (with of course the exception of the original trilogy, the prequel trilogy, and The Clone Wars).
Muchi the Rancor
As for The Bad Batch's relationship with the original trilogy, we meet Bib Fortuna, and possibly Jabba's pet rancor. But it's the latter where some of the doubt has emerged. In the Star Wars Aftermath novel trilogy (post-merger), Jabba's male adult-sized male rancor is named Pateesa, whereas, in The Bad Batch, the female infant rancor Jabba acquires is named Muchi.
Whether or not this is oversight is unknown, but it's possible that it isn't even the same rancor. So then why include such an easter egg in the first place? Why tease fans with the inclusion of Bib Fortuna, who has come to collect the rancor for Jabba The Hutt, when it isn't even the same one from Return of the Jedi?
Well, maybe The Bad Batch is simply revealing that Jabba has a thing for rancors, just as he does for Twi'lek dancers. Meanwhile, and speaking of Jabba, we also get to see Fennec Shand from The Mandalorian (is the fact that she's destined to sit on the arm of Jabba's throne drinking blue milk a tedious link?), further solidifying The Bad Batch as canon.
There are other potential inconsistencies in the show too, such as Order 66 and how the chip affects the clones, as well as some tweaking to Saw Gerrera's backstory. Either way, Star Wars in television is getting a lot of attention – which is more than we can say about the sequel trilogy, which fans are still hoping Disney will retcon. The same goes for Jar Jar.
It's likely, though, that even outside of The Bad Batch Season 2, the show may be referenced in other upcoming canons. But once characters from the show start popping up in live-action, fans will likely forget about these retcons. With that said, we're certain that Omega will be one of the characters in The Book of Boba Fett.
So, what upcoming material will we need to scour for more retcons? Well, there's Ahsoka, The Mandalorian Season 3, Obi-Wan Kenobi, Andor, and, of course, The Book of Boba Fett. There's also a new movie from Taika Waititi in the works. As for the upcoming anime anthology series Star Wars: Visions, this has been confirmed to be non-canonical, with each of the nine short films being completely isolated to one another and from the larger Star Wars universe.
To refamiliarize yourself with all things canon, though - and even non-canon, for that matter, in the form of some vintage animated shows and Ewok movies (which, in all fairness, should never have been canon anyway) - stream all things Star Wars on Disney+.