The concept of this show is very similar to what Dave Filoni and Henry Gilroy had originally planned for Star Wars: The Clone Wars (2008) when they assumed that Obi-Wan and Anakin would not be the main characters. Their idea was to focus on the crew of a Millenium Falcon-style smuggling ship consisting of a Twi'lek Jedi called Sendak and his Togruta apprentice Ashla, a Han Solo like smuggler called Cad, his girlfriend Lupé and their Gungan strongman Lunker. The Jedi and his padawan became Kanan Jarrus and Ezra Bridger. The smuggler pilot became female Twi'lek Hera Syndulla. The other female character became Mandalorian Sabine Wren and the strongman became Zeb.
The visual style of "Star Wars: Rebels" is heavily inspired by the original "Star Wars" concept art by Ralph McQuarrie. So much so that even the Lightsabers are thinner, just like in McQuarrie's paintings and the backgrounds are rendered in such a way that it look like pencil lines.
The design of Zeb is based on Ralph McQuarrie's early concept art for Chewbacca the Wookiee, with the addition of purple tiger stripes.
The first season takes place fifteen years after the events of Star Wars: Episode III - Revenge of the Sith (2005) and five years before those of Star Wars: Episode IV - A New Hope (1977). Between each subsequent season and the next there is a time jumps of about 6 months.
The ignited Lightsaber blades in this series flicker like they did in Star Wars: Episode IV - A New Hope (1977) when a rotating glowing rod was used during filming as a practical effect. Afterwards, special lighting effects were added to the blades and glowing rods were replaced by solid pipes in all the sequels and prequels But for Rebels, lighting & VFX supervisor Joel Aron studied the Lightsabers in the original film and even managed to match the original flicker rate to make the sabers look exactly like they did in A New Hope.
According to writer/producer Simon Kinberg, once it was decided that Darth Vader would appear on the show, the first thing they did was to make sure James Earl Jones, who's voiced the character since 1977, was available.
Kanan Jarrus is a "cowboy Jedi". The western genre was one of George Lucas's influences behind the Star Wars saga.
Disney/Lucasfilm ended Star Wars: The Clone Wars (2008), so they could focus on Star Wars: The Force Awakens (2015) and this animated series. Most of the vehicles and background element designed for Clone Wars episodes that remained unfinished ended up being used in the first season of Rebels.
The Imperial Troop Transports (ITT) first seen in "Fighter Flight" is based on a vehicle from the original Kenner toy line from the late 1970s.
Executive Producer Greg Weisman was only involved in the first season. His name was absent in a press release by Disney/Lucasfilm announcing the second season and he later confirmed he would be leaving after production was completed on the first season. However, Weisman continued to explore Kanan Jarrus' early years by writing "Kanan: The Last Padawan" for Marvel comics.
Before Rebels was originally announced, production began under the code name "Wolf". This name can be seen on various concept art published on Starwars.com. The voice actors were not told they were auditioning for a Star Wars TV series, but for an animated series called "Wolf" which featured "sun swords" instead of Lightsabers and the 'Tyranny' instead of the Empire.
According to Dave Filoni, Chopper is the complete opposite of R2-D2. Where R2 is loyal like a dog, Chopper can be selfish and a pain in the butt like a cat.
This show and Star Wars: The Clone Wars (2008), are part of the official Star Wars canon.
Darth Vader's appearance is more similar to his original appearance in the artwork of Ralph McQuarrie.
Producer Simon Kinberg revealed that the third season may impact future movies, specifically Rogue One: A Star Wars Story (2016). He also said the series may crossover with and/or connect future films as well.
Lothal's Capitol city is modeled after Ralph McQuarrie concepts for Bespin (developed for Star Wars: Episode V - The Empire Strikes Back (1980)) and Alderaan (as seen in the 1995 book "The Illustrated Star Wars Universe".
While the look of the series is very much based on the original trilogy, Dave Filoni thought it would be appropriate that the Inquisitor character should be an alien who was developed for the Prequels. At first he was going to be a Chagrian like Mas Amedda, first seen in Star Wars: Episode I - The Phantom Menace (1999). But the enormous horns associated with that species would have made it impossible to fit him into a TIE fighter. Eventually the Pau'an species from Star Wars: Episode III - Revenge of the Sith (2005) was chosen.
Altough there are many similarities between Ezra Bridger and Disney's Aladdin, both in his appearance and his 'street rat' background, Dave Filoni insists that his inspiration for the character was Ralph Macchio as the Karate Kid.
Kanan Jarrus was influenced by Bill Munny, Clint Eastwood's character in 1992's "Unforgiven". Kanan is forced to return to his former life as a Jedi, 15 years after Order 66 to lead the crew of the Ghost against the evil Empire.
Agent Kallus works for the Imperial Security Bureau, or ISB. He answers to is Colonel Wulff Yularen, formerly Anakin Skywalker's Fleet Admiral during the Clone Wars.
Luke Skywalker and Princess Leia Organa were born the day after the formation of the Galactic Empire and Ezra Bridgers birth which makes them a day younger than Ezra Bridger. In Star Wars: The Force Awakens (2015), Luke, Leia and Ezra are 53 years old.
In season one, Kanan Jarrus, Hera Syndulla and Sabine Wren are the only characters who can understand Chopper's droid speak. During the second season, Ezra Bridger makes an effort to learn to understand it as well.
The Inquisitor's lightsaber is the same design as the original concept art for Starkiller's lightsaber for Star Wars: The Force Unleashed (2008). This design was also included as a weapon with a General Grievous action figure.
Ahsoka's role in the series is similar to Shaak-Ti's role in the video game Star Wars: The Force Unleashed (2008). They're both survivors of the Jedi Purge, have a strong connection to the Force and act as a mentor and advisor to the protagonist of their respective series.
Dave Filoni had originally hoped that Ewan McGregor would reprise the role of Obi-Wan Kenobi. In the series, the character is portrayed by his regular voice actor James Arnold Taylor (as the Clone Wars incarnation), as well as Stephen Stanton (as the older "Ben Kenobi" incarnation).
In Season 3, Tom Baker will be lending his voice to a character known as "the Bendu." Baker is the second actor from the BBC's "Doctor Who" to be part of the Star Wars franchise. The first was David Tennant, who won an Emmy for his performance in two episodes of Season 5 of "Star Wars: The Clone Wars."
Starkiller from Star Wars: The Force Unleashed (2008) (Video Game) had been considered to join the series in Season 2. Sam Witwer (The voice of Darth Maul) provided the voice of Starkiller in the video game.
Kanan's blaster pistol is a DL-18. The DL-18 is an unlockable blaster in the Star Wars Battlefront video game as part of the Outer Rim expansion pack. The first season of Rebels takes place predominantly on the planet Lothal, an outer rim world
During Star Wars Celebration 2017 in Orlando Dave Filoni revealed that season 4 would be the last season of Star Wars Rebels.
The series takes place 14 years after Star Wars: Episode III - Revenge of the Sith (2005) and in the series, Sabine Wren is 16 and is 2 years older than Ezra Bridger, who is 14 in the series. Ezra was born the same year as Order 66 and the formation of the Galactic Empire and Sabine was born 1 year after the Battle of Geonosis.
Lars Mikkselsen (The voice of Grand Admiral Thrawn) is the brother of actor Mads Mikkelsen whom played Galen Erso in Rogue One (2016).
The droid Chopper's name is derived from his model number C1-10P. By combining the '1-1' into an 'H' and substituting 'O' for '0' it become CHOP
During production of Star Wars: The Clone Wars (2008), George Lucas encouraged composer Kevin Kiner to experiment with many different kinds of music. But for Rebels, Kiner decided to sample the themes and motifs from John Williams original trilogy soundtracks much more prominently.
Several different concepts were considered during pre-production of this series. Dave Filoni proposed to do a series without Force users and focus on fighter pilots. Eventually Carrie Beck's idea of focusing on group of heroes that were always on the run while trying helping others, like The A-Team (1983) was chosen. In some versions Kanan had a robot arm, Zeb was an Ithorian (Hammerhead) instead of a concept Wookiee, and Hera went from being a plump matriarch to being a young girl (combining the characters of Hera and Sabine) and back to the mother of the group, but this time thin.
The line spoken by Grand Admiral Thrawn in the trailer echo some of his first lines in Timothy Zahn's "Heir to the Empire"
15 years before the series premiered, Freddie Prinze Jr. starred as Lt. Christopher Blair in Wing Commander (1999) which was based on the PC game of the same name. Mark "Luke Skywalker" Hamill played Lt. Christopher Blair in Wing Commander III: Heart of the Tiger (1994) (VG).
The series has a premise similar to two earlier science fiction series, Blake's 7 (1978) and Firefly (2002). Blake's 7 was about Roj Blake leading the crew of The Liberator against The Terran Federation and Firefly was about Captain Mal Reynolds, Captain of The Serenity, whose crew of space pirates lives and work in outer space, trying to do legal/illegal jobs, while evading The Alliance. This is not surprising since all three series were heavily inspired by the original 1977 Star Wars and while Blake's 7 and Firefly took elements from Star Wars and invented their own universe, Rebels takes place in the same universe and time line.
Darth Maul and Emperor Palpatine are voiced by Sam Witwer. Sam Witwer played Galen Marek/Starkiller and Emperor Palpatine in the Star Wars: The Force Unleashed video game.
There was false online speculation that Sabine Wren's father is Boba Fett. Boba Fett was born 10 years before the Battle of Geonosis and is 27 years old when Ezra Bridger joined the Ghost crew and Sabine Wren was born 2 years before Order 66 and the formation of the Galactic Empire and is 16 years old in the pilot and this means Boba Fett was only 11 when Sabine Wren was born. In Season 4, Sabine's father is revealed to had been a human whom took his wife's surname.
The pilot droids seen piloting civilian spacecraft in the series are RX-24 "Rex" droids, one of which was the pilot on the old Star Tours ride at Disney Parks (prior to the ride's renovation). Paul Reubens, who voiced the droid on the old ride, reprises the role in at least one appearance in Rebels. The droid model's nickname of "Rex" is not used in Rebels, most likely to avoid confusion with the Clone Soldier of the same name.
In the 1985 film "Ladyhawke", the medieval knight Navarre befriends the thief Gastone and enlists his help to overthrow the corrupt Bishop. Kanan Jarrus, a Jedi who is leading the Ghost crew to overthrow the Empire, takes on Ezra Bridger, a con artist and small time thief as his apprentice and trains him in the ways of the Force.
Sabine Wren bares an resemblance to French actress Emma De Caunes. Emma De Caunes had played a character called Sabine in the feature film Mr. Bean's Holiday (2007).
According to Dave Filoni Ashoka Tano was inspired by San - the titular character of Princess Mononoke (1997). There are, in fact, quite a few similarities between the two characters. They are both, according to an article on released on the official Star Wars website, "fierce and independent and connecting in spiritual ways to life and nature." Her fighting and movement style also resembles that of San.
In Star Wars: Rebels: Breaking Ranks (2014) (TV Episode) Ezra Bridger goes undercover as a cadet at the Imperial Academy along with other children and teenagers. A year before it was broadcast Harrison Ford (Han Solo) had starred in Ender's Game (2014) based on the Orson Scott Card novel about Andrew "Ender" Wiggin whom is recruit to join an advanced military academy which gifted children are prepared for a future alien invasion.
Taylor Gray (Ezra Bridger) was born a decade after the release of Star Wars: Episode VI - Return of the Jedi (1983).
The series premiered in 2014 and yet, the series is set 14 years after Star Wars: Episode III - Revenge of the Sith (2005) and in Season 1, Ezra Bridger is 14.