Both Clone Wars tv series as well as the movie refers to the events as the "Clone Wars", as does Leia Organa.

However, there was only one three year war between the Galactic Republic and Confederacy of Independent Systems.

At the end of Star Wars II: Attack of the Clones, Yoda refers to it as "The Clone War".

In Star Wars IV: A New Hope, Leia refers to Kenobi has "having served [her] father in the Clone Wars". This seems to be a continuity issue with later canon material, since Bail Organa was a Senator in the Galactic Republic, and the Jedi served the Chancellor. I am under the assumption at the time of the first movie, Lucas thought about having more than one actual war involving clones, but decided to change it later.

Is the use of the plurarized "wars" in the title of the movie and two tv series simply a matter of referring to Leia's original phraseology?

  • 18
    I'm not entirely sure Yoda's grammar is the best one to be basing anything off of.
    – phantom42
    Commented Jan 9, 2015 at 16:44
  • For that matter, why was Star Wars called that? I only count one war. Commented Jan 9, 2015 at 16:46
  • BTW, Luke also refers to "the Clone Wars" in conversation with Obi-Wan.
    – phantom42
    Commented Jan 9, 2015 at 16:46
  • 1
    Asked on another stack - english.stackexchange.com/questions/160579/…
    – Valorum
    Commented Jan 9, 2015 at 16:57
  • @Richard - I would say that's a related question, but not a duplicate. Just in case anyone's asking.
    – Omegacron
    Commented Jan 9, 2015 at 18:14

3 Answers 3


TL;DR: Lucas' original idea for the Clone Wars was a series of skirmishes and battles lasting several years, with the clones acting as antagonists rather than the Republic's army.

Out-of-universe, it is a continuity error. There was originally supposed to be a much longer period between the original trilogy and the events that preceded the movies. In that version of events, "the Clone Wars" referred to a series of skirmishes and uprisings that occurred over several years in rapid succession. Bail Organa, along with Garm Bel Iblis, were Republic leaders whom the Jedi served under, and Anakin's slide to the Dark Side was apparently much more gradual than what we witnessed. Unfortunately, most of that story was fleshed out in EU material and was never made canon or official by any source.

Also, the original idea for the Clone Wars - according to notes that Lucas had given author Timothy Zahn - was that the clones were the antagonists of those conflicts. Zahn used this concept in his original Thrawn trilogy, with Imperial captain Pellaeon reflecting back on those dark times:

No matter how many times he saw it happen, he would never get used to these sudden dips into the slippery twilight of clone madness. It had, he knew, been a universal problem with the early cloning experiments: a permanent mental and emotional instability, inversely scaled to the length of the duplicate's growth cycle. Few of the scientific papers on the subject had survived the Clone Wars era, but Pellaeon had come across one that had suggested that no clone grown to maturity in less than a year would be stable enough to survive outside of a totally controlled environment.

Given the destruction they'd unleashed on the galaxy, Pellaeon had always assumed that the clonemasters had eventually found at least a partial solution to the problem. Whether they had recognized the underlying cause of the madness was another question entirely.

Needless to say, Lucas changed all that when writing the prequels. Whether by mistake or design, Lucas severely streamlined events, instead asking us to believe that the Jedi Order went from thousands to a handful within a 3-year period. Or that, in the same period, Anakin went from a whiny, brooding teenager to a Sith Lord capable of hunting down and defeating Jedi Masters in single combat.

In-universe, the only explanation I can come up with is that it's a grammatical thing. In a similar example, I point out the "Stark Hyperspace War", which was really only a single battle lasting a few days. Perhaps a long, long time ago they had a penchant for exaggerating such things.

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    This is a stretch, but I suppose you could view it as each planet where battle took place had its own "clone war". That's the only way I can rationalize it in-universe; I think your answer is spot-on.
    – Liesmith
    Commented Jan 9, 2015 at 19:39
  • 1
    That's like calling 1939-45 World Wars II, considering each battle a war of its own. Silly, that's what.
    – Oldcat
    Commented Sep 10, 2015 at 0:48
  • 7
    @Oldcat - I agree, although I should point out that WWII is generally thought of as TWO wars. Historians generally separate the European side of things from the Pacific side, but we call them "theaters" or "campaigns" instead of wars. The REAL reason is that Lucas changed (screwed up) his own backstory.
    – Omegacron
    Commented Sep 10, 2015 at 12:26

Another possible in-universe answer is that the overarching Separatist Crisis, as well as the resultant Clone Wars themselves, incorporated a number of other concurrent wars/conflicts, such as the Summertime War, Sepan Civil War, Virgillian Civil War, Er'stacian clan war, Balith civil war, as well as earlier ones such as the Yinchorri Uprising, the Occupation of Karthakk and the Huk War.

These were mostly civil wars, but they could be seen as being contributory towards, and therefore later got folded into the description of, the overall war. For instance General Grievous emerged from the Huk War, and the Summertime War was a persistent conflict that was co-opted by the Clone Wars participants to become a proxy war.

Therefore, even though at the end of AOTC, when the formal conflict is just unfolding, Yoda refers to it as the Clone War singular, later on it may have been seen as a series of interconnected conflicts.

  • 2
    Also, any subsequent skirmishes prior to the transition from Clone Troopers to Storm Troopers may be seen as additional Clone Wars.
    – Politank-Z
    Commented Aug 27, 2015 at 22:57
  • 1
    Since none of those presumably involved Clones, why would they be included at all?
    – Oldcat
    Commented Sep 10, 2015 at 0:49
  • 3
    @Oldcat The Clone Wars refers to a period of wars that started as the Clone War (singular), not a specific battle, and it was viewed as a direct consequence of the Separatist Crisis. The Summertime War and the Balith civil war included clones, the Yinchorri Uprising helped Sidious gain power, the Occupation of Karthakk involved the Trade Federation testing its army, and the Huk War led to the rise of General Grievous. Also, non-clones fought for the Republic Military in the Clone Wars, and the GAR fought alongside non-clone allies on local worlds, it wasn't only clones.
    – Phyneas
    Commented Sep 10, 2015 at 1:13

The idea behind "Wars" besides the films main title. Innumerable planetary campaigns so large would be individual wars in and of themselves. The CIS and Republic often invaded neutral planets, causing small wars for control. Their was the main war between the major powers and numerous smaller conflicts on other worlds, like Mandalore or Mon Calamari. Given Star wars was inspired by George Lucas visions of Vietnam which was a proxy conflict. Invoking similar to a sense of smaller proxy wars that took place during the conflict (Cold War), Korea, Vietnam, Afghanistan.

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