The series premiered as a one-hour television film, Spark of Rebellion, on October 3, 2014, on Disney Channel prior to the premiere of the series on October 13 on Disney XD. The second season premiered on June 20, 2015, with a one-hour television film, The Siege of Lothal. The third season premiered on September 24, 2016, with the television film, Steps Into Shadow. The fourth and final season premiered on October 16, 2017, with another one-hour television film, Heroes of Mandalore. Its final episode aired on March 5, 2018.
Dave Filoni, Simon Kinberg, and Greg Weisman served as executive producers of the first season. Weisman left the show after the first season. Filoni was also the supervising director for the first two seasons, a role he relinquished after accepting a promotion that expanded his creative role into overseeing all Lucasfilm Animation projects; he chose Justin Ridge to succeed him for the third season. Filoni re-assumed the role for the fourth season.
A number of tie-in media have been released to expand upon the series' lore such as the comic book series Kanan, the novel A New Dawn, and the novel series Thrawn. Characters, storylines, and elements introduced in the series would also appear in subsequent Star Wars media. The series' storyline continues in the Disney+ live-action series Ahsoka.
Maketh Tua (season 1–2), a Lothal native and a minister for the Galactic Empire, and a graduate of the Imperial Academy.
Mira Bridger (season 1–2, 4), Ezra's mother, who was taken captive by the Empire
Phil LaMarr as Bail Organa (season 1, 3–4), the Senator of planet Alderaan, owner of the droids C-3PO and R2-D2, secretly one of the leaders organizing the Rebel Alliance, and adoptive father of Leia Organa.
Dante Basco as Jai Kell (season 1, 4), a Lothalian aiding Ezra and the Ghost crew during the Imperial occupation of Lothal as part of Ryder Azadi's rebel cell
Grand Moff Tarkin (season 1, 3–4), a ruthless Imperial officer who oversees many of the Empire's activities.
AP-5 (season 2–3), an inventory droid that sides with the Rebels and assists them in finding a suitable base after developing an unlikely friendship with Chopper.
Brent Spiner as Gall Trayvis (season 1), an Imperial Senator posing as a dissident in an attempt to lure rebel forces out of hiding.
Keone Young as Commander Jun Sato (seasons 2–3), the leader of the Phoenix Squadron rebel cell.
Sam Witwer (season 2) as Darth Sidious, the tyrannical ruler of the galaxy and the Sith Lord known to the galaxy as Emperor Palpatine as well as the master of Darth Vader and as Maul (season 2–3), a rogue Sith Lord and former apprentice to Darth Sidious who seeks to hunt down his nemesis Obi-Wan Kenobi.
Mary Elizabeth McGlynn as Arihnda Pryce (season 3–4), a high-ranking officer of the Galactic Empire and Governor of the Lothal sector. She is mentioned in prior seasons but does not physically appear until S3.
Tom Baker as The Bendu (season 3), a Force-sensitive alien who resided on the remote planet of Atollon and represented the "center" of the Force, between the light side and the dark side.
Tom Kane as Wullf Yularen, an admiral during the Clone Wars, becoming a colonel in the Imperial Security Bureau.
Katee Sackhoff as Bo-Katan Kryze, a regent of Mandalore, former member of the Mandalorian group known as Death Watch during the Clone Wars, opposing the ideals of her sister Duchess Satine under Pre Vizsla until he was usurped by Darth Maul and forming the Nite Owls to oppose him.
The first two episodes, titled Spark of Rebellion, premiered on October 3, 2014, on Disney Channels worldwide and on Family Channel in Canada. In Australia, the series premiered on October 17 on Disney XD.The Siege of Lothal premiered on June 28, 2015, and the second season debuted on October 18. In Canada, the series premiered on October 19 on the DHX-owned Disney XD. However, due to DHX Media losing the rights to Disney content, the show was later moved to Disney Channel. The second season premiered on November 7, and it was moved to the Corus-owned Disney XD channel on December 1.
In the Middle East and Africa, Spark of Rebellion premiered on October 11 and the series debuted on October 18 on Disney XD.Siege of Lothal premiered on October 10, followed the official season premiere on October 17. In Southeast Asia, Spark of Rebellion premiered on Disney XD on October 4 and the series officially started on November 29.Siege of Lothal premiered on October 3 on Disney XD and Disney Channel, and the second season was released on October 24. In the United Kingdom and Ireland, the series debuted on October 16 on Disney XD.Siege of Lothal premiered on July 18, 2015, followed by the second-season debut on October 17.
Star Wars Rebels: Spark of Rebellion was released by Walt Disney Studios Home Entertainment on DVD in the US at all retailers on October 14, 2014. DVD bonus features include character shorts, a 3D model kit of the Ghost ship, and a preview of season 1.
The Complete Season One of Star Wars Rebels was released by Walt Disney Studios Home Entertainment on DVD and Blu-ray on September 1, 2015, in America, and in Germany on September 10, 2015. The Season 1 collection contains the expanded version of Spark of Rebellion with the Darth Vader/Grand Inquisitor prologue shown on ABC-TV. The Complete Season Two of Star Wars Rebels was released by Walt Disney Studios Home Entertainment on DVD and Blu-ray on August 30, 2016, in North America. The Complete Season Three of Star Wars Rebels was released on DVD and Blu-Ray on August 29, 2017. The Complete Season Four is announced to be released on DVD and Blu-ray on November 15, 2018, in Germany, and July 31, 2018, in the United States.
The series is also available on the Disney+ streaming service, which launched on November 12, 2019.
In the United States, the one-hour special garnered 2.74 million viewers on Disney Channel and 2.40 million viewers on ABC (excluding Boston, whose local station WCVB preempted it for a Steve Harvey special). Worldwide, it delivered a total of 6.5 million viewers. On Disney Channel, the first and second episodes delivered 2.33 million and 1.92 million viewers, respectively. The third and fourth episodes garnered 2.32 million and 1.84 million, respectively. The fifth, sixth and seventh episodes were watched by 1.43 million, 1.30 million and 1.60 million viewers, respectively. The eighth and ninth episodes got 1.92 and 1.44 million viewers, respectively.
In Canada, the second episode was watched by 274,500 viewers, making it the most-watched broadcast ever on the network. In the United Kingdom, the film was the highest-rated broadcast that week, with 81,000 viewers.
On the review aggregation website Rotten Tomatoes, the first season has received a 92% positive score, based on 13 reviews with an average rating of 8.20/10, the website's critics consensus reads, "Rebels adds new dimension to an unexplored sector of the Star Wars timeline, inserting a ragtag group of lovable characters into a galactic adventure that all ages can enjoy." Seasons 2 and 3 have received a 100% score based on 6 reviews for season 2 and 6 reviews for season 3, with an average rating of 7.40/10 for season 2 and 9/10 for season 3. Season 4 has received a 100% score based on 10 reviews with an average rating of 9.20/10, the website's critics consensus reads, "The Force is with these Rebels in a thrilling conclusion that plays to its characters' strengths while serving up plenty of galactic spectacle." On Metacritic, the first season has a weighted average score of 78 out of 100 based on 4 critics, indicating "generally favorable reviews".
IGN and Variety in particular had strong praise for the pilot film, Spark of Rebellion, with their only criticism being the appearance of the Wookiees in the film, being cited as not all that impressive compared to the rest of the animation.SyFy Wire calls the series "Pure fun", further stating that it "captures the awe and joy of A New Hope" and is "thematically ambitious" with a "dramatic edge". Emily Ashby of Common Sense Media called the series "exciting" with cartoon violence and "positive messages." Ashby also argued that the series has a "broad appeal for kids and adults" particularly those interested in Star Wars.
Chopper and the Ghost appear in the 2016 film Rogue One: A Star Wars Story. Hera's surname is called on a loudspeaker at the Rebel base on Yavin IV, where Chopper can briefly be seen. In addition, the Ghost takes part in the climactic battle over Scarif.
The Ghost also appears in the 2019 film Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker during the final battle over Exegol. The voice of Freddie Prinze Jr. as Kanan Jarrus can also be heard in the film as one of the voices of Jedi past who provide Rey with encouragement to defeat Emperor Palpatine.
In 2017, a new novel, entitled Thrawn, was released. The book marked the entrance of Grand Admiral Thrawn into the current canon. It was written by the character's original creator, Timothy Zahn.
A sequel to Thrawn, titled Thrawn: Alliances, was released on July 24, 2018. It explored Thrawn's partnerships with Darth Vader and Anakin Skywalker. Another Thrawn novel, Thrawn: Treason was released on July 23, 2019. It takes place during the events of Star Wars Rebels' fourth season.
Hera Syndulla would go on to appear in Alexander Freed's Star Wars: Alphabet Squadron novel trilogy, as a general of the recently christened New Republic's eponymous starfighter squadron in the final days of the Galactic Civil War, hunting down the weakened Imperial forces after the battle of Endor and the death of Emperor Palpatine.
From April 1, 2015, through March 16, 2016, Marvel Comics published a 12-issue comic series, titled Kanan, and set during the events of the first season. Written by former executive producer of the series Greg Weisman and illustrated by Pepe Larraz, Jacopo Camagni and Andrea Broccardo, the story is centered on Kanan having flashbacks to his days as a Padawan in the Jedi Temple and the Clone Wars. The other members of the Ghost crew also appear.
In the summer of 2017, Marvel announced that a comic book miniseries adaptation of Zahn's Thrawn novel was being planned, scheduled to be released in early 2018. The first issue was released on February 14, 2018, with new issues being released over the following five months.
A few days after the series finale was aired, IDW Publishing released the seventh issue of the long-running Star Wars Adventures multi-era comic book series, which contained the first of a two-part comic arc, set between the second and third season, in which the Spectres embark on a mission to save a rare endangered bird from Imperial custody. The second part appeared in the next issue, which was released on March 28, 2018.
Characters in Star Wars Rebels have taken influence from Biblical, Hebrew, and Greco-Roman mythological names. Star Wars writers have often used biblical names for Jedi while giving galactic Imperial characters Roman names. In 2015 an interview was conducted with Dave Filoni and Simon Kinberg where Kinsberg stated that they wanted to connect to the original films by using the biblical naming scheme seen in the films. Both Caleb and Ezra are historically Hebrew names, with Ezra translating to "helper". Characters with Roman names include Clone Captain Rex which translates to "King" in Latin (although that character was created for The Clone Wars) along with Sabine Wren, Admiral Brom Titus and Admiral Kassius Konstantine.