‘The Clone Wars’ Was a ‘Test Run’ For George Lucas’ Live-Action Coruscant ‘Star Wars Underworld’ Series that Didn’t Happen

Star Wars hype has never gone away, but it’s been particularly feverish lately. With The Rise of Skywalker and The Mandalorian leading the discourse, the need for more Star Wars is prevalent. Several spin-offs are in the works, and there are so many others that can fit into the franchise as well. And within the mix of all of this, footage leaked in January showed what could have been with a live-action series all the way back in 2009. It, of course, never took off, but it’s also connected to The Clone Wars series more than you might think. 

George Lucas speaks at Star Wars Celebration on April 13, 2017.
George Lucas speaks at Star Wars Celebration on April 13, 2017 | Gustavo Caballero/Getty Images

Unseen footage from a test-run for the ‘Star Wars: Underworld’ series created a buzz among fans

On Jan. 30, a nearly 10-minute video showed up on YouTube that claimed to be leaked footage from a live-action show called Star Wars Underworld. It did end up being leaked test footage from Stargate Studios, a visual effect company, according to io9. The footage had actually existed on the studio’s Vimeo account for nine years, up until this “leak” on YouTube. Now, they’ve deleted the video from that site. 

The footage shows a spy plotting against the Empire, as this was supposedly taking place after Revenge of the Sith. It was “proof of concept” which explains why it might have looked like a fan-made film or low-budget series to some. 

Io9 reports that George Lucas worked on the show from 2005 until around 2012 and had 50 scripts. But in an interview with G4’s Attack of the Show in 2011, Lucas said “It sits on the shelf” with 50 hours of footage already. “We are looking for a different technology that we can use, that will make it economically feasible to shoot the show,” he said. “Right now, it looks like the Star Wars features. But we have to figure out how to make it at about a tenth of the cost of the features, because its television.”

Back in 2008, Lucas was planning to use ‘The Clone Wars’ as a ‘test run’ for ‘Star Wars Underworld’

But, while Lucas worked on Star Wars Underworld, he was also creating The Clone Wars with Dave Filoni. The feature film premiered in 2008, and the series went on to run for six seasons from 2008 — 2013. And as Lucas said in a press event for the series in 2008, it was really a trial run for Star Wars Underworld

“This series is a test run for the live-action series I’m working on,” Lucas said, according to io9. “I’m trying to take Star Wars, which was a $50-million-an-hour adventure, and do it for $2 million an hour. It’s hard to do that and have them look the same.” He also revealed that the show would focus more “about the entertainment industry.” The test footage’s tone, which is dark and “gritty,” was also on purpose. 

One Reddit user commented on how similar the two series would have been, which makes Star Wars Underworld an interesting concept. “Wtf, I want this now,” they wrote. “This sh*t sounds like a live-action Clone Wars set in the rebel era. I hope ideas and concepts of this gets revitalized and recycled in the future.” As io9 pointed out with the recent “leak,” spending millions per episode on “genre” series wasn’t a thing back then, but is now after the success of Game of Thrones and The Walking Dead, and the several Marvel and Star Wars Disney+ shows.

‘The Clone Wars’ went on to become highly successful, but ‘Star Wars Underworld’ didn’t happen

As the Reddit user pointed out, The Clone Wars deepened viewers’ knowledge of the underworld of Coruscant. The characters’ home base was on the planet, with the Jedi temple and Senate there. It also showed places like 79’s bar where the Clones hung out often and the underworld of the city, especially in Ahsoka’s final arc. 

That might be the closest we ever got to a Star Wars Underworld series because Ahsoka’s escape from the Republic and the Jedi brought her into the seedy underbelly of the planet, which is what’s shown in the footage. Not to mention, the final season of The Clone Wars will continue to show more of that part of the planet too. Between the crime, spies, bounty hunters, and more, it really could be a cool concept to focus a future series on. 

Despite Lucas’ live-action series not working out, that wasn’t a loss for the Coruscant-heavy series. These ideas were incorporated into The Clone Wars, which went on to become very successful. It had one of the biggest debuts on Cartoon Network, ever, and was a top show on the channel. So even though there’s a lot of “what could have been,” fans can all agree that The Clone Wars filled a void in Star Wars better than anything could.