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How to watch the Star Wars movies in order

A complete guide to watching the Star Wars movies in order

Star Wars
(Image: © Disney/LucasFilm)

Should you start with A New Hope or The Phantom Menace? 

How to watch the Star Wars movies in order depends largely on when you had your first encounter with George Lucas's galaxy far, far away. If you grew up watching the Original Trilogy, chances are you still think of Episode 4 as Star Wars (as it was originally named), and see that as the first instalment of the story.

Younger viewers, however, will probably argue that the only way to watch the Star Wars movies in order is to work though them in chronological order. That means starting off with Episodes 1-3 – aka The Phantom Menace, Attack of the Clones and Revenge of the Sith – and allowing the 11 Star Wars movies to date to play out in sequence. 

These days, of course, Star Wars stretches way beyond the movies. In addition to the nine Episodes of the Skywalker Saga, there are two standalone films (Rogue One: A Star Wars Story and Solo: A Star Wars Story), and numerous TV shows. We've already seen The Mandalorian, The Clone Wars, Star Wars Rebels, Star Wars Resistance and The Bad Batch – and they're just the tip of a Hoth-sized iceberg, with many more (including Obi-Wan Kenobi, The Book of Boba Fett, Ahsoka and Andor) heading in the direction of planet Earth.

But with enough canonical Star Wars content on Disney Plus to fill a star cruiser – along with more obscure non-canon entries from the back catalogue such as the 1980s Ewoks cartoon, and ‘The Story of the Faithful Wookiee’ from the infamous Star Wars Holiday Special – it’s never been more straightforward to watch the Star Wars movies in order.

In this in-depth guide we explain how the numerous TV shows and movies link in with canon – as well as giving you several viewing order options.

So buckle up – watching the Star Wars movies in order ain't like dusting crops.

Star Wars movies in chronological order

Star Wars

C-3PO and R2-D2 appear in 10 of the 11 live-action Star Wars movies. (Image credit: © LucasFilm 2020)

A long time ago, it was easy to know how to watch the Star Wars movies in chronological order – until 1999, all of the movies fit into the timeline of a galaxy far, far away in the order they landed in theaters. Then the Prequel Trilogy made things more complicated, when it went back in time to tell the story of Anakin Skywalker before he became Darth Vader. These days, the first Star Wars movie ever released (A New Hope) is the fourth movie in the Skywalker Saga, while the fourth movie to hit cinemas (The Phantom Menace) comes first in chronological order. Got all that?

You'll find every live-action Star Wars movie to date in the list below – all nine Episodes of the Skywalker Saga, and the two standalone spin-offs, Solo: A Star Wars Story and Rogue One: A Star Wars Story. (The Skywalker Saga is the term Lucasfilm uses to describe Episodes I-IX, in which Anakin Skywalker and his descendants have considerable influence over the galaxy.) 

You'll only find live-action Star Wars movies on this list, and we've used A New Hope as an anchor point in the timeline, which tends to be how the timeline is measured officially in the fictional universe – in-universe dates are traditionally listed relative to the Battle of Yavin, the assault on the Death Star that closes A New Hope.

If you'd like a Star Wars viewing order with the canon TV shows thrown in, including The Mandalorian, we've got that, too: you'll find our Star Wars Ultimate Order list further down this page. For now, however, the movies will make a fun binge on a rainy weekend – especially as they're easily viewable on Disney Plus.

Here's how to watch the Star Wars movies in chronological order:

  • Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace (set 32 years before A New Hope)
  • Star Wars Episode II: Attack of the Clones (22 years before)
  • Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith (19 years before)
  • Solo: A Star Wars Story (about a decade before)
  • Rogue One: A Star Wars Story (ends moments before A New Hope begins)
  • Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope 
  • Star Wars Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back (three years after A New Hope)
  • Star Wars Episode VI: Return of the Jedi (four years after)
  • Star Wars Episode VII: The Force Awakens (34 years after)
  • Star Wars Episode VIII: The Last Jedi (34 years after A New Hope, in the immediate aftermath of The Force Awakens)
  • Star Wars Episode IX: The Rise of Skywalker (35 years after A New Hope)

Star Wars movies in release order

Liam Neeson as Qui-Gon Jinn in The Phantom Menace – the first or the fourth Star Wars movie, depending on your point of view. (Image credit: © LucasFilm 2021)

Watching the Star Wars movies in release order isn't necessarily the optimal way to follow the story of the saga – though, for anyone who's yet to watch the Original Trilogy, the big reveals (you know the ones we mean, Luke...) do work best if you're not familiar with the events of the Prequel Trilogy.

Either way, this list might be handy to know as you assemble your own personal chronology with Star Wars. Here's how to watch the Star Wars movies in release order, going back a remarkable 44 years to A New Hope in 1977.

(Although it had a theatrical release in 2008, we're not including The Clone Wars movie here, as it was effectively just a feature-length pilot episode with delusions of grandeur. As such, it doesn't really work in isolation from the subsequent long-running CG-animated TV show.)

  • Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope (1977)
  • Star Wars Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back (1980)
  • Star Wars Episode VI: Return of the Jedi (1983)
  • Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace (1999)
  • Star Wars Episode II: Attack of the Clones (2002)
  • Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith (2005)
  • Star Wars Episode VII: The Force Awakens (2015)
  • Rogue One: A Star Wars Story (2016)
  • Star Wars Episode VIII: The Last Jedi (2017)
  • Solo: A Star Wars Story (2018)
  • Star Wars Episode IX: The Rise of Skywalker (2019)

The ultimate Star Wars viewing order, including TV shows

The official Star Wars timeline, from Disney Plus, accurate as of The Mandalorian season 2. (Image credit: Disney Plus)

Star Wars isn't just about the movies. In fact, the so-called Expanded Universe has been growing ever since Alan Dean Foster wrote the first Star Wars spin-off novel, Splinter of the Mind's Eye, in 1978. Over the subsequent decades, Lucasfilm produced books, comics and cartoons such as Ewoks, Droids and Genndy Tartakovsky’s 2D-animated Clone Wars series, to add to what we'd seen on the big screen.

When Disney acquired Lucasfilm and the Star Wars rights from George Lucas in 2012, however, it reset the Expanded Universe continuity. This old Expanded Universe material was rebranded under the ‘Legends’ banner, with only the Prequel Trilogy, Original Trilogy and The Clone Wars CG-animated series remaining part of official canon. 

Disney has added significantly to that canon since, with most new books, games, comics and TV series (such as Rebels, Resistance and The Mandalorian) existing in the same official continuity as the Star Wars movies. This list below doesn't feature everything, but it'll certainly keep you busy – it's pretty much every existing movie and TV show collated into one canonical order. 

We've included upcoming Disney Plus Star Wars shows like Obi-Wan Kenobi, The Book of Boba Fett, Ahsoka and Andor for reference (highlighted in italics below), though at this stage, their exact position in the timeline is TBC.

  • Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace (movie) (set 32 years before A New Hope)
  • Star Wars Episode II: Attack of the Clones (movie)  (set 22 years before A New Hope)
  • The Clone Wars CG-animated movie (represents the start of the animated series)
  • The Clone Wars CG-animated series (TV) (begins 22 years before A New Hope, ends 19 years before)
  • Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith (movie) (set 19 years before A New Hope)
  • Star Wars: The Bad Batch animated series (TV) (set immediately after The Clone Wars have ended)
  • Solo: A Star Wars Story (movie) (set about a decade before A New Hope)
  • Obi-Wan Kenobi (TV) (TBC, but set in a similar time period to Solo: A Star Wars Story)
  • Star Wars: Rebels animated series (TV) (set five years before A New Hope, with an epilogue set in the wake of Return of the Jedi)
  • Andor (TV) (TBC, but set in the same time period as Star Wars: Rebels)
  • Rogue One: A Star Wars Story (movie) (ends moments before A New Hope starts)
  • Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope (movie)
  • Star Wars Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back (movie) (set three years after A New Hope)
  • Star Wars Episode VI: Return of the Jedi (movie) (set four years after A New Hope)
  • The Mandalorian (TV) (set around nine years after A New Hope)
  • The Book of Boba Fett (TV) (TBC, but likely to be set immediately after The Mandalorian season 2 – with flashbacks to Boba Fett's earlier days)
  • Ahsoka (TV) (TBC, but likely to be set after Ahsoka Tano's meeting with Mando and Grogu in The Mandalorian season 2 – probably running in parallel with The Book of Boba Fett)
  • Star Wars: Resistance animated series (TV) (set around 34 years after A New Hope)
  • Star Wars Episode VII: The Force Awakens (movie) (set 34 years after A New Hope)
  • Star Wars Episode VIII: The Last Jedi (movie) (set 34 years after A New Hope)
  • Star Wars Episode IX: The Rise of Skywalker (movie) (set 35 years after A New Hope)

The Bad Batch

The Bad Batch takes place in the immediate aftermath of Revenge of the Sith – essentially Episode 3.1.  (Image credit: Lucasfilm/Disney)

The existing Star Wars TV shows fill important gaps in the saga's canon. The Clone Wars slots in between Attack of the Clones and Revenge of the Sith, detailing the conflict between the Republic and the Separatists prior to Anakin Skywalker's fall from grace. 

Spin-off series The Bad Batch is set in the aftermath of Revenge of the Sith, as the galaxy comes to terms with the rise of the Empire – if you've ever wondered why Clone Troopers became Stormtroopers, this is the show for you.

Star Wars: Rebels works as a prequel series to A New Hope, telling the story of the early days of the Rebel Alliance, while Star Wars: Resistance plays a similar function leading into the events of The Force Awakens.

The first live-action TV series, The Mandalorian, is set about five years after Return of the Jedi, in a lawless, post-Empire galaxy.

A common thread linking The Clone Wars, Rebels and The Mandalorian is Ahsoka Tano, Anakin Skywalker's former Jedi apprentice – and a key figure in the formation of the Rebel Alliance. She's arguably the most important Star Wars character never to have appeared in one of the Skywalker Saga movies. 

In terms of how future Star Wars shows will fit into this viewing order, Star Wars: Obi-Wan Kenobi is set 10 years after Revenge of the Sith – so, reasonably close to the timeframe of Solo. 

Meanwhile, Andor – a spin-off from Rogue One, centered on Rebel operative Cassian Andor – is set five years before that film, meaning it's pretty close to the era of Rebels. Perhaps we'll even see some characters crossing over between the shows?

A spin-off focused on the galaxy’s favorite scoundrel, Lando Calrissian, is also in the works, but it's unclear exactly when that's going to be set. Our guess is it'll be connected to the Solo movie in some way – before Lando took control of Cloud City – but we can't be sure right now. We're not even sure if Donald Glover is reprising his role as the young Lando.

We expect The Mandalorian spin-offs Ahsoka and The Book of Boba Fett to be set in a similar period to the parent show. (Another proposed Mando spin-off announced in late 2020, Rangers of the New Republic, is now apparently on hold.)

The Acolyte will be set in the High Republic era, a couple of centuries before The Phantom Menace – while this period in galactic history has featured in several novels and comics, The Acolyte will mark its first appearance on screen.

Anime series Star Wars Visions (which debuted in September 2021) isn't part of official canon – each of the animation studios involved was given the freedom to tell their own story, outside the constraints of existing continuity.

The Mandalorian adds to the Star Wars saga's post-Return of the Jedi mythology.

(Image credit: Disney)

Star Wars: The Machete Order explained

The Machete Order is a well-known viewing order created by Rod Hilton in 2011. It's a way of watching the Star Wars movies without The Phantom Menace, essentially, and shifts how the story is told. It focuses entirely on Luke Skywalker's story, with the idea being that it preserves The Empire Strikes Back's big Darth Vader-shaped twist. Missing Episode I is no bad thing, right?

The Machete Order starts with A New Hope, moves on to The Empire Strikes Back, then the first two prequels are watched as a flashback to Anakin's story, before returning to the final battle in Return of the Jedi. It's definitely more of an acquired taste than the other Star Wars lists here, but it's worth a look.

  • Episode IV: A New Hope
  • Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back
  • Episode II: Attack of the Clones
  • Episode III: Revenge of the Sith
  • Episode VI: Return of the Jedi

To continue the Machete Order from there, watch the sequel saga, too:

  • Episode VII: The Force Awakens
  • Episode VIII: The Last Jedi
  • Episode IX: The Rise of Skywalker

Star Wars movies in order

Chewie and Han Solo come home in The Force Awakens. (Image credit: © LucasFilm 2021)

What's the best Star Wars order?

While there's a strong argument for watching the Original Trilogy followed by Prequel Trilogy to preserve those aforementioned big reveals – especially for anyone who grew up on the original movies – chronological viewing is the best, and most logical, Star Wars viewing order for most people. For one thing, it doesn't take as long to watch as the Ultimate Order, which requires an enormous time commitment that'll be rather too much for more casual viewers. 

Eleven movies is enough for a solid Star Wars marathon, and the two spin-offs, Rogue One and Solo, add texture to the universe that you won't necessarily get from the main Star Wars movies. Then, if you've got the time, adding the TV shows allows for an even deeper dive into the mythology of that galaxy far, far away.

Star Wars movies on Disney Plus

Disney Plus now has every Star Wars movie available to stream, including The Rise of Skywalker and Solo. These are the Star Wars movies currently available on Disney Plus:

  • Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace 
  • Star Wars Episode II: Attack of the Clones 
  • Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith
  • Solo: A Star Wars Story 
  • Rogue One: A Star Wars Story
  • Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope 
  • Star Wars Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back 
  • Star Wars Episode VI: Return of the Jedi 
  • Star Wars Episode VII: The Force Awakens 
  • Star Wars Episode VIII: The Last Jedi
  • Star Wars Episode IX: The Rise of Skywalker 

Note that this only applies to Disney Plus in the US, UK and Australia, and that the selection might vary where you are. 

If you're wondering what other Star Wars shows and various bits of content are on Disney Plus, here's a list of other stuff you can watch on the streamer that's connected to the saga – whether it's a Lego adventure (such as the new Halloween-themed Terrifying Tales), or a behind-the-scenes documentary about the making of The Mandalorian.

Live action:

  • The Mandalorian (CANON)
  • Caravan of Courage: An Ewok Adventure
  • Ewoks: The Battle For Endor

2D animation: 

  • The Story of the Faithful Wookiee (originally released as part of 1978’s Star Wars Holiday Special)
  • Ewoks
  • Droids 
  • Clone Wars
  • Star Wars: Forces of Destiny
  • Star Wars Visions 

Star Wars: Visions episode 'The Elder'

Star Wars Visions is that galaxy far, far away as you've never seen it before. (Image credit: Lucasfilm/Disney)

3D animation: 

  • Star Wars: The Clone Wars (CANON)
  • Star Wars: The Bad Batch (CANON)
  • Star Wars: Rebels (CANON)
  • Star Wars: Resistance (CANON)
  • The Lego Star Wars Holiday Special
  • Lego Star Wars: Terrifying Tales
  • Lego Star Wars: The Freemaker Adventures
  • Various other Lego animations

Behind the scenes:

  • Disney Gallery: The Mandalorian
  • Empire of Dreams: The Making of the Star Wars Trilogy
  • Star Wars: Vehicle Flythroughs
  • Star Wars Biomes

The best Star Wars movies, ranked

Rey and Kylo Ren versus Snoke's guards in The Last Jedi.

Rey and Kylo Ren take on Snoke's guards in The Last Jedi. (Image credit: Lucasfilm)

Want to see the Star Wars movies ranked? Below, we've done just that, based on IMDb user scores. We don't think all of the calls below make sense, but that's the price of a public vote – surely no movie featuring the word 'Younglings' (aka Revenge of the Sith) is better than The Last Jedi... 

The Rise of Skywalker score has pretty much come to rest at 6.5, which seems about right.