Knowing how to watch the Star Wars movies in order has become a challenge to rival navigating the Kessel Run in 12 parsecs. Until 2015, all you had to do to keep up with the Skywalkers, Solos and Palpatines was work your way through the movies of the Original Trilogy and the Prequel Trilogy, and – if you were a completist – the animated The Clone Wars TV show. Things are no longer quite so simple...
Since Disney bought Lucasfilm in 2012, there’s been an explosion of content from a galaxy far, far away, meaning that following all the action has become an increasingly complex business. To help you in your quest, this guide explains how to watch the Star Wars movies in order, from 1977’s A New Hope to 2019’s The Rise of Skywalker – taking in the numerous Disney Plus TV shows (such as The Mandalorian, Andor and Ahsoka) along the way.
As well as providing details on how to watch the Star Wars movies in order (whether you prefer to go by release date or in-canon chronology), we rank the films by IMDb user rating, and explain how new Star Wars TV shows and movies such as Skeleton Crew and The Acolyte will fit into the wider universe.
How to watch Star Wars movies in chronological order
A long time ago, it was easy to know how to watch the Star Wars movies in 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, by going back in time to tell the story of Anakin Skywalker before he turned to the Dark Side and became Darth Vader. These days, the first Star Wars movie ever released (A New Hope) is actually the fourth movie in the Skywalker Saga. The Skywalker Saga is the term Lucasfilm uses to describe Episodes I-IX, in which Anakin Skywalker and his descendants have a surprising amount of influence over the fate of an entire galaxy.
Meanwhile, the fourth movie to hit cinemas (The Phantom Menace) comes first in chronological order. And when you add the standalone Solo: A Star Wars Story and Rogue One: A Star Wars Story to the list, A New Hope actually becomes the sixth movie in the overall chronology – in other words, it quickly becomes obvious that navigating the timeline ain't quite as simple as dusting crops.
You'll find every live-action Star Wars movie to date in the list below – the Prequel Trilogy, the Original Trilogy and the Sequel Trilogy that launched in 2015 with The Force Awakens, as well as Solo: A Star Wars Story and Rogue One: A Star Wars Story.
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 defined relative to the Battle of Yavin, the famous assault on the Death Star that brings A New Hope to a spectacular close.
You'll only find live-action Star Wars movies on this list, which is why you can't see the 2008 The Clone Wars movie – while it got a theatrical release, it was effectively a TV pilot with delusions of grandeur. As such, it doesn't really work in isolation from the long-running CG-animated TV show that followed.
If you'd like a Star Wars viewing order with the canonical TV shows thrown in, including The Mandalorian (season 3 aired earlier in 2023), Ahsoka and Andor 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, one of the best streaming services.
Here's how to watch the Star Wars movies in canonical 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 A New Hope)
- Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith (19 years before A New Hope)
Standalone "Star Wars Stories":
- Solo: A Star Wars Story (about a decade before A New Hope)
- 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 A New Hope)
- Star Wars Episode VII: The Force Awakens (34 years after A New Hope)
- 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)
How to watch Star Wars movies in release order
Watching the Star Wars movies in release date 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.
Here's how to watch the Star Wars movies in release order, going back a remarkable 46 years to A New Hope in 1977.
- 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 Star Wars movies Machete Order explained
The Machete Order is a well-known viewing sequence for Star Wars movies created by Rod Hilton in 2011. It's a way of watching the films that ignores the much maligned The Phantom Menace – although George Lucas's prequels have been somewhat rehabilitated in recent years, the theory went that missing out on Episode I was a significant improvement on the overall story.
The Machete Cut changes how the saga is told to focus entirely on Luke Skywalker's character arc, with the idea being that it preserves The Empire Strikes Back's big Darth Vader-shaped twist.
The Machete Order starts with A New Hope, moves on to The Empire Strikes Back, then the second and third prequels – Attack of the Clones and Revenge of the Sith – 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
The ultimate Star Wars viewing order, including canonical TV shows
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 original 2D-animated Clone Wars series (the forerunner of the CG-animated show) 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 the official canon.
Disney has added significantly to that continuity since, with most new books, games, comics and TV series (such as Rebels, Resistance, The Mandalorian, Obi-Wan Kenobi, Andor and The Bad Batch) existing in the same official canon as the Star Wars movies.
The 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 also included upcoming TV shows Skeleton Crew and The Acolyte – both currently in production/post-production – though at this stage, their exact position in the Star Wars timeline is TBC.
- The Acolyte (TV) IN PRODUCTION (set around 130 years before A New Hope)
- Tales of the Jedi (TV) (the first of these standalone stories takes place a few years before The Phantom Menace, the last – to date – is set a few years after Revenge of the Sith)
- 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 (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 Revenge of the Sith)
- Solo: A Star Wars Story (movie) (set about a decade before A New Hope)
- Obi-Wan Kenobi (TV) (set in a similar time period to Solo: A Star Wars Story)
- Star Wars Rebels animated series (TV) (starts around five years before A New Hope, with an epilogue set in the aftermath of Return of the Jedi)
- Andor (TV) (set in a similar time period to Star Wars Rebels in the lead up to A New Hope. Andor season 2 will lead directly into Rogue One.)
- 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) (set immediately after The Mandalorian season 2)
- Ahsoka (TV) (set after Ahsoka Tano's cameo appearance in episode 6 of The Book of Boba Fett, running in parallel with The Mandalorian season 3)
- Skeleton Crew (TV) IN PRODUCTION (TBC, but likely to be set in a similar time zone to The Mandalorian, The Book of Boba Fett and Ahsoka)
- 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)
Here's how the various TV series available on Disney Plus fit together if you're watching Star Wars in order.
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 infamous fall from grace.
Tales of the Jedi is a companion piece to The Clone Wars, an anthology series of standalone stories focusing on Count Dooku and Ahsoka Tano. Season 1 covers more than a decade in the Star Wars timeline – the first of the six episodes shows Ahsoka as an infant (before the events of The Phantom Menace), while the last shows her in hiding after the Emperor ordered the execution of the Jedi in Revenge of the Sith. A second season is in production.
The Clone Wars 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 how and why Clone Troopers became Stormtroopers, this is the show for you.
Obi-Wan Kenobi picks up the story of the eponymous Jedi Master a decade or so after he relocated to Tatooine to keep a watchful eye over Luke Skywalker. It's set in a similar timeframe to Solo: A Star Wars Story.
Star Wars: Rebels functions as a prequel series to A New Hope, telling the story of the formation of the Rebel Alliance. Despite having a very different tone to the animated show, Rogue One spin-off Andor is set in a very similar time period, kicking off around five years before central character Cassian Andor helped steal those infamous Death Star plans. The upcoming second season (due in 2024) will lead directly into the events of Rogue One.
The first live-action Star Wars TV series to land on Disney Plus, The Mandalorian, is set about five years after Return of the Jedi, in a lawless, post-Empire Outer Rim. Spin-off show The Book of Boba Fett is set immediately after the events of The Mandalorian season 2. According to Vanity Fair, Jude Law-starring coming-of-age story Skeleton Crew will be set in a similar post-Return of the Jedi time period.
A common thread linking The Clone Wars, Rebels, The Mandalorian and The Book of Boba Fett 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, and her TV show, Ahsoka, sees her reuniting with Sabine Wren, Hera Syndulla and other key figures from Rebels. Star Natasha Liu Bordizzo (who plays Sabine) told SFX magazine (via GamesRadar) that "Ahsoka runs along the same timeline as The Mandalorian season 3".
Another proposed Mando spin-off announced in late 2020, Rangers of the New Republic, is now apparently on permanent hold.
Fast-forwarding to a later point in the timeline of that galaxy far, far away, Star Wars: Resistance is to The Force Awakens as Rebels is to A New Hope, an animated series setting the scene for the events of the sequel movie trilogy.
Meanwhile, upcoming TV show The Acolyte (created by Russian Doll's Leslye Headland) will go back in time, shifting Star Wars away from its usual Skywalker era comfort zone. The series will be set in the High Republic era, more than a century before The Phantom Menace. Although this period in galactic history has featured in numerous novels and comics, The Acolyte will mark its first appearance on screen.
The two seasons of animated anthology show Star Wars Visions (the first of which debuted in September 2021) aren't part of official canon, as each of the animation studios involved was given the freedom to tell their own story, outside the constraints of existing continuity. Younger fans can also enjoy Young Jedi Adventures, although – despite the appearance of Yoda – the series isn't part of official Star Wars continuity.
New Star Wars movies
Although Lucasfilm has been concentrating on making Star Wars TV output for Disney Plus in recent years, it hasn't lost interest in the big screen. At Star Wars Celebration in April 2023, three new movies were announced: an origin tale for the Jedi, set millennia before the Star Wars timeline we know and directed by Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny helmer James Mangold; the first Star Wars story to be set after the events of The Rise of Skywalker, focussed on Rey's efforts to found a new Jedi academy, and marshalled by Ms Marvel's Sharmeen Obaid-Chinoy; and a climactic event movie that'll wrap up the storylines of The Mandalorian, The Book of Boba Fett, Ahsoka and (we think) Skeleton Crew, directed by Ahsoka creator/showrunner Dave Filoni.
A spin-off Disney Plus movie focussed on 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, and set before Lando took control of Cloud City. Star Donald Glover is set to return as the galaxy's favorite scoundrel, as well as writing the Lando movie with his brother, Stephen.
And Thor: Ragnarok / Love and Thunder director (and voice of IG-11 in The Mandalorian) Taika Waititi confirmed in November 2023 that his Star Wars movie is still in the works – and that it's likely to be a departure from other movies in the franchise. “It will be … dramatic pause… a Taika Waititi film,” he told Variety on the red carpet for his latest movie, Next Goal Wins. “It's gonna p**s people off.”
Find out more in our guide to new Star Wars TV shows and movies.
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 from the Skywalker Saga – Rogue One (which, one of our writers argues, is the best Star Wars movie) and Solo – add texture to the universe that you won't necessarily get from Episodes I-IX alone. Then, if you've got the time, adding the TV shows allows for an even deeper dive into the mythology of George Lucas's galaxy.
Star Wars movies on Disney Plus
Disney Plus now has every canonical Star Wars movie available to stream, including The Rise of Skywalker and Solo. These are the Star Wars movies currently available on Disney Plus, listed in chronological order:
- 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.
Beyond the movies: TV shows and other Star Wars content on Disney Plus
If you're wondering what additional Star Wars shows and bits of content are available on Disney Plus, here's a list of the other stuff you can watch – whether it's the kid-friendly Young Jedi Adventures, Lucasfilm's 2022 Grogu-themed team-up with Studio Ghibli, or behind-the-scenes documentaries about the making of The Mandalorian and Obi-Wan Kenobi.
To make it easier to work out what's essential and what's not, we've highlighted where releases are part of official canon
- The Mandalorian (CANON)
- The Book of Boba Fett (CANON)
- Obi-Wan Kenobi (CANON)
- Andor (CANON)
- Ahsoka (CANON)
- Caravan of Courage: An Ewok Adventure
- Ewoks: The Battle For Endor
- The Story of the Faithful Wookiee (originally released as part of 1978’s Star Wars Holiday Special)
- Clone Wars
- Star Wars: Forces of Destiny
- Star Wars Visions (NB: some episodes are in CG or stop-motion animation)
- Zen: Grogu and Dust Bunnies
- Star Wars: The Clone Wars movie (CANON)
- Star Wars: The Clone Wars TV series (CANON)
- Star Wars: Tales of the Jedi (CANON)
- Star Wars: The Bad Batch (CANON)
- Star Wars: Rebels (CANON)
- Star Wars: Resistance (CANON)
- Young Jedi Adventures
- 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
- Disney Gallery: The Book of Boba Fett
- Obi-Wan Kenobi: A Jedi's Return
- Master & Apprentice: A Special Look at Ahsoka
- Under the Helmet: The Legacy of Boba Fett
- Empire of Dreams: The Making of the Star Wars Trilogy
- Star Wars: Vehicle Flythroughs
- Star Wars Biomes
The best Star Wars movies, ranked
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 a whole lot of 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 unfairly maligned The Last Jedi. That said, it's impossible to argue with the top two, both bona fide classics.
- Star Wars Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back – 8.7
- Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope – 8.6
- Star Wars Episode VI: Return of the Jedi – 8.3
- Star Wars Episode VII: The Force Awakens – 7.8
- Rogue One: A Star Wars Story – 7.8
- Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith – 7.6
- Star Wars Episode VIII: The Last Jedi – 6.9
- Solo: A Star Wars Story – 6.9
- Star Wars Episode II: Attack of the Clones – 6.6
- Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace – 6.5
- Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker – 6.4
Sign up for Black Friday email alerts!
Get the hottest deals available in your inbox plus news, reviews, opinion, analysis and more from the TechRadar team.
Richard is a freelance journalist specialising in movies and TV, primarily of the sci-fi and fantasy variety. An early encounter with a certain galaxy far, far away started a lifelong love affair with outer space, and these days Richard's happiest geeking out about Star Wars, Star Trek, Marvel and other long-running pop culture franchises. In a previous life he was editor of legendary sci-fi magazine SFX, where he got to interview many of the biggest names in the business – though he'll always have a soft spot for Jeff Goldblum who (somewhat bizarrely) thought Richard's name was Winter.