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How to watch the Star Wars movies in order

A chronological guide to watching the Star Wars movies in order

Star Wars movies in order
(Image: © © LucasFilm 2021)

Want to watch the Star Wars movies in order? On this page, we'll explain how to watch the Star Wars movies in chronological and release order, breaking down the timeline in a way that's easy to understand. It's the perfect way to get yourself caught up before The Bad Batch releases in May and The Book of Boba Fett lands in December on Disney Plus

The Star Wars order is pretty simple to follow for the most part – there are nine main episodic movies in the Skywalker Saga, then two live-action spin-offs in Rogue One and Solo: A Star Wars Story. We'll break it down below, and we'll also explain how to watch the Star Wars movies in order alongside the canonical TV shows – like The Clone Wars, The Mandalorian and Rebels. 

Disney Plus is a good place to start for Star Wars movies. As well as hosting all the movies in 4K with Dolby Atmos, it features all the animated shows and even oddities like the Ewoks cartoon. 

Want to know what else is coming up in the world of Star Wars, besides the Boba Fett and Bad Batch shows? Lucasfilm is working on Obi-Wan Kenobi, Andor, Ahsoka, Rangers of the New Republic, The Acolyte, Star Wars: Visions, Rogue Squadron, The Mandalorian season 3 and A Droid Story. Watching the Star Wars films in order, then, will help you pass the time until all this stuff arrives.

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

Star Wars movies in chronological order

Luke Skywalker in Star Wars.

(Image credit: Lucasfilm)

Below, we'll break down the Star Wars movies in chronological order, and explain when the movies are set in the timeline. You'll find every Star Wars movie in this list, as well as the two live-action movie spin-offs, Solo: A Star Wars Story and Rogue One: A Star Wars Story, put into one simple order you can enjoy over a long weekend.

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 ANH)
  • 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)
  • Star Wars Episode IX: The Rise of Skywalker (35 years after)

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.

If you'd like a Star Wars 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. 

Star Wars movies in release order

Kylo Ren and Rey fighting in Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker.

(Image credit: Disney)

Watching the Star Wars movies in release order isn't really the best way to enjoy the story of the films, but this might reflect your own personal experiences of watching the movies and be worthwhile. Here's how to watch the Star Wars movies in release order, going back a terrifying 44 years to A New Hope.

  • 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, which is accurate as of The Mandalorian season 2. (Image credit: Disney Plus)

When Disney acquired Lucasfilm and the Star Wars rights, it reset the Expanded Universe continuity of other related media that had built up in the background. That meant only the Prequel Trilogy, Original Trilogy and The Clone Wars CG animated series remained canon. 

Disney has added significantly to the canon since, with books, games, comics and more existing in the same 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 movie and TV show collated into one canonical order. We'll add the newer Disney Plus Star Wars shows like Obi-Wan Kenobi, The Bad Batch and Cassian Andor to this list when they release. 

  • Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace (set 32 years before A New Hope)
  • Star Wars Episode II: Attack of the Clones (set 22 years before A New Hope)
  • The Clone Wars animated movie (represents the start of the animated series)
  • The Clone Wars animated series (begins 22 years before A New Hope, ends 19 years before)
  • Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith (set 19 years before A New Hope)
  • Solo: A Star Wars Story (set about a decade before A New Hope)
  • Star Wars: Rebels animated series (set five years before A New Hope, with an epilogue set much later)
  • Rogue One: A Star Wars Story (ends moments before A New Hope)
  • Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope 
  • Star Wars Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back (set three years after A New Hope)
  • Star Wars Episode VI: Return of the Jedi (set four years after A New Hope)
  • The Mandalorian (set around nine years after A New Hope)
  • Star Wars: Resistance animated series (set 34 years after A New Hope onwards)
  • Star Wars Episode VII: The Force Awakens (set 34 years after A New Hope)
  • Star Wars Episode VIII: The Last Jedi (set 34 years after A New Hope)
  • Star Wars Episode IX: The Rise of Skywalker (set 35 years after A New Hope)

This is probably the list you want if you're curious about the Jedi character Ahsoka Tano, after she appeared in last year's second season of The Mandalorian. Ahsoka becomes part of the story in the animated movie of The Clone Wars, and her story continues through The Clone Wars series and then Star Wars: Rebels – with The Mandalorian picking up her tale much later.

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

Meanwhile, Star Wars: Andor, a spin-off of Rogue One, is set five years before that film, meaning it's pretty close to the timeframe of Rebels.

We expect all three The Mandalorian spin-offs, Ahsoka, The Book of Boba Fett and Rangers of the New Republic, to be set before The Force Awakens. The Acolyte will be set in the High Republic era, years before The Phantom Menace. 

Star Wars: The Bad Batch, an animated spin-off of The Clone Wars beginning on this year's Star Wars Day on May 4, 2021, will be set after that show.

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 The theory is that it preserves The Empire Strikes Back's big twist. It also misses out what many consider to be a disappointing prequel instalment. 

The Machete Order starts with A New Hope, move on to The Empire Strikes Back, then the first two prequels are watched as a flashback to Anakin's story, before the final battle in Return of the Jedi.

  • 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

What's the best Star Wars order?

The chronological viewing is the best Star Wars viewing order for most people. For one, it doesn't take as long to watch as the ultimate order, which requires an enormous time commitment that'll be a little much for most viewers. 11 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. That's the Star Wars order we'd pick in 2021 – but if you've got the time, adding the TV shows will give you plenty to do until new Star Wars shows and movies land.

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 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
  • 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 
  • Rogue One: A Star Wars Story 
  • Star Wars Episode VIII: The Last Jedi
  • Star Wars Episode IX: Rise of Skywalker 
  • Solo: A Star Wars Story 

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

The best Star Wars movies, ranked

Rey and Kylo Ren versus Snoke's guards

(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 – your mileage may vary, but surely no movie featuring the word 'Younglings' is better than The Last Jedi or Solo. 

The Rise of Skywalker score has settled on a 6.6, which seems about right.