How to Watch the Star Wars Movies in Order

Star Wars

The all 3 Star Wars trilogies are ultimately coming to an end, with the opening of The Rise of Skywalker, so this is the perfect time to rewatch the whole series and perhaps introduce it to your children with this incredible saga.

There are some traditional ways to watch the saga. You can watch by the theatrical release of the movies or in chronological order. There’s also a “Machete Order”, which takes a knife to The Phantom Menace by cutting it out from your watching order.

There are pros and cons to all the various orders. While the chronological order might be a clear choice, some claim it’s not as fun, simply because you start with The Phantom Menace, which is probably our least favorite movie of the franchise. Watching chronologically also gives out some of the biggest twists in the series by early revealing the identity of Luke’s father, an iconic Star Wars scene.

Watching the movies by their theatrical release also have some uneasy moments. Sure, the “I am your father” surprise stays put, but the storyline gets all scrambled. You will jump between Episodes IV-VI (the original trilogy which was released between 1977 and 1983), then Episodes I-III (the prequel trilogy was released between 1999 and 2005), and eventually, Episodes VII-IX (the sequel trilogy which was released between 2015 and 2019).

There are no more new Anthology movies – Rogue One (2016) and Solo: A Star Wars Story (2018). The events take place between the original movies and prequels but were released during the sequel trilogy. You can see how all this immediately becomes a jumble, which is why we’re building the perfect order that resolves most of these problems.

 

Here is the best Star Wars watch order

We have a spoiler-free variant of this guide is at the bottom of the post, along with fast listings for the other orders – chronological, theatrical, and Machete, Rinster, and the whole saga – in case you want to examine those, as well.

star wars art

A New Hope (1977)

Technically this is the sixth movie, chronologically, A New Hope is a brilliant watch first purely because it’s the start of things. It’s also the only Star Wars movie that treats watchers as if they’ve never watched the saga before. So, start with Luke meeting Obi-Wan, acquiring a lightsaber, and knowing about the Force and Darth Vader before he heads off to rescue Princess Leia and kill the Death Star.

Rogue One

Rogue One (2016)

This is the first of the new “Anthology” movies, Rogue One is packed with A New Hope backstory. It follows the daughter of the Death Star’s creator, Jyn Erso, as she is rescued by the Rebel Alliance and given the job to find the plans that lead to the terminal weapon’s destruction. Yes, it ends where A New Hope starts, but because it’s so reliant on you understanding A New Hope already, we think it’s sufficient to watch them in reverse. You’ll learn who built the Death Star, why it’s so simply destroyed, and you’ll join the many Bothans who died to steal the Death Star build plans.

Darth Vader

The Empire Strikes Back (1980)

Empire Strikes Back is generally regarded as one of the most brilliant sequels of all time. After the first battle on the frozen planet Hoth, Luke went to start his Jedi training with Yoda, while Han Solo and Princess Leia went to Cloud City to meet with Han’s old friend Lando Calrissian. But Han and Leia both were betrayed and then used as bait by Vader to tempt Luke. It all ends in a showdown between Vader and Luke and all end with a biblical twist.

The Phantom Menace

The Phantom Menace (1999)

And, from here we venture from one of the most loved movies of all time to the most hated ones. This movie follows Obi-Wan Kenobi and his master Qui-Gon Jinn as they try to protect the Queen of Naboo and stumble upon a slave boy named Anakin Skywalker. The movies come with two hours of Jar-Jar Binks and making you fall asleep type Galactic Senate negotiations. So, if you watched this movie before, just let it go and don’t rewatch it. Although it does give out some details which were important to other prequel movies, and it has a very awesome lightsaber duel.

Attack of the Clones

Attack of the Clones (2002)

While the movies have shown Darth Vader as the most evil villain, Attack of the Clones starts to reveal us the road that led him to the Dark side, with the loss of his mother at the hands of Tuskan Raiders. We also see his developing love affair with Queen Padme Amidala. Meantime, Obi-Wan Kenobi falls upon a clone army being made for the Republic that will start the Empire’s Stormtroopers era.

Revenge of the Sith

Revenge of the Sith (2005)

This was the last film of the prequel trilogy shows Anakin’s heart turn to the dark side. While originally excited upon learning of his wife Padme’s pregnancy, visions of her dying start to poison Anakin’s mind, which provides Supreme Chancellor Palpatine to entice him to the Dark Side of the Force. This then heads to the loss of the Republic and the killings of most of the Jedis, including all the young Padawans, at the hand of the new evil sith lord named Darth Vader.

Solo: A Star Wars

Solo (2018)

Solo is actually an origin story for the greatest guy in the Star Wars Universe gives a tonne of additional backstory, so, really, you can skip this one. Apparently, Han Solo just wanted to be like Tobias Beckett (Woody Harrelson) and date Qi’ra (Emilia Clarke) in his prime, which is expected, but it’s really a crowd-pleaser movie. Still, it’s an interesting heist movie that gives us more knowledge about the most famous ship in the galaxy, the Millenium Falcon.

Princess Leia’s RETURN OF THE JEDI Slave Outfit

Return of the Jedi (1983)

Now you know everything about Darth Vader/Anakin’s background, it’s time to see him kind of redeem himself with all those powers in hand. Plus, after saving Han Solo from the grips of Jabba the Hutt, Luke trying to destroy his father and the Emperor, all while Han and Leia work to destroy a nearly finished second Death Star. Also, there are teddy bears with weird outdated technology that help dismantle the Empire, too.

MANDALORIAN

You can also watch: The Mandalorian (2019)

This is the first and the most awesome live-action Star Wars TV series. It started on Disney+. It follows Pedro Pascal as the main Mandalorian, a gun-fighter and bounty hunter, who makes his way in the most distant reaches of the galaxy five years after the events of Return of the Jedi, it all happened well before the events of The Force Awakens and the start of the First Order.

STAR WARS: THE FORCE AWAKENS

The Force Awakens (2015)

This is the start of the first Star Wars film made by Disney after it acquired the franchise is set 30 years after Return of the Jedi. We see that there’s a new dispute arising between the budding Republic, led by Leia Organa-Skywalker and The First Order, which stood from the ashes of the Empire. Trapped between this all is a girl named Rey who seems to be very strong with the Force.

STAR WARS: THE LAST JEDI

The Last Jedi (2017)

After hunting down Luke Skywalker, Rey’s next hurdle is persuading him to train her like him. Luke is unwilling due to his misadventures with Kylo Ren. Meanwhile, the surviving Republic forces are on the edge of total defeat thanks to The First Order, leaving Rey and Luke will be the last hope to save them.

STAR WARS THE RISE OF SKYWALKER

The Rise of Skywalker (2019)

The movie is just released and making waves on the internet. I haven’t seen The Rise of Skywalker yet so I can’t talk about it much, but the new trailer is now out – you can watch it here – It implies it’s the finale to this very old saga. So, you have to watch this movie at the end of this saga.


The perfect Star Wars order at a glance

Check out the at-a-glance, spoiler-free version of the order above:

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

The chronological order of Star Wars movies

If you want to watch movies in order of the events that happen in the franchise and thus ruin the identity of Luke’s father for first-timers, Check this out:

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

Sith Trooper

The theatrical by release date movie order

Check out the order in which the movies were released in cinemas. While it keeps the twist of Luke’s father whole, the storyline is all mixed up and it will confuse and give you spoilers. You start with the originals, then go to the prequels, and then it will end up with the sequels. That’s difficult, especially for children who are being introduced to Star Wars.

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

And here is the famous Machete order

The “Machete Order” is actually removed The Phantom Menace from your movie rewatch history because many people don’t like this particular movie. It preserves the “I am your father” moment for the fans. But it was made in 2011, so it doesn’t come with the sequels and is no longer a whole order of movies.

  • Episode IV: A New Hope (1977)
  • Episode V: Empire Strikes Back (1980)
  • Episode II: Attack of the Clones (2002)
  • Episode III: Revenge of the Sith (2005)
  • Episode VI: Return of the Jedi (1983)

The Rinster order

This is a bonus list we haven’t mentioned yet: The “Rinster Order” is called after Star Wars superfan Ernest Rinster, who designed it to protect the Luke-father twist, but it also keeps The Phantom Menace. There are no sequel movies, though, so we still fancy our order.

  • Episode IV: A New Hope (1977)
  • Episode V: Empire Strikes Back (1980)
  • Episode I: The Phantom Menace (1999)
  • Episode II: Attack of the Clones (2002)
  • Episode III: Revenge of the Sith (2005)
  • Episode VI: Return of the Jedi (1983)

The whole Star Wars saga in order

Here is an all-surrounding order — with all the movies and shows from the Star Wars world in the chronological order. The saga started in 1977, and after that, there have been new trilogies scored as well as many spinoffs in the form of live-action and animated TV shows and movies. Not all of them are magnificent, but if you want to take in all bit of Star Wars, this is the chronological sequence for you.

Star Wars series and limited specials are listed below.

  • Episode I: The Phantom Menace (1999)
  • Episode II: Attack of the Clones (2002)
  • Lego Star Wars: The Yoda Chronicles
  • Lego Star Wars: The Padawan Menace (2011)
  • The Clone Wars (2008 to 2014)
  • Episode III: Revenge of the Sith (2005)
  • Solo (2018)
  • Star Wars Rebels (2014 to 2018)
  • Rogue One (2016)
  • Star Wars: Droids (1985 to 1986)
  • Episode IV: A New Hope
  • Star Wars: Holiday Special (1978)
  • Lego Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Out (2012)
  • Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back (1980)
  • Episode VI: The Return of the Jedi (1983)
  • Lego Star Wars: The Freemaker Adventures 
  • Lego Star Wars: Droid Tales (2015)
  • Ewoks (1985 to 1986)
  • The Mandalorian (2019)
  • Star Wars: Resistance (2018 to Present)
  • Lego Star Wars: The Resistance Rises (2016)
  • Episode VII: The Force Awakens (2016)
  • Episode VIII: The Last Jedi (2017)
  • Episode IX: The Rise of Skywalker (2019)
  • Star Wars: Forces of Destiny (2017 to Present)
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