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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)

When the original Star Wars movie landed on an unsuspecting planet Earth on May 25, 1977, nobody could have predicted the massive multimedia empire it went on to spawn. In fact, with 11 movies to date – not to mention numerous TV shows, books and comics – it’s difficult to know where any newbie to that famous galaxy far, far away should get started.

If you are wondering how to watch the Star Wars movies in order, however, we can help. This guide provides a definitive breakdown of how the ever-expanding Star Wars canon fits together, from A New Hope to The Rise of Skywalker – and beyond.

As well as explaining how the nine episodes of the Skywalker saga and spin-off movies Rogue One and Solo slot into the wider continuity, we explain how TV series like The Mandalorian, The Clone Wars and new Disney Plus show The Bad Batch fill narrative gaps between the movies. We also discuss how upcoming shows such as Obi-Wan Kenobi, Andor, Ahsoka and The Acolyte will fit into canon.

With all 11 movies available on Disney Plus – along with with more obscure entries from the back catalogue like the 1980s Ewoks cartoon – it’s never been easier to watch the Star Wars movies in order. The Force is strong with this one – as this in-depth viewing guide reveals…

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)

Finding out how to watch the Star Wars movies in chronological order is probably why you're here. You'll find every live-action Star Wars movie in the list below, as well as the only two spin-off movies so far, Solo: A Star Wars Story and Rogue One: A Star Wars Story. This will make a fun weekend of movie bingeing in a galaxy far, far away.

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)
  • 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 – 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 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

(Image credit: Lucasfilm/Disney)

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...) 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 track your own personal chronology with Star Wars. Here's how to watch the Star Wars movies in release order, going back a frightening 44 years to A New Hope.

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

When Disney acquired Lucasfilm and the Star Wars rights from George Lucas in 2012, it reset the Expanded Universe continuity (including books, comics and cartoons such as Ewoks, Droids and Genndy Tartakovsky’s 2D-animated Clone Wars series) that had built up in the background. 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 the canon since, with books, games, comics and animated series such as Rebels and Resistance 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 existing movie and TV show collated into one canonical order. We'll add the newer Disney Plus Star Wars shows like Obi-Wan Kenobi, Ahsoka and Andor to this list when they’re released. 

  • 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 CG-animated movie (represents the start of the animated series)
  • The Clone Wars CG-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)
  • Star Wars: The Bad Batch animated series (set immediately after The Clone Wars)
  • 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 in the wake of Return of the Jedi)
  • 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)

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 role leading into 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 live-action 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 timeframe of Rebels. Perhaps we'll even see a crossover in characters between the shows?

A spin-off focused 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 movie Solo in some way – before that galaxy’s favorite scoundrel took control of Cloud City – but we can't be sure right now. 

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 Mando spin-off, 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. 

The Mandalorian season 2

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

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, 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 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. 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 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: 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.

Live action:

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

2D animation: 

  • The Story of the Faithful Wookiee
  • Ewoks
  • Droids (coming to Disney Plus in the UK from June 18, 2021)
  • Clone Wars
  • Star Wars: Forces of Destiny

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: The Freemaker Adventures
  • Various other Lego animations

Behind the scenes:

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

The best Star Wars movies, ranked

Rey and Kylo Ren versus 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 – your mileage may vary, but surely no movie featuring the word 'Younglings' is better than The Last Jedi... 

The Rise of Skywalker score has pretty much come to rest at 6.6, which seems about right.