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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: © Disney)

Want to watch the Star Wars movies in order? With every movie in the saga now streaming on Disney Plus – in 4K and HDR, no less – watching the Star Wars movies in both their chronological and release orders is nice and simple. These are busy times for Star Wars, too, with a ton of new Star Wars TV shows and movies coming in 2021 and beyond, making it a great time to be a fan following the divisive sequel trilogy.

On this page, we'll explain how to follow the Star Wars movies order in a variety of ways. We'll show you how to watch the Star Wars movies in chronological order, as well as release order, and finally we'll detail the ultimate Star Wars movie viewing order that includes The Mandalorian and other canonical extras. 

It's not complicated to watch the Star Wars movies in order, really, since it starts with Anakin's story in The Phantom Menace and ends with Rey's fight against Palpatine in The Rise of Skywalker, but there are a few quirks to be aware of that we'll break down below. 

As Disney prepares a payload of new Star Wars content, with May 2021's The Bad Batch, The Book of Boba Fett, 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 coming up, watching the Star Wars films in order will help you pass the time.

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)

The chronological order of the Star Wars movies is probably what you're looking for. 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 just about get through in a busy weekend. This is the best way to watch the movies in 2021, if you ask us.

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. 

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. 

To add a little context on the above, The Clone Wars animated movie and series are set between Episodes II and III, and end during Revenge of the Sith (or slightly after, in the case of The Clone Wars' final scene). Star Wars: Rebels is essentially set between Episodes III and IV. The Mandalorian is definitely set between Episodes VI and VII. Upcoming animated series The Bad Batch, launching May 4, 2021, will be set after The Clone Wars. 

The upcoming Obi-Wan Kenobi series will be set 10 years after Revenge of the Sith. The upcoming Rogue One: A Star Wars Story spin-off about Cassian Andor is confirmed to be set five years before Rogue One, and therefore after the prequels and before the original trilogy. The Resistance animated series is set in the sequel trilogy time period, so it runs concurrently with The Force Awakens and The Last Jedi. Again, check out our ultimate Star Wars viewing order below for a full explainer of how this all works. 

The upcoming Rogue Squadron movie is expected to take place after Episode 9.

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 will confuse the timelines a bit, but hey, perhaps this is closer to how you originally watched the movies. Here's how to watch the Star Wars movies in release order, going back 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 The Mandalorian and The Clone Wars

The official Star Wars timeline, from Disney Plus.  (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)

If you've recently watched The Mandalorian season 2, this order is of particular note. 'The Jedi', which introduced Ahsoka Tano to live-action Star Wars for the first time, connects The Clone Wars to the wider continuity like never before. Likewise, the addition of Boba Fett has provided a similarly strong response, and the late appearance of another key Star Wars character in the season 2 finale also asks further questions about how the whole franchise fits together.

So who is Ahsoka Tano, and how does she fit into the Star Wars universe? In The Clone Wars, set between episodes II and III, Tano transforms from Anakin's apprentice into a full Jedi Knight with dual lightsabers, and encounters young Boba Fett and General Grievous. After being accused of murder, Tano also takes on Darth Maul (he becomes a cyborg after his defeat to Obi-Wan in The Phantom Menace) who puts together a supergroup called Deathwatch featuring Mandalore extremists that overthrow the Mandalore government.

From there, in Rebels, between film episodes III and IV, Ahsoka plays a key role in establishing a network that faces off against her old master, now Lord Vader. Then, after traveling in a 'world between worlds', she enters the 'spiritual plane' and journeys to find her friend, Ezra. The gap between these mysterious moments and her live-action debut in The Mandalorian (itself set around five years after Return of the Jedi) is unknown, but chances are we'll see more meddling in Mandalore politics as the flagship Disney Plus show continues.

Or indeed, when the new spin-off show Ahsoka gets here.

Star Wars: The Machete Order explained

The Machete Order is a famous 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?

Our recommendation is that 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. 

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)

Most Star Wars fans have a pretty clear opinion on which films in the series are the best, but in case there's any argument, we've put together a guide ranking the Star Wars movies based on IMDB user scores. Your mileage may vary, and 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.