May the Force be with you! The Star Wars universe has been around for nearly 50 years, but the franchise still picks up new fans every day.
Whether you’re heading alone to a galaxy far, far away or have a friend ready to make the jump to hyperspace, fans have long debated the order in which to watch these iconic films. Opinions differ, but watching the series in order of how the story unfolds (versus how it was released) can be much easier for newcomers than skipping back and forth through the timeline.
Keep scrolling for a guide on how to watch all the Star Wars films — and the spinoff TV shows — in order.
1. Star Wars: Episode I — The Phantom Menace
The (chronologically) first chapter in the Star Wars universe introduces Qui-Gon Jinn (Liam Neeson) and his apprentice, Obi-Wan Kenobi (Ewan McGregor). The two end up on a mission that leads them to a young enslaved boy, Anakin Skywalker (Jake Lloyd), who loves podracing and repairing droids.
While there are some entertaining moments, most fans would agree that this is not the strongest film in the series. Still, the climactic battle scene is immensely satisfying.
2. Star Wars: Episode II — Attack of the Clones
Set 10 years after the previous film, Anakin is no longer a little boy (and is now played by Hayden Christensen). While being trained as a padawan under Obi-Wan, he shows troubling signs of anger and deep affection for Padmé Amidala (Natalie Portman), whom he first met as a child.
Attack of the Clones features more of the clunky dialogue that Star Wars creator George Lucas is famous for, but it also successfully sets up important character arcs that will have an enormous impact on the rest of the saga. Lucas doesn’t skimp on the action, either — be prepared for some epic battles.
3. Star Wars: Episode III — Revenge of the Sith
Anakin completes his chilling transformation into Darth Vader, and everything falls apart as the evil Empire comes to power. A feel-good movie this is not, but it’s arguably the most popular of the prequel films.
4. Solo: A Star Wars Story
This spinoff explores the backstory of The Skywalker Saga‘s most famous smuggler, Han Solo, who was played by Harrison Ford in the original trilogy. This film — which takes place before the events of 1977’s A New Hope — stars Alden Ehrenreich as a younger version of the hero.
Han is known for his gruff charisma, but Ehrenreich offered a nicer take on the scruffy-looking nerf herder. Still, viewers do learn how Han broke the Kessel Run record in the Millennium Falcon — and how he met Chewbacca.
5. Rogue One: A Star Wars Story
The powerful and corrupt Empire is creating a Death Star — an overwhelmingly powerful, planet-sized threat to the Rebels — and a plan is hatched by the Alliance to steal the plans for the giant weapon so they can destroy it.
Rogue One fleshes out the battles in the galaxy’s period of war, and the heart-pounding finale leads right up to the opening scene of the 1977 blockbuster that started it all.
6. Star Wars: Episode IV — A New Hope
A young Luke Skywalker (Mark Hamill) encounters an aged Obi-Wan Kenobi (Alec Guinness) and finds himself on an incredible space adventure, just like he’d always craved. A New Hope is a classic for a reason: Sure, it has Lucas’ typical dialogue, but it’s a fun, swashbuckling tale with a lot of heart.
Originally titled Star Wars upon its release in 1977, the film was updated with “Episode IV” in the opening crawl upon a rerelease in 1981. The Empire Strikes Back, next on this list, was branded as “Episode V” upon its original release in 1980, baffling audiences at the time. Lucas cited “technical and storytelling reasons” for the change, but the bottom line is that he wanted this particular story to become one piece of a greater saga — and it eventually did.
7. Star Wars: Episode V — The Empire Strikes Back
This 1980 sequel marks a shift in tone from its predecessor. A New Hope has moments of humor and goofiness, whereas Empire has a weightier vibe. The color palette is darker, the heroes experience real suffering and things don’t usually go as planned. Still, the iconic scenes and dramatic cinematography of Empire have made this one of the most popular and powerful entries in the entire Star Wars saga.
8. Star Wars: Episode VI — Return of the Jedi
This 1983 classic sees Luke reach his potential, transformed from a naïve boy into a Jedi. Now emerging as a leader, he must confront Darth Vader (voiced by James Earl Jones) as they battle for each other’s souls. This movie is also the one with the Ewoks.
9. Star Wars: Episode VII — The Force Awakens
More than 30 years after the events of Return of the Jedi, The Force Awakens introduces Rey (Daisy Ridley), a loner on a desert planet who finds herself in the presence of a mysterious droid that leads her on a grand space adventure. The film also sees the return of Ford, Hamill and the late Carrie Fisher, both reprising their legendary roles from the original trilogy.
Some fans dislike The Force Awakens because it is essentially a remake of A New Hope, but director J.J. Abrams has claimed this was an intentional choice. Still, if you’re willing to just go with it, it can make for a fun watch.
10. Star Wars: Episode VIII — The Last Jedi
This 2018 film caused a huge uproar among fans for how it decided to portray Luke Skywalker. No longer an inspiring hero, he appears as an old curmudgeon who wants to end the Jedi Order forever. Is he going to the Dark Side, or is there something else afoot? Rey has to convince Luke to aid her on a critical mission.
11. Star Wars: Episode IX —The Rise of Skywalker
This final entry in The Skywalker Saga sees Rey complete her journey and take on a resurrected Emperor Palpatine (Ian McDiarmid). The relationship between her and Kylo Ren (Adam Driver) also evolves.
With Abrams returning to the director’s chair, he sought to “undo” a lot of the left turns Rian Johnson took in The Last Jedi. For this reason, The Rise of Skywalker is another divisive entry in the franchise, especially for Last Jedi fans who appreciated that film’s more unique choices.
The Star Wars TV Shows
1. The Clone Wars
This animated series, which debuted with a theatrical film, fills in the gaps in the adventures of Obi-Wan and Anakin during The Clone Wars. (You’ll remember the start of these wars from Attack of the Clones; they ended in Revenge of the Sith.) This entertaining show explores a more gradual evolution of Anakin as he feels pulled toward the Dark Side.
2. Star Wars Rebels
This animated series takes place about 10 years after Revenge of the Sith and centers on a diverse set of Rebels who engage in covert missions against the Empire. For the most part, Star Wars Rebels features all-new characters, but iconic characters from the films occasionally make appearances.
3. The Mandalorian
The Mandalorian, the first live-action Star Wars series to debut on Disney+, is set five years after Return of the Jedi. Instead of following Han, Luke and Leia, the story centers on a bounty hunter known as Mando (Pedro Pascal). One of the show’s biggest draws is an incredibly adorable character many fans refer to as Baby Yoda, though his given name is Grogu.
4. The Book of Boba Fett
This show picks up where the end of The Mandalorian season 1 left off and follows Boba Fett (Temeura Morrison) as he attempts to establish himself as the underworld leader of the territory once run by Jabba the Hutt. The show also includes a helping of Baby Yoda for those fans who can’t get enough of the green guy.
5. Obi-Wan Kenobi
This series is essentially a direct sequel to Revenge of the Sith, dealing specifically with the relationship between Obi-Wan and his former padawan. It picks up 10 years after the events of that film, finding Obi-Wan in an unexpected place while watching over young Luke Skywalker. He’s soon pulled away on a different mission that sees him facing Darth Vader once again.
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If you enjoyed Rogue One, a prequel series following Cassian Andor (Diego Luna) premieres on Disney+ Wednesday, September 21. The new show also stars Adria Arjona, Stellan Skarsgård and Fiona Shaw.
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