How To Watch The Star Wars Movies In Order

Star Wars has been a household name since its first debuts on the big screen on 30th June 1977. Since then, we have seen a further eight films (nine in total, not including spin-offs), cartoons, action figures, video games, and much more in relation to the franchise. Despite being around for almost fifty years, its popularity shows no sign of waning.

Originally owned by George Lucas of Lucasfilm Ltd, Star Wars was sold to Disney in 2012, which opened it up to a new wave of films, characters, and even a special spot at Disneyland. 

So, with so many films now available, and multiple orders to watch them in, which is best for a newcomer, and which might a veteran of the series get more out of?

For a Newcomer

Watch Star Wars in Order

There is still some debate as to whether a newcomer to the series should watch the Star Wars movies in chronological order, or in the order they were initially released. Fortunately, that doesn’t matter too much to us, as we will show you both.

First up is chronological order:

  • Episode I: The Phantom Menace (1999)
  • Episode II: Attack of the Clones (2002)
  • Star Wars: The Clone Wars (2008-2020)
  • Episode III: Revenge of the Sith (2005)
  • Solo: A Star Wars Story (2018)
  • Star Wars Rebels (2014-2018)
  • Rogue One (2016)
  • Episode IV: A New Hope (1977)
  • Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back  (1980)
  • Episode VI: Return of the Jedi (1983)
  • The Mandalorian (2019-present)
  • Star Wars: Resistance (2018-2020)
  • Episode VII: The Force Awakens (2015)
  • Episode VIII: The Last Jedi (2017)
  • Episode IX: The Rise of Skywalker (2019)

Or, if you wish to only watch the movies before you delve a little deeper:

  • Episode I: The Phantom Menace (1999)
  • Episode II: Attack of the Clones (2002)
  • Star Wars: The Clone Wars (2008)
  • Episode III: Revenge of the Sith (2005)
  • Solo: A Star Wars Story (2018)
  • Rogue One (2016)
  • Episode IV: A New Hope (1977)
  • Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back  (1980)
  • Episode VI: Return of the Jedi (1983)
  • Episode VII: The Force Awakens (2015)
  • Episode VIII: The Last Jedi (2017)
  • Episode IX: The Rise of Skywalker (2019)

Watching the franchise in this order has a few pros and cons. For example, an arguable pro is that you will be living the movies along with the characters in them. However, a massive drawback to watching them this way for a newcomer is you will see a lot of the big reveals (spoilers for earlier films) before you would normally have. This can end up affecting the way you view the subsequent films, so it’s not always recommended for someone who wishes to experience the franchise the same as everyone else has.

Now we’ll take a look at how to watch the Star Wars movies in the order they were released:

  • Episode IV: A New Hope (1977)
  • Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back (1980)
  • Episode VI: 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: A Star Wars Story (2018)
  • Episode IX: The Rise of Skywalker (2019)

As with watching the Star Wars movies in chronological order, watching them in order of release has its pros and cons too. For starters, you will be experiencing the saga in the same way everyone else did, experiencing the big reveals and plot twists that you may not have seen coming. This is often called the ‘purist’ way of watching the Star Wars movies and is likely going to be your best option if you’re a newcomer to the franchise. On the other hand, George Lucas is known to have said that some tweaks were made to the original movies before they were re-released and has voiced his encouragement for watching them in chronological order instead. At the end of the day though, it’s entirely up to you!

For Fanatics

Watch Star Wars in Order

So you’re a long-time veteran of the Star Wars saga? Welcome to the club! You may be wondering if there is a specific order that would be best to watch them in, now you don’t have to worry about having any major spoilers ruined for you. Here are a couple of recommended lists for the Star Wars movie viewing orders.

The Godfather

  • Episode IV: A New Hope (1977)
  • 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)
  • Episode VI: Return of the Jedi (1983)
Episode VI Return of the Jedi

Spoilers ahead! The idea behind viewing the Star Wars movies in this order is that after seeing the grand reveal at the end of Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back, that Darth is Luke’s father, you then get to go back and watch the prequel trilogy to build Anakin’s backstory. Then, after finishing the prequel trilogy, you finish off with Episode VI: Return of the Jedi, to hop back into the action and round the story off nicely.

The downside of watching the Star Wars movies in this order is that the newer films don’t really fit in with it. After finishing Episode VI: Return of the Jedi, you would have to watch the newer films (and TV series if you wish) in chronological order. While this may not be a deal-breaker, it can be a little jarring when switching between the two.

The Machete Order

  • Episode IV: A New Hope (1977)
  • Episode V: The 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 Machete Order would then continue with the sequel saga:

  • Episode VII: The Force Awakens
  • Episode VIII: The Last Jedi
  • Episode IX: The Rise of Skywalker

The Rinster Order

  • Episode IV: A New Hope (1977)
  • 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)
  • Episode VI: Return of the Jedi (1983)
star wars episodes

Taking its name from super fan Ernest Rinster (a well-known name among the hardcore Star Wars community), this order is similar to the Godfather order, but it is included as it may well have been the first to suggest watching it this way.

The Best Order – The Best Movie

Without wanting to rock the boat too much on this incredibly divisive subject, we would suggest watching the Star Wars movies in chronological order. If it’s good enough for George Lucas, it’s good enough for us!

Of all the Star Wars movies that currently exist, the best is generally regarded as Episode V – The Empire Strikes Back. You can see from this poll on IMDB, that The Empire Strikes Back wins the vote by a long shot when it is put down to an audience vote, and we would have to agree with this.

Star wars timeline

The original Star Wars trilogy will always hold a special place in our hearts, as I am certain it does with many long-time fans of the franchise. The Empire Strikes Back is considered the ‘heart’ of the series and is often considered the best, not only by viewers but also by critics. Although A New Hope was undeniably brilliant, it lacked in most fields in terms of special effects and acting in comparison to The Empire Strikes Back, which features a broader, darker setting and tone, and a character-driven, engaging storyline. For these reasons, our favorite Star Wars movie is also going to have to go on record as The Empire Strikes Back.

You may agree with us on this, or you may be pulling your hair out as you read it. Alternatively, you may never have watched the movies at all! There’s lots of healthy debate among the community when it comes to the films, characters, and the best viewing order, but there’s a mutual love for the franchise at the heart of it all.

About Mike Herrera

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