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How to watch the Star Wars movies in order: Every order from chronological timeline to release date

With more Star Wars than ever on our screens, this is your chronological guide to the best way to watch the Star Wars movies in order. Happy May the 4th!

Harrison Ford as Han Solo in star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back

It’s hard to believe there was once a time when 1977’s Star Wars was considered a risky venture, given that the franchise has since become a phenomenon beloved around the world. Since Lucasfilm was acquired by Disney in 2012, fans have seen an influx of new movies and television shows that have left some wondering how best to enjoy the Star Wars movies in chronological and release order.

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Don’t worry, there are plenty of ways to watch the Star Wars saga and refresh your memory before the new Star Wars series launch on Disney Plus, with Bad Batch joining The Mandalorian in May, The Book of Boba Fett in December.

The Star Wars order is fairly straightforward if you just take the nine episodic movies and the Skywalker Saga, the spin-offs Rogue One and Solo: A Star Wars Story and watch them. Things get more complicated when you add in the TV shows like Clone Wars, Rebels and The Mandalorian. Disney Plus has all the Star Wars movies (in 4K too), as well as the shows and breakaway standalone shorts and animations.

If you’re ready to watch the Star Wars movies and shows in order you have a few options. Some claim there are five different orders you can watch the Star Wars saga in, but there are a few widely accepted preferred ways. The three seen as the best in telling the Skywalker story are order of episodes (chronological), production (release date), and the Godfather cut. There’s also the Machete order that cuts The Phantom Menace. There are pros and cons for all of these of course, which we’ve broken down for you.

There’s no better time to tackle the Star Wars movies in order as Lucasfilm is working on a whole raft of Star Wars series including Obi-Wan Kenobi, Ahsoka, Andor, Rangers of the New Republic, The Acolyte, Star Wars: Visions, Rogue Squadron and A Droid Story.

Here’s how to watch the Star Wars movies in order.

Star Wars movies in chronological order

Star Wars Episode I - Phantom Menace starring Ray Park as Darth Maul (LucasFilm, Sky, HF)
Star Wars Episode I – Phantom Menace
starring Ray Park as Darth Maul (LucasFilm, Sky, HF)

The Star Wars movies in chronological order sets the movies in a real timeline so you experience the story as it would unfold for the characters. Below, we have every Star Wars movie as well as the spin-offs. If you start the movies in this order you could watch them in a weekend.

How to watch the Star Wars movies in 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, going by movies only:

  • 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)

Pros: If you choose to watch the Star Wars movies in chronological order, you’ll be living the story along with the characters, following the official chronology of the series. We’ve used New Hope as the central point to work out the timeline here.

Cons: This order does, however, come with a couple of downsides. For one, the big reveal about Luke’s parentage (one of the most iconic scenes in cinematic history) is ruined this way. It also makes the saga’s inconsistencies glaringly obvious, including Obi-Wan forgetting about Leia’s existence despite being present at her birth. And that’s assuming you make it through the divisive prequels, a feat that might require you to use the Force, or don’t want to have to rush through the full Mandalorian series on Disney Plus.

If you’re looking for the Star Wars complete saga – that’s including the Mandalorian – then skip to that section further down the page.

Star Wars movies in release date order

Star Wars Episode IV - A New Hope Starring Carrie Fisher, Mark Hamill, Harrison Ford, Alec Guinness, Peter Cushing, Peter Mayhew, David Prowse
Star Wars Episode IV – A New Hope
Starring Carrie Fisher, Mark Hamill, Harrison Ford, Alec Guinness, Peter Cushing, Peter Mayhew, David Prowse

Next up, watching the Star Wars movies in release order. We all know this isn’t the best way to watch the whole franchise, but it’s often how we’ve all experienced the movies aided by popcorn.

Here’s how to watch the Star Wars movies in release order.

  • 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)

If you want to watch the Star Wars movies in release order with the TV series (in italics) we’ve got that list for you too.

  • 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)
  • Star Wars: The Clone Wars (2008-2020)
  • Star Wars Rebels (2014-2018)
  • Episode VII: The Force Awakens (2015)
  • Rogue One (2016)
  • Episode VIII: The Last Jedi (2017)
  • Star Wars: Resistance (2018-2020)
  • Solo: A Star Wars Story (2018)
  • Episode IX: The Rise of Skywalker (2019)
  • The Mandalorian (2019-present)

Pros: Enjoying Star Wars by release date, aka the purist way, means you watch the movies in the same order they originally came out in cinemas. After all, this is how most Star Wars fans experienced the intergalactic saga in the first place.

Cons: However, George Lucas made more than a few tweaks to the original trilogy following the release of the prequels, and has been vocal about watching them by in-movie chronology instead. Also, thanks to the advent of spin-off movies and TV shows watching this way means you might end up jumping around the story a bit.

Complete Star Wars viewing order including TV shows

Although some of the orders above include select Star Wars TV shows and specials produced since 1977, there are more out there. A lot more. While several are either unknown to many fans (like niche 1980s animation series Droids), others have been completely disavowed by Star Wars creator George Lucas (looking at you, Holiday Special). All, however, are part of the extended Star Wars Universe, officially or not.

When Disney bought Lucasfilm it also meant that the Expanded Universe was reset, in plain terms it meant all the movies, animation and shows that had built up in the background were now not canon. The Prequel Trilogy, Original Trilogy and The Clone Wars animation all remain canon. Of course, Disney has added to the canon and more than replaced what was taken away. This will take you far longer than a weekend.

For those brave enough to view it all, here’s the entire Star Wars Saga and limited specials in chronological order. We’ll confirm the placement of Disney Plus Star Wars series like Obi-Wan Kenobi, The Bad Batch and Andor when they’re released.

  • Star Wars: The Acolyte (upcoming)
  • Episode I: The Phantom Menace (1999)
  • Episode II: Attack of the Clones (2002)
  • Lego Star Wars: The Yoda Chronicles (2013 to 2014)
  • Lego Star Wars: The Padawan Menace (2011)
  • The Clone Wars (2008 to 2014)
  • Episode III: Revenge of the Sith (2005)
  • Star Wars: The Bad Batch (upcoming – May 2021)
  • Solo (2018)
  • Obi-Wan Kenobi (upcoming) 
  • Star Wars Rebels (2014 to 2018)
  • Andor (upcoming – 2022)
  • Rogue One (2016)
  • Star Wars: Droids (1985 to 1986)
  • Episode IV: A New Hope (1977)
  • 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 (2016 to 2017)
  • Lego Star Wars: Droid Tales (2015)
  • Ewoks (1985 to 1986)
  • The Mandalorian (2019-present)
  • The Book of Boba Fett (upcoming – December 2021)
  • Ahsoka (upcoming)
  • Rangers of the New Republic (upcoming)
  • 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-)

Pros: The ultimate fan wants the ultimate Star Wars saga order. This order leaves nothing out, you’ll get all the background for characters like Ahsoka getting you ready for The Mandalorian and the spin-offs. Ahsoka came from Clone Wars, then popped up in Rebels and was last seen in The Mandalorian. We also expect Obi-Wan Kenobi to add more layers to the Jedi’s story too as it’s set 10 years after Revenge of the Sith, so around the Solo movie timeframe. Spin-off Andor, is set five years before Rogue One, so it’s nearer Rebels and the new series; The Book of Boba Fett, Rangers of the New Republic are all before The Force Awakens. The Acolyte will come years before The Phantom Menace and lastly, The Bad Batch spins-off from The Clone Wars, and follows on from the series.

Cons: It’s a lot! Get ready to spend every waking minute catching up. It’s also being added to all the time with all the new series.

Star Wars movies in ‘The Godfather’ order

Star Wars Episode V The Empire Strikes Back starring David Prowse as Darth Vader (Voice by James Earl Jones)
Star Wars Episode V The Empire Strikes Back
starring David Prowse as Darth Vader (Voice by James Earl Jones)
  • 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)

Pros: The idea of this ordering is to watch the original two Star Wars movies then, after the shock reveal at the end of Empire Strikes Back that Darth Vader is Luke Skywalker’s father, jump back to the prequel trilogy to fill in the background of Anakin Skywalker. After Revenge of the Sith, you then return to watch Return of the Jedi, adding new depth to Vader and Luke’s final clash without disrupting the big twists of the story.

As you may have noticed this ordering evokes the flashback structure of Francis Ford Coppola’s classic gangster movie The Godfather Part II (in other words it’s Luke, I am your Godfather), and is fairly popular with fans online.

Cons: The obvious downside is that it’s difficult to fit the newer Star Wars movies and TV series into this structure – probably the best way to watch them in this version is in production order following Return of the Jedi – so it may not be for everyone.

Star Wars movies in The Machete Order

Star Wars Episode IV - A New Hope Starring Carrie Fisher, Mark Hamill, Harrison Ford, Alec Guinness, Peter Cushing, Peter Mayhew, David Prowse

No, this is nothing to do with knives or, sadly, the Danny Trejo Spy Kids character. Instead, the name comes from Rod Hilton, author of blog nomachetejuggling.com, who sought to fix one of the saga’s biggest problems: if watched chronically, the big ‘No Luke, I am your father’ reveal is ruined.

Similar to the Godfather order, the Machete order allows you to enjoy the first two original Star Wars movies – and the shock Empire Strikes Back ending – before jumping into Vader’s backstory.

However, you might notice a big difference from the Godfather order: The Phantom Menace is missing. Why? As Hilton explains: “The reason to skip Episode I isn’t that it’s bad, it’s that it’s irrelevant.”

The thinking is that the Star Wars saga better works as the tale of Luke Skywalker, not Darth Vader. At its core, it’s a story of how the younger Skywalker takes on a gigantic burden, saving the Galaxy – and his father – from the Dark Side. Hilton argues Episode I adds nothing to this story and all of its noteworthy events are summed up in the opening crawl to Episode II.

If that explanation doesn’t win you over, this thought might: removing Episode I means that, apart from a few lines in Episode II, Jar Jar is virtually removed from the Star Wars saga.

  • 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)

To continue The Machete Order you then watch the sequel saga:

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

Star Wars movies in The Rinster Order

The Rinster Order – named after superfan Ernest Rinster – has also gained some prominence in recent years among the Star Wars community. If it looks the same as the Godfather order, that’s because it is – but the Rinster method might well have come first.

  • 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)

What’s the best Star Wars movie order?

Though some sources claim there are up to five different orders you could watch the Star Wars saga in, there are three generally accepted ways to do it. One is in order of episodes  (following in-movie chronology), the second is in order of production (going by release date) and the third (the so-called “Godfather cut”) to best tell the Skywalker story’s plot twists. All three have their pros and cons. The Machete order is simple: you remove The Phantom Menace. In terms of what’s best, for us it’s the chronological viewing order. You can get all the movies in a weekend binge rather, so it’s doable compared to the ultimate order. You just have 11 movies to watch alongside the two spin-offs.

If you’re watching the Star Wars movies for the very first time, welcome my young Padwan. Perhaps the best way for you is the release order. Keep it simple then circle back when the TV series have built up to tackle the ultimate order. We’d also recommend the release date order if you’re treating your kids to the franchise for the first time.

Star Wars movies on Disney Plus

Disney Plus UK is a one-stop shop for virtually all Star Wars content, with the entire Skywalker Saga and recent spin-offs available to stream. Here’s the full list of what Star Wars movies on Disney Plus:

  • Episode I: The Phantom Menace (1999)
  • Episode II: Attack of the Clones (2002)
  • Episode III: Revenge of the Sith (2005)
  • 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)
  • Rogue One: A Star Wars Story (2016)
  • Solo: A Star Wars Story (2018)
  • Star Wars: The Clone Wars (2008)
  • Empire of Dreams: The Story of the Star Wars Trilogy (2004)

Where else can I watch the Star Wars movies?

Disney Plus is the premier location to watch Star Wars online, with the entire Skywalker Saga and both spin-off movies available to stream instantly. Subscribe to Disney Plus for £79.90 for a whole year or £7.99 a month.

If you haven’t got a Disney Plus subscription, other options are available: The Rise of Skywalker is available to stream on NOW TV until Monday 3rd May 2021.

Meanwhile, the digital movie collection (comprised of episodes one to six) is available to buy from the usual channels, such as Amazon, iTunes and Google Play.

If you don’t fancy splashing out quite that much, most of the Star Wars movies are available to rent for as little as £2.49 on Amazon Prime Video.

How long will it take to watch all the Star Wars movies?

It will take you 25 hours and 7 minutes to watch all 11 live-action Star Wars movies (original versions). This count includes the nine instalments from the Skywalker saga and the two anthology movies, Rogue One and Solo. Excluding the anthology movies, Episode I to IX will take you 20 hours and 39 minutes to watch.

Here are the run times of all Star Wars movies, from shortest to longest:

  • A New Hope – 121 minutes
  • The Empire Strikes Back — 124 minutes
  • Return of the Jedi — 131 minutes
  • Rogue One: A Star Wars Story — 133 minutes
  • Solo: A Star Wars Story — 135 minutes
  • The Phantom Menace — 136 minutes
  • The Force Awakens — 138 minutes
  • Revenge of the Sith — 140 minutes
  • Attack of the Clones — 142 minutes
  • The Last Jedi — 152 minutes
  • The Rise of Skywalker – 155 minutes
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Check out our dedicated Sci-Fi hub for more coverage. If you need something to watch tonight, have a look at our TV guide.