How to watch Star Wars in the right order

With the UK release of Star Wars TV series The Mandalorian finally here, it's the perfect time to revisit the galaxy far far away

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

Star Wars, much like the galaxy itself, is an ever-expanding universe. Since Lucasfilm was acquired by Disney in 2012, two prequel/spin-off films have been released (Rogue One and Solo) alongside the now nine-strong ‘Skywalker saga,’ and now The Mandalorian is on streaming service Disney+, marking Star Wars’ live action TV debut and the birth of Baby Yoda memes.

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So, with so many new releases, animated series like The Clone Wars and Star Wars Rebels plus the original trilogy and prequels to consider, what is the best order to rewatch the Star Wars movies (and affiliated TV shows) in? Well… it depends.

You can pre-order Disney+ for £49.99 for a whole year here and get your Star Wars fix.

What order should I watch Star Wars in?

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.

Watch Star Wars by episode order/chronology

Star Wars Episode I – Phantom Menace
starring Ray Park as Darth Maul (LucasFilm, Sky, HF)
  • Episode I: The Phantom Menace (1999)
  • Episode II: Attack of the Clones (2002)
  • Star Wars: The Clone Wars (2008-present)
  • 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)
  • 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)

If you choose to watch Star Wars in this order, you’ll be living the story along with the characters, following the official chronology of the series. It 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.

Star Wars Episode III - Revenge Of The Sith
2005 Lucas Films

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 save the full Mandalorian series for later.

In which case, you could try…

Watch Star Wars by production order

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

Or, going by movies only:

  • 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)

Enjoying Star Wars by release date, aka the purist way, means you watch the films 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. 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.

Watch Star Wars in ‘The Godfather’ order

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)

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.

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.

Where can I watch the Star Wars movies?

Subscribers of NOW TV can watch the original trilogy (Episodes IV-VI), the prequels (Episodes I-III) and Solo on the streaming service.

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As for Rogue One and Episodes VII and VIII, they are only available to buy from the usual channels – Amazon, iTunes and Google Play. That is likely to change when Disney+ launches in the UK on 24th March 2020. On Amazon Prime Video the films range in price.