What order should you watch the Star Wars movies in?

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 get a seven day trial to Disney Plus for £59.99 for a whole year or £5.99 a month to get your Star Wars fix.

What is the right order to 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.

How to watch Star Wars movies chronologically 

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)
  • 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…

How to watch Star Wars movies in production 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
  • 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.

How to watch 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)

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.

How to watch 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’ revealed is ruined.

Similar to the Godfather order, the Machete order allows you to enjoy the first two original Star Wars films – 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 story.

  • 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 complete Star Wars saga order

Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith - Unit Stills

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.

For those brave enough to view it all, here’s the entire Star Wars Saga and limited specials in chronological order.

  • 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)
  • Solo (2018)
  • Star Wars Rebels (2014 to 2018)
  • 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)
  • 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)

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 films (original versions).

This count includes the nine instalments from the Skywalker saga and the two anthology films, Rogue One and Solo.

Excluding the anthology films, 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

Where can I watch the Star Wars movies?

If you have 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. Now Disney Plus has launched in the UK  you can watch all the films including Rise of Skywalker. On Amazon Prime Video the films range in price.