Star Wars Watch Order: 4 Best Options for Watching Star Wars Movies and Shows

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With the arrival of Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker and Solo to Disney+ it is now the perfect time to settle in and binge-watch the entirety of the Star Wars Saga from start to finish. 

There’s a lot of debate in the Star Wars fandom about how the franchise should be watched. Release order, chronological order, personal preference — ask anyone and you’ll likely get a completely different answer about the “right” way to watch Star Wars.

Luckily there’s no “correct” way to watch the series. It’s up to you to choose your own path — just like Rey. 

star wars watch order

If you’re not a hardcore Star Wars fan, you might not be aware of just how much content there is out there. The Star Wars franchise is broken down into three trilogies, two spin-off movies, three animated series, and a live-action series.

The original trilogy came out between 1977 and 1983, the prequel trilogy between 1996 and 2005, and the sequel trilogy between 2015 and 2019. The spin-offs Rogue One and Solo, are both set prior to the original trilogy’s first film, Star Wars: A New Hope. The animation series and The Mandalorian take place at different points throughout the timeline. 

“Fear is the path to the dark side.” – Yoda

Fear not, we’re here to help you with a handy guide on how to watch Star Wars

4 Awesome Star Wars Watch Orders

Chronological Order 

Star Wars: The Phantom Menace (1999)
Star Wars: Attack of the Clones (2002)
Star Wars: Revenge of the Sith (2005)
Solo: A Star Wars Story (2018)
Rogue One: A Star Wars Story (2016)
Star Wars: A New Hope (1977)
Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back (1980)
Star Wars: Return of the Jedi (1983)
Star Wars: The Force Awakens (2015)
Star Wars: The Last Jedi (2017)
Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker (2019)

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Solo: A Star Wars Story

There’s a lot to be said about watching Star Wars in chronological order according to the plot. Starting with The Phantom Menace you get to watch Anakin’s fall to the Dark Side in real-time. If you’re not familiar with Star Wars this strategy spoils the “surprise” of learning that Luke and Leia are twins.

While I personally love the prequel trilogy, they are a weak introduction to the franchise and if you’re watching with friends that aren’t as obsessed with Star Wars as you are, you might lose them. The best part of watching in chronological order is the seamless transition between Rogue One and A New Hope

Pros: Darth Vader’s reveal holds more weight, Rogue One packs a harder punch, and you get to enjoy a consistent timeline. 

Cons: The prequel trilogy CGI, the original trilogy reveals aren’t as powerful, and you end on The Rise of Skywalker

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Release Order 

Star Wars: A New Hope (1977)
Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back (1980)
Star Wars: Return of the Jedi (1983)
Star Wars: The Phantom Menace (1999)
Star Wars: Attack of the Clones (2002)
Star Wars: Revenge of the Sith (2005)
Star Wars: The Force Awakens (2015)
Rogue One: A Star Wars Story (2016)
Star Wars: The Last Jedi (2017)
Solo: A Star Wars Story (2018)
Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker (2019)

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Star Wars: The Last Jedi

While a lot of people love reliving the nostalgia of watching the original trilogy first, watching Star Wars in release order can be a pretty daunting challenge. With the inclusion of Rogue One and Solo, the Sequel Trilogy ends up being interrupted, skewing the watching timeline pretty wildly.

Skip the spin-offs if you’re dedicated to watching the series in release order and this will make things go much easier. But don’t skip them entirely because they are a great addition to the story.

Pros: The best for nostalgia and it doesn’t ruin the reveals in the original trilogy.

Cons: The timeline gets confusing, the sequel trilogy is thrown off by the spin-offs, and you still end on The Rise of Skywalker

The Complete Chronological Order

Star Wars: The Phantom Menace (1999)
Star Wars: Attack of the Clones (2002)
Star Wars: The Clone Wars (2008 – 2020)
Star Wars: Revenge of the Sith (2005)
Solo: A Star Wars Story (2018)
Star Wars Rebels (2014 – 2018)
Rogue One: A Star Wars Story (2016)
Star Wars:  A New Hope (1977)
Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back (1980)
Star Wars: Return of the Jedi (1983)
Star Wars: The Mandalorian (2019 – )
Star Wars The Resistance (2018 – 2020)
Star Wars: The Force Awakens (2015)
Star Wars: The Last Jedi (2017)
Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker (2019)

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The Mandalorian

Look, we’ve all got a lot of free time on our hands right now. So why not take the time to watch all of the Star Wars content on Disney+? It’ll take a long time, but it will be totally worth it. Watching The Clone Wars infinitely adds to Anakin’s storyline and improves the entire prequel trilogy.

Not only do you get to enjoy Ahsoka Tano’s storyline, but Darth Maul returns, and you get to really know the Clone Troopers. Rebels reveal life in the wake of Order 66 and The Mandalorian offers a side-story style look at the world after the events of Return of the Jedi

Pros: The Clone Wars. That’s it. That’s the biggest pro. 

Cons: Time consuming and you’re still ending on The Rise of Skywalker

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Machete Order 

Star Wars: A New Hope (1977)
Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back (1980)
Star Wars: Attack of the Clones (2002)
Star Wars: Revenge of the Sith (2005)
Star Wars: Return of the Jedi (1983)

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Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back

This was a fairly popular viewing order in the fandom for a long time, as it preserves the big Darth Vader twist. The “machete order” completely ignores The Phantom Menace and hasn’t factored in the sequel trilogy yet.

By inserting Attack of the Clones and Revenge of the Sith after The Empire Strikes Back, they become like an extended flashback. This is probably the best order to introduce someone to Star Wars with, but you really should find a way to incorporate in the sequel trilogy and Rogue One

Pros: Preserves the Darth Vader reveal and you don’t have to watch The Rise of Skywalker.  

Cons: You miss out on Rogue One and The Last Jedi

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If you’re feeling really adventurous you could even track down Caravan of Courage: An Ewok Adventure, Ewoks: The Battle for Endor, and the Star Wars Holiday Special.

If you love Legos, Disney+ has eleven Lego Star Wars films and shorts. If you love shorts in general, the streaming platform also has several Rebels shorts, Star Wars Forces of Destiny, and the adorable Star Wars Blips

The bottom line is that there’s no “right way” to watch Star Wars. Rewatch the sequel trilogy first. If you only watch the original trilogy, you’re just as much of a fan as someone who only rewatches Rogue One. If you really love Jar-Jar Binks rewatch the prequels to your heart’s content. 

May the Force Be With You this Star Wars Day! 

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