Geeks unite! This Monday, May the fourth marks the arrival of the biggest day of the year, annual Star Wars day. With the latest trilogy coming to an end and remastered versions of the classic film series making their way online, there has never been a better year to celebrate the global event. Whether you are an experienced Stars Wars aficionado or you’ve never dipped your feet into the intergalactic cultural phenomenon, May fourth (and the apparent lockdown measures) have effectively given us all permission to melt into the couch for a few hours of warp-speed binge-watching.
So, where do you star with Star Wars? As we all know, the film series wasn’t exactly released in order. When creator Geroge Lucas released Star Wars in 1977, the movie spawned an incredible array of sequels, prequels, spin-offs and origin stories. Retroactively renamed as Star Wars IV: A New Hope, the first film to be released is a modern marvel of movie-making and character exploration, but it isn’t where the series leads officially leads off, not chronologically at least. New prequels have changed the way that we view the iconic space opera and the characters that inhabit it.
Watching the films in theatrical order will allow you to see the series as it was released to the public, but it doesn’t give you a full scope of the entire franchise as a whole. If you want to want to watch Star Wars movies in order, it will involve a bit of jumping around. The easiest way is to split Star Wars into three sections; the originals, the prequels and the sequels.
The original trilogy, which kicked off with the release of the 1977’s retroactively named Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope is the benchmark for modern sci-fi films. The space-age odyssey follows young hero Luke Skywalker and his newly acquired team of misfit rebels Han Solo, R2-D2, Chewbacca and C-3PO as they attempt to free Princess Leia, the leader of the Rebel Alliance from Darth Vader and a powerful weapon created by the Galactic Empire.
The space-age civil war plot was ground-breaking for the time and prompted film studio 20th Century Fox to invest in a full film series. The second instalment, entitled Star Wars Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back is set three years after the events of the first film. Darth Vader relentlessly pursues Luke Skywalker and the rebel alliance, desperate to turn him to the dark side. However, under the instruction of Master Yoda, Luke trains to become a Jedi Knight while his friends try to fend off the Imperial fleet.
The Empire Strikes Back is a film that took the original’s success and doubled it. With more refined special effects and a more immersive and developed universe, Lucas was able to create a larger than life cinematic structure that provided some of the most iconic lines in film history.
The final film in the original Star Wars trilogy is Star Wars Episode VI: Return of the Jedi. Set one year after Empire Strikes Back, Return of the Jedi is a continuation of the Skywalker/Vader story. With new revelations uncovered and battles raging, this 1983 instalment is an action-packed adventure.
The first trilogy in George Lucas’s Star Wars series is by far the most famous of the lot, as it introduced the world to Carrie Fisher, Harrison Ford and the iconic breathing apparatus known as Darth Vadar. But as amazing as the story was, Lucas wasn’t done after just three. Years after Return of the Jedi hit cinemas, Star Wars would be back on the big screen in a huge way.
Legend goes that Lucas had always imagined a set of three prequels to be released retroactively after the first trilogy. In 1999, Lucas’ vision finally hit cinemas with the release of Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace. While critically panned, the film introduced us to a wealth of new characters, storylines and Ewan McGregor as Obi-Wan Kenobi.
Following The Phantom Menace came Star Wars Episode II: Attack of the Clones and Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith, which were released in 2002 and 2005 respectively. But once again, Lucas wasn’t finished.
In 2015, the third trilogy began with the release of Star Wars: The Force Awakens. In this series, we see a new order threaten to destroy the New Republic. Familiar characters and new faces collide in this continuation of the classic series.
After The Force Awakens came Star Wars: The Last Jedi, where we see the new era of Jedi begin to take shape. The third trilogy was completed with Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker.
In addition to the three trilogies, Star Wars has also birthed a number of TV shows and shorts, many of which are animated.
The Best Way to Watch Star Wars Movies in Order
Now, that’s a lot to take it. With three trilogies and wealth of TV shows to get through this May fourth, you might be struggling to know where to begin. Don’t worry, the answer is simple. The best way to watch Star Wars in order is to watch Star Wars in chronological order. Easy, right?
With 27 different films and movies to compute, we don’t blame you for asking for help, and the team here at Man of Many are more than happy to accommodate. We’ve taken the guess-work out and put together the ultimate guide on how to watch Star Wars in chronological order.
Here is a guide on how to watch all the Star Wars movies in order.
1. Episode I: The Phantom Menace (1999)
Starting with the first of the prequel films, The Phantom Menace is the obvious choice to kick off a viewing session of Star Wars in chronological order. In this film, you’ll get an understanding of the Star Wars universe, while learning the inner workings of the Jedi Order.
Release date: 3 June 1999 (Australia)
Director: George Lucas
Box office: 1.027 billion USD
Featured song: Duel of the Fates
Budget: 115 million USD
2. Episode II: Attack of the Clones (2002)
In this, the second prequel in the ‘Skywalker Series’, you learn more about the sinister plot that threatens to unravel the Republic. Here, we begin to catch a glimpse of the darker side of the Star Wars galaxy.
Release date: 16 May 2002 (Australia)
Director: George Lucas
Box office: $653 million
Budget: 120 million USD
Film series: Star Wars
3. Lego Star Wars: The Yoda Chronicles (2013 to 2014)
Next comes The Yoda Chronicles; the first non-live action films in our guide to wathcing every Star Wars film in order list. While Lego films have been pretty successful over the last few years, they really found their stride with Star Wars. Fans of the space opera are notoriously choosy when it comes to canon, so it’s high praise that this tale of Yoda and the Jedi Temple Academy has been accepted into the fold.
First episode date: 29 May 2013
Final episode date: 23 November 2014
Network: Cartoon Network
Genres: Animation, Adventure, Children’s television series, Action fiction
4. Lego Star Wars: The Padawan Menace (2011)
Following the Yoda Chronicles comes the television special, The Padawan Menace. In this Lego short, we see Ian, a young boy, Commander Cody and Yoda on a journey to rescue secret battle plans.
Initial release: 22 July 2011
Director: David Scott
Music composed by: John Williams
Producer: Mark Thorley
5. The Clone Wars (2008 to 2014)
Now, we’re getting into some deep viewing. Don’t expect to get through all seven seasons of The Clone Wars in one day, these shows are extremely detailed and phenomenally well-executed. This animated series, which showcases the events that stem from the Separatist Crisis is one of the highest-rated releases in the Star Wars universe.
Final episode date: 7 March 2014 Trending
First episode date: 3 October 2008
No. of episodes: 131 (list of episodes)
Narrated by: Tom Kane
6. Episode III: Revenge of the Sith (2005)
From here, we move back to the prequel trilogy with Revenge of the Sith. In this film, we see Anakin join forces with Obi-Wan to set Palpatine free from the evil clutches of Count Doku. However, temptation rears its ugly head.
Release date: 19 May 2005 (Australia)
Director: George Lucas
Box office: $868.4 million
Featured song: Anakin vs. Obi-Wan
Budget: 113 million USD
7. Solo: A Star Wars Story (2018)
Released in 2018, this semi-spin-off film Solo introduces us to Han Solo, one of the main protagonists from the original trilogy. In this film, we explore the bounty hunter aspect of Solo’s backstory, as he gets involved in a large-scale heist within the criminal underworld. If you’ve never seen the franchise before, this playful film will kick start your love affair with Han Solo before you get into the originals. Essential viewing for anyone looking to watch the Star Wars movies in chronological order.
Release date: 24 May 2018 (Australia)
Director: Ron Howard
Box office: 393.2 million USD
Budget: $275–300 million
Screenplay: Lawrence Kasdan, Jonathan Kasdan
8. Star Wars Rebels (2014 to 2018)
Another animated series, Star Wars Rebels is the next instalment in our guide on how to watch Star Wars in order. When an Empire secures its hold on the galaxy, a starship crew decides to stand up against it.
First episode date: 3 October 2014
Final episode date: 5 March 2018
No. of episodes: 75 (list of episodes)
9. Rogue One (2016)
Released back in 2016, Rogue One is a newer addition to the universe, but an early feature if you want to watch the Star Wars movies in chronological order. The film follows rebel fighter Jyn as she joins a group of resistance fighters who aim to steal the Empire’s blueprints.
Release date: 15 December 2016 (Australia)
Director: Gareth Edwards
Box office: 1.056 billion USD
Music composed by: Michael Giacchino
Budget: $200-265 million
10. Star Wars: Droids (1985 to 1986)
One of the older animated features in the Star Wars portfolio, Droids is a collection of episodes released in 1985 and 1986. The series follows R2-D2 and C-3PO as they find themselves in the service of successive new masters.
First episode date: 7 September 1985
Final episode date: 7 June 1986
No. of episodes: 13 (1 Special)
Number of seasons: 1
11. Episode IV: A New Hope
The first film ever released, A New Hope comes in at number 11 in our guide on how to watch Star Wars in chronological order. The film introduces us to the iconic cast, such as Harrison Ford as Han Solo and Carrie Fisher as Princess Leia.
Release date: 27 October 1977 (Australia)
Director: George Lucas
Budget: 11 million USD
Box office: 775.5 million USD
Music composed by: John Williams
12. Star Wars: Holiday Special (1978)
This often forgotten spin-off film is set between the events of the original film and The Empire Strikes Back, making it a must-see bridging episode for those who want to watch Star Wars movies in order.
Initial release: 17 November 1978
Director: Steve Binder
First episode date: 17 November 1978
Final episode date: 31 March 1979
Budget: 1 million USD
13. Lego Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Out (2012)
The next film in the Star Wars chronological order series is another Lego instalment. The Empire Strikes Out begins immediately after the events that close out A New Hope. The film follows Luke Skywalker and Han Solo as they attempt to fly back to the rebel base on Yavin 4.
Initial release: 26 September 2012
Director: Guy Vasilovich
Casting director: Heidi Klein
Film series: Lego Star Wars
14. Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back (1980)
If you’re watching Star Wars in order, this is the one you’ve been waiting for. The Empire Strikes Back is probably the most iconic film in the series. Here, we see Yoda train Luke Skywalker on the art of the Jedi while Darth Vader desperately tries to turn him to the dark side.
Release date: 7 August 1980 (Australia)
Director: Irvin Kershner
Budget: 18 million USD
Box office: 547.9 million USD
Screenplay: Lawrence Kasdan, Leigh Brackett
15. Episode VI: The Return of the Jedi (1983)
The next film in the Star Wars chronological run is actually the next film to be released theatrically as well. The Return of Jedi sees the dangers of the Dark Side rise up, testing Luke Skywalker and his team. Also, keep an eye out for those delightful Ewoks.
Release date: 27 October 1983 (Australia)
Director: Richard Marquand
Initial DVD release: 12 September 2006
Box office: 475.3 million USD
Featured song: Jedi Rocks
16. Lego Star Wars: The Freemaker Adventures (2016 to 2017)
First released back in 2016, The Freemaker Adventures tells the story of the Freemaker siblings, who head out into space in search of debris that they can use to design and build new vehicles. The short-lived animated series wasn’t a huge winner ratings-wise, but it does add some much-need light-heartedness after you’ve sat through some heavy themes on your way to watching Star Wars in order.
First episode date: 20 June 2016
Final episode date: 16 August 2017
Network: Disney XD
17. Lego Star Wars: Droid Tales (2015)
If you’ve been wanting to watch all the Star Wars movies in chronological order, but don’t have the time, Droid Tales will give you a run-down in warp-speed. The saga is retold from the perspectives of R2-D2 and C-3PO in this animated series. The show only ran for one season, but you can see what they were trying to do with the Star Wars in chronological order theme.
First episode date: 6 July 2015
Final episode date: 2 November 2015
Network: Disney XD
18. Ewoks (1985 to 1986)
Two forgotten gems of the Star Wars universe, the Ewoks movies were strangely successful additions to the zeitgeist. The two straight-to-television films follow orphan Cindel Towani as she joins the Ewoks to protect their village and defeating the marauders who have taken control of the Endor moon.
Release date: 24 November 1985 (Australia)
Director: Ken and Jim Wheats
19. The Mandalorian (2019)
Next in our guide on how to watch ever TV series and Star Wars movie in order is the newest addition, The Mandalorian. Released in 2019 on Disney+, The Mandolorian tells the story of a lone gunfighter makes his way through the outer reaches of the galaxy, far from the authority of the New Republic.
First episode date: 12 November 2019
Production location(s): Los Angeles, California
No. of episodes: 8 (list of episodes)
Directed by: Dave Filoni; Rick Famuyiwa; Deborah Chow; Bryce Dallas Howard; Taika Waititi
20. Star Wars: Resistance (2018 to 2020)
Another animaed series, Star Wars: Resistance has been running since 2018 and wrapped up earlier this year. The series introduces a bunch of new characters, some of which are alluded to in the following live action sequels. While not essential viewing if you’re looking to watch all the Star Wars movies in order, Resistance is a bit of family-friendly fun.
First episode date: 7 October 2018
Final episode date: 26 January 2020
Composer(s): Michael Tavera; (Based on themes by John Williams)
21. Lego Star Wars: The Resistance Rises (2016)
In this 2016 animated series, we see original characters Han Solo, Chewbacca and Lando Calrissian join forces with new characters Rey and Finn to overcome obstacles. This series, while short-lived introduced us to some new and vitally important members of the franchise, ready for The Force Awakens.
First episode date: 15 February 2016
Final episode date: 4 May 2016
Network: Disney XD
Genres: Animation, Short
22. Episode VII: The Force Awakens (2016)
The initial film in the third trilogy, The Force Awakens is essential viewing for anyone looking to watch Star Wars in order. This film sees newly-introduced characters Rey, Finn and Poe on the hunt to find the last remaining jedi, Luke Skywalker.
Release date: 17 December 2015 (Australia)
Director: J.J. Abrams
Box office: 2.066 billion USD
Budget: 306 million USD (2014)
23. Episode VIII: The Last Jedi (2017)
We’re nearing the end of the Star Wars movies in order guide and number 23 is the second in the sequel trilogy, The Last Jedi. In this film, we see Rey learning the ways of the Jedi under Luke Skywalker, as they attempt to reinvigorate the Resistance’s war against the First Order.
Release date: 14 December 2017 (Australia)
Director: Rian Johnson
Box office: 1.321 billion USD
Budget: $200–317 million
Screenplay: Rian Johnson
24. Episode IX: The Rise of Skywalker (2019)
Now, if you’re 24 films deep and thousands of hours through the Star Wars universe, don’t give up, you’re coming ever-closer to completing the Star Wars movies in order. Next up is The Rise of Skywalker, the 2019 epic continuation of the third trilogy. An all-out battle that rivals any seen before headlines this episode, which is chock-full of surprises, reveals and lightsaber duels. Awesome viewing and a must-watch for anyone who wants to check out the Star Wars movies in chronological order.
Release date: 19 December 2019 (Australia) Trending
Director: J.J. Abrams
Box office: $1.074 billion
Budget: 275 million USD
Screenplay: J.J. Abrams, Chris Terrio
25. Star Wars: Forces of Destiny (2017 to Present)
The final stage in watching every television series and Star Wars film in order isn’t a movie, but, you guessed it, another series. Forces of Destiny is a YouTube series that provides a further continuation of the characters introduced in the latest trilogy. Once you’ve watched all 32 episodes of this, you’ll be completely across the entire franchise, from beginning to end.
First episode date: 3 July 2017
No. of episodes: 32 (list of episodes)
Narrated by: Lupita Nyong’o
Star Wars Theatrical Release Order
If you are looking for a different order to watch Star Wars, you could always go for the original theatrical release order. This sequence involves watching all of the films as they were introduced. While all over the shop, this order can give you a sense about what it was like to view things the first time around. The Star Wars theatrical release order is;
- Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope (1977)
- Star Wars Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back (1980)
- Star Wars Episode VI: Return of the Jedi (1983)
- Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace (1999)
- Star Wars Episode II: Attack of the Clones (2002)
- Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith (2005)
- Star Wars Episode VII: The Force Awakens (2015)
- Rogue One: A Star Wars Story (2016)
- Star Wars Episode VIII: The Last Jedi (2017)
- Solo: A Star Wars Story (2018)
- Star Wars Episode IX: The Rise of Skywalker (2019)
Star Wars Machete Order
Another popular order to watch Star Wars in is the Machete Order. This sequence was put together by blogger Rod Hilton in 2011. Obviously, due to the age of the post, it doesn’t take into account the more recent sequels, however, it is still a great order. The Machete Order cuts The Phantom Menace entirely and keeps Star Wars’ biggest reveal until the final film. This order works best if you haven’t seen the series before, but nevertheless it is still a great way to watch the Star Wars movies in order. The Machete Order is;
- Episode IV: A New Hope (1977)
- Episode V: 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)
Where To Watch Star Wars Movies In Chronological Order
As some of these films are quite old, chances are you might already have them on DVD or Blu-Ray, but if not, don’t stress, you can still stream them all. In Australia, all of the existing Star Wars movies can be streamed on the Disney+ service now.
In the UK, you can watch both the original and prequel trilogies (as well as Solo) on Sky, as well as purchase them through Amazon Prime Video. That will no doubt change in the future, as Disney strengthens its stranglehold on the Star Wars franchise. Right now, your best bet for watching the Star Wars movies in order is by grabbing a Disney+ subscription.
If you choose to watch all the TV series, animated shorts and Star Wars movies in order or not, you’ve got to hand it Lucas and the team. They’ve built and incredible world filled with some amazing and intricate stories and characters. So, this Star Wars day, settle in, grab the popcorn and open yourself up to the magic of the iconic film franchise. May the Fourth be with you!
Why was Star Wars out of order?
Legend has it when Star Wars creator George Lucas wanted to make more movies, he didn't have any firm plans for the first the movies. He did, however, have ideas for the next six, so when they made Empire Strikes it was titled Episode V. Essentially, Lucas chose to make the movies in non-sequential order.
What is the Machete order?
The Machete order is a sequence in which you can watch the Star Wars film compiled by a Star Wars blogger. The order cuts The Phantom Menace from the list and keeps many of the key reveals secret until the final moments.
Where should I Start with Star Wars?
You can watch Star Wars in a number of different orders. The best ways to watch Star Wars movies is in either chronological order, starting with The Phantom Menace, or in release order, starting with A New Hope.
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