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Star Wars: Whats The Best Order To Watch the Movies?

8 Minute Read
Jul 18 2021
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Looking to watch the Star Wars movies in order? Or just a new way to rewatch? Here’s the ultimate watch guide for the Star Wars films.

Star Wars is a massively popular franchise. It spans movies, books, TV shows, comics, LEGOs, and more. But at the heart of the franchise are its eleven live-action films. Most of the Star Wars movies are presented in numerical order. But there’s still a surprising amount of controversy surrounding the correct Star Wars watch order.

There are a million reasons to binge-watch Star Wars. We’ll break down all of the best watch orders and weigh the pros and cons of each method. And who knows? Maybe you’ll find a whole new way to experience the Star Wars universe.

Star Wars Watch Order: Chronological  & the  Skywalker  Saga

  • The Phantom Menace (Episode 1)
  • Attack of the Clones (Episode 2)
  • Revenge of the Sith (Episode 3)
  • Solo
  • Rogue One
  • A New Hope (Episode 4)
  • The Empire Strikes Back (Episode 5)
  • The Return of the Jedi (Episode 6)
  • The Force Awakens (Episode 7)
  • The Last Jedi (Episode 8)
  • The Rise of Skywalker (Episode 9)

Option for The Skywalker Saga: To enjoy just the Skywalker Saga, simply omit Solo and Rogue One from your watchlist.

Chronological Order Pros:

This is the most straightforward way to watch the movies. You just watch them in their chronological order.

You get the full impact of the story as it moves from Anakin to Luke to Rey. No need to fuss with any time jumps, just start to finish.

This order also has the full-circle affect, beginning and ending with the bad-guy action of Palpatine. Plus, with this watch order Anakin’s fall to the Dark Side and the fall of the Republic pick up the most momentum for first-time viewers.

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Chronological Order Cons:

This watch order takes the the oomph out of a lot of Original Trilogy reveals. You lose the big twist that reveals Luke and Leia are brother and sister, or who their parents are. “I’m your father” just doesn’t hit quite as hard with this method.

Watching the Star Wars movies in chronological order also means starting your film-fest with the two movies widely believed to be the worst in the franchise catalogue. It’s a slow ramp-up, and if you’re introducing a newbie, that could be deterring.

Plus, chronological means going from early 2000s production quality to the 70s, then into the late 2010s. This is less of a con and more something to just be prepared for. Despite some drawbacks, everyone should try this order out at least once. Seeing the saga play out in order is helpful, even if it’s not the best order for a first-timer.

Star Wars Movies in Release Order

  • A New Hope (Episode 4)
  • The Empire Strikes Back (Episode 5)
  • The Return of the Jedi (Episode 6)
  • The Phantom Menace (Episode 1)
  • Attack of the Clones (Episode 2)
  • Revenge of the Sith (Episode 3)
  • The Force Awakens (Episode 7)
  • Rogue One
  • The Last Jedi (Episode 8)
  • Solo
  • The Rise of Skywalker (Episode 9)

Release Order Pros:

This watch order follows the movies release dates. If you became a Star Wars fan before 1999, this is probably the order in which you saw them originally.

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As Star Wars watch orders go, this one’s great to enjoy with a beginner. It maintains the same twists that long-time fans enjoyed during their first watch, so it’s perfect for sharing.

You can also really appreciate the development of technology used as the movies progress. And for many people, it also means you start off with the strongest three movies.

This is also the ideal Star Wars watch order if you want to get a feel for how each trilogy shaped the one that came after it. After all, the newer releases are built around the lore from the trilogy before it.

Some fans argue that the Prequels are best when viewed as an unfolding tragedy. When viewers know about Anakin’s inevitable fall, they know his fate but are powerless to stop it. It just feels so much more tragic this way.

Release Order Cons:

Anakin’s fate, the fall of the Jedi and the Republic? None of that will be a surprise.

Plus, the last 5 films on the list get kind of messy. There’s a lot of swapping between time-eras, and they kinda go all over the place. Rough One in particular sticks out a little awkwardly in this lineup.

To avoid this, you can go with the Skywalker Saga rules again, or just move Rogue One and Solo to the end. If you’ve already watched it in true release order cus you are an OG fan, you don’t need to do it again.

Machete Order

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  • A New Hope (Episode 4)
  • The Empire Strikes Back (Episode 5)
  • Attack of the Clones (Episode 2)
  • Revenge of the Sith (Episode 3)
  • The Return of the Jedi (Episode 6)
  • The Force Awakens (Episode 7)
  • The Last Jedi (Episode 8)
  • The Rise of Skywalker (Episode 9)

Pros:

The Machete Order was first proposed before the Disney era. It’s the recommended way to watch the movies while keeping a lot of the original impact of the release order.

Viewers start off strong with the two believed-best Star Wars movies. For new viewers, you keep the Luke/Leia/Vader twist fully intact.

After Empire, you treat Episodes 2 and 3 as an extended flashback focusing on Anakin’s turn to the Dark Side, allowing us to better understand the man behind the mask.

Now that his story is at the front of our minds, we jump to Return of the Jedi and see his redemption. And we finish out with the newest trilogy, which has since been added to the list. But you can take or leave it.

Option for Episode 1: You’ll notice that this Star Wars watch order doesn’t include Episode 1. Some fans believe Menace doesn’t add much to the overall universe, and it’s really just a prequel to the prequels.

Some versions will alternatively keep Episode 1 and cut out Episode 2. This just gives them a leaner version of Anakin’s story.

Cons:

Machete Order works best if you’re just focusing on the Prequels and the Original Trilogy.

It doesn’t really have room for Rogue One or Solo, so you end up losing three of the movies.

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Then the Sequel Trilogy just feels tacked on to the end. You still end up jumping around in time a lot.

Star Wars Movies in Order: Only The Good Ones

  • The Phantom Menace (Episode 1)
  • Revenge of the Sith (Episode 3)
  • Rogue One
  • A New Hope (Episode 4)
  • The Empire Strikes Back (Episode 5)
  • The Return of the Jedi (Episode 6)

Pros:

Hey, what if you just watched the good Star Wars movies? Well, and Phantom Menace– just you so know what’s going on.

Well here you are, this is another solid Star Wars watch order. Just cut out all the bad movies and just get that good Star Wars juice in you! This watch order also has all the best space battles, so it’s ideal for action fans.

Cons: 

You deny yourself the chance to roast the bad movies.

You’ll also have to deal with missing the origin of Han’s blaster or how much Ani hates sand. In fact, you’ll miss out on a TON of great meme moments.

Just the Disney Movies

  • The Force Awakens (Episode 7)
  • Rogue One
  • The Last Jedi (Episode 8)
  • Solo
  • The Rise of Skywalker (Episode 9)

Pros: 

This is the best version for masochists.

Cons:

All of them. Just all of them.

‘Only The Good Movies’ According To A Group of  Hard Core Fans

  • A New Hope (Episode 4)
  • The Empire Strikes Back (Episode 5)

Pros: 

Since you’ve already seen all the movies, why not stick to the only ones that are actually good?

A large part of the internet tells me these are the only good Star Wars movies. You don’t have any whiny Anakin, no Ewoks, no Jar-Jar, and no Abrams.

And especially no women in leading roles. And that’s… what we want…?

Cons:

Wow! We are limiting ourselves now! Also, no Duel of the Fates?

‘Only The Good Movies’ According To A Different Group of  Hard Core Fans

  • The Empire Strikes Back (Episode 5)
  • The Last Jedi (Episode 8)

Pros:

Another large part of the internet tells me that these are the only good Star Wars movies. Again, none of the annoying stuff, but plenty of commentaries and many subverted expectations. That is what we want… right?

Cons:

Again, so limited! Also, you have to watch The Last Jedi.

Star Wars Watch Order: Ring Theory for Academics

  • The Phantom Menace (Episode 1)
  • Attack of the Clones (Episode 2)
  • Revenge of the Sith (Episode 3)
  • A New Hope (Episode 4)
  • The Empire Strikes Back (Episode 5)
  • The Return of the Jedi (Episode 6)

Pros:

One pretty cool way to look at Star Wars is through the lens of ring theory. This is a pretty in-depth literary theory that deals with cycles and references within the movies.

I highly suggest you give the linked article a read. It’ll give you a whole new way of looking at the original 6 movies. If you are really into literary theory, this might be your true version of Star Wars movies in order.

This also doubles as a fine way to just watch the non-Disney movies. If you’re a fan of the Lucas era or even the old EU, you may do it this way anyway.

Cons:

You have to, like, read and stuff to really get it. Even if you do the reading, you’ve got to listen to some dude in probably a sports coat or tweed jacket tell you about it all again, and how you didn’t “really” get it without him explaining it.

Some may find it a little pretentious.

The Completionist

  • Episode 1
  • Episode 2
  • The Clone Wars movie
  • The Clone Wars show
  • The Other Clone Wars show
  • Episode 3
  • All the cut scenes from Fallen Order (on Youtube)
  • The Bad Batch
  • Solo
  • Star Wars: Droids
  • Rebels
  • Rogue One
  • Ewoks the TV series
  • Episode 4
  • Star Wars Holiday Special
  • Episode 5
  • Episode 3 again as a flashback after the I am your father line.
  • Caravan of Courage: An Ewok Adventure
  • Ewoks: The Battle For Endor
  • Lego Star Wars: The Freemaker Adventures
  • Episode 6
  • All cut scenes Star Wars Battlefront II
  • Any Bits of Star Tours you can find on Youtube
  • The Mandalorian
  • Resistance
  • Episode 7
  • Episode 8
  • Video of Rise of the Resistance hopefully found on Youtube
  • Episode 9 Any bits of Star Tours The Adventure Continues you can find on YouTube (to be viewed as historical documents)
  • Forces of Destiny on YouTube
  • + nine million more shows coming soon to Disney+ 

Pros:

As far as I can tell, this is the complete canon and canon-adjacent list of Star Wars cinematic works. It also including cut scenes from the canon video games.

This is the most complete Star Wars watch order you can watch with as few contradictions as possible. If you want to know Star Wars, to really get it, this is what you’ve gotta watch.

The additions of shows and the cut scenes also help bridge the jarring gap between the end of Episode 6 and the start of Episode 7. If you don’t watch this list at least once a year, are you even a true fan?

Cons:

Emperor’s Black Bones, who has time for all that!?

Let us know what you think is the best order to watch Star Wars, down in the comments!

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