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How & where to watch the Star Wars movies & TV shows in order (chronological and release)

All you need to know to watch all of Star Wars, in both chronological and release order

Star Wars: The Phantom Menace
Image credit: Lucasfilm

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For close to 50 years, there’s been conflict in a galaxy far, far away — much to the delight of millions of science fiction fans around the world. As it approaches its 50th anniversary (we’re just three years away, somewhat shockingly), there’s more Star Wars to watch than ever, and it’s never been easier to catch up on everything you need to know about the series, no matter which era of the franchise you’re interested in.

Since its debut in theaters in 1977, Star Wars — a franchise that has redefined the term “space opera” and set the bar for almost all mainstream science-fiction across the past four decades — has remained the cultural phenomenon that it became with the very first movie, and grown into something that encompasses spin-off movies, and multiple television series in addition to its core nine-chapter storyline, which has since been termed the “Skywalker Saga.” (It's still growing; here's our guide to what to look out for in the near future.)

Of course, the appearance of so many spin-off storylines and projects might have been confusing to those who weren’t already fans of the property, given that Star Wars has never been particularly good at telling stories in order. After all, the first movie to be released was Episode 4, which was followed by Episode 5, Episode 6, and then, more than a decade later, Episode 1. By the time Disney bought Lucasfilm and started to ramp up production, things were arguably more confusing, with Episode 7 being followed by a movie that was, in essence, Episode 3.5 — even as an animated series was telling stories set between Episodes 6 and 7.

With this approach to storytelling, it can’t be the biggest surprise that some people need a guide as to how to watch the Star Wars saga to date. Thankfully, that’s where we come in. Keep reading and you’ll find out the differences between watching Star Wars in the order it was released and watching it in the order it’s supposed to take place in, and much much more.

Everything on this list can be found on Disney+ or on whichever physical media copies you have!

How to watch the Star Wars movies & TV shows in release order

Star Wars
Image credit: Lucasfilm

Arguably the easiest way to watch Star Wars is in the order it was released in, as fans saw the saga unfold from the start. Sure, it’s not the most intuitive order, but it does allow for all the big reveals to land in the order they were intended — you know what I’m talking about, everyone who’s seen The Empire Strikes Back — and means that the audience knows exactly as much as the creators in almost every given situation. In release order, then, Star Wars looks something like this.

How to watch the Star Wars movies & TV shows in chronological order

Star Wars
Image credit: Lucasfilm

The Star Wars saga spans literal centuries, with the Young Jedi Adventures series taking place during the “High Republic Era,” which happened hundreds of years before the events of the first movie, through the end of the Skywalker Saga, which takes place decades after the original movie. The projects have criss-crossed in terms of chronology, with the past few years seeing the release of multiple Disney+ shows set decades apart and in between the events of movie releases from years past. For those not paying attention, it might seem a little disorienting. Here’s the order in which everything should be watched if you want to see the story unfold in terms of its own internal chronology.

  • The Acolyte, season one
  • Star Wars: Young Jedi Adventures
  • Tales of the Jedi, season one, episodes 1-3
  • Episode 1: The Phantom Menace
  • Tales of the Jedi, season one, episode 4
  • Episode 2: Attack of the Clones
  • Star Wars: The Clone Wars
  • Tales of the Jedi, season one, episode 5
  • Episode 3: Revenge of the Sith
  • Tales of the Jedi, season one, episode 6
  • Star Wars: The Bad Batch
  • Solo: A Star Wars Story
  • Obi-Wan Kenobi
  • Andor, season one
  • Star Wars: Rebels
  • Rogue One: A Star Wars Story
  • Episode 4: A New Hope
  • Episode 5: The Empire Strikes Back
  • Episode 6: Return of the Jedi
  • The Mandalorian, season one
  • The Mandalorian, season two
  • The Book of Boba Fest, season one
  • The Mandalorian, season three
  • Ahsoka, season one
  • Star Wars: Resistance, season one
  • Episode 7: The Force Awakens
  • Episode 8: The Last Jedi
  • Star Wars: Resistance, season two
  • Episode 9: The Rise of Skywalker

Is Star Wars still a trilogy?

Star Wars is, in terms of the Skywalker Saga, a story of trilogies. The original trilogy of movies consisted of Episodes 4 through 6, with the so-called “Prequel Trilogy” making up (of course) Episodes 1-3. When the franchise was resurrected as a movie property, fans were then given the sequel trilogy, made up of Episodes 7-9… in effect creating a trilogy of trilogies. So, is Star Wars still a trilogy? The technical answer is of course not — when you factor in the “Star Wars Saga” movies, there are 11 movies, not to mention the various TV projects — but, in an odd thematic sense, it’s actually more of a trilogy than might immediately seem apparent.

Is it better to start with Star Wars Episode 4 or Episode 1?

The question of just where to start with Star Wars movies comes down to whether you’re watching in chronological or release order. If it’s the former, then you start with Episode 1, of course. If it’s the latter, then Episode 4, which was simply titled Star Wars during its 1977 theatrical release. (It was, however, always intended to be “episode 4” of a serial that might have been somewhat theoretical at time of production.)

Which is “better” to start with is a matter of taste, but as noted upthread, watching the series in release order means that some of the big dramatic reveals in the series — specifically regarding the parentage of some key characters — only really work if the series is watched in its original release order. That said, watching in chronological order does allow for some other mysteries to unfold in a somewhat clearer, less obvious fashion, if you don’t know exactly what’s about to happen by the end of the whole thing.

Personal preference for me means that it’s best watched in chronological order, but… do what feels right to you, ultimately.

What was Star Wars called in 1977?

For a generation of fans, the movie that is now known as ‘Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope’ was, simply, Star Wars. The initial release(s) of the first movie in the series didn’t include the episode title in the movie’s name, That was only officially added when the movie was re-released in its Special Edition format in 1997 — one of the many changes made to the movie at the time, somewhat controversially.

What is the Skywalker Saga?

The Skywalker Saga is the name retroactively given to the core series of Star Wars movies — the movies that have episode numbers at the start of each movie: The Phantom Menace, Attack of the Clones, Revenge of the Sith, A New Hope, The Empire Strikes Back, Return of the Jedi, The Force Awakens, The Last Jedi, and The Rise of Skywalker. It’s a name that underscores the familial storyline at the center of this arc, and the fact that one family in particular seems to be at the root of the entire war in all of its forms.

With the creation of shows like The Mandalorian, The Book of Boba Fett, and Andor, the scope of Star Wars as a franchise started to expand beyond the core adventures of the Skywalker family and those they’d interacted with directly; creating the umbrella name The Skywalker Saga to denote that first core storyline helps differentiate it from other stories being told in the same galaxy.

Get ready for everything coming up with our guide to upcoming Star Wars movies & TV shows, or dive into the past with our Star Wars watch order.

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Graeme McMillan

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Popverse staff writer Graeme McMillan (he/him) has been writing about comics, culture, and comics culture on the internet for close to two decades at this point, which is terrifying to admit. He completely understands if you have problems understanding his accent.
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