In the grand scheme of things, the Star Wars timeline is relatively straight-forward: Star Wars stories largely eschew time travel or extended flashbacks, meaning >its stories slot more easily into specific time periods. Yet given its setting in a time and place far removed from our own, charting its internal timeline can get a little complicated, since common markers of dates and times are not applicable.
Because of that, we have a comprehensive guide to how to watch Star Wars - but that still doesn't hit on the central question: what is the Star Wars timeline? And how do upcoming movies and shows (like, for example, the third season of The Mandalorian) fit into things?
Time in the Star Wars universe is marked relative to the Battle of the Yavin, the climactic battle which concludes the original Star Wars movie. Events happening before the battle and the destruction of the first Death Star are counted in years 'before the Battle of Yavin' or BBY (like our 'Before Common Era/BCE' label) and events happening after it are counted in years 'after the Battle of Yavin' or ABY. Beyond that bit of calendar business, the only other thing to know is that the Star Wars timeline, which spans hundreds of years, can be broken into eight distinct eras, each defined by a significant event or political situation.
The First Jedi
At the Star Wars Celebration 2023, during the Lucasfilm Studio Showcase, Logan director James Mangold took the stage to speak about spearheading a new Star Wars movie that, when filmed, will mark the earliest entry into the Star Wars Universe.
The film will center on the very first Jedi. Considering that the earliest era we’ve encountered so far (more on that below), already considers the Jedi an ancient order, this puts the marker back centuries, maybe even millennia before any other Star Wars media.
Almost nothing is known about the film, or this era, but Mangold did compare the movie to a Biblical epic, saying “We came up with an incredible story about the dawning of the Force.”
The High Republic - 200 BBY to 32 BBY
- The Acolyte (forthcoming) - circa 132 BBY
- Star Wars: Young Jedi Adventures (forthcoming) - unknown
To date, all of the stories set in the High Republic era, an era of relative peace for the galaxy which finds both the Republic and the Jedi at the height of their powers, exist via a series of novels, children's books, and comics, but that is set to change with the May 4, 2023 release of Star Wars: Young Jedi Adventures, a Disney+ and Disney Junior animated series announced at Star Wars Celebration 2022 taking place at an undisclosed time during the High Republic and featuring a group of younglings learning the essential lessons that will transform them into Jedi Knights.
For those looking for more adult fare, the High Republic era will also be the setting for The Acolyte, a Disney+ series currently in production, which takes place roughly 100 years before The Phantom Menace.
The Fall of the Jedi - 32 BBY to 19 BBY
- Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace - 32 BBY
- Star Wars Episode II: Attack of the Clones - 22 BBY
- Star Wars The Clone Wars - 22-19 BBY
- Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith - 19 BBY
- Star Wars: Tales of the Jedi
The era of the Prequel Trilogy, these are the years which depict the fall of the Jedi as a result of the machinations of Chancellor Sheev Palpatine (secretly the Sith Lord Darth Sidious), culminating in the end of the Republic and the rise of the Empire, the near-extinction of the Jedi, and the transformation of Jedi Knight Anakin Skywalker into Darth Vader.
The animated Clone Wars episodes fit relatively snuggly between Attack of the Clones and Revenge of the Sith, chronicling as they do the titular Clone Wars, with the series' final seasons somewhat overlapping with and progressing slightly beyond the events of Revenge of the Sith.
Similarly, the anthology short series Tales of the Jedi, which features animated tales from the pasts of Sith Lord Count Dooku and Jedi Padawan Ahsoka Tano, spans a wide swath of this era with its first three episodes taking place slightly before The Phantom Menace while its final three episodes take place during and just after the Prequel Trilogy.
Reign of the Empire - 19 BBY to 0 BBY
- The Bad Batch - 19-18 BBY
- Solo: A Star Wars Story - 13-10 BBY
- Obi-Wan Kenobi - 9 BBY
- Andor - 5-0 BBY
- Star Wars Rebels - 5-0 BBY
- Rogue One: A Star Wars Story - 0 BBY
For many years, the Reign of the Empire era, chronicling the years in which the newly-christened Galactic Empire consolidated its power then ruled with an iron fist, which prompted ever-growing acts of rebellion from its subjugated people, was one of the least explored eras in the Star Wars timeline. These days, it is one of the more popular eras for new stories, featuring a pair of standalone films (the biographical Solo and the A New Hope lead-in Rogue One), an animated spiritual sequel to the Clone Wars (Star Wars Rebels) which charts early days of the Rebel Alliance, and the recently-completed Obi-Wan Kenobi, following the adventures of the isolated Obi-Wan Kenobi as he deals with the realities of his new life.
This era also includes two currently-ongoing series. The animated Bad Batch takes place at the front end of the era, chronicling a group of Clone Troopers making a life for themselves by fighting back against the new Empire. The critically acclaimed Andor takes place closer to the end of the era, and follows the journey of Cassian Andor as he becomes more and more embroiled with the burgeoning Rebellion, leading into the events of Rogue One and the seismic Battle of Yavin.
Age of Rebellion - 0 BBY to 4 ABY
- Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope - 0 BBY
- Star Wars Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back - 3 ABY
- Star Wars Episode VI: Return of the Jedi - 4 ABY
This is the era of the Original Trilogy, and the one most familiar to Star Wars fans. It also marks the point at which the Star Wars timeline shifts from 'BBY to ABY', and concludes with the death of the Emperor and Darth Vader at the climax of Return of the Jedi.
Once upon a time, this era was jammed full of stories beyond the three main Star Wars films (more on that below), but presently, it remains a relatively unexplored era for movies and series.
The New Republic - 4 ABY to 34 ABY
- The Book of Boba Fett - 5 ABY - 9 ABY
- The Mandalorian - 9 - ~11 ABY
- Untitled Dave Filoni film - dates unknown
Named for the political body established in the wake of the Empire's defeat, this is the era providing the most fertile ground for new stories outside of the "Reign of the Empire" era. This is largely thanks to the much-beloved Disney Plus series, The Mandalorian, which is set nine years after the Battle of Yavin (and therefore five years after Return of the Jedi).
The much less loved Book of Boba Fett also fits into this era, with the early season flashbacks set shortly after the events of Return of the Jedi while the present day material runs alongside and ultimately overlaps with events in The Mandalorian.
Finally, Star Wars champion Dave Filoni is taking a seat in the director's chair for an upcoming film to be set in this era, which promises to spin out of The Mandalorian and take inspiration from the non-canon Extended Universe or 'Legends' stories.
Rise of the First Order - 34 ABY to 35 ABY
- Star Wars Resistance - 33-35 ABY
- Star Wars Episode VII: The Force Awakens - 34 ABY
- Star Wars Episode VIII: The Last Jedi - 34 ABY
- Star Wars Episode IX: The Rise of Skywalker - 35 ABY
The Rise of the First Order is the time in which the Sequel Trilogy takes place (along with the animated Star Wars Resistance, set just before the events of The Force Awakens), which chronicles the rise (and relatively quick fall) of the Empire-esque First Order, and the new generation of heroes who pick up the mantle from the Original Trilogy favorites to fight it back.
The New Jedi Order
In terms of canon timeline, we end where we began, at the Star Wars Celebration 2023. Moments after announcing the earliest entry into the Star Wars universe yet, the panel introduced director Sharmeen Obaid-Chinoy, who will helm the latest entry.
This era will begin 15 years after the events of Rise of Skywalker, and focus on the attempts to build a new Jedi order out of the one that fell. Leading the movie will be Daisy Ridley, reprising her role as the central character of the sequel trilogy, Rey.
"I am very thrilled to be continuing this journey," said the actor. Neither her or director Obaid-Chinoy went into specifics regarding Rey, the new Jedi Order, or what new threats they will face.
Prior to the purchase of LucasFilm by Disney in 2012, a vast and sprawling Expanded Universe of Star Wars stories existed in a loose canonical relationship with each other. These stories expanded the Star Wars timeline millenia into the past and hundreds of year into the future (relative to the Original Trilogy), and included the made-for-TV Ewok adventures films, the animated Droids, and an early Clone Wars series from Samurai Jack creator Genndy Tartatovsky. But while no one can stop you from watching them (and they are all available to view on Disney Plus), they are no longer considered canon.
Similarly, Star Wars Visions, a recently released animated anthology series which reimagines Star Wars stories from the perspective of different cultures and artistic backgrounds, is non-canonical, something akin to Marvel's alternate reality What If? series. Various animated Star Wars Lego specials are similarly considered non-canonical.
And of course, despite appearances from Harrison Ford, Mark Hamill, and Carrie Fisher reprising their roles from Star Wars and its introduction of Boba Fett before The Empire Strikes Back, the infamous Star Wars Holiday Special from 1978 has long been disavowed by George Lucas itself, and is not considered canon either (that said, it's worth watching at least once if you can, just to experience the horror for yourself).
Always in Motion, the Future Is…
In addition to the aforementioned Acolyte, there are a number of future Star Wars series on the horizon. The third season of the Mandalorian launched on Disney+ on March 1, with a changed timeline from series creator Jon Favreau, who places Grogu with Luke Skywalker for a whopping two years, stretching out the length of time that the Mandalorian has covered so far by quite a bit.
Later in 2023, expect to see a second season of the alt reality Star Wars Visions, as well as Ahsoka, a live-action series set in the New Republic era, following the adventures of Anakin Skywalker's former Padawan from the animated Clone Wars, who made her live-action debut in the The Mandalorian's second season (Ahsoka may also serve as a follow-up to events from the Reign of the Empire-set Star Wars Rebels and an introduce a live-action version of fan-favorite villain Grand Admiral Thrawn).
Further ouut, we have a second season of Andor to look forward to in August 2024, one which promises to bring the title character right up to the events of Rogue One, as well as Skeleton Crew, another series set in the New Republic era, starring Jude Law and described as a Star Wars riff on coming of age adventure films like Goonies and Stand By Me. Officially, a Lando standalone series, with Donald Glover reprising his role from Solo, continues to be in development as well, set presumably sometime in the Reign of the Empire or Age of Rebellion eras.
Uncertain but worth mentioning are the delayed, maybe canceled/maybe back on the table Rogue Squadron film from Wonder Woman director Patty Jenkins (which could take place either during the Age of Rebellion or The New Republic eras), a film from Thor: Love and Thunder director Taika Waititi, one from Watchmen/Lost showrunner Damon Lindelof, one from Free Guy director Shawn Levy (which won't go into production at least until Deadpool 3 and Stranger Things season five are done), a new trilogy from The Last Jedi director Rian Johnson which was announced prior to that movie's release (and which we are told is still in the works, but delayed by Johnson's Knives Out commitments), and a movie from MCU head honcho Kevin Feige.
For more on the future of a galaxy far far away, read our guide to upcoming Star wars movies and TV shows.