Looking to jettison off to a galaxy far, far away? Here’s the chronological timeline you need to follow to watch the Star Wars films and TV shows in order.
You what time it is – May 4th is finally here, marking what is officially known as Star Wars Day (sadly not a Bank Holiday). With the most recent entry in the series, Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker, having just been released on Disney Plus, it feels like there’s never been a better time to binge your way through the entire saga from start to finish.
Given that you’ve got three trilogies, two spinoff movies and two TV shows that are all considered canon, trying to figure out where to start with it all can feel like finding a needle in a Death Star. Not to worry though as we’ve painstakingly outlined, in a chronological timeline, the right order to watch the entire Star Wars saga in. And as they are all available on Disney Plus, what better time than to rewatch the whole saga.
1. Star Wars Episode 1: The Phantom Menace
Although The Phantom Menace wasn’t the first Star Wars film to be released theatrically, it does mark the beginning of the whole Skywalker saga from a chronological perspective, following a young Obi-Wan Kenobi, an even younger Anakin Skywalker, and one of the series’ most terrifying villains to date: Darth Maul.
The film might be a bit of a marmite pick for most Star Wars fans, but there are pockets of greatness here and there that still make it an entertaining watch.
2. Star Wars Episode 2: Attack of the Clones
Jumping forwards a whole decade after the events of the Phantom Menace, Episode 2: Attack of the Clones sees tensions at an all-time high, with a separatist movement seeking to cause disruption throughout the galaxy, while Anakin and Obi-Wan are caught in the middle of it all as they’re tasked with guarding the life of Senator Padmé Amidala.
Admittedly, initially watching the film at the ripe old age of nine meant that a lot of this plot detail went right over my head, but even now, the film is still a tough watch and largely landed with a thud among fans.
3. Star Wars: The Clone Wars
To be fair to George Lucas, the concept of the Clone Wars was an interesting idea, but Attack of the Clones just couldn’t quite do the story justice. Years later however, The Clone Wars TV series would aim to give the conflict its dues with superb animation and a surprisingly adult tone, one that wouldn’t expect to find in a children’s TV show.
Sure, there’s a whole seven seasons to get through here (plus a slightly dodgt feature-length film), but given just how much The Clones Wars ties in with later projects like The Mandalorian and Rogue One, it’s definitely worth a watch to wrap your head around the lore.
4. Star Wars Episode 3: Revenge of the Sith
While the film has since become the source of a ton of memes, Revenge of the Sith was intended to be the big dramatic payoff for the prequel series and the narrative segue into the original trilogy.
Opinions of the film only seem to have soured over time, but there’s no denying that it still has one of the most gut-wrenching scenes in the entire series. Without spoiling anything, I’d say it’s just highly recommended that you never let Anakin Skywalker babysit your children.
5. Solo: A Star Wars Story
Ah yes, the film that ruined all hope of ever seeing an Obi-Wan Kenobi spin-off flick. At this point, it’s no secret that Solo had an extremely tumultuous production and ended up being a major box-office bomb, but if you accept the film as nothing more than a rather daft action flick starring one of the Star Wars series’ most beloved characters in his youth, then you’re in for a good time.
6. Rogue One: A Star Wars Story
Now this is how you do a Star Wars spin-off. As the first cinematic offshoot in the Star Wars canon, there was a lot riding on Rogue One, but the film’s decision to focus on a varied bunch of characters and take some serious risks along the way paid off greatly.
There’s definitely a case to be made that not enough time is spent in fleshing out some of the main players, but the film does an amazing job of seeing what all these intergalactic events might look like to the nobodies on the ground. The ending also immediately transitions into the opening moments of A New Hope, so the two films could be paired for an afternoon double bill.
7. Star Wars Episode 4: A New Hope
It’s almost surreal to think that the film that started it all now sits at the number seven spot on this list, but that’s what you get when you have a billion-dollar franchise that craves new content.
Watching A New Hope today, it’s hard to ignore the film’s slower pace and sometimes twee acting, but you just can’t knock its scale and sense of ambition. After all, A New Hope came out in 1977 and still boasts several practical effects that put modern day CGI to shame.
8. Star Wars Episode 5: The Empire Strikes Back
The crown jewel of the Star Wars saga, The Empire Strikes Back upped the ante and set the standard for what a sequel could be.
Between the rebellion’s fight against the AT-ATs, Yoda training with Luke and the now historic twist at the film’s climax, so many iconic Star Wars moments happen here that it’s just too difficult to pick your favourite. In fact, if you just start your Star Wars binge with Empire, there’ll be no hard feelings.
9. Star Wars Episode 6: Return of the Jedi
Even to this day, the debate rages on as to which is the better movie: Jedi or Empire. Given how the most recent trilogy turned out however, that’s not a bad argument to be having. Return of the Jedi managed to do the one thing that so many sequels fail in doing (particularly in trilogies), and that’s to simply stick the landing.
10. The Mandalorian
The show that launched a thousand memes. Tentatively titled ‘Baby Yoda’s Super Happy Space Time’, the hype surrounding The Mandalorian is certainly justified.
Related: How to stream Mandalorian season 1
Taking place in a galaxy now adjusting to the epic events of the preceding trilogy, the show follows a lone bounty hunter – and proud member of the Mandalorian tribe – named Din Djarin, as he navigates the galaxy’s seedy underworld in search of his next cheque.
11. Star Wars Episode 7: The Force Awakens
Picking up a whole 30 years after Return of the Jedi, the Force Awakens kicked off a brand new trilogy, of which modern Star Wars fans are no doubt familiar with. While the film does boast a few familiar faces including Han Solo, Princess Leia and Chewbacca, the Force Awakens’ cast is largely made up of newcomers, such as the scavenger Rey, and Finn, a defector of the First Order – a new band of antagonists moulded in the shadow of the Empire.
12. Star Wars Episode 8: The Last Jedi
Taking barely any time for a breather, The Last Jedi starts almost immediately from where The Force Awakens left off, with Rey being taken under Luke Skywalker’s wing, while the rest of our heroes are stuck in an intergalactic car chase, fleeing from the First Order. The Last Jedi is probably the most divisive Star Wars film to date, having been lauded by critics and slated by fans.
Given that Jar Jar Binks is nowhere to be found here, I don’t think it’s the worst of the bunch.
13. Star Wars Episode 9: The Rise of Skywalker
The Rise of Skywalker, or as I like to call it, ‘The Return of JJ Abrams’ Script’, is the final chapter in the long-running Skywalker saga, but it’s also a hot mess to boot. It’s not that The Rise of Skywalker isn’t entertaining – there’s enough going on to keep you distracted for over two hours – but once it’s over, you’ll be left wondering if that’s really the best finale the filmmakers could’ve come up with.
Of course, the film’s rushed pacing is reactionary to the backlash of The Last Jedi, which saw director Rian Johnson abandon JJ Abrams’ original overarching narrative in favour of something completely different. Given how well Marvel Studios has done by comparison, I sincerely hope that Kevin Feige is put in charge of any more Star Wars films from here on out.