August 6, 2020

How to watch the Star Wars movies in order

Star Wars movies

(Image: © Lucasfilm/Disney)

Want to watch the Star Wars movies in order? The Skywalker Saga has wrapped up, and every Star Wars movie will be available to stream on Disney Plus by the end of 2020, which includes Episode 9: The Rise of Skywalker. While Star Wars is taking a break from movies until 2022, focusing on TV shows like The Mandalorian season 2, you’ve got plenty of time to brush up on how to watch the Star Wars movies in order.

With The Rise of Skywalker dividing audiences and earning the sequel trilogy’s lowest box office, now’s the time to marathon some older, better Star Wars films. Below, we’ll explain how to watch the Star Wars movies in chronological and release order. You’ll also find the Star Wars Machete Order in here, which puts The Phantom Menace on the scrapheap. We’ve also arranged an ‘ultimate order’ which includes The Clone Wars CG cartoon, and a list of the best Star Wars movies ranked by user scores. 

We’ll show you how spin-offs fit into the Star Wars timeline, like The Mandalorian, and even future Disney Plus Star Wars shows like the Obi-Wan spin-off. Here then, are the Star Wars movies in chronological order, from boring trade disputes to Palpatine’s defeat at the hands of Rey. 

  • The Clone Wars season 7 release date and trailer
  • Doctor Aphra: how the Star Wars character was created
  • The Mandalorian season 2: release date and what we know

Star Wars movies in chronological order

Star Wars movies in chronological order

(Image credit: Lucasfilm / Disney)

Here are the live action Star Wars movies in chronological order, starting with The Phantom Menace and ending with The Rise of Skywalker. Here, we’ve included all nine Skywalker Saga movies, and the Solo and Rogue One spin-offs. It’s pretty easy to follow. 

  • Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace (set 32 years before A New Hope)
  • Star Wars Episode II: Attack of the Clones (set 22 years before A New Hope)
  • Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith (set 19 years before A New Hope)
  • Solo: A Star Wars Story (set about a decade before A New Hope)
  • Rogue One: A Star Wars Story (ends moments before A New Hope)
  • Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope 
  • Star Wars Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back (set three years after A New Hope)
  • Star Wars Episode VI: Return of the Jedi (set four years after A New Hope)
  • Star Wars Episode VII: The Force Awakens (set 34 years after A New Hope)
  • Star Wars Episode VIII: The Last Jedi (set 34 years after A New Hope
  • Star Wars Episode IX: The Rise of Skywalker (set 35 years after A New Hope)

As mentioned, we’ve kept this to just the live-action movies, but for reference, The Clone Wars animated series and movie are set between Episodes II and III, and seemingly ending during Revenge of the Sith. Star Wars: Rebels is mostly set between Episodes III and IV. The Mandalorian is clearly set between Episodes VI and VII.  

The upcoming Obi-Wan series will be set between Episodes III and IV. The upcoming Rogue One spin-off about Cassian Andor is set before that movie, and likely after the prequels. The Resistance animated series is set in the sequel trilogy time period. Scroll down to find an ultimate viewing order with everything in it. 

The official Star Wars timeline usually uses The Battle of Yavin as a center point of events in that universe, which is what the timeline above is based on. For ease of reading, we’ve simply used A New Hope in contextualizing the chronological order of these movies. 

Star Wars movies in release order

Rey in Star Wars The Rise of Skywalker

(Image credit: Disney/Lucasfilm)

It’s not that likely you’ll want to watch the Star Wars movies in release order – after all, the prequels came out between Return of the Jedi and The Force Awakens. In case you want to, though, here’s a list of the movies in release order. Can you believe A New Hope is almost 43 years old? 

  • 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: The Machete Order explained

The Machete Order, introduced by Rod Hilton in 2011 and much-discussed in fan circles since, suggests a viewing order with no Episode I whatsoever, keeping the focus on Luke’s story. The idea is not to rumble the big twist in The Empire Strikes Back – that Darth Vader is Luke’s father – which the prequels obviously reveal. You instead begin with A New Hope, move on to Empire, then watch two of the three prequels as a flashback to Anakin’s story, before reaching the final confrontation in Return of the Jedi. 

Clearly, the Machete Order works best if you’ve never seen Star Wars before, although we won’t fight living in a timeline without The Phantom Menace. 

  • Episode IV: A New Hope
  • Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back
  • Episode II: Attack of the Clones
  • Episode III: Revenge of the Sith
  • Episode VI: Return of the Jedi

And if you want to continue the story from there, watch the sequel saga, which is now out in its entirety:

  • Episode VII: The Force Awakens
  • Episode VIII: The Last Jedi
  • Episode IX: The Rise of Skywalker

The ultimate Star Wars viewing order, including TV shows

The official Star Wars timeline, from Disney Plus.  (Image credit: Disney Plus)

When Disney bought Lucasfilm and the rights to Star Wars, it reset the Expanded Universe continuity that had ticked away in the background in the years since the first movie’s release. That meant only the Prequel Trilogy, Original Trilogy and The Clone Wars CG animated series remained canonical. Since then, Disney has added significantly to the canon, with books, games, comics and more. For ease, below we’ve created a viewing order guide that just includes the movies and TV shows, but will take a long time to watch. We’ll add the newer Disney Plus Star Wars shows to this when we know exactly when they’re set (don’t expect them until 2021 or later, though). 

  • Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace (set 32 years before A New Hope)
  • Star Wars Episode II: Attack of the Clones (set 22 years before A New Hope)
  • The Clone Wars animated series (begins 22 years before A New Hope, ends 19 years before)
  • Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith (set 19 years before A New Hope)
  • Solo: A Star Wars Story (set about a decade before A New Hope)
  • Star Wars: Rebels animated series (set five years before A New Hope, with an epilogue set much later)
  • Rogue One: A Star Wars Story (ends moments before A New Hope)
  • Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope 
  • Star Wars Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back (set three years after A New Hope)
  • Star Wars Episode VI: Return of the Jedi (set four years after A New Hope)
  • The Mandalorian (set around nine years after A New Hope)
  • Star Wars: Resistance animated series (set 34 years after A New Hope onwards)
  • Star Wars Episode VII: The Force Awakens (set 34 years after A New Hope)
  • Star Wars Episode VIII: The Last Jedi (set 34 years after A New Hope)
  • Star Wars Episode IX: The Rise of Skywalker (set 35 years after A New Hope)

Star Wars movies available to stream on Disney Plus

Not every Star Wars movie is on Disney Plus right now, partly because of the rights situation around existing movies, but most of them are. By the end of 2020, too, they should all be on there, including The Rise of Skywalker, which we predict we’ll see added to Disney Plus by the summer. Here’s what you can watch now in the US, and what’ll be added at a later date. 

  • Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace 
  • Star Wars Episode II: Attack of the Clones 
  • Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith
  • Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope 
  • Star Wars Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back 
  • Star Wars Episode VI: Return of the Jedi 
  • Star Wars Episode VII: The Force Awakens 
  • Rogue One: A Star Wars Story 
  • Star Wars Episode VIII: The Last Jedi
  • Star Wars Episode IX: Rise of Skywalker (likely coming in 2020)
  • Solo: A Star Wars Story (coming July 9, 2020 – available now on Netflix US)

It’s worth noting that in Australia, you can stream all the movies above (minus The Rise of Skywalker, of course). Disney Plus launches in the UK in March, and we expect to see the movies on there at launch, but nothing has been guaranteed on that front outside of The Force Awakens.

The Star Wars movies, ranked

(Image credit: Lucasfilm)

Most Star Wars fans have a pretty clear opinion on which films in the series are good and bad, but in case there’s any ambiguity, we’ve put together a guide ranking the Star Wars movies based on IMDB user scores. Your mileage may vary, and, er, surely no movie featuring the word ‘Younglings’ is better than The Last Jedi or Solo. 

We’ll keep updating The Rise of Skywalker score as a consensus solidifies around the movie, but right now it’s settled on the ‘nice’ number.

  • Star Wars Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back – 8.7
  • Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope  – 8.6
  • Star Wars Episode VI: Return of the Jedi – 8.3
  • Star Wars Episode VII: The Force Awakens – 7.9
  • Rogue One: A Star Wars Story – 7.8
  • Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith – 7.5
  • Star Wars Episode VIII: The Last Jedi – 7.0
  • Solo: A Star Wars Story – 6.9
  • Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker – 6.9
  • Star Wars Episode II: Attack of the Clones – 6.5
  • Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace – 6.5

How to watch Star Wars movies where you are

Other than Blu-Rays and DVDs, Disney Plus is the place to stream Star Wars movies in the US, as discussed above (other than Solo, which is on Netflix and will join Disney Plus July). In Australia, all of the existing Star Wars movies can be streamed on the service now.

In the UK, you watch both the original and prequel trilogies (as well as Solo) on Sky. You can also buy all the Star Wars movies to download and own on services like Amazon Prime Video, but we’ll soon find out how many have made the cut to Disney Plus in time for its March launch. So far, we know The Force Awakens will be available, but expect more down the line. 

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