How To Watch Star Wars? Easy Watch Order Guide

How To Watch Star Wars? Easy Watch Order Guide

The four-decade old galaxy far, far away has continuously only expanded since it’s big bang in 1977. With the big basket of eleven films and counting, numerous tv shows – animated and non-animated, and multiple editions of the original trilogy, the Star Wars franchise has never been more problematic to steer through.

Tons of staunch fans looking to rewatch the entire saga, folks wanting to recommend Star Wars to friends and family, and newbies who do not have the slightest clue, are all looking for an optimum watch order.

First, you should refer to some of the widely accepted ways of binging the entire franchise. I have listed the most preferred watch sequences below.

You will definitely thank me once I help you to decide what is the best order for you to dive into the light sabers era. Trust me, it will save a lot of your precious time!

1. Release Order (canon-only)

Regarded officially canon by Lucasfilm, it counts the six Star Wars theatrical releases, the Star Wars animated film The Clone Wars and TV series Star Wars Rebels. Apart from that, every substance released after April 25, 2014, approved by Lucasfilm, is part of the official Star Wars history.

How To Watch Star Wars? Easy Watch Order Guide
Star Wars: The Clone Wars | Source: Fandom

This order will maintain the historic authenticity for you. There’s nothing like kicking off Star Wars with A New Hope. This might just be the best for newcomers, because they will get to experience the saga like everyone else. The Darth Vader secret is not spilled out. Moreover, you will rejoice as the CGI action only gets better with the subsequent movies.

I. Movies

  • Episode IV: A New Hope (1977)
  • Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back  (1980)
  • Episode VI: Return of the Jedi (1983)
  • Episode I: The Phantom Menace (1999)
  • Episode II: Attack of the Clones (2002)
  • Episode III: Revenge of the Sith (2005)
  • Star Wars: The Clone Wars Movie (2008)
  • Episode VII: The Force Awakens (2015)
  • Rogue One: A Star Wars Story (2016)
  • Episode VIII: The Last Jedi (2017)
  • Solo: A Star Wars Story (2018)
  • Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker (2019)
Solo: A Star Wars Story | Official Trailer

II. TV Series

  • Star Wars: The Clone Wars (2008-2020)
  • Star Wars Rebels (2014-2018)
  • Star Wars Resistance (2018-2020)
  • The Mandalorian (2019-)
  • Star Wars: The Bad Batch (2021-)

But, considering Lucas is aware of the copious alterations he made with each trilogy, he himself has advised to start from Episode I. Because in Release Order there can be a lot of jumping around to do.

If you start now, you will be able to finish seeing all the 12 movies in 1 day 2 hrs 45 mins, and the 5 TV Series in 5 days 5 hrs 30 mins. This brings the total watch time to be around 6 days 8 hrs.

2. Complete Release Order

This order consists of movies and TV series that are part of the Extended Universe. After Disney acquired Lucasfilm in 2012, the canon was solidified and revised. So some of the material given below is not part of the new canon.

How To Watch Star Wars? Easy Watch Order Guide
Star Wars: Return of the Jedi | Source: Amazon

I. Movies

  • Episode IV: A New Hope (1977)
  • The Star Wars Holiday Special (1978)
  • Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back  (1980)
  • Episode VI: Return of the Jedi (1983)
  • The Ewok Adventure (1984)
  • Ewoks: The Battle for Endor (1985)
  • Episode I: The Phantom Menace (1999)
  • Episode II: Attack of the Clones (2002)
  • Episode III: Revenge of the Sith (2005)
  • Star Wars: The Clone Wars Movie (2008)
  • Episode VII: The Force Awakens (2015)
  • Rogue One: A Star Wars Story (2016)
  • Episode VIII: The Last Jedi (2017)
  • Solo: A Star Wars Story (2018)
  • Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker (2019)

II. TV Series

  • Star Wars: Droids (1985-1986)
  • Ewoks (1985-1987)
  • Star Wars: Clone Wars (2003-2005)
  • Star Wars: The Clone Wars (2008-2020)
  • Star Wars Rebels (2014-2018)
  • Star Wars Resistance (2018-2020)
  • The Mandalorian (2019-)
  • Star Wars: The Bad Batch (2021-)

The total time it should take you to watch the Complete Release Order is around 7 days and 6 hours. If broken down individually, Movies will take 1 day 7 hrs and TV series will take 5 days 22 hrs 42 mins.

3. Chronological Order (canon-only)

In this, the canonical installments are listed according to the chronological order of events. You’ll find the story very meaningful when you follow the character development gradually. It will be easier for you to track the exact timeline of events.

This is the story which revolves around Anakin Skywalker. From his stubborn childhood, through a committed Jedi knighthood, to the redemption of his most scandalous alter ego of Darth Vader, it is quite a journey. This order is the simplest answer, and allows no room for confusion. The spin-offs are also well adjusted to provide the safest passage to A New Hope.

How To Watch Star Wars? Easy Watch Order Guide
Star Wars Rebels | Source: Star Wars
  • Episode I: The Phantom Menace (1999)
  • Episode II: Attack of the Clones (2002)
  • Star Wars: The Clone Wars Movie (2008)
  • Star Wars: The Clone Wars TV Series (2008-2020)
  • Episode III: Revenge of the Sith (2005)
  • Solo: A Star Wars Story (2018)
  • Star Wars Rebels (2014-2018)
  • Rogue One: A Star Wars Story (2016)
  • Episode IV: A New Hope (1977)
  • Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back  (1980)
  • Episode VI: Return of the Jedi (1983)
  • The Mandalorian (2019-)
  • Star Wars Resistance Season 1(2018)
  • Episode VII: The Force Awakens (2015)
  • Star Wars Resistance Season 2 (2019)
  • Episode VIII: The Last Jedi (2017)
  • Episode IX: The Rise of Skywalker (2019)

Cons is that you will start with the prequels, the first one being The Phantom Menace, which is regarded as the worst Star Wars movie of all time. Also, more importantly, the most prominent secret of Luke’s parentage will be rendered completely meaningless this way. Transition from a holographic 3D to wireframe graphic is also not going to be pleasant.

The approximate value of the runtime will be 6 days and 8 hours here.

4. Complete Chronological Order

It incorporates some movies and TV series that are not part of the official canon. Yet their plots are convincing when watched chronologically. You will gain more insights into the vast franchise of Star Wars.

  • Episode I: The Phantom Menace (1999)
  • Episode II: Attack of the Clones (2002)
  • Star Wars : Clone Wars (2003-2005)
  • Star Wars: The Clone Wars Movie (2008)
  • Star Wars: The Clone Wars TV Series (2008-2020)
  • Episode III: Revenge of the Sith (2005)
  • Star Wars: Droids (1985-1986)
  • Solo: A Star Wars Story (2018)
  • Star Wars Rebels (2014-2018)
  • Rogue One: A Star Wars Story (2016)
  • Episode IV: A New Hope (1977)
  • The Star Wars Holiday Special (1978)
  • Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back  (1980)
  • Ewoks (1985-1987)
  • The Ewok Adventure (1984)
  • Ewoks: The Battle for Endor (1985)
  • Episode VI: Return of the Jedi (1983)
  • The Mandalorian (2019-)
  • Star Wars Resistance Season 1(2018)
  • Episode VII: The Force Awakens (2015)
  • Star Wars Resistance Season 2 (2019)
  • Episode VIII: The Last Jedi (2017)
  • Episode IX: The Rise of Skywalker (2019)
Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker

Like the Complete Release Order,  total watch time combined will be 7 days and 6 hours. 

Now, there are other unorthodox approaches which require your kind attention. That is, only if you want to take shortcuts. Instead of watching everything, you could stick to some realistic methods which would save your time, yet give you a pretty good base as a Star Wars fan would brag about. These have been explored below.

5. Ernest Rister Order

Want to walk off the beaten path? Then this order by the Star Wars forum poster might just be the best choice. It centers around Luke, and after The Empire Strikes Back, you can jump back to episodes IV,V,VI to fill in Anakin’s backstory. This will explain the rise of Darth Vader. It also preserves the secret of Luke’s parentage. This way, we can wholly commend the importance of Vader’s absolution.

  • Episode IV: A New Hope (1977)
  • Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back (1980)
  • Episode I: The Phantom Menace (1999)
  • Episode II: Attack of the Clones (2002)
  • Episode III: Revenge of the Sith (2005)
  • Episode VI: Return of the Jedi (1983)
How To Watch Star Wars? Easy Watch Order Guide
Anakin Skywalker | Source: IMDb

But, this order does not pay heed to the spin-offs Rogue One and Solo. People tend to watch them after Return of the Jedi. Though according to the chronological timeline, they should ideally be seen before The Empire Strikes Back. Also, to the newcomers, the story might get bewildering this way.

6. The Godfather Order

Fret not, you don’t actually need to learn about a new watch order here. This one is a carbon copy of Ernest Rister order.

It just came up in 2005 when Matt Zoller Seitz (an American film critic) was discussing with his wife about the best order in which they had to show Star Wars movies to their kids.

It’s name is based after the famous gangster movie Godfather Part II, which flashes back and forth between the early life & career of Vito Corleone in 1920s NYC, and his son Michael in 1959.

How To Watch Star Wars? Easy Watch Order Guide
Star Wars: A New Hope | Source: Hotstar
  • Episode IV: A New Hope (1977)
  • Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back (1980)
  • Episode I: The Phantom Menace (1999)
  • Episode II: Attack of the Clones (2002)
  • Episode III: Revenge of the Sith (2005)
  • Episode VI: Return of the Jedi (1983)

7. The Machete Order

Lucas will likely be upset with you if you follow this one. Nevertheless, it is a boon for prequel haters. And if we’re talking about the prequel The Phantom Menace, it was never so acclaimed in the first place. In fact, it’s the least favorite among fans.

Star Wars fan Rod Hilton suggested this back in 2011. It removes The Phantom Menace altogether. So no Jar Jar Binks, and no querulous version of Anakin as a kid who is unaware that one day, he is going to become the most notorious villain of the galaxy.

One would certainly be delighted to skip the weird part where a grown-up Padme meets her future husband, who is still a nine year old kid. Also, the confusion between Amidala and Padme is resolved.

  • Episode IV: A New Hope (1977)
  • Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back (1980)
  • Episode II: Attack of the Clones (2002)
  • Episode III: Revenge of the Sith (2005)
  • Episode VI: Return of the Jedi (1983)

Sadly, it includes all the cons of Rister Order. If you ask me, omitting The Phantom Menace is a bit severe. The Duel Of The Fates is so enticing to watch, it is definitely one of the saga’s best saber fights. This installment is also the most child-friendly the franchise will ever get.

How To Watch Star Wars? Easy Watch Order Guide
Darth Maul | Source: Star Wars

If you skip The Phantom Menace, you will never get to know about hideous Darth Maul, Qui-Gon Jinn’s sacrifice, midi-chlorians (microscopic, intelligent life forms), and podracing. Palpatine’s ascension from Chancellor to Emperor in the movie would evoke your interest in the most wicked schemer of the franchise.

Furthermore, you would never be enlightened with the prophecy of Anakin being the one who would bring balance to the Force. You would never have the knowledge of Anakin being a slave, or why his mother was sold.

8. Flashback Order

Voila! You have space to fit in the spin-offs perfectly here now. They will lay a solid foundation for The Empire Strikes Back, and give meaningful ambience to A New Hope.

And like the Rister Order, the shocking revelation about Vader is kept intact. It increases master Yoda’s role, and enables Vader’s redemption to be more reasonable. Importantly, it refines Luke’s journey, giving his actions in The Last Jedi more credibility.

How To Watch Star Wars? Easy Watch Order Guide
Solo | Source: Disney Plus
  • Episode IV: A New Hope (1977)
  • Solo (2018)
  • Rogue One (2016)
  • Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back (1980)
  • Episode I: The Phantom Menace (1999)
  • Episode I: Attack of the Clones (2002)
  • Episode III: Revenge of the Sith (2005)
  • Episode VI: Return of the Jedi (1983)
  • Episode VII: The Force Awakens (2015)
  • Episode VIII: The Last Jedi (2017)
  • Episode IX: The Rise of Skywalker (2019)

Warning: For the uninitiated, the story cannot get more tangled than this. Jumping forth and back so much is only suitable for those who have a passing knowledge about Star Wars.

9. Time Machine Order

  • Episode IV*
  • Episode V*
  • Episode VI*
  • Episode I
  • EpisodeII
  • Episode III
  • Episode (IV, V, VI,)
  • Episode VII
  • Episode VIII
  • Episode IX

“What in the Roman Numeric nonsense is this?” is what you must be wondering. Well, this is the time machine order for those fanatics who have ample time available.

*If you possess something like the Despecialized Editions of Star Wars movies, this is possible. These editions are basically high definition reconstruction of original movies. The original shots are meticulously reinstated using various sources ranging from VHS, LaserDisc, DVD, BluRay to 35mm print scans.

It provides you the most primitive viewer experience as seen on the first day of theatrical release of a particular movie.

Figuratively speaking, this order would require time travel back to May 25, 1977 to watch A New Hope’s first premiere. Next, you will need to see theatrical cuts of both The Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi.

How To Watch Star Wars? Easy Watch Order Guide
Luke Skywalker | Source: Star Wars

Some of the scenes will be missing. After this, you proceed with the Episodes I,II,III giving the prequels weightage. Next, you hop back to the original trilogy (IV, V, VI) again.

This time, you watch it thoroughly, with all the Special Edition tweaks, modifications, and new inclusions. Only then you can move on with the new sequel trilogy, starting with The Force Awakens.

You can now truly cherish how the four-decades old Star Wars saga is a force to be reckoned with.

10. Ultimate Star Wars Watch Order

This chronological order suggestion is somewhat complex. It has been made taking all Lego Star Wars movies, spin-off tv shows and specials (released and upcoming) into consideration. Only if you have a plethora of time in your hands, you should go for it.

How To Watch Star Wars? Easy Watch Order Guide
Master Yoda | Source: Star Wars
  • Star Wars: The Acolyte (upcoming)
  • Episode I: The Phantom Menace (1999)
  • Episode II: Attack of the Clones (2002)
  • Lego Star Wars: The Yoda Chronicles (2013-2014)
  • Lego Star Wars: The Padawan Menace (2011)
  • Star Wars: Clone Wars (2003-2005)
  • Star Wars: The Clone Wars Movie (2008)
  • Star Wars: The Clone Wars TV Series (2008-2020)
  • Episode III: Revenge of the Sith (2005)
  • Star Wars: Droids (1985-1986)
  • Star Wars: The Bad Batch (2021-)
  • Solo (2018)
  • Obi-Wan Kenobi (upcoming)
  • Star Wars Rebels (2014-2018)
  • Andor (upcoming – 2022)
  • Rogue One: A Star Wars Story (2016)
  • Episode IV: A New Hope (1977)
  • The Star Wars: Holiday Special (1978)
  • Lego Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Out (2012)
  • Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back (1980)
  • Lego Star Wars: The Freemaker Adventures (2016-2017)
  • Lego Star Wars: Droid Tales (2015)
  • Ewoks (1985-1986)
  • The Ewok Adventure (1984)
  • Ewoks: The Battle for Endor (1985)
  • Episode VI: The Return of the Jedi (1983)
  • The Mandalorian (2019-)
  • The Book of Boba Fett (upcoming – 2021)
  • Ahsoka (upcoming)
  • Rangers of the New Republic (upcoming)
  • Star Wars: Resistance (2018-)
  • Lego Star Wars: The Resistance Rises (2016)
  • Episode VII: The Force Awakens (2016)
  • Episode VIII: The Last Jedi (2017)
  • Episode IX: The Rise of Skywalker (2019)
  • Star Wars: Forces of Destiny (2017-)

*Sigh! Yes, I know it’s a lot and you might be getting fuzzy in the head right now. But if you want to explore the intergalactic franchise in and out, this is the best arrangement one could ask for. If you are zealous and have a little over one week to spare, I think you should go for it!

11. Conclusion

Binging Star Wars requires an enormous time commitment. Of all the discussions in Star Wars fandom, the “correct” order to watch the movies and series is one of the most controversial.

Some of the quite famous ways include Ernest Rister Order, Machete Order, Flashback Order, etc.

How To Watch Star Wars? Easy Watch Order Guide
Rey Skywalker | Source: Star Wars

Captivating arguments can be made in favor of all types. And while the Ultimate Star Wars Watch Order is lucrative, I am inclined more towards the original complete release date order. Reason? It is feasible, and not exhausting.

Also, in chronological order, one starts with The Phantom Menace, which is regarded as the least favorite installment. That order also spoils some of the biggest twists, such as revealing the identity of Luke’s father beforehand.

In release order, you can see the narrative beginning midway, but eventually coming full circle. The story unfolds logically and gradually.

If you start with A New Hope, you will realize that a lot has occurred before that set the course of events in this movie. This will arouse your curiosity and you will be eager to find out what’s happened and what’s gonna happen.

Watch Star Wars on:

12. About Star Wars

Star Wars is an American epic space opera media franchise created by George Lucas, which began with the 1977 film Star Wars: A New Hope and quickly became a worldwide pop-culture phenomenon.

It has three trilogies at its core – Original, Prequel, and Sequel, spread across five decades and interspersed with at least a dozen spin-off series and films.

Created by George Lucas and his Lucasfilm, the franchise is currently under the Disney umbrella. All the Star Wars films and shows are now available to binge on Disney+ streaming service.