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 expanded since its 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 chaotic 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.

1. Release Order (Canon Only)

Regarded canon officially by Lucasfilm, it counts the six Star Wars theatrical releases, the Star Wars animated film The Clone Wars, and the 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.

Release Order (Canon Only)
Star Wars | Source: IMDb

This order will maintain the historical 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)

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-)
  • Star Wars: The Book of Boba Fett (2021-)
  • Obi-Wan Kenobi (2022-)

But, considering Lucas is aware of the copious alterations he made with each trilogy, he has advised starting 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 (Canon and Non-Canon)

This order consists of movies and TV series, 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.

Complete Release Order (Canon and Non-Canon)
Star Wars: Clone Wars | Source: IMDb

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-)
  • Star Wars: The Book of Boba Fett (2021-)
  • Obi-Wan Kenobi (2022-)

The total time it should take you to watch the Complete Release Order is around 7 days 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 Watch 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 that revolves around Anakin Skywalker. From his stubborn childhood, through a committed Jedi knighthood, the redemption of his most scandalous alter ego, 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.

  • 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)
  • Star Wars: The Bad Batch (2021-)
  • Solo: A Star Wars Story (2018)
  • Obi-Wan Kenobi (2022-)
  • 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: The Book of Boba Fett (2021-)
  • 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)
Chronological Watch Order (Canon Only)
Gray Jedi | Source: IMDb

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 entirely meaningless this way.

Transitioning from a holographic 3D to a 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 Watch Order (Canon and Non-Canon)

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)
  • Obi-Wan Kenobi (2022-)
  • 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: The Book of Boba Fett (2021-)
  • 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)

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

Now, there are other unorthodox approaches that require your 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, and 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)
Ernest Rister Order
Episode II: Attack of the Clones | 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 need to learn about a new watch order here. This one is a carbon copy of the Ernest Rister order.

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

  • 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 the 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.

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 know Anakin being enslaved 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 ambiance 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 more credibility to his actions in The Last Jedi.

  • 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)
Flashback Order
Revenge of the Sith | Source: IMDb

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 high-definition reconstructions of original movies. The original shots are meticulously reinstated using various sources ranging from VHS, LaserDisc, DVD, and BluRay to 35mm print scans.

It provides you with the most primitive viewer experience as seen on the first day of the 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 The Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi.

Some of the scenes will be missing. After this, you proceed with the Episodes I, II, and 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 can you move on with the new sequel trilogy, starting with The Force Awakens.

You can now truly cherish how the four-decade-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 on your hands should you go for it.

  • 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 (2022-)
  • 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 (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-)
Ultimate Star Wars Watch Order
The Mandalorian | Source: IMDb

*Sigh! Yes, I know it’s a lot, and you might be feeling a tad bit fuzzy 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. Where to Watch

The entire Star Wars franchise is present on Disney+. Both canon and non-canon titles (movies and TV series) are present on a single platform, thus making your viewing experience hassle-free.

A few alternate platforms include Amazon, iTunes, Google Play, and YouTube if you want to rent or buy the titles instead of subscribing to Disney+.

Watch Star Wars on:

12. 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 famous ways include Ernest Rister Order, Machete Order, Flashback Order, etc.

Compelling 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 the release order, the narrative begins midway but eventually comes 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 going to happen.

13. 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.