With Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker closing the book on another Star Wars chapter, it’s time to schedule a rewatch of the entire franchise. But the order in which things were released is not the order in which they happen on the Star Wars timeline. So we’ve put together the entire saga of Star Wars in chronological order, including movies that don’t fit into the 9 episode series but are part of the Star Wars universe, as well as the animated series’ and yes, the infamous Star Wars Holiday Special.
This is how to watch Star Wars in chronological order.
Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace (1999)
While A New Hope was the first movie released in the series, The Phantom Menace is the saga’s actual chronological beginning. The story is set 32 years before A New Hope and introduces fans to a young Obi-Wan Kenobi (Ewan McGregor) as he is being trained in all things Jedi by Qui-Gon Jinn (Liam Neeson). This is also our first introduction to Anakin Skywalker (Jake Lloyd) a nine-year-old who, as we all know, eventually becomes Darth Vader. Natalie Portman joins the series here Queen Padmé Amidala.
The Phantom Menace is a movie busy with politics. The Trade Federation has cut off every route to the planet Naboo, so Qui-Gon and Obi-Wan are assigned to settle this issue, and they stumble upon Anakin along the way. Phantom Menace is perhaps best remembered, infamously, as the place we met one of the most reviled characters in Star Wars history: Jar Jar Binks.
- Average Viewer Rating – 6.5
Star Wars Episode II: Attack of the Clones (2002)
Attack of the Clones is set 10 years after The Phantom Menace and 22 years before A New Hope. 10 years is a long time and Anakin is now a young man. Both he and Obi-Wan are called upon after an assassination attempt on Senator Padmé Amidala. After a second attempt on her life, Anakin is tasked to guard Padmé as she travels back to Naboo while Obi-Wan is sent to investigate the attempts on Padmé’s life. Obi-Wan ends up on Kamino, where he discovers the Republic is producing a clone army.
There may be too much going on in Attack of the Clones, where the love story between Padmé and Anakin seems stilted and wooden at best. But for all its negatives, it does set up the beginning of Anakin’s turn toward the dark side.
- Average Viewer Rating – 6.6
Star Wars: The Clone Wars (2008-2014, 2020)
Clone Wars is an animated series that first began as a theatrical release and then went on to the Cartoon Network where it ran for 5 seasons. A sixth season was produced and aired on Netflix. Lucasfilm announced at the San Diego Comic-con in 2018 that the series would be coming back for a 7th season to be shown on Disney+.
If you’re watching Star Wars in chronological order then this story is set during the three years between Episode II: Attack of the Clones and Episode III: Revenge of the Sith. The series began by telling many stand-alone stories that captured the flavor for the time in between Episode II and III. As the seasons moved on, the stories had a little more diplomatic feel to them moving away from the battleground. All along though, the series moved Anakin closer and closer to the dark side.
- Average Viewer Rating – 8.1
Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith (2005)
Episode III begins three years after the events of Attack of the Clones and is set 19 years before A New Hope. While the title calls for revenge, this story is about many beginnings. It has Palpatine’s revelation that he is Sith Lord Darth Sidious. It has the birth of Darth Vader at the hands of Obi-Wan Kenobi. It has the construction of the Death Star, and it has the birth of Luke and Leia, taking us to the middle three stories we all know and love.
- Average Viewer Rating – 7.5
Solo: A Star Wars Story (2018)
This project saw many changes before audiences made it the lowest-grossing Star Wars franchise film. The story is set about a decade before A New Hope and tells how Han Solo met Chewbacca and won the Millennium Falcon from smuggler Lando Calrissian. The film is also noteworthy for showing Han’s famous Kessel Run. If you’re watching Star Wars in chronological order then this is your first look at Han Solo.
- Average Viewer Rating – 6.9
Star Wars: Rebels (2014-2018)
Star Wars: Rebels is another animated Star Wars series introducing a whole new set of characters who don’t show up in any of the live-action Star Wars movies. It is set five years before A New Hope filling in the gap between Episode III and IV. The story is about young rebels who come together on the starship Ghost. They learn together and travel the galaxy together to fight the Empire.
- Average Viewer Rating – 8.0
Rogue One: A Star Wars Story (2016)
Rogue One is another stand-alone Star Wars and another which required extensive reshoots. The final product, though, received much better fanfare than Solo did as it told the story of Jyn, whose father became the lead engineer on the Empire’s Death Star. Understanding the power of the planet-destroying Death Star, Jyn, along with intelligence officer Cassian Andor, begin a race to destroy the Death Star before it can become complete. If you’re looking at Star Wars in chronological order then this story ends moments before A New Hope and introduces both Princess Leia and Darth Vader.
- Average Viewer Rating – 7.8
Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope (1977)
The one that started it all. This movie has everything. Heroes, villains, romance, action and adventure. This is the story that started the Skywalker Saga and introduced the world to a Wookie. Luke, Leia, Han and Chewie were the talk of the town back in 1977 as George Lucas introduced us to a spectacle of special effects and edge of the seat excitement. This is the story of Rebel Alliance and its quest to defeat the Empire. Luke is brought in as his power with the force is unmatched. Well, Darth Vader may have something to say about that.
- Average Viewer Rating – 8.6
Star Wars Holiday Special (1978)
Seriously, what were they thinking?
This Holiday Special was made for TV and was intended to bridge the gap between A New Hope and The Empire Strikes Back. It starred the main cast from A New Hope and it also introduced the world to the character of bounty hunter and fan favorite, Boba Fett.
The story followed Han Solo and Chewie as they attempt to visit Chewie’s homeworld to celebrate “Life Day”. The world was also introduced to Chewie’s father Itchy and his wife, Malla. They also met Chewie’s son, Lumpy. Was it that bad? Unfortunately yes, yes it was, but it’s part of watching Star Wars in chronological order.
- Average Viewer Rating – 2.1
Star Wars Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back (1980)
The series got back on track with what most consider the best entry in the entire franchise. Set three years after A New Hope, The Empire Strikes Back brings Luke, Leia and Han back together along with Chewie, C3PO and R2D2. The Death Star has been destroyed but that hasn’t stopped Darth Vader. Vader continues his search of the Leia’s Rebel Alliance while Luke finds himself on the planet Dagobah, where he learns the ways of the Force from Yoda.
This all leads to the climactic battle between Luke and Vader, where Vader reveals to Luke, “I am your father.” This Star Wars entry introduced the original owner of the Millenium Falcon, Lando Calrissian.
- Average Viewer Rating – 8.7
Star Wars: Ewok Adventures (1984-85)
The Ewok Adventures were comprised of two made for TV movies, Caravan of Courage: An Ewok Adventure and Ewoks: The Battle for Endor. The first, Caravan of Courage, tells the story of a family whose spaceship crashes on Endor. The two children find themselves separated from their parents, who have been taken by a vicious monster called the Gorax. The kids encounter the Ewoks and convince them to help rescue their parents.
The second, The Battle for Endor, follows one child from the first Ewok adventure, Cindel, as she helps the Ewoks retrieve a power supply stolen by marauders, who think the power supply is magical. Both TV movies were met with a lukewarm response but are considered part of the Star Wars family and fit into the chronology.
- Average Viewer Rating – 5.5
Star Wars Episode VI: Return of the Jedi (1983)
The culmination of Episodes IV and V is told in this final entry of the original trilogy set four years after A New Hope. A second Death Star is being built to destroy the Rebel Alliance for good. But Luke and friends have other plans. Luke first must battle Jabba the Hut and his group of monsters before he can help destroy the second Death Star. More romance, action and adventure await our heroes. The battle between light and dark with Luke plays large in this story as Luke also attempts to turn Vader away from the dark side.
- Average Viewer Rating – 8.3
The Mandalorian (2019)
Hailed by many as a return to the original spirit of Star Wars, this Jon Faverau created series for Disney+ is a hit. The Mandalorian is set around nine years after A New Hope and revolves around the Mandalorian, a bounty hunter who looks a lot like Boba Fett but is not Boba Fett. The series is on-going and has taken the Mandalorian to many places and many adventures. His first “job” was to track down a bounty that turned out to be a baby from the same species as Yoda. Thus the Baby Yoda memes were born. The first season comprises eight episodes and it has already been greenlit for a second season which will no doubt fit right after this first season, if you’re watching Star Wars in chronological order.
- Average Viewer Rating – 9.0
Star Wars: Resistance (2018)
Another animated series set in the Star Wars universe, Resistance finds itself 34 years after A New Hope. The series of shorts brings in Resistance Commander Poe Dameron, from the new trilogy, as he recruits a young New Republic pilot, Kazuda Xiono, for missions to help bring down the First Order.
- Average Viewer Rating – 4.8
Star Wars Episode VII: The Force Awakens (2015)
Set 34 years after A New Hope, the new trilogy was expected to bring big things to the Star Wars universe. Financially it did, but the storyline and the death of Han Solo didn’t sit well with many Star Wars fans who felt its story was simply a rehash of A New Hope. Many others weren’t enamored with the new characters introduced and the lack of a strong villain angered fans.
But, over 2 billion dollars is hard to argue with and this JJ Abrams-directed film was received with great critical praise. The Force Awakens story follows a new group of characters as they battle the First Order. Leia returns and is searching for her brother Luke, who has been missing for a long time.
- Average Viewer Rating – 7.9
Star Wars Episode VIII: The Last Jedi (2017)
In what may be the most divisive film in the entire series, The Last Jedi is set 34 years after A New Hope. Following Rey’s meeting with Luke, Luke must decide how much a part he wants to play in helping the Resistance against the First Order. This film won over critics but did not sit well with fans. Rian Johnson (Knives Out) wrote and directed a story that many felt took away from the spirit of the original trilogy.
The controversial ending to The Last Jedi only sets up what’s to come next.
- Average Viewer Rating – 7.9
Star Wars Episode IX: The Rise of Skywalker (2019)
Rise of Skywalker is the conclusion of the current Star Wars chapter. Set 35 years after A New Hope it sees the return of Rey, Cameron Poe, Finn, and bad guy Kylo Ren. Our review of the film called it “a wildly mixed bag” and says that “while some arcs conclude in a satisfying fashion, others are hasty, don’t stick the landing, or try to please everyone.”
What’s Next For Star Wars, Chronologically
We don’t know what’s next for Star Wars and neither does Disney. As of this writing Disney hasn’t decided what or even if there will be more Star Wars movies. They are developing new television series which will be set earlier in the timeline. We’ll add those to this list when they’re available. For now, watching Star Wars in chronological order means your journey through a galaxy far, far away ends here.