In 1981, Harrison Ford picked up a whip, donned a fedora, and became one of the greatest action heroes of the all time – Indiana Jones. Following that initial appearance a franchise was born, which has included a prequel, sequels, a TV series, comics, games, and more.

If you have followed the Indiana Jones movie series since day one you are more than likely familiar with the films. However, if you’re new to the franchise, or you’re not aware of the expanded material that was produced during the ’90s, then I have a post that is perfect for you!

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Today I am going to talk about the best viewing order to watch the Indiana Jones films. This post covers the theatrical entries featuring Harrison Ford, as well as the movies where Ford isn’t the focus.

Want to know what I’m talking about? Of course you do!

Let’s get started.

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Chronological order

Image: ©Lucasfilm/Disney

To begin, let’s take a look at the four Indiana Jones theatrical movies that were released between 1981 and 2008, and put them in chronological order. And that means starting with a prequel.

You see, while the series began in 1981 with the release of Raiders of the Lost Ark, according to the Indy timeline, Raiders isn’t the first movie. Instead, the series begins with Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom – a prequel to Raiders.

Yep, long before George Lucas started making prequels to the Star Wars movies, he was tinkering with the Indiana Jones timeline. As such, if you want to watch the Indiana Jones films in chronological order you need to work through them as follows:

  • Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom (1984)
  • Indiana Jones and the Raiders of the Lost Ark (1981)*
  • Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade (1989)
  • Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull (2008)

Here’s how the timeline works:

Temple of Doom is set during 1935, Raiders is set during 1936, The Last Crusade takes place in 1938, and Kingdom of the Crystal Skull is set in 1957.

*Oh and during its initial release, Indiana Jones and the Raiders of the Lost Ark was simply titled, Raiders of the Lost Ark – the Indiana Jones prefix was added at a later date. So sometimes you will see the film listed by its full title, sometimes it will be listed by its original name.

And now onto the non-theatrical movies.

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The expanded timeline

Image: ©Lucasfilm

If you think there are only four Indiana Jones films then chances are you have missed out on a whole collection of Indy movies – 22 of them in fact! But what are they and where have these 22 movies been hiding all this time?

Let me explain…

In 1992, three years after the release of Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade, Lucasfilm decided to transport Dr. Jones to television. The result was a two season programme comprising 28 episodes, and four TV movies.

The series – The Young Indiana Jones Chronicles – told the early adventures of Indy, through a collection of country-hopping tales set during the early 1900s. The show covered multiple years in Indy’s life, with Corey Carrier playing the character at age 8, Sean Patrick Flannery playing Indy from the age of 16, and George Hall picking up the story at the age of 93.

So, no Harrison Ford then?

Well, actually he was involved.

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While the series focused on stories set before the events of Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom – thus negating the need to include Harrison Ford in the show – Ford did make an appearance in one episode. The episode, Young Indiana Jones and the Mystery of the Blues saw Ford play the role of Dr. Jones at the age of 50.

Now I know what you’re thinking – with the exception of four TV movies, what does the show have do with the theatrical Indiana Jones films? Well, I can tell you.

In 1999, Lucasfilm decided to release the show on VHS but not as a programme, rather as a series of movies re-titled The Young Adventures of Indiana Jones. Editing episodes together, then adding and trimming material accordingly, the studio reworked all of the episodes to create 22 films that could link up with the theatrical movies.

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In most cases the films were formed by editing together two television episodes. In other cases, the films were slightly tweaked versions of the original material.

Here are all of the Young Indiana Jones films, listed from film #1 – My First Adventure, through to film #22 – Hollywood Follies. To complete the timeline as Lucasfilm envisioned it, I’ve also added the theatrical movies in chronological order.

The viewing order of the Young Indiana Jones films is:

  • #1 – My First Adventure (Originally Young Indiana Jones and the Curse of the Jackal + new footage)
  • #2 – Passion for Life (Originally British East Africa, September 1909 + Paris, September 1908)
  • #3 – The Perils of Cupid (Originally Vienna, November 1908 + Florence, May 1908)
  • #4 – Travels with Father (Originally Young Indiana Jones: Travels with Father)
  • #5 – Journey of Radiance (Originally Benares, January 1910 + Peking, March 1910)
  • #6 – Spring Break Adventure (Originally Princeton, February 1916 + material from Young Indiana Jones and the Curse of the Jackal)
  • #7 – Love’s Sweet Song (Originally Ireland, April 1916 + London, May 1916)
  • #8 – Trenches of Hell (Originally Somme, Early August 1916 + Germany, Mid-August 1916)
  • #9 – Demons of Deception (Originally Verdun, September 1916 + Paris, October 1916)
  • #10 – Phantom Train of Doom (A slightly edited version of Young Indiana Jones and the Phantom Train of Doom)
  • #11 – Oganga, The Giver and Taker of Life (Originally German East Africa, December 1916 + Congo, January 1917)
  • #12 – Attack of the Hawkmen (A slightly edited version of Young Indiana Jones and the Attack of the Hawkmen)
  • #13 – Adventures in the Secret Service (Originally Austria, March 1917 + Petrograd, July 1917)
  • #14 – Espionage Escapades (Originally Barcelona, May 1917 + Prague, August 1917)
  • #15 – Daredevils of the Desert (Originally Palestine, October 1917)
  • #16 – Tales of Innocence (Originally Northern Italy, June 1918 + new footage)
  • #17 – Masks of Evil (Originally Transylvania, January 1918 + Istanbul, September 1918)
  • #18 – Treasure of the Peacock’s Eye (Originally Young Indiana Jones and the Treasure of the Peacock’s Eye)
  • #19 – Winds of Change (Originally Paris, May 1919 + Princeton, 1919 – taken from Travels with Father)
  • #20 – Mystery of the Blues (Originally Young Indiana Jones and the Mystery of the Blues)
  • #21 – The Scandal of 1920 (Originally Young Indiana Jones and the Scandal of 1920)
  • #22 – Hollywood Follies (Originally Young Indiana Jones and the Hollywood Follies)
  • #23 – Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom (1984)
  • #24 – Indiana Jones and the Raiders of the Lost Ark (1981)
  • #25 – Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade (1989)
  • #26 – Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull (2008)

Now it should be noted that while Lucasfilm did plan to release all the movies on VHS in (and around) 1999, only 12 of them made it to shelves. However, in 2008 – ahead of the release of Kingdom of the Crystal Skull – all 22 entries were released on DVD.

The movies are currently available via three different boxset collections: The Early Years (Vol.1), The War Years (Vol.2) and The Years of Change (Vol.3). In addition to the films, each boxset contains a wealth of material, most of which details the real-world history that surrounds each Indy story.

Should you want more information on these releases, you can check out the DVD collections of The Adventures of Young Indiana Jones on Amazon UK or Amazon US.

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Production order

Image: ©Lucasfilm/Disney

And finally, should you simply want to watch the theatrical movies in the order they were originally released (without the Young Indy material), then you want to follow the production order. The production order of the theatrical Indiana Jones films is:

  • Indiana Jones and the Raiders of the Lost Ark (1981)
  • Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom (1984)
  • Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade (1989)
  • Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull (2008)

And now you know.

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So, what is your favourite way to view the Indiana Jones movies and more importantly, which is your go-to Indy adventure? Is Raiders of the Lost Ark your No.1 Indiana Jones film or do you favour one of the sequels?

Perhaps you’re a huge fan of the Young Indiana Jones films. If so, in your opinion which is the best? Sound off in the comments section and let me know your thoughts.

Until next time.

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Disclaimer: I earn a commission for products purchased through some links in this article.

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