Since 1977, Star Wars has been capturing the imaginations of generations of people. And what began as a cool sci-fi fantasy film, has now grown into a self-perpetuating franchise, the likes of which has never been seen before.

But if you’re new to Star Wars, where do you start? What is the first film and in what order should you watch each movie?

I’ll be honest, it can be pretty daunting. The ever expanding film series has is produced in a non-chronological order, so if you want to watch all of the films (and connected TV shows) you do need some kind of guide.

Today I will be providing a guide, to help simplify things. This post will cover all of the main entries in the movie series, whilst also taking into account some of the lesser remembered material, such as the Ewok movies.

By the time you finish reading I expect you to be an expert in Star Wars timelines. Or at the very least, you’ll be able to bluff it and tell me the correct order to watch the Star Wars movies.

Now let’s begin.

Advertisements

The original trilogy

A New Hope
Image: ©Lucasfilm/Disney

For some people, Star Wars begins and ends with the original trilogy. While they have no issues with everything that followed, those first three films – which introduce Luke Skywalker, Han Solo and Princess Leia – are all they need.

If you are only interested in the original trilogy, then the viewing order is as follows:

  • 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)

If you only watch these three films you are missing out on a wealth of characters and content. However, if this is all you want to watch, then so be it.

Advertisements

____

The original trilogy – Expanded

Image: ©Lucasfilm/Disney

What’s this I hear you ask?

In addition to the three main movies, during the ’70s and ’80s a number of Star Wars spin-offs were produced, including the infamous Star Wars Holiday Special (more on that in a moment). This additional material is not of the same quality as the original trilogy, and is often ignored, but if you want to expand your viewing these added extras should be included.

The viewing order is as follows:

  • Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope (1977)
  • Star Wars Holiday Special (1978)
  • Star Wars Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back (1980)
  • Star Wars Episode VI: Return of the Jedi (1983)
  • Caravan of Courage: An Ewok Adventure (1984)
  • Ewoks: The Battle for Endor (1985)

So what is a Holiday Special?

Following the release of A New Hope (simply known as ‘Star Wars‘ back in 1977), Lucasfilm began work on a one-off television film to take advantage of the interest in the hit movie. This television film was the Star Wars Holiday Special – a 98 minute musical/variety show…. er… thing.

Look I’ll level with you, the Star Wars Holiday Special is bad. Very bad. Not only is it difficult to sit through (trust me – it’s the longest 98 minutes ever), it’s also regarded as a true low point for the Star Wars series. It was an ill-conceived cash in – nothing more.

Image: ©Lucasfilm/Disney

As for the two Ewok films, these were also television movies, but this time of a slightly higher quality. The films were produced shortly after the original trilogy concluded, as a way to keep the Star Wars brand going.

In addition to the above movies, if you’re still looking for more material produced during this era, Lucasfilm also commissioned two animated shows – Droids and Ewoks. Both shows are products of their time, but offer a window into a franchise that was very much still in its infancy.

____

The prequel trilogy

The Phantom Menace
Image: ©Lucasfilm/Disney

16 years after Return of the Jedi left theatres, Lucasfilm returned to the galaxy far, far away for a new trilogy – dubbed the ‘Prequels’. These films followed the early adventures of Anakin Skywalker and Obi-Wan Kenobi, and introduced new settings and new characters.

If you want to watch the Prequels (and nothing more), then you should view them in this order:

  • 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)

In addition to these three movies, two animated shows followed: Clone Wars (2003) and The Clone Wars (2008).

Confusing, right?

Clone Wars was a two-season animated series which aired during the advert breaks on Cartoon Network. Each episode was around 2-3 minutes in length and told a short tale set during the Clone Wars (a war which took place between Attack of the Clones and Revenge of the Sith).

Image: ©Lucasfilm/Disney

The Clone Wars (note the ‘The’ in the title), was a more traditional cartoon – i.e. each episode was around 20 minutes in length – and aired for longer. This show was also set during Attack of the Clones and Revenge of the Sith.

If you are only interested in the Prequel era of Star Wars, then you should probably check out these two cartoons. They feature many of the characters that were introduced during the Prequels and they are well respected amongst the Star Wars fanbase.

Advertisements

____

The Disney era

Image: ©Lucasfilm/Disney

In 2012, Disney announced it was to buy Lucasfilm, acquiring Star Wars in the process. This same announcement was accompanied by news that more films and TV shows were on their way.

Disney’s first port of call was to continue the Skywalker saga by releasing a movie set after the events of Return of the Jedi. The Force Awakens – aka Star Wars Episode VII – was that initial entry, and also the beginning of a new trilogy.

But the new trilogy was just the tip of the iceberg. Under Disney’s watch, Star Wars has expanded to cover more prequels and spin-offs.

If you want to watch the films produced under Disney, then you need to watch the following:

  • 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)

It should be noted that Episodes VII – IX are told in chronological order, while the two other films (Rogue One and Solo) are from much earlier points in the timeline… but I’ll get to this in a moment.

In addition to the above movies, there are also a number of animated shows, including: Star Wars: Rebels, Star Wars: Forces of Destiny, Star Wars Resistance, and various Lego animated specials, as well as the live-action show, The Mandalorian.

Advertisements

____

Chronological order

Rogue One
Image: ©Lucasfilm/Disney

OK, so let’s presume you want to put all this together (minus the TV shows and The Holiday Special) – what is the best order to watch the films?

How about chronological order?

Here are the Star Wars movies in order of story line:

  • 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)
  • Solo: A Star Wars Story (2018)
  • Rogue One: A Star Wars Story (2016)
  • 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)
  • Caravan of Courage: An Ewok Adventure (1984)
  • Ewoks: The Battle for Endor (1985)
  • Star Wars Episode VII: y The Force Awakens (2015)
  • Star Wars Episode VIII: The Last Jedi (2017)
  • Star Wars Episode IX: The Rise of Skywalker (2019)

If you watch the movies in this order you will follow the timeline chronologically. You can then choose to add or ignore the TV shows as you see fit.

And if that doesn’t work for you, then how about this one…

____

Production order

Image: ©Lucasfilm/Disney

If you simply want to watch the Star Wars movies in the order they were released, then watch as follows:

  • 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)
  • Caravan of Courage: An Ewok Adventure (1984)
  • Ewoks: The Battle for Endor (1985)
  • 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: The Rise of Skywalker (2019)

_____

Should you want to go even further, there are a number of fan films and Star Wars themed shows which cast a different light on the Saga. The most notable are the Robot Chicken Star Wars specials and the Star Wars Family Guy trilogy – Blue Harvest, Something, Something Dark Side and It’s A Trap!

You can check out prices for the Family Guy Star Wars Blu-ray trilogy boxset on Amazon UK and Amazon US.

Advertisements

So, what is your preferred viewing order? Do you watch the Star Wars films as trilogies (the original trilogy, the prequel trilogy, the sequel trilogy etc) or do you watch them chronologically?

Personally, I go for chronological order – but I appreciate that is not everyone’s preferred method. So, please sound off in the comments section below and let me know your ideal viewing order.

Read more:

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

Advertisements