If you’re just starting to explore the Star Wars universe, it’s a bit tough to figure out how to watch Star Wars in order. Not only is there an overwhelming amount of content to navigate, but you have to decide which method you want to use to watch them.
Do you watch Star Wars in the order the content was released? What about watching them in the order they exist in the Star Wars universe? Have you thought about trying Machete Order?
No matter what option you choose to enjoy the Star Wars stories in, let yourself have fun. It’s a great series with incredible lore, but don’t let yourself get overwhelmed by the history (or overzealous fans).
So here are some different techniques you can choose when deciding how to watch Star Wars in order.
The Different Ways to Watch Star Wars in Order
If you ask 10 different fans how to watch Star Wars in order, you might get 10 different answers. If you haven’t yet watched any Star Wars at all, buckle your seatbelts. There’s a lot of content to binge.
Here are just a few ways you could watch Star Wars:
- Chronological order: Watch Star Wars according to their timeline within the Star Wars universe.
- Release order: Watch Star Wars in the order Lucasfilm and now Disney have produced their content.
- Movies first, shows second: The shows serve as the glue between each of the movies. You likely can’t appreciate the subtleties of them without understanding their context within the larger story. This still leaves the order in which you watch the movies up for debate.
- Machete order: Machete order is a fan-developed way to watch Star Wars in order so you can maximize your viewing experience.
And these are just some of the ways you can approach the Star Wars series. Let’s take a look at how you go about watching the movies based on these techniques.
And remember: no matter what diehard fans tell you, there’s no “wrong” way to enjoy Star Wars. Star Wars fans can get a little too passionate and try to regulate the way you experience the series. At the end of the day, it’s all up to you. There’s no rules on how to enjoy movies and shows.
Chronological in the Star Wars Universe: How to Watch Star Wars in Order
Let’s start out with the simplest method on how to watch Star Wars in order: chronologically based on when the movie takes place in the show’s timeline. This isn’t the order that fans who have been watching since the 70s have seen it. They obviously had to wait based on when George Lucas produced the next movie or show.
But since you’ve waited until now to get started (or you just want to try a new way to enjoy them), here’s how you can begin. This is based on what’s available in early summer 2022. More shows and content are already in production and will be on Disney+ before you know it.
Star Wars: Episode I – The Phantom Menace
The Star Wars universe begins with Episode 1: The Phantom Menace. Here we meet young Anakin Skywalker and Padme Amidala: the parents of force-sensitive twins Luke and Leia Skywalker. Plus, we get one of the best pieces of John Williams’s Star Wars orchestrations: Duel of the Fates.
Star Wars: Episode II – Attack of the Clones
Ten years after The Phantom Menace, we see that young Anakin has become Obi-Wan Kenobi’s Padawan. The Republic fights back against a separatist movement threatening to tear the galaxy apart. We watch Anakin begin to struggle against the Jedi Order’s dogma and Obi-Wan tries to keep him away from the Dark Side.
Star Wars: The Clone Wars Movie
The Clone Wars tear across the galaxy and the Jedi knights try desperately to protect the Republic. Anakin and his own Padawan, Ahsoka Tano, go on a mission that leads them to Jabba the Hutt.
Star Wars: The Clone Wars TV Series
Set in the three year period between Attack of the Clones and Revenge of the Sith, this series focuses on the Jedi Order trying to protect the Galactic Republic. The series highlights Anakin, Obi-Wan, Padmi, Yoda, Mace Windu, Ahsoka Tano, and Captain Rex. It began in 2003 and stopped and started several times under different producers until the finale in 2020.
Star Wars: Episode III – Revenge of the Sith
We watch Anakin Skywalker descend to the Dark Side, becoming Darth Vader as he falls prey to Emperor Palpatine/Darth Sidious’s mind tricks. The Jedis become almost extinguished after the fateful Order 66. Luke and Leia get split between two separate adoptive families and are never told of their parentage.
The Bad Batch
After the Clone Wars, we follow Clone Force 99, aka the Bad Batch, working as mercenaries. The Bad Batch is composed of elite soldiers with genetic mutations from the original clone.
Solo: A Star Wars Story
We watch young Han Solo develop into the smuggler we know and love today. He meets Chewbacca and Lando Calrissian, and we see where he gets the Millennium Falcon.
Hiding out the wastelands of Tatooine, Obi-Wan has given up on the Jedi and simply watches over young Luke Skywalker. That is until Bail Organa calls to say his adopted daughter Leia has been kidnapped.
Star Wars Rebels
A group of mismatched rebels, including a Jedi that survived Order 66 and a Mandalorian, fight back against the Galactic Empire together.
Rogue One: A Star Wars Story
We discover how Leia Organa ended up with the plans to the Death Star and meet the brave heroes that brought it to her.
Star Wars: Episode IV – A New Hope
Luke Skywalker discovers that he is force sensitive when he meets Obi-Wan Kenobi. Together, they go to save Princess Leia, a resistance fighter trapped on the Death Star.
Star Wars: Episode V – The Empire Strikes Back
With Obi-Wan Kenobi gone, Luke must seek out Master Yoda in order to hone his skills as a Jedi. He discovers that he has a deeper connection to the Dark Side than he could have ever imagined.
Star Wars: Episode VI – Return of the Jedi
In order to defeat the evil emperor, Luke, Leia, Han, Chewie, C-3PO, R2-D2, and a bunch of Ewoks need to band together to fight against the Dark Side.
The Mandalorian Seasons 1 and 2 (Disney Plus series)
A Mandalorian bounty hunter discovers The Child on a mission and makes it his job to protect the powerful creature.
The Book of Boba Fett (Disney Plus series)
Covering two timelines, we discover what befell Boba after he was almost eaten by the sarlacc in Episode VI and what he does after meeting the Mandalorian.
Star Wars: Episode VII – The Force Awakens
Thirty years after Return of the Jedi, we meet Rey, a force sensitive scrapper on Jakku. She must learn to wield a lightsaber fast, as Kylo Ren threatens the galaxy.
Star Wars: Episode VIII – The Last Jedi
Rey trains with the great Luke Skywalker as what’s left of the Resistance attempts to flee the First Order.
We discover that Emperor Palpatine survived. The Resistance must find him quickly to put a stop to the First Order while Rey battles against the Dark Side for Kylo’s soul.
Chronological in Our Universe: How to Watch Star Wars in Order
Want to watch the Star Wars movies and shows the same way fans who’ve watched since the 1970s have? Here’s how to get started based on what years new Star Wars content has been released.
Exact release dates will vary based on the location of premiere.
- Star Wars: Episode 4 – A New Hope
Release Date: May 25, 1977
- Star Wars: Episode 5 – The Empire Strikes Back
Release Date: May 21, 1980
- Star Wars: Episode 6 – Return of the Jedi
Release Date: May 25, 1983
- Star Wars: Episode 1 – The Phantom Menace
Release Date: May 19, 1999
- Star Wars: Episode 2 – Attack of the Clones
Release Date: May 16, 2002
- Star Wars: The Clone Wars TV Show Seasons 1-3
Release Date: November 7, 2003 – March 26, 2005
- Star Wars: Episode 3 – Revenge of the Sith
Release Date: May 19, 2005
- Star Wars: The Clone Wars Movie
Release Date: August 15, 2008
- Star Wars: The Clone Wars TV Show
Release Date: October 3, 2008 – May 4, 2020
- Star Wars: Rebels
Release Date: October 3, 2014
- Star Wars: Episode 7 – The Force Awakens
Release Date: December 18, 2015
- Rogue One: A Star Wars Story
Release Date: December 16, 2016
- Star Wars: Episode 8 – The Last Jedi
Release Date: December 15, 2017
- Solo: A Star Wars Story
Release Date: May 10, 2018
- The Mandalorian
Release Date: November 12, 2019
- Star Wars: Episode 9 – The Rise of Skywalker
Release Date: December 20, 2019
- Star Wars: The Bad Batch
Release Date: May 4, 2021
- Obi-Wan Kenobi
Release Date: May 27, 2022
You’ve decided you don’t want to watch Star Wars in either chronological order. What are your other options on how to watch Star Wars in order now?
You could try out Machete Order.
Machete Order attempts to solve the problem of discovering Luke and Leia’s true father too early on. It also fixes the problem of not understanding the significance of the prequel trilogy. Without the original trilogy, the prequels lose their punch, as you don’t understand what it builds to.
So according to Machete Order, you watch the Star Wars movies in this order:
- A New Hope (Episode 4)
- The Empire Strikes Back (Episode 5)
- Attack of the Clones (Episode 2)
- Revenge of the Sith (Episode 3)
- Return of the Jedi (Episode 6)
- The sequel trilogy (Episodes 7-9)
But what about The Phantom Menace (Episode 1)?
Since the first Episode is self-contained (that is in terms of the movies), people who believe in Machete Order believe it’s completely unnecessary.
However, if you plan to enjoy the shows as well, you definitely need to watch Episode 1. Proponents of Machete Order say you don’t need it, as Darth Maul gets immediately replaced by Count Dooku and Qui-Gon doesn’t make it. However, Darth Maul plays a critical role in shows like Clone Wars.
The premise of Machete Order also heavily relies on the fact that you don’t know that “you know who” is “you know which’s” father, and it’s rather unbelievable that anyone with any vague understanding of the Star Wars universe doesn’t already know that.
Need More Star Wars Content? Try the Video Games and Comics
Feel like this isn’t enough Star Wars for you to enjoy? Don’t worry. Disney+ already has more series in the works, including Ahsoka, which we couldn’t possibly be more excited for.
And if you really want to get every ounce of content when figuring out how to watch Star Wars in order, you can check out the video games as well. And if that still isn’t enough, you can always check out the comics and books that go along with the series. There’s truly no shortage of Star Wars content to dive into.