There are many ways, but this is the best order to watch Star Wars.

There are a lot of camps when it comes to the best order in which to watch Star Wars, and we understand why. There are a lot of different ways to engage with such an incredible story. Some people like to go chronological, while some people like to skip the movies they don’t like, and others still like to watch the movies focusing on specific characters each time they go through them (one of our coworkers did a Darth Maul viewing not too long ago). But we think there is a right way to watch our favorite movies. We’ll explain why after breaking down the order.

You can tell us we are wrong, and we’ll gladly debate it, but this is how we think you should watch Star Wars.

  1. Rogue One
  2. A New Hope
  3. The Empire Strikes Back
  4. The Phantom Menace
  5. Attack of the Clones
  6. Revenge of the Sith
  7. Return of the Jedi
  8. The Force Awakens
  9. The Last Jedi

So you might be saying, “how is this order better than any other order?” Well, let us tell you. It maintains the continuity set forth by A New Hope and The Empire Strikes Back. Let us explain…

WARNING: Star Wars spoilers ahead (duh)!

Rogue One sets the scene, so it has to come first. The suicide mission to get the plans for the Death Star into the hands of the Rebel forces lets you know exactly what is at stake when you enter into the original trilogy. You come into the series knowing the Empire will kill anyone that stands in their way without remorse or regret.

Now we get to the original trilogy. The primary plot focused on Luke and his journey to discover who his father was, and who he could become. Therefore, the big reveal is lost if you begin your binge with the prequels.

The prequels bumble their way through what was already a perfect arc about who Luke’s father is. They also make it obvious that Luke has a twin who was raised by a different family, which ruins the second big reveal of the original trilogy. If you watch the prequels first, not only does the Vader reveal lose all its poignancy, but also Luke’s awkward flirting and pining after Leia becomes even more awkward and extra uncomfortable.

Sure, we already know these things in the back of our minds. Once you’ve learned them you don’t easily forget, but it really breaks the immersion when you’ve just seen Anakin flopping around in a Volcano. When crazy old Ben Kenobi mentions Luke’s father, it doesn’t exactly make you curious. You just sort of look at the screen and go, “yeah, duh.”

This order follows Luke’s story. It traces Luke’s journey of understanding through the big Vader reveal and then flashes back to see how (and why) his father lost his way. While the prequels are…hard to watch sometimes, they do set the stage for the final showdown between father and son that comes in Return of the Jedi. After learning the hard truth of who Vader is, we take that extended flashback to understand the why. Then, understanding achieved (though we could have used less Jar Jar — everyone could use less Jar Jar), we return to see the climax of the original trilogy.

From there, you enter into the new trilogy and sure, we only have two titles so far, but they continue the story where it left off. We reconnect with characters who were left behind, and we hear new stories that deserve to be told.

While the order isn’t perfect (we honestly considered leaving Phantom Menace off the list entirely), it keeps the mystery that builds through the first trilogy and gives it context before the final showdown. It also (kinda) stops the prequels from their bumbling foiling of heavy moments in the movies that “follow” them.

If you are going to rewatch Star Wars, we highly recommend you use this order. It will enhance your viewing pleasure.

If You’re Interested in Further Lore and a Deeper Delve into Other Characters…

Sometimes the movies aren’t enough (there is never enough Star Wars, if you ask us) and if you have time… add the animated TV shows to your list. The Clone Wars and Rebels are both incredible, but they don’t fit well into the timeline we provided. They are fantastic, and totally worth your time, but if you want to add them to your viewing timeline we’ll change our minds on the order. Watch them chronologically. By the time you get to the original trilogy, so much will have happened that the reveal will be mostly intact.

The order would now be as follows:

  1. The Phantom Menace
  2. Attack of the Clones
  3. The Clone Wars (show)
  4. Revenge of the Sith
  5. Rebels (show)
  6. Rogue One
  7. A New Hope
  8. The Empire Strikes Back
  9. Return of the Jedi
  10. The Force Awakens
  11. The Last Jedi

Heads up: you’re in for a much longer run, but it’s a great time.

HOWEVER, if you want to include a little bit of the shows without the intense time commitment (there are a lot of episodes), we have one very serious suggestion. Give a bit more context to Saw Guerrera before you dive into Rogue One. The Clone Wars and Rebels both have short arcs focusing on his character. In The Clone Wars, watch The Soft War arc in season 5.

In Rebels, watch the two-part episode “The Ghosts of Geonosis.” Guerrera features heavily in both, and this will give you more context as to who he is as a person. We don’t spend much time with him in the movie, and getting to know him before you throw yourself into Rogue One can help you understand his character and the choices he makes.

You Might Have Noticed the Holiday Special Doesn’t Appear on this List

That’s because it’s terrible. Don’t watch it unless you’re into mental masochism, and even then it might be too much. If your idea of a good time is a musical special narrated by the constant yodeling of Wookies (with no subtitles, might we add), then maybe this is for you.

It makes us ask questions like: why are Wookie TV programs in English? Who thought a virtual reality hot humanoid singer was a good gift for an elderly Wookie? Who would name their child Lumpy? Oh, and don’t even get us started on the fact that you get no more than 10 minutes total of ALL of the major characters combined. It’s literally just two hours of screaming Wookies.

There is one good thing in this entire Lucas-forsaken mess, and that is the first appearance of Boba Fett as a cartoon. That’s it. It doesn’t make the slog any better. It just gives you a momentary reprieve from the nightmare into something decent, and then you are thrown back into the desolate hellscape that is Life Day.

But really. Do yourself a favor– skip it.

Written by Gemr
Gemr is the leading platform for collectors to discover, display, discuss, and buy & sell collectibles. Sometimes our team gets chummy and decides to write a blog together. Or maybe someone wants to keep their identity a secret. Pick which option you like best and we'll just say that's correct.