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How to watch the Star Wars movies in order (release and chronological)

How to watch the Star Wars movies in order

After Obi-Wan, you're probably in a binge watching mood and are keen on watching the Star Wars movies in order.  It can be a little tricky, however, depending on where you want to start first: There's nine movies, two spin-offs, and the Disney Plus shows to take into account, and there's far more than one way to watch the entire saga. It can be difficult trying to find the best place to start and the right order to watch, but that's where we come in. We've explained the best ways to watch the franchise, whether you want to go by release, chronologically, or one of the many other methods. 

We've also broken down the pros and cons of each order, so you can easily find what's right for you, whether you're a Padawan just getting started or a seasoned Jedi Master. But, we haven't included The Clone Wars, The Bad Batch, or Rebels – to understand where they fit, check out our ultimate Star Wars timeline and our guide on how to watch The Clone Wars in order. You can also get the lowdown on The Mandalorian timeline. As for how to watch the saga, Disney Plus is the place to be. Now, get scrolling to see how to watch the Star Wars movies in order.

How to watch the Star Wars movies in order: chronological

How to watch all the Star Wars movies in order

Best for: Newcomers who don't want to overcomplicate things.

Why? While the original movie from 1977 was originally titled simply "Star Wars", it was later amended to be known as Star Wars: Episode 4 – A New Hope. As a result, the order in which the films were released is not the order in which the events depicted in the galaxy far, far away happen. Watching the movies in episodic order lines the films up chronologically and, as it happens, is series creator George Lucas's preferred watching order. And who are we to argue with the man who created Jedi, The Force, and Luke Skywalker?

Pros: Arguably the simplest and most straight forward way to watch the movies. There are no flashbacks and nothing to confuse the uninitiated. Plus, with the spin-offs included, you get that seamless transition from Rogue One into A New Hope, and the Disney Plus series makes a whole lot more sense here.

Cons: You start with the prequels, which are almost universally seen as the worst Star Wars movies. The Phantom Menace, which includes a lot of Jar Jar Binks, could put some viewers off watching the rest of the series. Watching the prequels first also dates the later movies, as the CGI can contrast with the practical effects of the original trilogy.

How to watch the Star Wars movies in order: release order

How to watch all the Star Wars movies in order – release order

Best for: GamesRadar+'s recommending viewing experience. Newcomers get to experience Star Wars the way everyone else did. However, we highly recommend watching the main saga episodes, then coming back for spin-offs later. We've bolded those ones. 

Why? A relatively simple way to watch the Star Wars movies – starting with the one that reached cinemas first and ending with the last one in cinemas.

  • Episode 4: A New Hope
  • Episode 5: The Empire Strikes Back
  • Episode 6: Return of the Jedi
  • Episode 1: The Phantom Menace
  • Episode 2: Attack of the Clones
  • Episode 3: Revenge of the Sith
  • Episode 7: The Force Awakens
  • Rogue One
  • Episode 8: The Last Jedi
  • Solo
  • The Mandalorian season 1 (Disney Plus series)
  • Episode 9: The Rise of Skywalker
  • The Mandalorian season 2 (Disney Plus series)
  • The Book of Boba Fett (Disney Plus series)
  • Obi-Wan Kenobi (Disney Plus series)

Pros: Watching the movies in release order gives you a few advantages over chronological order. That Darth Vader twist, for instance, is not ruined by the prequels, which reveal a certain young man's fate. And, depending on your age, this might be how you first saw the saga, potentially giving this order an extra dose of nostalgia.

Cons: This order includes multiple time jumps – skipping around from original trilogy, to prequel, to sequel, to spin-off, back to sequel, to oddly place Disney Plus series – and can therefore be quite confusing for newcomers. Of course, you can just skip the spin-offs and series, and just watch the main saga in release order, which would probably be our recommendation. 

Ernst Rister order

How to watch all the Star Wars movies in order – Ernst Rinster order

Best for: People with a passing knowledge of Star Wars who don't want to go an established path.

Why? Named after the Star Wars forum poster who proposed it, the Ernst Rister order treats the prequel trilogy as an extended flashback sequence detailing the rise of Darth Vader. That means that all important Vader twist is preserved and arguably heightened by the following flashbacks. 

  • A New Hope
  • The Empire Strikes Back
  • The Phantom Menace
  • Attack of the Clones
  • Revenge of the Sith
  • Return of the Jedi
  • The Force Awakens
  • The Last Jedi
  • The Rise of Skywalker

Pros: This order keeps the saga focused on Luke, making it far more digestible than many others and the mystery around Vader is kept in tact. There's also a decent amount of time that passes between Empire and Return, meaning that spending some time away from the original trilogy doesn't feel too jarring. Plus, you start with the original movie – one of the greatest movies of all time.

Cons: There's not really a good place to watch the spin-offs within this order, though many people elect to watch Rogue One and Solo after Return of the Jedi and before the sequel trilogy (there's also another option, but more on that below). Plus, the momentum of the original trilogy is somewhat lost when you add in a couple of hours to watch the prequels. Something that's slightly helped by...

Machete order

How to watch all the Star Wars movies in order - Machete order

Best for: Prequel haters.

Why? Star Wars fan and software developer Rod Hilton proposed the machete order back in 2011. Yes, it's almost identical to the Ernst Rister order. However, the Machete order removes The Phantom Menace all together. Why? Because many fans really, really dislike Episode 1.

  • A New Hope
  • The Empire Strikes Back
  • Attack of the Clones
  • Revenge of the Sith
  • Return of the Jedi
  • The Force Awakens
  • The Last Jedi
  • The Rise of Skywalker

Pros: All the pros of the Ernst Rister order and with even less Jar-Jar Binks.

Cons: Again, all the cons of the Ernst Rister order, plus you do still need to know what happens in The Phantom Menace, as a couple of events are mentioned again (including midi-chlorians, which are brought up again). You also miss out on the incredible lightsaber battle known as the Duel of the Fates. 

Flashback order

How to watch all the Star Wars movies in order – Flashback order

Best for: Star Wars fans looking to slot in the spin-offs.

Why? Much like how the Ernst Rister order, but this time with space to slot in those prequels. The flashback order uses Solo and Rogue One to give context to A New Hope, and the prequels to give extra context to Luke's relationship with Vader.

  • A New Hope
  • Solo
  • Rogue One
  • The Empire Strikes Back
  • Phantom Menace
  • Attack of the Clones
  • Revenge of the Sith
  • Return of the Jedi
  • The Force Awakens
  • The Last Jedi
  • The Rise of Skywalker

Pros: You fit in the spin-offs.... 

Cons: ...however, their placement breaks up the original trilogy ever more than Rister's order. Jumping back and forth across the timeline might be fine for those well-versed in Star Wars, but can also be very confusing. Flashbacks work best when used sparingly, and this order relies heavily on them.

Alternating order

How to watch all the Star Wars movies in order – Alternating order

Best for: Star Wars aficionados with too much time on their hands.

Why? "It's like poetry, they rhyme."

Those are the famous words of George Lucas, who pointed out while working on Phantom Menace that he intended on certain thematic undercurrents to repeat themselves throughout multiple trilogies. This order, though highly unconventional, highlights those. In short, you watch the three 'part ones' in a row, then the three 'part twos', then two 'part threes.'

  • A New Hope
  • The Phantom Menace
  • The Force Awakens
  • The Empire Strikes Back
  • Attack of the Clones
  • The Last Jedi
  • Return of the Jedi
  • Revenge of the Sith
  • The Rise of Skywalker

Pros: Should you be one of those fans who can recite every word of every Star Wars film, this method of watching can shine a light on some of the less-appreciated subtleties present throughout the series. If you consider yourself more interested in how film technology has evolved over the years rather than the actual plot, it's fascinating.

Cons: This order is not for the uninitiated. The story becomes an absolute mess when viewed this way, and it's less about plot than it is the production and cinematography.

Obi-Wan order

How to watch all the Star Wars movies in order – Obi-Wan order

Best for: Obi-Wan Kenobi stans.

Why? Rather than putting Luke Skywalker front-and-centre, this order refocuses the story onto Obi-Wan Kenobi, relying on Ewan McGregor's performance to carry your enjoyment through the prequels. Flashing back to his journey after Luke destroys the Death Star shows how he became the wise old man we meet on the sands of Tatooine. Instead of a standard hero's journey from nobody to champion, Star Wars becomes a tale of an established hero passing the torch.

  • A New Hope
  • The Phantom Menace
  • Attack of the Clones
  • Revenge of the Sith
  • Obi-Wan Kenobi
  • The Empire Strikes Back
  • Return of the Jedi
  • The Force Awakens
  • The Last Jedi
  • The Rise of Skywalker

Pros: It's certainly a unique take on the Star Wars saga – most people would say that Luke or Anakin are the real heroes, but this order argues otherwise. If you feel like seeing a galaxy far, far away through someone else's eyes, try this. Plus the prequels get a new lease of life when the story is seemingly about Kenobi.

Cons: Surprisingly few. Really, the biggest downside is that the Darth Vader twist is spoilt. 


Need more Star Wars in your life? Then why not read about all the upcoming Star Wars movies (opens in new tab) coming to cinemas.


Grabbing a Disney Plus sign-up is the easiest way of watching the entire saga so far - everything is available via the streaming service. Seeing as the Disney Plus free trial isn't available anymore, be sure to check out the Disney Plus bundles in your area for the best possible deal.

Jack Shepherd
Jack Shepherd

I'm the Senior Entertainment Editor here at GamesRadar+, bringing you all the latest movie and TV news, reviews, and features. Plus I look after the Total Film and SFX sections and socials media channels. I used to work at The Independent as a general culture writer before specializing in TV and film

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