Film

Here’s The Correct Order To Watch All The Star Wars Films

You could even get away with skipping 'The Phantom Menace'...

Star Wars correct order

We missed you too. Sign up to our newsletter, and follow us on Instagram and Twitter, so you always know where to find us.

Few things get Star Wars fans as fired up as discussing the correct viewing order of the movies (and that’s really saying something because wow, can Star Wars get fired up).

As soon as the prequels were released, the argument over which order to watch them in began, and it’s only gotten more complicated since then.

First of all you have the issue of which movies to include. There are now 12 total, but only nine are part of the main Skywalker saga. Some would argue that you don’t need to include the animated movie The Clone Wars or the anthology films Rogue One and Solo.

Others would suggest skipping parts of the main saga altogether (big side-eye at The Phantom Menace).  And that’s without even getting into the multiple TV series and specials.

For the sake of simplicity, let’s focus here on the 12 movies that have received a theatrical release.

So, what’s the correct order to watch them? Well, there are a few options, and each will give you quite a different viewing experience….


Sign up for a free Disney+ trial to watch your favourites from Disney, Pixar, Marvel, Star Wars & more.


The Release Order

There’s something to be said for watching movies in their release order.

It is, after all, how the creators put them out into the universe. For Star Wars, the correct release order is as follows:

  1. Episode IV – A New Hope
  2. Episode V – The Empire Strikes Back
  3. Episode VI – Return of the Jedi
  4. Episode I – The Phantom Menace
  5. Episode II – Attack of the Clones
  6. Episode III – Revenge of the Sith
  7. Star Wars: The Clone Wars
  8. Episode VII – The Force Awakens
  9. Rogue One: A Star Wars Story
  10. Episode VIII – The Last Jedi
  11. Solo: A Star Wars Story
  12. Episode IX – The Rise of Skywalker

Watching the movies in this way allows you to go on the ~traditional~ fan journey.

It more or less positions Luke Skywalker as the primary protagonist of the overarching saga, and cements Darth Vader as the most interesting villain. It’s satisfying to dive right into evil Darth Vader and go on the journey towards the revelation of who he really is before doubling back to unpack how he became Darth Vader.

On the flipside, while the release order works great for the first six episodes, it gets tricky when it comes to the newer movies. The anthology movies in particular totally break up the flow of the Skywalker saga.

If you’re after a smooth story, it’s not exactly the best way to binge.

The Chronological Order

If you’re a stickler for a cohesive, chronological narrative, then watching the movies according to the in-universe timeline is definitely the way to go.

George Lucas himself wanted fans to watch the episodes in chronological order. Here’s how to do it, with the inclusion of the animated movie and anthologies:

  1. Episode I – The Phantom Menace
  2. Episode II – Attack of the Clones
  3. Star Wars: The Clone Wars
  4. Episode III – Revenge of the Sith
  5. Solo: A Star Wars Story
  6. Rogue One: A Star Wars Story
  7. Episode IV – A New Hope
  8. Episode V – The Empire Strikes Back
  9. Episode VI – Return of the Jedi
  10. Episode VII – The Force Awakens
  11. Episode VIII – The Last Jedi
  12. Episode IX – The Rise of Skywalker

The beauty of this is you watch events unfold as they “happen”. You understand completely the events and their consequences. It also tracks the Skywalker family from their rise within the Jedi via Anakin, to their downfall, and then their second rise, second downfall, before reaching their final end that simultaneously cements their legacy in the appropriately named The Rise of Skywalker.

Basically, it allows you to fully enjoy the Skywalker saga as the Skywalker saga, complete with extra context via the animated movie and anthologies.

This isn’t a perfect viewing order, however. You might feel that the one-off movies disrupt the flow of the saga (in which case, you can of course simply cut them out or leave them for last). Starting with Episodes I-III is also not the most interesting way to enjoy the movies. Plus, it spoils all the twists (which, yeah, we know exist, but what are you watching for if not to enjoy the story, which includes the twists?).

The Machete Order

Star Wars The Last Jedi

Because neither the release order nor the chronological order are 100% ideal, a lot of fans have worked out their own ways to enjoy Star Wars.

One extremely popular option is called the Machete Order. Proposed by a fan named Rod Hilton, the order is as follows:

  1. Episode IV – A New Hope
  2. Episode V – The Empire Strikes Back
  3. Episode II – Attack of the Clones
  4. Episode III – Revenge of the Sith
  5. Episode VI – Return of the Jedi
  6. Episode VII – The Force Awakens
  7. Episode VIII – The Last Jedi
  8. Episode IX – The Rise of Skywalker
  9. Episode I – The Phantom Menace
  10. Star Wars: The Clone Wars
  11. Rogue One: A Star Wars Story
  12. Solo: A Star Wars Story

Hilton’s reasoning for this order was that it’s much more satisfying to focus on Luke’s story, and viewing the movies in this way allows you to do so.

By placing Attack of the Clones and Revenge of the Sith in between The Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi, they provide the backstory to the “I am your father” twist without spoiling it, essentially acting as a long flashback before you dive into the conclusion of (young) Luke’s story.

The new trilogy then functions as an epilogue of sorts, and Hilton suggests that The Phantom Menace (because it doesn’t contribute much to Luke’s narrative) and all the one-off movies are treated as extras to be watched afterwards, in any order you wish (I’ve placed them in release order above for convenience).

A lot of fans find this order satisfying, although the release of the new movies again means it isn’t perfect — especially because they move further away from Luke as a primary character as they progress, and The Rise of Skywalker re-introduces Palpatine in a way that makes The Phantom Menace more significant to the overarching plot than Hilton suggests (note: he created this order before that movie’s release).

The Correct Order

So, after all that, what IS the correct viewing order of the Star Wars movies? The answer is there is no correct order, of course. At least, no universal correct order. You’ve got to find a way that works and feels satisfying for you.

Personally, I find the chronological order to be the best and least stressful way to watch the saga. But you might find a whole new way to view it that is even better than any of these options.

However you choose to watch it…may the force be with you.


Hey, just FYI, if you buy something we link to in this article, we may earn a small commission.


Jenna Guillaume is a Sydney-based writer who loves all things TV and pop culture. She tweets @JennaGuillaume, and her new book, ‘What I Like About Me’ is available now.