With the Star Wars film rapidly approaching a whopping nine mainline series entries (on top of multiple spin-off films already released, with several more in the pipeline), one of the most common questions that newcomers have is what order to watch the Star Wars films in.
After all, the fact that the very first Star Wars (A New Hope, released way back in 1977) was titled Episode IV doesn’t make things any easier when it comes to trying to figure out the best entry point for the series.
Not to worry though. We’re here to help you figure out the best viewing order for the mainline series films (Episodes I through IX), with two main options.
The reason we’re going with two recommendations is because there are two camps of people who are usually wondering about the best viewing order — those who are brand new to Star Wars and those who have seen all the films but are perhaps planning a marathon viewing.
New to Star Wars? Stick to the Originals
If you’ve never seen a Star Wars movie in your life, then we wholeheartedly recommend going with the original release order for the movies.
That means that you should start with the original trilogy (A New Hope, The Empire Strikes Back, and Return of the Jedi). There’s a very specific reason for this — those of you who have already seen the original movies will know exactly why.
Yes, we’re indeed referring to that plot twist. It’s easily one of the most important scenes in the entire franchise up to this point. In fact, it’s so vital to the series that it forms the basis of the entire prequel trilogy.
After watching the original trilogy of movies, it’s then safe to move on to the three prequel movies (The Phantom Menace, Attack of the Clones, and Revenge of the Sith).
While the prequel trilogy may not be as universally loved as the original trilogy, they’re still well worth a watch. The development of the Anakin Skywalker character is fascinating to watch over the course of the three films, as he goes from a pod racing child to a full-blown Jedi.
With the original trilogy and the prequel trilogy out of the way, it's time to turn your attention towards the newest releases (The Force Awakens, The Last Jedi, and the upcoming The Rise of Skywalker).
These nine films are collectively referred to as the Skywalker Saga, and are considered to be the “main” films in the series.
A couple of other spin-off films have also been released (Rogue One: A Star Wars Story and Solo: A Star Wars Story), with many more in the pipeline. There are also two spin-off trilogies currently in the works.
For newcomers to the series, we still recommend sticking with the release order for the spin-off films as well, even though they each take place after the prequel trilogy but prior to the original trilogy.
If this all seems like a lot to keep track of, don’t worry. It is indeed quite a lot of movies to watch, but if it’s your first time watching them, you’re in for a real treat. There’s a reason the Star Wars films are so beloved — it’s a fantastic fiction universe that has a vast amount of content to discover.
Recommended Viewing Order for Star Wars Vets
On the other hand, if you’ve already seen all (or most) of the Star Wars films before, and you’re planning on a marathon viewing run, then the recommended viewing order is a little bit more straightforward.
Just watch them in canonical order. We realize that this recommendation may annoy some Star Wars purists (some people just are not fans of the prequel trilogy after all), but it is actually quite an enjoyable way to experience these movies again.
As a quick recap, here is the canonical order that we would recommend watching the films in:
- Episode I - The Phantom Menace
- Episode II - Attack of the Clones
- Episode III - Revenge of the Sith
- Solo: A Star Wars Story
- Rogue One: A Star Wars Story
- Episode IV - A New Hope
- Episode V - The Empire Strikes Back
- Episode VI - Return of the Jedi
- Episode VII - The Force Awakens
- Episode VIII - The Last Jedi
- Episode IX - The Rise of Skywalker
Hopefully, we’ve given you a pretty good idea of where to start your Star Wars viewing experience if you’re planning on running through the whole series. As of June 2019, this viewing order list is up to date — but again, there are many more films in the works. With Episode IX, two upcoming spin-off trilogies, and who knows what else that’s under wraps currently in the works, this list will no doubt change in time. For now, though, there’s plenty of material to watch, so enjoy!