What order should you watch all the Star Wars films and shows?

Robert Gonzales, Journalist

With the three Star Wars trilogies finally coming to an end this year, there’s no better time to re watch the series and introduce it to your kids.

There are a few traditional ways to revisit the saga. You can watch by theatrical release or in chronological order. There’s also a lesser known “Machete Order,” which takes a machete to The Phantom Menace by cutting it out of your re watch

There are pros and cons to all different orders. While the chronological order might be the obvious choice, some argue its not as enjoyable, simply because you start with The Phantom Menace, which tends to be the least favorite film of the Star Wars community. Watching chronologically also spoils the biggest twist in the series by prematurely revealing the identify of Luke Skywalker’s father, an iconic Star Wars moment.

Watching the films by their theatrical release also has unsatisfying points. Sure, the “I am your father” surprise stays intact, however the story line is jumbled. You’ll hop between Episodes IV-VI, the original trilogy released between 1977 and 1983), then Episodes I-III, the prequel trilogy released between 1999 and 2005, and finally, Episodes VII-IX, the sequel trilogy released between 2015 and 2019.

And then there’s the new Anthology films, Rouge One (2016) and Solo: A Star Wars Story (2018). These take place between the originals and prequels but were released during the sequel trilogy. You can see how all this quickly becomes a mess, which is why this guide to watching the Star Wars trilogies should solve most of headaches.

Sure enough, many students on campus plan on diving into the past and plan on re watching the saga to prepare for the final installment, Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker. 

Senior, Ivan Gamboa was very enthusiastic with the release of the upcoming film and shared his plans before viewing it in the theaters claiming, “I’ve been a star wars fan for as long as I can remember, and I’m for sure gonna have to have a marathon of all the previous movies.” Gamboa went on to say, “I feel like to really get whats going on in the saga, you have to watch the essentials, the originals and the prequels.”

Junior, Daren Prada also gave his plans in regard to re watching the Star Wars saga saying, “Over break I’m gonna be binge watching as much as I can before the new movie hits theaters.” Prada continued, “I’ve been waiting forever for the saga to wrap up and I’m really psyched to see it go out in a bang.”


Photo by Lucasfilm

A New hope (1977)

While technically the sixth movie, chronologically, A New Hope is worth watching first purely because it’s the start of everything. It’s also the only Star Wars film that treats viewers as if they’ve never watched the saga before. so, start with Luke meeting Obi-Wan, getting a light saber, and learning about the Force and Darth Vader before he heads off to save Princess Leia and destroy the Death Star.


Photo by Disney

Rouge One (2016) 

The first of the new “Anthology” films,. Rouge One is filled with a New Hope backstory. It follows the daughter of the Death Star’s creator, Jyn Erso, as she is freed by the Rebel Alliance and tasked with finding the plans that lead to the ultimate weapon’s destruction. Yes , it ends where a New Hope begins, but because it’s so reliant on you knowing A New Hope already, it’s best to watch them in reverse. You’ll learn who created the Death Star, why it’s so easily destroyed, and you’ll meet the many Bothans who died to steal the Death Star plans.


Photo by Lucasfilm

The Empire Strikes Back (1980)

Empire Strikes Back is widely regarded as one the greatest sequels of all time. After the initial battle on the frozen planet Hoth, Luke heads to begin his Jedi training with Jedi Master Yoda, while Han Solo and Princess Leia head to Cloud City to meet with Hans’ old friend Lando Calrissian. But Han and Leia are betrayed and used as bait by Vader to lure Luke. It all culminates in a showdown between Vader and Luke ending with a twist.


Photo by Lucasfilm

The Phantom Menace (1999)

And, just like that, we go on from one the most loved installments of all time to the most loathed. This film follows Obi-Wan-Kenobi and his master Qui-Gon Jinn as they attempt to protect the Queen of Naboo and stumble upon a young slave boy named Anakin Skywalker. You’re forced to sit through two hours of Jar-Jar Binks and sleep-inducing Galactic Senate negotiations. So, if you’ve seen this film before, just skip it on your next re watch. Although, the film itself does provide some details important to another prequel film, and it has a great light saber duel.


Photo by Lucasfilm

Attack of the Clone (2002)

While the films up to this point have shown Darth Vader as the ultimate evil villain, Attack of the Clones begins to show us the road that led him to the dark side, with the death of his mother at the hands of Tuskan Raiders. We also see his growing love affair with Queen Padme Amidala. Meanwhile, Obi-Wan Kenobi stumbles upon a clone army being built for the Republic that will form the foundation of the Empire’s Stormtroopers.


Photo by Lucasfilm

Revenge of the Sith (2005)

The final film of the prequel trilogy shows Anakin’s heart turn to black. While initially excited upon hearing of his wife Padme’s pregnancy, visions of her dying begin to poison Anakin’s mind, which allows Supreme Chancellor Palpatine to lure him to the Dark Side of the Force. This then leads to the destruction of the Republic and the murder of many Jedi, including all the young Padawans, at the hand of the newly named Darth Vader.


Photo by Disney

Solo (2018)

The origin story for the lovable smuggler, scoundrel, hero and captain of the Millenium Falcon provided a ton of lore and excess details revealing Han Solo’s backstory so honestly, this movie can be skipped. Apparently, Han Solo just wanted to act like Tobias Beckett (Woody Harrelson) and date Qi’ra (Emilia Clarke) in his prime, which is understandable and the film itself is an entertaining heist film that gives us more information about the most important ship in the galaxy, the Millenium Falcon.


Photo by Lucasfilm

Return of the Jedi (1983)

Now that we’ve learned Darth Vader/Anakin’s background, it’s time to watch him in a way redeem himself with all that knowledge in hand. Plus, after saving Han Solo from the clutches of Jabba the Hutt, we see Luke trying to defeat his father and the Emperor, all while Han and Leia work to demolish a nearly completed second Deathstar. Also, there are teddy bears with stone-age technology that help destroy the Empire too.


Photo by Disney

Optional: The Mandalorian (2019)

The is the first live action Star Wars TV series. It debuted with launch of Disney+. It follows Pedro Pascal as the titular Mandalorian, a gun fighter and bounty hunter, who makes his way in the furthest reaches of the galaxy five years after the events of Return of the Jedi, placing it well before the events of  The Force Awakens and the creation of the First Order.


Photo by Disney

The Force Awakens (2015)

The first Star Wars film made by Disney after it purchased the franchise is set 30 years after Return of the Jedi. We see that there’s a new conflict emerging between the budding Republic, led by Leia Organa-Skywalker and The First Order, which rose from the ashes of the Empire. Caught between this all is a young girl named Rey who appears to force sensitive and strong with the force.


Photo by Disney

The Last Jedi (2017)

After tracking down Luke Skywalker, Rey’s next challenge is convincing him to train her. Luke is unwilling due to his failures with Kylo Ren. Meanwhile, the remaining Republic forces are on the verge of total annihilation thanks to The First Order, leaving Rey and Luke as their only hope.


The Rise of Skywalker (2019)

Robert Gonzales

The film is not yet released, but Episode IX is slated to hit theaters December 20, 2019. We don’t know how much about the film at this point, however its exciting to see what the new film has in store for Rey, Kylo Ren, and other characters we’ve come to know through the saga. The film teased the return of Lando Calrissian, new looks for fan favorites like Poe Dameron and Finn, and all new faces from fierce fighter Jannah to the diminutive droidsmith Babu Frik. The new trailer that is now out, suggests that the film is to be a finale to this decades old saga, so let’s assume you’ll want to watch this film last.