Managed to miss the Star Wars hype train? Never fear, young padawan. There’s a lot of films out there to catch up on, and the internet will tell you lots of conflicting information on the best ways to watch them.

With that in mind, we’ve boiled down the most popular methods of watching the Star Wars franchise to make things as simple as possible for you. We’ve even included a version that cuts some of the fat, if you’re short on time and wish to catch The Rise of Skywalker before it ends its run in cinemas. We’ve also got a similar pieces for watching the Marvel films in order, and for watching the Crisis on Infinite Earths episodes from the Arrowverse.

It’s worth noting that two of these orders take into account the various animated and live action shows - like The Clone Wars and The Mandalorian. However, if you’re looking to make sure that your Star Wars binge list isn’t any bigger than the Death Star, feel free to skip these (they’re italicised).

If you need links to each of these, in the UK you can currently find the prequels, originals and one of the spin-offs on Now TV with a Cinema Pass, whilst the rest of the shows (excluding The Mandalorian) are available to purchase on Amazon Prime Video. If you're in the US, all of these films are shows are accessible on Disney Plus. UK viewers can still access these, using our article on how to watch Disney+ in the UK

Chronological order

How to watch star wars moves and TV shows in order

Putting everything in the narrative chronological order is pretty easy, as you just go by the episode numbers. Prequels, originals and sequels. Of course, when you throw the two spin-off movies AND the various TV shows in here, that does complicate things a bit. However, all of these still have a natural fit between the main franchise.

The downsides to this order include starting with the prequels, which thanks to Jar Jar Binks (among other things) aren't the most appealing films to start off with. Watching these before Episodes IV, V and VI also makes the CGI look dated, and of course one of the biggest twists in Episode V will be spoiled.

Here’s the chronological order:

Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace (1999) 
Star Wars Episode II: Attack of the Clones (2002)
The Clone Wars (2008)
Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith (2005)
Solo: A Star Wars Story (2018)
Star Wars Rebels (2014)
Rogue One: A Star Wars Story (2016)
Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope (1977)
Star Wars Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back (1980)
Star Wars Episode VI: The Return of the Jedi (1983)
The Mandalorian (2019)
Star Wars Resistance (2018)
Star Wars Episode VII: The Force Awakens (2015)
Star Wars Episode VIII: The Last Jedi (2017)
Star Wars Episode IX: The Rise of Skywalker (2019)

Release date order

How to watch Star Wars

George Lucas never really planned Star Wars to have so many sequels and prequels, so his eventual decision to consider the whole thing a nine-episode arc made the release order a little confusing. The benefit of watching this order is that you get to watch some of the best movies first, see how the CGI and fighting changes over time, and of course not forgetting that big reveal in Empire Strikes Back is all the more shocking for first time viewers.

Skipping between timelines may be a little confusing at first, especially when you throw the spin-offs and animated shows in. If you’re worried about this, we suggest just skipping Rogue One, Solo and all the other shows all together, as they’re not essential to the main plot anyway.

Here’s the release date order:

Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope (1977)
Star Wars Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back (1980)
Star Wars Episode VI: The Return of the Jedi (1983)
Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace (1999)
Star Wars Episode II: Attack of the Clones (2002)
Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith (2005)
The Clone Wars (2008)
Star Wars Episode VII: The Force Awakens (2015)
Rogue One: A Star Wars Story (2016)
Star Wars Episode VIII: The Last Jedi (2017)
Star Wars Rebels (2014)
Solo: A Star Wars Story (2018)
Star Wars Resistance (2018)
The Mandalorian (2019)
Star Wars Episode IX: The Rise of Skywalker (2019)

Machete order

How to watch star wars movies and tv shows in order

Another version that’s quite popular for newcomers is the Machete order. This version omits The Phantom Menace completely. Partly to keep the focus on Luke’s story, and partly because lots of fans agree that Episode I is probably the worst Star Wars film going (even with that epic Duel of the Fates fight). Instead, you watch part of the main plot, then essentially go into a flashback origin story.

Here’s the Machete order explained, and our addition of where to watch the sequels. As this version is meant to cut down on time and get to the crux of the story, we won’t include the spin-offs or television shows here.

Here’s the machete order:

Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope (1977)
Star Wars Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back (1980)
Star Wars Episode II: Attack of the Clones (2002)
Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith (2005)
Star Wars Episode VI: The Return of the Jedi (1983)
Star Wars Episode VII: The Force Awakens (2015)
Star Wars Episode VIII: The Last Jedi (2017)
Star Wars Episode IX: The Rise of Skywalker (2019)

What other orders are there?

Loads and loads. There are variations on the machete order, but with more films included. There’s alternating orders - in which you watch one original, one prequel, one sequel and then rinse and repeat. Examining these just made everything a bit too complex in our opinion, so one of the three above would be the best way to understand the entire narrative.