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The Best Order to Watch All the Star Wars Movies and TV Shows

This is the way

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Megan Vick

The entire Star Wars Skywalker Saga, including the spin-offs (well, with one exception) and television shows, can now be streamed on Disney+ as of May 4, better known to Jedis and Siths alike as Star Wars Day. Every Star Wars fan has their own opinion when it comes to the order in which to watch the films and corresponding TV shows, but what if you're new to the magic of Star Wars and are looking for the best way to dive into lightsaber battles and channeling The Force?

First of all, we salute you for getting on board, and there is no shame here at TV Guide for how long it might have taken you to get here. We're just glad to see you. Secondly, we've compiled a watching order that isn't exactly chronological, but should maximize your viewing experience based on context and movie enjoyment. We've broken the saga into three time sectors -- the prequels, the original trilogy, and the sequels -- and advised an order within each of those. So pop some popcorn, pick the light or dark side, and get ready because it's about to go down.

* = TV shows that are not required viewing to understand the story.



The Original Trilogy

To understand the true beauty of Star Wars, you need to start with what made everyone fall in love with this space epic in the first place. We've mixed up the films and TV shows from their release order to give you the most context while diving into the story, but you should start with this time period of the story before moving forward.

Harrison Ford, Star Wars

Harrison Ford, Star Wars

Corbis

1. Rogue One: A Star Wars Story
Haters who want to hate should know the curator of this list stands firmly in the camp that Rogue One is the best Star Wars movie, so if you have an issue with that, you should move along now. This prequel spin-off explains how the rebels got the plans for the Death Star and explains one of the largest plot holes in movie history. It also sets up the world of the original trilogy really nicely to get you warmed up instead of just jumping into the main event.

2. Episode IV: A New Hope
To understand what has made Star Wars a pop culture staple, you need to start with the films that started it all. You'll meet the original trio, hear the dialogue that's been embedded in cultural consciousness for over 50 years, and understand why Leia (Carrie Fisher) is one of the greatest female characters in the history of ever.

3. Star Wars: Rebels*
Now that you've gotten your feet wet, you can jump back a little in time to watch the animated series Star Wars: Rebels which helps explain how the resistance that Jyn Orso (Felicity Jones) came to join and Leia led actually came to be. It digs a bit deeper into the war with the Empire and exactly what the trio was up against before you continue further into the original trilogy.

4. Episode V: Empire Strikes Back
Those who are not in the "Rogue One Is the Best" camp are probably in the "Empire Strikes Back Is the Best" camp. If you are just jumping into Star Wars, everything you think you know about this story and world probably stems from Empire. Get ready for some really intense paternity results!

5. Episode VI: Return of the Jedi
If you are not a fan of adorable woodland creatures with big eyes, Return of the Jedi might be a struggle for you, but it is the conclusion of this critical chapter in the story and includes one of the most famous lightsaber battles of all time. The Ewoks grow on you, we promise.

6. Solo: A Star Wars Story
Now that you fully appreciate Han Solo (Harrison Ford) as the most lovable scoundrel in space, you can pop over to Netflix and go back in time to watch Han's origin story. This movie got a lot of hate when it originally came out in theaters, but the cast -- Alden Ehrenreich, Emilia Clarke, Donald Glover, and Phoebe Waller-Bridge -- is stacked, and it's actually a lot of fun. We just couldn't let your first impression of Han Solo be delivered by anyone but Harrison Ford. We're not monsters. (Note: Unlike the others on this list, Solo is not available on Disney+ and can instead be streamed on Netflix.)

7. The Mandalorian*
Get your Baby Yoda -- sorry, The Child -- fix right here. The Mandalorian officially exists outside of the Skywalker Saga, but it does help fill out the post-Return of the Jedi galaxy in which the Empire no longer exists. And if you followed instructions and watched the original trilogy first, you can fully appreciate how great The Child really is.

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The Prequels

Now that you have a solid foundation in Star Wars, it's time to go back a bit and see how the saga all began. The prequels have a controversial reputation within the fandom to say the least, but they do fill in a lot of backstory. Also, Natalie Portman is awesome as Queen Amidala.

​Ewan McGregor, Star Wars

Ewan McGregor, Star Wars

8. Episode I: The Phantom Menace
There are many, many, people who wish to erase the prequel films from the Star Wars timeline, but they exist and therefore must be on this list. The Phantom Menace has gotten more love in retrospect as it sets up the saga in the first place. Still, Jar-Jar Binks is a thing, and we couldn't let you watch this and the following two films first or else you'd never get it. Just stick with us, OK?

9. Episode II: Attack of the Clones
There is no way around this: this movie is about space embargoes and the reveal that the greatest villain in cinematic history really hates... sand. Ewan McGregor did everything he could to save this movie, and he just couldn't. This is the most painful your binge is going to get though, we promise.

10. Star Wars: The Clone Wars*
Trade embargoes are not cool, but storm troopers definitely are. If you want to know how the Sith positioned themselves to take over the galaxy, Clone Wars will fill in some major information gaps. Just note that it is going to take you a while to get through seven seasons, but it'll be fun while you do it.

11. Episode III: Revenge of the Sith
We are already bouncing back! This is how Darth Vader came to be! Trust us, you haven't lived until you have yelled, "YOU WERE MY BROTHER, ANAKIN. I LOVED YOU," with all the angst you can muster at someone. This movie makes the sequels worth it.

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The Sequels

It remains to be seen exactly where the sequels will live in the hearts of Star Wars fans across the world. Some love them, and others abhor them. Either way, the last three installments of the Skywalker Saga have introduced Star Wars to a whole new generation of fans, and gave us a new trio of brave resistance warriors. Maybe in your heart we saved the best for last.

Daisy Ridley, Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker

Daisy Ridley, Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker

Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures

12. Star Wars: Resistance*
If you want to understand more about the world following the fall of the Empire and the rise of the First Order, Resistance will fill you in and get you prepared for exactly what's going down before Rey (Daisy Ridley) is tasked with finding the missing Luke Skywalker (Mark Hamill) in the first sequel film.

13. Episode VII: The Force Awakens
If you are doing a condensed binge of this list, watching The Force Awakens might feel like you are just watching A New Hope but with different actors. Well, you kind of are. There are definitely some fan service elements to this film -- and that's not necessarily a bad thing -- but you do get to meet the new trio (Hello Oscar Isaac!), and Leia is as perfect as ever.

14.Episode VIII: The Last Jedi
Rian Johnson famously took over the reigns of the trilogy from J.J. Abrams for the middle sequel and hasn't stopped hearing from a certain subset of the fanbase about how much they hated it since. This particular curator doesn't belong in that camp. Yes, the movie could be a solid 20 minutes shorter, but Johnson started to take the franchise to some really interesting places in this film, and he upheld the most important lesson of all: anyone can be a Jedi if they have the right heart. Oh, and it also gives us Adam Driver in the most high-waisted pants ever created as well as those adorable porgs!! For that, we will always be grateful.

15. Episode IX: The Rise of Skywalker
If you loved what Johnson did with The Last Jedi, buckle up for Rise of Skywalker. Abrams came back to the captain's seat, and a lot of what Johnson set up in Last Jedi was retconned to better suit the original trajectory of the sequels. It turns out having powerful parents is helpful when using the force. The most notable thing about this film may be its emotional tribute and goodbye to General Leia after Carrie Fisher's passing in 2016. That was a job well done for all involved.

Find out everything you can stream now on Disney+.