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Star Wars movies in chronological order

Star Wars Episode VI - Return of the Jedi (1983)_Lucasfilm
(Image credit: Lucasart)

Watching the Star Wars movies in chronological order is tricky business. Especially because the first Star Wars movie ever made is actually the fourth film in chronological order. Then you have the prequels (yuck) and the more recent trilogy to fit into the timeline, not to mention the random animated Clone Wars movie that everyone always forgets. Plus, if you watch them in chronological order, you don’t get the full effect of one of the biggest revelations in cinematic history because, duh, you already know Darth Vader is Luke’s father!

So, why bother? Well, watching the Star Wars movies in chronological order is a must for any hardcore completists out there, and while, yes, this does mean starting with the prequels, you can at least get them out of the way early on in your marathon leaving you to move swiftly onto the best Star Wars movies. Plus, the standalone anthology films add so much more to the experience. Watching the end of Rogue One and then going immediately into the beginning of A New Hope is guaranteed to give you chills, and even Solo adds another level to Han’s scenes in later films that’s not to be sniffed at. 

There’s no doubt that you should at least watch the Star Wars movies in order at least once in your life, so if that time has come, we’re here to help with a breakdown of the exact order you need to watch them in. Start with The Phantom Menace and watch all the way to The Rise of Skywalker, and if that still isn’t enough Star Wars for you, then don’t forget to check out the best Star Wars Lego sets money can buy.

Oh and just a word of caution before we get started, there are spoilers below. You have been warned. Now, let's get on with the Star Wars movies in order, starting with...

Star Wars movies in chronological order

  • Star Wars: Episode I – The Phantom Menace
  • Star Wars: Episode II – Attack of the Clones
  • Star Wars: The Clone Wars
  • Star Wars: Episode III – Revenge of the Sith
  • Solo: A Star Wars Story
  • Rogue One: A Star Wars Story
  • Star Wars: Episode IV – A New Hope
  • Star Wars: Episode V – The Empire Strikes Back
  • Star Wars: Episode VI – Return of the Jedi
  • Star Wars: Episode VII – The Force Awakens
  • Star Wars: Episode VIII – The Last Jedi
  • Star Wars: Episode IX – The Rise of Skywalker

Star Wars: Episode I – The Phantom Menace

Star Wars- Episode I – The Phantom Menace_Lucasfilm

(Image credit: Lucasart)
  • Release date: May 19, 1999
  • Cast: Liam Neeson, Ewan McGregor, Natalie Portman

If you want to watch all the Star Wars movies in chronological order then sadly your marathon starts with the very first (and pretty awful) prequel movie. And it doesn’t get much more prequel than Darth Vader as a 10-year-old kid. This film sees Jedi Qui-Gon Jinn and his Padawan Obi-Wan Kenobi discover a slave boy on Tatooine called Anakin Skywalker who’s chock full of Midi-chlorians. 

Unfortunately, the Jedi council isn’t keen on training the child as a Jedi. But, while trying to protect Queen Padmé Amidala, Qui-Gon Jinn is killed by Sith Darth Maul and in honor of his memory Obi-Wan Kenobi promises to train the kid. Biiiiig mistake. 


Star Wars: Episode II – Attack of the Clones

Star Wars- Episode II – Attack of the Clones_Lucasfilm

(Image credit: Lucasart)
  • Release date: May 16, 2002
  • Cast: Ewan McGregor, Natalie Portman, Hayden Christensen

A few years later, Anakin is training as a Padawan under Obi-Wan Kenobi when the now Senator Padmé Amidala’s life is threatened once again. While Obi-Wan investigates, Anakin and Padmé fall in love, despite the Jedi Code which forbids attachments. Meanwhile, Obi-Wan Kenobi discovers an army of clones being created for the Republic, as well as an attempt by the Separatist group led by Count Dooku to overthrow the Republic using a droid army. 

Obi-Wan is captured, along with Anakin and Padmé who try to save him, and all three are eventually rescued by the clone army, authorized by the newly powerful Chancellor Palpatine.


Star Wars: The Clone Wars

Star Wars- The Clone Wars_Lucasfilm

(Image credit: Lucasart)
  • Release date: August 15, 2008
  • Cast: Matt Lanter, Ashley Eckstein, James Arnold Taylor

Not long after, the Republic’s clone army and Dooku’s droid army are at war, with Dooku’s  Sith Master Darth Sidious kidnapping gangster Jabba the Hutt’s son, Rotta, to try and frame the Jedi. Anakin and his new Padawan, Ahsoka Tano, must try and save the little Huttlet, while Obi-Wan negotiates a treaty with Jabba. Worried for Anakin’s safety, Padmé attempts to contact Jabba’s uncle, Ziro, only to discover that he’s actually in on the plan to kill Rotta so he can take over the Hutts. 

Anakin and Ahsoka eventually rescue Rotta, but Jabba tries to have them killed anyway, believing they’re responsible for kidnapping him until Padmé reveals what she knows. Jabba is so grateful, he signs the treaty with the Republic.


Star Wars: Episode III – Revenge of the Sith

Star Wars- Episode III – Revenge of the Sith_Lucasfilm

(Image credit: Lucasart)
  • Release date: May 19, 2005
  • Cast: Ewan McGregor, Natalie Portman, Hayden Christensen

After Anakin rescues him, Chancellor Palpatine appoints him to the Jedi Council, but the Jedi are suspicious and order Anakin to spy on Palpatine. Padmé reveals she’s pregnant and Anakin starts to have nightmares of her dying in childbirth. Palpatine lures Anakin to the dark side with the promise of saving Padmé’s life, and orders the clone army to kill the Jedi, declaring himself Emperor. 

Padmé and Obi-Wan try to convince the new Darth Vader to return to the light side, but they fight which leaves Vader mortally wounded. Meanwhile, Padmé dies giving birth to twins, Luke and Leia, and Obi-Wan decides to go into hiding with the children. Palpatine rescues Vader, giving him a suit to keep him alive, and telling him that he killed Padmé. 


Solo: A Star Wars Story

Solo: A Star Wars Story_Lucasfilm

(Image credit: Lucasart)
  • Release date: May 25, 2018
  • Cast: Alden Ehrenreich, Woody Harrelson, Emilia Clarke

Nearly 10 years later, Imperial Flight Academy dropout Han Solo is thrown into a cell with a Wookiee called Chewbacca and the pair team up to escape. Once free, they join a gang trying to steal a shipment of coaxium for crime lord Dryden Vos. They’re thwarted by marauders, the Cloud-Riders, but convince Vos to give them another chance as long as his lieutenant (and former love interest of Han’s) Qi’ra tags along. 

Teaming up with smuggler Lando Calrissian, they use his ship the Millennium Falcon to steal the coaxium, but are discovered by the Cloud-Riders who reveal they’re actually rebels fighting against the Empire. Han sympathizes and lets them have the coaxium, betraying Vos (who’s eventually killed by Qi’ra), but declines to join the rebels.


Rogue One: A Star Wars Story

Rogue One - A Star Wars Story_Lucasfilm

(Image credit: Lucasart)
  • Release date: December 16, 2016
  • Cast: Felicity Jones, Diego Luna, Ben Mendelsohn

Jyn Erso is rescued from an Imperial labor camp by the Alliance who want her to find her father who’s working on a superweapon called the Death Star. Along with rebel spy Cassian Andor, she tracks down her dad only for him to be killed before he can tell them anymore. Jyn wants to steal the plans to the Death Star so they can learn how to destroy it, but the Alliance council doesn’t agree, so Jyn, Cassian, and a group of rebels attempt to steal them on their own. 

They travel to Scarif, eventually finding the plans and transmitting them to the Alliance, but at great cost to themselves. As they die on the planet below, the plans eventually make their way into the hands of Princess Leia.


Star Wars: Episode IV – A New Hope

Star Wars- Episode IV – A New Hope_Lucasfilm

(Image credit: Lucasart)
  • Release date: May 25, 1977
  • Cast: Mark Hamill, Harrison Ford, Carrie Fisher

Not long after, Darth Vader captures Princess Leia, but not before she hides the plans in an R2-D2 droid who escapes to the planet Tatooine in search of Obi-Wan Kenobi. He’s found by Luke Skywalker and takes him to Obi-Wan who reveals he knew Luke’s father, claiming he was killed by Darth Vader. 

Luke convinces Obi-Wan to let him help rescue the princess and the pair team up with smuggler Han Solo and his co-pilot, Chewie. They rescue Princess Leia and escape, but Obi-Wan is killed by Darth Vader in the process. After delivering the plans to the Alliance, Luke becomes a rebel pilot and helps destroy the Death Star.


Star Wars: Episode V – The Empire Strikes Back

Star Wars- Episode V – The Empire Strikes Back_Lucasfilm

(Image credit: Lucasart)
  • Release date: May 21, 1980
  • Cast: Mark Hamill, Harrison Ford, Carrie Fisher

Three years later, Darth Vader locates Luke, Leia, and Han on a rebel base on Hoth and sends his forces to destroy it. They escape, with Luke traveling to Dagobah to train as a Jedi under Yoda as Obi-Wan wanted, and Leia, Han, and Chewie taking the Millennium Falcon to Cloud City to ask Lando Calrissian for help. Unfortunately, Darth Vader is waiting for them and captures Leia and Chewie, giving Han to a bounty hunter who plans to sell him to Jabba the Hutt who’s been after him for a while. 

Luke realizes his friends are in trouble and tries to rescue them, but ends up dueling Darth Vader who reveals he’s Luke’s father before cutting his hand off. Luke is rescued by Leia, Chewie, and Lando, and they all escape together.


Star Wars: Episode VI – Return of the Jedi

Star Wars- Episode VI – Return of the Jedi_Lucasfilm

(Image credit: Lucasart)
  • Release date: May 25, 1983
  • Cast: Mark Hamill, Harrison Ford, Carrie Fisher

Luke, Leia, Chewie, and Lando rescue Han from Jabba the Hutt, and Luke returns to Dagobah to complete his training only to discover Yoda is dying. Before he dies, Yoda confirms that Darth Vader is Luke’s dad and then Obi-Wan’s Force ghost reveals that Leia is Luke’s sister. Meanwhile, on the Forest Moon of Endor, Han and Leia destroy the shield protecting a second Death Star with the help of the native Ewoks. 

Luke surrenders himself to Vader who takes him to the Emperor, but when the Emperor cannot turn Luke to the dark side he tries to kill him. Vader, unable to watch his son die, kills the Emperor before dying of his wounds. With the Death Star unprotected, Lando and the rebel fighters destroy it and then everyone has a big party.


Star Wars: Episode VII – The Force Awakens

Star Wars Episode VII - The Force Awakens

(Image credit: Lucasart)
  • Release date: December 18, 2015
  • Cast: Daisy Ridley, Adam Driver, Harrison Ford

30 years later on Jakku, scavenger Rey finds droid BB-8 who claims to have a map to the missing Luke Skywalker. Along with defected stormtrooper Finn, they escape aboard the abandoned Millennium Falcon and are eventually found by Han and Chewie. Traveling to Takodana to make contact with the Resistance, Rey is captured by the First Order’s Kylo Ren (actually Han and Leia’s son who’s been seduced by the dark side) and taken aboard Starkiller base.

Han, Chewie, and Finn try to rescue Rey, but Kylo Ren kills Han before battling Rey, who discovers she’s strong with the Force. Starkiller base is eventually destroyed and Rey goes in search of Luke.


Star Wars: Episode VIII – The Last Jedi

Star Wars- Episode VIII – The Last Jedi_Lucasfilm

(Image credit: Lucasart)
  • Release date: December 15, 2017
  • Cast: Daisy Ridley, Mark Hamill, Adam Driver

Rey finds Luke in isolation, but he’s not in the mood to help the Resistance, despite reluctantly giving her some Jedi training. Kylo and Rey realize they have a Force connection and Rey goes to him, believing there’s still some good inside him. 

Meanwhile, during a dramatic space battle, Vice Admiral Holdo sacrifices herself to save what’s left of the Resistance, who escape to Crait. Kylo’s master, Supreme Leader Snoke, orders him to kill Rey, but Kylo kills him instead and becomes Supreme Leader, as Rey escapes. He then attacks the Resistance only to be stopped by Luke who shows up at the last minute. The pair battle and Luke ultimately dies, but Rey manages to save everyone else.


Star Wars: Episode IX – The Rise of Skywalker

Star Wars- Episode IX – The Rise of Skywalker_Lucasfilm

(Image credit: Lucasart)
  • Release date: December 20, 2019
  • Cast: Daisy Ridley, Adam Driver, Carrie Fisher

Rey is continuing her Jedi training with Leia when they discover Palpatine has been resurrected. Rey, Finn, and Poe try to find him, with Kylo Ren in pursuit who eventually reveals to Rey that she’s actually Palpatine’s granddaughter. Meanwhile, Leia dies and feeling it, Kylo Ren finds his way back to the light side of the Force, reclaiming his identity as Ben Solo. 

Rey goes to confront Palpatine, who demands Rey kill him so his spirit can transfer to her, but when she refuses he tries to drain her lifeforce. With the help of Ben, Rey eventually destroys Palpatine, but Ben dies saving her life.

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