It can be difficult to watch the Star Wars movies in their chronological order. It is difficult to watch the Star Wars movies in chronological order, especially since the first Star Wars movie was not the fourth. You also have to consider the prequels and the newer trilogy, as well as the random animated Clone Wars movie everyone 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!

Why bother? It is important to view the Star Wars movies chronologically. This will help you move quickly onto the best Star Wars movies. The standalone anthology films are a great addition 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.

A word of warning before we begin: there are spoilers. Be warned. Let’s now get to the Star Wars movies, starting with…

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hot toys star war movies in order

What is the correct order of the Star Wars movies? Star Wars movies in chronological order

  1. Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope (1977)
  2. Star Wars Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back (1980)
  3. Star Wars Episode VI: Return of the Jedi (1983)
  4. Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace (1999)
  5. Star Wars Episode II: Attack of the Clones (2002)
  6. Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith (2005)
  7. Star Wars: The Clone Wars (and subsequent animated series) (2008)
  8. Star Wars Episode VII: The Force Awakens (2015)
  9. Rogue One: A Star Wars Story (2016)
  10. Star Wars Episode VIII: The Last Jedi (2017)
  11. Solo: A Star Wars Story (2018)
  12. Star Wars Episode IX: The Rise of Skywalker (2019)

Should you watch Star Wars in release order?

First-timers who want the full experience can certainly watch them in release order, or place the standalone films before or after the sequel trilogy. If you want to go by release order, your marathon should look like this: Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope. Star Wars Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back.

The George Lucas Star Wars Movies, Ordered by Release Date

Disney owns Star Wars rights, but only seven of the original Star Wars films were written or directed by George Lucas. Disney actually scrapped Lucas’s outlines for Episodes VII-IX and IX, causing a well-documented rift with the Star Wars creator.

  1. Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope (1977)
  2. Star Wars Episode V: The Empire Strikes back (1980)
  3. Star Wars Episode VI: Return of the Jedi (1983).
  4. Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace (1999).
  5. Star Wars Episode II: Attack of the Clones (2002)
  6. Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith (2006)
  7. Star Wars: The Clone Wars (and the subsequent animated series) (2008)
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Star Wars: Episode I – The Phantom Menace

Star Wars- Episode I – The Phantom Menace_Lucasfilm

Image credit to Lucasart

You can’t watch Star Wars movies chronologically if you don’t want to start with the first, and very terrible, 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 to Lucasart

  • Date of release:May 16, 2002
  • Cast:Ewan McGregor and 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. Obi-Wan Kenobi finds a number of clones in the Republic’s army, and also a separatist group under Count Dooku’s attempt to overthrow them 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 to 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 Ahsoka Tano, his new Padawan must rescue the Huttlet. Obi-Wan then negotiates a deal 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 that he signs the treaty between the Republic and Anakin.

Star Wars: Episode III – Revenge of the Sith

Star Wars- Episode III – Revenge of the Sith_Lucasfilm

(Image credit to Lucasart)

  • Release date:May 19, 2005
  • Cast:Ewan McGregor and Natalie Portman. Hayden Christensen

Anakin rescues him and Chancellor Palpatine makes him a member of the Jedi Council. However, the Jedi are suspicious, and order Anakin 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 to Lucasart

  • Release date: May 25, 2018,
  • Cast: Alden Ehrenreich, Woody Harrelson, Emilia Clarke
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Han Solo, an Imperial Flight Academy graduate, is sentenced to prison with Chewbacca the Wookiee. The pair work together to escape. They are freed and join a gang to steal coaxium from crime lord Dryden Vols. 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.

Star Wars Story: Rogue One

Rogue One - A Star Wars Story_Lucasfilm Star Wars movies in chronological order

Image credit to Lucasart

  • Release date:December 16, 2016
  • Cast: Felicity Jones and Diego Luna are Felicity Jones and 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. Cassian Andor is a rebel spy who tracks down her father. He was then killed. 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 to find the plans, and then they transmit them to the Alliance at great expense. They eventually die below the surface of the planet, and the plans make their way to Princess Leia.

Star Wars: Episode IV – A New Hope

Star Wars- Episode IV – A New Hope_Lucasfilm

Image credit to Lucasart

  • Release date:May 25, 1977
  • Cast: Mark Hamill, Harrison Ford, Carrie Fisher

Darth Vader captured Princess Leia shortly thereafter. But not before she hid the plans in an R2-D2 robot who escaped to Tatooine to search for 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 ObiWan to help save the princess. He and Chewie team up alongside Han Solo, a smuggler and his copilot. They rescue Princess Leia, escape and are then killed by Darth Vader. Luke is a rebel pilot after he delivers the plans to Alliance and helps destroy Death Star.

Star Wars: Episode V – The Empire Strikes Back

Star Wars- Episode V – The Empire Strikes Back_Lucasfilm

Image credit to Lucasart

  • Date of release: May 21, 1980
  • Cast: Mark Hamill, Harrison Ford, Carrie Fisher

Three years later, Darth Vader finds Luke, Leia and Han at a rebel base in Hoth and sends out his forces to destroy it. They flee, with Luke going to Dagobah to become a Jedi under Yoda. Leia, Han and Chewie then taking the Millennium Falcon to Cloud City in order to get help from Lando Calrissian. 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 saved by Chewie, Lando, Luke, and they all flee together.

Star Wars: Episode VI – Return of the Jedi

Star Wars- Episode VI – Return of the Jedi_Lucasfilm

Image credit to Lucasart

  • Release date: May 25, 1983
  • Cast: Mark Hamill, Harrison Ford, Carrie Fisher
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Lando, Leia Chewie, Lando and Chewie save Han from Jabbathe Hutt. Luke returns home to Dagobah to finish his training and discovers Yoda is dead. 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. Han and Leia, with the assistance of the native Ewoks, destroy the shield that protects a second Death Star on the Forest Moon of Endor.

Vader takes Luke to the Emperor and he surrenders to him. But the Emperor is unable to turn Luke to the dark side so he attempts to kill him. Vader, who cannot bear to see his son dying, kills the Emperor. Lando and the rebel fighters destroy Death Star and everyone enjoys a big party.

Star Wars: Episode VII – The Force Awakens

Star Wars Episode VII - The Force Awakens

Image credit to Lucasart

  • Release date:December 18, 2015
  • Cast: Daisy Ridley, Adam Driver, Harrison Ford

Rey discovers droid BB-8 on Jakku 30 years later. He claims to have a map of the missing Luke Skywalker. They escape with Finn, a stormtrooper defector, and they are finally found by Han and Chewie aboard the Millennium Falcon. 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. Rey travels to Luke’s house after the Starkiller base has been destroyed.

Star Wars: Episode VIII – The Last Jedi

Star Wars- Episode VIII – The Last Jedi_Lucasfilm

Image credit to Lucasart

  • Date of release: December 15, 2017
  • Cast: Daisy Ridley, Mark Hamill, Adam Driver

Star Wars movies in chronological orderRey 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. Luke, who arrives at the last moment, stops him from attacking the Resistance. Luke dies in the battle, but Rey saves everyone else.

Star Wars: Episode IX – The Rise of Skywalker

Star Wars- Episode IX – The Rise of Skywalker_Lucasfilm

Image credit to Lucasart

  • Release date: December 20, 2019
  • Cast: Daisy Ridley, Adam Driver, Carrie Fisher

Rey continues her Jedi training with Leia, when they discover that 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. Leia passes away and Kylo Ren feels it. He returns to the Force’s light side, reclaiming his identity of Ben Solo.

Rey meets Palpatine when he demands Rey kill Palpatine so his spirit may transfer to her. However, she refuses and he attempts to drain the lifeforce of her. Rey finally defeats Palpatine with the aid of Ben. However, Ben dies to save her life.

hot toys star war movies in order

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