Star Wars Watching Order

Hi, I'm David. I've seen every Star Wars movie many times, and I'd love to be your guide through the Flashback Order. It's a great way to experience the films, especially for the first time. Make sure you sort this list by "list order" or it won't make any sense.

  • Star Wars

    Star Wars

    The natural place to begin, because it's the beginning. It sets up the universe nicely and provides a very solid story.

  • The Empire Strikes Back

    The Empire Strikes Back

    Watching this film in the second position preserves its original culture-defining nature in many ways, including maintaining the narrative impact of the most critical twist of cinema history.

  • Star Wars: Episode I - The Phantom Menace

    Star Wars: Episode I - The Phantom Menace

    Now we diverge from the release order for a quick "flashback." As we venture through the prequels, viewers are given the opportunity to wonder- is Vader lying? Watching Episode I in the third position also diminishes the role of Jar Jar Binks and provides some back story where it matters most.

    For an accelerated viewing, drop this one only after you've already dropped Attack of the Clones and Clone Wars.

  • Star Wars: Episode II - Attack of the Clones

    Star Wars: Episode II - Attack of the Clones

    The weakest of the Star Wars franchise so far, burying this film in the middle instead of near the beginning or the end weakens the bite of its bad romance dialogue and provides a base that will make both of the following entries from the original Lucas ouevre shine all the brighter. 

    Here we do see much of the fall of Anakin Skywalker, making its new place more poignant. However, to accelerate your viewing, you can drop this entry first.

  • Star Wars: Clone Wars

    Star Wars: Clone Wars

    This is the best piece of Star Wars content written about the prequel era without a doubt. This short animated work bridges the gap between Episode II and Episode III, and while not crucial for your enjoyment of the series, it is a lot of fun. To accelerate your viewing, drop this entry only after you've dropped Episode II.

  • Star Wars: Episode III - Revenge of the Sith

    Star Wars: Episode III - Revenge of the Sith

    The best of the prequel trilogy, it finally answers the question demanded by Vader's shocking reveal in Empire: namely, that he wasn't lying. It makes Luke's subsequent acceptance in Jedi seem all the more realistic as a result, and placing Episode III after that big reveal retains the audience's suspension of disbelief that he didn't believe him in the first place.

  • Return of the Jedi

    Return of the Jedi

    Placing Jedi after the prequel trilogy not only elevates the prequels, it also elevates Episode VI. Originally the weakest of the original trilogy, so many threads from the prequels resolve here that it feels like a much more dramatic payoff. The finality with which this episode closes out the original story of the Skywalker family feels much more grounded by the prequels' new positioning, and seeing the rise and fall of Darth Vader essentially compressed into two films rather than separated by four makes it all the more potent.

  • Rogue One: A Star Wars Story

    Rogue One: A Star Wars Story

    Our first foray outside the Skywalker family films, Rogue One is an excellent film that actually transitions between Episode III and Episode IV. However, the dramatic tensions of those particular stories should remain where they are, leaving this film to be a bookend that ironically leads us right back into Episode IV. This placement also provides some narrative distance between VI and VII to emulate its copious temporal distance.

  • Star Wars: The Force Awakens

    Star Wars: The Force Awakens

    This film essentially starts an entirely new cycle within the Star Wars mythos, but there are enough connective threads to the original trilogy to merit its placement in this list rather than a spot on a new list.