Should you watch Star Wars chronologically? Here’s the case for re-watching everything in timeline order — and how to do it.
Back in August, I made a decision. A decision I would come to regret — at least until I realized the value of experiencing everything Star Wars movies and TV shows have to offer when you watch them all in chronological order.
That’s right. I decided that before The Rise of Skywalker opened on December 19 (anyone else have Thursday evening tickets? If not only to avoid spoilers at all costs?, I was going to do a mass chronological Star Wars re-watch.
Starting with The Phantom Menace and continuing on all the way through Resistance Season 2, this was my mission. I even wrote out a schedule that would help me stay on track … which I proceeded to not follow for a month and a half.
So here we are. It’s the end of October. And I still have two and a half TV shows and 11 movies to watch. Not including the Holiday Special. It’s canon guys! It belongs on the list!
Don’t worry: the re-watch will happen in full and this won’t be the last time you’ll hear about it.
But just in case you were interested in trying your own Star Wars re-watch over the next few months (probably a condensed version, let’s be reasonable here), here’s a full chronological list (and why doing it chronologically matters).
The prequels and everything before A New Hope
A chronological re-watch, of course, starts at the beginning. But The Clone Wars, if you choose to re-experience any or all of it, has its own special “watch order” if you want to do that chronologically as well (highly recommended).
- The Phantom Menace
- Attack of the Clones
- The Clone Wars (film)
- The Clone Wars TV series (in a particular order to view chronologically)
- Revenge of the Sith
- Solo: A Star Wars Story
- Star Wars: Rebels
- Rogue One
And since Rogue One leads right into A New Hope, that’s where we’ll head next.
The original trilogy … and some Resistance
It’s time to head straight back to the ’70s for a minute (or, more accurately, a few hours). This is also the perfect time to watch some of the “worst” (so bad it’s good? Or so bad it’s actually the worst?) Star Wars on-screen material ever created. Welcome to the OT and beyond.
- A New Hope
- The Holiday Special, if you want to undergo a little suffering
- The Empire Strikes Back
- Return of the Jedi
- (And here’s where The Mandalorian will go — ALMOST THERE)
- Star Wars: Resistance (season 1)
Because the first season of Resistance takes place before and during The Force Awakens, you’ll have to stop after Season 1 and continue after The Last Jedi.
And finally … the sequels
It’s pretty straightforward from here on out, but there’s some material to watch after TLJ if you’re caught up on Resistance.
- The Force Awakens
- The Last Jedi
- Star Wars: Resistance (season 2)
And then, the final film in the Skywalker Saga. The Rise of Skywalker, which J.J. Abrams promises will tie everything together and everyone who’s seen it says will leave us feeling “satisfied.” Whatever that means.
Less than 60 days to go. You can do it!
Should you watch Star Wars chronologically?
There are several different recommended methods for watching the original, prequel, and sequel trilogies, especially if you’re showing them to someone for the first time.
One method in particular — my favorite for potential new fans — is to watch Episodes IV and V first, and then after the shock of the Darth Vader reveal, hitting the prequels, followed by Return of the Jedi (Episode VI).
Re-watching the movies in release order is also a popular choice, though now it’s a little awkward if you choose to factor in films like Rogue One and Solo.
Here’s my stance: If you’re going to watch everything — including the shows, and yes, maybe even the Holiday Special — do it chronologically. Especially as someone who has seen it all before and already knows all the twists and “big” moments.
Why? Because then it really feels like one giant story.
You start from the beginning — the actual beginning of the narrative, not the beginning of Lucas’s masterpiece, though ANH is special for many reasons in that regard.
You get to see the first Skywalker. The first appearance of Obi-Wan — as a Padawan! And the very first hints of fear and struggle in Anakin even as a boy. You’re reminded, possibly most importantly, that love is the thing that let to his demise. And brought him back again.
And that love could be the very thing that ends all of this. Which we’ll find out all about soon enough.
Foreshadowing is a major perk as well. It’s very fun when you know what’s coming.
There’s just something about sitting down and “opening a book” to the first page and reading straight through to the end that makes you see the Skywalker saga in a completely new way.
Of course, you are absolutely no less of a “fan” if you only watch Episodes ! – VIII, or just the TV shows, or even just TFA and TLJ. Whatever you need to do to hold yourself over until you can finally see this movie in theaters as many times as possible opening weekend and beyond.
And if you have a few favorite movies or TV show episodes, feel free to re-watch those as many times as you need to keep your excitement levels high and your patience in check. The good news is, we’ll soon have The Mandalorian and a video game to distract us.
We’re going to make it. The wait is almost over. Almost.
You can watch it all on Disney+ starting November 12.
Are you going to re-watch any Star Wars before Episode IX? Are you partaking in any portion of AMC’s 27-hour marathon the day before? Let us know.