Star Wars Movies and TV Shows in Chronological Order (Canonical)
Star Wars can be a confusing fandom to follow. The first Star Wars movie came out in 1977, followed by the first two sequels. Then, about twenty years after the first Star Wars film, the next three movies began, but they were called “The Prequels" to the original three. Then, after Disney purchased the Star Wars franchise from Lucasfilms in 2012, we then got the last three movies (called “The Sequels") in this Star Wars Trilogy of Trilogies. Plus other new films and shows to flesh out the Star Wars universe and history came out as standalone films in the franchise.
Here we list for you, in proper watch order (chronologically in terms of “historical event" in the Star Wars Universe) along with some notes on each show. The list will grow as more movies and shows are added to the Star Wars franchise.
NOTE: The use of the words “canon," and “canonical," refer to movies and shows that are at the present time, considered by Disney and Lucasfilms to be part of the official Star Wars story. Non-canonical shows are those that are no longer part of the official Star Wars story or history.
Canonical Star Wars Movie and TV Viewing Order:
Episode I:The Phantom Menace (1999)- The first of the “Prequel" films, this movie introduces a young Anakin Skywalker and Obi-Wan’s Master, Qui-Gon Jinn, along with a new Sith, Darth Maul. This movie, along with the other two Prequel films, is basically the origin story of Anakin/Darth Vader.
Episode II: Attack of the Clones (2002)-Second of the Prequel films, this movie introduces the Clone troopers, as well as bounty hunter Jango Fett, and is the origin story for the clones as well as for a young Boba Fett. We also see the first reference to the Death Star, and how the plans for this ultimate weapon begin their long journey in Star Wars canon.
The Clone Wars (2008)-The animated movie, blending elements of several of the first several episodes of television show that began in 2008, that shows the adventures of Anakin Skywalker, Obi-Wan Kenobi and introduced Ahsoka Tano as Anakin’s Padawan apprentice. This movie was followed by the animated television series of the same name. The story takes place between the start of the Clone Wars in Episode II and the turn to the Dark Side shown in Episode III.
Star Wars: The Clone Wars (2008-2014)-Animated Television show highlighting the adventures of Anakin Skywalker, Obi-Wan Kenobi and introduced Ahsoka Tano as Anakin’s Padawan apprentice in the time between Episodes II and III. This series is considered canon in the the Star Wars Universe.
Episode III: Revenge of the Sith (2005)-Third and last of the Prequel Star Wars movies, this film shows the turning of Anakin to the Dark Side, the implementation of Order 66, and the exile of Yoda and Obi-Wan. The end of the film introduces the infants Luke and Leia, and shows how they were separated at birth and raised on different planets. This film also shows Anakin becoming Darth Vader.
Solo: A Star Wars Story (2018)-The second of the Star Wars Anthology films, this movie is basically the origin story of Han Solo, and shows how and Chewbacca first met, how he acquired the Millenium Falcon, and ends the question of whether he is willing to shoot first or not. NOTE: these so-called standalone movies are all subtitled “A Star Wars Story."
Rogue One: A Star Wars Story (2016)-The first of the so-called Star Wars Anthology films, this movie tells the story of how the rebels get the plans for the Death Star from the Empire, and is set immediately before the opening scene of A New Hope.
Episode IV: Star Wars (1977) [Renamed as “A New Hope" for a re-release of the film in 1981] -This is the original movie that introduced all the key elements and characters. Luke Skywalker, Princess Leia, Han Solo, Chewbacca, R2D2, and C3PO.
Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back (1980)-First on-screen appearance of Jedi Master Yoda, and the true beginning of Luke’s training as a Jedi, and this is the film where Darth Vader tells Luke that he is his father.
Episode VI: Return of the Jedi (1983)-The climax of the original Trilogy, Vader redeems himself and the Empire is defeated at Endor as the Emperor is seen to die.
The Mandalorian (2019–present)-The only current live-action Star Wars television series included in canon, this eight episode show is set five years after the events of Return of the Jedi, and features the adventures of a Mandalorian bounty hunter on the fringes of the New Republic’s authority. Produced and shown on the Disney+ channel. A second season has been ordered for production.
Episode VII: The Force Awakens (2015)- The first part of the “Sequel Trilogy," introducing new characters, Rey, Finn, Poe, and Kylo Ren, while re-introducing Han Solo, Leia Organa, and Chewbacca. The New Order, a remnant of the old Imperial forces, forms the primary opponent of the Resistance headed by Leia.
Episode VIII: The Last Jedi (2017)- We learn how Kylo Ren turned to the Dark Side, as his Uncle Luke attempted to train Kylo (then known as Ben Solo), as we see that Rey is a powerful Force User.
Episode IX: The Rise of Skywalker (2019)-Opens on December 20, 2019 and is to be the finale of the Skywalker Saga.
Future Star Wars Streaming Shows on Disney+
In the planning stages are two more Disney+ Star Wars television shows, an as-yet untitled series featuring Cassian Andor, a hero from the Rogue One movie, and another show featuring Ewan McGregor reprising his role as Obi-Wan Kenobi. The as-yet unnamed Obi-Wan show is to be set eight years after the events of Revenge of the Sith.
What about the Star Wars Holiday Special and the two Ewok TV movies?
George Lucas reportedly despised the Star Wars Holiday Special (1978), which aired on CBS. Lucas would not allow the show to be re-aired or released on home video, the only exception to that rule being an 11-minute animated piece called “The Faithful Wookiee” showing the first appearance of bounty hunter Boba Fett, This was eventually included as a bonus feature in several Star Wars Blu-ray releases.
The Ewok Adventure (first aired on Nov. 25, 1984) was a television movie that featured the Ewoks in adventured following Return of the Jedi. It is not considered canon.
Ewoks: The Battle for Endor (first aired on Nov. 24, 1985) was a television movie that featured the Ewoks in adventured following Return of the Jedi. It is not considered canon.
Star Wars has been a cultural phenomenon since the first film hit theaters in 1977. The conclusion of the Skywalker Saga with Episode IX will certainly not be the end of the Star Wars story, but a jumping off point for more films and streaming shows that fill in the backstory of the Star Wars Universe, as well as pointing the way to future Star Wars tales.