How to Watch Star Wars

There has been an awakening.

Anticipation is building for the long-awaited Episode VII in the Star Wars saga. As we draw closer to the release of The Force Awakens, die hard fans and Star Wars virgins alike will presumably be revisiting episodes IVI to prepare for one of the biggest motion picture events in recent memory. One of the most debated topics within Star Wars fandom has been what order to watch the movies in. After all, there’s more than one way of going about it. Some prefer the old school style of watching them in the order they were released (IV, V, VI, I, II, III), while others would vouch to stay true to the chronological timeline (I, II, III, IV, V, VI). If you consider yourself part of the more adventurous crowd, the alternating method (I, IV, II, V, III, VI) spices things up a bit. (After all, Lucas famously said Star Wars was like poetry, in that “it rhymes.”)

You can weigh the pros and cons for all of these to varying degrees, but none of them can match the calibre of the “flashback” order. The sequence of viewing best represents the story and characters of Star Wars without spoiling any of the major reveals the franchise has become famous for. Maybe you’re introducing Star Wars to your kids for the first time, or you’re planning a massive, all-day movie marathon with friends. Either way, whether you’re a han-shot-first purist or a newcomer to the galaxy far, far away, utilizing the flashback sequence will enrich your viewing experience of Star Wars.

1. Episode IV: A New Hope

Luke watches a double sunset on the planet of Tatooine in this classic scene from "A New Hope"
Luke watches a double sunset on the planet of Tatooine in this classic scene from “A New Hope”

Kicking off our list as well as the entire franchise itself is A New Hope. Although we find it in the middle of the saga chronologically, it was the first movie to actually be released. Back in 1977, George Lucas was a relatively unknown up-and-comer in the industry. He had penned his plans for a massive film franchise spanning decades of ongoing interplanetary conflict in an epic space opera called “Star Wars.” It would begin with the tragedy of a rogue Jedi knight, and continue with his two children who would lead a rebellion against their father’s empire. Lucas envisioned that as many as twelve movies could comprise the saga, following the lineage of the fallen Jedi throughout years of space wars. With only a minimal budget to work with and no guarantee of sequels to be green-lit, Lucas settled on the middle chapter of his conceptual series, citing it as the most interesting part of the story, and the most self-contained. According to the director’s commentary, the studio was adamant that the “Episode IV” banner be removed from the film’s title as not to confuse viewers.

A New Hope tells the story of a young farm boy who dreams of leaving his desert homeworld to join the rebel academy and fight against the oppressive Galactic Empire. After discovering his dead father’s history as a Jedi warrior slain by the villainous Darth Vader, Luke Skywalker joins forces with a Jedi-turned-hermit, a cocky smuggler, his wookie partner in crime, and a pair of droids in an effort to save a princess from the evil Empire’s clutches.

The movie serves as a great introduction to the universe of Star Wars. Even though terms like “lightsaber” and the “Force” are so deeply embedded in our culture nowadays, there was once a time when audiences had no idea who Darth Vader was. Because it was the original Star Wars, Episode IV sufficiently explains everything from what the Force is (a mystical presence that binds all living things in the universe) to who the Jedi are (galactic peacekeepers who harness the power of the Force for good and wield laser swords). If you decided to start with Episode I, then you’ll end up being a little lost, because despite it taking place at the beginning of the six chronicles, the movie already assumes you’re familiar with the setting and concepts that are unique to Star Wars. By using A New Hope as the starting point for your journey through the saga, you are given a proper introduction to how things work in this universe, and the quintessential Star Wars experience.

2. Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back 

Darth Vader reveals the truth about himself to Luke in "The Empire Strikes Back"
Darth Vader reveals the truth about himself to Luke in “The Empire Strikes Back”

The next movie on the list is The Empire Strikes Back. Suddenly, George Lucas was a household name and Star Wars was the highest grossing movie of all time. He made Empire as a continuation of Luke’s story in the aftermath of A New Hope. This time around, Lucas was allowed to include the “Episode V” subtitle to the opening crawl, which was followed by the re-release of the first Star Wars in 1981 with the title restored to Episode IV: A New Hope. In this chapter of the saga, Luke begins to have mysterious visions which lead him to the desolate planet of Dagobah, where he trains in the ways of the Force under Jedi master Yoda. Meanwhile, Han and Leia, pilot and princess from the first film, draw closer together as they evade a bounty on their heads and go into hiding.

Episode V introduces a few new faces to the franchise, including 800-year-old monk Yoda, Cloud City administrator Lando Calrissian, bounty hunter Boba Fett (excluding the bonus scene from the special edition of A New Hope), and the feared leader of the Empire, Darth Sidious. These characters (save for Lando) will become prominent figures in Episodes I-III, so it’s best to establish them now rather than watching Episode I first and missing the references to their debut film.

Without getting into spoiler territory, Empire culminates to a shocking cliff-hanger, with Luke, Han, and Leia’s fates left up in the air for the next episode (taking inspiration from the episodic 1940’s sci-fi serials Flash Gordon, which Lucas grew up watching). “Anakin Skywalker” gets name-dropped, and Darth Vader’s past relationship with Yoda and Ben Kenobi is teased further. It only makes sense now to build the suspense and dive deeper into the rich history of the now extinct Jedi Order.

3. Episode I: The Phantom Menace

Qui-Gon Jinn and Obi-Wan Kenobi engage in the famous lightsaber duel with Darth Maul from "The Phantom Menace"
Qui-Gon Jinn and Obi-Wan Kenobi engage in the famous lightsaber duel with Darth Maul from “The Phantom Menace”

We’re jumping back in time with this one (the beginning of an extended “flashback” sequence, if you will). While Episode IV lays the groundwork for story elements in “Star Wars,” Episode I is the official beginning to the story itself. It reveals the background to characters from episodes IV and V including Obi-Wan and Darth Sidious, as well as the humble origins of a child slave called Anakin Skywalker. It also provides details on the ways of the Jedi, the return of the Sith (otherwise known as the antithesis of Jedi), and the pre-Empire (approximately 30 years Before the Battle of Yavin, or ~30 B.B.Y.) state of government, a diplomatic Galactic Republic.

The film follows Jedi Master Qui-Gon Jinn and his apprentice, Obi-Wan, as they aid the Republic in a conflict with the Trade Federation. Along the way, they come across a boy named Anakin, who Qui-Gon believes may be the Chosen One of an ancient Jedi prophecy, said to one day bring balance to the Force. Meanwhile, a Sith Lord arises in the wake of the political turmoil.

The obvious reason to avoid starting your “Star Wars” journey with The Phantom Menace is because it’s the weakest of the instalments. Too often Star Wars amateurs start with The Phantom Menace, are put off by the mediocrity of the movie, and call it a quits without even making it to A New Hope. It also ruins part of the visual awe of the original if you watch it before A New Hope, since the CGI effects in this movie vastly outshine 1977’s technical standings.

4. Episode II: Attack of the Clones

Padmé finds Anakin watching the sunrise on Naboo in "Attack of the Clones"
Padmé finds Anakin watching the sunrise on the planet Naboo in “Attack of the Clones”

Like The Phantom Menace, Attack of the Clones has a lot of subtle callbacks to events that happen in Episode IV and V. Set ten years after the events of the preceding film, the story here is that now-Jedi apprentice Anakin is tasked with protecting the Queen of Naboo following an assassination attempt on her life. As a forbidden love affair ensues between the two, Skywalker’s master, Obi-Wan, begins to investigate a conspiracy surrounding the brewing war with a separatist movement.

Episode II sets the “Clone Wars” era into motion, which is what Ben Kenobi reminisces about when he tells Luke about his father in Episode IV. Seeing these events unfold for Ani and Obi in their prime adds more weight to the film having watched A New Hope prior (especially since Ewan McGregor perfectly harnesses the spirit of Alec Guiness in his performance, physically and behaviourally). Both The Phantom Menace and Attack of the Clones are mostly independent plots in the grand scheme of Star Wars, so nothing crucial in their stories is ruined by being fitted into the middle of your viewing experience.

There’s really no way around putting Clones on your watch list anywhere else outside of being between Episode I and Episode III. It uses Menace as the basis for world-building (as far as how the senate works, what the government looks like, etc.) as to not spend too much time giving exposition again. It’s also not very far behind Sith on the fictional timeline, so it makes the most sense to keep it placed after and before III on the watch order.

Bonus: The Clone Wars

From left to right: Obi-Wan Kenobi, Anakin Skywalker, and his apprentice, Ahsoka Tano, in "The Clone Wars"
From left to right: Obi-Wan Kenobi, Ahsoka Tano, and Anakin Skywalker in “The Clone Wars”

Here’s where we reach the half-way point in our journey (or the intermission, if it’s a movie marathon day). If it’s your first time watching, don’t feel obligated to indulge in the extra Episode instalments. You won’t miss out on anything important by skipping over the cartoons. But for the mega Star Wars enthusiasts, taking advantage of the canon to add to your reliving of Star Wars is something well worth trying.

The animated film, Star Wars: The Clone Wars, was a theatrically released launch to the long-running Cartoon Network series of the same name. Although serving as the show’s pilot episode, the movie (continuing the tradition of muddling the order) isn’t technically the first part of the Clone Wars timeline (“Cat and Mouse” from season 2 and “Hidden Enemy” from season 1 actually pre-date it chronologically). That being said, I’d still recommend checking out the feature film before jumping into the series. It establishes the kind of feel you’ll be getting from the animated show and concentrates on characters you already know before shifting the focus to clone troopers and Ashoka Tano, Anakin’s apprentice, whom he begins training from the movie onwards.

The six seasons follow the adventures of the Jedi Knights during the three-year Clone War crisis between the Republic and the Confederacy of Independent Systems. Most of the storylines were conceived by George Lucas, who served as an executive producer. Because the series comes in at over 120 episodes, it’s not exactly something you can binge watch in a day, especially in between six other movies. For the marathoners, stick to just the theatrical feature, and maybe a few of your favourite episodes (IGN put together a great top 10 list here), but for everyone else whose planning a re-watch that’s more spread out, The Clone Wars series compliments the saga with its riveting action, story arcs, and foreshadowing. (Also, cartoon Anakin is a better actor than Hayden Christiansen.)

5. Episode III: Revenge of the Sith

Anakin Skywalker in "Revenge of the Sith"
Anakin Skywalker in “Revenge of the Sith”

The Clone Wars sets up Episode III with its last season leading in to the opening events of Revenge of the Sith. We enter into the movie at the climax of the Clone Wars, with seasoned Jedi Anakin Skywalker and Obi-Wan Kenobi leading a campaign to rescue the Supreme Chancellor from separatist captivity. In the background of the battle, the Galactic Republic falls to its demise and the Empire rises in its place.

Episode III is the darkest chapter of the Star Wars saga, contrasting the exuberant atmosphere of A New Hope significantly. If you were to watch Episode IV after Episode III, you’d be taken back by the dramatic shift in tone (going from IV to and then into prequel territory is a much more gradual progression). Also, IV being the oldest and III being the newest means for an awkward transition from the state-of-art CG masterwork of the mid 2000’s to the slim-budgeted special effects of the late 70’s. The final lightsaber duel between Obi-Wan and Darth Vader in A New Hope looks especially rough and stilted if you’ve already seen their fast-paced and intensely-choreographed initial confrontation at the end of Revenge of the Sith. 

It can also be a problematic piece in your viewing order if you take the ‘release date’ route. It’s a depressing note to end on, especially if you’re watching these to get pumped up for The Force Awakens. Besides, Revenge of the Sith takes place nearly fifty years before Episode VII, so it’s not exactly the best segway.

Bonus: Star Wars Rebels

Darth Vader and Ashoka Tano in promos for Season 2 of "Rebels"
Darth Vader and Ashoka Tano in promos for Season 2 of “Rebels”

Here’s another detour in the journey that’s only necessary for the most devoted of fans. Star Wars Rebels was the first project developed after Lucasfilm was bought out by Disney a few years back. Set during the early days of the rebellion before things take full swing in A New Hope, the show is about teenaged Ezra, a street smart orphan who goes from petty thief to joining the crew of the starship Ghost – a band of motley rebels led by a Hera, the strong-willed pilot, and Kanan, one of the last remaining Jedi. Hunted by the Inquisitor, Darth Vader’s personal agent tasked with eliminating any survivors of the Great Jedi Purge (as seen in Episode III), the gang of misfits embarks on a series of adventures throughout the stars in hopes of sparking a rebellion.

As it was with The Clone Wars, the show is best appreciated once you’re familiar with the other movies, so don’t just follow the chronology and watch it before A New Hope. The show quickly became popular for its cameos, including Darth Vader (read by James Earl Jones, the famous voice of Vader in the films), Obi-Wan (voiced by James Arnold Taylor from The Clone Wars), Yoda (Frank Oz from the films), Lando (Billy Dee Williams from the films), and C3P0 (Anthony Daniels, who appears in every film including The Clone Wars), among other familiar faces. The only exception to moving it to the front of the list would be for younger viewers; if you have small kids, Rebels would be a great starting point for them before introducing the other movies.

Although it’s obviously family-friendly, don’t be fooled into thinking that this is just a kiddie show. It’s not as graphic as The Clone Wars, but it takes itself just as seriously as the other movies and gets surprisingly dark in latter episodes of the season. It also gives a clearer look at what was going on during the twenty year time gap between Episode III and Episode IV.

6. Episode VI: Return of the Jedi

Luke Skywalker in "Return of the Jedi"
Luke Skywalker in “Return of the Jedi”

We’re back! Everything comes full circle in Return of the Jedi. We pick up where we left off in Empire, only now we know the history behind Darth Vader, Obi-Wan, and the Emperor. Episodes I through III compliment the story of Episode VI considerably more than in IV and V. For instance, the scene where Luke talks about his mom with Leia is touching on its own, but becomes all the more poignant with actress Natalie Portman in mind as the mother figure, all dolled-up in her regal attire.

The final chapter of the saga shows Luke Skywalker embarking on a mission to save his friends and confront Darth Vader for the last time. Everything has been leading up to this. Excluding Timothy Zahn’s popular Thrawn trilogy of Expanded Universe books set after the events of Jedi (which are now non-canonical anyway), Episode VI has always served as the conclusion to the entire saga for thirty plus years. Luke’s ‘hero’s journey’ (based off of Joseph Campbell’s 12-step progression of the hero archetype) is completed at the end of the film, as are the other story and character arcs (some stretching across all six movies). It only makes sense to keep Jedi at the finale of your viewing order, because it is the definitive denouement of the franchise.

Had you watched the films in chronological order, though, the plot twist in Jedi would have been ruined early on (in Revenge of the Sith), but this way it is still preserved until the last ten minutes of the foregoing film. One of the other drawbacks to watching the episodes in order is that the look and feel of the films don’t flow from episode to episode; we go from dense, digital aesthetics to the practical effects of 1977 in a matter of one movie. The flashback order still sticks one of the older movies after the shinier prequels, but its special effects and pace hold up significantly better than Hope and Empire. The Luke/Vader lightsaber duel is a grand action sequence that can actually compete with the lightning-quick sword dances of episodes IIII. In fact, the movie’s practical sets and effects are a lot easier on the eyes than the CGI-heavy worlds of the prequels.

7. Episode VII: The Force Awakens

A shot from "The Force Awakens" teaser trailer
A shot from “The Force Awakens” teaser trailer

George Lucas entrusted his legacy in the hands of J.J. Abrams (though the Star Wars mastermind still serves as creative consultant), responsible for secretive projects like Lost and Super 8. As expected, The Force Awakens is still shrouded in mystery. What we do know is that it takes place thirty-some years after the events of Jedi, with classic characters Luke Skywalker, Princess Leia, Han Solo, Chewbacca, R2D2, and C3PO returning.

Mark Hamill, who plays Luke Skywalker, was the same age filming The Force Awakens as Alec Guinness was (Obi Wan) making A New Hope. Luke is expected to take on the role of the old and wise mentor for the new characters as old Ben was in the original. Is it a coincidence that Lucas’ early drafts for that 12 picture saga contained Luke reappearing in the third trilogy as the new Obi-Wan-esque character?

Episodes VIII and IX are already in the early stages of development, and with ‘Anthology’ standalone titles coming including Rogue One and a Boba Fett origins film, the viewing order of this growing franchise is only going to get more complicated. But for now, as we eagerly await the newest chapter in the space opera saga, let’s revisit the galaxy far, far away by taking use of the “flashback” sequence and relive Star Wars all over again.

What do you think? Leave a comment.

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  1. I really like this different approach! It makes sense too and it’s probably influenced the order I ‘ll watch the films in.

  2. NurseManhattan

    Thanks so much! I’m glad you found it useful!

  3. Adnan Bey

    I must admit, I never thought of watching the films in that order. I always watched chronologically. Nice suggestion. And wow- I’ve seriously been outdated with Rebels. Better get back into it quickly.

  4. Towanda

    U should watch them in this ordere: 4, 5, 2, 3, 6, 1, Clone Wars, The Clone Wars and maybe rebels. But rebels has nothing 2 do with the main storyline. If u spend a lot of time watching the movies and animated series in this order u will get the storyline not only 2 be the most entertaining but also make a lot more sense.

  5. Darksaber

    Honestly I prefer episode 1 to episode 2. Darth Maul lightsaber fight scene is probably the best lightsaber scene in All Star Wars, and the stupid chemistry between Anakin and Padme is absolutely unbearable to watch in episode 2. If there was only a way where you can edit the two movies into one movie. Cut out the sences with Jar Jar Binks in episode 1 and cut short the god awful love scenes in episode 2. also you can cut out the scenes where Anakin is a Moby little bitch. Do you know if anyone has done this, or if it is even legal?

    • NurseManhattan

      Haha that’s not a bad idea actually! I don’t really buy the chemistry between Anakin and Padme either, but I think some of their scenes together still hold up, like when they’re sitting on the grass field and talking about the political system. It’s more subtle, it shows the more playful side to their otherwise overly serious relationship, and it even has some nice foreshadowing moments for Anakin.

  6. nickerson

    Wait, there’s more than 3 Star Wars movies?!?! I thought they were called 4, 5, and 6 just to be different!

  7. harrharr

    I had the opportunity to introduce a friend to Star Wars. I did it the way my brother did for me 4,5,6-1,2,3. However I have done modified machete where its 4,5,1,2,3,6 which I enjoyed (I only include 1 because cannon). I also have done 4,1,5,2,3,6 which is ok to a degree. 1 makes everything messy

  8. Aaron Hatch

    If someone had never seen Star Wars before, I would start with 4,5,1,2,3,and then finally 6.

  9. Erica Beimesche

    I’ve only seen a couple Star Wars Movies, and I’ve been planning a marathon of them all. This sounds like a great way to mix it up!

  10. DClarke

    Very interesting! I rarely think about the animated series and this really ties it all together. Maybe next you can fit in the force unleashed games…or not!

    • NurseManhattan

      Hey thank you so much! I’m actually a big fan of The Force Unleashed. I think it’d be a great game to play after watching Revenge of the Sith, maybe before Rebels because I think it pre-dates the show. Especially if you’re doing a movie marathon, it’s always good to take breaks and play some fun games! If you’re with friends, Battlefront is another awesome SW game series to check out.

  11. I showed them to my kids in this order: 4, 5, 1, 2, 3, 6. A New Hope first because it truly is the introduction to Star Wars (period.) The Empire Strikes Back for obvious reasons (and if they are not obvious to you then you are not a true fan.) Then the Prequels to see why the big spoiler is so big! Then come back to Return of the Jedi to see the fate of the Skywalkers and lead into the next three films quite nicely. Following that you should also include both series of the Clone Wars cartoons and the animated movie as well as Rebels. Dave Filoni understands how to tell the continuing story of Star Wars. There are some spectacularly well written stories in those series as well.

  12. I bought the Star Wars set for $90!

  13. Cherry Barr

    I love all the Star Wars movies. And I’m one of the only ones who can say that.

  14. the correct way to watch star wars is as follows:
    Episode 4, 5, 6, then Episode 1, 2, then Star Wars The Clone Wars (the tv show) all 6 seasons which takes place between Episode 2 and 3, then watch Episode 3, then watch the Star Wars Rebels TV Show which takes place between Episode 3 and 4…

  15. i never really got into star wars. being poor growing up. we never had money to go see them.

  16. I was watching Star Wars when I was 3. No, my mom didn’t introduce me. IDK how I, a 3 year old, found Star Wars. I liked the Prequels best back then, but that was because the Prequels were directed to a Y7 audience I think.

  17. Clifton

    My best friend came over with some cut of the prequals mashed together, but cut out all of jar jar and most of episode 1, but alot of 3 remained, it was the best. The Cut was 3 hours long and it was an interesting take on how to make the prequals make sense. If I were to watch 4 and 5 beforehand and wonder if Luke would turn evil, that would jsut totally change my outlook on 6.

  18. I would do 6,2,4,3,1,5 just to confuse the heck…I’m not ready to be a father.

  19. Very interesting guide! I agree that prequel trilogy should be watched after the Episode V. It would be the perfect timing to make the audiences curious about Darth Vader’s backstory.

  20. My wife hasn’t seen Star Wars and I wanted to show them in order of timeline. Then I realized there are somethings in 4, 5, 6 you really need to see first in order to get some stuff in 1, 2 and 3. Because if you watch the according to timeline some stuff won’t add up and some stuff won’t be as shocking such as (SPOILERS) already knowing Vader is Lukes father since you see the birth of him (and Leah) at the end of 3.

  21. Guillen

    Haven’t watched Star Wars. Any of them. I don’t know if I should…

  22. Most of my friends don’t watch movies from before 1999 bc they have bad special effects and apparently are for old people, but the special effects of the prequels aged worse than the original. A puppet Yoda looks way better than a golf ball on a stick and real sets are better then a green screen

  23. I’m familiar with episodes 4, 5, and 6. But these episodes 1, 2, and 3 are foreign to me. These must be those poorly made fan fictions created by some doddering old man in love with green screens. Pretty sure they’re not canon.

  24. Irizarry

    This is brilliant!

  25. I will show my kids episode 1-6 because the prequels capture and relate more to “modern” children that and they can connect with young Annie and grow with him.

    But if I make a friend who has never seen Star Wars I will show them ep. 4,5,1,2,3,6 order because you don’t have the plot twists ruined and the story kind of fits better this way. And I do believe that Ep. 1 serves a purpose in establishing why obi-wan trains him (because of the promise to Qui-gon), the fact that he and his mother were slaves and the set up for his episode 2’s big fall, and that he is also from tatooine.

    • NurseManhattan

      I understand that the prequels are a good gateway into Star Wars for kids. I was still a boy when The Phantom Menace came out, and that was really what got me into Star Wars in the first place!

  26. Jacque Venus Tobias

    Very well laid-out information. I am indeed a novice in this realm but respect all of your research.

  27. I watched them 1, 2, 3 then 4, 5, 6… It meant that by the time I got to 4 it was like a breath of fresh air

  28. I love Star wars so much u need to watch the first made then the prequels it is much better that way… about the new star wars coming out….honestly I am a little worried that they will destroy George Lucas’s amazing ideas and story in the new on but I am sure it will be great.

    • NurseManhattan

      I couldn’t agree more! I was worried at first too but once they brought on J.J. and Larry Kasdan I started to feel more optimistic. Especially after those two amazing teasers!

  29. I watched in episode order

  30. Kina Finley

    I absolutely fell in love with the movies.

  31. noeonce

    i prefer 4, to reveal vader 2 and 3 as an explanation to “Luke I am your father” 5 and 6 to finish the story you started with

    • NurseManhattan

      Similar approach then! I think what you’ve suggested is called the machete order because it leaves out episode I. For me, that Darth Maul fight is too cool to skip.

  32. As dissapointing as 1 maybe it has the best fight scenes with an awesome looking villian at the end. I would rather avoid 2 than forget 1. 2 is one of the most boring ones that stands out from the prequels but as bad acted as the first one is the fight scenes do make up for it.

    • NurseManhattan

      Yeah I know where you’re coming from. I really like the roman politics but I can see how others find it boring. And yeah the action is sick.

  33. steadman

    I’d choose release order because I would want to include the 1st film because I actually like jar jar and when they watch the 2nd they won’t be like “who da heel is dat?”. Also darth maul is my favourite and I would want them to see him and qui gon

  34. Milligan

    i know how to properly watch star wars. by buying the original trilogy on vhs or laserdisc. forget about special editions. forget about the prequels. just glory of bad lighting on that matte painting of the jail in the death star.

  35. It never occurred to me to mix the films around. Before now I thought the only way to watch the Star Wars films was either starting with Episode I and go forward, OR start with episode VI and go backwards. Typically I’d suggest the former, because The Phantom Menace and Attack of the Clones are, for me, tough to get through. I definitely think the way the films are listed in this article will prove to be a fresh take on watching and understanding the Star Wars films, especially if you’re already a seasoned fan.

    • NurseManhattan

      Hey thanks a lot for the comment! I hope this will prove to be a better viewing experience than watching episodes 1-6 in chronological order. I’ve tried it (with friends who have never seem the movies before) and we all loved it.

  36. Marshal

    I love the entire Star Wars franchise. I think Clone Wars and Rebels are key parts of SW education. This “Flashback” viewing strategy you’ve suggested is an awesome idea. My wife has only watched 2 out of the 6 movies but is interested in learning more. I was trying to figure out the best strategy for teaching her and changing up my own viewing order till I read this. You’ve written an great article. I feel Clone Wars and Rebels enhance the Star Wars world immensely. They shouldn’t be passed over by anyone gearing up for Episode VII

    • NurseManhattan

      Thanks so much for the feedback! I agree that Clone Wars and Rebels will really add to the experience and appreciation of the movies. If you try watching them with your wife in this order I’m sure she’ll love it!

  37. Alice Bishop

    I’ve watched the whole series three times and I still don’t get the hype :/

  38. This order makes sense. Episode 4 is the perfect starting point because it has such a “swept off into an adventure” vibe. Following with five makes sense, and since Empire raises so many questions, its a great idea to venture backwards into the prequels. After learning Anakin’s story, finishing with Jedi is the perfect end to the original trilogy, the prequels, and the saga as a whole.

  39. Tommy Gee

    I always thought that the correct order would be to 1-6, because that it shows Lucas’s grander story arc. But the dialogue was so bad in 1-3, that appreciating the story became impossible. Not anymore!

    I fixed the prequel trilogy by turning them into “foreign movies”. By putting new English subtitles over the Chinese-language versions, the grand visual storytelling now has language to match.

    Did Lucas get it right, after all? Watch the Prequel Redux Trilogy, 1-3, then the original trilogy 4-6 and see what you think.

    Tommy Gee

  40. Diego Santoyo

    Star Wars does not catch my attention, but maybe I should give it a try.

  41. I think I’ve seen the entire saga about 300 times. No joke. I think this is a great approach. I haven’t actually seen Star Wars Rebels but I would really love to. One thing I think might be another interesting take in this would be this: if you watch episode 4,5 and 6 first and then 1, 2 and 3 it’s Luke SkyWalker’s story. It takes the perspective of Luke and how both he and Leah came to exist and how they save their world. But if you watch episode 1-6 (in the order I believe George Lucas intends) it’s the story of Anakin Skywalker. It is the glorious story of Anakin’s growth, maturation, his fall and ultimately his redemption. I don’t know if you’ve ever though about it that way but it took me about 300 times of watching the entire saga to figure that out. Thanks for the article it was great.

  42. (Spoilers in this)
    I actually just watched Star Wars recently for the first time. I watched it in “flashback order”, which means I watched 4, 5, 1, 2, 3, then 6. I can honestly say that this order is reaaaaally good. By watching 4 and 5 first, I became invested in the Rebel alliance and detested Darth Vader, even after finding out he was Luke’s father. But when I watched 1, 2 and 3, I became extremely invested in Annikin Skywalker, which opened my eyes to Darth Vader’s true character. Also, after becoming so invested in Annikin, it made the ending to Darth Vader’s life extremely satisfying. I was literally crying tears of joy, which I’m not very proud to admit.

  43. Sarah Bish

    I think that this article was very well-done, and took a creative and alternative approach to a series that most people view as set in stone. While I am an avid Star Wars vet and probably won’t watch the movies in this order, I may recommend it to friends who have yet to view the saga. Keep up the wonderful work!

  44. Brandyn Forrest

    I created a unique order.

  45. I really like your ideas. It would certainly be pretty cool to start with 4 and 4 before Phantom Menace. Perhaps though one can even start with Rogue One before New Hope. I think though if I was a parent introducing the kids to Star Wars I would do to chronologically and the only reason is this. In the Clone Wars Anakin and Obi-Wan always find themselves in dangerous situations. I think it would add to the excitement if you didn’t know that they have to survive the clone wars for the rest of the movies to happen.

  46. Yes, one of my old friends has come up with his own correct order to watch the Star Wars films as well.

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