May the 4th is finally upon us, and this year we’re celebrating the best way we know how: by watching every single Star Wars TV show and movie from the past five decades in chronological order. Once upon a time this feat was simple, but over the past decade alone we’ve seen countless new entries in the new Star Wars canon.
It’s meant the timeline is a little bit wonky, and it can be difficult working out where shows like The Mandalorian and The Clone Wars fit in with the mainline movies. But that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t try. While quality varies film-to-film, there are plenty of fantastic stories told within the Star Wars universe, and they’re all worth hearing.
Here’s how to watch every major Star Wars film and TV show in the intended chronological order.
Note: For the purposes of this list, we’re excluding any film or TV show that isn’t considered canon. We’ve also removed any Star Wars shorts, mini-animations, video games, novels and comics, and simplified the Star Wars: Clone Wars season order. Even without these entries, it’s still a major undertaking.
Here’s where to begin…
Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace
While not canonically the first movie, The Phantom Menace kicked off a new era for the Star Wars franchise as fans finally discovered how Darth Vader became the big bad of the original trilogy. It’s here where the modern Star Wars story really starts to unfold.
Star Wars Episode II: Attack of the Clones
Attack of the Clones is a movie filled with intense action sequences, great visual effects and essential Star Wars lore. Arguably it’s the best film of the prequel trilogy and the most worth watching.
Star Wars: The Clone Wars (Movie)
The Clone Wars movie isn’t very good, but it does lead directly into the excellent Clone Wars TV show, and it marked the first appearance of Ahsoka Tano in the franchise.
The Clone Wars (TV) — Season 1-7
The Clone Wars TV series contains some of the best storytelling of the modern Star Wars era and gives essential backstory on both Anakin and Obi-Wan’s relationship, and Ahsoka Tano’s growth as a Jedi (later continued in Rebels and The Mandalorian).
The final four episodes of season seven take place concurrently with Revenge of the Sith so they can be watched before, during or after the film.
The Bad Batch
This show spins out of The Clone Wars and takes place between the prequel trilogy and the original trilogy. You should probably watch at least season seven of The Clone Wars before you head into this adventure, but all you really need to know is the story deals with rogue clones on a galaxy-faring adventure.
Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith
Revenge of the Sith connects the prequel trilogy with the original trilogy as Anakin and Obi-Wan’s stories come to a head. It’s not the best of the trilogy, but it’s still an entertaining time and has arguably aged a bit better than other Star Wars properties.
This side story introduces Han Solo and Lando Calrissian, who go on to feature heavily in the original trilogy of the film. It also details what happens to Darth Maul, as seen in both The Phantom Menace and Clone Wars.
Star Wars: Rebels — Season 1-4
Rebels is a companion series to Clone Wars and spotlights the rebellion against the Empire as the Jedi are hunted to extinction. Ahsoka Tano from Clone Wars makes a few appearances in this story, so you’ll want to watch that series first.
Rogue One fills gaps in the Star Wars chronological order by telling the story of Jyn Erso and Cassian Andor, and their efforts to destroy the Empire. Andor is set to get his own prequel TV show in the future (appropriately titled Andor) so it’s likely we’ll learn more about him in future.
Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope
This is the first Star Wars film made, but it’s since found a place right in the middle of the franchise’s canon. Luke, Han and Leia are central figures from this point onwards, so a A New Hope is an important film if you want to watch the newer entries.
Star Wars Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back
The Empire Strikes Back continues the tales of Han, Luke and Leia as the Empire gets closer to their goal of ruling the entire universe. Also Yoda is back in this one and he’s old.
Star Wars Episode VI: Return of the Jedi
This was originally intended as the conclusion to the Star Wars trilogy so it ends on an appropriately epic note — but as we all know, the story goes on long after this film ends.
The Mandalorian: Season 1-2
The Mandalorian initially appears to be a standalone tale, but season two ties it closer to modern Star Wars chronology. Of every modern Star Wars adventure, this is the most worth checking out. Season two in particular is very, very good.
Resistance — Season 1
Star Wars: Resistance is a less talked about animated spin-off, but it’s still considered canon to the main timeline. It follows Kazuda Xiono, a pilot working with the Resistance as the Empire grows in power once again. It’s notable for featuring several actors from the sequel trilogy reprising their roles, including Oscar Isaac as Poe Dameron and Gwendoline Christie as Captain Phasma.
Star Wars Episode VII: The Force Awakens
This film kicked off the beginning of the sequel trilogy, which follows new Jedi Rey in her quest to discover who she is and where she fits into the wider Star Wars universe.
Star Wars Episode VIII: The Last Jedi
The Last Jedi is one of the weirder stories in the Star Wars universe, but also one of the most imaginative. While it’s a contentious film, it’s still filled with beautiful character moments and great adventure beats.
Resistance — Season 2
The story of Star Wars Resistance continues in season two, and it’s actually set after the events of The Last Jedi. You’ll want to split your viewing of season one and season two so you don’t spoil what happens in the films.
Star Wars Episode IX: The Rise of Skywalker
This is the newest chapter in the Star Wars timeline, and it presents intriguing possibilities for the future of the franchise.
While we don’t know where Star Wars goes from here (since most of the upcoming shows are prequels), we do know there are plenty more stories left to tell.
If you want to take things to the next level, you can also check out the entire Star Wars canon chronology including every book, movie, short and comic from our pals over on the Star Wars Fandom page. It’s an absolutely incredible list, and you’ll need an age to get through it all. Still, it might just be the perfect thing to celebrate this year’s May the 4th.
Over the next few years, there’ll also be a handful of new adventures to add to the chronological list as new Star Wars shows like Obi-Wan Kenobi, The Bad Batch, Ahsoka, Andor, The Acolyte, Lando, Rangers of the New Republic and The Book of Boba Fett launch. There’s plenty on the way to keep fans entertained!
Every Star Wars TV show, film and short (including spin-offs like Caravan of Courage) is available to stream on Disney+.