Best Star Wars Movies & Shows Watch Order for First-Timers

Best Star Wars Watch Order for First Time
Best Star Wars Watch Order for First Time
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If you’re someone who hasn’t seen any Star Wars movies or shows, we’ve put together the perfect watch order for anyone experiencing the franchise for the first time. While you’d think it’d be best to go with chronological order, that’s not the case. If you follow our recommendation, you’ll find the experience more enjoyable and be ready for what comes next.

Table of contents

Best order to watch Star Wars movies and TV shows for beginners

If you’re watching Star Wars for the first time, you’re best off starting your watch order where it all began:

1. Galactic Civil War Era (The Original Trilogy)

Star Wars Original Trilogy Watch Order
Image Credit: Disney

The original Star Wars trilogy films are widely considered to be some of the best sci-fi productions of all time. Additionally, they were (obviously) written at a point where there wasn’t (multiple) expanded universes and require no prerequisite knowledge.

Since you’re starting with the best, you’ll quickly know whether Star Wars is for you or not. If you don’t like the original trilogy, it’s highly unlikely any of the other productions are going to make the franchise click for you.

1a. (Optional) Holiday Special, Droids, and Ewoks

These were created based on concepts seen in the original trilogy. However, only Droids is canon at this point, and most agree these are some of the lower points of the franchise.

Star Wars Holiday Special

Star Wars became a surprise phenomenon when it was released in 1977, and in its wake came the suits. Lucasfilm decided that a television special was a good idea but left production largely in the hands of CBS. Variety shows were a hot ticket at the time, so that’s the direction CBS took it, and the result was the Star Wars Holiday Special.

It was an absolute disaster when it was released in 1978 and has only been shown once on broadcast TV in its entirety. For decades, it was only available via bootleg, but it finally saw an official home video release in 2021 when it was added to Disney Plus.

It’s worth watching because of how absurdly bad it is and the appearances from the original cast. It’s also the origin of Boba Fett, which some would say makes up for its bad aspects.

Ewoks

After Return of the Jedi was released, the franchise was in a weird place. While it was incredibly popular, Lucasfilm was content to use it as a merchandise vehicle and let it stagnate. Instead of making new Star Wars movies or TV shows itself, it licensed it out for several productions aimed at children (to sell more toys) set between The Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi.

The three productions centering around Ewoks are:

The first two are made-for-TV movies that lack the ingenuity and charm of the original Star Wars films. Those who enjoy that particular eighties The Dark Crystal vibe will enjoy them, but there’s not a lot here for fans of the Star Wars franchise.

These were followed up with an Ewoks cartoon, which ran for two seasons from 1985 to 1986. Unfortunately, it was primarily an attempt to cash in on the Care Bears and Smurfs phenomenon. Unfortunately, aside from a few episodes, this series is banal in the extreme. Audiences didn’t stick, and after poor toy sales, the series was dropped. All three of the Ewoks productions are now non-canon but can be viewed on Disney Plus.

Droids
  • Star Wars: Droids: The Adventures of R2-D2 and C-3PO (Animated Series, 1985)

The Droids cartoon series was released in conjunction with the first season of Ewoks and takes place before A New Hope. In it, R2-D2 and C-3PO change from owner to owner and find themselves in a series of adventures as a result. It’s targeted toward children and relies on simple plots that aren’t always appealing to adults.

However, Droids does have some redeeming qualities. IG-88 and Boba Fett are featured in an episode each, and aspects of the series (Admiral Screed in particular) are still canon.

2. Clone Wars Era (The Prequel Trilogy)

Star Wars Prequel Trilogy Watch Order
Image Credit: Disney

Despite being prequels to the original trilogy, viewers will benefit from having previous knowledge of the franchise before watching these. These films assume the audience already knows what the force and Jedi are and that you recognize names like Obi-Wan Kenobi, Yoda, and Palpatine.

The prequel trilogy is the jumping-off point for many of the TV series. Luckily, these help fill the gaps between the movies and considerably expand the story.

2a. Clone Wars

There are several animated works which expand on the Clone Wars:

These aren’t to be confused with Star Wars: Clone Wars, which aired on Cartoon Network from 2003 to 2005 and is no longer considered canon.

3. Rise of the Empire

Star Wars Rise of the Empire Watch Order
Image Credit: Disney

There are several movies and TV shows set between Revenge of the Sith and A New Hope that show the rise of the Galactic Empire and the beginning of the Galactic Civil War:

4. The New Republic Era

Star Wars New Republic Era Watch Order
Image Credit: Disney

In the wake of Return of the Jedi, the Rebel Alliance becomes the New Republic, and the galaxy enters an era of relative peace. However, along the frontiers, trouble stirs in the areas where the Republic’s presence is stretched thin:

5. First Order Era (Sequel Trilogy)

Star Wars Sequel Trilogy Watch Order
Image Credit: Disney

The controversial sequel trilogy caps off the current Star Wars canon. While many fans would say you’re better off skipping these movies entirely, your journey isn’t complete until you brave them.

Disney is already planning films set before and after the sequel trilogy, so this list will continue to expand. However, for now, this is our recommended Star Wars watch order for anyone experiencing the franchise for the first time.

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