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The Best Order to Watch Star Wars TV Shows For the First Time

Here's how to understand the faraway Star Wars galaxy's tricky TV chronology.

Originally Published: 
Ahsoka Tano
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Remember when Star Wars wasn’t like, over ten TV shows? Back in the day, when we all had smaller cellphones, or no cellphones, the only serious way to talk about watching Star Wars was to talk about what order to watch Star Wars movies. Because the first six Star Wars movies —Episodes I-VI — were released out of chronological order, debate raged for a while as to which order to watch those films in for the first time, a conversation which was only made more complicated by the sequels (Episodes VII-IX) and standalone movies like Solo and Rogue One. But today, it’s possibly even more confusing with TV shows! If you’re watching Star Wars TV shows with your kids, by yourself, or even for date night, you might be a bit baffled as to how each series fits into the larger Star Wars puzzle.

Here’s a simple question to gauge your confusion as to the watch order of Star Wars TV shows: Do you know who Baby Yoda is? You know he’s not literally Yoda, right? If your answer to that question was “um…” or if your kids are having a hard time unpacking the complicated Star Wars timeline, we’ve got you. From your fuzzy memory of Star Wars cartoons in the ’80s to the newer cartoons and live-action shows, here’s your brief guide to watching Star Wars shows in “the right order,” plus, why you can totally skip around.

Ahsoka Tano, in The Clone Wars.


The Chronological Order of Star Wars TV Shows

The first thing to remember about most of the Star Wars TV shows is they tend to take place in between the various movies. So, listing the shows in chronological order will look a little funny. That said, here’s the actual in-universe order in which these stories occur. (Release years are listed in parentheses.)

  1. Young Jedi Adventures (2023)
  2. Clone Wars (2003)
  3. The Clone Wars (2008-2020)
  4. The Bad Batch (2021-Present)
  5. Droids (’80s)
  6. Obi-Wan Kenobi (2022)
  7. Rebels (2014-2018)
  8. Andor (2022)
  9. Star Wars Holiday Special: Faithful Wookie (1978)
  10. Ewoks (’80s)
  11. The Mandalorian (2019-Present)
  12. The Book of Boba Fett (2021)
  13. Ahsoka (2023)
  14. Star Wars: Resistance (2018)
  15. Star Wars: Visions (2021)

A few timeline shenanigans: Visions is an anthology show, and therefore jumps all around the Star Wars timeline, sometimes not adhering to the timeline at all. Similarly, The Book of Boba Fett takes place mostly after the events of The Mandalorian Season 2, but several scenes take place in flashbacks right after Return of the Jedi, which puts those events before The Mandalorian. To make things nice and confusing, some flashbacks in The Mandalorian (including Mando’s childhood) take place during The Clone Wars TV series.

Andor mostly happens 5 years before A New Hope and Rogue One, but some of Cassian’s childhood flashbacks would be roughly in the middle of The Bad Batch. Andor Season 2 is also poised to be a little closer to A New Hope, but that’s not out yet.

Obi-Wan Kenobi happens 9 years before A New Hope (Leia is 10 in that show and 19 in the first movie) but, one very notable flashback with Anakin Skywalker (Hayden Christensen) happens right before the events of Attack of the Clones.

Disney+ Star Wars Timeline feature

As of late 2022, Disney+ actually has a menu feature in its Star Wars section called “Star Wars in timeline order.” If you click on the Star Wars collection on the Disney+ homepage and scroll down, you’ll see it. It should begin with The Phantom Menace.

Should you watch the Star Wars TV shows in chronological order?

The answer to this question is almost certainly no. For one thing, there are 133 episodes of The Clone Wars that are each 30 minutes. Yes, certain key characters and events will help you understand The Mandalorian better, but watching the entire show isn’t necessary to watch some of the live-action shows. Also, almost nothing that happens in the Droids and Ewoks show is considered “canon,” meaning none of it impacts the events of The Book of Boba Fett. If anyone tells you that you must watch all of Droids before watching The Book of Boba Fett, they are very, very wrong. But, they’re also probably a super-unique person, so keep them in your life! They’re weird! In a good way!

Young Boba Fett mourns his father’s demise.


Each Star Wars TV show tends to connect to specific Star Wars movies

If you’re utterly baffled by the Star Wars chronology relative to the Star Wars TV shows your family wants to watch, here’s a rule of thumb that usually works: If you’re ever confused, try to figure out which Star Wars movie the TV show in questions is following or leading up to. You can think of the Star Wars movies as the parents of the TV shows. So, if you match up each Star Wars TV show to its “parent” film (or films) you might be less confused. For example:

Clone Wars and The Clone Wars are both animated series taking place after the movie Attack of the Clones and before the film Revenge of the Sith. Because The Clone Wars has the most hours of any Star Wars TV show, this makes it relatively easy to understand once you get where it falls in the chronology: Everything that happens in those 133 episodes happens in between Episode II: Attack of the Clones (2002) and Episode III: Revenge of the Sith (2005). This means, the sequel series to The Clone WarsThe Bad Batchhappens right AFTER the events of Revenge of the Sith.

To put it another way, if you’re looking for a “hack” to understanding The Clone Wars (or The Bad Batch), the only two Star Wars movies you REALLY need to have seen are Attack of the Clones and Revenge of the Sith. This is oddly true for Obi-Wan Kenobi, too, which is more of a sequel to the prequels, rather than another prequel to the classic films.

Thinking about “parent” Star Wars movies works for the other new live-action shows, too. Both The Mandalorian and The Book of Boba Fett take place roughly FIVE YEARS AFTER the movie Return of the Jedi (1983). So, if you watched ONLY Return of the Jedi before either Mandalorian or Book of Boba Fett you’d be slightly less confused. The references to Jabba the Hutt, the Jedi, and Luke Skywalker would be explicable.

Bo-Katan and Ahsoka in ‘The Clone Wars’


The New Live-Action Shows Reference the Cartoons — A Lot

For parents who have kids who are, perhaps, growing up with Star Wars shows, one interesting feature of the newer live-action shows — especially The Mandalorian — is that they tend to reference these two animated series quite a bit:

  • The Clone Wars
  • Rebels

This is especially true of the Jedi character of Ahsoka Tano, who was a big deal in both animated series but had her first live-action appearance in The Mandalorian Season 2, played by Rosario Dawson. Similarly, the character of Bo-Katan originated in The Clone Wars, later appeared in Rebels, and first appeared in live-action in Mandalorian Season 2, played by Katee Sackhoff, who, appropriately, had provided the character’s voice in both Rebels and The Clone Wars, before. That said, casual fans probably know her best for her role as Starbuck in Battlestar Galactica, which no, you don’t need to watch to understand Star Wars shows.

When it comes to 2023’s Ahoska, you’re dealing with a series that has so many characters from Rebels, it’s basically the first live-action Star Wars show that is a low-key sequel to one of the cartoons. For this reason, Rebels may be very essential to “getting” Ahsoka.

What About the Shows That Aren’t Out Yet?

Two new live-action Star Wars shows are on the horizon for 2023 and beyond. This is how they fit in.

  • Ahsoka (August 2023) is like Mando and Boba Fett in the sense that takes place after Return of the Jedi.
  • Skeleton Crew (December 2023)
  • The Acolyte (2024), takes place in the “High Republic” era, well before The Phantom Menace.

This means, when those shows ALL come out, the chronology will look like this. (Shows not yet released have asterisks around them.)

  1. Young Jedi Adventures (2023)
  2. **The Acolyte** (2024)
  3. Clone Wars (2003)
  4. The Clone Wars (2008-2020)
  5. The Bad Batch (2021)
  6. Droids (’80s)
  7. Obi-Wan Kenobi (2022)
  8. Clone Wars (2003)
  9. The Clone Wars (2008-2020)
  10. The Bad Batch (2021)
  11. Droids (’80s)
  12. Rebels (2014-2018)
  13. Andor (2022)
  14. Star Wars Holiday Special: Faithful Wookie (1978)
  15. Ewoks (’80s)
  16. The Mandalorian (2019-?)
  17. The Book of Boba Fett (2021-?)
  18. ***Skeleton Crew*** (December 2023)
  19. Ahsoka (August, 2023)
  20. Star Wars: Resistance (2018)
  21. Star Wars: Visions (2021)

So, there you have it. And if you’re still confused: the reason why Baby Yoda is not actually Yoda (and his name is Grogu) is that The Mandalorian takes place after Return of the Jedi, a movie in which Yoda’s very long life came to an end. Hopefully, if you still have questions, you can refer to this article again and attempt to explain the chronology to your family.

However, be warned, the ultimate cure for figuring out Star Wars timeline stuff is simply watching more Star Wars.

All past and current Star Wars TV shows are streaming on Disney+.

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