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

Is 'Book of Boba Fett' after 'Clone Wars?' What about the old '80s cartoons? Here's the hack to understanding the faraway galaxy's TV chronology.

Disney+

Up until the 21st century, the only serious way to talk about watching Star Wars was to talk about what order to watch Star Wars movies. Because Star Wars Episodes I-VI were released out of order, debate raged for decades 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. Still, up until recent years, the conversation never included what order to watch Star Wars TV shows, simply because there weren’t enough good Star Wars TV shows to even have that debate.

But now, because everyone probably knows who Baby Yoda is, and even more folks are getting cozy with Boba Fett, the question of watching Star Wars on TV is becoming even more confusing than how you should watch the TV shows. Even if 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.

Disney

The Chronological Order of Star Wars TV Shows

The first thing to remember about most of the Star Wars TV shows is they all 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.)  With the exception of The Mandalorian and The Book of Boba Fett, all of these shows are animated.

  1. Clone Wars (2003)
  2. The Clone Wars (2008-2020)
  3. The Bad Batch (2021)
  4. Droids (’80s)
  5. Rebels (2014-2018)
  6. Star Wars Holiday Special: Faithful Wookie (1978)
  7. Ewoks (’80s)
  8. The Mandalorian (2019-?)
  9. The Book of Boba Fett (2021-?)
  10. Star Wars: Resistance (2018)
  11. Star Wars: Visions (2021)

One note here, Visions is an anthology show, and therefore jumps all-around the Star Wars timeline, sometimes not adhering to the timeline at all. Similarly, as of this writing, the first two episodes of The Book of Boba Fett take 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.

Credit: Lucasfilm

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!

Attack of the Clones. (Credit: Lucasfilm)

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 that takes place after the movies 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.

But, thinking about “parent” Star Wars movies works for the 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 the politics of the galaxy, 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.

What About the Shows That Aren’t Out Yet? Like Obi-Wan Kenobi?

You’ve probably heard there’s an Obi-Wan Kenobi TV series coming to Disney+ sometime this year, and that it will see Ewan McGregor return to the role of Ben Kenobi and Hayden Christensen reprise his role as Darth Vader. On top of that, you’ve also got Andor, a show about Cassian Andor (Diego Luna) from Rogue One and Ahoska, a series focused on Ahsoka Tano. Finally, you’ve got a mysterious upcoming show called Star Wars: The Acolyte, which will take place BEFORE Episode I: The Phantom Menace.

So, with those shows, each has unique “parent” Star Wars movies, too.

  • Obi-Wan Kenobi (2022, exact release date TBA) takes place in between Episode III: Revenge of the Sith and Episode IV: A New Hope.
  • Andor (2022, exact release date TBA) takes place before Rogue One.
  • Ahsoka (2023? Maybe?) like Mando and Boba Fett, probably takes place after Return of the Jedi.
  • The Acolyte (2023?), 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. ***The Acolyte**
  2. Clone Wars (2003)
  3. The Clone Wars (2008-2020)
  4. The Bad Batch (2021)
  5. Droids (’80s)
  6. ***Obi-Wan Kenobi*** 
  7. Clone Wars (2003)
  8. The Clone Wars (2008-2020)
  9. The Bad Batch (2021)
  10. Droids (’80s)
  11. Rebels (2014-2018)
  12. ***Andor***
  13. Star Wars Holiday Special: Faithful Wookie (1978)
  14. Ewoks (’80s)
  15. The Mandalorian (2019-?)
  16. The Book of Boba Fett (2021-?)
  17. ***Ahsoka***
  18. Star Wars: Resistance (2018)
  19. 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 died. 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+.