There is perhaps no franchise in film history more beloved than Star Wars, as the tales of a galaxy far, far away remain every bit as popular today as they were the day that iconic opening crawl appeared in 1977. And now that you’ve had a kid, you are probably counting down the days until you can finally teach your young padawan the ways of the Force and introduce them to Han Solo, Darth Vader, and the countless other awesome characters in the Star Wars galaxy.
But as an adult, it can be easy to forget that while these movies are undeniably a blast for viewers, they also can be a bit too much for kids. After all, between the hilarious quotes and kickass adventures, there is a whole lot of death, betrayal, and boring intergalactic politics. As a parent, it begs the question, which movies are the most and least appropriate to show to your little padawan? There are ten Star Wars movies as of this writing, so here they are all, ranked by appropriate every each movie is for your kid. Number ten is the least kid-friendly and number one is the most.
10. Revenge of the Sith
The last of the prequel trilogy is unquestionably the darkest movie in the entire Star Wars cinematic universe primarily due to Anakin Skywalker’s incredibly morbid transformation into Darth Vader. Star Wars is packed with death but Sith took it to a whole new level, as Vader leading the Clone Troopers into the Jedi temple to slaughter whoever he could find, including a room full of innocent little kids. We already knew that Vader was one of the baddest dudes around but Sith made it clear that he had given up every shred of his humanity to join the Dark Side.
9. Rogue One
Even more than Revenge of the Sith, Rogue One is the Star Wars movie that feels like it was made entirely for adults. The movie tells the story of the group of rebels who managed to steal the plans to the Death Star, leading directly to the events that kick of A New Hope. Sadly, completing such a dangerous and daring mission ultimately cost these rebel spies their lives. While one of the defining themes of the Star Wars universe has always been the power of hope, Rogue One gives up the wide-eyed optimism in favor of exploring the necessity of sacrifice for the sake of the greater good. The film also features some brutal action, especially when Vader is viciously striking down a pack of rebel soldiers. So if you’re going to show your kid Rogue One, you’re going to need to make sure they’re ready for an ending that involves every character you’ve learned to love dying.
8. The Last Jedi
In the tradition of Empire, The Last Jedi has a much more somber tone than its predecessor and features several moments that may prove to be too disturbing or mature for kids. There are certainly some fun, light-hearted moments in the film, including any moment Chewie is forced to interact with the adorable and slightly annoying Porgs. But overall, The Last Jedi is one of the grittier chapters in the Star Wars saga and it’s hard to imagine many children would enjoy it. After all, Supreme Leader Snoke being force chopped in half by Kylo Ren is something you can’t unsee. Not to mention, the greatest hero in all of Star Wars, Luke Skywalker, admits to sneaking into the bedroom of one of his students with the intent to kill that student.
7. Attack of the Clones
In terms of action and tone, Attack of the Clones isn’t really much less kid-friendly than many films higher on this list. Sure, there is the first glimpse of dark Anakin when he goes apeshit on a bunch of Tusken Raiders after the death of his mom but nearly every Star Wars movie has at least one moment equally dark. So what sets the second chapter in the prequel trilogy apart? It’s by far the least interesting and most complicated Star Wars film, not to mention the cringe-worthy romance between Anakin and Padme. With the movie featuring almost no action or adventure until the battle at Geonosis, there is a high chance that young kids will tune out for long stretches of Attack of the Clones. After all, the only things less kid-friendly than excessive violence are convoluted storylines about politics and cheesy romance.
6. Empire Strikes Back
Widely considered the best movie in the Star Wars filmography, part of what makes EST so beloved is the fact that the movie feels like it was made for adults as much as kids. By the end of Empire, the rebels have been slapped around by the Empire, Han has been frozen in carbonite, and Luke learns that the evilest man in the galaxy is actually his old man, which he told him right after he sliced off his hand. It’s a beautiful, dark story that is impossible not to love, except by kids who may find the entire thing to be a massive bummer.
5. The Force Awakens
As many critics and have noted, structurally The Force Awakens is very similar to A New Hope. Both films even have scenes where the protagonist’s mentor is killed in front of them. But while Luke watching Obi-Wan disappear is heartbreaking, it is significantly less heartbreaking than Rey and Chewie having to watch Han Solo, perhaps the most beloved character in the entire Star Wars series, get stabbed in the chest by his own son. For that scene alone, The Force Awakens earns itself a spot in the middle of this list. This movie is mostly sunny, up until a son stabs his own father through the heart. If it weren’t for that same character’s grandfather killing small children and other innocent people in other movies, The Force Awakens could have been the darkest Star Wars movie ever.
Despite being the origin story of the galaxy’s most infamous smuggler, Solo is a movie that is surprisingly appropriate for kids. There a few dark moments, primarily any time Dryden Vos is onscreen, but once the titular scruffy-looking nerf herder teams up with Chewie, Lando, and the rest of his motley crew to get a hold of some highly-valuable coaxium from the mines of Kessel, it becomes a thrilling adventure that is reminiscent of the classic Star Wars films. There are a few shocking deaths in the movie but that’s really par for the course in this franchise and if your kid can handle the original trilogy, there’s little reason to think they can’t handle Solo.
3. The Phantom Menace
The Phantom Menace is perhaps the most divisive Star Wars movie but one thing that’s not controversial is that this is one of the more kid-friendly films in the series. The pod-racing is a blast. The mix of old and new characters mostly works. Young Anakin might not is maybe the only kid in the entire Star Wars filmography who gets more than a minute or two of screen time? And regardless of your personal feelings towards Jar Jar Binks, there’s no denying that kids are generally more receptive to his slapstick antics and poop jokes. The Qui-Gon death is certainly tragic but if there’s not a tragic death, is it really a Star Wars movie?
2. Return of the Jedi
The final chapter in the original trilogy is widely seen as the most kid-friendly movie in the franchise and it’s easy to see why. Return of the Jedi is mostly devoid of the malevolence found in most other Star Wars films and offers an undeniably happy ending, with Luke looking over at his ghost mentors while Han, Leia, and Chewie are enjoying an Ewok party. The only reason ROTJ isn’t the most kid-friendly Star Wars film? While the general tone of the movie is light, there are some forgotten grim moments that young kids may find disturbing. After all, who can forget when a couple of Ewoks try to wake their wounded buddy up, only to slowly realize that he had been killed in battle?
1. A New Hope
As the title suggests, A New Hope is all about finding a reason to believe in the face of adversity and, as a result, this movie is a triumphant celebration of good triumphing over evil. The action is relatively mild, the collection of characters are impossible not to love, and the introduction of this incredible galaxy is guaranteed to thrill almost any kid. Yes, there is a great deal of death in the original Star Wars film, including Obi-Wan, Luke’s Aunt Beru and Uncle Owen, and, of course, the entire fucking planet of Alderaan via the Death Star. However, almost none of the loss of life actually happens onscreen, which makes it much easier for a kid to enjoy the movie without thinking too much about the genocide they just witnessed.