The universe of the Star Wars franchise seems infinite, but is apparently bringing its Skywalker Saga to a close with director J.J. Abrams’ Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker. Given the countless movies and TV shows dedicated to offering the saga’s complete story, there is a lot to catch up on, but how does one chronological follow the timeline.
No need to spend days binging all Star Wars movies and TV shows non-stop before the release of the new film when we can explain the timeline as clearly as possible here for you by grouping them all in chronologically. Let us start, of course, with the beginning.
Star Wars: Episode I - The Phantom Menace (1999)
The origins of George Lucas’ Skywalker Saga (before it was even collectively referred as that name) were revealed in its “first” episode. Set years before the events of the 1977 original, the first chapter the Star Wars movies’ prequel trilogy depicts a more peaceful time in a galaxy far, far away, but not for long.
After Jedi knight Qui-Gon Jinn (Liam Neeson) and his padawan Obi-Wan Kenobi (Ewan McGregor) narrowly escape the hostility of an evil trade federation, they must then aid the planet of Naboo by protecting their queen (Natalie Portman), which takes them to Tattooine, where they meet a boy named Anakin Skywalker (Jake Lloyd). The Jedi take him under their wing, believing him to be destined to bring balance to the Force. They will one day be proven right, but not in the sense they anticipated.
Star Wars: Episode II - Attack of the Clones (2002)
Ten years after defeating Darth Maul (Ray Park) to avenge the slain Qui-Gon Jinn at the conclusion of Star Wars: Episode I - The Phantom Menace, Obi-Wan Kenobi is now a Jedi Knight training a grown Anakin Skywalker (recast with Hayden Christiansen) as his padawan in the second chapter of the Star Wars movies prequel trilogy. Following a failed assassination attempt on Senator Padme Amidala (Natalie Portman), Obi-Wan investigates the matter and discovers a secret army of clones modeled after Jango Fett (Temuera Morrison), a bounty hunter with a son named Boba.
Meanwhile, Anakin finds himself falling in love with Padme, despite the Jedi’s forbiddance of romance. The pair visit Anakin’s home planet to find his mother dead, igniting a murderous hunger for vengeance against the Tuscan Raiders who killed her.
Fortunately, the story concludes with Anakin and Padme returning to aid Obi-Wan and Mace Windu (Samuel L. Jackson) in a civil war within the Galactic Republic. After seemingly defeating the manipulative forces of the Sith once again, Anakin and Padme wed, the only witnesses being their trusted droids C-3PO (Anthony Daniels) and R2-D2 (Kenny Baker).
Star Wars: The Clone Wars (2008)
The continuation of a theatrical film that expands the history of the Clone Wars, this acclaimed animated Star Wars TV show takes place between the events of Episode II and Episode III. Yoda, Obi-Wan Kenobi, Mace Windu, Anakin Skywalker, and his new apprentice Ahsoka Tano are among the many Jedi battling against Separatist droid army.
Star Wars: The Clone Wars also marks the unexpected return of Darth Maul, now a partially mechanical being after his natural bottom half was claimed by Obi-Wan in Episode I. The Clone Wars also includes other favorites of the Star Wars movies and TV shows. It paves a clearer path between the prequel trilogy and the original films by deeply exploring the much-referenced Clone Wars, and its story is not even over yet.
Star Wars: Episode III - Revenge of the Sith (2005)
In possibly the darkest chapter of the Skywalker Saga, and more than likely the darkest of the Star Wars movies prequel trilogy, Episode III takes place three years into the Clone Wars and sees Anakin Skywalker as an official Jedi knight and soon-to-be father with wife Padme Amidala. Yet, his commitment to the light side of the Force begins to hang by a thread as Palpatine (Ian McDiarmid) slowly and insidiously lures him to the Dark Side.
Soon after Palpatine's true identity as Darth Sidious is revealed, Anakin shows his allegiance to the Sith by assisting him in wiping out the Jedi, even the younglings, under his new title: Darth Vader. Obi-Wan Kenobi struggles to stop him as the heartbroken Padme goes into labor.
Obi-Wan reluctantly defeats Vader, leaving him burned by lava and legless, but fails to foil the Sith’s overtaking of the Galactic Republic, now reformed into an empire. He is redeemed by a mechanical suit that assists his breathing and ability to walk, but immediately after, he learns that his wife Padme has given birth to twins, a boy and a girl she named Luke and Leia. The twins are separated, with Leia adopted by the royal Organas on Alderan and Luke is sent to live with his aunt and uncle on Tattooine, where Obi-Wan promises to keep close watch over the boy.
Solo: A Star Wars Story (2018)
Set in the early years of the First Galactic Empire’s rule, Solo: A Star Wars Story follows young aspiring pilot Han (Alden Ehrenreich) whose dream to leave his home planet takes him on a journey involving tours with the Imperial infantry, smuggling an energy source called coaxium for crime syndicate Crimson Dawn, and making the Kessel Run in under 12 parsecs.
We also learn how Han was given his last name, how his ability to speak Wookiee earned him the respect of the pit beast who almost killed him named Chewbacca (Joonas Suotamo), that his former girlfriend Qi’ra (Emilia Clarke) turned out to be an employee of Darth Maul (Ray Park), and managed to claim the Millennium Falcon by beating Lando Calrissian (Donald Glover) in a card game. So, essentially, everything you may or may not have needed to know (or already did know from previous Star Wars movies) about Han Solo is revealed.
Star Wars Rebels (2014)
Yet another animated Star Wars TV show to bridge the gap between subsequent films of the Skywalker Saga, Star Wars Rebels sees the Galactic Empire at the peak of its rule. As it increases its efforts to hunt and eliminate the last of the Jedi Knights in hiding, a rebellion begins to take form.
This Emmy-nominated series follows a crew previously unfamiliar to Star Wars universe who take it upon themselves to stand up against the Empire. This ensues much death-defying conflict against a few of the saga’s most iconic figures.
Rogue One: A Star Wars Story (2016)
In this prequel to the original Star Wars movies trilogy disguised as a spin-off, Jyn Erso (Felicity Jones) has been on her own since childhood after her scientist father (Mads Mikkelson) was forced to abandon his family to assist the Galactic Empire. Years later, she reluctantly joins a ragtag group of rebellion at an especially pressing time for its cause.
After Jyn discovers that her father, whom she once resented for leaving her year ago, had intentionally designed a moon-sized weapon for the Empire with a debilitating flaw, her newfound sense of hope inspires her to pass the information to the resistance, which sets in motion the rebellion’s most important mission yet: steal the plans to the weapon, known as the Death Star. Jyn and her crew, spontaneously dubbed “Rogue One,” all lose their lives in honor of the mission, but not before successfully intercepting and transmitting the Death Star plans to the rebellion’s ally, Princess Leia Organa.
Star Wars: Episode IV - A New Hope (1977)
Picking up immediately after Princes Leia Organa (Carrie Fisher) has received the Death Star blueprints from Rogue One, Star Wars: Episode IV sees Darth Vader (voiced by James Earl Jones with David Prowse in the suit) and the Empire threatened by “a new hope” in the rebellion’s progress. Meanwhile, droids C-3PO (Anthony Daniels) and R2-D2 (Kenny Baker) escape to Tatooine with a message for Obi-Wan Kenobi (Alec Guinness), where they come into the possession of young farmer Luke Skywalker (Mark Hamill).
They cross paths with an aged Obi-Wan, whom Luke knows as Ben Kenobi, who is convinced by the droids’ message from Leia that now is the time to tell Luke that he is a Jedi, with abilities passed down from his father Anakin Skywalker, whom he tells the boy was killed by Darth Vader. They then enlist Millennium Falcon pilot Han Solo (Harrison Ford) and his Wookie co-pilot Chewbacca (Peter Mayhew) to rescue the princess and bring her to the safe hands of the Rebel Alliance.
Despite losing Obi-Wan to a lightsaber duel with Darth Vader, the crew succeeds and joins the Rebel Alliance in a battle that results in the destruction of the Death Star. Luke, Han, Chewie, C-3PO, and R2-D2 are rewarded by Leia for their efforts in defiance of the Empire.
Star Wars: Episode V - The Empire Strikes Back (1980)
The Rebel Alliance is suffers the Empire’s vengeful attack at their headquarters on the ice planet of Hoth in the set up for the Star Wars movies’ first sequel that continues to chronicle the war for peace across the galaxy. Luke Skywalker (Mark Hamill) flees with R2-D2 (Kenny Baker) to Dagobah to seek Jedi training from Master Yoda (Frank Oz) while Han Solo (Harrison Ford), Leia Organa (Carrie Fisher), Chewbacca (Peter Mayhew), and C-3PO (Anthony Daniels) seek refuge at Cloud City, governed by Han’s old acquaintance Lando Calrissian (Billy Dee Williams).
Unfortunately, the rebels are thwarted by the Empire, who freeze Han in carbonite, before Darth Vader confronts Luke to reveal that he is truly his father in attempt to lure him to the Dark Side. Luke escapes and reunites with Leia and the surviving rebels, pondering an uncertain future to their cause.
Star Wars: Episode VI – Return of the Jedi (1983)
After winning a mission to rescue Han Solo (Harrison Ford) from the possession of crime lord Jabba the Hutt, the third of the original Star Wars movies sees Luke Skywalker (Mark Hamill) return to Dagobah to complete his training under Yoda (Frank Oz) and is visited by the Force spirit of Obi-Wan Kenobi (Alec Guinnes), who confirms that Darth Vader is Luke’s father and that “another Skywalker” lives. Meanwhile, the Rebel Alliance, now joined by Lando Calrissian (Billy Dee Williams), prepares an attack on the uncompleted rebuilding of the Death Star as the Empire awaits the arrival of the Emperor (Ian McDiarmid).
Han and the others travel to Endor, where they befriend the native Ewoks, in hopes to disengage the Death Star’s shield generator. While there, Luke reveals to Leia that they are both siblings and the biological children of Darth Vader before leaving to confront the Sith lord in hopes to bring him back to the Light Side.
The Emperor taunts Luke, weighed down by the threat looming over his friends, but his attempt to lure him to the Dark Side is stopped by the sudden change of heart of Darth Vader, who kills the Emperor, which also leads to his death. Luke escapes the Death Star before the Rebels successfully destroy it, sealing the end of the Empire’s rule and inciting a celebration on Endor where Luke sees that his father’s Force spirit lives on beside Yoda and Obi-Wan.
The Mandalorian (2019)
This Disney+ exclusive Star Wars TV show is set during the period between the fall of the Empire and the rise of the First Order. In The Mandalorian, Pedro Pascal stars as the unnamed descendent of Mandalore, the home planet of bounty hunter Boba Fett, during his travels in the further reaches of the Galaxy.
Star Wars Resistance (2018)
The now peaceful galaxy is hanging by a thread when a new threat emerges. The First Order seeks to reclaim rule of the Republic in the name of the fallen Empire. Disney Channel's animated Star Wars TV show follows a young resistance pilot tasked with investigating the First Order in hopes to defend the galaxy before once again succumbing to the authority of the Dark Side.
Star Wars: Episode VII – The Force Awakens (2015)
After the galaxy has succumbed to the authority of the Dark Side as the First Order proved successful in usurping dominance, director J.J. Abrams revival of the Star Wars movies begins as resistance fighter Poe Dameron (Oscar Isaac) leaves a map leading to exiled Luke Skywalker (Mark Hamill) with his trusted droid BB-8 before he is captured by Kylo Ren (Adam Driver). A stormtrooper (John Boyega) helps Poe escape, earning the nickname Finn, but crash lands on Jakku, which seemingly claims the pilots life, where he finds BB-8 has befriended abandoned scavenger Rey (Daisy Ridley).
Finn and Rey flee Jakku on the Millennium Falcon, and are soon joined by its original pilots Han Solo (Harrison Ford) and Chewbacca (Peter Mayhew) to deliver Luke Skywalker’s coordinates to the reformed Rebel Alliance, and Rey discovers she is Force sensitive along the way. Rey is kidnapped by the First Order during an attack on the planet Takodana, but Finn and Han are rescued by a resistant fleet led by Poe, who informs General Leia Organa (Carrie Fisher) that they know how to find her brother.
Before Han and Finn board the Starkiller Base to rescue Rey, we also see a reunion between Leia and Han, whose marriage seemingly fell apart after their son Ben turned to the Dark Side and became Kylo Ren. where Han is killed by his own son in an effort to prove his worth to the First Order. After the resistance destroys the Starkiller Base, Rey travels to find Luke in hopes to begin her Jedi training and enlist his help in defeating the First Order.
Star Wars: Episode VIII – The Last Jedi (2017)
As Rey (Daisy Ridley) receives Jedi training from the reluctant Luke Skywalker (Mark Hamill), as his failure to save Kylo Ren (Adam Driver) from the Dark Side has rendered him hopeless, the resistance is preparing for battle against the First Order, who are very angry after losing their Starkiller base and our tracking the Rebellion by hyperspeed. Finn (John Boyega) teams up with mechanic Rose Tico (Kelly Marie Tran) in a search for a codebreaker who may be of great help to the rebellion.
After learning Luke actually tried to kill Kylo Ren, then Ben Solo, out of fear of his Dark Side tendencies, Rey flees and is captured by Kylo, where the unlikely duo combine efforts against Supreme Leader Snoke (Andy Serkis). This convinces Rey that she has gotten through to Kylo and brought him to the light side, only to learn he was hoping to rule the First Order with Rey at his side, which she resists.
After a successful attack on the First Order’s Star Destroyer, the Rebel Alliance takes refuge at Crait where the surviving First Order sets up an attack that is brought to a climax by Luke’s force protection, facing off against Kylo Ren, which weakens Luke to death. Rey is reunited with the resistance, who now face an uncertain future.
Star Wars: Episode IX – The Rise of Skywalker (2019)
In what is promised to be the final chapter in the Star Wars movies’ Skywalker Saga, there is not very much about the plot that we can confidently speak of at this time. With the First Order’s supreme leader Snoke (Andy Serkis) slain by Kylo Ren (Adam Driver) and Luke Skywalker (Mark Hamill) now a spirit one with the Force, the war between the Dark Side and the Light Side faces a questionable time in the upcoming Star Wars: Episode IX - The Rise of Skywalker.
We can infer that this film will take place at least a year after the events of The Last Jedi, as an apparently more confident Jedi warrior Rey (Daisy Ridley) is preparing for a final confrontation (or alliance) with Kylo Ren and the Rebel Alliance is seeking to destroy the First Order once and for all, clearly. It also appears that we will see the return of well-known figures to Star Wars universe Lando Calrissian (Billy Dee Williams) and Emperor Palpatine (Ian McDiarmid).
So, there you have it: the entire timeline of the main Star Wars saga as told through its many movies and TV shows explained for you just in time for its supposed conclusion. Hopefully, you are now fully prepared for the release of Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker on Friday, December 20, 2019.