ByKit Simpson Browne, writer at Creators.co
Writer-at-large. Bad jokes aplenty. Can be gently prodded on Twitter at @kitsb1
Kit Simpson Browne

(WARNING: The following contains a number of plot SPOILERS for the recently released Rogue One — albeit little that the opening scene of A New Hope doesn't heavily imply — as well as some major ones for the saga as a whole. Proceed with caution and all that.)

So, you've seen . Heck, by now, you may well have seen it twice. You've reveled in its explanation of just how the Rebels got those Death Star plans, and at just how cool that ragtag gang of heroes was. Chances are, you've even spent a good few minutes pondering just how much that ending makes you want to re-watch the Original Trilogy, and how different the would have been had we been able to watch Rogue One back when we first saw the original trilogy.

Which, come to think of it, raises an intriguing point:

In The Wake Of 'Rogue One,' We Might Just Need A Whole New 'Star Wars' Viewing Order

'Rogue One: A Star Wars Story' [Credit: Lucasfilm]
'Rogue One: A Star Wars Story' [Credit: Lucasfilm]

After all, there's a pretty strong argument to be made that Rogue One not only successfully connected itself to the original trilogy, but also began the long-awaited process of truly connecting the prequels to the "main" trilogy. With that in mind, then, it seemed about time to concoct a shiny new authoritative* viewing order for the eight Star Wars movies that have thus far made their way to the big screen.

*Note: Nothing that follows is authoritative, and everything you'll read below is super subjective. Except for the fact that Jar Jar sucks, of course.

Or, rather, five of them. After all, this is Star Wars — just attempting to form an authoritative order is liable to start a trade war.

First up?

Option 1. The 'The Old Songs Are The Best' Order

'Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope' [Credit: Lucasfilm]
'Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope' [Credit: Lucasfilm]

In which the original release order is followed, in order to give new viewers the closest approximation of our original collective experience as possible. It goes a little something like this:

In which we continue to do things the old fashioned way, and watch the movies in the order that they were released, thus allowing any new viewers to experience everything in the exact same way that we did. This means we're talking:

  • Episode IV: A New Hope
  • Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back
  • Episode VI: Return Of The Jedi
  • Episode I: The Phantom Menace
  • Episode II: Attack of the Clones
  • Episode III: Revenge of the Sith
  • Episode VII: The Force Awakens
  • Rogue One: A Star Wars Story

All of which has the benefit of simplicity, of course, but makes the whole thing a little at risk of sagging in the middle. An alternative option, then, is...

Option 2. The 'George Lucas Was Right' Order

'Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace' [Credit: Lucasfilm]
'Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace' [Credit: Lucasfilm]

In which George Lucas's suggested "episode order" is followed, which makes the order a little more like this, with the un-numbered Rogue One popping up in the middle:

  • Episode I: The Phantom Menace
  • Episode II: Attack of the Clones
  • Episode III: Revenge of the Sith
  • Rogue One: A Star Wars Story
  • Episode IV: A New Hope
  • Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back
  • Episode VI: Return Of The Jedi
  • Episode VII: The Force Awakens

That order, however, manages to both completely ruin the surprise of Anakin Skywalker being Darth Vader, and thus doesn't really work at all. Which, of course, has led to...

Option 3. The 'Cut And Paste' Order

'Star Wars Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back' [Credit: Lucasfilm]
'Star Wars Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back' [Credit: Lucasfilm]

In which, as in the approach originally conceived by Ernest Rister, we chop and change the order a little to preserve the mystery of Vader's true identity — and, were we to use the variant "Machete" order, eliminate altogether. With the addition of Rogue One, though — and retention of Episode I — it would look rather like this:

  • Rogue One: A Star Wars Story
  • Episode IV: A New Hope
  • Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back

At which point you would cut back to the prequels, in order to provide Anakin Skywalker's back story, and stretch out the Han Solo cliffhanger:

  • Episode I: The Phantom Menace
  • Episode II: Attack of the Clones
  • Episode III: Revenge of the Sith

Before returning to the episode order for the final two films:

  • Episode VI: Return Of The Jedi
  • Episode VII: The Force Awakens

All of which actually makes for a pretty compelling argument — and may well be the most convincing "conventional" approach to the saga. Is there another way, though? How about...

Option 4. The 'It's All Just A Story' Order

'Star Wars Episode VII: The Force Awakens' [Credit: Lucasfilm]
'Star Wars Episode VII: The Force Awakens' [Credit: Lucasfilm]

In which we assume that the new trilogy is in fact that most important part of the tale, and that everything else is simply backstory. As such, we begin with...

  • Episode VII: The Force Awakens

Before returning to the order in which Luke Skywalker would likely explain the whole thing to Rey, i.e. the George Lucas order:

  • Episode I: The Phantom Menace
  • Episode II: Attack of the Clones
  • Episode III: Revenge of the Sith
  • Rogue One: A Star Wars Story
  • Episode IV: A New Hope
  • Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back
  • Episode VI: Return Of The Jedi

Followed, presumably, by a variation on the eventual opening sequence of , and Luke saying something to the effect of "So that's my story." This approach could, of course, also be adjusted to fit the Rister order, which would actually mainly just imply that Luke is a better storyteller than his creator.

There's one final possibility, though:

Option 5. The 'Just Watch The Movies You Like' Order

'Star Wars Episode VI: Return of the Jedi' [Credit: Lucasfilm]
'Star Wars Episode VI: Return of the Jedi' [Credit: Lucasfilm]

In which you just watch the movies you like, in the order that thus makes the most sense. If you hate the prequels, for instance, you could absolutely just opt for...

  • Rogue One: A Star Wars Story
  • Episode IV: A New Hope
  • Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back
  • Episode VI: Return Of The Jedi
  • Episode VII: The Force Awakens

...and have an absolutely lovely time. Alternatively, if the addition to the saga of strong female characters who aren't forced to becoming bikini-clad sex slaves at any point upsets you, and the presence of heroes who aren't white or Lando kind of bums you out, then there's always the option of the "alt-right" blend.

'Star Wars Episode VI: Return of the Jedi' [Credit: Lucasfilm]
'Star Wars Episode VI: Return of the Jedi' [Credit: Lucasfilm]

That, of course, is essentially just...

  • Episode I: The Phantom Menace
  • Episode II: Attack of the Clones
  • Episode III: Revenge of the Sith
  • Episode IV: A New Hope
  • Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back
  • Episode VI: Return Of The Jedi
  • Episode VII: The Force Awakens

...with Rogue One eliminated altogether. That order, after all, makes the saga one long story about a whiny — but secretly "special" — white kid whose children just don't understand him, and who is forced to recant his "outsider" views on his death bed in order to get to see his son one last time. His grandson, though, inherits the pale, angry white guy's authoritarian and mono-cultural views, and helps to restore a facsimile of the pseudo-fascist regime his own parents had helped to bring down. The "tragic" ending to The Force Awakens, then, leaves the viewer anxiously awaiting the next installment, in which an orange-hued Sith lord with tiny hands will presumably return in order to restore imbalance to the force, and show Kylo Ren how it's impossible to have a conflict of interest while ruling the universe.

On second thoughts, then, maybe just stick with Option 3?

What do you think, though? Which Star Wars viewing order to you think is the best? Let us know below!