I have a bad feeling about this, but you underestimate my power. Here’s my attempt at ranking the Star Wars movies and series.
One of my favourite franchises is no doubt the world of Star Wars. I absolutely love it. Recently my wife and I finished playing through Jedi: Survivor and not quite 100%-ing the game but probably 90-something%. It was really great, and fortunately they did an amazing job of the ending compared to the original.
Now I should probably qualify what a huge fan I am – I’ve been a huge fan of almost all the games – all the games set in The Old Republic (besides the MMO, I’ve tried my hardest), Force Unleashed games, even older ones like Empire At War or TIE Fighter or Dark Forces. I havent really read a lot of the books besides a bunch of the old Legends books about Luke’s Jedi Order and a bit of Thrawn adventures back in the 90s. And I’ve rewatched all the movies and series several times.
In the words of George Lucas himself, Star Wars is like Western mythology. It’s truly stunning the world that has been built by himself and countless others such as Timothy Zhan and Dave Filoni that tells stories of universal appeal and interest.
And with so many friends of mine continuing or picking up a Star Wars kick, I have been inspired to finally give this a go. Here’s my attempt at ranking the Star Wars movies and series, which will no doubt trigger a few people if not everyone.
Out of scope – Lego Star Wars movies and shorts, Holiday Special (easy target), Droids, Ewoks, Young Jedi Adventures (although we watch this with our toddler and it’s awesome), Visions (too disjointed) and pretty much anything that you find isn’t on the list.
And as a bit of a spoiler, there’s not really any (or many) of these movies or series I truly dislike, so it’s really in order of preference and not really a hate-to-love ordering but a tribute to a great series that myself and many of us out there cherish and love to talk about.
#19: The Clone Wars (movie)/Resistance
Alright, I said there weren’t many I dislike. These would be two of them.
The Clone Wars 3D movie that set up the Clone Wars 3D show (more on that one later) was really rough and unfortunately the story and initial set up of Ahsoka have not really aged well. Feels like a messy pilot to me still and I don’t really enjoy it.
Same with Resistance unfortunately. Cool art style………………………………………………………….. and I just couldn’t get into it at all.
Have I triggered everyone yet? I think the current “right answer” for Best Star Wars thing is supposed to be Andor, but it’s really not for me.
That’s not to say I didn’t like it, but I just found myself not enjoying most of it. There seemed to be two extremes – you were bored, or you were in awe. I was more on the bored side for a majority of the runtime, but not all of it.
I think the central issue for me is that they took the least likeable, most grating and inhospitable character from Rogue One and made him the centre of a show. We all know from Rogue One that he’s going to still be distant from people and not like to work with others, and so when the show started with him already in that state, you know he’s really not going to change that much. Which, he doesn’t.
But I will say, everything around Andor is fairly interesting. Well, most things. I don’t know if watching Mon Mothma try to get a loan for 9 episodes, or some Imperial nerd that gets half the air time with none of the payoff was great.
But I loved the heists, Imperial Coruscant, seeing the inner workings of the ISB (as is shown in another show way up this list), Andy Serkis and the jail stuff. And they could and should totally make a Luthen show, he is ridiculously entertaining and interesting. Plus the Starkiller armour from the dark side ending of Force Unleashed being in his shop might be as close as we get to seeing Sam Witwer’s Starkiller make a comeback.
Guess I’m not in the target audience for Andor but I’m glad it’s brought in so many new fans.
#17: The Book of Boba Fett
Boba Fett is awesome. This show, was okay. I liked the crimelord stuff and Temeura back as one of the Fetts or clones is always a good time. And the two Mandalorian focused episodes could be some of the best Star Wars fan service ever – Luke and Ahsoka broke the internet when that episode came out I think.
Oh, and Ming-Na Wen is always amazing. Whether it’s in a trailer for Elden Ring (which made me buy that game), Agents of Shield, Mulan, Street Fighter or anywhere else, she is instant awesome.
But I found Boba’s desert adventures and non-consequential story as dry as Tatooine.
Grogu’s training and BD-1 cameo are the standouts for me.
#16: Episode 7: The Force Awakens
Alright, first main movie in this list, and it’s one of the newer ones that made billions of dollars. So definitely a commercial success and had an amazing international reception.
And you know what, it was a good time. Kylo Ren gave me instant Revan vibes and the scene where he stops the blaster shot midair is so freaking cool.
Rey is an interesting character with a strong tribute to Bastila (someone clearly played KOTOR before making this script) and I’m a big fan of strong female leads, the planets were kinda cool, seeing all the old faces turn up again was great.
I think it’s the least good to me of all the main movies, mainly because the story retreads and also really doesn’t do a good job of explaining itself. Why is the Republic the small one and the First Order the big one again? Didn’t the Republic win? Why did they move from Coruscant? What is the First Order? Why does the New Republic army suck? Why couldn’t they keep Han and Leia together?
And as a spoiler in general for the other movies, they hit the reset button hard on the original Legends story arches which I grew up with and loved. Anakin Solo and Jacen all gone, no Thrawn resurgence, no Mara Jade, no Luke’s new Jedi order. So many dozens of books and games had already fleshed out an amazing post Return of the Jedi world that got deleted forever.
Unfortunately that means for me I kinda treat the Sequel trilogy as an alternate timeline, with the true timeline being the Legends canon. But that’s not to say it isn’t a good time and a great spectacle of enjoyable Star Wars adventure. Here’s a review I did when it came out – My The Force Awakens Spoiler Review
#15: Rogue One
It’s the same for Rogue One with me really. I grew up with the Dark Forces games and Jedi Outcast/Academy, featuring Kyle Katarn, the stormtrooper turned Jedi who stole the Death Star plans and had a great future with Luke.
So when Rogue One came and blasted those stories away with a giant laser of largely forgettable array of good guy characters (besides Donnie Yen’s Cherrut), I was sad face. Rogue One similarly has a “alternate timeline” feel for me for that reason.
That said, all the Empire stuff was amazing. Seeing a re-animated Peter Cushin as Tarkin was awesome, having the Death Star come together, the planet Jeddah was pretty cool, and Vader’s castle on Mustafar ending with his 80s slasher villain rampage was wow.
I know I’m “supposed” to like it more because that’s the right answer, but it isn’t for me.
#14: Episode 8: The Last Jedi
You know what, I actually was really behind what they did with Luke in this movie. I’m a big fan of Jewish history and the Old Testament records the realistic truth that many of our heroes as they get older become less and less noble as they become jaded with the realities of life, and so seeing the fall of an iconic hero I thought was a very brave but very realistic take on what happens to a lot of our childhood heroes and inspiration figures with age.
I liked Snoke and the potential direction they went with, and the presentation values of this movie were top notch. Also, repeating the KOTOR vibes with the force bond between Kylo and Rey ala Revan and Bastila. Just saying.
But this movie was way too heavy handed with a lot of its messages, and it tried to make out that it had a happy ending when it was really just about how all the good guys got utterly destroyed whilst trying to feel morally superior about the points they were making. Here’s a review I wrote from when it came out – The Last Jedi Isn’t The Worst Movie Ever and Three Movies Better Than Star Wars: The Last Jedi
Not much to say on Solo. Just a fun space adventure with high production values. Feels like a true space Western with great set pieces and a memorable enactment of the Kessel run. Now all those parsecs make sense.
#12: Episode 4 : A New Hope
The one that started it all. Iconic, timeless, endlessly quotable, and many moments that show that George clearly had the whole universe in mind from the beginning, such as when Tarkin discusses the disbanding of the Imperial Senate which we all have a much better understanding of nowadays.
Even with the Bluray and digital remasters though, it hasn’t aged that great, and possibly from too many rewatches it’s lost a bit of its appeal. Still awesome though.
#11: Episode 9: The Rise of Skywalker
Okay, so it’s clear that I’ve made the point about how the sequel stuff is alternate timeline territory for me, but I gotta say Episode 9 was a whole lot of fun. It was more space adventure than most of the other ones. The tone and pacing almost made it feel like Mass Effect at times, which is great because I love the Mass Effect games.
I really would have loved to have seen Korriban instead of Exegol but they did make Exegol awesome, and I still struggle with the return of Palpatine as a main plot because it invalidates Lucas’ central idea of Anakin as The Chosen One, reinforcing its “alternate timeline” status for me. I think they even gave a good go of giving Luke a good progression in losing his jadedness through Rey’s influence.
But action was great, story was a whole lot of fun, and although it did feel a bit disjointed after where The Last Jedi was trying to go, it’s just pure Star Wars. Here’s a review I wrote when it came out – Children Are Not Their Parents: The Rise Of Skywalker Spoilers Review
As the prequel lover that I am (spoilers for some later entries), it was awesome to see Ewan and Hayden amongst many other prequel-era cast members back for this one.
I think it’s towards the middle of the pack for me because it tied really nicely together how Obi-Wan knew so much about Vader. Equal parts heart renching and awesome, Obi-Wan and Vader are the centrepieces of this tale and seeing the Inquisitors from another show I really like, including the final area from Jedi: Fallen Order were great bits of fan service.
Respeecher AI is a whole ethical world of drama but it really made Vader sound awesome given James’ advancing years, and it really needed to include at least a tribute to Battle of the Heroes in its iconic final battle.
Still enjoyed it a lot.
#9: Clone Wars (3D Series)/The Bad Batch
I group these two shows together cause I consider The Bad Batch essentially additional seasons to Clone Wars given their style and story telling.
It took me quite a while to get into the 3D Clone Wars series – I probably credit my wife’s fandom of this show in particular for helping me get into it a lot more. But I would say that I really enjoy the parts of these shows that move the overall story along. I suppose that’s true of my like in Star Wars in general – the “small” events that have global or universal impacts.
Probably from the Mortis story onwards is where the show really starts to pick up for me. They really fixed up Ahsoka’s personality and story, gave us some great insights into clones and separatists, and delivered some memorable moments for Anakin, Padme, Obi-Wan and Yoda in particular. A returning Maul really and the tales around the Mandalorians really elevated the show to a new level as well.
Personal highlight for me is Clone Wars Season 6 which I think tells the most interesting stories including Yoda meeting Darth Bane on Korriban, but shout out to Season 7 which intermingles right into Revenge of the Sith.
Filoni is truly Lucas’ successor.
#8: The Mandalorian
Speaking of Filoni.
This show is awesome. And something that’s really interesting and telling is Disney went in the direction of a previously unknown character in Din over telling an extra set of stories about Rey or Finn or Poe, and saw great success.
There’s something here for everyone. Din, Grogu, the droids, the banter, the Clone Wars and Rebels tie ins, the action, the story, the characters, the worlds, the adventures.
My Star Wars fan friends love it. My non-Star Wars fans love it. It’s a true phenomenon and an awesome piece of TV.
And I’m still nowhere near the type in my attempt at ranking the Star Wars movies and series.
#7: Episode 5: The Empire Strikes Back
If Andor and Rogue One are the recent “right answers” in what is the best Star Wars movie or content, this was the original and still is for many people.
And hey, it’s awesome.
Vader as the insurmountable obstacle for Luke to overcome. Han and Leia’s blossoming romance. The ice planet Hoth and the epic Cloud City resetting the standard for sci-fi environments. And the fact that the bad guys win this one.
And who could forget meeting Yoda for the first time.
“But you are not a Jedi yet”. Even more memorable to me than the fabled twist at the end. Amazing accomplishment.
#6: Episode 2: Attack of the Clones
Yes, I’m serious, and from here on out prepare to be very offended if this one hurts you even a little bit in placement.
This movie is so great to me. I didn’t get Hayden’s casting as Anakin at first, but if you watch Episodes 2 and 3 followed by 4, tell me he does not nail Vader’s mannerisms, internation, and presence. Plus for everyone who complains about Anakin being whiny at times – Luke did it first, and you love him so much.
The soundtrack, set pieces, and large scale political machinations and brooding war make this unforgettable. Speaking of unforgettable, Jango Fett’s seismic charge is still one of the most amazing feats in special effects.
Christopher Lee’s Dooku steals the show in addition to the epic battle at the end between Jedi in their prime, clones, and droids.
And good call moving Yoda to CGI for all the action pieces. I think we’ve been recently reminded how terrible puppets look when they’re used in fast action scenes (sorry Grogu you look like an injured chicken or a kid’s popup book at times).
Across The Stars. In your head as soon as you saw the title. Outstanding.
And I know everyone hates the sand line, but after watching a recent-ish interview with Hayden on this line, you’ll never watch it the same again. It turns the ultimate meme line into one of the most tragically moving statements in the series.
#5: Clone Wars (2D Series)
I was fortunate to have Cartoon Network when I was growing up, and in the lead up to the release of Revenge of the Sith, Lucasfilm produced with them this outstanding 2 hour piece of TV.
And even decades later, I still prefer this over the 3D series and many of the movies.
We get to see Anakin become a Jedi Knight. We see the inner workings of the Council and the rumblings in the Senate. We see the Jedi spread thing across the galaxy. We see the awesome introduction of Asajj Ventress and the training of Dooku.
And we see an unforgettable introduction to General Grevious which reveals why he is so feared (and also weakend) in Episode 3. Watching all the droids stop firing and 10 Jedi cower in fear is amazing, and his little run-in with Mace Windu explains the cough. They conveniently nerfed this in the 3D Clone Wars unfortunately and he was nowhere near as intimidating as he was here.
This movie also leads directly into Episode 3 with the sacking of Coruscant and is a stellar time every time I revisit it. If you haven’t seen it, Disney+ added it semi-recently for the masses who missed it back when it first came out.
#4: Episode 1: The Phantom Menace
This opinion is one I’ve held for aaaaages, even when it was one of the most unpopular opinions ever. See 13 Reasons I Prefer The Star Wars Prequels.
But Episode 1 I feel is the absolute best movie, maybe ever, at world building. Episode 1 showed us the full context of what was only ever mentioned in passing in any of the other original movies.
Coruscant, and the Senate, is one of the most amazing things I did and have ever seen in a movie ever. What an idea.
The Jedi in their prime. Palpatine’s climb to power from a lowly Naboo senator. Everyone gave Jake so much shade for playing Anakin, but watch him do that podrace or say goodbye to his mother and tell me he was the wrong choice.
Starting out with Obi-Wan’s master Qui-Gon being present is what turned that character into a fan favourite, no doubt. It gave him his grounding and back story to explain why he is the way he is.
Darth Maul. Duel of the Fates. Throne room. One of the most iconic action set pieces ever. The cinema I was in stood up and cheered the whole time, and this was well before that was something that people went viral for. It was amazing.
For those who criticise the politics – it’s Star Wars. Politics is how all wars start, finish, and endure.
And the memes just confirm how quotable, relatable, and memorable the best and worst lines of the movie were. None of the original trilogy or even the sequel trilogy are this memorable or quotable.
Episode 1 gives us the whole picture and paints the context for every other successful moment in the rest of the series. Any time someone praises the original trilogy, they only ever do so by referencing the context that Episode 1 provided.
Which only leaves a few more in ranking the Star Wars movies, and one series left to go as well…
#3: Episode 6: Return Of The Jedi
My favourite Star Wars movie for ages, this is the happy ending we all wanted. The Chosen One restored balance, Luke was able to reach his father, Han and Leia came together, and Luke’s Jedi order was about to begin.
Timeless, amazing, and one of many movies where Ian steals the show as Emperor Palpatine. None of the darkness in the other movies has any context or satisfaction without the fulfilment of hope in Return of the Jedi. And I was a fan of the Special Editions and seeing Coruscant restored to glory was so wonderful in amongst all the other great things at the end, including 2005’s edition with Hayden joining Obi-Wan and Yoda in restoration.
This show was a real surprise to me. It was on Disney’s XD which was aimed at young kids at the time, so didn’t think much of it. But after hearing rumblings that it featured some amazing Star Wars content, I gave it a watch.
And this is still my favourite Star Wars series.
It also features my favourite piece of Star Wars content – Twilight of the Apprentice. An episode of TV featuring Inquisitors, Yoda, Ahsoka, Darth Maul, Darth Vader, Malachor and Darth Traya from Knights of the Old Republic 2, in addition to the excellent characters they had already built up. And paying off the story of Anakin’s apprentice in such a powerful way. My goodness. If you watch nothing else from Rebels and you call yourself a Star Wars fan, this episode alone is mind blowing.
But this is only one of many amazing episodes.
The new characters here are so well written. Ezra, Kanaan, Hera, Sabine and Zeb have become many people’s favourite characters, and I can’t wait to see them blown up in live action in the Ahsoka series. Kanaan is so good and memorable he made it into Episode 9.
And the first occurrence of Grand Admiral Thrawn in one of the mainline Star Wars series. Every Star Wars video game and book nerd went nuts, and still do, at how excellently Thrawn was incorporated.
Ian, Frank, Liam and James all came back to reprise their roles, amongst many other surprises and easter eggs. Even a tie in of a well beloved character into Episode 6 in the form of Rex.
Time travel, lightsabres, sharply excellent writing, the Empire and the Inquisitors, and portrayed somehow in a way that’s more accessible to fans of all ages than any other piece of Star Wars content, this is peak Star Wars.
#1: Episode 3: Revenge of the Sith
This is how liberty dies, with thunderous applause.
This is still one of my favourite movies ever made, even being featured again in My Top 10 Favourite Movies Ever (Revisited).
I don’t even know where to start. I suppose with this movie being the payoff of Lucas’ overall commentary on human history, about the cycle of democracies into dictatorships and back again. Looking at modern conflicts from World Wars 1 and 2 into the conflicts in Yemen or even more recently in Ukraine, his portrayal of imperialism and empires was so poignant and accessible that the Russian government and several of its news agencies explicitly had to comment on how their actions at the time did not mirror the commentary of Lucas.
The soundtrack. Battle of the Heroes, Anakin’s Betrayal. The sound engineering. The special effects. The characters. The use of silence.
The Chosen One has fallen to the dark side. And we see a very real reminder of how loss and the fear of loss drives so many of us into the darkest sides of ourselves.
The action is outstanding and grounded. And Ian once again proves he should have been given an Oscar for his portrayal of the greatest villain in cinema history.
Unintentionally but kind of funny we even got engaged on Revenge of the Fifth (May 5), so I’ll be tied to this movie forever in some way.
It’s dark but hopeful, and this movie coupled with Return of the Jedi is one of the greatest resolutions in cinema history.
So, there you have it. My attempt at ranking the Star Wars movies and series. This essentially turned into my love letter for Lucasfilm and this amazing franchise we all know and love.
I know some people/most people would disagree with a lot of my picks, but this is where they currently fall on my emotional scale. It could change over time or as new stories get picked up, but there’s a whole tone of content in a galaxy far, far away. If I had done a list of games it would be even longer (spoilers it’s KOTOR 2 as the best Star Wars game, but maybe more on that another time).
How about you? Do these picks resonate with you? What’s your list look like?