Star Wars movies ranked, worst to best
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Looking for all the Star Wars movies ranked, worst to best? Well, we’ve got you covered! The Star Wars universe has grown exponentially over the last few years, and what started out as an indie movie no one expected to do much back in 1977 has become a huge cinematic universe. This now includes numerous movies spanning multiple time periods and featuring many different characters. Good news if you’re a fan, but also a bit problematic if you’re looking to rewatch them all.
There’s been 12 Star Wars movies released so far – if you don’t count the straight to TV classics, such as Caravan of Courage: An Ewok Adventure (which we don’t) – so, if you’re sitting down to binge them all, you really don’t have time to watch the duds. Many Star Wars movies are considered among the best space movies of all time, but there’s still a fair few that you wouldn’t want to watch more than once.
That’s where our helpful breakdown of all the Star Wars movies ranked comes in. Follow our guide from the movies to miss, to the movies that cannot be missed, to ensure you’ve seen all the best bits of the Star Wars saga. And, if you’re still jonesing for a midi-chlorian hit after you’ve read it, then don’t forget to check out our best Star Wars LEGO sets too.
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12. Star Wars: Episode II – Attack of the Clones
Star Wars: Episode II – Attack of the Clones (2002). (Image credit: Lucasfilm Ltd.)Release date: May 16, 2002Cast: Hayden Christensen, Natalie Portman, and Ewan McGregor
Let’s get the worst of the Star Wars movies out of the way as quickly as we can. Trust us, it doesn’t get much worse than Attack of the Clones. The overreliance on CGI sets, the numerous boring senate scenes, the awkward, supposedly ‘romantic’ conversations between Anakin and Padmé… need I go on? There’s so many reasons why Attack of the Clones is one of the worst Star Wars movies, but most of them can be boiled down to the fact that it suffers from the middle movie curse.
We’ve seen it before with other trilogies, and although none of the Star Wars prequel movies are particularly good, the first and the third movies at least knew what they wanted to do. The middle movie, Attack of the Clones, tries to bridge the gap between Anakin, the cute, innocent kid in Episode I, and the eventual baddie, Darth Vader, in Episode III, and the fact of the matter is that the writing and Hayden Christensen just weren’t up to the task.
11. Star Wars: Episode I – The Phantom Menace
Pernilla August and Jake Lloyd in Star Wars: Episode I – The Phantom Menace (1999). (Image credit: Lucasfilm Ltd.)Release date: May 19, 1999Cast: Ewan McGregor, Liam Neeson, and Natalie Portman
The first prequel Star Wars movie has a lot of the same issues as Attack of the Clones, especially in the CGI department (need I mention Jar Jar Binks?) and the fact that the main actor can’t actually act. Okay, Jake Lloyd was only 10 years old when he played young Anakin in The Phantom Menace, but it’s genuinely painful watching any scene he’s in.
However, he’s hardly the only problem with this movie. Although most fans didn’t notice at first because they were too excited about the return of Star Wars after a long hiatus, telling the story of a 10-year-old Darth Vader before he’s turned evil (or really done anything of note) isn’t that interesting, and that’s basically what the whole film is about.
Honestly, the only reason this movie is one step higher up the rankings than Attack of the Clones is that it at least didn’t make us sit through a bazillion senate scenes. Plus, Darth Maul is kinda cool.
10. Star Wars: Episode III – Revenge of the Sith
Hayden Christensen in Star Wars: Episode III – Revenge of the Sith (2005). (Image credit: Lucasfilm Ltd.)Release date: May 19, 2005Cast: Hayden Christensen, Natalie Portman, and Ewan McGregor
One more time for those in the back… the huge amount of CGI rather than a storyline of any substance, the pantomime-like acting from the lead, and the fact that the bulk of the movie is just people talking to each other are the main reasons why Revenge of the Sith isn’t higher on our list of all the Star Wars movies ranked. Given that this was the prequel movie fans were waiting for, because it was the one which actually saw Anakin turn to the dark side and become Darth Vader, it really should have been better.
Unfortunately, it turned out that Anakin’s journey to the dark side was just a combination of some of the worst relationship advice we’ve ever seen (you and Padmé are supposed to be a team, Anakin!) and some spectacularly poor decision-making skills (how do you suddenly become okay with killing a bunch of kids?!). All in all, the whole arc just came off as ridiculous and unbelievable. So, why is it the best of the Star Wars prequels? It’s hard to say to be honest, probably because it was the last one we had to sit through.
9. Star Wars: The Clone Wars
Star Wars: The Clone Wars (2008). (Image credit: Lucasfilm Ltd.)Release date: August 15, 2008Cast: Matt Lanter (voice), Nika Futterman (voice), and Tom Kane (voice)
The Clone Wars picks up after the events of Attack of the Clones and tries (and fails) to make something decent out of the period after Obi-Wan discovers the clone army, but before Anakin turns to the dark side and betrays him. Sadly, in its attempt to not focus too much on the boring talkative scenes which plagued the prequel movies, it went too far the other way and is little more than a series of pointless fight scenes. That being said, we do love a good lightsaber duel – our favorites can be found in this curated list of best lightsaber fights.
The Clone Wars earns its not-totally-awful place on this ranked list because, while it might be a bit repetitive, it at least introduced one of our favourite Star Wars characters, Ahsoka Tano, and it also eventually gave birth to a pretty decent spin-off TV show of the same name. Plus, coming in with a runtime of just 98 minutes, it’s considerably shorter than any of the prequel movies, so we can cut it some slack. Not much though.
8. Solo: A Star Wars Story
Donald Glover, Alden Ehrenreich, and Phoebe Waller-Bridge in Solo: A Star Wars Story (2018). (Image credit: Lucasfilm Ltd.)Release date: May 25, 2018Cast: Alden Ehrenreich, Woody Harrelson, and Emilia Clarke
You know that badass anti-hero that made the first Star Wars movie so good? Yeah, let’s take him and put him in a Disney-fied prequel movie where he’s still ruggedly handsome, but not actually a scoundrel… This is the only thing we can assume the Lucasfilm executives were thinking when they came up with the idea of the Solo movie.
Watching this movie is like watching everything you loved about Han Solo from the original Star Wars movies be destroyed because it’s really hard to make an uplifting movie about someone who was essentially a baddie until he bumped into Luke Skywalker. Admittedly, Donald Glover is perfectly cast as a young Lando Calrissian and his droid sidekick L3 is a more than welcome addition to the universe, but this doesn’t detract from the fact that the main character, Solo, is little more than a watered down version of the Han we know and love. If you’re a completist, you can probably stand to watch Solo, but it’s far from one of the best Star Wars movies.
7. Star Wars: Episode IX – The Rise of Skywalker
Anthony Daniels, Oscar Isaac, John Boyega, Daisy Ridley, and Joonas Suotamo in Star Wars: Episode IX – The Rise of Skywalker (2019). (Image credit: Lucasfilm Ltd.)Release date: December 20, 2019Cast: Daisy Ridley, John Boyega, and Oscar Isaac
You’re probably thinking The Rise of Skywalker should be higher on this list. And you’re right, it should be. But unfortunately, the final movie in the Skywalker saga (to date) wiped out all the controversial but bold decisions of The Last Jedi. Instead, it chose to fall back on the old Skywalker storyline… and by Episode 9 it’s feeling more than a little tired.
Yes, there are some great, if predictable, moments, such as Kylo Ren’s reformation. And yes, the filmmakers’ hands were somewhat tied by the sad passing of Carrie Fisher, but too much of this movie feels like a patchwork quilt of every Star Wars movie that’s come before it, just without the meaning. Not to mention that the return of Palpatine came off as a bit desperate and ridiculous – how is he supposed to be alive, again?! While it probably pleased more fans than The Last Jedi, when it comes to great filmmaking, The Rise of Skywalker is more than a little lacking.
6. Star Wars: Episode VIII – The Last Jedi
Daisy Ridley in Star Wars: Episode VIII – The Last Jedi (2017). (Image credit: Lucasfilm Ltd.)Release date: December 15, 2017Cast: Daisy Ridley, John Boyega, and Mark Hamill
The Last Jedi is probably the most controversial of the Star Wars movies, and not without good reason. It essentially stomped all over sacred Star Wars history by claiming Rey’s parents were “no one,” taking the ‘magic’ out of the Force and, oh yeah, killing off Luke Skywalker.
But, it’s this very rule-breaking that actually makes it one of the best Star Wars movies because it was the first one in a while that felt like it had something new to say. It’s certainly not without its flaws (like the fact that you can just lift Finn and Rose’s storyline right out without any consequences), but overall The Last Jedi broke the rules in new and exciting ways, and it did it with style.
Love or hate it, you can’t deny it’s an unforgettable entry in the Star Wars saga and definitely not one to be missed.
5. Star Wars: Episode VII – The Force Awakens
Adam Driver in Star Wars: Episode VII – The Force Awakens (2015). (Image credit: Lucasfilm Ltd.)Release date: December 18, 2015Cast: Daisy Ridley, John Boyega, and Oscar Isaac
The Force Awakens hailed the return of Star Wars for a new generation (as well as the existing fanbase), just as the prequels had before it, but this time it was a triumphant return to a galaxy far, far away. Not only are we reintroduced to the heroes we love from the original trilogy (seriously, how good did it feel to see Han and Chewie behind the wheel of the Millennium Falcon, again?), but we’re also introduced to a whole new set who are just as badass. Plus, baddie Kylo Ren had a lot to live up to, but somehow giving the evil masked villain a shockingly human side just made him scarier.
Yes, there are those who quite rightly point out that it’s pretty much just a remake of A New Hope (lonely youngster on a sandy planet gets swept up into an adventure ending with the destruction of an evil spaceship the size of a moon), but the first Star Wars movie was a hit for a reason. The Force Awakens reminded us why we fell in love with the Star Wars universe in the first place.
4. Star Wars: Episode VI – Return of the Jedi
Star Wars: Episode VI – Return of the Jedi (1983). (Image credit: Lucasfilm Ltd.)Release date: May 25, 1983Cast: Mark Hamill, Harrison Ford, and Carrie Fisher
The final film in the original Star Wars trilogy might technically be the worst of all three, but it’s still a damn good movie. With one of the best opening sequences of all time as Luke and co save Han from Jabba the Hutt, and a redemption moment between Luke and his father, Darth Vader, that’ll never be forgotten, Return of the Jedi has definitely earned its place as one of the best Star Wars movies.
The trio of stars, Luke, Han, and Leia, have well and truly hit their stride by this point and their comfortable comradery as they take down the Empire is one of the highlights of the concluding movie. Low points? Well, despite the warm and fuzzy nostalgia we now feel towards them, the Ewoks were mildly ridiculous, and Leia’s gold bikini is more than a little problematic.
And, let’s not forget that this is the movie in which everyone realizes Luke kissed his sister (this reaction clips says it all)! Despite the teddy bears and incestual implications, Return of the Jedi shouldn’t be missed, whether you’re watching all the Star Wars movies for the hundredth time or the first.
3. Rogue One: A Star Wars Story
Wen Jiang, Felicity Jones, Diego Luna, Donnie Yen, and Riz Ahmed in Rogue One (2016). (Image credit: Lucasfilm Ltd.)Release date: December 16, 2016Cast: Felicity Jones, Diego Luna, and Alan Tudyk
When it comes to Star Wars stories fans wanted to see turned into movies, the one about the Rebels who stole the plans to the Death Star, which Luke and the gang use to destroy it in A New Hope wasn’t the top of the list. Thankfully though, the decision to step away from the traditional Star Wars movie tropes (no opening crawl or screen wipes) and to adopt a much grittier (but not too gritty) war movie approach paid off in spades, giving us one of the best Star Wars movies to date – and all without any Jedi.
Rogue One succeeds where Solo failed by perfectly balancing nods to the original movies (such as the appearance of Senator Bail Organa, Leia’s adoptive father) with very un-Star Wars-like behavior from its heroes (need we mention the opening sequence in which Cassian kills an ally?). Felicity Jones and Diego Luna are perfectly cast as the leads and their chemistry really makes the movie what it is, and can we just talk about the final sequence? If you don’t get goosebumps watching the end of Rogue One meet the beginning of A New Hope, you might be dead inside.
2. Star Wars: Episode IV – A New Hope
Harrison Ford, Carrie Fisher, and Mark Hamill in Star Wars: Episode IV – A New Hope (1977). (Image credit: Lucasfilm Ltd.)Release date: May 25, 1977 Cast: Mark Hamill, Harrison Ford, and Carrie Fisher
Ah, the movie that started it all; A New Hope. That alone guarantees it one of the top spots on our list of every Star Wars movie ranked, but Episode 4 is one of the best Star Wars movies for more than just that. The appeal of this movie lies in its simplicity. The young, heroic Luke striving to be a part of something bigger could be any of us. Leaving his mundane life behind and teaming up with a scoundrel with a heart of gold to rescue a princess, it’s easy to see why audiences responded to the story of A New Hope.
Throw in the fact that it’s set in space, that princess is much more than a damsel in distress, and a villain so iconic he’s recognizable by his breathing alone, it’s no wonder this movie would go on to inspire numerous sequels, spin-offs, and more merch than anyone would believe. A New Hope has everything you need in a movie, and it’s the reason fans return again and again to this very first adventure in a galaxy far, far away.
1. Star Wars: Episode V – The Empire Strikes Back
Mark Hamill and David Prowse in Star Wars: Episode V – The Empire Strikes Back (1980). (Image credit: Lucasfilm Ltd.)Release date: June 20, 1980Cast: Mark Hamill, Harrison Ford, and Carrie Fisher
We’ve finally made it to the best Star Wars movie ever and if you don’t know what it is yet, you’ve not been paying attention. The Empire Strikes Back amazingly upped the action and heart from the first Star Wars movie, delivering a rare sequel that’s actually better than the original – and with a downer ending where the baddies essentially win, too!
The epic opening battle on Hoth, Lando Calrissian’s introduction, Leia telling Han she loves him (“I know”), and the biggest shock reveal in the history of cinema as Luke finds out Darth Vader is his father are just some of the reasons why Episode 5 isn’t just the best Star Wars movie ever, but one of the best movies of all time. When it comes to ranking every Star Wars movie from worst to best, there really is no competition. The Empire Strike Back is masterful.
Watch all the Star Wars movies on Disney Plus