Since the turn of the century, one thing remains a highly-debated topic: What is the best order in which to watch Star Wars? Prequels, sequels, originals, standalones — the answer grows more complicated as the years go by, and anyone loyal to their specific method won’t hear otherwise.
The question all but falls apart when it comes to Star Wars TV shows, whether they’re integrated into film viewing or watched separately. Does one start chronologically, with “Droids” and “Ewoks” (best viewed in their original paired “adventure hour” format)? Should “Clone Wars” come before “The Mandalorian,” or “Rebels”? What’s the deal with “Visions” and “Tales of the Jedi,” and is the Boba Fett show actually good? (No.)
IndieWire’s keen Star Wars experts put their heads together, and while we didn’t come up with a viewing order, we did rank every single Star Wars TV show — from “Droids” to “Obi-Wan Kenobi” to a whole lot of Lego animation. Whether you’re looking to fondly mock the film series, catch up ahead of Season 3 of “The Mandalorian,” or watch a lot of CGI Mark Hamill — there’s something for every Star Wars fan, and for the uninitiated. Even sampling a little bit of everything unearths exciting connections between the original films, prequels, beloved characters, and brand-new ones that can’t help win over a new audience (Chopper!). The wealth of options just goes to show that what made and makes Star Wars so indelible is the heart of its storytelling, the rebel spirit and stirring relationships between characters regardless of Force sensitivity, species, or language.
Here are all 15 Star Wars TV shows (no specials), ranked from worst to best.
Ben Travers, Sarah Shachat, and Christian Blauvelt contributed to this list.
15. “The Book of Boba Fett”
A seven-episode season that devotes two of those hours to another show’s story? Naw, man, that’s not it. On paper, “The Book of Boba Fett” seemed like a good idea. “The Mandalorian” had already resurrected one of fans’ favorite side characters. Jon Favreau was set to write the first season. Temuera Morrison (who played Boba’s dad, of sorts, in “Attack of the Clones”) was even returning to play the titular bounty hunter. But what transpired over the limited run was part character assassination and part incompetence. Boba Fett, one of the galaxy’s most fearsome trackers, is forced into the ill-fitting mold of a Disney dad. He finds his own family, he gets his own job, and he acts with nobility. Clunky flashbacks fill in the gaps between his near-death in “Return of the Jedi” and his return in “The Mandalorian,” but that knowledge only makes Boba less mysterious, more predictable, and far, far worse for wear. His edges are sanded off, and his trademark cool — borrowed and implemented so well by “The Mandlorian” — drifts off into the desert. “The Book of Boba Fett” ranks as the worst “Star Wars” TV show not only for all but ruining a beloved member of the original trilogy, but for how it represents what’s gone wrong so often with Disney’s “Star Wars” run: They’re too eager to repeat themselves, and too slow to understand why that doesn’t (always) work. —BT
14. “Lego Star Wars All Stars”
Like “Droid Tales,” “All Stars” is full of film cameos, but the non-canon series is set in the time of the “Force Awakens” sequel trilogy (plus a brief stint of “Solo”) and tied mainly to “The Freemaker Adventures.” It kicks off with episode centered around the droid first introduced in that series, Roger/R0-GR (Matthew Wood). The B1 droid ends up with Lena (Jasmin Savoy Brown) and Pace Freemaker (Josh Peck) — whose kids would embark on “The Freemaker Adventures.” As adorable and entertaining as the Lego Star Wars series are, this one strains because its connection is primarily to yet another series rather than the movies themselves. Still, Lena and Pace provide a sweet emotional center, and Roger’s on-screen antics are rarely unwelcome. —PK
Nearly four decades later, it’s hard to get too upset about an Ewoks cartoon show. “Star Wars,” after all, is a family adventure saga, and many of the franchise’s die-hard fans first watched one trilogy or the other when they were but wee young lads and ladies. “Ewoks,” which ran for two seasons on ABC between 1985 and 1986, is made for those same young kiddos. Its hand-drawn animation immediately evokes the era, though I still balk at the series’ Disney+ classification: “Star Wars Vintage.”
Its first episode is a rather unsettling combination of adventure-horror (those spider creatures are messed up!) and childhood shenanigans (Drop the Sack! What a game!). The theme song is absolutely haunting, and I will not be revisiting it willingly for the rest of my days, but all in all, “Ewoks” is fine. I’m guessing it bumps harder for people who felt betrayed by the Ewoks intrusion on “Return of the Jedi” — a symbol of the franchise’s devotion to merchandising over drama that will always sting, no matter the context. But one could just as easily argue that this is exactly where Ewoks belong: their own cartoon show, made just for kids. —BT
12. “Obi-Wan Kenobi”
A post-“Revenge of the Sith” series about young Obi-Wan that deepens his relationship with Anakin expands on the character sounds amazing — but “Clone Wars” did it first and better. Nothing but sentimentality for Ewan McGregor’s live-action Jedi master justifies the existence of “Obi-Wan Kenobi,” which brings back Hayden Christensen’s Anakin/Vader but ultimately can’t live up to the heartbreaking brotherhood of “Revenge of the Sith” and “Clone Wars” — neither can it resist that most cumbersome of Achilles heels in all live-action Star Wars since the prequels, the irresistible urge to somehow involve characters from the original trilogy. This time it’s young Leia (Vivien Lyra Blair), whom Obi-Wan bonds with during a rescue mission and who can’t help dust off the ghost of her father in his memory. Blair does an admirable job with a character played only in live-action by Carrie Fisher, and Moses Ingram’s Reva makes a stronger case for the show than almost anything else. But at the end of the day, as we stare for the umpteenth time into the twin suns of Tatooine, “Obi-Wan Kenobi” is a fairly forgettable romp through the galaxy. —PK
11. “Star Wars: Droids”
Looking back at “Droids” and “Ewoks,” it makes a lot more sense why modern Star Wars shows can’t resist shameless fan service and shoehorned canon references. “Droids” is all but untethered from the wider Star Wars universe (keen viewers will find threads to the films), following the adventures of R2-D2 and C-3PO in the years before Luke Skywalker found them in “A New Hope.” They traverse the galaxy with friends, foes, and everything in between, blissfully disconnected from C-3PO’s wiped “Revenge of the Sith” memories and providing use (and levity) for whosever path they cross. Star Wars shows have come a long way since this one, and the series has gained a cult following since its on-air ’80s run. —PK
10. “Lego Star Wars: The Freemaker Adventures”
“The Freemaker Adventures” arrived on the heels of “Rebels,” centered around another Force-sensitive wunderkind with a special role in the rebellion. Rowan (Nicolas Cantu) can detect Kyber crystals, which makes him extremely interesting to the mysterious Jedi Naare (Grey Griffin) — and extremely valuable to the Emperor. As Rowan, his siblings, and Naare search for the powerful Kyber Saber, they join the Rebel Alliance and hope to play a major role in toppling the Empire for good. Despite similar bones, “The Freemaker Adventures” is no “Rebels,” but the core family dynamic gives it a soft edge and light moments that feel almost more like a sitcom than animated toy sci-fi. Now that’s a Jedi mind trick. —PK
9. “Lego Star Wars: Droid Tales”
In signature charming Lego fashion, “Droid Tales” is silly and self-aware, much of its humor cheekily poking fun at film canon, characters, inconsistencies, and more. After the battle of Endor, R2-D2 reveals he had C-3PO’s memory drives, so the gold droid regales the retired rebels with stories of the past. Through 3PO’s eyes, the film trilogies and “Rebels” get a distinctly biased, selective retelling — and arguably a better one — one that he can’t be distracted from, even with R2 kidnapped. 3PO and Chewbacca set off to find their small friend, but not without recapping the rest of their intergalactic adventures. —PK
8. “Star Wars: Resistance”
This is a show that never quite got a chance. Airing on Disney XD in the last couple of years before Disney+ debuted, it was geared to a slightly younger audience than “The Clone Wars.” If “Clone Wars” was good for ages 9-10 (and every bit as capable of being enjoyed by adults), “Resistance” was geared more for ages 7-8, a critical difference. Its flat 2-D anime-style CGI animation was unique, however, as was its setting: this series took place during the events of the Sequel Trilogy then unspooling in theaters. But like the Sequel films, a sense of aimlessness was there in the plotting, and to most observers its conclusion at the end of the Season 2 felt like the show had an abbreviated run. Did Disney just want to move on from the Sequels when they wrapped up this show right around the time “The Rise of Skywalker” debuted and Disney+ launched? Who knows. Though the loose ends were tied up. Hard to recommend this one for any but young kids and the parents of young kids. —CB
7. “Star Wars: Tales of the JedI”
For a franchise that has a tumultuous history with prequels… Star Wars sure loves a prequel. “Tales of the Jedi” returns to the prequel trilogy era but rewinds even further within the lives of various characters, in this case young Ahsoka and Count Dooku. Fans witness the origin of Ahsoka’s Force sensitivity when she saves herself from a deadly attack on her home planet, and Dooku’s time as Qui-Gon’s master before slipping toward the Dark Side (sharing certain tendencies with a certain padawan who would enter the temple just a few years later). Like “Clone Wars,” this miniseries reframes relationships and moments in the prequel films to add emotional resonance, thanks again to the guiding hand of Dave Filoni. The worst part might be that it’s only six episodes. —PK
6. “Star Wars: The Bad Batch”
Basically, there’s a sequel series to “The Clone Wars” airing on Disney+ right now. If you wanted to see how the galaxy evolved past the end of that conflict and into the early days of the Empire (a timeline almost completely unexplored in the canon before “The Bad Batch”), this is the show for you. Clone Force 99, a group of misfits in the Grand Army of the Republic who were able to resist the order to kill all the Jedi, were introduced in the last season of “The Clone Wars” and the show involves some intriguing bits of new lore, such as how the Empire ditched the clones for the stormtroopers we know from the Original Trilogy. Sigh… this is also a show about a group of grizzled warriors protecting a child with a very special destiny, a la “The Mandalorian.” But unlike that show it takes some real time to ponder the nature of fascism — while also having “Cheers” legend Rhea Perlman voice a smuggler/powerbroker who arranges jobs and one-off missions for the Batch. Just in its second season, time will tell if “The Bad Batch” succumbs to some of the issues of the Disney+ live action series, or if this show ostensibly for kids can actually go deeper. —CB
5. “The Mandalorian”
In the prestige TV era, when an insatiable demand for content necessitated a factory-like supply chain, so many wannabe original series were simply an old… thing polished up to look shiny and new. “Stranger Things” is an overinflated “Super 8” — an earnest ‘80s pastiche that’s become so popular it can pretend it’s only an homage to itself. “Ted Lasso” is a sweeter, British spin on “Major League.” Most sitcoms are either trying to be “The Office” or a close relative of “The Office.” (Even the great “Curb Your Enthusiasm” is very open about being “Seinfeld” of the West Coast.) It’s not that there’s anything wrong with it — evolution requires learning, and many excellent new series are built on the backs of older ones.
So please, dear readers, when I say that “The Mandalorian” is the most expensive Saturday morning cartoon ever made, please don’t send hate mail. (Or, at least, not any more than usual.) Jon Favreau’s Disney+ blockbuster was smartly built to please young and the young-at-heart; an action-adventure with laser battles and strange new worlds, centered on a father and son/odd couple who don’t talk much. Mando (Pedro Pescal) is there to look cool — and he does! — while Grogu (aka Baby Yoda) is there to look cute (which, OK, I guess he’s fine). The serialized story is loose and relatively easy to track, as Mando learns the benefits of caring for someone other than himself, and Grogu learns how to walk, talk, and eat frogs. Their journey connects them to various “Star Wars” characters, but let’s be honest: These are episodic stories at heart. Nearly every episode revolves around a single objective that Mando & Grogu need to complete, whether it’s one part of their larger plan or a side mission they stumble into.
And that’s just fine! The hefty budget provides an oft-impressive spectacle, the reliable character dynamic keeps us invested in their success, and there’s plenty of room for random guest stars and wild creatures. “Star Wars” can work wonders when it feels as wide open as the galaxy far, far away, and “The Mandlorian” can elicit that awe in all its cartoon glory. —BT
4. “Star Wars: Visions”
It’s a big, big Galaxy out there. Apart from being a beautiful showcase for some of the best in modern Japanese animation, “Visions” captures the possibility and the wonder that make Star Wars so enduring and nobody needs to say the name ‘Skywalker’ even once. Animation styles range from the buoyant, almost Saint-Exupéry-esque “T0-B1” to the charcoal sharpness of “The Duel” to the astonishing environmental beauty of “Lop and Ocho” and “The Village Bride” to the sheer anime bliss of “The Twins” and “Tatooine Rhapsody.” As with any anthology, some episodes will shine more than others, depending on an individual viewer’s Force sensitivity. But every one of them feels a little bit like a homecoming, with the Galaxy and particularly the Jedi getting to embrace more of the iconography and culture of Samurai-era Japan than ever before. “The Ninth Jedi,” “The Elder,” and “Akakiri” all come at the battle-madness of these wandering, magical knights in ways that feel intensely old and new and right (even if canon gets bent in a couple of places). “Visions” proves how endless the possibilities for great Star Wars stories are and that may be the show’s one flaw: that there simply isn’t more of it. —SS
3. “Star Wars: The Clone Wars”
Anthology-like in telling stories via standalone episodes or arcs told over three or four episodes, “The Clone Wars” is as immersive and multi-faceted a view of the galaxy far, far away as “Star Wars” has ever delivered. The conflict of the title took place over only three years, but Lucasfilm Animation’s storytelling here rolled out “M*A*S*H”-like over seven seasons and an ill-advised theatrical movie that served to kick off the whole project back in 2008. If you saw that movie and it turned you off from the 100+ episodes of often thrilling, sometimes bizarre (usually in the best ways) half-hour episodes that followed, then that’s a shame. Drawing in and canonizing elements of the old “Expanded Universe” (the Nightsisters of Dathomir!) along with brand new lore (the Force “gods” of Mortis) and infused with drama and a quirky sense of humor (one female cantina patron lusting after Darth Maul’s brother by saying “I’d like to check his midichlorian count” is a high point), “The Clone Wars” is “Star Wars” at its best because it isn’t just one thing. It’s so many things. And it’s not surprising that the characters it introduced ended up being so beloved (such as Ahsoka, Anakin’s padawan, voiced by Ashley Eckstein) that series creator Dave Filoni then brought them to live-action life on “The Mandalorian.”
“The Clone Wars” reached heights that most of the live-action shows haven’t — for my money, the best episode of the series, “The Box,” about bounty hunters engaging in a kind of “Battle Royale” competition, is exactly what “The Book of Boba Fett” should have been. “The Clone Wars” looms large because it dared to be its own thing and introduce and develop new characters to stand alongside old favorites. It didn’t just recycle the past. And that is a model “Star Wars” TV would do well to follow. —CB
2. “Star Wars: Rebels”
“Rebels” does an incredible job of occupying a world between worlds, so to speak: the series creates a set of unforgettable original characters attempting to navigate and eventually playing a key role in the early years of the rebellion (if you know a “Andor” fan who hasn’t seen “Rebels,” you can sell them on show’s use of the same setting and exploration of similar themes). But “Rebels” also progresses, deepens, and even sometimes concludes the arcs of characters from “Clone Wars” and Episodes IV-VI more satisfyingly than the originals. Relationships, particularly the core found-family relationships among the crew of the Ghost, are what drives “Rebels” in its pleasing balance of episodic plots and seasonal arcs, and allow it to explore the ideas that make the Star Wars universe so resonant: family, legacy, the power of individual choice, and absolutely chaotic astromech droids with murder in their hearts. Dave Filoni, who created the series alongside Simon Kinberg and Carrie Beck, has never done a better job deftly weaving the existing Star Wars canon into original stories with their own gravitational pull. The show is only going to get more resonant and relevant and new series join the Galaxy, too – “Rebels” gave Ahsoka Tano the best lightsaber fight in all the animated series and one of the best lightsaber fights, period. —SS
Let’s say you live in a small town. And in this town, there’s an amazing little ice cream shop. The owner takes pride in experimentation, concocting a never-ending expanse of flavor and topping combinations, and you know every time you visit, you’re going to be blown away. But one day, the shop is taken over by a massive ice cream conglomerate, and the only flavor they sell is vanilla swirl. (That’s what its marketing department claims is the most reliable and cost-effective option.) So you go back, and you try a vanilla swirl, and it’s nice. It still has the core flavor of your favorite cones from the old shop, and hey, it’s ice cream — who doesn’t want ice cream? But after seven years of nothing but vanilla swirl, you’re tired. You’re tired without even knowing you’re tired. You’ll still stop by the shop, but only out of obligation to your old self, to the memories of a better time, and because it’s the only shop in town.
Then, out of nowhere, a new flavor! How did this get here? What is this, even? There’s so many textures, so many colors, so much thought put into its construction. It’s like this ice cream — ice cream! — has a purpose. Almost like it was always supposed to have a purpose, beyond company quotas and satisfying existing customers. During some bites of this new flavor, it even feels like the flavor is rebelling against the very company that released it. I know, I know, it sounds crazy. But that’s how “Andor” feels, when it comes to live-action “Star Wars” stories: like we’ve been eating boring old vanilla swirl for nearly a decade, and someone finally handed us a scoop of I Wanna Dance with Some Berry. So let’s enjoy it. You never know what that ice cream shop it going to turn out next. —BT
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