What to watch before Obi-Wan Kenobi on Disney Plus

Ewan McGregor as Obi-Wan Kenobi
(Image credit: Disney Plus)

The Obi-Wan Kenobi show is appearing on the horizon, but unlike a force ghost applauding our hard work, this Disney Plus series is ready to show us things we've never seen before. Arguably, the latter is more compelling, as we travel to Daiyu, a new planet that has a Hong Kong vibe. 

But from the first Obi-Wan Kenobi trailer, we can see that the show is not ignoring the lore of previous Star Wars movies and shows. That said, it appears to be pulling at least one character from a show that some fans may not even know exists, and even has hints of ties to a Star Wars video game.

So, since it would be rude to just say "watch the Star Wars movies and shows, all of them," (that's too tall a laundry list), we thought it would be a good idea to explain how to pick and choose what you should watch to catch up on before Star Wars: Obi-Wan Kenobi debuts on May 25.

One note, we're going to refer to each movie's place in the Star Wars chronology by its BBY year — which refers how many years before the Battle of Yavin it took place. Obi-Wan Kenobi is estimated (based on Lucasfilm's reveal info) to take place in 9 BBY.

The Star Wars movies to watch before Obi-Wan Kenobi

Unfortunately (if you're a prequel hater) now is the time to revisit the prequel trilogy. But you probably already knew that. For starters, Episode I: The Phantom Menace (32 BBY), Episode II: Attack of the Clones (22 BBY) and Episode III: Revenge of the Sith (19 BBY) aren't just the chronologically preceding chapters to this movie, but they're the films where we first saw Ewan McGregor as Ben Kenobi. The series will do its best to re-establish the Jedi Master, but it will also likely make tons of references to how he got here.

But just as importantly for the Obi-Wan Kenobi Disney Plus show, this is where we saw the downfall of the titular Jedi Master's most-promising pupil (queue the "You were the chosen one!" memes), Anakin Skywalker. And if there is any reason to watch the new Obi-Wan series that hardcore fans and casual fans can agree on? It's that we're getting the rematch of the century, with concept art for the series practically spoiling the news of an Obi-Wan vs. Darth Vader fight scene. 

Obi-Wan Kenobi concept art featuring Obi-Wan Kenobi and Darth Vader in a lightsaber duel

(Image credit: Disney Plus)

The other reason to watch the prequel trilogy is to see how the young Anakin will be mirrored in the Luke we've seen in the trailer. As you can see below, we already have a very "like father, like son" situation, with young Skywalker apparently pretending to drive (or pod-race?) on top of a building in Tatooine.

It's unclear how much we'll see of young Luke in the Obi-Wan show, but the prequel trilogy definitely seems like something this series will make plenty of references to.

Young Luke Skywalker (looking like he's pretending to race) on the top of his home in Tatooine

(Image credit: Disney Plus via YouTube)

Of course, there are 6 more Star Wars movies in the Skywalker Saga you could watch after that, to see an older Obi-Wan Kenobi, as well as Anakin and Luke Skywalker, but considering the list of TV shows to watch, you might be better off watching those later.

The Star Wars shows to watch before Obi-Wan Kenobi

Did you have a big sense of "wait, who (or what?) is that?" when the blue-skinned bounty hunter Cad Bane showed up in The Book of Boba Fett? Well, it's time to watch the animated series Star Wars Rebels (5 - 0 BBY) to meet the Inquisitors, who hunt and torment the forces of good in the series.

Most importantly, meet The Grand Inquisitor, a Pau'an male Jedi Knight who defected to the dark side and hunted Jedi for the Galactic Empire. In the Obi-Wan Kenobi show, the Grand Inquisitor is played by Rupert Friend, and he's the guy you see below, spinning a dual-bladed lightsaber. 

The Grand Inquisitor apparently swinging a red Force weapon in the Obi-Wan Kenobi show

(Image credit: Disney Plus Via YouTube)

Inquisitors were first introduced in the Star Wars: Rebels, and we meet The Grand Inquisitor as he's taking commands from Darth Vader. We won't spoil his story, since it takes place after the Obi-Wan Kenobi story, but it's safe to say that he's a very powerful force to be reckoned with.

For extra credit, you may want to give the video game Star Wars: Jedi Fallen Order as it appears we'll see the Inquisitors headquarters (the Fortress Inquisitorius) in the Obi-Wan show as well.

You may not be able to finish all 75 episodes of Rebels in time for Obi-Wan, but starting the series, and meeting this class of Jedi hunters, isn't a bad idea.

Oh, and speaking of long-running Star Wars shows, there's one other title to recommend: Star Wars: Clone Wars(22 BBY to 19 BBY). Yes, the series may be impossibly long to finish by May, at 133 episodes over seven seasons, but there are rumors we'll be seeing some flashbacks of Hayden Christiansen as Anakin, not Lord Vader, it's a good time to be familiar with the animated version of the Clone Wars that set the Republic's clone army against the Confederacy's droid forces. 

This series tracked Anakin Skywalker and Obi-Wan Kenobi (as well as Yoda), and many other popular characters. As you can tell by the year-dates for the show, it helps fill in the gap between Episodes II and III, and gave us more of Anakin before his turn to the dark side. 

Hopefully, Obi-Wan Kenobi works on its own

Let's be clear, here, though. You shouldn't need to watch any of these shows. 

The Obi-Wan Kenobi series could introduce the Inquisitors with crystal-clear clarity. Hayden Christiansen's return to the Star Wars world should give Anakin the depth that the prequel trilogy failed to impart. 

But when context is king, and shows buckle under the weight of too much exposition, it's hard to imagine that Obi-Wan Kenobi will be able to explain the above pasts and futures while giving the Jedi Master more of the spotlight. That said, the force is strong enough with this teaser trailer that I'm hopeful about the series.

Henry T. Casey
Managing Editor (Entertainment, Streaming)

Henry is a managing editor at Tom’s Guide covering streaming media, laptops and all things Apple, reviewing devices and services for the past seven years. Prior to joining Tom's Guide, he reviewed software and hardware for TechRadar Pro, and interviewed artists for Patek Philippe International Magazine. He's also covered the wild world of professional wrestling for Cageside Seats, interviewing athletes and other industry veterans.