Every Star Wars Movie Ranked (and Where to Watch Them)
The Star Wars saga comprises some of the most immersive, imaginative and flat-out fun sci-fi movies you'll ever experience, but not all of them were created equal. For every Empire Strikes Back, there's a Phantom Menace. While there are epic space battles and emotional farewells, there are also awkward romance scenes and … whatever the heck midichlorians are.
After much inter-office deliberation, we've ranked the Star Wars films from worst to best so that you can get right to the good stuff. Whether you're new to the galaxy far, far away or want a refresher as you eagerly await The Last Jedi, here's our ranking of every Star Wars movie — and where to watch them.
8. Episode II - Attack of the Clones (2002)
Attack of the Clones is arguably the weakest of all of the Star Wars films, as its focus on the love story between Jedi-knight-in-training Anakin Skywalker and senator Padmé Amidala ranges from awkward to borderline unbearable, thanks to some stiff acting.
Still, the movie is your best chance to see a ton of Jedi in action at once, and watching their rainbow of lightsabers cut through an army of Separatist robots is a delight. Plus, we finally get to see the diminutive Jedi master Yoda kick some butt. If you want to see more of this type of action without all of the forced romance, check out The Clone Wars animated series.
7. Episode I - The Phantom Menace (1999)
Like the rest of the prequel films, The Phantom Menace falls victim to cringe-worthy dialogue, boring politics and an over-reliance on special effects that don't quite hold up today. It introduced some cool new concepts and told Anakin Skywalker's origin story, but it also gave us the annoying, borderline offensive sidekick Jar Jar Binks.
However, The Phantom Menace is single-handedly redeemed by what is arguably the greatest lightsaber battle to ever grace a Star Wars movie. The two-on-one bout between Jedi Qui-Gon Jinn and Obi-Wan Kenobi and evil Sith Lord Darth Maul is a master class in athleticism and scale — and it's made all the more unforgettable thanks to John Williams' iconic "Duel of the Fates" music.
6. Episode III - Revenge of the Sith (2005)
Telling the story of hero Anakin Skywalker's final transformation into supervillain Darth Vader (spoiler alert!), Revenge of the Sith is far and away the best of the prequel trilogy, and a great Star Wars film in its own right. Yes, there's still some rough acting, but it's easy to forget about it, thanks to the movie's plethora of fantastic action scenes and gut-wrenching moments of betrayal. Equal parts emotional and exciting, the movie's fateful showdown between Obi-Wan and Anakin is among Star Wars' very best battles.
5. Episode VI - Return of the Jedi (1983)
Return of the Jedi might not be as widely beloved as The Empire Strikes Back and A New Hope, but it's still a thrilling and satisfying conclusion to the original trilogy. This movie is just fun — we get a more confident Luke Skywalker; alluring new locations, such as Jabba's Palace and Endor, and a heck of a final space battle. Return of the Jedi also provides an emotional moment of redemption for Darth Vader, successfully closing the book on Star Wars once and for all (or so we thought at the time).
4. Episode VII - The Force Awakens (2015)
Picking up 30 years after the events of Return of the Jedi, Episode VII manages to introduce Star Wars to a new generation while staying true to what made the original trilogy special.
The fresh faces are the real standouts here. Characters such as the orphan Rey, the cute droid BB-8 and the dark-side neophyte Kylo Ren are instant icons, and they help to bring to life a familiar good-versus-evil tale that spans some of the most stunning Star Wars locales we've seen yet. You could argue that The Force Awakens is a bit too similar to A New Hope, but recapturing the first Star Wars film's sense of awe and adventure just might be its crowning achievement.
3. Rogue One: A Star Wars Story (2016)
It might not be part of the Skywalker saga, but Rogue One is easily one of the best Star Wars films ever made. This spin-off masterfully sets up the events of Episode IV by assembling a ragtag group of Rebels to steal the plans to the Death Star, complete with a uniquely gritty tone that's authentic to the original trilogy while still feeling fresh.
Rogue One stands out because it's all about the team rather than a single hero. Characters such as the virtuous criminal Jyn Erso, the blind mystic warrior Chirrut Imwe and the "turned" imperial droid K-2SO play off one another in wonderful, often dysfunctional ways, and it's impossible not to get attached to the whole crew after just a few short hours with them. It doesn't hurt that we also get the most exciting space battle we've ever seen in Star Wars, as well as an unforgettable moment of pure badassery from Darth Vader.
2. Episode IV - A New Hope (1977)
The very first Star Wars film is still one of the best, striking a masterful balance between action, humor and mystery.
Luke Skywalker's journey from humble farm boy to galactic savior is filled with unforgettable moments, from the introduction of Darth Vader and Princess Leia to the Millennium Falcon's first trip through hyperspace. Whether we're watching the charming renegade Han Solo smooth-talk his way out of a bad situation or gazing in awe as the Rebel Alliance soars through the trenches of the Death Star, every minute of A New Hope is as entertaining and quotable today as it was in 1977.
1. Episode V - The Empire Strikes Back (1980)
Was there really any doubt that this was going to be No. 1? The Empire Strikes Back is Star Wars at its very best, delivering a darker tone, incredible set pieces, a gorgeous color palette (Cloud City, anyone?) and some of the most memorable one-liners of the entire series. And if you somehow haven't seen it yet, Episode V's big twist is one of the best of any film.
There's a reason that The Empire Strikes Back has held the title of best Star Wars movie for nearly 40 years. Here's hoping that Star Wars: The Last Jedi can do a similarly great job of improving on the start of a new saga.