As Star Wars fans, we all have very strong opinions on the franchise. Were the prequels actually any good? Did “The Last Jedi” do the series any real justice? And just who exactly shot first? Ask any true fan any of the previously mentioned questions and you’ll likely receive a very strong, opinionated answer.

Another great topic that we Star Wars fanatics could debate for days is what order you should watch the films in. As a life-long fan boy, I’d like to offer my veteran opinion. Now, before I begin I’d like to preface the article by saying that there is one tried and true order in which TO watch the films, and one definite way in which NOT TO watch them.

You’ll never go wrong watching them in the order that they were released in (4, 5, 6, 1, 2, 3, 7, Rogue One, 8, Solo.) Watching the films in this order is a great way to play it safe and get the most out of the viewing experience without taking any real risks.

After all, watching them in the wrong order could spoil the entire saga for the first time viewer – which leads me to me next point: Unless you’re watching these films for the millionth time (or at least the 2nd) DO NOT WATCH THEM IN CHRONOLOGICAL ORDER. A number of plot twists will be ruined. Okay, now that that’s out of the way, we can begin.

Start by watching – Episode 4: A New Hope

Is it a cop out to start with Episode 4? Maybe, but let’s be real – this was the film that started it all, and for that reason you basically need to see it first. If you were to ask any die-hard fan which episode you should start with, the answer would unanimously be “A New Hope.” Kicking off your Star Wars experience with Luke and the gang is a recipe for success.

Next, rewind about 30 years and watch – Episode 1: The Phantom Menace

Okay, this probably seems like a rather absurd choice for the second film to watch, but I will elaborate a little more later on. Plus, despite the films flaws (cough, cough, Jar Jar) you have to admit, the lightsaber battle between Qui-Gon, Obi Wan, and Darth Maul is among the best action sequences in the entire series. It’s a good way to get the adrenaline pumping after watching the rather slowly paced Episode 4.

Up next – Episode 2: Attack Of The Clones

I’ve talked to several Star Wars fans over the years, and despite the fact that many of us have many different opinions on the franchise, there are a few things that we all agree on, and one of them is this – Episode 2 is the worst installment of the saga, hands down. So, why would I put it towards the beginning of the list? Partially because by getting it out the way upfront your Star Wars viewing experience can only get better.

Fourthly – Episode 5: The Empire Strikes Back

Oh yes, the mighty Episode 5. Hailed by many as the greatest Star Wars of all. The reason why I have structured the viewing order the way I have thus far is because viewing them this way builds up the MAXIMUM impact for the greatest plot twist in cinema history (you know what I’m talking about.) Rather than just going from Episode 4 to 5, this viewing sequence allows the viewer to take their time getting to the top of the roller coaster. Watching them in the traditional order will have the most famous moment in the series over with in the span of a couple of hours. Why not take your time getting there?

Fifth on the list is – Episode 6: Return Of The Jedi

It’s important to watch Episode 6 directly after 5 because there is still some uncertainty as to whether or not Darth Vader is actually Luke’s father. Putting Episode 3 in this slot would destroy the mystery. Plus, after watching roughly 7 hours of Star Wars up until this point, you will probably be in the mood for a little bit of closure, and that’s what this episode is all about.

Up next is – Episode 3: Revenge Of The Sith

This is a great way to wrap up Anakin’s role in the Star Wars universe. It’s the final piece of the puzzle in his life story and his showdown with Obi Wan at the end is an exciting way to conclude his legacy. Better to go out with a bang than a whimper. And obviously, placing this film anywhere else on the list would either spoil the story or leave the viewer too confused. It’s best to place it here.

Seventh on the list is – Rogue One: A Star Wars Story

If I had placed this film any earlier in the viewing sequence, it would have killed a lot of the momentum. Watching Rogue One at this point will give you a little bit of a break from all of the lightsaber fueled action of “Revenge Of The Sith.” It allows you to catch your breath and fill in some import parts of the plot at the same time. Not to mention, it’s a good time to get a glimpse of what it’s like to live in the Star Wars universe when you aren’t force sensitive. There’s more to see than just Jedi getting their limbs cut off.

Follow Rogue One up with – Solo: A Star Wars Story

If you watch “Solo” before you see the original trilogy in its entirety then you’re likely to miss a lot of the inside jokes in this film. It’s also vital to watch “The Phantom Menace” first so that the ending actually makes sense (well, kind of.) Placing “Rogue One” and “Solo” where I have gives you a break from the Skywalker family drama and offers a smooth segue into the next chapter of lightsaber filled shenanigans.

After Solo, proceed to – Episode 7: The Force Awakens

There’s really only one rational way to watch the two remaining films on the list. By this point you’ll be dying to see what happens next to the original characters, and you’ll definitely be ready to see some lightsaber combat after not having it for two movies. If you watch Episode 7 directly after “Solo” then Han will be on your mind more than any other character, and that makes the twist in this episode that much more heart wrenching (rest easy captain.)

And finally, conclude with – Episode 8: The Last Jedi

It wouldn’t really make sense to place this installment anywhere else on this list. For obvious reasons, it has to come last. Despite how you felt about “The Last Jedi” (I personally LOVED it) there are a couple of big twists in this movie that make it a great way to conclude your Star Wars experience for the time being, and get you excited to see how the greatest space opera of all time will end in the highly anticipated Episode 9.