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The Star Wars timeline explained

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Neeson as Qui-Gon Jinn in The Phantom Menace
Liam Neeson as Qui-Gon Jinn in The Phantom Menace. (Disney/Lucasfilm)

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With Star Wars Day — AKA May the Fourth — hurtling towards us faster than an Ewok on a speeder, it's a perfect time to revisit the primary Star Wars timeline, and Disney+ has done all the legwork for us.

With 12 films in the primary Skywalker saga (including spin-offs), nine (official) animated series, and five live-action series (with more in development), the chronology of the series has become increasingly complicated since George Lucas’ film made its debut in 1977.

Make no mistake, the Star Wars universe is growing, and it has consistently done so ever since Disney bought LucasFilm back in 2012.

While Lucas only made six films from 1977 up until the merger, this has now expanded to multiple features and Disney+ shows that are set at various points in the franchise timeline, which has made it a little difficult for some viewers to keep track.

Ahsoka is the newest Disney+ show that has been added to the roster, beginning a new chapter in the character's journey after her appearances in The Mandalorian and The Book of Boba Fett, as well as the time spent building her character in animated series The Clone Wars and Rebels.

With references already made to these animated series and the events of the prequel trilogy in Ahsoka's first two episodes, viewers may be in need of a full timeline of events.

Here is everything you need to know.

The Star Wars franchise is split into two sections, the period before and after the Battle of Yavin in the original 1977 film which was an important part of the Galactic Civil War as it led to the destruction of the Death Star.

As such, the years in the sci-fi franchise are referred to as BBY (Before the Battle of Yavin) and ABY (After the Battle of Yavin) in its respective calendar.

Amandla Stenberg in The Acolyte
Amandla Stenberg in The Acolyte. (Disney/Lucasfilm)

Star Wars is split into several eras, the first set around The High Republic which was the period that saw Jedi rise up and create their new society.

Forthcoming Disney+ series The Acolyte will be set at the tail end of this era and will explore the final years of The High Republic rule, as well as the glory days of the Jedi before the rise of the first Sith.

Neeson as Qui-Gon Jinn in The Phantom Menace
The Phantom Menace arrived in cinemas in 1999. (Disney/Lucasfilm)

The first of the prequel films is set 100 years later, with The Phantom Menace finding the Jedi at odds with various nefarious Sith like Darth Maul.

As well as re-introducing viewers to Obi-Wan Kenobi (Ewan McGregor), the film charts the early life of Anakin Skywalker who is saved from servitude by Obi-Wan and his Jedi Master Qui-Gon Jinn (Liam Neeson).

Hayden Christensen and Natalie Portman in Attack of the Clones
The Empire is on the rise in Attack of the Clones. (Disney/Lucasfilm)

The Empire is on the rise and Palpatine, aka Darth Sidious (Ian McDiarmid), is continuing to find a way to dismantle the Republic. While Obi-Wan investigates an assassination attempt on Padme Amidala (Natalie Portman), she and Anakin (Hayden Christensen) begin a secret romance.

Later, Obi-Wan discovers that a clone army has been created seemingly for the good of the Republic, but this has been masterminded by Count Dooku (Christopher Lee) and Palpatine.

Anakin Skywalker and Ahsoka Tano in The Clone Wars
The Clone Wars in introduced Star Wars fans to Ahsoka Tano. (Disney/Lucasfilm)

The animated movie and seven-season series introduced Star Wars fans to Ahsoka Tano, the Jedi apprentice to Anakin Skywalker who is now part of the live-action universe.

The Clone Wars follows Anakin, Obi-Wan, Ahsoka and other Jedi as they fight against Count Dooku and his separatists over the course of several years.

Anakin Skywalker and Obi-Wan Kenobi in Revenge of the Sith
Anakin takes on the name Darth Vader in Revenge of the Sith. (Disney/Lucasfilm)

The third film in the prequel trilogy saw Anakin make his final transformation from Jedi to Sith, taking on the name Darth Vader after being tempted to the dark side as a way to save Padme, who is pregnant with their twins, from dying.

It also sees the Republic finally fall and the Galactic Empire take its place following Order 66, which sees the clone army turn against the Jedi and kill them.

Echo, Tech and Hunter in a scene from Star Wars: The Bad Batch
The Bad Batch follows Clone Force 99. (Disney/Lucasfilm).

One of Disney+'s animated series, The Bad Batch follows a group of rogue clones, Clone Force 99, who go on the run after the events of Order 66.

Solo: A Star Wars Story - 13-10 BBY

Alden Ehrenreich and Chewbacca in Solo: A Star Wars Story
Alden Ehrenreich in the Hans Solo origin movie Solo: A Star Wars Story. (Disney/Lucasfilm)

In the ill-received Han Solo origin story Alden Ehrenreich plays a younger version of the smuggler in the decade before the events of the first Star Wars trilogy.

The film explores events like Han's first encounter with Chewbacca, how he came to own the Millenium Falcon and that famous Kessel Run.

Ewan McGregor in Disney+ series Obi-Wan Kenobi
Ewan McGregor reprised his role in Disney+ series Obi-Wan Kenobi. (Disney/Lucasfilm)

In this sequel to the prequel trilogy, McGregor returns as Obi-Wan in a story that sees the Jedi come out of hiding to protect Princess Leia (Vivien Lyra Blair) after she is kidnapped by bounty hunters.

The quest brings the character back into his former friend's orbit, and Obi-Wan and Darth Vader have epic lightsaber duels.

The characters of Star Wars: Rebels
Star Wars: Rebels leads into the events of Ahsoka. (Disney/Lucasfilm)

Another animated series that leads into the events of Ahsoka, Rebels is set during the Empire's reign and sees a group of plucky young rebels (led by Ezra Bridger) as they try to take down the Imperial forces.

It ends with an epic battle that saw Ezra transport himself and Empire leader Grand Admiral Thrawn into a distant galaxy.

Diego Luna as Cassian Andor in Andor
Diego Luna plays Cassian Andor in the Solo spin-off series. (Disney/Lucasfilm)

In the Disney+ follow-up to spin-off film Rogue One, viewers are taken back five years in Cassian Andor's (Diego Luna) life and shown how the character came to be part of the Rebellion.

Season one is set over the course of one year, while season two will chart the next four years in Andor's life up until the events of the movie.

Rogue One: A Star Wars Story - 0 BBY

Felicity Jones as Jyn Erso in Rogue One: A Star Wars Story
Felicity Jones played Jyn Erso in Rogue One: A Star Wars Story. (Disney/Lucasfilm)

The Battle of Yavin hinged on the success of one particular mission, the quest to get the plans to the Death Star so that Rebels knew how to destroy the planet killer.

Andor joined Jyn Erso (Felicity Jones) and a rag tag group of rebels who sacrificed themselves in order to save the galaxy.

Alec Guinness and Harrison Ford in Star Wars: Episode IV - A New Hope
A New Hope leads up to the Battle of Yavin. (Disney/Lucasfilm)

The very first Star Wars movie, as mentioned, leads up to the Battle of Yavin, but before that viewers were introduced to characters like Luke Skywalker, Princess Leia (Carrie Fisher) and Han Solo (Harrison Ford).

A New Hope sees Luke begin his journey to become a Jedi thanks to Obi-Wan Kenobi, while Leia implores the reclusive Jedi to help her get the Death Star plans into the hands of the Rebel forces.

Darth Vader and Luke Skywalker in The Empire Strikes Back
Darth Vader implores Luke to turn to the Dark Side of the Force. (Lucasfilm)

Following the destruction of the Death Star, Luke starts his training under the tutelage of Yoda in a bid to go up against Darth Vader once more.

Han is incased in carbonite and taken by Jabba the Hutt, while Luke and Darth Vader clash after the former leaves his Jedi training early and it is during their battle that Luke learns that the villain is his father.

Harrison Ford, Carrie Fisher and Mark Hamill on the set of Return of the Jedi
Return of the Jedi is the last film of the original trilogy. (Disney/Lucasfilm)

In the final film of the original trilogy the Rebels go up against Empire forces for the final time, they save Han only for Leia to be taken prisoner by Jabba the Hutt.

Han and Luke save Leia before facing the Empire in battle, and with the help of some cute yet deadly Ewoks they are able to take them down.

Din Djarin in The Mandalorian season 1
The Mandalorian season 1 was released in 2019. (Disney/Lucasfilm)

In Disney+'s first TV show set in the Star Wars universe viewers meet bounty hunter Din Djarin (Pedro Pascal), who is tasked with finding an important package which turns out to be Grogu (also known as Baby Yoda), but rather than give the child up the Mandalorian takes him and they go on the run.

Villain Moff Gideon (Giancarlo Esposito) thwarts them at multiple points in the story, in season 2 the pair fight him off with the help of several new friends, including Ahsoka, and Luke later comes to take Grogu to train as a Jedi.

Temuera Morrison and Ming-Na Wen in The Book of Boba Fett
Boba Fett takes on Tatooine's underworld in this Disney+ series. (Disney/Lucasfilm)

Bounty hunter Boba Fett was revealed to be alive in The Mandalorian, and in this spin-off series the character decides to take over Tatooine's underworld with the help of Fennec Shand (Ming-Na Wen).

In the show Din Djarin returns and takes Grogu back from Luke after the child chooses to remain with him rather than continue his Jedi training.

Grogu in The Mandalorian season 3
The Mandalorian season 3 arrived on Disney+ in 2023. (Disney/Lucasfilm)

The third season of The Mandalorian saw the titular character join forces with Bo-Katan Kryze (Katee Sackhoff) to help bring the remaining bounty hunter factions together and reclaim their home world of Mandalore.

Rosario Dawson and Natasha Liu Bordizzo in Ahsoka
Rosario Dawson (left) plays Ahsoka. (Disney/Lucasfilm)

Ahsoka follows its titular character (played by Rosario Dawson) as she goes out in search of a map leading to Grand Admiral Thrawn (Lars Mikkelsen), she wants to get to him before the Empire's remaining supporters can first and to do so she enlists the help of several Rebels characters.

Star Wars Resistance - 34-35 ABY

A scene from Star Wars Resistance
Star Wars Resistance follows a group of fighters who witness the rise of the First Order. (Disney/Lucasfilm)

Another animated series, Resistance follows a group of fighters who witness the rise of the First Order, the villainous group that have taken over from the Empire in the sequel trilogy.

Daisy Ridley and John Boyega in The Force Awakens
Daisy Ridley and John Boyega in The Force Awakens. (Disney/Lucasfilm)

The sequel trilogy began with The Force Awakens and it sees a force user, Rey (Daisy Ridley), be rescued from the desert and join resistance forces to fight against the First Order and destroy their base.

Rey, former stormtrooper Finn (John Boyega) and Poe Dameron (Oscar Isaac) team up with original characters Han Solo and Leia, now General. The couple also lament their son Ben, or Kylo Ren (Adam Driver), falling to the Dark Side, and Rey is tasked with finding a reclusive Luke Skywalker to save them.

Mark Hamill as Luke Skywalker in The Last Jedi
Mark Hamill as Luke Skywalker in The Last Jedi. (Disney/Lucasfilm)

In The Last Jedi, Rey meets with Luke who has hidden away after failing to stop Han and Leia's son from being tempted to the Dark Side.

Rey trains under his guidance to become a better Jedi while the New Republic forces try to survive an onslaught from the First Order, it all culminates in an epic showdown between Luke and Kylo Ren on Crait.

The Rise of Skywalker - 35 ABY

Daisy Ridley in a scene from Star Wars: Episode IX - The Rise of Skywalker
Rey learns she's Palpatine's granddaughter in The Rise of Skywalker. (Disney/Lucasfilm)

The final film in the sequel trilogy sees Rey come into her own as a Jedi as a dark force rises in the form of a resurrected Emperor Palpatine (who Darth Vader had seemingly killed in Return of the Jedi).

Rey learns she's Palpatine's granddaughter, Kylo Ren returns to the light, and Finn, Poe and other fighters take to the battlefield to take down the Sith's Final Order.

Daisy Ridley as Rey in Star Wars: The Last Jedi
Ridley will reprise her role for a new Rey movie. (Disney/Lucasfilm)

Rey will return in a forthcoming spin-off movie of the sequel trilogy. Not much is known about the story other than it is set 16 years after the events of The Rise of Skywalker.

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