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The ‘Star Wars’ timeline is confusing. Here’s when ‘The Acolyte,’ ‘Ahsoka’ and more take place

The ‘Star Wars’ timeline is confusing. Here’s when ‘The Acolyte,’ ‘Ahsoka’ and more take place
File photo of Darth Vader from 1977's "Star Wars." (Lucasfilm/Fox/Kobal/Shutterstock via CNN)

(CNN) — The “Star Wars” galaxy is ever-expanding. In the last year, we’ve gotten new tales of a beloved former Jedi, an animated look at the aftermath of Order 66 and a teased return of Rey Skywalker.

The problem? All the stories take place at different points of time in the galaxy far, far away. “The Mandalorian” is set between the original film trilogy and the latest sequels. “Andor” is a prequel to “Rogue One,” itself a prequel to “A New Hope.” And the forthcoming Disney+ series “The Acolyte” takes place hundreds of years before the Skywalker saga.

Worry not, padawans: CNN has laid out a comprehensive timeline of the “Star Wars” canon so you can follow all of the franchise’s time-jumps without getting lost in space.

These details are pulled from the official “Star Wars” resources “Ultimate Star Wars” and “Star Wars Character Encyclopedia,” as well as a chart of the eras explored througstrhout the franchise. Omitted from this timeline are anthology series like “Star Wars Visions” and “Tales of the Empire.”

Many “Star Wars” diehards mark the passage of time in the galaxy by the Battle of Yavin, the fateful fight in “A New Hope” in which the first iteration of the Death Star is destroyed. “The Phantom Menace” takes place more than 30 years before this battle. But for “Star Wars” fans who are still working out the differences between the Republic, the Rebellion and the Resistance, we’ll measure in plain old Earth time.

The prequels

‘Episode I: The Phantom Menace’

The Skywalker saga begins! Anakin Skywalker is around 9 years old when we meet him in the first prequel film. Obi-Wan Kenobi is a Padawan to Jedi Master Qui-Gon Jin, who’s obsessed with young Anakin’s off-the-charts midi-chlorian count. Darth Maul, pupil of Sith double agent Senator Palpatine/Darth Sidious, kills Qui-Gon and is cut in half by Obi-Wan (though he appears in animated series and cameos in “Solo” with mechanical spider legs). Anakin also meets the teenage queen of Naboo, Padmé Amidala, with whom he falls in love.

‘Episode II: Attack of the Clones’

If Anakin is 9 when we meet him in ‘The Phantom Menace,” then “Attack of the Clones” takes place around a decade later, according to USA Today. Our hero has grown up into a whiny, troublemaking teenager who tends to break rules (like marrying Padmé, now a galactic senator) and generally irritate his Jedi Master, Obi-Wan, who loves him like a pesky younger brother. The Republic is starting to crumble under the influence of separatists like Count Dooku, a former Jedi turned Sith, and the Republic makes use of a Clone army to keep the galaxy together (for a short while).

‘Star Wars: The Clone Wars’ (animated series)

This animated series is mostly set between “Attack of the Clones” and “Revenge of the Sith” (during which about three years pass). This series ends at the same time “Revenge of the Sith” does — fan-favorite heroine Ahsoka Tano leaves the Jedi Order and barely escapes Order 66, the command that turns nearly every clone in the galaxy to Darth Sidious’ side thanks to chips implanted in their skulls.

‘Episode III: Revenge of the Sith’

So, that Clone Army? Yeah, it didn’t take long for them to turn on the Jedi — about three years after “Attack of the Clones,” or as long as it takes Anakin to grow out his hair. In this dark installment, Sidious executes Order 66 and snuffs out almost all Jedi. Anakin commits to the Dark Side full-time, adopting the moniker Darth Vader. Padmé dies shortly after giving birth to twins, Luke and Leia, who are separated and kept secret from Vader. Palpatine/Sidious is now emperor, and the Empire’s reign begins.

In between ‘Episodes III’ and ‘IV’

Several of Disney’s most recent “Star Wars” series take place in between “Revenge of the Sith” and “A New Hope,” when the Empire runs the galaxy with an iron fist and surviving Jedi live in hiding.

‘The Bad Batch’

This animated series takes place in the immediate aftermath of Order 66, impacting nearly every clone except for the members of the “Bad Batch,” rogues whose quirks separate them from the rest of the clones — one is a tech wiz, another is a hulking strongman, yet another is a young girl. Unlike the rest of the clone army, the chips in their brains malfunctioned so they didn’t blindly start murdering Jedi under Sidious’ command – and their individuality makes them targets of the Empire.

‘Solo: A Star Wars Story’

We meet the beloved scoundrel Han Solo as a teen in “Solo,” initially as an orphan trained to pilfer. Thrillist surmised that “Solo” must take place about eight or nine years after “Revenge of the Sith,” since Han is a few years older than Luke and Leia, and would have needed time to develop galaxy-wide infamy. We also, crucially, meet Han’s cape-loving frenemy, Lando Calrissian.

‘Obi-Wan Kenobi’

About a decade has passed since the events of “Revenge of the Sith”: Luke and Leia are around 10 years old; Darth Vader employs Force-sensitive Inquisitors to hunt Obi-Wan; and our favorite Jedi Master is floundering on Tatooine. Bail Organa tasks Obi-Wan with recovering Leia, his adopted daughter, and the young princess finally meets the Jedi master she’ll call upon at the beginning of “A New Hope.” This reignites Obi-Wan’s hope in the Skywalker children and the future of the galaxy they’ll inherit.

‘Star Wars Rebels’

A ragtag team of former Jedi, a Mandalorian native, a rambunctious droid and top-notch pilots make up some of the first members of the fledgling rebellion. Their animated adventures take place about 14 years after the events of the “Clone Wars” series, per Den of Geek, and conclude just before “A New Hope” begins.


This series introduces the “Rogue One” rebel Cassian Andor when he was still a nonbeliever. But over the course of the season, set about 14 years after “Revenge of the Sith” and around five years before “Rogue One,” per the AV Club, we witness Andor’s radicalization as he becomes a leader of the rebellion. We also see Mon Mothma use her position as a wealthy senator to cover her secret funding of the rebellion’s efforts.

‘Rogue One: A Star Wars Story’

The action of “Rogue One” takes place in the weeks leading up to “A New Hope.” In it, Jyn Erso, whose father was forced by the Empire to develop the Death Star, joins the Rebellion in an effort to retrieve the plans to eventually destroy the Death Star. Along with Cassian Andor, the droid K-2SO and an Imperial pilot turncoat, Jyn dies but successfully sends the plans to the Rebel fleet. “Rogue One” ends just moments after Darth Vader boards Princess Leia’s ship and the Alderanean adoptee records her fateful message to Obi-Wan, delivered by R2-D2.

The original trilogy

The films that started it all, these three are situated smack-dab in the middle of the Skywalker saga, starring Anakin and Padmé’s kids.

‘Episode IV: A New Hope’

Many “Star Wars” fans believe Luke and Leia are around 19 during “A New Hope,” meaning the film takes place nearly two decades after “Revenge of the Sith.” Luke is called to adventure on Tatooine after the droid R2-D2, formerly part of Luke’s late mother’s Naboo crew, transmits a message for Obi-Wan (or Old Ben, as he’s called by Luke and others). Vader defeats Obi-Wan — or does he? — and the Rebels destroy the Death Star in the Battle of Yavin.

‘Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back’

About three years after “A New Hope,” per USA Today, Luke begins his Jedi training on Dagobah with a batty old Yoda. Lando double-crosses Han, who winds up frozen in carbonite. And Luke faces off against Darth Vader, during which he loses a hand and learns that the Sith Lord is, in fact, his father. Yikes!

‘Episode VI: Return of the Jedi’

And one year after Luke gets his hand sliced off, Leia and Han escape the clutches of Jabba the Hutt. Yoda, at the ripe age of 900, finally dies. And Vader kills Sidious and redeems himself shortly before dying and earning Luke’s respect. The film ends on the Forest Moon of Endor, where our heroes (and an army of Ewoks) defeat the Empire once and for all.

Between ‘Episode VI’ and ‘Episode VII’

At least three Disney+ series are set in the previously unexplored time period of the post-Empire, pre-First Order galaxy.

‘The Mandalorian’

When we meet Mando and Grogu, the New Republic is technically leading the Galaxy after the Empire’s defeat in the Battle of Endor. But we soon learn how lawless much of the galaxy, particularly the Outer Rim, remains. And while the New Republic’s bureaucratic progress moves at a glacial pace, former imperials are forming a new evil superpower — a fascist government that will eventually become the First Order and take over the galaxy.

‘The Book of Boba Fett’

This miniseries about the once-inept bounty hunter flitted back and forth through time, from the period after Boba escaped the Sarlacc pit in “Return of the Jedi” to Din Jarin’s adventures in “The Mandalorian.” It’s also in this series that we see Grogu training with Luke and Ahsoka before abandoning his studies to rejoin his adopted dad. Boba, meanwhile, fills the power vacuum left by Jabba the Hutt.


This series, which premiered last August, takes place around the same time as “The Mandalorian,” or around five years after the end of “Return of the Jedi,” according to Rotten Tomatoes. It stars many live-action versions of characters from “Star Wars Rebels,” like Sabine Wren, Ezra Bridger, Hera Syndulla and the feared Grand Admiral Thrawn.

The Skywalker saga sequels

The final three films in the Skywalker saga (for now, that is) take place in a tighter period of time than its predecessors: According to USA Today, all of them take place within the same year. That means, within that time, Rey connects with the Force, Kylo Ren becomes Supreme Leader, Darth Sidious returns, the First Order is soundly defeated and Han, Luke and Leia die. Phew!

‘Episode VII: The Force Awakens’

About 30 years have passed since the Battle of Endor, per USA Today. Leia, now a general with the Resistance, and Han have a son, Kylo Ren, whom many fans believe is not yet 30 years old when we meet him. According to the “Star Wars Character Encyclopedia,” Rey, an enterprising orphan on the desert planet Jakku, is 19, the same age as Luke in “A New Hope.” After she befriends former stormtrooper Finn and discovers her Force sensitivity, she faces Kylo, who kills his father.

‘Episode VIII: The Last Jedi’

“The Last Jedi” begins moments after the end of “The Force Awakens,” when Rey finds Luke on the island planet Ahch-To and he promptly tosses his lightsaber. He reveals that he took on a teenage Kylo Ren, his nephew, as a tutee. That ended poorly. Kylo absconded with some of Luke’s other pupils and killed the rest, destroying Luke’s hope in the future of the Jedi. Luke dies at the end of the film, Leia leads a small Rebel cell to safety and Kylo kills Snoke, the series’ villainous MacGuffin, to save Rey.

‘Episode IX: The Rise of Skywalker’

The final chapter of the Skywalker saga sees the surviving Skywalkers die: Leia passes in peace and Kylo sacrifices himself for Rey. Oh, and the clone of Emperor Palpatine (who somehow returned) dies, too, or so we’re led to believe. Rey, who’s told by the zombified Sith Lord that she’s a Palpatine, too, adopts the Skywalker name.

Upcoming projects

There are a few new “Star Wars” films and series in the works. One film covers the dawn of the Jedi and another will tie up the various storylines started in “The Mandalorian” and “Ahsoka,” and Jude Law will star in a show called “Skeleton Crew.” Details are slim, but Lucasfilm has thrown us a few bones.

‘Skeleton Crew’

Jude Law and Kerry Condon anchor this series that otherwise stars all children. We don’t know much about it, including when and where it’s set, but Variety recently described it as a “family-friendly galactic spinoff,” and Entertainment Weekly referenced “The Goonies” in describing its tone. So it’s a kid-led adventure — but is Law good, bad or neither?

‘The Acolyte’

This mysterious series, set to debut in June, will follow “a respected Jedi Master” who faces off against a “dangerous warrior from his past.” Per the trailer, “Squid Game’s” Lee Jung-jae might play that Jedi Master, and Amandla Stenberg might play his dangerous rival. Showrunner Leslye Headland revealed that the series takes place about 100 years before the events of “Phantom Menace.”

‘Star Wars: Dawn of the Jedi’

And you thought “The Acolyte” was set long ago. James Mangold, who directed the latest “Indiana Jones” installment, is set to helm a “Star Wars” film set 25,000 years before Luke and Leia came on the scene.

Mando and Ahsoka team-up film

Dave Filoni, who created “Ahsoka” and “Star Wars Rebels” and produced “The Mandalorian,” will direct a film that ties up loose ends from the various Disney+ series. This must mean it takes place when they all end, a few years before we meet Rey and the gang from the sequels, right? Finally, Grogu gets his shot on the big screen!

Untitled Rey film

Rey returns! Daisy Ridley will reprise her role in an upcoming film that sees her trying to rebuild the Jedi Order about 15 years after “The Rise of Skywalker,” per Variety. Here’s hoping we see much more of that yellow lightsaber.

™ & © 2024 Cable News Network, Inc., a Warner Bros. Discovery Company. All rights reserved.


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