In What Order Were the Star Wars Movies Released? (Mania.com)
Source: The official "Star Wars" movie homepage.
OverviewGeorge Lucas conceived of "Star Wars" as a grand, universe-spanning epic, but even he didn't believe the films would become so popular. When making his first movie, he told a more-or-less self-contained story which took place in the middle of the overall story arc. As a consequence, the six-episode saga was released back to front: parts four through six first and parts one through three after that.
Episode IVWhen "Star Wars" was released in 1977, it had no episode title attached to it. It became "Episode IV" only upon its re-release, after "The Empire Strikes Back" had come out.
Episode V"Empire" raised eyebrows when it was released in 1980. Instead of "Star Wars II," it was titled "Episode V."
Episode VIWith the order more or less in place, "Episode VI, Return of the Jedi" followed apace in 1983.
Episode IThe episode numbers of the original "Star Wars" trilogy prompted rampant speculation about the three chapters preceding them. Lucas answered in 1999 with the release of "Episode I, The Phantom Menace."
Episode IILucas followed "The Phantom Menace" with Episode II, "Attack of the Clones," in 2002.
Episode IIIEpisode III, "Revenge of the Sith," appeared in 2005. Lucas claimed that it was the completion of the saga, though rumors of Episodes VII through IX continue to circulate.