Historically, most television shows are standalone, with a show being able to be watched all the way through, season by season, without worrying about continuity. Even if a show got a sequel series of spin-off, what order you watched them in wasn't a big deal. Starting in the 21st century, however, television series have become more and more interconnected, where the plotlines of one series affect the plotlines of another series in intricate ways. Sometimes the sequel order is confusing or complicated, or two shows cross-over on a yearly basis and borrow each other's characters. In cases like these, it is helpful to have a watch order to help keep things straight.

With some of these universes as massive as they are, a good starting point and watch order isn't always simple to find, so I'm here to try and determine to perfect watch order for the best viewing experience. I am prioritizing story and cohesive flow over chronological order or release order. In general, I will try to let you watch an entire season of a show before jumping to another series, but there are some cases where this is not feasible, in which case I will go episode-by-episode with as much specificity for the shows and episodes as possible.

Watch Orders

The beloved Attack on Titan anime can be watched normally with no issue, but the series also comes with a few extra episodes called OVAs that take place in between its four seasons and add some extra depth to the characters. This watch order is going to focus on the location of the OVAs within the show, based on what makes for the best story.

Starting in 2005, classic series Doctor Who came back with a revival starring Christopher Eccleston and Billie Piper, with Russel T Davies running the show. While the main actors and showrunners have changed numerous times, the series continues having follow-ups to old plots all the way past its thirteenth season. In addition to the main seasons, Doctor Who has numerous specials and a number of spin-off series that expand on the supporting cast, which is where this watch order comes in, placing the specials and spin-offs in just the right place so nothing is missed.

Doctor Who's modern iteration has ran for so long that it's almost two separate shows. Having just finish its 60th Anniversary specials, Doctor Who starts fresh with Season 14, written by Russell T Davies and starring Ncuti Gatwa as the Fifteenth Doctor and Millie Gibson as his companion, Ruby Sunday. This is a great place to get started if you're getting into Doctor Who and want to watch the newest stuff.

Based on Akira Toriyama's Dragon Ball manga, this long-running franchise follows Goku as he grows from a comedic kid into a fighting machine, facing off against anything from terrorists to aliens to gods. While there are a lot of non-canon Dragon Ball features, this watch order will focus solely on the canon shows and films in the Dragon Ball franchise for the most accurate story.

DreamWorks Animation produced the first How to Train Your Dragon in 2011, following it up with two sequels in 2014 and 2019, respectively. That watch order is simple, just watch the three films in order. However, there are also various shorts and television shows that fit at various places in the timeline, so that's what I'll be focusing on here: the watch order for the whole franchise. Specifically, this order focuses on the story of Hiccup, Toothless and friends and ignores the spin-offs Rescue Riders and Nine Realms. Minor spoilers for the How to Train Your Dragon franchise.

Starting in 2019, Disney released a series of interconnected Star Wars shows that take place after the original trilogy, when the galaxy is ruled by the New Republic. These stories show how living in the New Republic works and currently center on Din Djarin and the Force-sensitive Grogu. This order will be updated as more shows are released. A prior knowledge of Star Wars, primarily about Mandalore and Boba Fett, will help contextualize and add extra depth to the saga, but it is enjoyable without it.

Guillermo del Toro started his Tales of Arcadia universe with Trollhunters in 2016 and ended it with Rise of the Titans in 2021. The story follows Jim Lake and his friends as they protect the town of Arcadia from evil trolls and eventually aliens and elemental giants, teaming up with the friendly trolls beneath Arcadia along the way. While there are numerous supplementary materials, I will be focusing on the animated series and movie as they form the best and most cohesive story. Mild spoilers for the Tales of Arcadia series.