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This Is The Correct Order In Which To Watch The Harry Potter Movies

It seems like such a long time ago that the "Harry Potter" series first made it to the big screen back in 2001. Stars Daniel Radcliffe, Emma Watson, and Rupert Grint were still just kids back then, and the series had yet to achieve the gargantuan popularity it would muster a few years after the first movie's release. Seven more movies followed over the next 10 years, culminating in "Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2" in 2011.

Starting in 2016, a new saga entered the cinematic Wizarding World: the "Fantastic Beasts" series. This was kicked off with "Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them," which was promptly followed up by two sequels: "Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald" and "Fantastic Beasts: The Secrets of Dumbledore." The cast of the "Fantastic Beasts" series is completely separate, and includes Eddie Redmayne, Jude Law, Mads Mikkelsen, and Katherine Waterston. 

So how do the "Fantastic Beasts" and "Harry Potter" movies fit together within the Wizarding World canon? Which ones are prequels? Which ones are sequels? Are they happening at the same time? Read on to find out the correct order in which to watch these magical movies.

Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them

Chronologically, the first entry in the entire "Harry Potter" franchise is "Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them." This movie follows Newton "Newt" Scamander (Eddie Redmayne) as he arrives in New York City in 1926. Audiences are swiftly introduced to the majority of the "Fantastic Beasts" series' characters, including sisters Tina and Queenie Goldstein (Katherine Waterston, Alison Sudol), conflicted Credence Barebone (Ezra Miller), and no-maj (aka non magical) baker Jacob Kowalski (Dan Fogler). 

We learn a few important things about these characters in the first "Fantastic Beasts" movie, and see them embark on various journeys. Tina and Newt begin a budding relationship, though they're reluctant to pursue it. Newt has a lot going on, as a collector of mysterious and sometimes highly dangerous magical animals that he keeps in his briefcase. He deeply cares about these complex creatures, and also has clear problems with authority. Tina, for her part, is busy working for the Magical Congress of the United States.

Another important thing we learn in this movie is that Newt has a close relationship with powerful wizard Albus Dumbledore, who partially orchestrates Newt's trip to New York. We are also briefly introduced to sinister wizard Gellert Grindelwald (Johnny Depp), who is trying to manipulate Credence into becoming a practitioner of the dark arts. As Credence is a young wizard who struggles to control his powers, he's easy prey for the ambitious villain.

Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald

The next film in the series is "Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald," which serves as a direct sequel to "Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them." In this movie, Gellert Grindelwald takes center stage as one of the main characters. Tina Goldstein and Newt Scamander's relationship progresses over the course of the film, though they never actually make things official. The same cannot be said for Jacob Kowalski and Queenie Goldstein, who enjoy a serious romantic relationship ... until it gets corrupted by Grindelwald.

Even more importantly, "Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald" furthers the relationship between Grindelwald and Credence Barebone, which serves as the plot's main driver. After enduring an identity crisis, Credence learns he's related to Albus Dumbledore, one of the greatest wizards of all time. To compound things even further, we learn that Dumbledore and Grindelwald previously entered into a blood pact, which saw them swear to never duel each other. This stops Dumbledore from fighting the increasingly potent dark wizard.

New characters introduced in "Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald" include Nagini (Claudia Kim), who turns into a snake on a nightly basis, and Yusuf Kama (William Nadylam), a wizard dedicated to tracking Credence down for mysterious reasons. Theseus Scamander (Callum Turner), Newt's elder brother, also makes his debut.

Fantastic Beasts: The Secrets of Dumbledore

The final movie in the "Fantastic Beasts" series is "Fantastic Beasts: The Secrets of Dumbledore." It kicks off in an intense way, by revealing Gellert Grindelwald (now played by Mads Mikkelsen) and Albus Dumbledore's previous romance. Their relationship has since gone astray, which ends up having major consequences for the magical world.

Interestingly, this movie does not close out either Grindelwald's storyline or that of Credence Barebone, now revealed to be Credence Dumbledore. This leaves room for more sequels in the future. However, the film does contain many stand-alone arcs and story moments. One of the most important things it does is clearly establish the prominence and prestige of Albus Dumbledore, whose legendary reputation is seen from an entirely new angle. Here, he's just as brilliant and skilled, but mired in entirely different conflicts from the ones he faces in the "Harry Potter" movies.

For the most part, the "Fantastic Beasts" series stands on its own. There are obviously many carry-over elements between it and the "Harry Potter" movies, but the actual storyline isn't all that closely connected. However, it still makes the most sense to watch the "Fantastic Beasts" series first. Not only is it a canonically earlier storyline, it offers vivid backstories for many characters who later figure in the "Harry Potter" series.

Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone

The next movie to watch is "Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone," which takes place long after the events of the "Fantastic Beasts" films. This flick served as the original cinematic introduction to the Wizarding World back in 2001, but within the current Wizarding World canon, it is the fourth film to watch. Any potential sequels to "Fantastic Beasts: The Secrets of Dumbledore" will likely slot in before this movie, but as of now, there are none. 

"Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone" acquaints the audience with most of the major characters of the Wizarding World franchise, almost none of whom — besides Albus Dumbledore (Richard Harris) — appear in the "Fantastic Beasts" series. These new characters include Harry Potter (Daniel Radcliffe) himself, his friends Hermione Granger (Emma Watson) and Ron Weasley (Rupert Grint), the Weasley family, and the teachers and students of Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. 

Both Dumbledore and Hogwarts make appearances in the "Fantastic Beasts" series, but they're very different in the "Harry Potter" films. Dumbledore is much older, now sporting white hair and a flowing beard, and is headmaster of Hogwarts, rather than its Defense Against the Dark Arts teacher. Another carry-over is Nicolas Flamel, an alchemist who briefly appears in "Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald" and is the creator of the titular stone. This movie also introduces us to Lord Voldemort (Richard Bremmer), the main villain of the series.

Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets

The next film to watch is the direct sequel to "Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone," "Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets." This movie furthers the storyline by shedding light on Voldemort's school days. We learn that Voldemort was once Tom Marvolo Riddle (Christian Coulson), a brilliant Hogwarts student with immense promise. He attended school alongside a young Rubeus Hagrid (Robbie Coltrane), and was responsible for the latter boy's incomplete education: Riddle framed Hagrid for opening the Chamber of Secrets, which led to Hagrid's expulsion.

In the modern day, the Chamber of Secrets is opened once more, and most people think Harry's behind it. But in fact, Lucius Malfoy (Jason Isaacs) is responsible for setting these events in motion. This makes the cruelty of Voldemort's followers all the more clear: While the Malfoys are shown to be duplicitous in the first "Harry Potter" movie, here, they manipulate young Ginny Weasley into doing their dirty work. 

Most of the main cast appears in this film, minus a few professors and students. There are also some new additions to the character list, including Gilderoy Lockhart (Kenneth Branagh), who briefly serves as Defense Against the Dark Arts professor, Moaning Myrtle (Shirley Henderson), a ghost who haunts the girls' bathroom, Aragog (Julian Glover), a giant spider, and Dobby (Toby Jones) the House-elf.

Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban

Next up is "Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban." In this film, the battle between Harry and Lord Voldemort is largely put on hold in favor of exploring Harry's family history. The most climactic element that "Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban" introduces is Sirius Black (Gary Oldman), the titular inmate of the Wizarding World's most infamous prison and Harry's godfather. Remus Lupin (David Thewlis), Harry's new Defense Against the Dark Arts teacher, is a close second.

Sirius used to be good friends with Harry's parents, Remus, and Peter Pettigrew (Timothy Spall). But everything fell apart when Sirius allegedly sold Harry's parents out to Voldemort and brutally murdered Peter and a number of innocent bystanders. But in fact, Peter is the real betrayer. He faked his own death, framed Sirius, and proceeded to disguise himself as Scabbers, Ron's pet rat, for more than a decade. He's not the only person who can turn into an animal, either: Sirius and James, Harry's dad, are also revealed as Animagi, while Remus is revealed to be a werewolf.

Other important elements introduced in this film include dementors, dark creatures that suck out wizards' souls, and Professor Trelawney (Emma Thompson), the school's Divination teacher. "Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban" also marks the first appearance of the village of Hogsmeade, which older students are allowed to visit for recreation, as well as the Marauders' Map, which shows the location of everyone inside Hogwarts.

Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire

"Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire" is the fourth movie in the "Harry Potter" series. After the previous film's brief respite, the battle between Harry and Lord Voldemort reaches epic new proportions. Voldemort (Ralph Fiennes) has been slowly regaining his powers, and in this film, he and Harry finally meet face-to-face. This conflict culminates in the death of Harry's schoolmate, Cedric Diggory (Robert Pattinson), and a brutal battle in a graveyard.

There are many new characters introduced in "Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire," as the main plot involves an international wizarding tournament held at Hogwarts. The most important are Bulgarian Quidditch player Viktor Krum (Stanislav Ianevski), French witch Fleur Delacour (Clémence Poésy), the mysterious Barty Crouch Jr. (David Tennant), and Defense Against the Dark Arts teacher Alastor "Mad-Eye" Moody (Brendan Gleeson).

In addition to furthering the conflict between Harry and Voldemort, this movie also sheds light on the era preceding Voldemort's first downfall. The Dark Lord regains his body in the movie's climax, and summons his fiendish Death Eaters to his side. For the first time, viewers get a full glimpse of the evil that menaced the Wizarding World, before an infant Harry brought it to a temporary end.

Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix

"Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix," the next installment in the series, is incredibly important to the Wizarding World's canon. This is because it establishes that the connection between Harry and Voldemort is deeper than viewers previously understood. The two wizards are bound together by a prophecy, which declares that one must die at the other's hand. While dealing with this, Harry also develops his first real romantic relationship with fellow Hogwarts student Cho Chang (Katie Leung).

"Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix" also explores the history between Professor Severus Snape (Alan Rickman) and Harry's parents. To his horror, Harry learns that James Potter brutally bullied Snape. Viewers already knew that Snape hated James, but this anger could be written off as a product of Snape's nasty attitude prior to this revelation. From here on out, however, fans must reckon with the fact that Snape has good reason to dislike Harry's dad.

Notably, this movie explores the magical phenomenon of legilimency, the ability to read minds, which is explored in the "Fantastic Beasts" series. Several new characters are also introduced, including fearless Auror Nymphadora Tonks (Natalia Tena) and top Death Eater Bellatrix Lestrange (Helena Bonham Carter).

Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince

Next on our list is "Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince." This explosive movie explores Voldemort's past and present like never before. Following his actions in "Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix," the Dark Lord is completely free and actively building up his legion of Death Eaters.  Back at Hogwarts, Harry and Dumbledore plumb the depths of Voldemort's past through the headmaster's magical Pensieve.

Crucially, "Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince" establishes the existence of Horcruxes. These are objects in which a wizard has concealed part of his soul. Harry and Dumbledore conclude that Voldemort has multiple Horcruxes, which effectively make him immortal. Tragically, their deductions lead them into a climactic battle with the Death Eaters, who are being lead by Professor Snape. With one simple curse, Snape kills Dumbledore.

While this movie does introduce a few new characters like Defense Against the Dark Arts professor Horace Slughorn (Jim Broadbent) and various Death Eaters, by this point, the majority of main characters have been thoroughly established. Major shake-ups do occur, however, including the beginning of Harry's relationship with Ginny Weasley (Bonnie Wright). This bond becomes very important in the following two movies.

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 1

The ultimate climax of the "Harry Potter" saga begins in "Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 1." The story hits the ground running as Harry, Hermione, and Ron embark on a hunt for the Horcruxes. If they can find and destroy them, they'll be able to take down Voldemort once and for all. But Voldemort has hidden his Horcruxes well, and gains more and more power as the weeks grind on. Soon, our heroes face dangers from all sides.

"Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 1" contains the most significant connection between the "Harry Potter" and "Fantastic Beasts" series: the presence of Gellert Grindelwald. Here, the villain is revealed to have once possessed the Elder Wand, a powerful item Voldemort covets and one of the Deathly Hallows. He is seen as a teenager (Jamie Campbell Bower) and as an imprisoned old man (Michael Byrne). Voldemort winds up killing him, bringing the complex villain's story to a brutal end. Nagini, another character from the "Fantastic Beasts" movies, is also prominently featured. Now living as Voldemort's pet snake, she is revealed to be one of his Horcruxes. For fans who know her backstory, courtesy of the other Wizarding World film series, this is a truly tragic development.

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2

The final movie in the Wizarding World canon is "Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2." This film brings closure to most of the series' outstanding questions, and sees Harry and Voldemort's long battle finally come to an end. Harry is able to defeat his enemy by successfully destroying his Horcruxes and mastering the Elder Wand, freeing the Wizarding World from the Dark Lord's tyranny at long last. This requires Harry to embrace his own (temporary) death, as he himself turns out to be one of Voldemort's Horcruxes.

This final film also wraps up many of the series' different relationships. Hermione and Ron finally embark on a romantic relationship, while Harry and Ginny resume their own. Additionally, Severus Snape is revealed to have been working on the side of the angels the entire time. An undercover double agent, he reveals his love for Harry's mother with his dying breath. Harry pays tribute to him (and Dumbledore) by naming his son Albus Severus.

Notably, "Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2" features a stirring epilogue. The final scene takes place years in the future, where Harry, Ron, Hermione, and Ginny are married adults. They are shown seeing their kids off to Hogwarts, within a world that is safe and at peace.