The Surprising Percentage Of Star Wars Fans Who Think The Prequels Are The Best Trilogy

These days, Star Wars seems to be defined by two things: the unshakable devotion of a worldwide fanbase and the intense negative reactions to every move the franchise makes. It's a paradox. 

The divide between fans who love and hate the last two main entries in the series, The Last Jedi and The Rise of Skywalker, highlighted this, returning huge numbers at the box office but sparking heated disagreements between fans over Disney's handling of the Star Wars legacy. Even the universally beloved The Mandolorian became a flashpoint when Disney fired actress Gina Carano for making offensive comments online.

While the volume of fan criticism of the series may seem like it's never been louder, Star Wars has always inspired passionate responses from fans, and even though the more recent offerings have been divisive to say the least, most fans just can't hate the galaxy far, far away. An argument could be made for the first instance of Star Wars backlash occurring after The Return of the Jedi brought in a bunch of adorable teddy bears to overtake a division of trained stormtroopers, but things really came to a head when the prequel trilogy arrived. The Phantom Menace, released in 1999, was mocked upon release, and neither of its follow-ups, Attack of the Clones and Revenge of the Sith, ever really redeemed the trilogy.

With its mediocre legacy, it might be surprising to hear how many Star Wars fans consider the prequels to be the best of all the Star Wars films. We were certainly surprised. Looper polled 528 Star Wars fans, asking which Star Wars trilogy is really the best, and while you may be able to guess which trilogy came in first, the runner-up might surprise you.

Almost 12% of Star Wars fans think the prequel films are the best

By far and away, the majority of Star Wars fans prefer the original trilogy, with 80.3% of respondents indicating that the classic films are the best. Such a strong finish is almost entirely expected, as Star Wars: A New Hope is considered one of the best sci-fi films of all time, and The Empire Strikes Back has established itself as one of the best sequels ever made. While The Return of the Jedi and its Ewok commandos may get some flack, the film was still well-received upon its release and is an important part of the original story.

However, the surprising second-place finisher is the prequels, with 11.55% of survey-takers choosing the storyline that started with The Phantom Menace as the best trilogy. Considering the amount of disdain the prequels have received over the years, a second-place finish is unexpected. However, it's worth recalling that the films still did very well at the box office upon release, and the critical response at the time wasn't all bad. Robert Ebert, for one, called The Phantom Menace "an astonishing achievement in imaginative filmmaking." In addition, the films got steadily better and more mature as they went on, culminating in Revenge of the Sith, considered the best of the prequel trilogy.

That leaves the sequel films in third and last place, with only 8.14% of Star Wars fans choosing the final trilogy as their favorite. While The Force Awakens was mostly well-received, the second two films were controversial. The Last Jedi did well with critics, but sharply divided the fanbase (via Rotten Tomatoes). In contrast, The Rise of Skywalker tried to offer an olive branch to the fans, but failed to impress critics. The overall assessment might evolve, but as of right now, the prequel trilogy seems to be preferred by Star Wars fans — at least over Disney's sequels.