Fate Anime Series & Movies Watch Order

Certainly one of the best-known franchises in the world of anime, the Fate series has been around for nearly two decades. The franchise stems from a visual novel, Fate/stay Night by Type-Moon, which was initially released as a game back in 2004, and this is where the chronology gets complicated.

Mainly, the light novel featured three different storylines, all of which featured the same characters and the same thesis, but all differed in the events that took place. These storylines will commonly be referred to as “routes” in most forum discussions, and may as well be considered some kind of alternative realities which deal with the same characters and the premise of a Holy Grail War. Each of the three storylines focuses on a different hero and servant.

These alternative routes are Fate, Unlimited Blade Works, and Heaven’s Feel. As these are quite popular titles in anime databases, we will shed some light on the most recommended watch order.

Fate series in release order:

  1. Fate/Stay Night (2006)
  2. Fate/Stay Night: Unlimited Blade Works (film, 2010)
  3. Fate/Zero (2011)
  4. Fate/Kaleid liner PRISMA☆ILLYA (2013)
  5. Fate/Kaleid liner PRISMA☆ILLYA 2wei! (2014)
  6. Fate/Stay Night: Unlimited Blade Works (2014)
  7. Fate/Kaleid liner PRISMA☆ILLYA 3rei!! (2016)
  8. Fate/Grand Order: First Order (film short, 2016)
  9. Fate/Apocrypha
  10. Fate/Kaleid liner PRISMA☆ILLYA: Vow in the Snow (film, 2017)
  11. Fate/Stay Night – Heaven’s Feel – I. Presage Flower (2017)
  12. FateFate/EXTRA Last Encore 
  13. Lord El-Melloi II’s Case Files A Gravekeeper, a Cat, and a Mage (special, 2018)
  14. Learning with Manga! Fate/Grand Order (special, 2018)
  15. Fate/Stay Night – Heaven’s Feel – II. Lost Butterfly (film, 2019)
  16. Lord El-Melloi II’s Case Files (2019)
  17. Fate/Grand Order – Absolute Demonic Front: Babylonia – Initial Iter (special, 2019)
  18. Fate/Grand Order – Absolute Demonic Front: Babylonia (2019)
  19. Fate/Stay Night – Heaven’s Feel – III. Spring Song (film, 2020)
  20. Fate/Grand Order Divine Realm of the Round Table: Camelot – Wandering; Agateram (film, 2020)
  21. Fate/Grand Order Divine Realm of the Round Table: Camelot – Paladin; Agateram (film, 2021)
  22. Fate/Grand Order: Final Singularity Grand Temple of Time: Solomon (film, 2021)
  23. Fate/Kaleid liner PRISMA☆ILLYA: Licht – The Nameless Girl (film, 2021)
  24. Lord El-Melloi II’s Case Files Special Episode – Waver, Reunion and the Magic Lantern (special, 2021)

Now, going back to what was initially mentioned regarding the original material, the sole decision that should be made before starting to watch the Fate series is whether to watch chronologically (plot-wise), or based on the order these stories were originally conjured. 

That being said, there are generally two choices: Fate/Stay Night and Fate/Zero.

Fate – recommended watch order

  1. Fate/Stay Night (2006)
  2. Fate/Zero (2011)
  3. Fate/Stay Night: Unlimited Blade Works (2014)
  4. Fate/Stay Night: Heaven’s Feel (2017 – 2019 – 2020)

As the original novel consists of 3 routes, and a prequel was made a couple of years later, hitting certain spoilers on the go is inevitable. That being said, we recommend that one should start with the very first anime adaptation in order to honor the original material, but then we would usher the viewers to watch the prequel (Fate/Zero) in order to get the best watching experience (due to the fact that the later animations feature certain things from it).

Other adaptations are stand-alone stories that are to be watched in whichever order one pleases, as long as these have been watched beforehand. 

Fate/Stay Night (2006)

MyAnimeList rating: 7.28

The very first anime adaptation, Fate/Stay Night, introduced the franchise to anime fans. The adaptation was done by studio Deen and is centred around Saber (a Servant) as its main heroine. This 24-episode-long anime lays out the concept of the Holy Grail War and the world in general, therefore this is technically an adaptation of the Fate route from the first novel (we say “technically” due to the fact that the anime actually mixes in certain bits from other routes). Hence, those who are new to the franchise are recommended to begin their journey here.

This is majorly due to the fact that the Fate route is the first one to be played in the original game, and its completion is obligatory if other routes are to be available.

RELATED: 15 Strongest Fate Servants Ranked (All the Anime)

However, considering the technical aspects, as well as the execution, those interested in the Fate series may be directed or drawn to watch Fate/Zero or Fate/stay Night Unlimited Blade Works first, and here is why.

Fate/Stay Night anime is majorly considered to be the weakest out of these three titles. The writing, character development, and the manner and pace in which the storyline unravels are significantly inferior to that of Fate/Zero, while Unlimited Blade Works attracts the viewers with its improved animation – especially its action sequences – and it could also be said that UBW is a more successful portrayal of the Fate/stay Night characters and the storyline that follows the Fifth Holy Grail War.

Fate/Zero (2011)

MyAnimeList rating (2nd season): 8.56

Written by Gen Urobuchi and illustrated by Akashi Takeuchi, the Japanese light novel Fate/Zero was published in 2006, meaning that this prequel was created 2 years after the original three routes in the Fate/stay Night novel. This story received an anime adaptation (by studio Ufotable) in 2011. It is set nearly ten years in the past (viewing from the perspective of the events depicted in the original novel) and it focuses on the Fourth Holy Grail War. 

This anime adaptation remains in the top 100 most popular on MyAnimeList and is henceforth frequently mentioned when speaking of the Fate series’ watch order, or the Fate franchise in general. Mainly, this being a prequel to Fate/stay Night, those who seek to honor the chronology of the plot itself (as it currently stands) may begin their journey with this anime. It is one of the best adaptations of the Fate storylines, and one of the most liked anime series overall. 

Its complex storyline and pace, in addition to the variety of characters with different ideologies and an incredible OST, made it one of the most intriguing and memorable anime series out there.

Arguably, many would say that the adaptation is based on a story that was created after the original novel assumes that its audience is already somewhat familiar with the concepts of the plot and the world itself. Thus, while Fate/Zero makes its viewers aware of the essential premise and concepts, it is not the source material of the franchise. Additionally, because the anime aired before the Unlimited Blade Works series and Heaven’s Feel movies, both of those titles feature certain references to the Fate/Zero anime, hence we recommend watching Fate/Zero before UBW and Heaven’s Feel.

Fate/Stay Night: Unlimited Blade Works (2014)

MyAnimeList rating: 8.19

Unlimited Blade Works is the 2nd route in the original novel. While the basic plot is the same as in Fate/stay Night, UBW centers around Rin Tohsaka and her Servant, Archer. This adaptation is sometimes regarded as a “remake”, similarly to how one is usually recommended to watch the 2011 Hunter x Hunter series instead of the first adaptation, but Fate/Stay Night is not the same as Fate/stay Night Unlimited Blade Works. This assumption most likely occurs due to the first adaptation mixing in the elements from the other routes.

RELATED: 15 Anime Like Fate Every Fan Needs to See

While there was a film adaptation in 2010, we would recommend watching the anime series that started airing in 2014. It showcases a far better animation style and fighting sequences, as well as provides a better insight into the story.

Fate/Stay Night: Heaven’s Feel (2017-2020)

MyAnimeList rating (Heaven’s Feel – III. Spring Song): 8.70

The final route in the original novel, Heaven’s Feel anime adaptation consists of 3 movies. This is the storyline that is meant to be played after the other 2, and is also widely recommended to be watched after Fate/Zero.

The story is notably darker than can be said for Fate/stay Night and Unlimited Blade Works, and it revolves around Shirou Emiya, as he commences his investigation of the previous Holy Grail War and its dark history. The movies were created by the studio Ufotable and have widely been received as some of the finest works within the franchise.

The route has been split into 3 parts, as 3 movies were made: Presage Flower (2017), Lost Butterfly (2019), and finally Spring Song (2020). These are to be watched in release order.  

Fate/Kaleid liner Prisma☆Illya (2013-2021)

MyAnimeList rating (Vow in the Snow): 7.94

This series is merely a spin-off of the Fate/stay Night visual novel. With a total of 5 installments (not counting the specials), out of which 2 are film adaptations, the anime is based on a manga series by Hiroshi Hiroyama and it features some of the characters from the original Fate series. 

The storyline focuses on Rin Tohsaka and Luviagelita Edelfelt, both members of the Mage’s Association, who are on a quest to retrieve seven Class Cards. Those medieval artifacts contain the life essence of the legendary Heroic Spirits. This mission quickly leads to a fallout between the two main heroines, and the powers they had been granted have now been passed onto Illyasviel von Einzbern and Miyu who then continue to search for the Class Cards.

In addition to this 10-episode-long anime, this series was given a sequel, (Fate/Kaleid liner PRISMA ILLYA 2wei! from 2014), two side-stories (Undoukai de Dance!, and Fate/Kaleid liner Prisma☆Illya Specials from 2014), and a collection of short animations aired in 2019 (Prisma☆Phantasm).

The franchise expanded even further the following year, receiving a number of side stories (2wei! Specials, Mahou Shoujo in Onsen Ryokou, 3rei!! Specials, Sekka no Chikai – Kuro Sakura no Heya, Licht – Namae no Nai Shoujo Mini Anime), as well as multiple other sequels: 

  1. Fate/Kaleid liner Prisma☆Illya 2wei Herz! (2015)
  2. Fate/Kaleid liner Prisma☆Illya 3rei!! (2016)
  3. Fate/Kaleid liner Prisma☆Illya Movie: Vow in the Snow (2017)
  4. Fate/Kaleid liner Prisma☆Illya Movie: Licht – Nameless Girl (2021)

Fate/Grand Order (2016-2021)

MyAnimeList rating (Absolute Demonic Front: Babylonia): 7.94

Set slightly over a decade after the Fifth Holy Grail War, this series’ first anime adaptation from 2016 (Fate/Grand Order: First Order) is based on the prologue chapter of the Fate/Grand Order mobile game. While introducing new characters, the series also features some of the iconic characters of the Fate franchise (Saber and Archer, to name a couple). 

As this adaptation is mostly meant to advertise and further popularise the game, it seems almost needless to say that it is lacking in everything that made the previously covered series obtain such an esteemed reputation.

However, as the franchise continued to develop further, there seems to have been more focus placed on the storyline and the execution, hence we ended up with (in prequels to sequels watch order):

  1. Fate/Grand Order – Absolute Demonic Front: Babylonia – Initial Iter (special, 2019)
  2. Fate/Grand Order Divine Realm of the Round Table: Camelot – Wandering; Agateram (film, an adaptation of the Sixth Holy Grail War from 2020)
  3. Fate/Grand Order Divine Realm of the Round Table: Camelot 2 – Paladin; Agateram (film, the sequel to Camelot – Wandering from 2021)
  4. Fate/Grand Order: Absolute Demonic Front: Babylonia (2019-2020)
  5. Fate/Grand Order: Final Singularity Grand Temple of Time: Solomon (film, 2021)

Fate Apocrypha (2017)

MyAnimeList rating: 7.18

Another one in the line of stand-alone series, Fate/Apocrypha is a 25-episode-long anime series that focuses on events taking place years after the Third Holy Grail War. Introducing new characters, while also featuring the well-known Servant, Saber, it follows a conflict between the magi clan Yggdmillennia and the Mage’s Association, both of which seek the Holy Grail.

RELATED: 33 Best Anime of All Time

Therefore, the Holy War commenced by taking a peculiar form, as each party sent seven pairs of Masters and their Servants in order to obtain the sacred artifact. 

Fate/EXTRA Last Encore  (2018)

MyAnimeList rating: 6.28

This anime is an adaptation of the manga of the same name, which consists of 6 volumes comprised of 41 chapters. The futuristic take creates a completely different environment, where an artificial world has been created for the purpose of serving as a setting for the Holy Grail War.

The main hero, Hakuno Kishinami, summons his Servant, Saber, and is forced to fight for survival, while discovering the secrets of this artificial world as he travels to Moon Cell’s core.

The anime later had a 3 episode long sequel: Fate/Extra: Last Encore – Illustrias Tendousetsu (2018).

Additional Series

Lord El-Melloi II’s Case Files (2018-2021)

MyAnimeList rating (Rail Zeppelin Grace Note): 7.38

The special episode aired under this title gave insight into some of the family ties and associations involved in the story of the Fourth Holy Grail War, as it takes place between the Fourth and the Fifth War. It also served as an introduction to the Case Files anime series, where we follow Waver Velvet as he teaches classes at the Clock Tower after having become Lord El Melloi II. The sequel was a 13-episode-long anime series that aired in 2019, titled Lord El-Melloi II Sei no Jikenbo: Rail Zeppelin Grace Note.

The series was also given a side story in 2021, titled Lord El-Melloi II’s Case Files: Rail Zeppelin Grace Note – Waver, Reunion, and the Magic Lantern, in which Lord El Melloi explores the reasoning behind his transformation into a decade younger version of himself.

Fate/Prototype (2011)

MyAnimeList rating: 6.65

This stand-alone OVA episode was animated by studio Lerche and aired in 2011. The storyline is based on Kinoko Nasu’s initial concept for Fate/stay night, set 8 years after the First Holy Grail War. 

  • She’s a passionate film, anime and book lover who also enjoys writing stories and poems of her own, sketching some of her favourite scenes and characters, and playing story-driven or idle single-player games.