The character of Indiana Jones is one of the most popular characters in the history of television. The adventurous, unbelievable, supernatural, and mysterious character, Harrison Ford stars as Dr. Henry Walten Indiana Jones Jr. If you are wondering how many Indiana Jones movies are there or what is their watch order you’ve come to the right place.
How Many Indiana Jones Movies Are There?
There are four Indiana Jones movies. There is also a series about the life and adventures of a younger Indiana Jones, called “The Young Indiana Jones Chronicles”. The series ran for more than a year before the producers canceled it.
Indiana Jones Movies by Release Date
Here’s a list of all the Indiana Jones movies by release date:
- Raiders of the Lost Ark (June 12, 1981)
- Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom (May 8, 1984)
- Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade (May 24, 1989)
- The Young Indiana Jones Chronicles (March 4, 1992 –; July 24, 1993)
- Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull (May 20, 2008)
Indiana Jones Movies in Chronological Order
Watching your favorite archeologist make discoveries and have adventures all the while toting a bullwhip never gets old. Still, it would be best to keep in mind that it is not best to watch the Indiana Jones movies by order of release.
Although all the movies are about Indy’s adventures, there is a timeline break. Also, the second installment in the franchise is a prequel to the first. So the events of the second movie occurred before those of the first.
As such, I’ve prepared a list of the movies in chronological order:
- The Young Indiana Jones Chronicles
- Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom
- Raiders of the Lost Ark
- Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade
- Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull
Thus, chronologically, it’s best to start with the second movie.
1. The Young Indiana Jones Chronicles (March 4, 1992 –; July 24, 1993)
Following the remarkable success of the Indiana Jones franchise, the first installment was the highest-grossing film of 1981. Therefore, the creators embraced the idea of a spinoff series, and young Indiana Jones was born.
The Young Indiana Jones Chronicles ran on ABC from the 4th of March, 1992 until the 24th of July, 1993.
The show explores the life, time, and boyhood adventures of the most incredible action hero of all time, Indiana Jones.
The Young Indiana Jones Chronicles, which had two seasons and twenty-two episodes, was canceled because of its large budget and low viewership ratings. Unlike the franchise, viewers didn’t seem very interested in Indiana’s youthful adventures.
First of all, the show always begins with a message from the now-grown Dr. Indiana Jones before launching into tales of his childhood experiences. Thus, he makes use of the present circumstances to tell a story about his young self.
As expected, the stories go back to when he was ten years old and on a world tour with his father, traveling the world. It also talks of him meeting some of the most important figures of the 20th century and participating in the events that shaped history. Additionally, about fighting in the war.
Indeed, it is not just Dr. Jones that loves adventure and discovery. Young Indy was the same as well.
2. Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom (1984)
Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom is a prequel to Raiders of the Lost Ark. The events in the movies occur a year before Indy’s adventures in Raiders of the Lost ark. And although it is the second film in the franchise, it is the first film to include the lead actor’s name in the title.
Arguably, it is true that the character of Dr. Indiana Jones is a heroic, adventurous scientist. However, that is not entirely true of Indy’s persona in this movie. On the contrary, the archeologist is after fame and glory.
To this end, he agrees to put himself in harm’s way. Thus accompanied by his friends, Short Round and nightclub singer Willie Scott, Indy takes on a dangerous adventure in India.
Before his adventures in India, Indiana Jones had survived an attempt on his life by Chinese crime Boss Lao Che. Previously, Lao Che had hired him to procure Emperor Nurhaci, but his failure to do so didn’t impress Lao Che.
Consequently, Indy had to die. However, he survived and fled with his orphaned sidekick Short Round and nightclub singer Willie Scott on a cargo airplane. Unfortunately, their luck runs out when the pilots dump the fuel and escapes via parachute per Lao Che’s orders. However, the trio narrowly escapes; well, maybe they’re still in luck.
Afterward, they ride on a raft over steep depths and gullies before they finally arrive in an Indian village. Their timing couldn’t have been more perfect; the villagers are mourning the kidnap of their children and the theft of their sacred stone. This stone was stolen from their shrine in Pankot Palace.
As expected, Indy agrees to help them. He guesses that the missing stone is one of the five Sankara stones the gods gave them to help fight evil.
Consequently, they are treated to a warm reception in Pankot Palace. Then, they are treated to an exotic banquet prepared by a young maharajah.
Later that night, an assassin attacks Indy, who, like a cat with nine lives, manages to kill the assassin. Afterward, he discovers a series of tunnels and seeks them out with his friends. But, unfortunately, he overcomes a series of Bobby traps on the way.
Undeterred, the trio keeps going until they reach an underground temple where human sacrifices are being carried out. They discover that the worshippers, known as the Thuggees, possess two of the missing stones and have imprisoned the children to find the remaining two.
Consequently, Indy tries to get back the stones and save the children, but all three of them end up captured. The cult chief, Mola Ram, force-feeds Indy with a substance that leaves him in a trance-like state and at the mercy of the Thuggees. At this point, Willie is being prepared to be sacrificed, and Short is kept with the kidnapped children.
Subsequently, Short Round escapes and frees Indiana Jones. Finally, after removing the effects of the poison, Indy frees Willie. Together, they retrieve the stones and rescue the children.
They barely escape the Thuggees before being again cornered by Mola Ram and his henchmen on a bridge above a crocodile-infested river. As dynamic as ever, Indy cuts the bridge, and many henchmen fall to the crocodiles.
That notwithstanding, Indy and Mola Ram continue to struggle until Indy invokes Shiva causing the stones to take on life and burn through Indy’s satchel. Two stones fall into the river; Mola Ram struggles to catch the third but; he is burned and falls to the waiting crocodiles. Ouch.
On the contrary, Indy catches the stone safely and climbs up just as a compliment of British Indian soldiers arrive and open fire on the Thuggees. Additionally, more of them are arrested.
Finally, Indiana Jones, Short, Willie and the children return with the stones to the village safely. Indy may have almost died about fifteen times and not had a bath in several days. However, in the end, he got the honor and recognition that sent him on the quest in the first place.
3. Raiders of the Lost Ark (1981)
In this captivating tale of mystery and discovery, we again have Harrison Ford playing the role of Dr. Jones. Raiders of the Lost Ark is, by far, the highly successful first movie in the franchise.
In 1936, and a group of Nazis desperately try to obtain a religious relic that could be their weapon for world Domination. They are looking for the Ark of the Covenant, a religious relic that Adolf Hitler believes could make his entire army invincible.
Consequently, Indy is recruited to find the ark before the Germans do. On his way to Egypt, he runs into Marion, his former flame, and together they take off. Later on, they learn that Indy’s arch-rival, fellow archeologist Rene Belloq is in league with the Nazis.
Even though he has to contend with a morbid fear of snakes and a vengeful ex-girlfriend, Indy is not going to let that slow him down. As a result, Jones is in constant peril, getting into impossible situations and making hair-breadth escapes. This movie is an epic portrayal of the cinematic beauty of a more innocent era.
Now, they are on their way to Cairo, where the Nazis have already started excavation. However, Indy, Marion, and his buddy Sallah are attacked by the Nazi army and mercenaries and with Marion supposedly killed.
Nevertheless, they manage to get to the excavation site and retrieve the ark before the Nazis. However, once the Nazis realize that the ark is gone, they begin a wild chase. Indy and Sallah use trick after trick to keep the ark from the Nazis.
Infuriated, Belloq resorts to using Marion, whom he had kidnapped earlier, to blackmail Indy to bring the ark to him. While Indiana Jones threatens to destroy the ark, Belloq does not believe him.
As such, he calls Indy’s bluff and captures him. However, as the Nazis still have the ark in their possession, it consumes them along with Belloc.
Subsequently, the U.S Government takes the ark from Indy and hides it in a gigantic warehouse. But finally, Indy and Marian are reunited, which is the most beautiful thing in the movie, besides the Nazis getting swallowed up.
4. Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade (1989)
Set two years after the events in Raiders of The Lost Ark, this story follows archeologist Indiana Jones. It trails him as he embarks on a search for the Holy Grail upon the passionate appeal of an art collector.
He is further motivated by the knowledge that his estranged father, an archeologist Dr. Henry Jones went missing while searching for the Holy Grail.
In addition to that, Indy also learns that the Nazis are also searching for the Grail. However, Indy is accompanied by colleague Dr. Elsa Shneider and guided by his wits, training, and father’s journal. Indy must overcome them to be reunited with his parents.
Together, the two make the journey to the library where Henry was last seen, but they’re attacked by a secret brotherhood sworn to protect the Grail. However, Jones kidnaps a member of the society and, with his help, learns of his father’s location.
Afterward, he and Elsa head to Nazi-controlled Austria, where Henry is being held. From there, he rescues him, only to be captured by Nazi officer Ernest Vogel. Immediately, he realizes that Elsa is a Nazi agent that has been using him and his father to find the Grail for her superiors.
Surprisingly, Indy manages to retrieve the Grail diary from Elsa and escape with his father. However, they’re caught, and Donovan, another Nazi, shoots and mortally wounds Henry to get him to recover the Grail and save his father’s life.
Expectedly, Indy braves all the Bobby traps and gets them into the temple where the Grail is hidden amongst several other false Grails. But, unfortunately, Donovan drinks from one of the false Grails and dies instantly. But, ever-wise Indy can find the right one and save his father’s life.
Although the gatekeeper tells them not to attempt taking the Grail from the temple, Elsa disregards his instructions and attempts to take it. This causes the temple to collapse around them. The Grail falls into an abyss in the floor, and she dies trying to recover it.
5. Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull (2008)
Although no film in the Indiana Jones franchise can beat Raiders of the Lost Ark, the last film in the franchise is pretty epic. This time Indy is kidnapped along with his partner George Michale.
Afterward, the Soviets take them to a secret government warehouse which they break into and force Indy to show them a mummified corpse. However, once they retrieve the corpse, George reveals he is a double agent for the KGB.
In as much as Jones attempts to steal back the body, he is unable to do so. Upon his escape from the Soviets and return, his colleague Mutt tells him about discovering a crystal skull in Peru. Also, the professor who made the discovery has been kidnapped along with his mother. Additionally, he tells Indy about the legend of the crystal skull.
Consequently, they follow the trail, leading them to a grave where the skull is buried. However, just before they can escape with it, they are captured by the Soviet forces. Also, they are taken to the Soviet camp, where Indy realizes that Marion is his former lover.
Additionally, the professor who discovered the skull is his colleague Oxley. And Spalko, the Soviet commander, believes that the skull holds great powers that will allow them to control the world telepathically. And to harness the power, they must access other dimensions via a temple.
However, Indy and his team escape, and once they get to the temple, they find about fifteen more crystal skeletons. However, one skeleton is missing the head. Convincing, right? It doesn’t matter because Spalko completes it, and the entire group comes alive.
The alien skeleton offers a reward to them, speaking through Oxley. She asks for knowledge, but nothing good comes easy because of the immense amount of knowledge they give her winds up killing her. Not just that, but a portal to another dimension opens up and draws in George and the rest of the Soviets while Indy escapes as usual.
Finally, Indy married Marion. Talk about coming full circle.
Do you need to watch Indiana Jones movies in order?
The events in Indiana Jones movies do not always have much bearing on each other. Therefore, it is not necessary to watch the movies in any particular order to appreciate the movies or follow the story.