All 3 ‘Sword Art Online’ Seasons in Order (Including Movies & a Special)

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Sword Art Online‘ used to be the most despised anime despite its newfound popularity among anime enthusiasts. However, the series was a forerunner in popularizing the entire isekai genre. Although SAO had issues ranging from storyline to characters because it was a first of its kind, it was entertaining.

Currently, the ‘Sword Art Online’ anime franchise consists of three seasons, one spinoff anime, three movies, and a TV special, and today, we’re going to tell you how to watch them in order.

Editor’s Note: This watch order was updated in November 2023 and reflects the most up-to-date state of the ‘Sword Art Online’ franchise.

All ‘Sword Art Online’ seasons, movies & specials in release date order

The ‘Sword Art Online’ anime adaptation was announced in 2011, and in 2012, the first season aired, being met with mixed reactions from the anime community and then slowly growing on fans. Today, the franchise has expanded significantly, and here are all the entries in the franchise in release date order:

  • Season 1: Sword Art Online (2012)
  • ‘Sword Art Online Extra Edition’ (2013)
  • Season 2: Sword Art Online II (2014)
  • ‘Sword Art Online the Movie: Ordinal Scale’
  • Sword Art Online Alternative: Gun Gale Online (2018)
  • Season 3, Part 1: Sword Art Online: Alicization (2018–19)
  • Season 3, Part 2: Sword Art Online: Alicization – War of Underworld (2019–20)
  • Season 3, Part 3: Sword Art Online: Alicization – War of Underworld Part 2 (2020)
  • Sword Art Online Progressive: Aria of a Starless Night (2021)
  • Sword Art Online Progressive: Scherzo of a Dark Dusk (2022)

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Are all seasons & movies of ‘Sword Art Online connected? What’s the best way to watch them?

The various seasons and movies of ‘Sword Art Online’ are generally connected and form a cohesive storyline. The series follows the adventures of the main characters, Kirito and Asuna, as they navigate through different virtual worlds and face various challenges. While each season may introduce new game worlds and characters, there is an overarching narrative that ties them together.

If you’re new to the universe, the best way to watch ‘Sword Art Online’ is in release date order; however, if you’re already a seasoned fan looking for a different approach, then you might consider watching the anime in chronological order.

All ‘Sword Art Online’ seasons & movies in chronological order

The chronology of ‘Sword Art Online’ is not that complex when everything is taken into account. There are several important arcs that you need to follow, and here they are in chronological order.

  1. ‘Sword Art Online’ Season 1
    • ‘Sword Art Online’: Aincrad Arc (Episodes 1-14)
    • ‘Sword Art Online’: Fairy Dance Arc (Episodes 15-25)
  2. Sword Art Online Progressive: Aria of the Starless Night (an expanded retelling of Aincrad Arc)
  3. ‘Sword Art Online Progressive: Scherzo of Deep Night’ (takes place roughly a month after ‘Aria of the Starless Night)
  4. ‘Sword Art Online: Extra Edition’ (This is a special episode that includes a recap of the first season and some additional content.)
  5. ‘Sword Art Online’ Season 2
    • ‘Sword Art Online’: Phantom Bullet Arc (Episodes 1-14)
    • ‘Sword Art Online’: Calibur Arc (Episodes 15-17)
    • ‘Sword Art Online’: Mother’s Rosario Arc (Episodes 18-24)
  6. Sword Art Online Alternative Gun Gale Online‘ (takes place around the same time as Mother Rosario Arc)
  7. ‘Sword Art Online: Ordinal Scale’ (This is a movie set after the events of Season 2.)
  8. Sword Art Online: Alicization
    • Part 1: Alicization Beginning (Episodes 1 -13)
    • Part 2: Alicization Rising (Episodes 14 – 20)
    • Part 3: Alicization Uniting (Episodes 21-24)
    • Part 4: Alicization Invading (Episodes 24-29)
    • Part 5: Alicization Exploding (Episodes 30 – 34)
    • Part 6: Alicization Awakening (Episodes 35 – 41)
    • Part 7: Alicization Lasting (Episodes 42- 47)

You should ideally start with the first season of ‘Sword Art Online) and follow it up with ‘Aria of the Starless night’ due to the movie taking place around the same time as Aincrad Arc (it is the expanded retelling of the arc). ‘Aria of the Starless Night’ should be followed by ‘Scherzo of Deep Night’ due to the movie taking place about a month after ‘Aria of the Starless Night’.

‘Sword Art Online: Extra Edition’ is a recap episode of the first season and can be skipped in all honesty. After we have season 1 wrapped up you can follow it up with Season 2. ‘Alternative Gun Gale Online’ takes place around the same time as the last arc in season 2. ‘Sword Art Online: Ordinal Scale’ takes place after the events of Season 2 and after the events of ‘Alternative Gun Gale Online.’

The last season is smooth sailing from here.

Where to watch all the above-mentioned seasons & movies?

The first season of ‘Sword Art Online’ can be streamed on Hulu and Crunchyroll while the remaining two seasons can only be found on Crunchyroll. The special episode can be streamed only on Crunchyroll as well.

The spinoff-anime, ‘Sword Art Online Alternative: Gun Gale Online’ can be found on Hulu and Crunchyroll.

The first movie ‘Sword Art Online: The Movie – Ordinal Scale’ can be streamed only on Hulu, ‘Sword Art Online: Progressive – Aria of a Starless Night’ can only be streamed on Crunchyroll, and ‘Sword Art Online the Movie -Progressive- Scherzo of Deep Night’ is still not on western streaming services and therefore cannot be found anywhere legally.

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Will there be more ‘Sword Art Online’ seasons or movies?

The anime franchise seemed to be over, however following the successful release of ‘Sword Art Online Progressive: Scherzo of Deep Night’ fans can look forward to a sequel movie. At the special occasion of the “Sword Art Online: Full Dive” commemorative event, an exciting new film project was unveiled. This project is characterized as an original creation, featuring narratives distinct from those found in the light novels.

Have something to add? Let us know in the comments below!

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