Ultimate Guide: How to Watch the ‘Harry Potter’ Movies in Order (Chronologically or by Release Date)

When Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows – Part 2 finished the boy wizard’s story in 2011, you might have thought that was the end of the Harry Potter movies. But Warner Bros. wasn’t about to give up on their magical cash cow. So, the franchise was expanded into the Wizarding World shared universe, which now includes the eight original Harry Potter movies and the three Fantastic Beasts spinoff movies. The Harry Potter movies switch back and forth between Peacock and HBO Max as their streaming home. Sometimes, the films are available on both services at the same time. The first two Fantastic Beasts movies are the only ones that aren’t on Peacock or HBO Max. We thought it was time to give you a crash course on watching all the movies in this long fantasy series since the movies’ timelines aren’t as clear as they used to be, and their creative titles might be starting to run together in your head.

Harry Potter Movies in Chronological Order

Fantastic Beasts

In 1926, the events of the first Fantastic Beasts film took place approximately 70 years before Harry Potter’s enrollment at Hogwarts. The movie’s plot revolves around Newt Scamander, a wizard hailing from Britain whom the Ministry of Magic employs. The story takes an intriguing turn when Scamander becomes entangled in a complex scheme that involves the Magical Congress of the United States and a formidable wizard named Gellert Grindelwald. Interestingly, it is later revealed that Grindelwald is portrayed by the talented actor Johnny Depp.

Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald

A few months after the events of the first Fantastic Beasts movie, Newt is back in England. He is soon asked by Albus Dumbledore (Jude Law), who will one day be Harry’s Headmaster at Hogwarts, to find Credence Barebone (Ezra Miller), a troubled young wizard who is also being looked for by an escaped Grindelwald. In addition to Dumbledore, The Crimes of Grindelwald introduces a young Minerva McGonagall and Nagini, a circus performer whose blood curse will turn her into a giant snake for good. These characters will later play important roles in the Harry Potter movies.

Fantastic Beasts: The Secrets of Dumbledore

The third Fantastic Beasts movie occurs five years after The Crimes of Grindelwald. Surprisingly, there aren’t too many beasts in this movie. Instead, the story is about how the wizard Grindelwald strengthens and how Credence’s family came to be. Even though most of the movie is set in 1932, the main character, a Qilin, is a magical creature that can see into the future, so some time travel is going on. The movie brings back characters from the other movies and gives Grindelwald a new actor, Mads Mikkelsen, to play him.

Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone

At this point, we jump ahead more than 50 years and start the main series, which will follow orphan Harry Potter’s yearly adventures at Hogwarts as he fights against various dark forces, including the evil wizard Lord Voldemort. As a baby, Harry (Daniel Radcliffe) lived through an attack by Voldemort that went wrong and killed his parents. Voldemort lost his body in the attack, but Harry’s parents died. Since then, Harry has been raised by his aunt and uncle, who have no idea that the world around them is magical. All that changes when a mysterious owl shows up with exciting news: Harry is a wizard, and Hogwarts has accepted him to start his magic training. As soon as he gets to school, he meets his new best friends, Ron Weasley (Rupert Grint) and Hermione Granger (Emma Watson), and gets in trouble with his mysterious potions teacher, Severus Snape (Alan Rickman). As the Headmaster of Hogwarts, Dumbledore (now played by Richard Harris) keeps an eye on everyone while Harry and his friends try to figure out what’s going on with a giant three-headed dog and the magical Sorcerer’s Stone.

Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets

Harry is in his second year at Hogwarts, and the school is struggling. Something or someone makes the students so scared that they can’t move. These attacks seem to have something to do with the Chamber of Secrets, the name of a supposed secret room in Hogwarts that could eliminate students who weren’t born to wizard parents (called “mud blood” in the Wizarding World). Harry has to put things right, but to do so, he has to figure out how to read an enchanted diary written by Tom Riddle, a former student.

Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban

Third year. This movie is also known as where things start to get good. You can probably thank Alfonso Cuarón, who is taking over as director, for that. Sirius Black, who was put in Azkaban for helping Voldemort and was played by Gary Oldman, has gotten out, putting the wizarding world on edge. The school is locked down and surrounded by ghostly figures that look like the Grim Reaper. Their job is to take Black back to prison. But not everything is as it seems, and with the help of Remy Lupin (David Thewlis), Harry’s new Defense Against the Dark Arts teacher, he starts to figure out secrets that will help him make more friends for the battles to come. Harris passed away before this movie was made, so Michael Gambon played Dumbledore for the rest of the series.

Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire

4th year. Harry isn’t supposed to be old enough to compete in the Triwizard Tournament. This is a series of challenges where the best student from Hogwarts (which turns out to be Robert Pattinson!) goes up against the best students from several other wizarding schools. But when his name comes out of the magical goblet that chooses the contestants, Harry has to take part. At the same time, everyone’s hormones are going crazy, and finding a date for the Yule Ball becomes a big problem. Oh, and Tom Riddle, who used to be Voldemort, comes back to life and is ready to get his revenge on Harry. Ralph Fiennes plays him, and he is angry.

Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix

Everyone is scared because Voldemort is back. Everyone, except the Ministry of Magic, which sends one of the most hateful people in the series, the cruel Dolores Umbridge (Imelda Staunton), to Hogwarts to make sure everyone keeps their heads down and doesn’t spread fake news. But Harry, Ron, and Hermione know better, so they form Dumbledore’s Army, a group of students who train together secretly for the battles to come. David Yates directed the first movie in the series, Phoenix. He has since directed every Harry Potter and Fantastic Beasts movie.

Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince

In Harry’s sixth year at Hogwarts, Voldemort’s followers, also called Death Eaters, openly declared war on the Wizarding World to gain more power. Harry worries that his longtime school rival Draco (Tom Felton) has become a Death Eater. He also learns that Voldemort can’t be killed as long as pieces of his soul live on in six enchanted objects called Horcruxes. These will be the main “MacGuffins” for the rest of the series.

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows – Part 1

The last book in J.K. Rowling’s epic fantasy series was made into two movies by Warner Bros. In Part 1, Harry, Ron, and Hermione have skipped their last year of wizarding school to go on a quest to find and destroy all the remaining Horcruxes. They find one, but then they find out that they also need to find the powerful Sword of Gryffindor to kill it. Then there’s the matter of the Deathly Hallows themselves. The Deathly Hallows are three magical items that, if a wizard had them, would let him or her control death. So it’s clear that both heroes and bad guys are interested in them. The movie ends with a scary cliffhanger that sets up the third and final part.

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows – Part 2

In the series’ grand finale, which starts right after Deathly Hallows—Part 1, we discover that Snape isn’t as bad as we thought. And there is an epic battle at Hogwarts between the forces of good and evil. Everyone gets a chance to shine, from Harry, Ron, and Hermione to fan-favorite supporting characters like Neville Longbottom (Matthew Lewis) and Molly Weasley (Julie Walters). Is Voldemort finally and permanently defeated this time? To find out, you’ll have to watch!

Harry Potter Movies in Order of Release Date

  • Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone – November 16, 2001
  • Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets – November 15, 2002
  • Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban – June 4, 2004
  • Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire – November 18, 2005
  • Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix – July 11, 2007
  • Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince – July 15, 2009
  • Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows – Part 1 – November 19, 2010
  • Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows – Part 2 – July 15, 2011
  • Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them – November 18, 2016
  • Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald – November 16, 2018
  • Fantastic Beasts: The Secrets of Dumbledore – April 15, 2022

What’s Next?

It has always been the plan for Rowling and Warner Bros. to produce five Fantastic Beasts movies. However, there hasn’t been any news yet about a sequel to The Secrets of Dumbledore. Since there is a 40-year gap between 1932 and James Potter’s arrival at Hogwarts, there is still potential for more prequel tales. Additionally, there is a possibility that Warner Bros. could bring back the original cast for an adaptation of Harry Potter and the Cursed Child. This stage play, based on a story by Rowling, takes place 19 years after the events of Deathly Hallows – Part 2 and is considered to be canon.