Fate Anime’s Watch Order Explained

Fate Anime’s Watch Order Explained

Fate Anime’s Watch Order Explained

Fate is one of the great fantasy anime franchises and a personal favourite of mine, but with so many iterations it can be hard to know where to begin! If you want to see the series for yourself, here’s my favourite Fate watch order.

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How Many Fate Series Are There?

All Fate Anime Watch Order
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There are a few anime series that can genuinely be called a franchise, and Fate is certainly one of them.

In total, there have been around 25 different anime seasons and films produced for Fate!

The easiest way to wade through this mountain of content is to remove any shorts and comedy parodies and divide the rest by their storylines.

See the table below for all the notable anime content related to the Fate series:

Fate Storyline
First Anime Release Date
Fate/Stay Night
2 TV Series, 4 Films
1 TV Series (2 Seasons)
Fate/kaleid liner Prisma Illya
1 TV Series (4 Seasons), 1 Film
1 TV Series
Fate/Grand Order
1 TV Series, 4 Films
1 TV Series
Fate/strange Fake
1 Film

The biggest part of the Fate story, by far, is Stay Night. This was the original visual novel game that spawned the entire franchise.

Stay Night has three branching storylines with different endings depending on the player's actions. Many of the different Stay Night anime are based on one of these three storylines:

  • Fate/Stay Night (1 two-cour TV season)
  • Fate/Stay Night: Unlimited Blade Works (1 film and 2 one-cour TV seasons)
  • Fate/Stay Night: Heaven's Feel (3 films)

The other Fate series are based on other parts of the franchise, a combination of visual novel, manga and light novel adaptations.

Discover: The Best Anime Based on Visual Novels

Which Fate Anime is Best to Watch First?

Fate watch order first unlimited blade works saber archer
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Many fans begin Fate with the Fate/Stay Night: Unlimited Blade Works TV series and that would be my recommendation, also. None of the original Fate TV series can match the quality of the story and animation in UBW.

The series that started Fate's journey is Fate/Stay Night, the 2006 TV series being the franchise's first anime adaptation. However, many consider that series to be underwhelming compared to what followed afterwards.

As Unlimited Blade Works is a parallel story to the original Fate/Stay Night, it still feels like the start of the franchise. There are plenty of explainers so you won't get lost in the franchise's weird rules.

Technically, in terms of the Fate universe’s timeline, the prequel story Fate/Zero comes first. However, Zero is intended for people who have seen Stay Night or UBW as it shows some spoilers for that storyline.

Related: Anime Seasons Explained

The Best Fate Order

Best Fate Anime Watch Order
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The best order for working through Fate will depend on your personal preferences. With this in mind, I’ve created two different watch orders for you to choose from!

The Streamlined Fate Storyline Order

If you’ve heard about Fate and would like to watch it without getting bogged down in hours of content, here is a streamlined watch order.

This Fate watch order covers all the key parts of the series’ main storyline, removing spin-offs and other avoidable extras.

  1. Fate/Stay Night: Unlimited Blade Works (TV Series)
  2. Fate/Zero (TV Series)
  3. Fate/Stay Night: Heaven's Feel - I. Presage Flower (Movie)
  4. Fate/Stay Night: Heaven's Feel - II. Lost Butterfly (Movie)
  5. Fate/Stay Night: Heaven's Feel - III. Spring Song (Movie)

The first series – simply called Fate/Stay Night – is widely seen as a poor adaptation of one of Stay Night's storylines. While watching it can provide a more complete picture, you won’t miss anything by skipping that and going straight to the good stuff.

Similarly, there is a film version of Fate/Stay Night: Unlimited Blade Works. However, it covers the same story as the TV series and is not as good, so is not recommended.

For many fans, myself included, Stay Night: UBW is the best series in the franchise. This tells one storyline from the Stay Night visual novels.

The three Heaven’s Feel movies tell another storyline from the Stay Night story. As they were released long after the Unlimited Blade Works TV series, it’s recommended you watch UBW first as it provides more context.

Fate/Zero is technically a prequel to the Stay Night series. It also serves as a good standalone series but does contain some spoilers for Stay Night, so it’s recommended you watch at least Unlimited Blade Works first.

Everything outside of Stay Night and Zero can be classed as a spinoff. Those additional series and films don’t tie into the story in the same way as Stay Night and Zero, so they are optional depending on how much you enjoy these first shows.

The All-You-Can-Eat Fate Watch Order

Best Complete Fate Anime Watch Order Explained
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If you’ve seen a bit of the Fate series and now want to watch everything you can get your hands on, here is an order for the whole series, including the main spin-offs.

  1. Fate/Stay Night (TV Series)
  2. Fate/Stay Night: Unlimited Blade Works (TV Series)
  3. Fate/Zero (TV Series)
  4. Fate/Stay Night: Heaven's Feel - I. Presage Flower (Movie)
  5. Fate/Stay Night: Heaven's Feel - II. Lost Butterfly (Movie)
  6. Fate/Stay Night: Heaven's Feel - III. Spring Song (Movie)
  7. Fate/strange Fake: Whispers of Dawn
  8. Fate/kaleid liner Prisma Illya
  9. Fate/EXTRA
  10. Fate/Apocrypha
  11. Fate/Grand Order

As mentioned above, the main storyline essentially consists of the three Stay Night storylines and the prequel Zero. Everything beyond that can be regarded as a spin-off, although some of the stories are technically canon.

Many of the spin-offs assume prior knowledge of the series from Stay Night or Zero, so it’s still recommended to watch those first. After that, you can largely watch the other Fate series in their release order.

I've added Fate/strange Fake after Heaven's Feel because it's one of the easiest Fates to pin in the series' timeline. Strange Fake takes place before the events of Fate/Zero, although the story is a bit more complicated.

Fate/kaleid liner Prisma Illya and Fate/EXTRA are both alternate universe spin-offs of the Stay Night story. The former turns it into a magical girl anime, while EXTRA is seen as one of Fate's most confusing (and bad) stories, so can largely be seen as its own thing.

Fate/Apocrypha is arguably the most distinct spin-off from the Fate franchise. It’s a parallel world story that can be enjoyed completely separately from the rest of the Fate series.

I’ve put Fate/Grand Order at the bottom of this watch order because, out of all the spin-offs, this is the most complex. Grand Order has no direct connection to the main storyline, so can be freely explored at any point.

I hope these watch orders clear up this confusing but excellent anime franchise. To discover more anime news and insights, make sure you're following us on Facebook or Twitter!

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