How to Watch the ‘Mission: Impossible’ Movies in Order

Your mission, should you choose to accept it, is to watch a bunch of movies

Mission Impossible Ghost Protocol

Since 1996, Tom Cruise has been the heart of the “Mission: Impossible” film series, thrilling audiences as Ethan Hunt, the IMF (that stands for Impossible Mission Force, don’t-cha-know) agent constantly plunged into increasingly dangerous scenarios. And he’s not about to stop anytime soon – “Mission: Impossible, Dead Reckoning, Part One,” the seventh film in the franchise, is due out this July, while “Mission: Impossible – Dead Reckoning, Part Two” will be unleashed next June.

If, somehow, you’ve never seen any of the “Mission: Impossible” movies, they began in 1996 with the Brian De Palma-directed original, an adaptation of the popular, Bruce Geller-created spy series that ran from 1966 to 1973 for 172 episodes and was revived briefly in the late 1980s (that version only ran for two seasons and 35 episodes). Many of the hallmarks of the television series made it into the movie – the mission briefing that would “self-destruct” at the end of the message, the idea of a team of highly trained specialists, characters like Jim Phelps (played by Jon Voight in the movie and Peter Graves in the original series) – but updated for modern, ‘90s audiences.

From there the franchise got a reputation for being director-driven, with each subsequent installment (up until the fifth film) being helmed by a different director. John Woo brought his Hong Kong bullet ballet aesthetic (and heightened emotional tenor) to “Mission: Impossible 2”; J.J. Abrams made his feature debut with the more grounded and human “Mission: Impossible III”; Brad Bird brought a playfulness and sense of fun to “Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol”; and Christopher McQuarrie turned “Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation” into an elevated thriller that bordered on the Hitchcockian, while his followup “Mission: Impossible – Fallout” became even grander, more thrilling and more emotionally resonant. From inauspicious beginnings, “Mission: Impossible” has grown into one of the most exciting (and artistically ambitious) franchises in Hollywood history, with no signs of slowing down.

While each entry has its own cast of characters, there have been a few stalwarts that have become series regulars, including Ving Rhames (who has appeared in every entry since the first), Simon Pegg (a regular from “Mission: Impossible III” on), Rebecca Ferguson (around since “Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation”) and folks like Vanessa Kirby, Angela Bassett and Frederick Schmidt, all of whom were introduced in “Fallout” and are expected to return for the two new movies (among many others).

With six films in total (now) and eight by the end of 2024, and with only the first three movies assigned helpful numerical values, we will help keep things straight with this handy list (which will, of course, self-destruct five seconds after you finish reading).

How to Watch the “Mission: Impossible” Movies in Chronological Order:

The chronological events of the “Mission: Impossible” movies follow the order in which they were released, meaning no backtracking is needed for prequels or sidestepping for spinoffs.

• “Mission: Impossible” (1996)

• “Mission: Impossible 2” (2000)

• “Mission: Impossible III” (2006)

• “Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol” (2011)

• “Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation” (2015)

• “Mission: Impossible – Fallout” (2018)

• “Mission: Impossible – Dead Reckoning, Part One” (2023)

• “Mission: Impossible – Dead Reckoning, Part Two” (2024)

Do you have to watch the “Mission: Impossible” movies in order?

While there might be some that would suggest that you can watch them in any order, this isn’t exactly true. Each installment builds to the next in interesting and unexpected ways, with “Fallout” and the two new movies feeling like they are the culmination of everything that came before. Even “Mission: Impossible 2,” arguably the most disposable entry in the franchise, has paid off in some fun ways, particularly during the climax of “Fallout” (no spoilers here).

With “Mission: Impossible III” you do feel that the series is gelling in a way that would continue throughout the franchise, with Abrams taking an active role as producer on “Ghost Protocol” and “Rogue Nation” and his production company Bad Robot sticking around for “Fallout.” (The next two movies are the first Bad Robot-free productions since “Mission: Impossible 2.”) Still, we think that every entry is necessary. They’re all a lot of fun. Why would you want to skip any?

Just watch them in the order they were released. You will be rewarded for the journey.

Where are the “Mission: Impossible” movies streaming?

You can watch all the “Mission: Impossible” movies, along with the 1966 TV series, on Paramount+ (though some of the films are currently only available through Paramount+ with Showtime).

You can also stream “Mission: Impossible,” “Mission: Impossible II,” “Mission: Impossible III,” “Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol” and “Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation” on FuboTV.

Paramount+ will also be the streaming destination for the two upcoming new movies after their respective theatrical runs.