More than just a path straight down, understanding the core of the series also requires branching out into different sections of the cosmos to search for answers. Meaning, the Fate series demands a watch order that pretty much throws timelines and alternative versions completely out of whack.
But, do not be afraid. Decide to tread the path of heroism, whimsical corruption, and pure unadulterated murder, and this Fate watch order shall be the only guide that you will ever need… for now.
Since we are dealing with quite a significant number of spin-offs and alternate worlds for this series, might we suggest hopping over to something else like our Naruto watch order if you need something different, or check our One Piece and Fullmetal Alchemist filler list. Though, as an early disclaimer, you might find other alternatives rather… exhaustive, to say the least.
Plot of Fate/Stay Night
Depending on the route you want to start with the series, the first perspective would go either between Rin Tohsaka and Emiya Shirou. Technically, however, Emiya Shirou functions as the protagonist of this series, getting thrust into the deeper history of Fuyuki City, and the magical combat ritual known as the Holy Grail War.
According to Kirei Kotomine’s initial description of the event, seven chosen masters of varying aptitude in magecraft, will summon each of their heroic spirits, called servants. This then would allow them to properly represent themselves in the war. The servants are mostly characters fro historical or literary lore, who have achieved great feats or accomplishments worthy of their title.
Why fight each other, you ask? The Holy Grail is said to be an all-powerful magical tool that can grant just about any wish that the ultimate winner desires. This isn’t a friendly sparring match of wits. The Holy Grail War is a fight to the death, and so long as the vessel exists, and a sole winner can be declared, coveting the almighty wish machine will require the inevitable sacrifice of human life…
Recommended watch order
There is really only one way to watch Fate: by the order with which the next title would make total sense based on the information and lore points introduced by the previous one. But, if you so insist, there are other alternative ways to enjoy this rather, convoluted series.
By sensical order
(Refer to extra episodes within part of the series that they are labeled into)
Fate/Stay Night – the original visual novel that sparked the entire series. It centers around the 5th Holy Grail war, an arranged conflict waged by seven different individuals vying for the holy grail’s apparently omnipotent powers. Sinks deep into its self-contained magecraft lore, and of course, the summoning of various historical and literary heroic spirits in the form of “servants”.
Fate/Stay Night (2006)
Fate/Zero (yes, this should be second)
Fate/Stay Night Unlimited Blade Works (Movie)
Fate/Stay Night Unlimited Blade Works (TV series)
Fate/Stay Night Heaven’s Feel I. presage flower
Fate/Stay Night Heaven’s Feel II. lost butterfly
Fate/Stay Night Heaven’s Feel III. spring song
The Case Files of Lord El-Melloi II
Fate/Prototype – is a short OVA that follows the events of the first draft of the Fate/Stay Night story script.
Fate/EXTRA Encore – it is a shortened version of the Fate/EXTRA video game for the Playstation Portable.
Today’s Menu for the Emiya Family – a heartwarming, slice-of-life series adapted from the original manga.
Fate/EXTRA Last Encore
Today’s Menu for the Emiya Family
Fate/Kaleid Liner Prisma Illya – set in an alternate universe where things are… kinda less murderous (with the exception of a few particular spoiler-y timelines), though crisis escalations are actually kind of bigger than just shaking up an obscure fictional Japanese city. And if you think this is simply Illya playing as a mahou shoujo, think again.
Fate Kaleid/Liner Prisma Illya
Fate Kaleid/Liner Prisma Illya 2wei!
Fate Kaleid/Liner Prisma Illya 2wei Herz!
Fate Kaleid/Liner Prisma Illya Vow in the Snows
Fate Kaleid/Liner Prisma Illya 3rei!!
Fate Kaleid/Liner Prisma Illya Licht – The Nameless Girl*
Fate/Grand Order – based on the massively popular mobile game, which itself was the materialization of a very long-timed proposed concept of a Fate universe MMORPG. Set in the very distant future, and is actually kind of adequately filled with science fiction elements. Expect, way, way, waaaaaaay more heroic spirits as servants, in equal parts gender-bent and age-bent.
Fate/Grand Order -First Order-
Fate/Grand Order – Absolute Demonic Front: Babylonia
Fate/Grand Order – Divine Realm of the Round Table: Camelot, Part 1
Fate/Grand Order Final Singularity – Grand Temple of Time: Solomon*
Fate/Grand Order – Divine Realm of the Round Table: Camelot, Part 2*
(*not yet available/no release date yet/no home media version yet)
By release order
Maybe you want to watch it in the same way as the original fans had to back in the day? In that case, just flip the pages to where each was released by order of release dates.
(FGO – Fate/Grand Order)
Fate/Stay Night (2006)
Fate/Stay Night Unlimited Blade Works (Movie) (2010)
Fate Kaleid/Liner Prisma Illya (2013)
Fate Kaleid/Liner Prisma Illya 2wei! (2014)
Fate/Stay Night Unlimited Blade Works (TV series) (2014)
Fate Kaleid/Liner Prisma Illya 2wei Herz! (2015)
Fate Kaleid/Liner Prisma Illya 3rei!! (2016)
Fate/Grand Order -First Order- (2016)
Fate Kaleid/Liner Prisma Illya Vow in the Snows (2017)
Fate/Stay Night Heaven’s Feel I. presage flower (2017)
Today’s Menu for the Emiya Family (2017)
Fate/EXTRA Last Encore (2018)
Fate/Stay Night Heaven’s Feel II. lost butterfly (2019)
The Case Files of Lord El-Melloi II (2019)
Fate/Grand Order – Absolute Demonic Front: Babylonia (2019)
Fate/Stay Night Heaven’s Feel III. spring song (2020)
FGO – Divine Realm of the Round Table: Camelot, Part 1 (2020)
FGO – Final Singularity Grand Temple of Time: Solomon (2021)
FGO – Divine Realm of the Round Table: Camelot, Part 2 (2021)
Fate Kaleid/Liner Prisma Illya Licht – The Nameless Girl (2021)
The branched realities gets even more insane
If you ever feel intimidated by the number of branches upon multiple branches of this super-convoluted series, you’re never ever alone in such thoughts. But, squeezed in its pure essence, the Fate series is essentially just Fate/Stay Night. Start from one of its three routes, then watch Fate/Zero. If you’re still intimidated, you can just slip silently away from its cosmic chaos to choose instead other titles from our best Shounen anime ever made list. But, if you’re interested in more, well… this franchise has all the red pills for you.
It is also worth pointing out that many supplementary materials for the anime adaptations are available in the form of light novels and manga. If you ever feel like part of a story is rushed, or didn’t really make sense, you can ask around if there are additional sources for that particular part of the story.
Finally, it is also worth recommending playing the actual visual novel series, which will provide you with a yet again different perspective on its storytelling.