This is the order that I find to be the best way to experience the main Fate plot (Fate/stay night and Fate/Zero).
Other than reading the visual novel first, no anime-only order is ideal and there is always going to be a sacrifice made somewhere. This order attempts to minimize as many forward references (spoilers) as possible and acknowledges the original order that the source material was released.
The major downside of this order is skipping the adaptation of the 1st route from the visual novel, the Fate route. There is an adaptation for this done by Studio Deen, however it attempted to bring in many elements from the other two routes, Unlimited Blade Works and Heaven's Feel. This means that by watching it, some major twists in those later routes are completely ruined. It is my subjective opinion that the losses from skipping the Fate route are less than the losses from learning about events in Unlimited Blade Works and Heaven's Feel.
Despite the Fate franchise sprawling tons of new spin-offs, reimaginings, and much more interpretations than the unacquainted person can grasp or handle, this media giant had a humble start - the original Fate/Stay Night visual novel.
I do believe this topic has been discussed and overanalyzed in the fandom far too much to say with absolute certainty if there is a correct answer. However, what I would like to present is the way I got into it. What I enjoyed about it and what I feel might be interesting for newcomers of the franchise.
I'd like to specifically cover the "main" shows which covered the three routes of the visual novel; The Saber route, named Stay Night, the route with Rin, Unlimited Blade Works, and the Sakura route, Heaven's Feel.
There's a lot of other media in the Fate franchise, but I personally believe that if you feel like you want to experience what this franchise is about at it's core, these shows presented are where you should begin.
(Written by Tyrrael, redacted by SophTheCommander)
This is the watch order I used the main anime of the Fate franchise. As Fate is highly infamous for having many different watch orders, I do not claim this order to be the only one possible, however from my experience this order is optimal in the sense of minimizing spoilers. As Fate is originally a visual novel, I recommend watching the first three routes in order and save the prequel for last. The list does not include spinoffs, which are obviously only meant to be watched after you have completed the main series.
A numbering of the core Fate/Stay Night titles in the order you should watch them. Should be seen in the format where you can see the notes I made.
Alternatively, just play the visual novel and then go on to Fate/Zero. Sadly, Fate/Stay Night's sequel, Fate/Hollow Ataraxia, is not here due to having no anime adaptation.
Anything not here can be watched in any order after you have, in some form, finished Fate/Stay Night+Fate/Zero, with the obvious exception of not watching Kaleid Season 2 before Season 1, and Carnival Phantasm, which is a crossover with Tsukihime and so requires you to have read through that.
I researched a lot about fate watch order before watching it and this is what i think is the best watch order if you don't want to get confused from the beginning.
Lord El-Melloi II Sei no Jikenbo: this one is skip able because it's story revolve around a character from fate zero but i personally suggest it because this series has lots of characters that you are going to see in another spinoffs.
And as for spinoffs you can start with any one you want!
Welcome to the Fate Universe, an introduction from the main story line and every spinoff you can imagine.
It's recommended to watch the main storyline first, then branch out to the spinoffs.
The stack is made as an easy watch order for beginners. Fate/Zero is a good introduction to the Holy Grail War, it takes it's time, it has incredible fights, character development and a brilliant ending. It spoils some details about the Fate/stay night characters, but not massive enough that you can't enjoy the routes of F/SN. Then you can continue with Fate/stay night: Unlimited Blade Works, which adapts the second route of the Visual Novel which is just as well made as F/Z. Fate/stay night: Heaven's Feel Trilogy will end the main storyline, adapting the 3rd route of the Visual Novel, which is pretty different from UBW, but is at least as enjoyable, being praised as some of the best anime movies in the last years. There is also the original anime series Fate/stay night from 2006, that adapts the Fate Route (1st Route of the VN), but it isn't a good adaptation, it brought some original content and overall it's much weaker in quality than the adaptations from ufotable (F/Z, F/SN UBW, F/SN HF). I don't recommend it, especially for beginners.
For the people that want to experience Fate Series at its best story wise, they can read from the Visual Novel Fate/stay night the Fate Route, which is about 15-20h and introduces you into the Fate Series with more detail, it has some extra content and bad endings. Then continue with the anime serie F/SN UBW, the movie trilogy F/SN HF and end with F/Z. For a Visual Novel reader, this is the original way to experience the storyline. Knowing the ending of F/Z can bring extra weight to the character's actions and their fates, being a Greek tragedy. You can also read the rest of the FSN Visual Novel and the Light Novel of F/Z, they are worth your time.
As for spinoffs, there isn't an order to watch them, you can start with anyone you like.
For each spinoff, I've put their seasons and specials in release order. They come from Carnival Phantasm, Today's Menu for the Emiya Family, Lord El-Melloi II, Fate/Apocrypha, Fate/Extra, Fate/Grand Order, Fate/Grand Carnival to Fate/kaleid liner Prisma☆Illya.
If you are reading this and are new to the Fate series, the biggest advice I can give you is to just pick the one that sounds interesting to you and start it. Fate is a series made up of loosely connected stories and one of the most satisfying parts of being a fan is to figure out how they all connect to one another. But that's not really something someone new to the series really needs to worry about, so just pick one, any one, and start. The only thing you will need to do is to watch entries with the same sub title, eg Fate/Stay Night, Fate/Grand Order, etc in order to get the most out of their respective stories.
With that said, the following is my personal suggested order. The one important thing to note is that Fate is only one of franchises that's set within this fictional world, it's just the most popular and most expanded upon. This shared universe is named the "Nasuverse" after it's creator, Kinoko Nasu. I have included as much of the other series in the Nasuverse in this list as well, as they really help expand upon the world building beyond what we see in just Fates Holy Grail Wars. If you are only interested in Fate itself, then feel free to skip over them, but you'd be missing out on some great stories in their own right. The only things I haven't included are some of the shorts, specials or recaps as I don't think they are absolutely essential, and this has a limit of 50 entries, so it is what it is.
These are great atmosphere from finished anime that u can binge at once when u start it. Try it out n prove it by urself. the following are features that u can get it in :
1. Plot twist
2. Unique Characters
3. Great Soundtrack / Insert Song
4. Great First Impression
5. High tension in certain scene
6. Great Execution
Kara no Kyoukai Story Timeline
2,4,3,1,5,6,7,8, Mirai Fukuin, Mirai Fukuin Extra Chorus
Kara no Kyoukai Releasse Timeline
1,2,3,4,5,6,7,8, Mirai Fukuin, Mirai Fukuin Extra Chorus
Fate Story Timeline
Fate Zero S1, Fate Zero S2, Fate Stay Night 2006, Fate UBW S1, Fate UBW S2, Fate Heaven Feel pt 1, 2, 3
Fate Release Timeline
Fate Stay Night 2006, Fate Zero S1, Fate Zero S2, Fate UBW S1, Fate UBW S2, Fate Heaven Feel pt 1, 2, 3
This list is for people who are interested in Fate series and want to understand where to begin.
Fate series contains parent story, that I first showcase on this list. And then side stories that include: continuation-, alternate world- and other special stories. I will include info on side stories when I get more into them. I order them after the main story and don't mark all their entries for 2nd seasons or ova's if not necessary (but try to mention them). Main story list is ordered the best way to watch the series.
There are lot of opinions in what order to watch the Fate series. In my opinion there is one good way and one ok way. One is chronological order and another one (better way) is for saving plot. It's also good to give a mind for the Fate novels, -manga and -games if you are interested.
1st order (Chronological): Fate/Zero, Fate/stay night, Fate/stay night: unlimited blade works and then Fate/stay night movie trilogy Heaven's feel.
2nd order (better way for saving plot): Fate/stay night, Fate/stay night: unlimited blade works, Fate/stay night movie trilogy Heaven's feel and then last Fate/Zero.
Fate/zero tells the beginning story for the other Fate/stay routes. It's best used to piece together the open spaces of plot what Fate/stay night variations leave behind. The Fate/stay night paths tell 3 different continuation stories for Fate/Zero and give different path's for Shiro Emiya's story, while Fate/Zero tells what happened before Fate/stay night and give detail to lots of cool characters.
Fate/Zero is very epic so you might think it's best to start with and it's chronologically the 'right way'. But it's meant to be watched after Fate/stay night. FSN was first vn and was first fate product that came out from Type-Moon (company that produces Fate).
You will spoil plot and make the story developments become more boring for Fate/stay night and Fate/Zero, and both lose significance in plot reveals what are meant to intrigue you.
So Fate/stay night is better at explaining story and plot without spoilers.
Also the quality only can get better from Fate/Stay night (The first FSN route) with it's bad adaptation from onwards, for it was made first and started off the anime production.
FSN Original route is the worst out of the three. It's nice in my opinion, though lacks in all aspects what the others FSN anime adaptations bring to live. (FSN can be skipped or watched later)
FSN Unlimited Blade Works is the very cool and clear upgrade from the 'original' path. It gives lot to many main characters and build up the hero theme.
FSN The Heaven's feel trilogy gives best conclusion out of the three Fate/stay night variations. It truly is cool masterpiece and ends in wholesome ending with surprising events.
There's vn game sequel for FSN named Fate/hollow Ataraxia if you want more after FSN. Also Fate/Stay Strange is very good ln/manga if you want some good Fate content.
Fate/Zero not lot to say here without spoiling anything. It is probably my favorite or one of the many Fate series. Very good.
Conclusion: You can watch Fate/zero first if you don't care about plot. But if you want to watch whole Fate story as it's finest with interesting plot twist, start with Fate/stay night, FSN UBW, FSN HF and then finish up the plot with Fate/Zero. If you still grave more Fate content, FHA and FSS are good game/literature options and all the listed anime in list below.
Thank you for reading this! For what it helps I myself watched Fate in chronological order and enjoyed it.