The definitive ranking of all the Shrek films from best to Shrek Forever After

If you think it’s wrong, you can get out my swamp


Shrek defined our childhoods, provided us with two decades of memes and gave us a soundtrack to our lives. The films are absolute masterpieces, so good in fact, that one student even managed to write her entire diss on Shrek. But while most agree the franchise is incredible, there is much debate around which of the films is actually the best. So, without further ado, here is the definitive ranking of all the Shrek films from best to Shrek Forever After. If you don’t agree with it, you can get out my swamp.

1. Shrek 2

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The two stars of the show

Shrek 2 is the best film in the franchise and I will not hear otherwise.

To jog your memory… Fiona’s parents haven’t clocked she’s still rocking the whole green vibe, so when they summon her and “Sir Shrek” to come and get the old father’s blessing, they are in for THE shock of their lives.

Lilian’s polite, obvs, but Harold does not like Shrek at all. Not one bit. In the iconic “meet the parents scene”, shit hits the fan. I’m talking lobster everywhere kind of mayhem.

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Me telling you Shrek the Third is better than the first film

But there are soooo many more good bits. The scene at the Fairy Godmother’s factory. Fit Shrek. Donkey as a stallion. Puss in Boots. And of course the absolute tear-jerker of a scene at the end where Harold, now a frog, apologises to Shrek and gives him his blessing.

I’m sorry but if that’s a spoiler, I hope you get locked in a tower guarded by a dragon because you really should have watched the film upwards of 20 times by now.

Also, the dragon’s called Elizabeth. How good is that?

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Fit Shrek

If all that wasn’t enough, the tunes absolutely slap in the second film.

Accidentally In Love. Changes. Funky Town. Need I go on? Yes, I need. Ever Fallen In Love. Livin’ La Vida Loca. And then there’s the absolute cherry on the cake. “C minor. Put it in C minor,” Fairy Godmother says, before slipping into a cover of Bonny Tyler’s Holding Out For A Hero that’s honestly so much better than the original.

This accelerates us right into the scene where Gingy’s massive cousin sacrifices himself for the greater good. I’m crying just thinking about it.

2. Shrek The Third

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Shrek and the gang

Right, I know this is going to be controversial, but hear me out. Shrek The Third is better than the first film.

After Harold tragically passes away, Shrek sets off on a quest to find Arthur “Artie” Pendragon to replace him as King of Far Far Away. Basically,  Shrek’s set on pulling “a Harry” as he’s absolutely done with all this royal shit.

BUT, before he goes, Fiona tells Shrek he’s going to be a dad. Shrek is not emotionally prepared for this at all. When Shrek meets Artie, he gets a shot at practising how to be a father. Over the course of their tempestuous time together, he learns that you know what, he can be a dad, and he’s going to be a bloody good one at that (we always knew he would be).

Running in tandem with Shrek’s “learning to be a dad arc” is Artie’s own coming of age story. At the beginning, he’s just a little bitch getting bullied by the jousting LADS. By the end of the film he’s King and in a really good place. Good for you, Artie.

Then there are the villains like Captain Hook, Cyclops and the witches. Their hopes and dreams have for so long been overlooked. They are the forgotten underclass living in the shadows of the glitz and glamour of Far Far Away. Although Charming manipulates them for his own sinister means, in the villains we get some truly complex characters who just want their happily ever after.

And finally, there are just some top moments like when the Snow White sends the wildlife mental on the scary trees or when Lilian headbutts her way through several walls.

The bit where Shrek pretends to have died and absolutely does Prince Charming with his acting is also top notch cinema.

3. Shrek

Onions have layers

The first film is a classic of its time, but I’d argue it’s the least complex and interesting of the main three films (I will get onto the fourth film).

Shrek gets forced to do a quest he doesn’t want to do. He gets there, accidentally falls in love with Fiona, the damsel in distress, and ends up getting with her, defeating Lord Farquaad in the end. It’s a classic formula. That’s why it works. But it just doesn’t have the emotional depth or relatability of the second and third films.

That’s not to say it’s not really good. Its main strength has to be all the innuendos that run through the film.

Remember when Shrek arrives at Duloc? He sees Lord Faruaad’s phallic castle, he remarks: “Do you think he’s compensating for something.” How about when Farquaad asks the mirror to show him a picture of Fiona and he finds himself “pitching a tent” under his bed sheets? Absolute filth. Dreamworks, you should be ashamed of yourselves.

The film is also great as it’s a partial deconstruction of the classic “two fit people meet each other” fairy tale.  The ogre, often villainized, is made into the sympathetic character that is Shrek, who falls in love with Fiona.

In turn, Fiona has to shake off the warped teachings of fairy tales, and reconstruct her idea if what true love looks like. Fiona realises that Shrek, like a popular root vegetable, has layers and is completely loveable.

Also, All Star, I’m A Believer and Hallelujah are obviously absolute bangers.

4. Shrek Forever After

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Shrek selling his soul to Rumpelstiltskin

I’m sorry but the fourth Shrek film is absolute shite.

It all centres around some dodgy deal Lilian and Harold were about to do with Rumpelstiltskin before they find out Fiona has been rescued from the tower. The royals were planning to give Far Far Away to Rumpelstiltskin in exchange for lifting the curse inflicted on their daughter. Rumpel’s obviously a bit pissed off that this doesn’t happen.

Back in the present, Rumpel meets a grumpy Shrek who just wants to be a normal ogre again. Rumpel promises he can have this in return for a day of Shrek’s childhood. They agree. Shrek goes off to an alternate universe. Rumpel picks the day Shrek was born so that he can stop the birth of the ogre who will save Fiona and stop him being king. Rumpel then becomes king of Far Far Away.

No, me neither.

Frankly, the fourth film butters no parsnips whatsoever and I wish they hadn’t made it. Hopefully the fifth film will be much better.

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