Sword Art Online (SAO) is one of the most popular anime series in the world, captivating audiences with its unique blend of action, adventure, and romance. But with so many different seasons and spin-offs, it can be hard to keep track of how many there actually are.

If you’re short on time, here’s a quick answer to your question: There are currently 4 seasons of Sword Art Online, with multiple spin-offs and movies.

In this comprehensive guide, we’ll take a closer look at each season, as well as the various spin-offs and movies that have been released. By the end, you’ll have a much better understanding of the entire SAO franchise.

Season 1: Sword Art Online

Sword Art Online (SAO) is a Japanese light novel series written by Reki Kawahara. It was adapted into an anime series in 2012, with 25 episodes in the first season. The story follows the adventures of Kirito, a skilled swordsman who is trapped in a virtual reality MMORPG called Sword Art Online. The players are unable to log out of the game and are told that the only way to escape is to beat all 100 floors of the game’s tower.

Plot Summary

The first season of SAO focuses on Kirito’s journey through the game and his relationships with other players, including Asuna, a skilled fighter who becomes Kirito’s love interest. Along the way, they encounter various obstacles, including powerful bosses and rival players who seek to kill them. As they progress through the game, they uncover a dark secret about the game’s creator and the true nature of their imprisonment.

Main Characters

The main characters of SAO include:

  • Kirito – The main protagonist, a skilled swordsman and solo player who becomes a legend within the game.
  • Asuna – A skilled fighter and guild leader who becomes Kirito’s love interest.
  • Klein – A friendly player who befriends Kirito early in the game.
  • Agil – A player who runs a shop in the game and becomes an ally of Kirito.
  • Heathcliff – The leader of the strongest guild in the game and a mysterious figure who becomes a rival of Kirito.

Critical Reception

The first season of SAO was generally well-received by fans and critics alike. It was praised for its engaging storyline, well-developed characters, and impressive animation. The relationship between Kirito and Asuna was also widely praised for its complexity and emotional depth. However, some critics criticized the show for its pacing and lack of character development for some of the supporting cast.

Season 2: Sword Art Online II

Sword Art Online II is the second season of the popular anime series Sword Art Online (SAO), which originally aired in 2014. The season takes place one year after the events of the first season, where Kirito, the protagonist, is recruited by the government to enter a new VRMMORPG game called Gun Gale Online (GGO) to investigate a series of mysterious deaths that occurred in the game.

Plot Summary

In GGO, Kirito meets a new ally, Sinon, who helps him navigate the game and the investigation. Along the way, they encounter new challenges and obstacles, including a powerful enemy known as Death Gun. As they delve deeper into the investigation, they uncover a dark conspiracy that threatens not only the game but also the real world.

Main Characters

  • Kirito: The main protagonist and a skilled gamer who is recruited by the government to investigate a series of mysterious deaths in GGO.
  • Sinon: A skilled sniper and Kirito’s ally in GGO who helps him in the investigation.
  • Death Gun: The main antagonist of the season and a feared player in GGO who is responsible for the deaths of several players.

Critical Reception

Sword Art Online II received mixed reviews from critics and fans alike. While some praised the season’s action and animation, others criticized its pacing and character development. However, it remains a popular entry in the SAO franchise and is often recommended for fans of the series.

According to IMDb, Sword Art Online II has a rating of 7.5 out of 10, based on over 20,000 user reviews. Meanwhile, Rotten Tomatoes gave the season a rating of 67% based on 6 reviews.

Season 3: Sword Art Online: Alicization

Sword Art Online: Alicization is the third season of the popular anime series Sword Art Online (SAO). The season premiered in October 2018 and was produced by A-1 Pictures. Alicization is based on the original light novel series by Reki Kawahara and covers the events of volumes 9 through 18.

Plot Summary

The season follows Kirito as he awakens in a mysterious virtual world called the Underworld. He is recruited by an Artificial Intelligence (AI) called Eugeo, and together they embark on a quest to reach the top of the central cathedral. Along the way, they encounter various obstacles and challenges, including powerful foes and corrupt nobles.

Main Characters

The main characters in Alicization are Kirito, Eugeo, and Alice. Kirito is the protagonist of the series and a skilled swordsman. Eugeo is a young man from the village of Rulid who befriends Kirito in the Underworld. Alice is a childhood friend of Eugeo who becomes a key player in the season’s plot.

Critical Reception

SAO has been a polarizing series among anime fans, with some praising its unique premise and others criticizing its pacing and character development. Alicization has received generally positive reviews from both fans and critics. The season’s animation and fight scenes have been particularly well-received, with some calling them some of the best in the series. According to Anime News Network, Alicization has “reignited the excitement and promise that the series had initially displayed, and it’s off to a very promising start.”

Season 4: Sword Art Online: War of Underworld

Sword Art Online: War of Underworld is the fourth season of the popular anime series Sword Art Online. It is the second part of the third season, which began airing in October 2019 and concluded in September 2020. The season is based on the light novel series written by Reki Kawahara and illustrated by ABEC.

Plot Summary

The war between the human and dark territory forces continues in Sword Art Online: War of Underworld. Asuna and Alice have joined forces with the human army, while Kirito remains in a comatose state. Meanwhile, Gabriel Miller, known as Subtilizer, is revealed to be the mastermind behind the war. The season follows the battles between the two factions as they fight for control of the Underworld.

Main Characters

  • Kirito – The protagonist of the series who is currently in a comatose state.
  • Asuna – Kirito’s girlfriend and a skilled warrior who fights alongside the human army.
  • Alice – A former Integrity Knight who defects to the human army.
  • Eugeo – Kirito’s best friend who died in the previous season.
  • Subtilizer – The main antagonist of the season who is revealed to be Gabriel Miller, a former member of Rath.

Critical Reception

The fourth season of Sword Art Online received mixed reviews from critics and fans. Some praised the action and animation, while others criticized the pacing and character development. On Rotten Tomatoes, the season has an audience score of 72% based on 25 user ratings. However, the season has a high rating of 8.2/10 on MyAnimeList, a popular anime rating website.

Spin-Offs and Movies

If you’re a fan of Sword Art Online, you might be wondering how many seasons of the anime have been released. In addition to the main series, there are also several spin-offs and movies that expand the SAO universe. Here’s a comprehensive guide to all of the SAO content you can watch.

One of the most popular SAO spin-offs is Sword Art Online Alternative: Gun Gale Online. This anime follows a new protagonist named Karen Kohiruimaki, who is insecure about her height in real life. In the virtual world of Gun Gale Online, she creates a tall, confident avatar named Llenn and becomes a skilled player. The series explores different themes than the original SAO, such as the concept of self-image and the nature of competition.

Sword Art Online: Ordinal Scale is a full-length movie that takes place after the events of season two. The movie introduces a new augmented reality game called Ordinal Scale, which uses a device called the Augma. Kirito and his friends discover that there’s something sinister behind the game’s popularity, and they must fight to save their memories and their lives.

Sword Art Online: Alicization – War of Underworld is the latest SAO season, and it adapts the final volumes of the light novel series. In this season, Kirito is trapped in a virtual world called the Underworld, where he must regain his memories and fight against the forces of darkness. The season explores complex themes like artificial intelligence, morality, and the nature of reality.

SAO Spin-Offs and Movies Release Date
Sword Art Online Alternative: Gun Gale Online April 2018 – June 2018
Sword Art Online: Ordinal Scale February 2017
Sword Art Online: Alicization – War of Underworld October 2019 – September 2020

Whether you’re a die-hard SAO fan or a newcomer to the series, there’s plenty of content to enjoy. Each spin-off and movie offers a new perspective on the SAO universe and expands upon the themes and characters that fans know and love. So grab some popcorn, settle in, and get ready to dive back into the world of Sword Art Online.


Sword Art Online is a franchise that has captured the hearts of millions of fans around the world. With 4 seasons and multiple spin-offs and movies, there’s no shortage of content to enjoy. Whether you’re a die-hard fan or just starting out, we hope that this guide has helped you better understand the entire SAO universe.

So what are you waiting for? Grab some popcorn, sit back, and enjoy the adventure!

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