Every Shrek Movie Ranked From Worst To Best

Shrek hugging Donkey and Puss in Boots


With the first movie becoming a smash financial and critical success in 2001, the Shrek movies ranked among the most popular animated franchise of all time. To date, the franchise spawned the Shrek film series up to Shrek 4, two Puss In Boots spin-offs, and a Shrek Broadway musical. Given the success over the years, it wouldn’t be surprising if there are still more adventures to come with Shrek and his pals, including the long-awaited Shrek 5. However, the quality of these projects varies greatly, making it interesting to look at all the Shrek movies ranked from worst to best.


Despite the long and difficult production of the first movie, including losing Shrek’s original voice actor Chris Farley, the movie was a smash hit that allowed DreamWorks animation to compete alongside Disney and Pixar. Following the success of Shrek, the creators were given more and more freedom with their jokes and plot lines, with mixed results. As the critical success of the movies began to wane over time, the franchise seemed to have moved past its prime. However, the success of the Oscar-nominated Puss in Boots: The Last Wish may have revitalized the franchise and given a new look at how all the Shrek movies rank.

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Shrek Forever After (2010)

Shrek, holding a suspended chain, embraces Fiona in Shrek Forever After

Among the Shrek movies ranked from worst to best, the latest movie to feature the titular Scottish ogre is dead last. When it was released in 2010, Shrek Forever After was supposed to be the fourth and final movie in the Shrek film series. Although Shrek the Third wrapped up the storylines of all major characters, Shrek Forever After decided to explore more stories in the universe and finds Shrek struggling to adjust to his new life as a family man. He signs a contract with Rumpelstiltskin and ends up creating an alternate reality where he never rescued Fiona from the tower.

Shrek Forever After might give viewers more insight into Shrek as a character, but it never adds anything meaningful to the overall story. Unlike the other Shrek movies, the Shrek Forever After soundtrack is mediocre at best and fails to capture the magic of the first three movies. Rumpelstiltskin is a fun Shrek villain, but the rest of the beloved characters feel dull in comparison to their earlier appearances. While the other Shrek movies have fun exploring the unconventional fairy tale setting, Shrek Forever After doesn’t justify its existence, and is therefore the worst Shrek movie.

Puss In Boots (2011)

Puss In Boots

This 2011 spinoff to the Shrek movies ranked strong among critics with an 86% Rotten Tomatoes score, but it’s hard to see how they were so enthusiastic. Puss in Boots gives fans the backstory of the cat burglar voiced by Antonio Banderas. Puss in Boots gives a western-themed backstory that follows Puss in Boots as he teams up with Humpty Alexander Dumpty (an anthropomorphic egg voiced by Zach Galifianakis) and Kitty Softpaws (a female cat burglar voiced by Salma Hayek) as they go on a quest to steal magic beans from gangsters Jack and Jill.

While Shrek spin-offs were inevitable, the feline hero is a fun character to follow on other adventures. Puss in Boots does a great job of building a Spanish-inspired world, but between the cheap jokes and strange dance sequences (one of which is set to Lady Gaga’s “Americano”), Puss in Boots is not a necessary addition to the Shrek series. Despite that, the movie is still more fun than Shrek Forever After.

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Shrek The Third (2007)

Shrek the third in a messy scene with a baby

The third Shrek movie ranked worst on Rotten Tomatoes, but there are elements that put it ahead of other movies in the franchise. Shrek the Third had the challenging task of following the very funny Shrek 2 and despite its flaws, Shrek 3 very nearly pulled it off. When Shrek realizes that he’s not cut out to be the king of Far Far Away, he travels to find the only other heir to the throne: Fiona’s cousin, who happens to be a young King Arthur. Meanwhile, Prince Charming — the jaded villain of Shrek 2 — rounds up a motley crew of villains to storm the castle and claim their own happily ever afters.

Shrek the Third lives up to the first two movies with its great jokes, which are mostly found in the very funny scenes in the high school where Arthur is found and during Prince Charming’s terrible attempts at dinner theater. Shrek the Third also does a great job of wrapping up the plot lines from the two original Shrek movies, ending with Shrek, Fiona, and their three children living happily in the swamp. Although Shrek the Third is a great children’s movie and a solid film on its own, it speaks to the quality of the franchise that the first two popular Shrek movies ranked higher.

Shrek The Musical (2013)

Donkey, Shrek, Fiona. and Lord Farquaad in a poster for Shrek the Musical

It might surprise fans that a Shrek Broadway show turned out well, let alone the act that ranks higher than some Shrek movies. Original premiering on Broadway in 2008, Shrek the Musical tells the same story as the original Shrek movie, with 31 new songs written specifically for the show. The musical gives bigger roles to the fairy tale characters surrounding Shrek and much more insight into Princess Fiona’s character following her rescue from the tower.

The biggest drawback to Shrek the Musical, other than the loss of voice actors Mike Myers and Eddie Murphy, is the weirdness of the ogre costumes in the show. Regardless, the overwhelming joyfulness of the songs and the incredible technical effects make Shrek the Musical well worth one’s time. It is a fun retelling of the tale with the welcome return of Shrek’s first villain, Lord Farquaad. Finally, the addition of Broadway performers Sutton Foster and Brian d’Arcy James elevate Shrek the Musical into one of the better Shrek movies.

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Puss In Boots: The Last Wish (2022)

Puss In Boots The Last Wish Deleted Scene

More than a decade after the first Puss in Boots movie and what is to date the last Shrek movie, this sequel excelled under high pressure. Puss in Boots: The Last Wish, gives the heroic feline an exciting, hilarious, and surprisingly poignant story that makes him one of the most interesting characters in the Shrek franchise. The movie finds the fearless Puss in Boots down to his last life and suddenly not as fearless as he once was, so he sets out on a quest with an old comrade and a new ally to gain one last wish that will restore his other nine lives.

Puss in Boots: The Last Wish is the best Shrek movie in nearly 20 years, giving hope for the future of the franchise. The laughs are constant, even pushing the boundaries of a kids’ movie with dark characters, violence, and censored profanity, much like the early Shrek movies did. The action is also spectacular with a style evoking a more hand-drawn storybook look that feels reminiscent of Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse ‘s simulation of moving comic book panels.

The central story of a hero understanding his own mortality also gives the adventure a surprisingly strong message which, together with its refreshing animation, helped to earn the movie an Oscar nomination for Best Animated Film. Though it seems unlikely that The Last Wish‘s surprising box office success will ever trump the influence on popular culture that the original Shrek movies had, it’s a step in the right direction for the franchise that lives up to the standards set in its heyday.

Shrek (2001)

Shrek Leaves Toilet Opening

When Shrek was released in 2001, the movie was groundbreaking 3D computer animation. Although the graphics haven’t aged well, the movie is packed with jokes that still hold up nineteen years after its release. Shrek does a fantastic job of setting up the world and introducing Shrek, Fiona, and Donkey, as well as a large cast of supporting characters. The movie was widely praised for incorporating adult humor with age-appropriate jokes for kids and won the first-ever Academy Award for Best Animated Film, as well as competing for the Palm d’Or at the Cannes Film Festival.

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Shrek incorporates the idiosyncratic fairy tales with ease, poking fun at the genre at every turn with great success. In a movie with great voice performances from Cameron Diaz, Mike Myers, and Eddie Murphy, the standout is somehow the killer soundtrack, a mixtape of pop and rock music that included the Smash Mouth hit “All Star.”

Shrek 2 (2004)

Shrek 2

Undeniably the best Shrek movie, Shrek 2 is a rare example of a sequel surpassing the original film. After the popularity of Shrek, the DreamWorks team had the freedom to massively expand the universe with a new cast of fairy tale characters and the Hollywood-inspired Far Far Away. Although the film was released only three years after the original, Shrek 2 had significantly improved animation and used that to create one of the best sequences of the franchise: Shrek and his friends storming the castle while the dastardly Fairy Godmother (Jennifer Saunders) gives a show-stopping performance of “Holding Out For A Hero.”

Shrek 2 was a stellar addition to the Shrek series and the high point of the franchise, pushing the boundaries of the Shrek universe to new comic heights. The Shrek movies might range in quality, but the high points of the series are still considered all-time great animated films. Shrek does a great job of establishing the characters and the offbeat world and Puss in Boots: The Last Wish makes that world larger and more diverse — but Shrek 2 is inarguably one of the funniest animated movies of all time. Shrek continues to be one of the most enduring franchises for a reason.

What The Success Of Puss In Boots 2 Means For Shrek 5

Shrek Sequels Puss in Boots The Last Wish

Looking at all the Shrek movies ranked highlights the downward trajectory that the franchise took over the years following the success of Shrek 2. However, Puss in Boots: The Last Wish looks to have changed that negative trend, and hopefully this is a permanent course correction. More than 20 years after Shrek became the first movie to win the Oscar for Best Animated Feature, Puss in Boots 2 earned the franchise another nomination in the category.

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In addition to the huge critical acclaim that the sequel received, Puss in Boots‘ box-office success helps Shrek 5seem more likely than ever. It proves that people are still interested in these characters and there are still stories to tell. This was further hinted at in the post-credit scene of Puss in Boots as Puss and his friends sail to the kingdom of Far, Far Away to “see some old friends.” Puss in Boots: The Last Wish not only makes it possible to return to the Shrek franchise, but it also serves as a guide on how to turn the franchise around.

Puss in Boots: The Last Wish remembered the fun the franchise can have by playing around with classic fairy tales, including clever takes on Goldilocks and the Three Bears and the villainous Big Jack Horner. It also avoided getting weighed down by too many pop culture references which was a major problem in the later Shrek movies. For Shrek movies to be good again, they have to remember what made them so likable in the first place while also being willing to give audiences something new, which Puss in Boots: The Last Wish delivered.

NEXT: Puss In Boots 2’s Message Changes Shrek’s Sequels



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