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The Jurassic Park Universe Explained: Your Guide To The Movies, Books, And More

T-Rex in Jurassic Park
(Image credit: Universal Pictures)

From Michael Crichton’s original best-seller in 1991 to the upcoming movie of Jurassic World: Dominion, the Jurassic Park legacy has been a pop culture landmark. Inspiring the public to fall in love with dinosaurs all over again, Steven Spielberg’s 1993 blockbuster adaptation only strengthened the entire Jurassic universe’s foothold on the imagination of the entire planet. 

Which means that there’s a lot of stuff to keep up with over the course of almost 30 years, as books, video games, and even a TV show have become part of that very dino dynasty. If you’re looking for a guide to not just the movies, but also the fun Jurassic lore that’s waiting to be discovered in other media, you’ve come to the right place.

Naturally, this isn’t everything, as this is a pretty expansive universe, but we spared few details in including the notable properties you should dig into as a Jurassic Park fan. Hold onto your butts, as the tour’s about to start!

Michael Crichton on The Today Show, promoting Jurassic Park.

(Image credit: NBC)

The Michael Crichton Books

It all started with a duology of books that best-selling author Michael Crichton would pen throughout his storied career. While one would set the table for the Jurassic Park craze, another was written directly as a result. 

Jurassic Park (1990)
Written throughout the ‘80s, Jurassic Park was the novel that helped catapult Crichton further into literary stardom. There are some stark Jurassic differences between the book and the movie, especially when it comes to tone and characters. The novel is a bit more horrific in its events. Also, Ian Malcolm was heavily implied to have died at the end.  

The Lost World (1995)
Surprise! Ian Malcolm isn’t dead, and returns in 1995’s The Lost World! This book exists because of the success of Jurassic Park the movie. It’s Crichton’s only sequel to one of his novels, with the main difference between book and movie taking place in a battle between Dr. Malcolm and his companions vs. Lewis Dodgson and BioSyn - inGen’s main competitor. 

Laura Dern, Jeff Goldblum and Sam Neill in Jurassic Park

(Image credit: Universal Pictures)

The Classic Jurassic Park Trilogy (1993 - 2001)

The decades-long friendship between Steven Spielberg and Michael Crichton led to the key business deal that would make Jurassic Park happen. As mentioned in the book, Jurassic Park: The Ultimate Visual History (opens in new tab), this partnership was one of mutual respect, as Crichton really wanted Spielberg to direct the adaptation of that first book.  

Jurassic Park (1993)
Drs. Alan Grant (Sam Neill), Ellie Sattler (Laura Dern), and Ian Malcolm (Jeff Goldblum) are brought as endorsements for John Hammond’s (Sir Richard Attenborough) unique amusement park. Unfortunately for all involved, life finds a way to turn the entire experience into a genetically engineered nightmare from hell. Jurassic Park landed itself in the history books as a massive hit, and as an adaptation some argue is better than Michael Crichton's book.

The Lost World: Jurassic Park (1997)
Four years after the events on Isla Nublar, “something has survived.” Isla Sorna, also known as Site B, is now overrun with the dinosaurs bred for Jurassic Park. Dr. Ian Malcolm returns, in order to prevent John Hammond’s scheming nephew, Peter Ludlow (Arliss Howard), from apprehending the remaining creatures.

Jurassic Park III (2001)
Another four years sees Dr. Alan Grant lured to Isla Sorna on a search and rescue mission. Lessons in Raptor communication, a vicious Spinosaurus, and a small detour into how Alan and Dr. Ellie Sattler broke up, all take place.

Jurassic World Dominion the cast stands stunned while in a burning forest in Jurassic World: Dominion,

(Image credit: Universal Pictures)

The Jurassic World Universe (2015 - 2022)

Throughout the years after Jurassic Park III, there were several attempts to revive the franchise. Some of the resulting story ideas were wild, like a Jurassic Park IV involving human/dino hybrids. Eventually, Jurassic World would be revealed as the start of the new era in the franchise’s history, with director Colin Trevorrow kicking things off. 

Jurassic World (2015)
Twenty-two years after John Hammond’s dream seemingly collapsed, the park is open. Introducing trilogy stars Owen Grady (Chris Pratt) and Claire Dearing (Bryce Dallas Howard), another day in the park is ruined by a psychotic genetic hybrid.

Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom (2018)
After the Jurassic World incident, Owen and Claire are recruited to head back to the ruins of Isla Nublar to recover the dinosaurs still living on the island. Yet again, humanity’s bright ideas involving genetic engineering and profiteering backfire, with dinosaurs left to run rampant around the world.

Jurassic World: Camp Cretaceous (2020-2022)
Taking place during events in the Jurassic World trilogy, Camp Cretaceous uses a TV show to throw its young campers into dino-danger. There’s as much cuteness as there is horror, and though the series is ending this July, Jurassic Park fans should totally watch this Netflix show.

Jurassic World: Dominion (2022)
The end of the Jurassic era, this summer’s big blockbuster reunites Owen and Claire, as well as introduces them to Drs. Alan Grant, Ellie Sattler, and Ian Malcolm. Needless to say, we’re not going to reveal much about this one, because spoilers; but here’s a hint: there’s more dinosaurs.

Jurassic Park's Sega Genesis logo

(Image credit: Blue Sky Software/Sega)

Notable Jurassic Park Video Games

There was another common practice that the Jurassic Park movies weren’t immune to: tie-in video games. While there’s plenty more than what we’re about to mention, here are the more notable entries in the Jurassic gaming canon.

Dr. Grant runs from a fallen Raptor in Jurassic Park.

(Image credit: Blue Sky Software/Sega)

The Jurassic Park Era Of Video Games

Jurassic Park (1993)
Depending on what sort of gamer you were, Jurassic Park’s adaptation was a wildly different experience. The Super Nintendo version apparently included first person shooter sequences, as well as other tasks like rebooting the computers. Meanwhile, the Sega Genesis version of Jurassic Park was a side-scrolling shooter/fighter, where you could play as Dr. Alan Grant or a Velociraptor!

Jurassic Park: Rampage Edition (Sega Genesis - 1994)
Here’s another case of the consoles diverging wildly in their approach. Jurassic Park: Rampage Edition sees Alan Grant crashing back onto Isla Nublar, with our Velociraptor friend remaining on the island as well. Both fight off dinosaurs and inGen personnel in a slightly more brutal follow-up.

Jurassic Park 2: The Chaos Continues (Super Nintendo - 1994)
Taking the side-scrolling approach from its Genesis counterpart, Jurassic Park 2: The Chaos Continues has Alan Grant trying to stop BioSyn employees from raiding the island for dinosaurs/specimens. It should be noted that both this and the Rampage Edition were released about a year before The Lost World novel would find its way into the world

A T-Rex eats a Velociraptor in The Lost World: Jurassic Park.

(Image credit: Electronic Arts/Dreamworks Interactive)

The Lost World: Jurassic Park Era Of Video Games

The Lost World: Jurassic Park (1997)
While not exactly a direct adaptation of the film, The Lost World’s video game allowed you to play as several dinosaurs, and Julianne Moore’s character from the film, Dr. Sarah Harding. This title is notable for two reasons: its music was one of the projects that put young Michael Giacchino on the world’s radar, and of course, the snarky Jeff Goldblum video that basically tells players to touch grass.

Trespasser (1998)
Most excitingly, The Lost World: Jurassic Park had a “digital sequel,” the 1998 game Tresspasser. A woman named Anne (Minnie Driver) crash lands on Isla Sorna, years after The Lost World, and has to survive the dinosaurs still on the island. The game was janky, but ambitious, and there’s a community that’s still keeping it alive to this day. 

Warpath: Jurassic Park (1999)
Two words sum up the officially licensed Jurassic Park fighting game: “dino fights.” It may not have done much back in the day, but it may have influenced some of the prize fights in the Jurassic World saga. 

Herbivores relaxing in their paddock in Jurassic World: Evolution 2.

(Image credit: Frontier)

The (Jurassic) Park Sims

Perhaps the best part of the video game angle of the Jurassic world are the park sims! 

Jurassic Park: Operation Genesis (2003)
This is pretty much the only game from the Jurassic Park III era that is worth mentioning. Acting as a sort of Roller Coaster Tycoon in the Jurassic saga, you could build your own Jurassic Park, and take part in both the business and maintenance end. Good luck finding an affordable copy, but if you can get your hands on it, it’s worth it.

The Jurassic World: Evolution Games (2018/2021)
If you don’t want to spend the massive cash on getting Jurassic Park: Operation Genesis, then you can snag the more modern, massively more affordable versions! 2018’s beautiful Jurassic World: Evolution, and the 2022 sequel, Jurassic World: Evolution 2, both allow you to build and maintain your own dinosaur park; but with new and exciting challenges. Also, Jeff Goldblum and Bryce Dallas Howard take part in some of the voice acting throughout the games, which really helps sell that Jurassic World feeling. 

Almost 30 years of history in the books and Jurassic Park’s legacy is stuffed with a ton of proof to show its impact on pop culture. Again, this isn’t even close to everything we could have discussed. If you really want to dig into the history of the first three Jurassic movies, then check out Jurassic Park: The Ultimate Visual History (opens in new tab)! And don’t forget, Jurassic World: Dominion is currently in theaters, continuing the tradition of dinosaurs snacking on humanity. 

CinemaBlend's James Bond (expert). Also versed in Large Scale Aggressors, time travel, and Guillermo del Toro. He fights for The User.