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Warning: SPOILERS for the Fast and Furious movies are in play. Just in case you haven’t seen them, you can read the order of how the films play out chronologically, and then come back later once you’ve experienced the series in its entirety.
We’re in an interesting juncture in the Fast and Furious franchise, as we won’t be seeing the ninth film in the series proper until next year. This is despite the fact that The Fate of the Furious was unleashed upon the world in 2017, and while we’re all on board with good things coming to those who wait, we’re anxious to see what happens next.
That being said, there is some excitement on the horizon in the world of this supercharged franchise, as Dwayne Johnson’s Luke Hobbs and Jason Statham’s Deckard Shaw will be holding court in their own blockbuster spin-off, Fast and Furious Presents: Hobbs and Shaw. And while you probably won’t need to see the films that came before this one in the series proper to truly enjoy it, it’s a long wait until August, and it certainly couldn’t hurt.
It also doesn’t help that the titles to the Fast and Furious films don’t exactly spell out the proper viewing order. So once and for all, in the name of franchise fans new and old, we’d like to nail down the correct order for your next Fast and Furious movie binge. Buckle up, because not only is it time for driving puns, it’s time to live your life in the name of family, a quarter mile at a time. Let's start off by laying out the Fast and Furious movies in order of how they were released.
The Fast And The Furious (2001)
The starting line for the franchise, The Fast and the Furious was inspired by real life street races and a Vice article that covered their existence. This might come as a shock to people who tend to remember the more recent films better, but Paul Walker’s Brian O’Conner and Vin Diesel’s Dominic Toretto started out as adversaries on opposite sides of the law.
Brian at this point is an undercover cop who's trying to send Dom and his family up the river through an extensive sting operation. However, by the end of the film, both are brothers in arms and ready to start an entire franchise of action. At least, that was the eventual intent, as there would be two sequels that would try to redefine the formula of the series without Vin Diesel’s contributions.
2 Fast 2 Furious (2003)
With the focus put on Brian O’Conner this time out, Paul Walker was the central lead for 2 Fast 2 Furious. As such, there was a need to explore a new setting with Miami, as well as introduce a couple new characters to aid in his investigation of a local drug lord. Which, of course, involves some fast street racing through various Florida based locations.
The second of the Fast and Furious movies, 2 Fast 2 Furious introduced two characters that would eventually return to the series fold down the line: Tyrese Gibson’s Roman Pearce, and Chris “Ludacris” Bridges’ Tej Parker. They won’t be seen for a couple more films though, as another huge shift is about to take place in the Fast and Furious universe.
The Fast And The Furious: Tokyo Drift (2006)
As if 2 Fast 2 Furious’ problem of having a lack of Vin Diesel wasn’t bad enough, The Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift lacked any significant participation from any of the series’ lead actors. This prompted an entirely new story to be told, through even more new characters. Introducing Lucas Black’s Sean Boswell and Sung Kang’s Han Lue into the series, the film tells the story of Sean being forced to move to Tokyo after getting into some legal trouble with some fast cars back in the U.S.
With Sean’s introduction to drift racing on the streets of Tokyo, the fast paced excitement of Fast and Furious franchise history had finally gone global, introducing new characters that would return later down the line in the series’ history. Han would become an especially crucial member to the team in subsequent films, despite his character meeting a fiery death in The Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift. And while it wasn’t a significant role, Vin Diesel does return as Dom at the very end of the film, tying this installment even tighter to series continuity, as well as presenting another chronological problem.
Fast And Furious (2009)
Eight years after the original adventures of The Fast and the Furious, the franchise started to hit the stride that it currently enjoys with its run of films. Pretty much the entire original cast of that first film is back, though the plot of this fourth film, strangely titled Fast and Furious, sees the death of Michelle Rodriguez’s Letty kick off a quest for vengeance on the part of Dom and Brian.
Bringing back Vin Diesel, Paul Walker and Jordana Brewster for the first time since they starred in The Fast and the Furious, Sung Kang’s Han Lue is folded into the overarching group in Fast and Furious, with Gal Gadot also being brought in as Gisele, one of Dom’s substitute love interests while Letty is out of the picture. From this point on, while some characters would shift in and out of the group, the core cast of Diesel, Walker and Brewster would remain for a while, with some new friends to be added along the way.
Fast Five (2011)
After tangling with drug cartels and organized crime through the power of street racing for four straight films, the Fast and Furious movies were about to take a hard left into the heist genre. Dom, Brian, and the gang would solidify into a cohesive unit, tying together even more of the series’ rogues gallery into the team on Fast Five’s mission to rob a Brazilian crime lord blind.
Returning to the group in Fast Five are Han Lue, as well as Tyrese Gibson’s Roman, Chris Bridges’ Tej and Gal Gadot’s Gisele; and in the role of Dom’s latest romantic person of interest was Elsa Pataky’s Elena. But perhaps the greatest addition this time out was in the film’s law bound antagonist and later ally to the Toretto family team, DSS agent Luke Hobbs. With Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson making an explosive entry into the series with this film, things would truly never be the same.
Fast And Furious 6 (2013)
Remember how Letty supposedly died two films back? Surprise, she’s still alive! Michelle Rodriguez returned in Fast and Furious 6 as an associate to the film’s villain, ex-MI6 agent-turned heel Owen Shaw. Played by Luke Evans, Owen’s inclusion would allow the Fast and Furious movies to tap a new vein of antagonists that would turn teammates with the Shaw family.
Fast and Furious 6 also continued the series’ evolution from a street racing franchise into one that involved high-tech espionage and big ticket thievery. Needless to say, Dom, Brian and Mia all return, as well as Roman, Tej, Han and Hobbs. Though the mid-credits sequence of this film does put Han’s story to a final end, as his fatal accident is refolded into canon with a new assailant responsible for his death: Jason Statham’s Deckard Shaw, looking for revenge after the team’s foiling of Owen’s plot in Fast and Furious 6.
Furious 7 (2015)
Properly introducing the character of Deckard Shaw into the Fast and Furious series, Furious 7 saw the brother of the now comatose Owen Shaw coming not only vengeance, but also for a rather shady piece of technology that could be a surveillance nightmare if in the wrong hands. For the last time, we see poor Han’s death through a fiery wreck, and for the first time we see Kurt Russell’s cool as ice DSS handler, code-named Mr. Nobody.
Furious 7 also ties up some loose ends with the re-introduction of The Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift’s Sean Boswell, setting him up for further films down the line of the franchise. Sadly, this would also be the final appearance of Paul Walker’s Brian O’Conner, as Walker's untimely death in an automobile accident prompted those behind the series’ story to retire the character at the end of this film.
The Fate Of The Furious (2017)
The last film in the line of proper entries to the Fast and Furious franchise, The Fate of the Furious sees Vin Diesel’s Dominic Toretto breaking bad, under the influence of Charlize Theron’s new baddie Cipher. Apparently the mastermind behind turning Owen Shaw in Fast and Furious 6, her efforts have been behind each major threat through the last two films, with her aim being to cause irrevocable global chaos.
Returning to fight alongside the rest of Dom’s team are Dwayne Johnson’s DSS Agent Luke Hobbs, as well as Jason Statham’s controversial addition to the hero roster, Deckard Shaw; the two members of the Fast and Furious movie team that would go on to have their own spinoff in this summer’s Hobbs and Shaw. While Dom does return to the side of good, it comes at the cost of Elsa Pataky’s Elena, who is killed in the line of duty by Cipher.
With the full rundown of the Fast and Furious movies now complete, it’s time to think real hard about what order to watch them in. Because believe it or not, with one quick alteration, the story makes so much more sense in the long run. even if the real world timing doesn’t exactly work out in its favor.
The Right Order To Watch The Fast And Furious Movies In
If you want to experience the Fast and Furious movies in the right order, there’s only one movie that needs to be shifted in place. While technically running as the third film in the chronological order, you can take The Fast and The Furious: Tokyo Drift and slot it in before Furious 7 in your watching order. This not only puts Han’s death into proper context, it also leads straight into the seventh film’s integration of the event into its own storyline.
Alternatively, if you really wanted to, you could drop the film out of your watching order altogether. Not only would this leave Lucas Black’s Sean Boswell with a clean slate for his eventual return to the Fast and Furious movies, it wouldn’t impact the storyline all that much as all the vital components are already wound into the series’ narrative through Fast and Furious 6 and Furious 7’s storylines.
We hope that this crash course in Fast and Furious history has helped you figure out which order to watch the franchise in, as well as the correct order in terms of chronological release. Who knows, you might be quizzed on the titles and their running orders at a bar quiz in the near future. Or a friend might trust you to set them straight on how The Fast and the Furious started it all, but it took the film three sequels to get Fast and Furious.
The point is, the information you need to navigate this high velocity thrill ride of a franchise is right at your fingertips, and now you’ll never need to worry about whether or not you’re watching the Fast and Furious movies correctly.
Meanwhile, if you’re looking forward to Fast and Furious Presents: Hobbs and Shaw, you’ll only have to wait until August 2 to see that particular end result. Though should you want to get some action into your movie watching lineup before then, take a look at our 2019 release schedule to see what else is waiting on the road to August.