The Fast And Furious Movies' Timeline Explained

F9 poster
(Image credit: Universal Pictures)

Most would think that, in a series as fast paced and action packed as The Fast and the Furious saga is, there would be a pretty easy to follow story that goes along with it all. Well, it’s easy if you get to look at it all in hindsight, as watching the hard driving plot unfold in the order the films were released leads to a bit of a headache. 

As such, there’s a bit of creative timeline thinking that needs to be laid out, which has no bearing on the status of this franchise as the home to some of the best action movies. Living life a quarter of a mile at a time leads to some interesting story hiccups, especially when the Fast saga requires audiences to do some mental gymnastics to make it make sense. 

We’ve covered some previous ground on this subject matter with our guide of how to watch The Fast and the Furious movies in either release order or story chronology. With the 2023 new movie release Fast X now hitting its home entertainment window, we’re going to take a look at the entire story, piecing events together where they belong. Which has become even more complicated to keep track of with each additional film.

Finn Cole and Vinnie Bennett pictured side by side behind the wheel in F9.

(Image credit: Universal)

The Toretto Family Flashbacks In F9

Release Year: 2021
Year Of Events: 1989, 199X

Damn that Toretto family and their extensive backstory. Acting as the most temporally active entry in the Fast Saga, the most recent film F9 jumps into the well of the past to flesh out a long standing feud between Dom and his half-brother Jakob (John Cena). Two flashbacks see the Toretto boys squabbling over the meaning of family and what it feels like to be left behind, starting in 1989 - when they see their father killed during a race. 

After Dom goes to jail for almost killing the man he feels is responsible, his release from jail in the ‘90s saw him butting heads with Jakob yet again. One race fuels the rivalry that the two will see burn throughout the franchise, as the loser swears to leave town for good. At this point, with Jakob out of the picture, Dom becomes the racing king who would turn to thievery not too long after.

Vin Diesel in The Fast and the Furious

(Image credit: Universal Pictures)

The Fast And The Furious

Year Of Release: 2001
Year Of Events: 2004

The Fast and the Furious was the (cinematic) start of it all. In a world where there were no smartphones, just people living in the moment, vibing, and stealing huge amounts of DVD players. There’s no confusion where this film lies, as Vin Diesel and Paul Walker’s Dominic “Dom” Toretto and Brian O’Conner meet for the first time.

Other franchise fixtures introduced are Michelle Rodriguez’ Letty Ortiz, as well as Jordana Brewster’s Mia Toretto. While it’s not explicitly mentioned, some math has been done to estimate that 2004 is the timestamp on the franchise’s origins. That might be a bit confusing, but it’ll all be explained soon enough.

Tyrese Gibson and Paul Walker standing outside of an office building in 2 Fast 2 Furious.

(Image credit: Universal)

2 Fast 2 Furious

Release Year: 2003
Year Of Events: TBD

We’re still on a pretty straight and narrow timeline when we get to 2003’s 2 Fast 2 Furious, but there’s no specific year as to when this picture actually occurs in The Fast and Furious sequel canon. The greatest contribution is that we’re introduced to Roman Pearce (Tyrese Gibson) and Tej Parker (Chris Bridges), both of whom become more important in a couple of movies. 

But even then, references to these events are few and far between, making the exact timing a nightmare to pin down. Another interesting note: Eva Mendes’ character, Monica Fuentes, technically appears again in Fast Five’s post-credits sequence, but how she factors into things is still a bit of a question, as she hasn’t been seen again since.

Paul Walker and Vin Diesel have a talk in the garage in Fast & Furious.

(Image credit: Universal)

Fast & Furious

Release Year: 2009
Year Of Events: 2009

Ok, this is where things start to get complicated. In release order, 2003’s The Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift is supposed to go here. However, if you’re tracking the story’s implied timeline, then 2009’s Fast & Furious is the actual third installment in the Fast saga story.

Taking place five years after the end of The Fast and the Furious, Dom and Brian’s reunion is technically set in the “present day,” meaning 2009 starts a three movie run of prequels that not only see Han Lue (Sung Kang) alive and well, but already a part of Dom’s team, until his death later down the road. That’s not the only wrench Fast & Furious throws into the gears, as Letty’s death in the franchise is dated “May 30, 2009,” per the timeline noted by the Fast and Furious wiki on Fandom.

With that in mind, this is where the theory that The Fast and the Furious takes place in 2004, instead of the assumed contemporary setting of 2001, comes into play. If we’re to take Letty’s tombstone as the smoking gun, then 2009 is when this movie should take place; meaning that, for our purposes, we’ll be siding with the 2004 date for the rest of this timeline Buckle up folks, because it’s about to get even more interesting with the next entry in the series.

Vin Diesel and Dwayne Johnson in each other's faces in Fast Five

(Image credit: Universal Pictures)

Fast Five

Release Year: 2011
Year Of Events: 2011

This is it: the big one, the movie that folds Roman Pearce and Tej into the main storyline of The Fast and the Furious series! Fast Five is considered a huge lynchpin to the series, as it also introduces DSS Agent Luke Hobbs (Dwayne Johnson) into the world of the Fast saga.

While it was released in 2011, this fifth film in the release order is the fourth installment in story order, and should take place in the contemporary setting of 2011. This implies that despite the film opening with Dom’s “release” from prison at the end of Fast & Furious, there’s a two year time jump between that moment and the action proper.

Jason Momoa floats injured in the water in Fast X.

(Image credit: Universal)

Dante Reyes' Flashbacks In Fast X

Release Year: 2023
Year Of Events: 2011

Time has once again been rewritten, Fast familia. Just as F9 introduced an entire new run of Toretto family drama, Fast X has given Dante Reyes (Jason Momoa) and his villainous family their own updated timeline. And, a whole quest for revenge can be traced straight back to the fateful vault chase that saw Hernan Reyes (Joaquim de Almieda) being sent straight to the afterlife. 

Hernan’s death was revealed to be the catalyst that brought both Dante and secret baddie/head of The Agency Aimes (Alan Ritchson) together as twin threats. Both men were being brought into the Reyes crime family as key parties to continue its operation, just as Dom and company disrupted that process in rather lethal fashion. Also, for you Fast X fans, this is a very important timeframe to keep in mind when figuring out where the ninth Fast Saga sequel factors into things. 

Michelle Rodriguez and Vin Diesel in Fast and Furious 6

(Image credit: Universal Pictures)

Fast & Furious 6

Release Year: 2013
Year Of Events: 2013

Save for the huge example of time displacement we’re going to discuss with The Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift’s story order shift, Fast & Furious 6 keeps the series on a contemporary path. It’s also the start of a trilogy of films that directly deals with the “death” of Han Lue, at the hands of Deckard Shaw (Jason Statham.) A supposed act of vengeance after the Toretto gang puts Deckard’s brother Owen (Luke Evans) into a coma, this act is the thread that ties this film, and the next two, in a very tight span of occurrence.

Lucase Black and Sung Kang looking out from their car in The Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift.

(Image credit: Universal)

The Fast And The Furious: Tokyo Drift

Release Year: 2006
Year Of Events: 2014

The story of The Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift is, allegedly, supposed to take place in 2014. It doesn’t matter all that much, as the story of Sean Boswell (Lucas Black) and his introduction to both Han Lue and Dominic Toretto are all that cross over into the series at large. 

Tokyo Drift is the film where Han’s “death” actually occurs, only for that moment to later be retconned to be shown as a consequence of Fast & Furious 6’s big showdown, as well as part of the campaign of vengeance Deckard Shaw would engage in during Furious 7. Of course, Han’s Fast and Furious history wouldn’t end there, as his death would be retconned through some timeline trickery, as well as his resurrection in F9.

Sung Kang sits looking unimpressed in a flashback in F9.

(Image credit: Universal)

Han Lue's Flashbacks In F9

Release Year: 2021
Year Of Events: 2014

Originally, Han Lue was killed by Deckard Shaw at the end of The Fast and the Furious Presents: Tokyo Drift, and that was that. With future Fast movies pushing that entry further along in the timeline, it feels inevitable that a new retcon was waiting in the wings. 

With “Justice for Han” becoming a frequent cry, and Jason Statham’s face turn in the Fast Saga needing explanation, F9 took up that task. Much as the Toretto family was expanded with new lore, Han was given a new mission as part of The Agency. Thanks to this extended sequence, Han Lue is revealed to have saved Elle (Anna Sawai), and with her, Project Ares.

The “death of Han” turned out to be a smoke screen that hid his continued Agency mission to protect this young woman. While Deckard had gone rogue, and was absolutely trying to kill Han, Mr. Nobody (Kurt Russell) helped turn this unfortunate event into an opportunity. Which is how Han was allowed to operate in the shadows between this point and F9; and why making up with Deckard wasn’t that hard in Fast X

Paul Walker in Fast and Furious 7

(Image credit: Universal)

Furious 7

Release Year: 2015
Year Of Events: 2014

Are you tired of seeing Deckard Shaw kill Han? Well, too bad, because Furious 7 is going to show you that moment again. Looped into the story of this particular entry, we see that Deckard kills Han just as Brian O’Connor is about to escape a particularly explosive fate, set up by the walking and breathing Shaw brother. So that fact ties this movie into the 2014 timeframe, making Tokyo Drift’s Sean Boswell the oldest teenager to have ever existed since Dick Clark himself.

Charlize Theron in The Fate of the Furious

(Image credit: Universal)

The Fate Of The Furious

Release Year: 2017
Year Of Events: 2014-2015 (?)

From this point in The Fast and the Furious timeline, the Fast saga is a contemporary affair yet again. The Fate of the Furious is done with showing the death of Han Lue, and the movies have caught up with the clock of the world, seeing the present day enjoying all of the vehicular mayhem that Dominic’s “family” could muster.

While there are suggestions that this film takes place in a contemporary 2017 setting, the fact that Dom’s baby with former girlfriend/DSS agent Elena Neves (Elsa Pataky) was conceived pretty close to the time he found out Letty was still alive pegs this film in a window of time closer to 2014-2015. Little Marcos/Brian’s age in The Fate of the Furious backs this theory up pretty well, as he’s still small enough to fit in an easy to juggle car seat; just ask Deckard Shaw.

Dwayne Johnson and Jason Statham walking into battle holding weapons in Fast & Furious Presents: Hobbs and Shaw.

(Image credit: Universal)

Fast & Furious Presents: Hobbs & Shaw

Release Year: 2019
Year Of Events: 2019

Unless there are any more objections, retcons, or questionable decisions in The Fast and the Furious timeline, it’s to be assumed that Fast & Furious Presents: Hobbs & Shaw takes place in its contemporary release year of 2019. Not satisfied with getting into trouble with the Toretto family, Hobbs & Shaw beat Brixton, aka “Black Superman,” like a Cherokee drum, after becoming pretty good friends in The Fate of the Furious

We have no clue when, or if, we’ll be seeing this duo again on screen together. Though Deckard Shaw’s appearance at the end of F9 does serve to further confuse the timeline. Especially if F9 is supposed to take place after this entry.

Vin Diesel stands with his back turned to Thue Ersted Rasmussen as John Cena watches on in F9.

(Image credit: Universal)

F9 (Excluding Flashbacks) 

Release Year: 2021
Year Of Events: 2019

With the Toretto family history flashbacks aside, the bulk of F9 is supposedly set two years after The Fate of the Furious. Holding true to the conception/aging of little Brian, that means that this entry should slot into either 2016 or 2017; but that’s another best guess. Again, as we’ve seen in the case of Sean Boswell and Han Lue, age progression is unpredictable in the Fast and Furious universe. 

Cipher’s return, Jakob Toretto’s involvement, and Deckard Shaw’s post-credits scene are all complicating factors in trying to figure out when F9 takes place in the timeline.Which, yet again, proves why the timeline that is The Fast and the Furious saga is a ball of loose yarn, gently tied together enough to make some sort of sense. 

Once again, the Grim Reaper has lent a hand in keeping the Fast and Furious timeline somewhat consistent. With an estimated 30 year passage of time between Jack Torretto’s death and F9’s events, that would peg this episode as taking place in 2019. That assumption is further backed by the details we’re about to discuss in the next chapter, which doubles down on this assumed chronology.

Jason Momoa stands on a ledge, arms open and welcoming chaos, in Fast X.

(Image credit: Universal)

Fast X (Excluding Flashbacks)

Release Year: 2023
Year Of Events: 2021

Much like the Saw franchise, the Fast Saga continues to dig deeper into the past while building its future. Fast X is the second film to do just that, and with new clues from this entry in the timeline, we may have cracked where F9 is supposed to slot into the overall picture. 

In this tale of Dante Reyes (Jason Momoa) and his quest for revenge, it’s mentioned that Fast Five’s heist took place roughly 10 years ago. With that benchmark in place, Fast X is supposed to happen in 2021, which puts F9 in that 2019 timeframe we specified above.

The timeline only looks to become even more confusing and twisty, thanks to Fast X’s mid-credits scene. Reintroducing Luke Hobbs (Dwayne Johnson) into the fold, we’re not sure where that moment will technically fit into Fast Saga canon. You can blame the existence of that question on Deckard Shaw’s F9 post-credits scene taking place in the middle of the 2023 installment’s adventures. 

Mike Reyes
Senior Movies Contributor

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