Keeping track of the Fast and Furious franchise timeline and viewing order is a big task. With eight films made and a ninth on the way, the Fast and Furious franchise has spent the better part of 20 years evolving as an action franchise of serious scope. From the cast to the action setpieces to the plot developments — all of which have grown by leaps and bounds since the franchise began with 2001’s The Fast and the Furious — keeping track of how things have progressed can get confusing.
Fast and Furious 9 is currently in production, and will not only continue to advance the story arcs for main characters like Dominic Toretto and Letty Ortiz, but also introduce a new story that must (somewhat) seamlessly tie into previous films. One problem is the Fast and Furious timeline is already a bit fuzzy since it was confirmed that 2006’s The Fast and Furious: Tokyo Drift took place between 2013’s Fast & Furious 6 and 2015’s Furious 7 to account for Han’s (Sung Kang) timeline. The retconning of the Fast and Furious viewing order years after the release of Tokyo Drift to explain why Han was alive in the sixth film but died in a film released years earlier meant the timeline and the viewing order both had to be reassessed.
With Tokyo Drift throwing a serious curveball into the franchise’s continuity, it’s probably best to clarify what the actual Fast and Furious viewing order is right now. Currently, the viewing order is as follows:
- The Fast and the Furious (2001)
- Turbo-Charged Prelude to 2 Fast 2 Furious (2003)
- 2 Fast 2 Furious (2003)
- Los Bandoleros (2009)
- Fast & Furious (2009)
- Fast Five (2011)
- Fast & Furious 6 (2013)
- The Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift (2006)
- Furious 7 (2015)
- The Fate of the Furious (2017)
For the most part, the viewing order is fairly straightforward, with the only real standout being Tokyo Drift, which comes in much further along than you’d expect. This viewing order, in combination with the timeline explained, will hopefully help in figuring out the chronology of this franchise.
The Fast and the Furious is the first film in the franchise. The film introduces the four key characters who figure prominently into the rest of the franchise: Dom, Letty, Mia Toretto, and Brian O’Conner. Eventual best friends Dom and Brian begin on opposite sides of the fence in this first film. Dom and his sister, Mia, run a garage and grocery store in Echo Park. Dom and Letty also work with a small team, using their driving skills to their advantage in aiding their getaways following their robberies. Brian is an undercover officer with the Los Angeles Police Department, trying to earn Dom’s trust so he can learn more about Dom and connect him to a string of robberies in the area.
Due to the issue of Han’s death and the event of Tokyo Drift, there’s a discrepancy with what year The Fast and the Furious takes place. When the film was first released, it was presumed to have taken place the same year it was released, 2001. But Tokyo Drift‘s timeline now potentially pushes that year up slightly to 2004. Of course, there’s was no way this was planned at the time.
Turbo-Charged Prelude helps explain why Brian goes from being an LAPD officer to a criminal, a status change already in effect when 2 Fast 2 Furious begins. The 6-minute short is focused on Brian’s being charged with aiding and abetting Dom during the events of The Fast and The Furious before moving to Miami. This is where 2 Fast picks up.
In 2 Fast 2 Furious, Brian is now a disgraced ex-cop living and working in Miami. There, he’s contacted by a former LAPD colleague, Bilkins, who needs his help in taking down local drug lord Carter Verone. Brian, having learned from Dom how to pull off an effective heist, puts together his own crew and brings in childhood friend Roman Pearce to help him lead it. The film also introduces Tej Parker, at the time a street racer who becomes a tech expert. Both Roman and Tej become part of the core Fast and Furious team.
Another short film in the Fast and Furious franchise, Los Bandoleros focuses on Dom for its 20-minute runtime. The short film helps connect a few films together and explain how Dom and Letty rekindled their romance, eventually going on to become the power couple of the franchise. In Los Bandoleros, Dom flees Los Angeles following the events of The Fast and the Furious. Moving through Mexico, he ends up in the Dominican Republic where he forms a new crew comprised of an old friend, Han, and locals Tego Leo (Tego Calderon) and Rico Santos (Don Omar). Dom and his team are given a job by a local politician, allowing them to put their skills as a team to good use. Letty arrives on the scene. Dom and Letty drive off towards the coast together once they complete the job.
Fast & Furious is the first film where timing becomes important to track, because of Han’s involvement. Despite the film being released after Tokyo Drift, the events within the film indicate it takes place a few years earlier because Han is still alive.
Brian and Dom have both become even better criminal masterminds during their time apart, making them all the more powerful as a team when they bring their respective crews together in Fast & Furious. Dom and his crew from the Dominican Republic split up, fearing their criminal activity will lead to reprisals, and Dom also leaves Letty. Mia tells Dom over the phone shortly afterward that Letty was killed, throwing Dom into an investigation into her murder. This leads Dom to cross paths once more with Brian, now working for the FBI and investigating a drug cartel led by Arturo Braga. Dom and Brian infiltrate Braga’s operation by becoming drivers for him. One of Braga’s men admits to killing Letty, who had infiltrated Braga’s operation shortly before Dom on behalf of Brian in an attempt to win a pardon for Dom’s criminal past. Brian and Dom manage to take Braga into custody, handing him over to the FBI. Dom hands himself over for his crimes and is en route to prison.
Fast Five begins mere moments after the end of Fast & Furious, with Mia, Brian, and the crew working to spring Dom from a prison transport. Months later, Mia and Brian search for Dom in Rio de Janeiro but instead, The Fast and The Furious‘ Vince gets them involved in a heist stealing cars impounded by the DEA, which puts them both on the DEA’s radar. Dom surfaces during this heist, bringing Dom, Brian, and Mia back together. Diplomatic Security Service agent Luke Hobbs is sent to find the trio, enlisting local translator and fixer Elena Neves to help. Dom, Mia, and Brian learn from Vince that the getaway car Mia took belongs to Hernan Reyes and embedded in the car is a chip containing all of the information about Reyes’ operation. The trio evades Hobbs and his team, which includes members of Reyes’ crew, during a tense firefight. In the aftermath, decide to go after Reyes’ fortune. Dom and Brian assemble their crews from 2 Fast 2 Furious and Los Bandoleros to pull it off. The crew splits Reyes’ money and goes their separate ways.
One big thing to focus on here is the beginning on Dom and Elena’s relationship, forged under Dom’s belief Letty is dead (a post-credits scene involves Hobbs learning Letty is still alive, throwing a wrench into things for the next film). The timeline of Dom and Elena’s relationship is a bit odd they are rarely seen together in future films but they go on to have a child together, as revealed in The Fate of the Furious. The timing of when Elena could logically have been pregnant doesn’t match with any possible point in the timeline where she was with Dom and had alone time with him.
Owen Shaw is a mercenary working on behalf of the now-incarcerated Braga from Fast & Furious, who has been orchestrating a series of hijackings. Letty is revealed to be alive and working for Owen, having been kept alive by Braga’s team and handed off to Shaw. Hobbs asks for Dom’s help in tracking Owen down because he knows Letty is working for Shaw. Dom signs on and is joined by Han and Gisele (currently a couple) as well as Roman and Tej. Brian and Mia sit this one out as they raise their son in Spain following the events of Fast Five.
The team learns Shaw is building a device called Nightshade, meant to bring down entire military communications systems. As the team tracks Shaw, Dom tries to break through Letty’s amnesia, a side effect of her accident where she was presumed dead, and Brian manages to get information from Braga about how Letty came to work for Shaw. After Shaw kidnaps Mia when he feels the team is getting to close to taking him down, Dom and the crew go after him. Dom and the team corner Shaw during the film’s final fight sequence. Gisele sacrifices herself so the team can get Nightshade. Shaw is thrown from a plane and presumed dead while Dom retrieves Nightshade and gives it to Hobbs. Dom, Mia, and the team are given pardons for their work. The Torettos return to Los Angeles and Han goes to Tokyo.
The events of Fast & Furious, Fast Five, and Fast & Furious 6 take place within a short timespan. Fast Five literally begins as Fast & Furious ends while Fast & Furious 6 takes place just a few months later. Knowing each film takes place not long after the previous film, Tokyo Drift likely takes place no more than one year after Fast & Furious 6.
Also, the Nightshade device Shaw is trying to build and sell to the highest bidder is later revealed to have gone to Cipher, the villain in Fate of the Furious. This connection isn’t made until Fate but it completely retcons Shaw’s motivations and relationship to Cipher (in the sense that he has a relationship to her, full stop).
Tokyo Drift originally bore no major connection to the overall Fast and Furious franchise aside from the cars and Han, still a supporting character in the franchise to this point, appearing as a mentor figure. The film centers around Sean Boswell, a juvenile delinquent shipped from the U.S. to live with his father in Tokyo. Sean quickly discovers the underground racing scene but loses to local champ Takashi, who is feared and respected because his uncle, Kamata, is a local crime boss. Sean meets Han, who mentors him in the art of drifting to help give him an advantage in racing. Han is later accused by his boss, Kamata, of skimming from the operation’s coffers. Han runs and Takashi is in pursuit, both racing through Tokyo with Sean trying to find them and stop it. During the chase, Han is T-boned and killed instantly.
From here on out, the timeline begins to fall back into order somewhat. A post-credits scene from Fast & Furious 6 introduces Deckard Shaw, brother of Owen, as the man who killed Han in order to get to Dom. Deckard is shown at the scene of Han’s crash, calling Dom to inform him Han is dead. This scene retcons the cause of Han’s death and sets in motion the events of Furious 7, whose timeline slightly overlaps with Tokyo Drift.
The film begins with Deckard calling Dom to inform him about Han’s death. Deckard targets Dom and his crew after learning they are responsible for what happened to Owen (who is revealed to be alive but hospitalized in the film). Deckard sends bombs to Dom and Hobbs’ homes, putting the men and their loved ones in danger. Dom, Hobbs, and their crew — which is now Letty, Brian, Roman, and Tej — are approached by a Black Ops agent called “Mr. Nobody” who offers them the chance to get Deckard if they can first rescue the hacker Ramsey, who created a program called God’s Eye which allows a person to be located anywhere in the world through any technological device. Ramsey has been kidnapped by Mose Jakande, who wants God’s Eye for himself. The team rescues Ramsey, but Deckard shows up during the rescue and steals God’s Eye. This makes it tough to track Deckard down but Dom, Hobbs, and the team eventually corner him, fight him, defeat him, and hand him over to the CIA, where he’s put into a maximum-security prison.
The film accommodates for the untimely passing of Paul Walker, who plays Brian, by ending the film with Brian driving off into the sunset. Brian will no longer be seen in the Fast and Furious franchise and his absence will likely be explained by his work and family obligations.
Dom and Letty are living in Cuba when Dom is approached by Cipher. Cipher demands Dom work for her, blackmailing him with evidence she has kidnapped Elena and the son she had with Dom as motivation to make him work for her. Dom turns on the team — which now consists of Hobbs, Letty, Ramsey, Tej, and Roman — during a heist in Berlin to steal an EMP (electromagnetic pulse). Dom causes Hobbs’ car, which has the EMP, to crash and he takes it. Hobbs and the team are rounded up in the aftermath by Mr. Nobody and informed about Cipher. Ramsey recognizes Cipher as a serious threat. Mr. Nobody informs the team Deckard will join them and Deckard tells the team he’s involved because Cipher was working with Owen and betrayed him.
Hobbs, Letty, and the rest of the team take on Cipher and attempt to free Dom from her grasp as Cipher uses God’s Eye (acquired from Mose Jakande) to evade capture. Cipher plans on starting a nuclear war with the assistance of Nightshade (acquired from Owen) to bring down military communication systems. The team tracks Dom and Cipher to Russia, foiling Cipher and saving Dom and Elena’s son (Elena is killed earlier in the film when Dom isn’t following Cipher’s orders). The team reconvenes in New York once the mission is complete.
A big retcon from Fate of the Furious is Mose Jakande’s motivation to steal God’s Eye. In Furious 7, it’s implied he is working alone and for his own purposes. In Fate of the Furious, we learn he was working for Cipher and trying to steal it for her.
Next: Everything We Know About Fast & Furious 9