1. The original Friday the 13th takes place in 1979, the same year it was filmed.
But, due to several inexplicable in-movie time jumps, nearly all of the following sequels are set in the future, creating a confusing timeline of Friday the 13th movies that don’t always take place on Friday the 13th. The following is a chronological guide through the in-movie timeline of the series.
2. Friday the 13th
Released in 1980
Set in 1979
It all starts on Friday the 13th in June of 1979. The events of this film take place over the course of 24 hours, with Pamela Voorhees butchering camp counselors intending to reopen Camp Crystal Lake — the same place her son, Jason, drowned 22 years earlier.
Of course, she doesn’t last very long. At the end of the film she suffers a beheading at the hands of Alice, the film’s protagonist.
4. Friday the 13th part 2
Released in 1981
Set in 1984
Two months after the events of the first film, Alice is killed off almost instantly, curtesy of an icepick to the temple from Jason. We are then whisked away to the terrifying age of Tuesday the 10th in June, 1984.
The following day, Wednesday the 11th, is where most of this film takes place. It introduces us to another attempt to reopen the Camp, and another slaughtering of camp counselors. This time, Jason carries out his mother’s work, outfitted with a sack over his head (which might not be as chic as a hockey mask, but is probably a little more frightening).
6. Friday the 13th part III
Released in 1982
Set in 1984
After getting thoroughly hacked at the end of the previous film, Jason manages to survive, performing most of his killings on the correct date this time.
In the third entry into the series, Jason escapes to the nearby Higgins Haven, where, lucky for him, more vacationing teenagers are staying. It’s at Higgins Haven that Jason embarks on another killing spree, discovers his hockey mask, and is ultimately cleaved with an axe to the dome. Two out of three ain’t bad.
8. Friday the 13th: The Final Chapter
Released in 1984
Set in 1984
Shot in 1984, the shooting schedule of the series finally catches up with the events of the films. It takes place just hours after the end of part III, which is good, even if that means the film begins on Saturday, June 14th. Much of part IV is set on Sunday, June 15th, and Monday, June 16th.
Cue Jason reviving himself in a morgue and killing all of those who stand in his way as he returns to Crystal lake to… kill all of those who stand in his way.
Jason is eventually put away by child makeup prodigy Tommy Jarvis (Cory Feldman), a boy apparently possessing the special effects budget of a multi-million-dollar studio. Nonetheless, much credit to the filmmakers. It only took two Friday the 13th films not set on Friday the 13th, but you guys straightened out the timeline and fixed the continuity. Now all you have to do is — Guys? What are you doing?
12. Friday the 13th: A New Beginning
Released in 1985
Set in 1991
Not only does Friday the 13th: A New Beginning take another inexplicable time jump, it does not actually contain Jason Voorhees. Now, depending on the source, this movie is either set 5 years later (1989, according to the writers) or seven years later (1991, according to an authorized mockumentary). To fit my narrative, let’s go with 1991.
This time around, Tommy Jarvis — now in his late teens — is transferred from Unger Mental Institute to Pinehurst Halfway House. It is here that patient Joey Burns is axed to death by another patient.
Joey’s father, Roy is a paramedic. After seeing the remains of his boy, he snaps, donning the mantle of Jason and committing murders throughout. Yada, yada. Tommy and friends kill Roy, Tommy has visions of Jason, it is hinted that Tommy will become the next Jason, fans are upset with the direction of the series.
15. Friday the 13th part VI: Jason Lives
Released in 1986
Set in 1992
In one of the best entries to the series, Jason Lives, a bolt of lightning reanimates Jason as the immortal zombie murder-machine incarnation of himself. For being set in the early ’90s, there sure is a lot of ’80s metal (thanks, Alice Cooper).
This installment presents Tommy Jarvis returning to Camp Crystal Lake after witnessing Jason’s miraculous resurrection. Tommy stops Jason by chaining him to a massive rock at the bottom of the lake.
From a filmic standpoint, this is a great entry because its comprised of quite a bit of meta-humor and fourth-wall breaking. It kind of predicts the post-modern movement that would come to dominate the genre after Wes Craven made New Nightmare and Scream. Also, Jason shoves a woman’s head into a mirror so hard that it makes a perfect impression on the opposite side.
Okay, guys, you made a good one, I’m counting on you to not screw it —
19. Friday the 13th Part VII: The New Blood
Released in 1988
Set in 2002
2002?! Yeah, despite being shot in 1988, the follow-up takes a 10-year leap to the next decade! Tina, the movie’s protagonist, is a telekinetic teenager who accidentally frees Jason from his prison while trying to resurrect the father she accidentally killed with her same powers seven years earlier. I think.
Jason goes on another spree, including neutralizing a girl by zipping her up in a sleeping bag and swinging her into a tree. The grand finale? Tina reanimates her father’s corpse and he chains Jason back up at the bottom of the lake. No harm, no foul, right? Not counting the 12 people who died for your outburst. Thanks, Tina.
22. Friday the 13th part VIII: Jason Takes Manhattan
Released in 1989
Set in 2003
Enter New York in the early 2000s, a dystopian future where maniacal thugs rule the violent streets of… Times Square. Welcome to the brutal landscape of Midtown, where Jason must cope with the harsh realities of post 9/11 New York by doing things like this.
The true apex masterpiece magnum opus of the series, Jason Takes Manhattan incorporates the Shakespearian tale of a zombie rejuvenated in life and spirit after the anchor of a passing boat catches on an electrical cable and shocks him back to life (these filmmakers really love electricity). With his newfound livelihood, he terrorizes several young adults on a class boat trip from Crystal Lake to New York City. While he partakes in several killings along the way, he is tragically put to rest when he dies from a… weird toxic waste spill thing.
29. Jason Goes to Hell (and takes us with him in this unholy piece of shit): The Final Friday
Released in 1993
Set in 2005
What’s another two year time jump in the grand scheme of things? After Jason apparently escapes from New York (toxic spill, shmoxic spill), the FBI traces him down to Crystal Lake and literally shoots him to pieces.
In this God-awful movie, Jason’s “soul” possesses people, transferring from person to person, each one becoming a crazed murderer. Oh yeah, the only way to transfer his soul is for people to eat his heart and then, like, spit it into other people’s mouths or something. I swear.
After being killed by, uh, angels, Jason is taken to Hell by Freddy Kruger. Best part of this movie is this gif, I’m telling you. You’ve already seen too much.
32. Freddy vs. Jason
Released in 2003
Set in 2005
Considering the time this came out, it actually works out pretty well in terms of continuity. Errr — as well as a series that shoots movies set over 10 years in advance can.
While prancing around in Hell, Freddy convinces Jason to return to the land of the living, which Jason somehow obliges. Upon returning, Jason terrorizes Elm Street, and the fear it causes in teenagers allows Freddy for Freddy’s reappearance.
Easily the best chapter in this particular continuity since Jason Lives.
Freddy vs. Jason climaxes in a monumental clash, where Jason emerges victorious by ripping off Freddy’s arm and impaling Freddy with his own bladed glove. Lori, the protagonist of the film, then beheads Freddy. With Jason “mortally” wounded, he returns to the lake with Freddy’s head. Finally, the series is back on track —
38. Jason X
Released in 2001
Set in 2455
God dammit. Remember when I told you the filmmakers were merciful? Yeah, pretend you never read that, because in 2001, the series would make the mother of all time jumps into shitty cinema with the ungodly Jason X.
2008: It starts when Jason is arrested and convicted of over 200 murders, but due to his supernatural abilities, cannot be executed.
2010: After being put into heavy sedation, it is decided that Jason should be cryogenically frozen. Ice to meet you.
2024: Hockey is outlawed. Yes, this actually happens in the Friday the 13th mythology. Speaking of which, was The New Blood really the last of these films to be set on Friday the 13th?
2455: After 445 years, Jason is reanimated aboard a spaceship with futuristic people and cyborgs and stuff. Oh, boy.
The technology allows him to become a super extreme, super ripped, super cyborg thing. Why, God, why?
After killing a bunch of shit and essentially destroying the space ship, Jason winds up back on Earth. By a lake. With sleeping bags. And thus ends the story of our hero. For now.
45. Friday the 13th (remake)
Released in 2009
Set in 2009
This remake can only be explained as a dream that Jason is having while in his cryostasis.