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SYFY WIRE The Fast and the Furious

How To Watch All the Fast & Furious Movies in Chronological Order

You Tokyo Drift when we say to Tokyo Drift, not before. 

By Brian Silliman
FAST X (2023)

It’s all about, say it with us, FAMILY!

Ahead of the May 19 release of Fast X, we're revisiting the franchise that keeps getting crazier with every installment. We thought that The Fate of the Furious would be as bonkers as it got, but then F9: The Fast Saga happened. For all we know, the family could be headed to Narnia in one of the finale films.

RELATED: A Quarter-Mile Straight Up: The Science Behind Fast X's Vertical Race

If you’re new to these action-packed soap operas and you want to jump right in, the good news is that there are nine of them out already, plus one spin-off movie. You’ll have cars racing through your dreams for days. There’s only one hitch: to truly understand one aspect of the furious chronological storytelling, you shouldn’t watch the movies in release order. A little mixing and matching could make this trip more enjoyable. 

Why, exactly? It’s mostly because we see a character “die” in one movie, and then he inexplicably shows up in later movies. He stays around for a while before he departs to go and appear in the movie where he supposedly dies. Watching this entry a little later in your adventure will make things make more sense.

We begin at the beginning though, with The Fast and the Furious (2001). The surprise hit about street racing is subdued compared to what came after it, but you’ll get to know Brian “Buster” O’Conner (Paul Walker) as well as Dominic Toretto (Vin Diesel), the character who puts the “F” in family and eventually becomes the lead of the series. You’ll also meet Mia Toretto (Jordana Brewster) and Letty Ortiz (Michelle Rodriguez), both of whom are important. They're family. 

Too slow for you? Then move along to the absurdly titled 2 Fast 2 Furious (2003), where Brian partners with Roman Pearce (Tyrese Gibson) to drive more cars. Chris “Ludacris” Bridges also debuts as Tej, and while this isn’t the best of these movies, it is important that you get a proper introduction to both him and Roman.

Do you continue on in release order? Nope, it’s not time to drift yet. Don’t go to Tokyo, it’s not your time. Continue with Fast & Furious (2009) to see Brian reunite with Dom. Go into Fast Five (2011) next, and get ready. Fast Five is the movie that truly sets the template for everything that follows. It also introduces Dwayne Johnson as Luke Hobbs. 

After that bit of free-wheeling fun, drive straight ahead into Fast & Furious 6 (2013). You’ll be introduced to the Shaw family, and by the end you’ll know why you’re watching these things out of order. When a certain character (that you will love, no question) says he’s finally going to Tokyo, guess what? You’re going too! 

Now is the time to watch The Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift (2006). Aside from the character that you already know thanks to this viewing order, the movie features an almost entirely new cast. There’s very little to connect it to everything else, aside from a cameo at the end. You’ll be more connected than audiences were in 2006, though, because you obeyed the rules of the road. It’s a bit of a drift seeing flip phones again, but just ignore that. 

Sung Kang as Han Lue in F9: Fast & Furious 9 (2021)

Where to next? It’s a mostly smooth (and wacky) road ahead, and the family continues their transition from being street racers to being super spies. Go with Furious 7 (2015) next, and follow it up with the submarine-smashing birthday boy, The Fate of the Furious (2017). 

After all of the drama (and wow Fate brings the drama), it’s time to spin-off with Fast & Furious Presents: Hobbs & Shaw (2019). Do you really need to watch it in order to understand everything? You might, we don’t know yet. It features Hobbs (Johnson), as well as three members of the Shaw family. They are played by Jason Statham, Vanessa Kirby, and a third actor of some renown. We’re not saying who it is because we don’t want to spoil you. You’ll know them when you see them. 

Why would you not want to watch the spin-off is the more important question. If you’re in it this deep, then you should be in it to win it. Enjoy Hobbs and Shaw trying to outmaneuver Idris “Black Superman” Elba before you go on to the most recent installment. 

Take every bit of drama, weirdness, and over-the-top spectacle of every movie in the series so far. Mash them all together, multiply it by 11, and the result is F9: The Fast Saga (2021). You’ve got to see it to believe it. This was the big return to the movies for some of us post COVID-19 shutdowns, and it was the perfect way to go back. It’s what God, Vin Diesel, and Nicole Kidman intended. 

By the end of F9, you’ll see exactly why we plotted this course for you. We easily could have just written “watch Tokyo Drift between 6 and 7,” but where’s the fun in that? Besides, the titling of these movies is absurd as f-ck and numbers can lie. The third movie ties into the ninth movie in more ways than one. 

With nine movies and one spin-off under your hood, you’ll be begging for the finale films.

Fans of the franchise love the stunts, no matter how launching-sedans-into-space over the top they are, and the real-life loss of Paul Walker is handled with extreme emotional grace. These movies know exactly what they are doing, and fans know what they are getting when they strap in with some popcorn to watch them. The Fast & Furious saga excites us in ways that no other motion picture series can. 

Now, with this roadmap, you can watch them as Dom intended them to be experienced. Ready, steady, go. 

Several films in the franchise are currently streaming on Peacock, including Furious 7 and F9: The Fast Saga.