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The ‘Mad Max’ Timeline Explained

With the release of the fifth film in George Miller’s Mad Max saga, it may become a little confusing as to what order the events in these films unfold.

The ‘Mad Max’ Timeline Explained
Mad Max: Beyond Thunderdome and Mad Max: Fury Road / Images Courtesy of Warner Bros. Pictures

Spanning an impressive 45 years, the Mad Max saga is a piece of iconic film history and will likely stand the test of time, having lasted nearly half a century already. In this article, we will be detailing what order the films should be watched in if you’d want to watch them in chronological order, some of the key events in the films, and why the timeline does not function as a normal timeline.

Please note that under the precipice of contradiction, this article elects to ignore the existence of canon comics but does use the same dating methods present in the aforementioned. 

Mad Max: Watch Order

The Mad Max franchise, which primarily chronicles the adventures of Max Rockatansky, a former cop turned road warrior, consists of five films released between 1979 and 2024. The film’s release order is very similar to chronological with the exception of Furiosa being a prequel to Fury Road.

Mad Max (1979)

The ‘Mad Max’ Timeline Explained
Mad Max / Image Courtesy of Warner Bros. Pictures

The initial film in the franchise, directed by George Miller, follows Max (Mel Gibson) seeking revenge against a gang of bikers after his family is murdered. The film is set in approximately 1984, five years after the release of the film. The film opens with the prompt “a few years from now,” and by definition, anything older than this would be severely stretching the definition

Mad Max 2: The Road Warrior (1981)

The ‘Mad Max’ Timeline Explained
Mad Max 2: The Road Warrior / Image Courtesy of Warner Bros. Pictures

The direct sequel to the previous entry, which was also written by George Miller, sees Max attempt to steal some fuel from a camp of innocents before protecting them against a new gang of vicious marauders.

The film is set around three years after the first Mad Max and a nuclear apocalypse happens between the two films, leading most people to escape to the Wasteland. 

Mad Max: Beyond Thunderdome (1985)

The ‘Mad Max’ Timeline Explained
Mad Max: Beyond Thunderdome / Image Courtesy of Warner Bros. Pictures

The third film in the initial trilogy follows Max as he travels into a town with a dictator at its helm. There he becomes a gladiator in the titular Thunderdome and is then saved by a group of feral children. The film takes place approximately 15 years after Road Warrior, which would set it in 2002-03. 

Furiosa: A Mad Max Saga (2024)

The ‘Mad Max’ Timeline Explained
Furiosa: A Mad Max Saga / Image Courtesy of Warner Bros. Pictures

A prequel to the latest film in the timeline, Furiosa follows the titular character (Anya Taylor Joy) as she is snatched from the Green Place of Many Mothers and falls into the dangerous hands of biker warlord Dementus (Chris Hemsworth). The film takes place 45 years after the collapse of society, which would put it in 2018, 15 years after Beyond Thunderdome

Mad Max: Fury Road (2015)

The ‘Mad Max’ Timeline Explained
Mad Max: Fury Road / Image Courtesy of Warner Bros. Pictures

With a new actor for Max (Tom Hardy), this film follows Max and Furiosa who have liberated the wives of tyrannical leader Immortan Joe as they attempt to outrun him in The Wasteland. This film is difficult to place timeline wise. Through the existence of comics, we can find dates but we also elect to ignore some of the plot implications of other dates due to arising contradictions. 

We know Mad Max: Fury Road takes place decades after the last film (Beyond Thunderdome) but the film itself suggest it only takes 33 years after the day the apocalypse began. It’s an issue that can be answered when you separate Max Rockatansky as two different characters. Mel Gibson’s portrayal and Tom Hardy’s portrayal, given the two do not share a history at all. 
This would also support the theme of the past films, placing Max as a myth and an urban legend. A protector of the roads. I would date Mad Max: Fury Road in the 2050s.

Thanks for reading this article. Read our Furiosa: A Mad Max Saga review here.

Zanda is the Editor-in-Chief of Feature First and oversees the publishing of the outlet and content of the social media pages. He is based in Queensland, Australia and may or may not have a life like cardboard cut-out of Ryan Gosling in his room. Zanda has been actively turning Feature First into a reliable and high quality entertainment outlet since 2023.