Fast and Furious 9

The Fast and the Furious franchise has become a Hollywood institution despite its humble beginnings. In fact, if you go back now and watch the original film from 2001, the first thing you’ll notice is how small in scale it is compared to the later films. That, and the fact that the villains you see at the start of the film are stealing a van full of DVD players and VCRs, something that seems delightfully quaint to the modern eye. 

Of course, like any popular franchise, The Fast and the Furious has spawned a trunk full of sequels and spin-offs, to the point that it can be hard to know where to start your viewing of it. 

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Never fear. If you and your family want to experience the entire Fast and the Furious saga, here is the best order to watch it in. 

Watching The Fast and the Furious in release order

the fast and the furious

The most obvious way to watch the franchise is in release order. However, due to the number of spin-offs and bonus bits, this order isn’t as simple as it first seems, especially since the series doesn’t maintain a consistent titling format in America. If you decide to watch the movies in release order, you’ll start with the original 2001 film, The Fast and the Furious. However, after this, you have to decide how much side-content you want to watch. 

In 2003, 2 Fast 2 Furious hit cinemas. However, in certain theaters and on the film’s home media releases, the film was bundled with a prequel short called The Turbo Charged Prelude for 2 Fast 2 Furious. This short film acts as a bridge between the original movie and its sequel, but it isn’t essential viewing, so if you’re looking to save some time, you can safely skip this short. 

If you include the short, the release watch order is:

  • The Fast and the Furious (2001)
  • The Turbo Charged Prelude for 2 Fast 2 Furious (2003)
  • 2 Fast 2 Furious (2003)

The third main film in the franchise is where things start to get complicated. Dubbed The Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift, this 2006 film drops the numbered sequel format and begins an era of constantly changing naming styles. 

After this comes 2009’s Fast & Furious, which is not a remake or a reboot of the first film despite what the title may suggest. Like 2 Fast 2 Furious, this film was also packaged with a short film called Los Bandoleros. This short film bridges the gap between The Fast and the Furious and Fast & Furious but isn’t essential to the plot, so it can be skipped to save time. 

The next film is 2011’s Fast Five. This film was the first to have a different title outside of America, being called Fast & Furious 5 in the UK. In fact, while the American title format constantly changes, the UK ones are what you would expect, so many fans argue that you’re better off using the UK titles as they make it easier to keep track of the order.

Following Fast Five was 2016’s Fast & Furious 6, which had the same title in both America and the UK. In 2015, the American titles changed format yet again with Furious 7. 2017 continued this trend with the release of the 8th film, titled The Fate of the Furious. 

After this came the spin-off film Fast & Furious Presents: Hobbs & Shaw in 2019. This film focuses on Jason Statham’s Shaw and Dwayne Johnson’s Hobbs as they partake in some spy action. 

This release order currently ends in 2021 with F9, the last film in the franchise at the time of this writing. However, it has been confirmed that a 10th film and several new spin-offs are in production, so the franchise is far from over. 

The complete release order watch list for the Fast and the Furious series is as follows: 

  • The Fast and the Furious (2001)
  • The Turbo Charged Prelude for 2 Fast 2 Furious (2003)
  • 2 Fast 2 Furious (2003)
  • The Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift (2006)
  • Los Bandoleros (2009)
  • Fast & Furious (2009)
  • Fast Five (2011)
  • Fast & Furious 6 (2013)
  • Furious 7 (2015)
  • The Fate of the Furious (2017)
  • Fast & Furious Presents: Hobbs & Shaw (2019)
  • F9 (2021)

Questionable canonicity 

Fast and Furious 9

Alongside these films, there are also some other bits of Fast and the Furious media, but the canonicity of these bits is highly debated among fans, which is why they aren’t included in the above watch order. 

The first is Fast & Furious Spy Racers, a CGI animated children’s cartoon that started on Netflix in 2019. It follows Tony Toretto, the cousin of Dominic Toretto, as he and a group of government agents infiltrate an elite racing league run by an evil organization called SH1FT3R. 

Vin Diesel reprises his role as Dominic Toretto in the show, though his appearances are sparse. The series heavily deviates from the films, as it’s aimed at a younger audience, and it’s unlikely that adult fans will find it worth watching. 

The other piece of media is the movie Better Luck Tomorrow from 2002. While not an official Fast and the Furious film, it was directed by Justin Lin, the director behind Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift. Both Better Luck Tomorrow and Tokyo Drift feature a character called Han Lue, played by Sung Kang. 

After Tokyo Drift’s release, Lin has confirmed that this is the same character and that Better Luck Tomorrow acts as Lue’s origin story, making it retrospectively part of the Fast and the Furious canon. Better Luck Tomorrow is very well-reviewed and recommended by critics but is also different from the core Fast and the Furious franchise. 

Watching The Fast and the Furious in chronological order

fast and furious tokyo drift

Another way to watch the Fast and the Furious franchise is in chronological order. However, this order is much more complex than it first seems. 

The chronological watch order for the franchise is: 

  • The Fast and the Furious (2001)
  • The Turbo Charged Prelude for 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)
  • Fast & Furious Presents: Hobbs & Shaw (2019)
  • F9 (2021)

Be warned, explaining this watch order will involve some pretty big plot spoilers! 

Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift is the cause of a lot of continuity confusion. At first, the film seems totally unrelated to the movies that came before it. However, Vin Diesel makes a cameo appearance at the very end of the film as Dom Toretto. Because of this, many people presumed that the next movie would continue from that point. 

However, in the next release, 2009’s Fast & Furious, Han Lue, one of Tokyo Drift’s main characters, is alive and well, despite being killed off in Tokyo Drift. 

This is because Fast & FuriousFast Five, and Fast & Furious 6 are all set before the events of Tokyo Drift. These films flesh out Han Lue’s character and build up to the events we see at the end of Tokyo Drift. In fact, a character who is crucial to the Tokyo Drift story arc isn’t introduced in the franchise until Fast & Furious 6. 

In Furious 7, we see Dom Toretto head to Tokyo, bringing viewers back to the ending of Tokyo Drift. After this, the continuity returns to release order, with The Fate of the Furious, Fast & Furious Presents: Hobbs & Shaw, and F9 following each other. 

So how should I watch the Fast and the Furious franchise?

Fast and Furious

If you haven’t seen the Fast and the Furious movies before, then you’re much better off watching them in release order. This order makes everything much easier to follow and lets you see how the franchise changed and evolved over time, going from a grounded street racing story to a globe-hopping action series that often veers into soft sci-fi. 

The chronological order is a fascinating way to watch the franchise. However, this order makes Tokyo Drift feel exceptionally strange if you end up watching it after 2013’s Fast & Furious 6, leading to tonal whiplash.

Fast & Furious 6 and Fast Five moved the franchise away from its street racing roots in the hopes of giving the franchise a broader audience appeal. Because of this, Fast & Furious 6 is packed full of spy and adventure movie elements, and it has a much higher budget than previous entries. Following this with the relatively low-budget street-racing focused Tokyo Drift just feels weird. 

This is made worse by Tokyo Drift‘s aesthetic being so obviously and stereotypically early-2000s. This is especially noticeable due to the film’s heavy use of the Nissan 350Z and the Mazda RX-7, which are highly evocative of that specific era of sports car design. Watching Tokyo Drift after Fast & Furious 6 just feels like you’ve stepped into a time warp. Despite being prequels to Tokyo Drift, Fast & FuriousFast Five, and Fast & Furious 6 simply don’t look or feel like they take place before 2006. 

However, if you’re a Fast and the Furious super fan who has seen all of the movies, then the chronological watch order is a fun experience that will let you view the story in a whole new light. 





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