Movie Reviews

John Wick Full Timeline Explained: When Each Movie & Spinoff Takes Place

Summary

  • The
    John Wick
    films and spinoffs have a unique timeline, with
    The Continental
    TV show taking place 40 years before John Wick.
  • John Wick’s backstory reveals his upbringing, training, and how he became the Baba Yaga, while the first three movies occur within a week.
  • The
    Ballerina
    spinoff is set between
    John Wick: Chapter 3
    and
    Chapter 4
    , with Ana de Armas training to become an assassin alongside John Wick.



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The John Wick films and their spin-offs have been released over a decade chronologically, but the in-universe timeline differs significantly. Chad Stahelski’s action franchise, which includes The Continental television spinoff and upcoming Ballerina film starring Ana de Armas took the world by storm in 2014, and restored Keanu Reeves to superstar levels of fame as elite assassin John Wick. Each installment has built on the intricate lore and world-building that has made the series so unique, including shadowy cabals, the High Table and its secret members, as well as The Continental and similar hotels for hired killers.


With rumors that John Wick Chapter 5 will happen with Reeves, the John Wick films could continue for several more years. Stahelski has ideas for at least 9 John Wick movies, proving that the franchise has strong material for stories that go beyond John Wick’s plan for vengeance against the High Table that was thought to be resolved in John Wick: Chapter 4. Here is the timeline presented in the films and spinoffs, both chronologically, and how it pertains to the narrative developments that unfold on Baba Yaga’s quest for revenge and the preservation of his wife’s memory.

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John Wick Movies & Spinoffs In Chronological Order

How To Watch The Story Of John Wick Unfold


Watching the John Wick franchise in chronological order is pretty straightforward for the most part — at least as the four main movies in the franchise are concerned. John Wick through to John Wick Chapter 4 all take place within roughly the same year, which is never specified but believed to be in 2014 or 2015 to correlate with the release of the first movie.

Where the franchise timeline and chronological watch order will start getting more intricate with its timeline is with the current and planned spin-offs.

Where the franchise timeline and chronological watch order will start getting more intricate with its timeline is with the current and planned spin-offs. The prequel spin-off TV show, The Continental: From The World Of John Wick was released in 2023 but is set in the 1970s, and chronicles the story of Winston and how he became the man seen in the core films. The upcoming spin-off John Wick Presents: Ballerina is due in 2025, but will be set between John Wick Chapter 3: Parabellum and John Wick: Chapter 4.


Movie/Show

Year/Decade In Universe

Release Year

The Continental

1970s

2023

John Wick

2014 or 2015

2014

John Wick: Chapter 2

2014 or 2015

2017

John Wick: Chapter 3 – Parabellum

2014 or 2015

2019

Ballerina

2014 or 2015

2025

John Wick: Chapter 4

2014 or 2015

2023

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The Continental TV Show Takes Place In The 1970s

The First John Wick TV Show Is Set Decades Before The Films

Young Winston in front of The Continental in a promotional image


As far as where The Continental is in the John Wick timeline, the spinoff takes place over 40 years before the events of John Wick, when Winston Scott is a young man going to war against Cormac (Mel Gibson) over his brother’s death and ultimately taking over The Continental. Situated amidst labor strikes, crime waves, and rampant corruption in the streets of New York City, the assassin hotel isn’t as glamorous as it is in the John Wick films, but the origin story reframes Winston’s High Table backstory and shows how the hotel became the most powerful Continental in the world.

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John Wick’s Backstory: Mercenary Training & How He Left

His Life Of Violence Started In The Soviet Union

Mark Dacascos as Zero fights Keanu Reeves as John Wick in John Wick: Chapter 3 - Parabellum.


According to information pieced together by John, Winston, and The Director in the films, John was born Jardani Jovonovich in the Byelorussian SSR of the Soviet Union. He was orphaned at a young age and left his Padhorje village to live with Winston, an old friend of his father’s. Eventually, he took his place in the Ruska Roma, a powerful crime syndicate controlled by The Director. The John Wick comic series reveals that he also spent a significant amount of time in El Sauzel, Mexico at some point during his adolescence.

Even though it had been years since he’d had to use his skills, after the puppy was killed, John Wick proved his legendary status by jumping right back into action as though no time had passed.


Under The Director’s watchful eye, John learned martial arts, various weaponry, hand-to-hand combat, espionage, tactical driving, and anything else relevant to being a world-class hitman. Eventually, he ran afoul of The Director, committed an unspecific crime, and was imprisoned. Following his release, he became a top enforcer for the Russian crime syndicate in New York, and it was at this time that he earned the nickname “Baba Yaga.” He was only granted a release from the lifestyle and the opportunity to marry a young woman named Helen by completing an “impossible task” given to him by the head of the syndicate.

John was able to carry out this task with help from Santino D’Antonio of the Camorra syndicate, which is how he came to owe him the blood marker seen in John Wick: Chapter 2. John lived with Helen in New Jersey for roughly five years before her death from a serious illness, at which time she gave him a puppy to remember her and happier times. Even though it had been years since he’d had to use his skills, after the puppy was killed, John Wick proved his legendary status by jumping right back into action as though no time had passed.


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John Wick 1, 2, & 3 Take Place Within A Week

Barely Any Time Passes Throughout The Initial John Wick Trilogy

Keanu Reeves holding a puppy in John Wick.

According to Collider, Staheski explained the John Wick timeline for the first three films is incredibly short, with only a week or two passing between the start of John Wick and the end of John Wick: Chapter 3 – Parabellum :

“Well, we figured the first three movies almost happened in like a week, week and a half, somewhere in there.”


John Wick begins with Iosef Tarasov (Alfie Allen), the son of John Wick’s previous employer, killing a puppy given to John after his wife’s death, which sets off a chain of events that results in “the Baba Yaga” coming out of retirement and going after Viggo Tarasov (Michael Nyqvist) and his entire cohort while having a large bounty on his head.

The hectic events happening in such a small time frame creates a sense of urgency and tension.

After killing Tarasov, John finds himself seeking help from Winston (Ian McShane), The Manager of the assassin hotel known as The Continental in John Wick: Chapter 2, who reminds him of the code of conduct inherent to their criminal underworld. Retirement continues to elude John when Santino D’Antonio, anxious for a seat on the High Table, calls on a favor with a gold marker, which requires him to travel to Rome and assassinate his sister, the leader of the crime syndicate Camorra. This decision makes John Wick “excommunicado” and results in the shadowy assassin’s guild placing a $14 million bounty on his head.


With every major assassin notified, he must find a way to survive against them in one fight after another across New York City. When The Adjudicator, an ambassador of the High Table, finds both Winston and John’s conduct to go against the organization’s standards, the pair is threatened with death. By faking his own demise, John escapes New York City and travels abroad to topple the High Table once and for all.

The lack of a significant time jump keeps the momentum of the films going, and even though John undertakes a globe-trotting adventure, all the hectic events happening in such a small time frame creates a sense of urgency and tension.

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John Wick’s Ballerina Spinoff Movie Takes Place Between Chapters 3 & 4

The Upcoming Movie Focusing On Rooney Will Be Both A Sequel And Prequel

The Ballerina covered in tattoos in John Wick Chapter 3 - Parabellum

The upcoming John Wick spin-off John Wick Presents: Ballerina takes place between John Wick: Chapter 3 – Parabellum and John Wick: Chapter 4. It follows Ana de Armas’s Rooney, the titular Ballerina (originally played by Unity Phelan in John Wick 3) training to become an assassin just like Baba Yaga, with a small part for the infamous assassin to play guiding her journey. According to Entertainment Weekly, Reeves decided when the John Wick spinoff took place, which determined not only how Armas’s character fit into the John Wick timeline, but how much the franchise star would be involved, and in what capacity.

Armas has been training quite extensively for her own action sequences that will no doubt rival the original film.


It’s possible that Reeves wanted to appear in the film in a non-action capacity and focus more on a few key scenes with Armas. “I got to work with Ana de Armas, and the director Len Wiseman, and they had a great script,” Reeves stated, indicating that the collaboration might have been more about the dramatic elements of the plot rather than the stylish fight choreography. Of course, fans can still expect plenty of that, as Armas has been training quite extensively for her own action sequences that will no doubt rival the original film.

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John Wick: Chapter 4 Takes Place Six Months After John Wick 3

The Fourth Movie Features The Franchise’s First Time Jump

Keanu Reeves as John Wick with the sun rising behind him in John Wick: Chapter 4.


While most of the John Wick movies take place in a relatively short amount of time, John Wick: Chapter 4 takes place a full six months after John Wick: Chapter 3 – Parabellum. After battling with the High Table’s special forces on Continental grounds and getting “shot” by Winston, John Wick has to recover with the Bowery King prior to seeking his revenge.

It was appropriate to highlight that even John Wick needs to recover and contemplate his next move against the High Table.

It’s at this point that he decides he’ll bring the full brunt of his vengeance against the High Table, and the organization decides that it will support Marquis Vincent de Gramont (Bill Skarsgård) in a duel against Baba Yaga which, if he loses, will allow John to be free forever. The John Wick films are known for being excessively violent and hyper-stylized, with their titular hero surviving getting punched, kicked, and shot over and over but relentlessly pursuing his quarry all the same. It was appropriate to highlight that even John Wick needs to recover and contemplate his next move against the High Table.


John Wick: Chapter 4 showed a significant pivot back to the original film’s trajectory when John actively sought revenge rather than spent time being hunted for going against his superiors and actively dismantling the social rules and relationships that govern their unique criminal society.

What The Future Of The John Wick Timeline Looks Like

Despite John Wick’s death at the end of John Wick: Chapter 4, there are still several movies and potential TV spin-offs planned for the John Wick universe. However, while some are confirmed, others are still in the early stages of development, or have been teased but not yet green-lit. The next known John Wick movie is, of course, John Wick Presents: Ballerina, which is already well underway and due in 2025. Ballerina entered post-production in early 2023, though extra sequences were being workd on in 2024.


The next confirmed movie after Ballerina will be John Wick: Chapter 5, which has had an incredibly interesting development journey. It was initially confirmed in 2020, though both Keanu Reeves and producer Chad Stahelski have since sent mixed signals on whether it would actually happen — especially after the shocking ending of John Wick: Chapter 4. It does now seem like the project is definitely going ahead, however, since Lionsgate confirmed that work on the script had resumed after the resolution of the 2023 SAG-AFTRA and WGA strikes.

There are multiple projects that have been teased as potential new
John Wick
movies or TV shows.

Outside of this, there are multiple projects that have been teased as potential new John Wick movies or TV shows. Lionsgate have confirmed that more spin-offs are in development, though so far details on these have been kept under wraps. These notably could include potential cross-overs with the movies Atomic Blonde and Nobody (though these are unlikely despite the creative minds behind them seeming interested).


As Ballerina is the first John Wick spin-off movie focusing on a character introduced in the core four movies, future spin-offs will likely follow the same path. Some that have been teased include a Sofia movie, based on Halle Berry’s John Wick 3 character, a movie about Laurence Fishburne’s Bowery King, and a movie potentially titled Akira and Caine that would give more of a backstory to the titular duo. Until these are confirmed, however, it’s unclear where they would fit in the John Wick timeline.

John Wick Franchise Poster

John Wick

Created by
Derek Kolstad

Cast
Keanu Reeves , Ian McShane , Lance Reddick , Willem Dafoe , Michael Nyqvist , Alfie Allen , Laurence Fishburne , Anjelica Huston , Bill Skarsgard , Mel Gibson , Donnie Yen

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