The Halloween franchise is one of the most iconic horror franchises of all time, with Michael Myers solidifying himself as one of the best horror villains as well. Though the movies themselves are rather straightforward for the most part, the continuity of the films may be confusing for old and new fans alike. The franchise has four separate timelines (or universes) with some entries existing in multiple timelines, as well as a standalone film. In this article we will explain each of them.

1. Original Timeline

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Director John Carpenter started the series with Halloween in 1978, and the success of the low budget flick led to the expansive franchise we all know today. In this timeline Michael Myers sets out to kill his relatives simply because he is pure evil (he was cursed by the Cult of Thorn, it’s a weird set-up). In this timeline Laurie Strode is his sister, so he goes after her in a few entries, though she ultimately dies off-screen and Michael instead targets her daughter. In the end, Michael likely lives but this timeline is not explored any further.

Movies in this timeline: Halloween (1978), Halloween II (1981), Halloween 4: The Return of Michael Myers, Halloween 5: Revenge of Michael Myers, Halloween: The Curse of Michael Myers

H20 Timeline

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This timeline retains that Laurie is Michael’s sister, but that’s about it, movies 4-6 are ignored here. The awkwardly titled H20 Halloween: 20 Years Later is set twenty years after the events of Halloween II, with Laurie in hiding with a new identityy, being hunted by Michael. In the next entry, Halloween: Resurrection, Michael does succeed in killing Laurie, and her story ends partway through the film. At the end of Resurrection Michael is once again defeated, but surprise, rises from the dead in the film’s final moments. Ultimately we never get to see what happens after this, as this timeline was not developed further. 

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Movies in this timeline: Halloween (1978), Halloween II (1981), H20 Halloween: 20 Years Later, Halloween Ressurection

Rob Zombie Reboot Timeline

The Rob Zombie directed timeline was a complete reboot to the series, meaning all other entries were ignored. Once more Michael Myers is after his sister, who is again Laurie Strode. In these films Michael Myers is again from a broken home, but instead acts more as a real life serial killer rather than the unstoppable force he is in other timelines, with what seems to be a permanent death at the conclusion. These entries aren’t anything remarkable, and received poor critical sentiment with the second entry barely scraping by at the box office. 

Movies in this timeline: Halloween (2007), Halloween II (2009)

Halloween — David Gordon Green Timeline

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David Gordon Green’s timeline is much more in-line with the original movie, only taking it into consideration, so Laurie and Michael are not brother and sister. Here Michael is frankly annoyed with what happened in 1978, and looks to finish what he started, resuming his rampage in Haddonfield after 40 years in prison. I think most would say that these are the best the series had to offer, and they did very well financially. Some were unhappy with the narrative direction the last  two entries took, which is understandable (a copycat Michael Myers, like a copycat Jason Voorhees, is a bad idea). Like the Rob Zombie reboots, it appears that Michael meets a definitive demise at the conclusion of this timeline. A very minor gripe I have with this timeline is that it has the THIRD movie in this franchise simply titled Halloween – it really doesn’t affect anything but bugs me. 

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Movies in this timeline: Halloween (1978), Halloween (2018), Halloween Kills, Halloween Ends

Standalone Halloween III: Season of the Witch

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This standalone entry gave Michael a bit of time to catch his breath. In fact, this entry might exist in some sort of sideways universe, as the Halloween movies seem to exist within its self contained story. Following a doctor as he attempts to stop a child murdering witch coven, this is certainly the most unique story the franchise has to offer. Halloween III: Season of the Witch was the first entry in a planned series of anthology (standalone) films, but failed to make an impact with audiences and ultimately fell out of pop culture memory for the most part. In a 2017 interview with Hollywood Reporter, creator John Carpenter said of Season of the Witch, “See I thought, stupidly — this shows you how dumb I am — I thought that we were done with telling stories about Michael Myers and the guy in the mask. I thought there’s not much more to say. So we thought we’d come up with a new story every year. We could call it Halloween, but it didn’t have to do anything with Michael Myers.”

Franchise Future

As you can see, having four separate timelines in one franchise can be slightly confusing, especially with many timelines sharing entries with others. Whether you enjoy the wackiness of the original timeline, the strange early 2000’s experience of the H20 timeline, the grounded Rob Zombie timeline, or the brutality of the Green movies, each has something a little different to offer. Though the Green trilogy only ended just last year, don’t count on the franchise being finished just yet. In an interview with ComicBook.com, Carpenter said of the franchise’s future, “There’s all sorts of ways of bringing Michael Myers back. There’s all sorts of ways of telling that particular story. We’ll just have to wait and see.”

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For more on burly masked slasher villains, check out our ranking of the Friday the 13th films

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