Five Nights at Freddy’s is a massive franchise, spanning 11 games, 15 books, several spinoffs, and now, a budding fanverse funded by Scott Cawthon himself. Between the sheer amount of content and the incredible detail baked into every installment of the series, there’s a lot to unpack before getting to the actual story of Five Nights at Freddy’s.
As far as the canon timeline of the main series of games goes, no one theory or narrative has been confirmed to be true. Fans are left to their own devices to piece the lore of this narrative together, and, based on which details you place and when there are several different versions of the FNAF timeline, they are all extremely plausible.
As far as this article goes, however, I’ve done my best to construct a timeline that assembles and organizes the most notable plot points into an order that is not only plausible based on what we know about the lore but constructs somewhat of a presentable narrative out of them as well.
That being said, this isn’t the only possible version of the FNAF story, and despite my best efforts, there may be details that were overlooked or conflict with the placement of other events in the timeline. I encourage you to compare my version of the timeline with your interpretation of the series and with the evidence and details found in the games themselves.
After all, that process of reading, proving, and debunking each other’s theories is how the FNAF fanbase has pieced together most of the lore we’ve been able to figure out so far.
Fredbear’s Family Diner & The Beginning of Fazbear Entertainment
The Five Nights at Freddy’s timeline begins with the opening of the original Fredbear’s Family Diner. It’s unclear exactly when this original location was opened, but it was opened sometime before 1983. Some fans speculate that the diner opened in or around 1973 since the Phone Guy’s FNAF 1 audio states that the animatronics had been around for 20 years by that point.
Henry Emily and William Afton were the original owners and founders of Fredbear’s Family Diner. Henry and William would dress in yellow mascot costumes to entertain the children. Henry was Fredbear, and William was Bonnie. As their business grew, Henry and William created two “spring lock” suits, which were designed to double as both mascot costumes and animatronics.
Unfortunately, this spring lock technology was a bit faulty at best. The spring locks themselves were very sensitive and could easily break loose with movement or moisture, making it unsafe to even breathe on them while wearing the suit.
After the success of this first restaurant, Henry and William founded Fazbear Entertainment and produced a popular line of toys featuring characters from their new hit cartoon, Fredbear & Friends. Eventually, a second restaurant named Freddy Fazbear’s Pizza was opened, featuring brand new animatronics, including Freddy Fazbear, Bonnie, Chica, and Foxy, as well as two more of its spring lock animatronics.
The Tragedy of Circus Baby’s Pizza World
With the grand opening of Freddy Fazbear’s Pizza, William Afton opened a sister location known as Circus Baby’s Pizza World. This new pizzeria featured clown-themed, humanoid animatronics, including Circus Baby, an unknown spring lock animatronic, and likely a few others such as Ballora and Balloon Boy.
However, William had a sinister intent with these new animatronics. Circus Baby was designed to kidnap and/or kill children, though it’s unclear what his motive was. It seems that William made Baby “for” his daughter, Elizabeth Afton, since one of her voice lines asks her father, “Didn’t you make her just for me?”
Some fans theorize that William deliberately manipulated Elizabeth into getting killed by Baby so he could make her immortal as a robot. It’s also possible that William had already discovered Remnant at this point in the timeline and created Baby to kidnap children and bring them to his robotics lab to experiment on them.
For those of you who don’t know, Remnant is a substance produced by strong emotion that can be extracted from the molten endoskeletons of possessed animatronics. By melting the haunted metal, William was able to inject this liquid Remnant into new animatronics to give them life, presumably to figure out how to become immortal himself.
In any case, Circus Baby’s Pizza World was open for only one day. In a tragic twist of fate, Baby captured and killed Elizabeth despite William’s apparent efforts to keep his daughter away from the killer animatronic he had created.
After Elizabeth’s death, the restaurant was immediately shut down, though the company’s official statement cited gas leaks to protect its image. Baby and the rest of the clown animatronics were retired and presumably stored in William’s underground robotics lab.
The (First) Missing Children’s Incident
Despite the immediate closing of Circus Baby’s Pizza World, the first Freddy Fazbear’s Pizza location continued to be a massive success.
However, at some point in or around 1983, tragedy struck the Fazbear franchise once again. William Afton, disguised in his Spring Bonnie costume, began luring children into the hidden safe room of Freddy Fazbear’s Pizza. There, he murdered them one by one and hid their bodies in the animatronic suits.
The Murder of Charlie Emily
After the first few children went missing in Freddy Fazbear’s Pizzeria, Henry Emily created a Security Puppet animatronic to protect his daughter, Charlotte “Charlie” Emily, while he couldn’t watch over her in Fredbear’s Family Diner. Unfortunately, some cruel pranksters locked Charlie out of the diner in the rain one fateful night, allowing William Afton to drive up and murder her in the alley outside before making a quick getaway.
The Puppet, which had been trapped in its box, broke free and left the diner to search for Charlie. However, the rain damaged the Puppet, causing it to break down and deactivate just as it reached Charlie’s body. As the two lay together in the rain, Charlie’s soul entered the animatronic, allowing her spirit to possess it.
FNAF 4 – The Crying Child & The Bite of ’83
Just after Charlie’s murder, William returned home to find that his own youngest son, the Crying Child, had run away to Freddy Fazbear’s Pizza. The Crying Child had a habit of running off to this location and did so frequently enough that his father became enraged.
William began spying on the Crying Child, setting up several surveillance cameras around their house to watch him. He also placed a walkie-talkie in the Crying Child’s golden Fredbear plush and used it to speak to his son from the office in his robotics lab, validating his son’s fears and encouraging him to grow more and more afraid.
The Crying Child’s older brother, Michael Afton, also bullied him by scaring him with a Foxy mask and abandoning him in Fredbear’s Family Diner.
By the beginning of FNAF 4, the Crying Child had become thoroughly terrified of Fredbear’s Family Diner. It’s likely that, by this point, he had witnessed something related to the Missing Children’s Incident in Freddy Fazbear’s Pizza, adding to or even inspiring his fear of the animatronics—specifically, the spring lock animatronics.
Regardless of the torment, he was experiencing, the Crying Child’s birthday party was still scheduled to take place at Fredbear’s Family Diner. During the party, Michael and his friends cornered the Crying Child and dragged him close to the Fredbear animatronic, shoving his head inside Fredbear’s mouth to scare him.
However, the Crying Child’s tears activated the animatronic’s spring locks, causing it to bite down and crush his skull. This event became known as the Bite of ’83, and the Crying Child died in the hospital soon after. The event likely caused the spring lock animatronics to be retired permanently, and Fredbear’s Family Diner has probably closed shortly afterward as well.
Despite the retirement of the spring lock suits, the Spring Bonnie costume in Freddy Fazbear’s Pizza notably continued to move, signifying that the Missing Children’s Incident was still ongoing. William likely murdered at least two more children before he was caught on camera and convicted.
In total, there were five victims killed in the incident, not including Charlie, who was murdered outside with no evidence that connected William to her death. Since police never found the missing children’s bodies, it seems that William was able to avoid spending much time in jail, if any.
This first Freddy Fazbear’s Pizza location struggled to operate for several years before inevitably shutting down. Not only was the restaurant’s reputation permanently marred by the Missing Children’s Incident, but the animatronics began to ooze blood and mucus in the years that followed as well. Between the combination of financial and sanitation issues, the once-popular restaurant had no choice but to close its doors.
A New Contender In Children’s Entertainment
After the first Freddy Fazbear’s Pizza location was closed down, William Afton transformed his underground robotics lab into an animatronic manufacturer and rental facility known as Circus Baby’s Entertainment and Rentals.
Rather than entertaining children in-house, this new business rented its animatronics out to various Fazbear Entertainment franchise locations such as Chica’s Party World. In addition to renting out the unused clown-themed animatronics created for Circus Baby’s Pizza World like Baby, Ballora, and Balloon Boy, Circus Baby’s Entertainment and Rentals manufactured several new animatronics, including Funtime Foxy, Funtime Chica, and Funtime Freddy.
FNAF 2 – Freddy Fazbear’s Pizza Given New Life
In 1987, Fazbear Entertainment opened a second Freddy Fazbear’s Pizza location several years after the first location had been closed. The new animatronics created for this location was based directly on the popular Fredbear & Friends toys to make them more kid-friendly. They were also programmed with advanced facial recognition software that allowed them to scan for potential criminals.
The classic animatronics were also brought to this location, but they were too ugly (and unsanitary) to perform. Aside from the Puppet, which was placed at the Prize Counter, the classic animatronics were kept in the back and used for parts.
However, Afton Robotics was likely responsible for creating the toy animatronics—and their criminal recognition software, which is potentially alluded to in the Sister Location teaser site source code. As such, William Afton could slip past their security measures and get a job as the night guard before being switched to the dayshift after only a few weeks. The second guard hired for the location, Jeremy Fitzgerald, was put on the night shift to replace him.
Once William was on the dayshift, he began luring more children to their deaths, which became the second Missing Children’s Incident in the timeline. The toy animatronics began to act up around adults as well, suggesting that William hid the kids’ bodies inside these new suits, just like he did during the first incident.
It seems that William may have been caught and fired from his position, though it’s unclear exactly what became of him afterward. It’s likely that, since no bodies were found, he managed to escape a long jail sentence once again. It’s also possible that he fled town to avoid arrest.
Jeremy was switched to the dayshift to cover William’s final shift, and the restaurant attempted to contact the original owner of Fredbear’s Family Diner to find a last-minute replacement for the night shift. It’s possible that Fritz Smith, the guard hired for this final night shift, was Michael Afton using an alias to avoid revealing that he was related to William. However, he was fired after his first shift for tampering with the animatronics.
During the restaurant’s final birthday party, Jeremy’s frontal lobe was bitten by one of the animatronics in an event that became known as the Bite of ’87. After only a few short weeks of operation, the restaurant closed, and the toy animatronics were sent back to Circus Baby’s Entertainment and Rentals to be scrapped. However, the classic animatronics were kept in the hopes of a future reopening.
Instead of scrapping the toy animatronics, it’s likely that William melted down their endoskeletons and used the molten Remnant to possess the new Funtime animatronics. It’s also possible that he salvaged parts from the classic animatronics to get Remnant for the Funtimes as well.
FNAF Sister Location – “It Was Right Where You Said It Would Be…”
At some point, William Afton contacted his son, Michael, to ask him to find Circus Baby’s Entertainment and Rentals. Michael agreed, presumably because William told him that his sister, Elizabeth, was still inside the facility. Michael located the venue and got a job as the new night-shift technician shortly after.
During Michael’s first week on the job, Baby told him the story of how she killed and became possessed by Elizabeth Afton, though she didn’t understand why. On the third night, she kidnapped Michael and hid him inside the old spring lock suit that had been made for Circus Baby’s Pizza World. When he awoke in the suit on the fourth night, he watched Ballora’s endoskeleton get removed by a machine known as the Scooper.
On the fifth night, Baby tricked Michael into getting Scooped himself, causing his innards to be removed. She and the other animatronics, who had combined themselves into one amalgamate animatronic named Ennard, climbed inside Michael’s body and used him to escape the facility.
Ennard wore Michael’s body as a disguise until it decayed, at which point Ennard had no choice but to eject himself into the sewers. Michael, who had been injected with Remnant by the Scooper, reanimated moments later, his soul now haunting his rotting corpse. Forced to live in the shadows, Michael vowed to find his father.
FNAF 1 – Where Fantasy and Fun Come to Life
It’s unclear exactly when the third Freddy Fazbear’s Pizza location opened, but at some point, the classic animatronics were refurbished for this new, lower-budget establishment. In 1993, the restaurant was looking for a new security guard.
Michael Afton was hired, presumably as part of his quest to find William. During his first week, it’s possible that Michael encountered the spirit of his little brother, the Crying Child, who is likely one of two spirits haunting Golden Freddy. At the end of his first week, Michael was fired for tampering with the animatronics once again.
FNAF 3 – The Fazbear Frights Horror Attraction
Eventually, Freddy Fazbear’s Pizza was shut down, likely due to the company’s irreparable reputation after the tragedies that occurred throughout its history. However, once the restaurant had been left abandoned, William Afton returned in secret to dismantle the animatronics, presumably to collect more Remnant.
Much to his surprise, however, the spirits haunting the animatronics attacked him in the restaurant’s safe room, chasing him into the spare Spring Bonnie costume that William had once used to lure them to their deaths. The moisture from the restaurant’s leaking roof loosened the suit’s spring locks, causing them to activate and plunge into William’s body. William Afton was trapped and killed inside the suit, left to rot in a prison of his own making.
Thirty years after Freddy Fazbear’s Pizza was closed, the new Fazbear Frights horror attraction was scheduled to open. Michael Afton, still pursuing his father after William’s disappearance, was hired as the location’s night guard/entertainer. In the week leading up to Fazbear Frights’ grand opening, the crew salvaged several relics from the old Freddy Fazbear’s Pizza, including some old Phone Guy training tapes and the Spring Bonnie animatronic.
Spring Bonnie, now known as Springtrap, attacked Michael during his shifts. By the end of the week, Michael realized that William’s corpse possessed the suit. Having finally achieved his goal of finding his father, Michael burned Fazbear Frights down before opening day in an attempt to kill Springtrap. Unfortunately, however, Springtrap managed to survive the fire.
A Note on the Sister Location, FNAF 1, and FNAF 3 Timeline
The actual timeline between Sister Location, FNAF 1, and FNAF 3 is extremely difficult to piece together, not to mention a major debate within the fanbase. FNAF fans seem to be split right down the middle regarding which events happened when, so I wanted to make a special note of the major theories about the timeline between these three games.
To assemble this timeline, I used evidence found in the FNAF Survival Logbook to place Sister Location before FNAF 1. However, that conclusion is based on the theory that the Survival Logbook itself was filled out during Michael Afton’s shifts at the FNAF 1 location.
In the Logbook, there are several references to Michael’s experience at Circus Baby’s Entertainment and Rentals, so it’s safe to say that he wrote in the Logbook sometime after he had already visited the facility in Sister Location.
On the other hand, many fans believe that the Funtime animatronics from Sister Location was created with the Remnant William extracted from the classic animatronics. This theory explains how the souls from the first Missing Children’s Incident ended up possessing Molten Freddy by FNAF 6.
If that’s the case, Sister Location would have to take place after FNAF 1 since William likely dismantled the classic animatronics for their Remnant after the FNAF 1 location had already closed, making it impossible for Sister Location to take place first.
Admittedly, it is difficult to place the Survival Logbook on the timeline. Some fans speculate that it could come from Michael’s shifts at FNAF 3’s Fazbear Frights location, which would place the Logbook at least 30 years after FNAF 1 on the timeline. This would make it possible for FNAF 1 to take place before Sister Location while still allowing Michael to write about the events of Sister Location in the Logbook.
However, on the first page of the Logbook where Michael filled out his name, there’s a note from management regarding the fact that the book had previously been used. This implies that it was given to another guard sometime after Michael used it.
If that’s the case, it would be impossible for the Logbook to come from Fazbear Frights since Michael was the only guard to ever work there, and the location was burned at the end of his first week. There would be no second guard to receive the book after him. As such, it’s more likely that the Logbook comes from his shifts in FNAF 1.
While my theories regarding this potential timeline confliction are entirely speculative, I believe it’s possible that William had been salvaging parts from the classic animatronics during the FNAF 2 Missing Children’s Incident, which could potentially be alluded to in Phone Guy’s calls.
It’s also possible that William used the Remnant from the victims of the FNAF 2 Missing Children’s Incident to possess the Funtimes before Michael’s shifts in Sister Location, then returned to the FNAF 1 location later to dismantle the classic animatronics and collect the Remnant from the first Missing Children’s Incident.
While both of these explanations are mere speculation, they would allow both the “Logbook 93” theory and the “Molten MCI” theory to coexist in the timeline. As such, Sister Location could take place before FNAF 1 without any timeline conflicts. This would also explain what became of the victims of the second Missing Children’s Incident since they should have been gathered in the FNAF 6 Pizzeria as well.
FNAF 6 – “Don’t Keep the Devil Waiting, Old Friend”
Sometime after Fazbear Frights burned down, a brand new Freddy Fazbear’s Pizza Place was opened. However, this new restaurant was a ruse created by Henry Emily to lure the remaining possessed animatronics and gather them all in one place. Michael Afton was hired to be this franchise location’s owner and manager, though he wasn’t originally part of Henry’s plan.
Over the restaurant’s first week in operation, Springtrap, Scrap Baby, Molten Freddy, and a strange animatronic named Lefty appeared in the alley outside the restaurant. At some point, it seems that Ennard had ejected Baby due to conflicts within their shared body.
Baby put herself back together with scrap parts, becoming Scrap Baby, and the rest of the animatronics that made up Ennard became Molten Freddy once Funtime Freddy’s consciousness took over in her stead.
Once all of the animatronics were gathered and trapped in the restaurant, Henry’s master plan was revealed, and he set the place ablaze to release everyone’s souls at once. Michael, who was given the chance to escape, chose to stay and burn with the rest of his family. Henry himself likely burned in the fire as well, bringing this long, horror-filled chapter of the FNAF story to a close.
Question: What order should I play the FNAF games?
Answer: If you’re just getting into the Five Nights at Freddy’s series, I recommend playing the games in the order they were released. The way that FNAF reveals its narrative often depends on the events shown in the games that came before, and it’s really interesting to see everything unfold in the order it was originally presented. However, if you want to experience the games chronologically, I’d recommend playing them in this order:
FNAF 5 – Sister Location / FNAF 1
FNAF 6 – Freddy Fazbear’s Pizzeria Simulator
FNAF VR: Help Wanted
FNAF AR: Special Delivery
FNAF Security Breach
Question: When does FNAF take place?
Answer: The Five Nights at Freddy’s series spans several decades, and it’s difficult to say exactly when the story starts and when the more recent games are taking place. However, the series likely spans from sometime around 1973 to 2025 – 2030.
Question: Which FNAF games are canon?
Answer: The main series of canon FNAF games includes FNAF 1 – 4, Sister Location, Freddy Fazbear’s Pizzeria Simulator, FNAF VR: Help Wanted, and FNAF Security Breach. It’s likely that FNAF AR: Special Delivery is also part of the canon timeline since it directly references canon events from both Help Wanted and Security Breach. Ultimate Custom Night’s canonicity has been debated over the years, but its lore is vague enough that it could potentially fit into the canon timeline as well. FNAF World, on the other hand, is confirmed to be non-canon.
The Future of FNAF – Help Wanted, Special Delivery, and Security Breach
While the burning of Freddy Fazbear’s Pizza Place and Henry’s awesome speech marked the end of an era for FNAF, William Afton wasn’t kidding around when he told us he “always comes back.”
In yet another attempt to save its reputation after the horrific events that marred its past, Fazbear Entertainment created a virtual experience to make light of these tragedies and move on. The company sent the game’s development team several old circuit boards and other relics to use for this new VR game.
When the circuit boards were scanned into the game, a malicious virus known as “Glitchtrap” was set loose, presumably containing some part of William Afton’s soul or consciousness that was still lingering in the Springtrap animatronic. One of the game’s beta testers, Vanessa, inadvertently summoned this strange entity and became possessed by it.
Under Glitchtrap’s influence, Vanessa managed to gain access to the Freddy Fazbear Mega Pizzaplex computer system, allowing her to send commands to the Glamrock animatronics. By the end of the year, she transferred to the Pizzaplex and began working as the head security officer despite not being recommended for the position after her interview. Around this time, children began to mysteriously go missing in the Pizzaplex.
One night, a kid named Gregory was trapped inside the Pizzaplex after hours. After surviving in the mall until morning with the help of Glamrock Freddy, Gregory discovered the remains of Freddy Fazbear’s Pizza Place buried deep below the mall. There, it was revealed that Vanessa used Glamrock Bonnie’s endoskeleton to resurrect Glitchtrap in a physical body, transforming him into Burntrap. However, Burntrap was captured by the amalgamate Blob animatronic, presumably allowing Gregory and Freddy to escape.
As I was working on this timeline, however, the new teaser for the FNAF Security Breach: Ruin DLC dropped. It seems that we’ll not only be playing as a new kid in this DLC but that Gregory has gone missing as well.
For now, it’s unclear where this new chapter of the Five Nights at Freddy’s saga will take us. Still, it’s safe to say that we’re far from seeing the end of Fazbear Entertainment.