Five Nights at Freddy’s has taken the indie game world by storm since its Steam debut on August 18, 2014.
It’s also notorious for being a series double-stuffed with convolution, confusion, and an entire basket of exotic butters. So, now that the latest entry in the franchise, Five Nights at Freddy’s: Security Breach is rumored to be getting new DLC in the form of the enigmatic ‘chowda,’ it’s a good time to revisit what has happened in the timeline — so far.
SPOILER WARNING AND DISCLAIMER: If you are not caught up with the latest in the Five Nights at Freddy’s franchise, or if you care about spoilers, please be aware that this timeline will contain spoilers up to Security Breach. Given the nature of the Five Nights at Freddy’s franchise, there is no one canonical timeline. As such, a lot of this timeline is rooted in both my interpretation and the version of the timeline by Reddit user ItsTheOrangShep.
The Chronological Timeline of FNAF
It needs to be said, first and foremost, that the Five Nights at Freddy’s franchise has been weighed down by inconsistencies and non-canonical elements that make discussing what has and hasn’t happened a difficult task. I say difficult, but most certainly not impossible. As such, we will only be discussing the games, as the novels are non-canon and serve mainly to inform certain narrative elements that will only complicate this ‘simple’ breakdown.
FIVE NIGHTS AT FREDDY’S 4 — 1983
It all begins — more or less — with the fourth installment in the franchise, released July 23, 2015, via Steam. Five Nights at Freddy’s 4 puts players in the shoes of a child who must survive a week in their home while being hunted by nightmarish apparitions that closely resemble the mascots for one of two local pizzerias: Fredbear’s Family Diner or Freddy Fazbear’s Pizza. FNAF4 isn’t explicit about which is the focus here, though it’s accepted to be the former.
William Afton, who once worked with Henry Emily to open both Fredbear’s Family Diner and Freddy Fazbear’s Pizza has a falling out with his partner. Instead of hashing things out like adults, he opts to murder Henry’s daughter, Charlie. It’s here where the first of many hauntings occur, as it’s implied the spirit of Charlie inhabits an animatronic known as the Security Puppet. FNAF4 also suggests that William’s youngest son — who has yet to receive a canon name — is the player character, and also the second victim when a prank results in his head being chomped by an animatronic.
FIVE NIGHTS AT FREDDY’S 2 — 1987
Five Nights at Freddy’s 2 is next in our timeline, released on November 10, 2014, via Steam. In this second installment in both chronology and release timelines, the player assumes the role of security guard Jeremy Fitzgerald, who must fend off a whopping total of ten animatronics: the original Freddy, Bonnie, Chica, Foxy, and Fredbear / Golden Freddy, but also newcomers Toy Freddy, Toy Chica, Toy Bonnie, Mangle, and the Balloon Boy.
It’s implied that, between the events of FNAF4 in 1983 and FNAF2 in 1987, everyone’s favorite serial murderer William Afton took the lives of five children, who then inhabited the Freddy, Bonnie, Chica, Foxy, and Fredbear / Golden Freddy animatronics, or, in the latter’s unfortunate case, the suit without an endoskeleton. William is arrested, but he is released due to a lack of evidence.
William decides to put on a reunion tour at the second Freddy Fazbear’s Pizza location — where FNAF2 takes place — and takes the lives of five more children, who go on to inhabit the new toy animatronics (including Mangle and BB). It’s here where the infamous ‘bite of ’87’ occurs when an unknown animatronic bites and possibly kills Jeremy Fitzgerald. As a result, Freddy Fazbear’s Pizza is closed indefinitely.
FIVE NIGHTS AT FREDDY’S: SISTER LOCATION — Year Unknown
Things start to get a little muddy when we reach Five Nights at Freddy’s: Sister Location, released October 7, 2016, via Steam. It is commonly accepted that the player character is a more grown Michael Afton — the older brother of the FNAF4 protagonist — who has been tasked with uncovering the truth of what happened to his younger sister at the underground facility known as Circus Baby’s Entertainment and Rentals.
It can be presumed that, at some point in his father’s past, he opened a sister location to Freddy Fazbear’s Pizza called Circus Baby’s Pizza World. William forbids his daughter, Elizabeth, from approaching the lead performer, Circus Baby. This is more than likely because he specifically designed these new ‘fun-time’ animatronics to murder and store the bodies of children. Elizabeth disobeys her father and is killed, at which point she inhabits the Circus Baby animatronic.
In the present day, the animatronics — Circus Baby, Ballora, Funtime Foxy, Funtime Freddy, and Bon-Bon — somehow gain sentience and combine into an amalgam known as Ennard. They trick Michael into letting them use his body as a disguise to escape the facility. Michael should have been killed, but he survives long enough to expel the amalgam into the sewers. He may be alive, but his skin is rotted and his body is broken beyond repair. It’s then suggested that he starts looking for his father in order to punish him for his crimes.
FIVE NIGHTS AT FREDDY’S — 1993
It’s then that we reach the one that started it all: Five Nights at Freddy’s released on August 18, 2014, via Steam. Likely the most abstract of the series, most — if not all — story materials are head-canon, aside from the fact that it takes place sometime in 1993. Players take on the role of Mike Fritz (who may or may not be Michael Afton, depending on which retroactive fan theory you subscribe to) who must survive a week while being hunted by the original five animatronics.
FIVE NIGHTS AT FREDDY’S 3 — 2023
Thirty years pass and the twisted legacy of Freddy Fazbear’s Pizza has inspired a new horror attraction: Fazbear’s Fright. Five Nights at Freddy’s 3, released March 2, 2015, is a lot like the original FNAF in that a lot of the story implications are abstract. But we do see a familiar face in the sole animatronic this time around, Springtrap. William Afton is back.
But wait — if William was a grown man in the 1980s, he’d have to be in his 70s or 80s in 2023, right? Well, in order to explain this concept, we have to discuss the existence of spring-locked animatronic suits. In the history of Fredbear’s Family Diner and later Freddy Fazbear’s Pizza, to cut costs, they created suits that could be worn by performers but could double as autonomous animatronics. It is revealed in this game that, at some point in the past, William returned to one of the closed pizzerias to dismantle the animatronics. He was then confronted by the spirits of his victims, and, in a fit of desperation, he puts on an old spring-locked animatronic suit.
He failed to consider the leaky roof in addition to his own sweat, which results in the spring-locks snapping, killing him. In an ironic twist of fate, his own soul then inhabits the spring-locked suit he wore.
So, by the time Fazbear’s Fright exists, we have two seemingly undead Aftons — William and Michael — who were destined to reunite. According to many fan interpretations, the player character of this game, like with Sister Location, is Michael Afton, who has been searching for his father for decades. At the end of FNAF3, the attraction burns to the ground, but both Aftons manage to escape with their “lives,” leading to their “final” showdown.
FREDDY FAZBEAR’S PIZZERIA SIMULATOR — Year Unknown
For the remaining titles on this list, there is no canonical timeline information. But we can use context clues to place them near the end. Freddy Fazbear’s Pizzeria Simulator released on December 4, 2017, and is the most off-the-walls entry in the series to date. It’s framed as a non-canon sim game, but the façade is remarkably short-lived.
It is, in fact, a sim game that tasks players with building a pizzeria up from nothing. But, in between buying a variety of items, including paper plates, video games, and discounted animatronics, the deeper story unravels.
Henry Emily is a name we haven’t heard in a while, right? It would seem that he’s been lurking in the background since his daughter’s murder, watching William’s atrocities, and he’s finally seen enough.
Henry puts out an ad seeking to hire someone who wants to become a Fazbear Entertainment franchisee. If the player manages to salvage each of the animatronics who weren’t put to rest in the FNAF3 storyline — Scrap Baby / Elizabeth, Molten Freddy, William Afton, and Lefty / the Security Puppet — then they’ll all be trapped in a burning building, and presumably, be put to rest. It’s also implied that the player character is Michael, like in many other entries on this list.
ULTIMATE CUSTOM NIGHT — Year Unknown
Ultimate Custom Night, released June 27, 2018, via Steam, looks like a non-canon spinoff. But that couldn’t be further from the truth. Cassidy, one of William’s first victims who inhabited the Fredbear suit has become a vengeful spirit. As such, they’ve seen each of his victims be put to rest, but they’re not satisfied. In a twisted form of revenge, William is trapped within a purgatory where he must survive while being hunted by every animatronic from the series.
So, yes: the currently accepted narrative is that the player character of Ultimate Custom Night is William Afton.
FIVE NIGHTS AT FREDDY’S: HELP WANTED — Year Unknown
Five Nights at Freddy’s: Help Wanted, released May 28, 2019, is the series’ first and only VR game (so far). It can also be considered the first game of the new generation of FNAF, as its ties to the original narrative are present but thin.
In this one, Fazbear Entertainment is rid of both Henry Emily and William Afton and is now trying to rehabilitate their soiled image. To do this, they hire an indie developer to create a video game based on the events of the series to date in an effort to potentially discredit or distance themselves from the series of atrocities. In the development process of this metagame, the soul of William Afton somehow finds its way into the game itself, where he becomes Glitchtrap.
Glitchtrap manages to trick the player character of Help Wanted into releasing them back into the real world.
FIVE NIGHTS AT FREDDY’S: SECURITY BREACH — Year Unknown
It’s then that we reach the most recent entry in the series. Five Nights at Freddy’s: Security Breach was released December 16, 2021, via Steam, and is the most radically different addition to the series.
Security Breach follows Gregory, who must survive a single night trapped in Freddy Fazbear’s Mega Pizzaplex while being hunted by the shady security guard Vanessa, the new animatronics Glamrock Chica, Montgomery Gator, and Roxanne Wolf. Thankfully, he’s assisted this time by Glamrock Freddy, who can temporarily be used as a mech suit.
There are multiple endings to Security Breach. In the true ending, Gregory and Freddy discover the Pizzaplex was built atop the burned remains of Freddy Fazbear’s Pizza Place, which was the location present in Pizzeria Simulator. It’s revealed that the remnants of Molten Freddy — now referred to as ‘the Blob’ — survived the events that game, but also that William Afton is back … again. It appears that the actions taken in Help Wanted have paid off and he is reborn. But in this ending, he is immediately incapacitated by the Blob, so … he might be dead for real, this time.
And with that, we’re caught up to the present day. If and when the ‘chowda’ DLC for Security Breach is released, you will be prepared to tackle whatever twists it throws into the FNAF hot pot. Is William Afton alive? Is Gregory a robot? I guess we’ll have to wait for these answers and more until Steel Wool Studios is ready to reveal more.