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Let’s Try To Figure Out the Wacky ‘Texas Chainsaw Massacre’ Timeline

Most. Confusing. Franchise. Ever.

With Leatherface, a prequel to the original Texas Chain Saw Massacre, possibly maybe (who the hell even knows) being released sometime this year, I’ve been doing a lot of thinking about the Texas Chainsaw Massacre franchise. Specifically, how batshit crazy and nonsensical it is. Granted, it’s nearly impossible to follow the continuities of most horror franchises (props to Child’s Play for at least making it all make sense), but the Chainsaw franchise in particular is a total mind-fuck. How do you make sense of something that makes no sense? I mean. I guess you don’t.

But I want to. I desperately want to.

I’ve spent more time than I care to admit this week trying to piece together the overall timeline of the Texas Chainsaw Massacre franchise, and with a little help from a YouTube video (embedded below) that pointed out some things I missed, I think I’ve finally done it. I’ve finally figured out the franchise’s timeline. And I’m here to tell you, dear readers, that there just plain isn’t one.

Sorry. I know that was cruel. But there isn’t!

The only real timeline here that sort of adds up and sort of makes sense is spread across three films: The Texas Chain Saw Massacre, The Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2, and Texas Chainsaw 3D. They’re the only films that Tobe Hooper had anything to do with (he directed the first two and produced Chainsaw 3D), so I suppose it makes sense that they sort of share a continuity.


The original Texas Chain Saw Massacre is set on August 18th, 1973, a day that claimed the lives of friends Jerry, Kirk, Pam, and Franklin; Sally Hardesty was of course the sole survivor of the cannibalistic family’s wrath. Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2, released in 1986, is also set in 1986, 13 years after the events of the original film. Though Tobe Hooper’s comedic sequel was a huge departure from the ’74 classic, it was very much a direct follow-up to the original – the dead body of the so-called Hitchhiker is even prominently featured as a macabre prop.

In Chainsaw 2 we meet Chop Top, who was fighting in the Vietnam War while his family was terrorizing Sally and friends, and we also meet Lieutenant Lefty Enright, the uncle of Sally and Franklin Hardesty. Lefty has been pursuing the family all those years on a revenge mission, and by the end of the film, it seems pretty clear that the entire family has been killed off.

As for Texas Chainsaw 3D, which picks up right after the events of the original film and then jumps ahead a few decades to the year 2012, we find out that the entire Sawyer family was wiped out by locals immediately after the 1973 killing spree. The only survivor of the massacre was Leatherface, who kills a bunch more people before being domesticated by Alexandra Daddario.

Of course, even this timeline doesn’t quite add up. If Drayton Sawyer was killed in 1973, how the hell was he alive and well in 1986? See what I mean? This shit is bananas.


Many fans view Leatherface: The Texas Chainsaw Massacre 3 and Texas Chainsaw Massacre: The Next Generation as existing within their own individual timelines, and that’s really the only way to look at it. Both films feature far different versions of Leatherface and all sorts of new family members, playing out more like reboots than sequels of any kind. To further confuse matters, Chainsaw 3 opens with a narration that says W.E. Sawyer (who was possibly Leatherface or Drayton) was killed in 1981, while Next Generation notes that the family members were never found at any point in time. Another contradiction is that Chainsaw 3 makes mention of Sally having died in 1977, but in Next Generation, Sally is seen alive in a mental institution.

Neither Chainsaw 3 nor Next Generation really connect to the first two films in any way, aside from both acknowledging the events of August 1973; if you use your imagination, you can pretend that Leatherface finds new family members whenever one group is killed off, but that still doesn’t clear up all the other continuity issues. I suppose it’s worth noting that Caroline “Stretch” Williams pops up for a cameo as a news reporter in Chainsaw 3; from what I gather, she was supposed to have been reprising the role of Stretch. So there’s that, for whatever that’s worth.

And then there’s the remake and its prequel, which is a whole nother thing altogether.

Conclusion? Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2 is a direct sequel to Texas Chain Saw Massacre, but everything after that is the work of filmmakers doing their own thing with the franchise and its characters. And I kind of love that about the series. It makes no sense, but the individual installments each have their own personalities and charms. For their own reasons, I love them all.

Will Leatherface directly connect to any previous installments? We hope to soon find out.

Oh and below you can check out that video I mentioned earlier, if you’re interested.



  • Jon

    You’re articles are always the best. I was thinking about this the other day.Good piece

    • John Squires

      Thank you so much for reading, Jon. I love digging deep into movies like this, even when the end result is not learning much at all!

  • EvilHead1981

    I always felt the TCM was the “Legend of Zelda timeline” of horror franchises. With the exception of the PD reboot series, Every sequel in the original series is a branching path out from the original. The original stands as the cornerstone, the base of the franchise, while the sequels are, basically, like if you got a bunch of guys sitting outside around a campfire, chugging beers and listening to the first story, then after it ends, one dude pops in and says, “I heard that afterwards….” and then another guy says, “Oh yeah, I heard that a little differently, cause it happened like this….” and everybody tells how they heard the “after events” go down, all completely different from each other. Even Texas Chainsaw 3D fits into that sorta thing.

    • Glenn Wills

      Believe it or not there is an official Zelda timeline now. Not sure you’ll want to read it as it causes headaches.

      • Taylor Sheppard

        I was in a dayplayer role in the reboot, first scene…script confused me too.

      • Whiskeyriver

        Zelda’s timeline is hilarious because everything after the Zelda 2 went sideways and backward except forward.

  • huntermc

    There’s also the little plot hole in Chainsaw 3D that Alexandra Daddario is the baby that was found after the incident in 1973, only that would make her 40 years old!

    • Best not think too hard about that one…the filmmakers apparently didn’t.

    • Darkknight2149

      According to the “Texas Chainsaw 3D” director commentary, the timeline was adjusted so that the original is set sometime in the 1990s (instead of 1973). This is why the dates on all of the character tombstones were obscured at the Sawyer mansion.

      This isn’t the only change they made to the original. In the opening recap of the original in TC3D, you’ll notice that all of Jim Siedow’s scenes as Drayton Sawyer were re-shot with Bill Moseley (who also plays the character in the opening scene where the Sawyers are killed).

      • huntermc

        I thought them casting Moseley to play Drayton Sawyer was the best kind of fan service possible.

  • After noticing the “Stretch” connection between 2 and 3 a few nights ago, I started contemplating writing a very similar article! Lol. It’s also interesting to point out that there are mentions of various pits filled with cropses being found in Part 3 which could also tie into the family’s underground layer in Part 2. They even state the pits are found right by the highway (which is the final reveal when you see the 18 wheeler speed by in the final shot of 2). Wow..too much brain power went into this convoluted mess. 🙂

  • Flu-Like Symptoms

    It all boils down to one very basic thing; studios don’t care about continuity. They want a film that will net a profit, and will do whatever they feel is necessary to get it. Fans are thought of only as tools who will consume anything their favorite franchise name is attached to. If one person on the project cares and aims to respect a series, he/she is always cock-blocked by studio executives who only want that $$$.

  • RedNeoCon

    TCM 2 has to be my favorite.

  • Darkknight2149

    A couple of things:
    1. “Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2” is NOT connected to “Texas Chainsaw 3D”. There are two timelines that are connected to the 1974 original. The first consists of TCM, TCM2, TCM3 and “The Next Generation” (all are connected, regardless of obvious continuity errors). The second timeline is TCM, “Texas Chainsaw 3D” and the upcoming “Leatherface”. TCM2 has nothing to do with TC3D.

    2. According to the audio commentary, “Texas Chainsaw 3D” adjusted the timeline so that the original is set in the early 1990s, instead of 1973. This explains the character ages and why all of the dates on the character tombstones at the Sawyer mansion are obscured.

  • Larry britt

    i feel like texas chainsaw 1-4 are all connected. after his other brother which was a twin of the hichthiker in the 1st movie and his dad/brother, the cook, die at the end of the 2nd movie leatherface went on the run to his mom/sisters house with her side of the family. Stretch is seen briefly at the beginning of the 3rd movie, now a new reporter, chasing leatherface, like lefty in part 2. after the end of 3 he moved to his other cousins house. he seems to grow up mentally through the movies. the 1st hes a child the 2nd hes a teen that likes girls. the 3rd hes early 20s doesnt like taking orders and has a daughter. the 4th is just him traumatized from the previous movies mixed with him being genetically insane

  • Nicolas Caiveau

    TCM 1-4 is one single timeline, with many flows.
    TCM 2003 & The Beginning is another one
    TCM 3D is a third timeline. How is it a direct sequel to the original ? It takes place explicitely in 2012, the girl is supposed to be 20 year old, not 40. Characters have I Phones etc… It just acknowledges that events similar to the original movie took place in the 90’s. That’s all. Not that complicated.

    • Darkknight2149

      TC3D is considered a direct sequel because it follows the events of the original directly, despite the time gap. You’re right about the three timelines.

      What some people don’t realise when they say that TCM3 and 4 are remakes is that continuity errors don’t make a film a remake. If so, half of the “Friday the 13th” films would be remakes.

      • Nicolas Caiveau

        Absolutely. The continuity is flawed and full of errors. You’re right, TCM3D is “supposed” to be a direct sequel to the original, ignoring all the previous sequels, like H20 is to Halloween 1 and 2. But I consider it to be the the sequel to an imaginary remake of TCM 73, that took place in 1993.

  • Quinton Ridley

    There’s no continuity except the one created by fans. The sequels never had rights to the other sequels, just the original story. But naming each sequel Part 2 would be stupid.

    TCM2 follows TCM
    TCM3 follows TCM
    TCM4 is a remake, but mentions “some other incidents” just to cash-in and appear as a sequel.
    TC3D follows TCM. It borrows the name Sawyer from Pt2 and thats it. And for those wondering, the film imagines that TCM happened in 1993 (it clearly shows this on obituaries). Yes… shitty. So it doesn’t even follow the original film, technically.

    All of the sequels ignore each other and the only links between them are imagined by fanboys and not by the writers or directors. Kim Henkel made TCM4 to erase TCM2 and 3. “Leatherface” will be a prequel to TC3D, so it might take place in the late 1980s or the 1960s.

    • Darkknight2149

      TCM, TCM2, TCM3 and “The Next Generation” are all connected, they’re just plagued with continuity errors. The only true direct sequels to the original are TCM2 and “Texas Chainsaw 3D”.

  • RKSDooM

    I’m pretty sure the timeline goes:

    Timeline 1:
    TTCM 2

    TTCM 2 is connected to part 1 via the opening narration Drayton, Franklin and “Nubbins.”
    LEATHERFACE: TTCM 3 is connected to part 2 via Leatherface’s leg brace being indicative of his injuries at the end of TTCM 2, the engraving on the excalibur chainsaw (“The Saw is Family”) being something Drayton said in TTCM 2, and with Grandpa being a corpse, presumably due to the hand grenade explosion at the end of TTCM 2.
    Also, comments by the writer of LEATHERFACE: TTCM 3 indicate that, while they weren’t being explicit about it, part 3 was indeed a sequel to part 2, with Leatherface having matured past his childlike personality in parts 1 and 2, to a more “rebellious teenager” personality in part 3.

    Timeline 2:

    My understanding is that this film is a standalone movie, that was intended to be a remake of the original. Grandpa being alive in the film seems to be indicative of this.

    Timeline 3:
    TTCM (2003)

    Timeline 4:

    Despite the obvious continuity issue of the main character’s age, TC3D is obviously supposed to act as a direct sequel to TCM, and it goes out of its way not to mention the year that the original film took place to accommodate this.

  • Dinglebobman

    i remember watching film where leatherface mum was a fat Christian holding a crucifix dieing giving birth to him in butcher shop back area and that was the start of the film but i can’t remember what film it was?

    • Halloween_Vic

      Texas chainsaw massacre: The beginning, that’s the prequel to the remake

  • Dinglebobman

    i remember watching film where leatherface mum was a fat Christian holding a crucifix dieing giving birth to him in butcher shop back area and that was the start of the film but i can’t remember what film it was??

  • The Down Voter

    There is no true, legit sequel to the original movie. Granted, the second movie is the closest – but its still a whole different animal. Its a satire and a black comedy. Its sorta like Gremlins 2. Returning actors, same director, references and nods to the original, loose continuation…but TCM2 is just really not in the same world as the original.

    Now had TCM2 been dead serious, more in line with the gritty original,…..and if the story had been less goofy then it easily could have been a legitimate sequel. I’d rather they went that route personally.

    Everything after TCM2 was random alternate stories and reboots with a few returning elements. Zero actual continuity.

    TCM IS a franchise though….but all the ‘part 2’ and ‘part 3’ labels are misleading as they actually mean nothing.

    BTW, I know Tobe kinda saw the original as a black comedy…but nobody else did. It was straight horror.

    The ONLY real continuity between movies was the remake and the prequel.

  • Horror Timelines (Junk Food Ci

    glad you enjoyed the video. the chainsaw movies were one of the hardest franchises to nail down, probably second only to the romero dead series.

  • Conny Fruehbeisser

    Best thing to do is to view the movies as some sort of Multiverse. Would explain all the different versions of Leatherface and his various families.

  • Dinglebobman

    I thought The Texas Chainsaw Massacre: The Beginning was the first in the story?

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