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(Pocket-lint) - The Purge Universe is one of the most successful horror film franchises of all time.

The original movie, The Purge, which debuted in 2013, made $90 million at the US box office on just a $3 million budget. That was good enough for it to spawn a universe consisting of three sequels, a prequel, and even a TV series. As of right now, the entire franchise has brought in over $6.2 billion worldwide. 

The synopsis behind The Purge Universe centers around an alternate version of the US - where once a year, for one day only, all crime is made legal. Perhaps making the situation even scarier, most of the purgers (aka the people doing all the killing in this dystopian reality) wear grotesque masks while committing their acts of violence. The films also tend to focus on a group of characters who are preparing for and trying to survive the 24-hour purge period.

Over the course of five films and one TV series, you learn much more about the origin of the purge, including who started it and why. 

The Purge Universe in chronological order

The fifth film in the franchise, The Forever Purge, just released. So, it's the perfect time to figure out how to watch all the movies in the order of how the events happen. Here, then, is a chronological order for The Purge Universe. If you’d prefer to watch by release date, we’ve included that order at the bottom.

NOTE: THERE MAY BE SPOILERS BELOW.

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The First Purge (2018 - movie)

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The first film in Pocket-lint's viewing order is actually the fourth entry in the franchise. The First Purge shows the events of, you guessed it, the first purge. The film reveals that a new political party, known as the New Founding Fathers of America, emerged and won the presidency of the US. 

The film follows the first experimental Purge in 2017. it is limited to Staten Island in New York. It's the brainchild of Sociologist Dr. May Updale (Marisa Tomei), who promises it will help to save the country, as it’s the only way for people to let out their pent-up anger. The story focuses on a drug kingpin named Dmitri (Y’lan Noel), as well as his brother and sister Isaiah (Joivan Wade) and Nya Charm (Lex Scott Davis), as they try to survive.

But the government makes things difficult for them, as it sends in people to instigate violence and murder during the first purge. 

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The Purge (2013 - movie)

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The very first Purge film actually takes place in the year 2022 and follows the events of the sixth purge. The story centers around Ethan Hawke’s James Sandin, a security system designer who’s made a lucrative career out of purge-proofing homes. We follow Sandin’s family as they lock up their own home and wait for the purge to end. But things take a turn for the worse when Sandin’s son, Charlie (Max Burkholder), lets a wounded man into the home. 

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The Purge: Anarchy (2014 - movie)

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The Purge: Anarchy picks up a year after the first film, The Purge, and sees the beginning of a resistance taking shape against the annual purge.

It opens with anti-purge protestors, which include Dwayne (Edwin Hodge), the stranger who was let into the Sandin’s home in the first film. He hijacks the government's broadcasting system to denounce the purge. The film then follows Eva Sanchez (Carmen Ejoga) and her 17-year-old daughter Cali (Zoe Soul) as they try to survive the purge with the help of Leo Barnes (Frank Grillo), a Los Angeles police sergeant who is out to get revenge in the purge. 

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The Purge (2018 to 2019 - TV show)

The Purge TV series ran for two seasons on the USA Network. Each season covers a different purge.

The first season takes place in what would be 2027 in The Purge Universe and follows different characters from a small city trying to survive the night. The second season follows a new set of characters and breaks new ground by showing how events unfold in the day after the annual purge. There’s not a concrete time for the second season, but it takes place between the first season and the next film in our order, The Purge: Election Year. 

A bonus for those who make it through the entire show: You can catch Ethan Hawke reprising his role during a flashback in the final episode of season two.

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The Purge: Election Year (2016 - movie)

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Election Year takes place in 2040 and sees the events of the 25th Purge. The film shows that the political party that started The Purge, the New Founding Fathers of America, has begun to lose its grasp on power. When an anti-purge candidate, Charlene Roan (Elizabeth Mitchell), seems poised to win the presidency, the New Founding Fathers revoke the immunity that political figures enjoy during the annual purge and plan to kill Roan. 

Fortunately, Roan’s head of security is Frank Grillo’s Leo Barnes, who reprises his role from The Purge Anarchy. Edwin Hodge also reprises his role from the first two films and is now leading an underground purge resistance. 

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The Forever Purge (2021 - movie)

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The most recent film is also the last movie in the franchise, chronologically. The film stars Ana De La Reguera, Tenoch Huerta, and Josh Lucas.

The Forever Purge picks up eight years after the events of Election Year. It's also been eight years since Charlene Roan became president, but the New Founding Fathers have won the most recent election and reinstituted the annual purge. But when they say the purge is over this year, the purgers don’t stop. 


Spoiler-free version: The Purge Universe at a glance

The Purge movies and show in chronological order

OK, so here is the at-a-glance version of the guide above, but free of spoilers.

  • The First Purge (2018 - movie)
  • The Purge (2013 - movie)
  • The Purge: Anarchy (2014 - movie)
  • The Purge (2018 to 2019 - TV show)
  • The Purge: Election Year (2016 - movie)
  • The Forever Purge (2021 - movie)

The Purge movies and show in order of release date

Here's a viewing order that lists when the Purge movies hit theatres and when the show debuted, starting with the first entry up until the most recent.

  • The Purge (2013 - movie)
  • The Purge: Anarchy (2014 - movie)
  • The Purge: Election Year (2016 - movie)
  • The First Purge (2018 - movie)
  • The Purge TV Series (2018 to 2019 - TV show)
  • The Forever Purge (2021 - movie)

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Writing by Maggie Tillman. Originally published on 27 July 2021.
Sections TV