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(Pocket-lint) - Friday the 13th is one of the most iconic horror franchises. Starring the hockey mask-wearing, machete-wielding Jason Voorhees, it spans 12 films.

Also: What is the best order to watch The Conjuring Universe movies?

Many of you have probably watched a couple of the slashers when you were in the mood for cheap jump scares. But if you're curious about Jason's entire story, from start to finish, then you got to watch all the movies. After all, most of the franchise occurs in chronological order, with one movie starting right when the last one ended. The final two films are the exception, and we'll explain why in this guide that details the best order to watch the Friday the 13th movies.

We’ve included a bulleted, spoiler-free version of this guide at the bottom, plus a theatrical release date order and a special Freddy vs. Jason order.

Halloween movies: Best viewing orders
Chronological movie order (spoilers)Chronological movie order (spoiler-free)
Freddy vs Jason order (spoiler-free)Theatrical release order (spoiler-free)

Every Friday the 13th movie in chronological order

NOTE: THERE MAY BE SPOILERS BELOW.

Friday the 13th (1980)What is the best order to watch the Friday the 13th movies? photo 6

Friday the 13th (1980)

The first Friday the 13th film debuted over 30 years ago, starring Adrienne King as Alice and Betsy Palmer as Mrs Voorhees. It was directed by Sean S Cunningham and written by Victor Miller. (Miller recently won a legal battle awarding him the rights to the franchise and Jason Voorhees character).

The story follows a group of teenage camp counselors who have begun working at Camp Crystal Lake, preparing it for kids who are coming for summer camp. Unfortunately, someone doesn’t want the camp to open again. You’ll notice a young Kevin Bacon pops up in this film as an unsuspecting counselor as well.

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Friday the 13th Part II (1981)What is the best order to watch the Friday the 13th movies? photo 9

Friday the 13th Part II (1981)

The second film, directed by Steve Miner, introduces Jason Voorhees as a killer, but he’s missing his classic hockey mask and machete. You learn he survived his drowning as a child somehow and spent his life living in the woods near Camp Crystal Lake. Witnessing his mother’s decapitation drives him to kill. Luckily, for Jason’s newfound bloodlust, a fresh Camp Counselor Training program has recently opened up right nearby his home. 

Adrienne King reprise her role as Alice from the first film. It also stars Amy Steel and John Furey as some of the counselor trainees. 

Friday the 13th Part III (1982)What is the best order to watch the Friday the 13th movies? photo 8

Friday the 13th Part III (1982)

The third Friday the 13th picks up the day after the second film. It sees Jason terrorising a group of teens, again. They're visiting a friend's home on Crystal Lake this time. One notable thing about this installment is it introduces the hockey mask that Jason will wear for the rest of the Friday the 13th films. 

Steve Miner returned as director after doing Part II. The film stars Dana Kimmell as Chris Higgins, who is forced to face off with Jason. 

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Friday the 13th: The Final Chapter (1984)What is the best order to watch the Friday the 13th movies? photo 4

Friday the 13th: The Final Chapter (1984)

The next film, directed by Joseph Zito, is again set the next day after the third film. Jason’s body is recovered from the scene of the massacre the night before and taken to the morgue, where he spontaneously comes back to life and murders the coroner. Jason then returns to Crystal Lake, where another group of teens have headed to party despite large groups of teens being murdered there the last two nights. 

Also, staying next door to the teens is a family with a teenage daughter named Trish Jarvis. She has a younger brother, Tommy Jarvis (Corey Feldman). The character of Tommy is one of few who appear in multiple Friday the 13th films. 

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Friday the 13th: A New Beginning (1985)What is the best order to watch the Friday the 13th movies? photo 11

Friday the 13th: A New Beginning (1985)

The fifth Friday the 13th film is a bit of a mystery film, as we see an older Tommy Jarvis - who spent the years since his encounter with Jason Voorhees institutionalised - transferred to a new lakefront facility called the Pinehurst Halfway House. Soon, the bodies start to pile up, and while some suspect a once-again resurrected Jason Voorhees, people also suspect Tommy due to his connection to Jason’s past killing spree. 

John Shepherd stars as the older Tommy Jarvis, while Melanie Kinnaman and Shavar Ross star as teens. Danny Steinmann directed this entry.

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Friday the 13th Part VI: Jason Lives (1986)What is the best order to watch the Friday the 13th movies? photo 7

Friday the 13th Part VI: Jason Lives (1986)

Jason Lives sees Jason live, again, thanks to Tommy Jarvis (now played by Thom Mathews). Tommy has been recently released from a mental institution. He heads back to Crystal Lake to see Jason’s grave and burn whatever’s left of his remains. Seeing Jason’s dead body triggers a bit of a freakout in Tommy. He stabs Jason’s body with a metal fence post, which is struck by lightning and somehow brings back Jason as an undead killing machine.

This film is regarded as one of the best outside of the original movie. It was written and directed by Tom McLoughlin.

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Friday the 13th Part VII: The New Blood (1988)What is the best order to watch the Friday the 13th movies? photo 10

Friday the 13th Part VII: The New Blood (1988)

The New Blood picks up a few years after the conclusion of Jason Lives, with the undead and apparently unkillable Jason Voorhees chained to the bottom of Crystal Lake. Jason has been freed by Tina Shepherd (Lars Park Lincoln), a teen with psychic powers who’s struggling with her father’s death.

Lucky for Jason, it just so happens there are teens partying in the house next door to Tina’s.

The New Blood was directed by John Carl Buechler. It stars Kane Hodder, too, in his first of four appearances as Jason Voorhees. 

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Friday the 13th Part VIII: Jason Takes Manhattan (1989)What is the best order to watch the Friday the 13th movies? photo 1

Friday the 13th Part VIII: Jason Takes Manhattan (1989)

Contrary to the title, Jason doesn't actually spend much time in New York in this installment, which is one of the reasons it is one of the worst-reviewed films in the series. Jason is resurrected by a boat anchor that hit a power line running across the bottom of Crystal Lake. He then boards a luxury liner filled with teens heading to New York City. The majority of this film is then spent on the boat. Maybe it should've been called Jason Takes a Boat to Manhattan. 

The film was written and directed by Rob Hedden. It stars Jensen Daggett, Scott Reeves, and Barbara Bingham. 

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Jason Goes to Hell: The Final Friday (1993)What is the best order to watch the Friday the 13th movies? photo 12

Jason Goes To Hell: The Final Friday (1993)

Presumably dead, what’s left of Jason is transferred to a coroner's office for an autopsy. But when a coroner sees Jason’s black heart, he decides to eat it, allowing Jason to control his body. From there, Jason goes on a body-switching killing spree in an effort to find himself a permanent body.

Jason Goes to Hell was directed by Adam Marcus and stars Kari Keegan as Jessica Kimble - Jason’s last-living relative. 

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Freddy vs Jason (2003)What is the best order to watch the Friday the 13th movies? photo 3

Freddy vs Jason (2003)

This movie was decades in the making. It's a showdown between two of the scariest horror slashers of all time.

The story starts with Freddy Kreuger (Robert Englund), who has been forgotten about by people, which makes it so he can no longer enter the children of Springdale's dreams. So, instead, he appears to Jason Voorhees as his dead mother and gets him to go to Springdale to kill and inspire fear. This will remind people of Freddy and resurrect his power. Their agreement works fine until the two stars get in the way of each other's killing sprees.

Eventually, the teens in the movie realise that their best bet is to bring Freddy out of their dreams to face Jason in the flesh.

Freddy vs Jason was directed by Ronny Yu. It stars Monica Keena, Kelly Rowland, and Jason Ritter as the teens running from Freddy and Jason. 

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Jason X (2002)What is the best order to watch the Friday the 13th movies? photo 5

Jason X (2002)

So, this film was released the year before Freddy vs Jason. However, chronologically, it comes last in the franchise.

It sees Jason captured by the government and a scientist, named Rowan Lafontaine (Lexa Doig), who wants to freeze him after numerous failed attempts to kill him. Well, Rowan manages to freeze him, but she does the same to herself. Flash 450 years to the future, and a group of students - led by professor Brandon Lowe (Jonathan Potts) - visit a now-polluted Earth, where they find Jason and Rowan's bodies and put them on their spaceship bound for Earth 2. 


Spoiler-free version: The complete Jason Voorhees timeline at a glance

Every Friday the 13th film in chronological order

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

  • Friday the 13th (1980)
  • Friday the 13th Part II (1981)
  • Friday the 13th Part III (1982)
  • Friday the 13th: The Final Chapter (1984)
  • Friday the 13th: A New Beginning (1985)
  • Friday the 13th Part VI: Jason Lives (1986)
  • Friday the 13th Part VII: The New Blood (1988)
  • Friday the 13th Part VIII: Jason Takes Manhattan (1989)
  • Jason Goes to Hell: The Final Friday (1993)
  • Freddy vs Jason (2003)
  • Jason X (2002)

Theatrical release order

Here is every Friday the 13th movie in the order they released in theatres - again, free of spoilers:

  • Friday the 13th (1980)
  • Friday the 13th Part II (1981)
  • Friday the 13th Part III (1982)
  • Friday the 13th: The Final Chapter (1984)
  • Friday the 13th: A New Beginning (1985)
  • Friday the 13th Part VI: Jason Lives (1986)
  • Friday the 13th Part VII: The New Blood (1988)
  • Friday the 13th Part VIII: Jason Takes Manhattan (1989)
  • Jason Goes to Hell: The Final Friday (1993)
  • Jason X (2002)
  • Freddy vs Jason (2003)

Freddy vs Jason order

Here's an order for how to watch the Friday the 13th franchise with the Nightmare on Elm Street franchise - leading all the way up to Freddy vs Jason. 

  • Friday the 13th (1980)
  • Friday the 13th Part II (1981)
  • Friday the 13th Part III (1982)
  • Friday the 13th: The Final Chapter (1984)
  • Nightmare on Elm Street (1984)
  • Friday the 13th: A New Beginning (1985)
  • Nightmare on Elm Street II: Freddy's Revenge (1985)
  • Friday the 13th Part VI: Jason Lives (1986)
  • Nightmare on Elm Street III: Dream Warriors
  • Friday the 13th Part VII: The New Blood (1988)
  • Nightmare on Elm Street IV: The Dream Master (1988)
  • Friday the 13th Part VIII: Jason Takes Manhattan (1989)
  • Nightmare on Elm Street V: The Dream Child (1989)
  • Freddy's Dead: The Final Nightmare (1991)
  • Jason Goes to Hell: The Final Friday (1993)
  • Freddy vs Jason (2003)


Did you like this?

Then maybe you'll like our other movie order viewing guides:

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Writing by Maggie Tillman. Originally published on 6 October 2021.
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