What Year Did Mad Max Take Place?

mel gibson mad max

The post-apocalyptic action series Mad Max takes fans into a world where the resources are scarce due to the effects of a global war. The series follows the story of police officer Max Rockatansky in Australia, first portrayed by a young Mel Gibson in 1979.

Over the years there have been multiple entries into the franchise, most recently with Mad Max: Fury Road in 2015, sparking interest in the original films and questions about the universe itself.

One thing that continuously gets questioned is a timeline for the events of the films, as it isn’t entirely clear that they are all directly connected. In this article, we’ll establish where on the timeline each of these five films takes place.

When does Mad Max take place?

Based on the 1979 oil crisis in Australia, production documents taken from the set of the films state that the first Mad Max movie begins in the mid-’80s with the third entry to the trilogy concluding in 2005.

The very first Mad Max, which was first released in 1979, never mentions the exact year that the film is set within, however, thanks to a few key items we can piece together a close answer. 

First, the film states in its opening “A few years from now” meaning that it took place not too far after 1979. On Highway 9 sector 26 there’s a sign that indicates it was written pm December 6, 1984. Another prop in the film, the MFP plate at the gates of Halls of Justice reads the year 1983, so together these indicate that the events of the first Mad Max film are taking place after 1984.

We know that Mad Max 2 takes place three years after the events of Mad Max and the final entry to the trilogy is 15 years after that in 2005, so working backward it’s likely that Mad Max takes place around 1987.

When was Mad Max 2: The Road Warrior set?

The sequel to the first Mad Max film, Mad Max: The Road Warrior takes place exactly three years later, meaning that it likely is set around 1990.

When was Mad Max: Beyond the Thunderdome set?

Again, set 15 years after the events of Mad Max 2, Beyond the Thunderdome takes place mostly in 2005 as was backed up by dates stated in production documents for the series.

When does Mad Max: Fury Road take place?

The most difficult to place on a timeline, Fury Road came out many years after Beyond the Thunderdome and has a mostly disconnected plot. It is clear that the film is set much later due to the vehicles and other items seen in the film, but there is no indication that it is set in a different timeline, in fact, the film was originally meant to be made in 1999 as a direct sequel to Beyond the Thunderdome.

While there isn’t a whole lot of sense adding Fury Road to the timeline given the obvious aging discrepancies that can cause plenty of plot holes, the events of this film are believed to take place around 2050.