The Five Nights at Freddy’s series is among modern gaming’s most explosive pop-culture phenomenons. During its nearly decade-long history, the series has released over 10 games and three full series of lore-building novels. To many outside of the fandom, the FNAF franchise appears to be a series of superficial jump scare simulators, aimed at a child audience. However, a deep dive quickly reveals that the series’ lore is among the most extensive and dark in horror gaming history.
Inspired by the narrative point-and-click games of the 90s, Five Nights at Freddy’s lore is uncovered mostly through environmental storytelling. With the recent release of Five Nights at Freddy’s: Security Breach RUIN, that lore has been reshaped through the canonization of certain characters and events. Players interested in experiencing the story for themselves should know that the chronology of the Five Nights at Freddy’s series is less than straightforward. Certain characters, collectibles, and lines of dialogue across FNAF’s many titles have led fans to theorize the series’ timeline. With RUIN, that timeline has shifted. However, it provides more evidence to determine the actual chronology of FNAF.FNAF’s Earliest Events
According to prevailing theories, Fredbear’s Singin’ Show, established sometime between the 1930s and 1940s, inspires a young William Afton to pursue show business as an adult. The show, which featured a real bear performing for restaurant patrons, gives rise to Afton’s own restaurant. This restaurant, Fredbear’s, features an animatronic bear named Fredbear and creator William Afton’s original character, Bonnie, performing together on the stage while customers enjoy a family meal. However, a rival soon arrived in Chica’s Party World, created by Henry Emily.
Henry’s restaurant featured all animatronic characters, including a yellow chicken named Chica, and her band, the Mediocre Melodies. Emily’s brilliance soon overshadowed Afton’s works, leading the two companies to merge in the 1980s. Together they opened the first true iteration of Freddy’s, Fredbear’s Family Diner. This lore is thought to echo the real-life events surrounding Chuck E. Cheese and ShowBiz Pizza.Freddy Fazbear’s Pizza
In 1983, the success of Fredbear’s Family Diner spawns Freddy Fazbear’s Pizza, a restaurant where animatronics could venture beyond the stage. Around this time, Emily and Afton developed springlock suits, which allowed employees to wear the animatronics as a suit, compressing their mechanisms with springs. They proved extremely dangerous, as the springs holding the locks could become disengaged, skewering the employee inside. Due to the success of these emergent technologies, William installed cameras in his home to watch his children, including his youngest son, who was deathly afraid of the Fredbear animatronic. During the youngest Afton’s birthday, Afton’s older son Michael played a prank on his brother, placing his head in Fredbear’s mouth. To everyone’s shock, the animatronic clamped its jaw down on the young boy’s head, killing him.Five Nights at Freddy’s 4
Five Night at Freddy’s 4 features the earliest events depicted in FNAF’s video game titles. The player takes on the role of a child in their own bedroom. Over the course of five nights, the child is haunted by grotesque and terrifying manifestations of the FNAF animatronics, including Chica, Bonnie, Freddy, and Foxy. However, additional nights reveal a frightening version of the Fredbear animatronic, as well.
Through unique minigames, a means through which early FNAF titles dispelled their lore, players learn that the child was actually Afton’s youngest son. Fans learn that the event in which Fredbear’s jaw clamped down and killed him is referred to as the Bite of ’83 and that the incident led to the closure of Fredbear’s Family Diner. Sometime around these events, William Afton killed his first victim, Henry Emily’s daughter, Charlotte. She is later revealed to possess the Puppet animatronic and become the protector of the souls of Afton’s later victims.Tales of the Pizzaplex: The Mimic
While the Tales of the Pizzaplex book series has yet to release its final entry, an argument can be made for its The Mimic short story taking place in 1984. The FNAF book series often portrays the franchise’s lore through parallel stories with changed names and locations. However, the Mimic storyline has broken into the video game series’ canon, making it necessary to add it to the lore timeline.
The Mimic was an animatronic, consisting of only a head, torso, and arms, created by Fazbear Engineer Edwin Murray, who many fans believe to be a parallel to Henry Emily. Designed to mimic best practices, the animatronic learns through observation before mimicking the behavior. Edwin seemingly created the technology to program all of Fazbear Entertainment’s animatronics and systems through teaching, which could streamline the development of characters, stories, and systems.
The very first individual the animatronic mimicked was Edwin’s son, David. However, David’s death saw the creator turn on his creation, as the Mimic continued to impersonate David after death, reminding his father of his failure. Through a violent outburst from Edwin, the Mimic’s core program, mimic1, learned violence, creating an important virtual entity for FNAF’s most recent storyline, the mimic1 virus. Edwin disappeared, and Fazbear employees were sent to recover his work. They discovered another team was there, and that they “fixed” the Mimic by attaching legs. The Mimic began to impersonate people’s voices and lure employees to their deaths, hiding within the locations’ many experimental mascot suits. The Mimic was seemingly recovered by Fazbear Entertainment and used, years later, in the development of animatronics.Five Nights at Freddy’s 2
Five Night at Freddy’s 2 sees the player take on the role of Night Security Guard Jeremy Fitzgerald at a new Freddy Fazbear’s Pizza location in 1987. Over the course of five nights, Jeremy must survive the roaming animatronics by wearing a Freddy mask when they enter the security office. The title sees the introduction of three new animatronics — the Mangle, Balloon Boy, and the Puppet — which players must keep in check alongside new versions of Freddy, Chica, Bonnie, and Foxy. FNAF 2 is also the first canonical appearance of Phone Guy, a mysterious individual who calls Jeremy on the office phone each night, providing players with crucial information about the prior day’s events and the location’s history.
FNAF’s Phone Guy later reveals that this specific location of Freddy Fazbear’s Pizza is about to be the subject of a police investigation. On the fifth night, Phone Guy informs the player that the location is in lockdown, as an unspecified event during the day shift has made it so that no employees, even those who are no longer employed, can enter or leave the restaurant. FNAF 2’s minigames reveal that it was the site of multiple murders, each involving young children. The murderer is depicted as a Purple Man, with Phone Guy’s call on the sixth night implying his use of a yellow rabbit suit. It is revealed that the Puppet, possessed by Henry Emily’s daughter Charlotte, places the victims’ souls in the FNAF 1 animatronics, giving them life once again.Five Nights at Freddy’s: Sister Location
Sister Location’s place in Five Nights at Freddy’s timeline is up for debate, but many believe it runs nearly parallel to the original Five Nights at Freddy’s game. The title’s unreliable AI assistant HandUnit states, “Due to the massive success, and even more so the unfortunate closing of Freddy Fazbear’s Pizza, it was clear that the stage was set — no pun intended — for another contender in children’s entertainment.” This is seemingly in reference to the Bite of ’87 in FNAF 2. The same incident is brought up in Night 1 of the original Five Nights at Freddy’s, by a returning source of guidance.
Sister Location begins with William Afton being questioned about strange design choices in his new animatronics. Players take on the role of Michael Afton, the brother of FNAF 4’s victim and new overnight employee of Circus Baby’s Entertainment and Rental, a new venture that rents out animatronics for birthdays and events. The title features animatronics from the now-closed Circus Baby’s Pizza World, including Circus Baby, Funtime Foxy, Funtime Freddy, and Ballora the Ballerina. Michael is tasked with checking each animatronic across five nights and fixing various errors and glitches.
Sister Location is the first FNAF title to allow movement; the player navigates the facility checking for maintenance tasks. However, it soon becomes the series’ first narrative adventure, as Michael allies with Circus Baby to avoid the other animatronics and free himself from a springlock suit. During the final night, Circus Baby instructs Mike to destroy her empty body after removing a chip from her arm containing “what is good” so that only the bad will be destroyed. Michael is tricked into entering the Scooping Room, where it is revealed that the “Circus Baby Voice” instructing Michael is actually a malevolent amalgamation called Ennard, who scoops Michael’s insides out, before entering his body and leaving the location. Sometime later, Ennard is vomited out of Michael’s body, but he somehow comes back to life. Sister Location’s core minigame reveals that Circus Baby killed William Afton’s daughter, Elizabeth, who now possesses the animatronic.Five Nights at Freddy’s
Five Nights at Freddy’s sees players in the role of Night Guard Mike Schmidt, later implied to be a returning Michael Afton. Over the course of five nights, Mike is offered guidance from a returning “Phone Guy”, who again relays the history of the restaurant’s checkered past. Due to the Bite of ’87, FNAF 2’s daytime incident, this location’s animatronics – Freddy Fazbear, Bonnie, Chica and Foxy – are no longer allowed to wander the restaurant during the day. They are therefore permitted to explore at night to keep their motors from locking up.
Newspaper clippings in the Five Nights at Freddy’s restaurant hallway reveal that a man had lured five children into the back of the restaurant and killed them. The children’s bodies were never found, but the restaurant quickly began to receive complaints of the animatronics emitting a strange odor. The fourth night’s message implies that “Phone Guy” has been killed by an animatronic. Following the unlockable Seventh Night, Schmidt is fired for tampering with the animatronics and giving off a foul smell.Five Nights at Freddy’s 3
Taking place roughly 30 years after Five Nights at Freddy’s, FNAF 3 has players take on the role of an unnamed Security Guard at the Fazbear’s Frights Haunted Attraction. The attraction is meant to capitalize on the “ghost stories” that have spread about Freddy Fazbear’s Pizza, and theories suggest that its protagonist is either Michael Afton or Henry Emily. Over the course of five nights, the guard must fend off a single enemy, Springtrap, who has emerged from a hidden room in the Fazbear’s Frights Attraction. The player is once again guided by a series of voicemail messages, which relay that the staff at Fazbear’s Fright has discovered an old, deteriorated, and rabbit-like animatronic and tapes from the original Phone Guy.
Phone Guy’s Tapes instruct employees on how to operate springlock suits, which allow characters to function as both animatronics and costumes for employees. The tapes also reveal a back room that is “always off camera” and should not be shown to customers. It is revealed through various minigames that William Afton’s corpse is inside Springtrap, having triggered its springlocks in the hidden back room. The malfunction was caused by a confrontation between Afton and the souls of his victims, whom the Puppet had placed in the original Five Nights at Freddy’s animatronics during FNAF 2’s minigames.
Springtrap remained in the room for 30 years but was released by Fazbear Fright’s employees. At the game’s conclusion, the protagonist attempts to destroy Afton by burning down the attraction but fails. FNAF 3’s events led to what was originally meant to be the Five Nights at Freddy’s series’ final entry. However, the title would prove to be the kick-off for a brand-new era, as it introduced a location that would recur in FNAF titles up to and including last month’s Five Nights at Freddy’s: Security Breach RUIN.
Five Nights at Freddy’s Lore: A Comprehensive Timeline – Part 2 can be read HERE.