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The entire True Blood timeline explained

Charlaine Harris introduced the world to the telepathic waitress Sookie Stackhouse and her vampire love interests, Eric Northam and Bill Compton, in 2001, with her supernatural novel Dead After Dark. When she did, nobody expected that just seven years later, Six Feet Under creator Alan Ball would adapt Harris' Southern Vampire Mysteries series for HBO, using vampires and other supernatural creatures as a metaphor for marginalized folks, particularly members of the LGBTQ community.

Thanks to Ball's development and that extra socio-political subtext, it took less than two seasons before the Sookie Stackhouse books and the True Blood television show diverged, with only occasional threads binding them together. Featuring seven seasons and 80 episodes, a whole lot went down for Sookie, her paramours, friends, and enemies in True Blood. But figuring out the entire story can be a bit daunting for newcomers or folks who haven't watched the show in a while. So pull up a seat at Merlotte's (or Fangtasia, if that suits better) as we explore and explain the entire True Blood timeline.

Vampires come out of the coffin in True Blood

Vampires had always existed in the world of True Blood, but it wasn't until the advent of synthetic blood that vampires could reveal their identities without fear of reprisal. The sleepy Louisiana town of Bon Temps gets its first vampire visitor in Bill Compton (Stephen Moyers), a former Confederate soldier returned to his ancestral home more than a hundred years later. Telepathic waitress Sookie Stackhouse (Anna Paquin), considered a weirdo in the town thanks to her power, quickly realizes her mind-reading doesn't extend to vampires. She falls in love, and the feeling is mutual after Sookie saves Bill from being drained by local thugs who want to sell his blood on the black market. V-juice (aka vampire blood) gets humans high, so the theme of addiction opens True Blood from its first episode.  

In the wake of vamps "coming out of the coffin," an open reference to the LGBTQ subtext, human reactions are mixed. After Bill's entrance into the Bon Temps community, a serial killer begins murdering human women connected with vampires. Sookie's no-account brother, Jason (Ryan Kwanten), is arrested for the murders, until his grandmother, Adele (Lois Smith), is brutally murdered while Jason is in jail. The killer turns out to be Rene (Michael Raymond-James), the fiancee of Sookie's colleague, Arlene (Carrie Preston). Rene's real name is Drew Marshall, and he started his spree by killing his sister, Cindy, who was a "fangbanger," a human who has sex with vampires. Sookie and Bill have an almost-deadly showdown with him once Marshall's true identity is revealed. 

Vampire-human conflict and inter-vampire problems emerge

When news of Sookie's telepathic ability, as well as her unique blood, hits the ears of vampire sheriff and bar owner Eric Northman (Alexander Skarsgard), Bill takes Sookie to Eric's vampire club Fangtasia, located in nearby Shreveport. While there, Sookie learns that the vampire Longshadow (Raoul Trujillo) has been stealing from Eric, and he tries to kill Sookie for revealing the secret. In trying to save Sookie, Bill stakes Longshadow, and for this crime, he's forced to sire his own baby-vamp, Jessica (Deborah Ann Woll), as punishment. It's here that the elaborate world of vampire factions, royalty, and territories are introduced, and so is the battle of Eric and Bill for Sookie's affections. 

But while all this is going down, there's, uh, bigger stakes at play. While some vampires want to expose themselves to the world, others are against "coming out" since they don't see themselves as equal to humans. In their eyes, humans are a food source. At the same time, that inter-vampire conflict is mirrored by human-vampire conflicts as hate crimes surge in Bon Temps. In fact, a nest of vampires visiting Bill gets burned up, and a group of local bigots are to blame.

Meanwhile, Sookie's colleague, the fabulous Lafayette (Nelsan Ellis) has a side hustle selling V-juice with a willing gay vampire named Eddie (Stephen Root), who provides his blood in exchange for sex. Lafayette makes the mistake of introducing Jason Stackhouse to V, and when Jason meets another addict, Amy Burley (Lizzie Caplan), they decide to kidnap Eddie so they have their own supply. They end up killing him, and in the process, Amy gets murdered by the serial killer Rene/Drew Marshall who's still trying to frame Jason.

A maenad comes to Bon Temps

Sookie's best friend and Lafayette's cousin, Tara Thornton (Rutina Wesley), has a complicated relationship with her abusive, alcoholic mother, Lettie Mae (Adina Porter), that leads to them both receiving exorcisms from a local medicine woman, Miss Jeanette (Aisha Hinds). But when Miss Jeanette is found dead in screw-up Deputy Andy Bellefleur's (Chris Bauer) car, it seems a new threat has arrived in Bon Temps. 

As it turns out, the maenad Maryann Forrester (Michelle Forbes) is hypnotizing Bon Temps residents to feed off their sexual energy, and she entraps Tara after her relationship with her mom properly disintegrates. Sookie's boss, Sam Merlotte (Sam Trammell), has a history with Maryann, having had an affair with her at 17 and stealing $100,000 that eventually led to founding his bar. Sam has privately come out as a shapeshifter, but Maryann threatens him with public outing. 

Meanwhile, Tara develops a romance with Benedict "Eggs" Talley (Mehcad Brooks), the maenad's consort, while Sam meets a fellow shifter, Daphne (Ashley Jones), who he starts dating. But both of these romances are ruses. Daphne is working for Maryann to capture Sam, and Maryann is manipulating Eggs to commit ritualistic murders for her. After Maryann kills Daphne, Lettie Mae and Lafayette join forces to extract an unwilling Tara from Maryann's clutches, taking her away. 

In her confrontation with Maryann, Sookie has her first energy blast emerging from her hands. But Maryann's frenzy escalates as more of the town goes under her sex spell. Fortunately, Sam shifts into bull form — the deity Maryann worships — and is able to kill her. Unfortunately, Jason shoots Eggs, unaware that he was free from Maryann's spell. 

Meet the Fellowship of the Sun

Think things are going to get any easier for our heroes? Well, guess again. The Vampire Authority — the global governing body for all vampires — eventually finds out about Lafayette's V-dealing. As a result, he's imprisoned at Fangtasia by Eric's progeny, Pam (Kristin Bauer van Straten). Meanwhile, after the death of poor Eddie, a screwed-up Jason Stackhouse is sucked into a fundamentalist, anti-vampire church, where Steve (Michael McMillian) and Sarah Newlin (Anna Camp) invite him to join the Soldiers of the Sun, the vampire-assassinating arm of the church.

Yeah, these fundamentalists mean business, and the Dallas-based hate group has kidnapped one of the oldest vampires, Godric (Allan Hyde), who's Eric's maker and a peaceful vampire king. The Fellowship is also planning a terrorist attack against vamps, so Sookie goes undercover to try and bust the bad guys, but she's caught after getting sold out by a double agent. And afterward, a Fellowship member infiltrates a vampire meeting of elders and blows up a suicide vest filled with silver. In the resulting chaos, Sookie accidentally drinks Eric's blood, bonding them.

However, we then learn that old Godric hadn't been kidnapped at all. Instead, he went to the Fellowship and offered himself as a sacrifice for the greater vampire good. As a result, Godric enters the "true death" — the permanent end of a vampire by stake, silver, or sun — of his own volition at dawn, while Sookie watches as Eric's proxy. And as if that wasn't enough drama for you, while all this is going on, Bill and Sookie are on the rocks, especially after she finds out that he killed her pedophile uncle. But thanks to Sookie's help with Godric, she brokers Lafayette's release from Eric, although he returns to Bon Temps horribly traumatized. In Dallas, Sookie also meets a fellow telepath, Barry (Chris Coy), as well as Bill's envy-crazed maker, Lorena (Mariana Klaveno), who wants Bill back.

True Blood introduces vampire royalty and new supernatural creatures

While True Blood already has an enormous death toll, it also continues introducing a plethora of new characters. Louisiana's queen vampire Sophie-Anne (Evan Rachel Wood) is in the midst of marriage-blocking the proposals of Mississippi's king, Russell Edgington (Denis O'Hare). Since both are gay, this marriage is solely meant to consolidate their territories. Her own designs include ordering Lafayette to begin dealing V-juice again, which causes the Magister (Zeljko Ivanek) to raid Fangtasia, where he's killed. This gets even more attention from the Vampire Authority headed by Nan Flanagan (Jessica Tuck), who begins looking into the various wheelings and dealings of Eric, Bill, and company in earnest. 

To put pressure on Sophie-Anne, Edgington kidnaps Bill just before he's about to propose to Sookie. Eric also finds out that it was Edgington who murdered his family hundreds of years before, prompting Godric to save/turn him. As a result, Eric's goals quickly shift to revenge. And in the wake of Eggs' death, a traumatized Tara gets involved with the sadistic rapist vampire Franklin (James Frain), who ends up holding her prisoner until she escapes. 

In True Blood's third season, werewolves and werepanthers enter the picture. Eric hires the werewolf Alcide (Joe Manganiello) to be Sookie's bodyguard after Bill goes missing, and Jason meets the werepanther Crystal (Lindsay Pulsipher) and her inbred family from whom she desperately wants to escape. Alcide's girlfriend, werewolf Debbie Pelt (Brit Morgan), is an unhinged V-addict whose jealousy of Sookie is only heightened by the vamp blood. And as it turns out, Bill's maker, Lorena, has been working with werewolves, and they try to kill Bill by draining him. Fortunately, Sookie shows up to save the day and frees Bill by staking Lorena. 

Vampires, shapeshifters, and fairies, oh my

Despite all the bloodshed, there's still love in the air, as Jason's best friend, Hoyt Fortenberry (Jim Parrack), begins dating Jessica. And while their relationship is tumultuous, he still asks her to marry him. Arlene and Terry Bellefleur (Todd Lowe) move in together after their tryst under the influence of the maenad, even though Terry's PTSD from the Iraq War is increasingly unmanageable. And Jason Stackhouse decides to clean up his rep and join the police force after his time with the Soldiers of the Sun,. 

It's around here that Sam Merlotte meets his horrible birth family for the first time, and he finds out they're forcing his younger brother, Tommy (Marshall Allman), to dogfight while shapeshifted. So he brings Tommy back to Bon Temps, but he quickly regrets it as his brother's brash actions affect Sam's life and business. At the same time, Lafayette meets a guy named Jesús (Kevin Alejandre) at a nursing home and quickly discovers that Jesús isn't just gorgeous — he's also a brujo (a wizard). As a result, Jesús starts teaching Lafayette different witchy ways to unlock his natural powers as a medium. 

With all that magic going on in the background, Eric, Bill, and other vampires find Russell Edgington and bury him in concrete, a worse punishment than the true death since he will suffer, in theory, an eternity for his crimes. But unfortunately, during this coup, Sookie also learns that Bill was sent to feed on her by Sophie-Anne because she wanted access to Sookie's special blood. Heartbroken, Sookie banishes Bill and Eric from her house. 

With a huge vampire-shaped vacuum in her life now, Sookie ends up connecting with her actual fairy godmother, Claudine (Lara Pulver). Claudine explains Sookie's fairy heritage, why Sookie has powers, and why her blood is so irresistible to vamps. Sick of humans and supernaturals alike, Sookie journeys to Fairyland with Claudine.

Witches get stitches

When Sookie returns from Fairyland, a year has passed, and a whole lot happened while she was gone. For example, Bill Compton is now king of Louisiana, replacing the "missing" Russell Edgington, and Jason has sold Sookie's house to Eric Northman. On top of that, Sheriff Andy Bellefleur is properly addicted to V, and Deputy Jason is helping him cover it up. As for the other characters, Tara is cage fighter in New Orleans, Sam has joined a community of shifters and feels at home with Luna Garza (Janina Gavankar) and her daughter Emma (Chloe Noelle), and his brother Tommy is living with Hoyt's mom, Maxine (Dale Raoul). 

In the meantime, witches have come to town and are practicing necromancy. Headed by a powerful witch named Marnie (Fiona Shaw) who channels the spirit of an ancient Spanish bruja named Antonia (Paula Turbay) who was burned at the stake, they put a spell on Eric that gives him amnesia and turns him sweet. Of course, Sookie falls in love with this gentle and kind version of Eric. Who wouldn't? But all the while, Marnie/Antonia have a plan to kill all vampires in one fell swoop with magic. To save her species, Pam tries to capture the witches, but Marnie puts a spell on her that makes her begin rotting. Ultimately it's Jesús, along with Sookie and her fae powers, who helps vanquish Marnie ... but, of course, there are many casualties.

Tragically, Jesús is sacrificed by Marnie when she possesses Lafayette, forcing him to kill the love of his life. And just as Marnie/Lafayette is about to kill Bill and Eric by burning them at the stake like Antonia had been, the ghosts of forgiveness — including the gentle vampire king Godric — arise and stop her.

Murder and mayhem continue with the entrance of Lilith

Even though Jessica is engaged to Jason's best friend, Hoyt, the two have an affair. As a result, Jason decides to distance himself, but that leads to him getting enmeshed with the werepanthers. Needless to say, this doesn't go well, as the cats hold him prisoner, hoping to turn him so they can breed with a non-family member. In fact, there's a whole lot of transforming going on about this time, as Tommy becomes a skinwalker by shifting into his brother Sam, firing Sookie from Merlotte's, and sleeping with Sam's girlfriend, Luna. But this is a fatal move as skinwalkers receive a painful death in a matter of days for the transgression. 

Meanwhile, in a V-juice rage, Alcide's violent girlfriend, Debbie Pelt, murders Tara while aiming for Sookie. Sookie kills Debbie in retaliation, but she's too late to save her friend. Sookie then begs Pam to turn her BFF into a vampire, but that's a bit of complicated issue, as Tara harbors an intense hatred of vampires after her horrific experience with the rapist Franklin. As you might've guessed, after Tara is turned, she's beyond furious at everybody.  

While all that drama is going down with Tara, Bill and Eric are arrested by the Vampire Authority for murdering Nan Flanagan in order to protect Sookie. But Eric's sister, Nora (Lucy Griffiths), saves and hides them. And this is where things start getting especially intense, as Russell Edgington is freed from his cement grave by the Sanguinista Movement, a group of fundamentalist vampires who are working toward the second coming of the vampire god Lilith. But wait, there's more! The Fellowship of the Sun pastor, Steve Newlin, has been turned and comes out as gay. Unlike humans, vampires harbor no homophobia in their churches. But unfortunately, Steve brings his zealotry into vampire Sanguinista fundamentalism as the new Vampire League of America spokesperson.

The rise of Billith

With the Sanguinista Movement ramping up, Luna decides to skinwalk into Steve Newlin and make a broadcast that will "out" the group for blowing up synthetic blood factories. Tragically, she dies shortly afterward, leaving her hybrid werewolf-shifter daughter, Emma, with Sam. Meanwhile, Terry Bellefleur and his military comrades discover they have an ifri — a vengeful ghost — after committing war crimes in Iraq. Obviously, that isn't great news, and the roots of Terry's PTSD come to the surface as he and his colleagues battle the spirit. 

Sookie finds out her parents didn't actually die in a flash flood as we'd been led to believe. Instead, you guessed it, they were killed by a vampire. She also finds out that her ancestor had promised the first fae child in the family to a vampire called Warlow, and that child was supposed to be her. 

While high on V-juice, Andy sleeps with the fae Maurella (Kristina Anapau) in the woods, and she shows up days later fully pregnant. Maurella gives birth to four fae-human hybrids babies and leaves them with Andy, who finally has a reason to deal with his addiction. Needless to say, his girlfriend, Holly (Lauren Bowles), is none too pleased. 

And things only get more complicated when Russell Edgington and his supporters stalk Sookie to uncover the portal to Fairyland where they plan to drink fae blood and take over the world by day and night, as fae blood allows vampires to daywalk. But Eric, getting his long-awaited revenge, stakes Russell before he invades the faerie realm. But none of this stops the rise of the vampire god Lilith, whose ghost form becomes human after Bill drinks the entire vial of her blood, subsuming all her memories and her considerable powers to boot. As a result, "Billith's" rampage against humans and vamps alike is epic. 

Billith's new world order

In the wake of Billith's violence, Eric releases Pam as his sire, and he also gives Sookie back her house, allowing her to discover that it was Warlow who'd killed her parents. Sookie goes to find him, but instead, she meets a handsome stranger named Ben (Robert Kazinsky). She also meets her fairy grandfather, Niall (Rutger Hauer), and Sookie finds out she's fae royalty. But then, she discovers that her new boyfriend, Ben, is actually Warlow, a fae-vamp hybrid turned by Lilith. Warlow tells Sookie that the night her parents died, they were actually trying to kill her so they wouldn't have to give her to him. And yeah, with that bit of info, Sookie's life turns upside down again.

Meanwhile, Governor Truman Burrell (Arliss Howard) is planning vampicide, replete with concentration camps and synthetic blood laced with Hepatitis V (aka Hep-V), a manufactured disease that's fatal to vampires. Eric's sister, Nora, is dosed in retaliation for Eric turning Burrell's daughter, Willa (Amelia Rose Blair). However, Sarah Newlin consumes the antidote to Hep-V, making her newly important to vampires even as she tries to wipe out Vamp Camp, a prison and research facility constructed by the humans. And while that's going on, Bill sacrifices Lilith's blood to allow the vamps (except Steve Newlin) to survive, and Lilith returns to vampire history.

In the middle of all this madness, Warlow has his eyes firmly set on Sookie. After waiting 6,000 years for her, this dude wants to marry her immediately. Of course, she doesn't feel the same way, and when he tries to force her, she stakes him in self-defense. As a result, every vamp who'd tasted Warlow's blood bursts into fire, including Eric Northman, who's naked and sunbathing in the mountains. And as if that wasn't enough craziness, Terry Bellefleur dies in a heartbreaking Shakespearean twist after being glamoured to remove the traumatic memories from his PTSD-addled brain. However, before his memory was wiped, he'd arranged for a military buddy to kill him so his $2 million life insurance policy could go to his wife, Arlene. 

Hep-V outbreak and the final human-supernatural conflicts

Six months later, Bill is a published memoirist, Sam is Bon Temps' mayor, and Arlene runs Merlotte's (now Bellefleur's). Plus, Sookie and the werewolf Alcide are finally dating. Because of the Hep-V outbreak that began in the Vamp Camp, Bill proposes a buddy system to match uninfected humans with a vampire for food and protection. As a result, Lettie Mae offers a peace offering to her estranged daughter, allowing Tara to feed. But in a brutal attack by infected vampires on Bon Temps, Tara and many others meet the true death. As usual, the town blames Sookie for getting involved with vampires in the first place.

At the same time, Pam finds Eric still healing from his sunburns at a convent in France, but even he's dying of Hep-V. Fortunately, Pam talks to Eric and inspires him, giving him the will to live, and they hunt down Sarah Newlin and her cure for Hep-V. As a result, all the infected are saved, and Sarah is captured and held prisoner in Fangtasia, where they allow vamps to come feed on her for cash. It's a fitting punishment for all of her anti-vampire ways over the years. Sadly, Bill finds out he's Hep-V positive, but unlike Eric, he refuses treatment. 

Of course, the mayhem isn't over just yet, as the human vigilantes of Bon Temps decide to start killing all supernaturals on sight, and werewolf packmaster Alcide is murdered in a shootout that leaves humans dead, too. Sookie goes back to her natural state of heartbreak, but in spite of all the dangers and violence, horndog Jason Stackhouse is still enmeshed in love triangles featuring Jessica, Lafayette, his boyfriend James (Nathan Parsons), Violet (Karolina Wydra), as well as Hoyt and his new girlfriend, Bridgette (Ashley Hinshaw). 

All's well that ends well in True Blood

As he's dying, Bill tries to will his estate to Jessica, but human bureaucracy complicates this process. And going back to where she started, Sookie decides to stay with Bill until he dies of Hep-V. Bill releases Jessica from her sire bond, and in the process, she realizes that she's still in love with Hoyt. She undoes the glamour that previously erased her from his memory, and they get married. Bill even walks her down the aisle. Afterward, Bill leaves his last human descendant, Andy Bellefleur, his home. Interestingly, Sookie could've saved Bill by letting him drink all of her fairy blood, but this would've made her fully human, and she's finally decided to embrace her differences. Instead, Sookie stakes Bill, as he requested, in his chosen burial plot, and she closes that vampire chapter of her life. 

Four years later, Pam and Eric's company, New Blood, is a billion-dollar enterprise that provides a one-stop food source for vamps that also allows daywalking and a cure for Hep-V. Eric has also retaken the mantle of Fangtasia, coming full circle to season one, and Sarah Newlin is still in their basement, doing her lifetime of penance. 

At Thanksgiving dinner at Sookie's house in Bon Temps, we see Sookie is pregnant, but we never find out who her partner is or see his face. Jason has married Hoyt's ex-girlfriend, Bridgette, and has three small kids. Sam returns from California with his brood for the holiday, Andy and Holly are going strong, and the one surviving fae daughter, Adilyn, has a new boyfriend. From a distance, we see Lafayette and James are still together, but Lafayette is the only character who doesn't get a proper on-screen goodbye.