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The Entire Underworld Timeline Explained

The Underworld series shed a faint, blue hue on the eternal feud between vampires and Lycans, all while giving us more reasons to love the ageless Kate Beckinsale. When the first film in the series was released in 2003, it introduced audiences to a world seemingly devoid of daylight, where ultraviolet bullets streak across the screen in a hail of gothic delight. All these years later, we've had the pleasure of five installments of stylish gun battles and an endless river of mutated blood. 

Each addition to the series presents scattered timelines that span centuries, but our constant through it all is the perpetual war between vampires and their mortal enemies, the Lycans — a subspecies of werewolves, originating from Lucian (Michael Sheen). With each additional viewpoint presented, new details come to light, further revealing each character's motives and origins. Aside from the death dealer Selene (Beckinsale), it seems everyone has a nefarious agenda — and all the time in the world to lay out their plans.

Given the story's tendency to jump back and forth across centuries, it can be difficult to follow it all. We've gathered all the films together and assembled a chronological timeline that will help you navigate the chaos. In the world of immortals, information is power, and starting your journey with open eyes will help you sink your teeth in with gusto.

5th century: Alexander Corvinus - the first immortal

The lineage of all vampires and werewolves can be traced back to Alexander Corvinus (played by Derek Jacobi), a Hungarian nobleman born at an unspecified point in the fifth century. The patriarch of the Corvinus clan, Corvinus was able to survive a devastating plague that wiped out most of his village thanks to a genetic quirk. The plague caused rapid cell division in its hosts, and Alexander's immune system fought back by altering the virus. This resulted in his body completely stopping all cell deterioration, giving the Underworld universe its first immortal. 

The genetic anomaly was aptly named The Corvinus Strain. Within Alexander it still possessed the ability to mutate, manifested in the gene fusion that occurred in his children. In the sixth century, Alexander's wife gave birth to three sons. Their son, William, was bitten by a rabid wolf and the strain mutated him into the first werewolf; William's twin, Marcus, was bitten by a rabid bat, which mutated him into the first vampire. The third son, unnamed, carried the gene recessively and lived as a normal human, passing the strain down through his bloodline.

While vampires retained a large portion of their humanity, early forms of werewolves were unable to return to human form, resulting in an uninhibited growth of savage beasts across their homeland. The steps taken to push back against the growing horde included the recruitment of Viktor (Bill Nighy), who we meet as our primary antagonist in the first film. His introduction into the war would escalate the mayhem and cultivate an entire sub-species of werewolves.

1200 - 1402: Viktor takes control

At the beginning of the 13th century, Marcus and Viktor are finally able to capture the first werewolf, William, and begin to slow his spread of the virus. Viktor uses this to his advantage and takes control of the vampire council. By this point, Viktor has been capturing the werewolves and using them as protection during the daylight hours for years. In the dungeons, a werewolf gives birth to an offspring with the ability to transform back into a human. This child, named Lucian, is the first Lycan.

Lucian is introduced in the first film, but we find out much more about his backstory in Underworld: Rise of the Lycans. The benevolent Lucian is thrust into slavery by Viktor and forced to spawn an entire race of Lycans as the cruel dictator throws humans into a cage to face his uncontrollable hunger. It is through this twist of fate that Lucian meets his second in command, the imposing Raze.

While Viktor is amassing his own race of personal slaves in the Lycans, he commissions locals to construct an elaborate prison to contain William. Selene's (Kate Beckinsale) father is among those charged with its construction. Born in 1383, Selene leads a seemingly peaceful life before being thrust into the chaotic world of immortals.

1402 - 1409: Fanning eternal flames

Underworld: Rise of the Lycans continues to put Viktor's lust for power on display — and it shows no signs of stopping as he asserts himself through brutish displays of corporal punishment. Lucian becomes his personal whipping boy as a way to show the other Lycans their place in his world. The tyrannical vampire is enraged when he finds out his own daughter, Sonja, has been in an intimate relationship with Lucian and is pregnant with his child.

Sonja is put on trial for her "crimes against the species" and found guilty. In a moment which pushes tensions past the tipping point, Lucian is chained up, whipped into submission, and forced to watch a handcuffed Sonja disintegrate in the sunlight. At the sound of Lucian's howls of pain, a wave of werewolves advance and overrun Castle Corvinus — forcing the vampires to retreat back into the darkness. Years later, a vampire named Kraven leads an attack to take back control of the fortress and returns with Lucian's branded skin as proof of kill. It is revealed later that the two actually formed an alliance.

After William's prison is completed Viktor kills all those involved, including Selene's family. When he finds a terrified Selene hiding in a barn, he takes pity on her, takes her in, turns her into a vampire, and blames her family's death on the Lycans. An unwitting pawn, she commits herself to a life as a death dealer, vowing to hunt down all Lycans.

1600 - 2002: Reign of the council

Throughout the events leading up to this point, a vampire named Tanis has been present at council meetings as the notary. In the 17th century, when he is tasked with logging the vampires' history, Viktor accuses him of heresy and spreading lies, and Tanis is forced into exile at a remote estate. Viktor enters his hibernation and leaves the deceitful Kraven in charge of the coven.

The stage is set for the first Underworld movie over a period of centuries, while the Lycans are living underground and being hunted by the vampires' deathdealers. In 1975, Michael Corvin (Scott Speedman) is born — unaware of his ancestry and the Corvinus Strain he carries in his blood. Kraven turns a woman named Erika into a vampire around 1976; she remains infatuated with her creator, sticking by his side and building a fierce resentment toward Selene. In 1990, a pureblood vampire named David (Theo James) is born to Thomas and the elder Amelia. His path is set through events of the first film, although we don't meet him until Underworld: Awakening.

2003: Lucian comes out of hiding

The first Underworld centers on a stoic Selene as she hunts Lycans through the city streets. The Lycans seek to harness the Corvinus Strain within Michael's blood and use it to create a hybrid of the two species. Lucian is spotted alive by Selene while he's out hunting for a sample of the mutant blood; Michael is bitten by the Lycan general and begins to shift forms in the moonlight. Given Kraven's claim to killing Lucian centuries earlier, this causes allegiances to shift.

Until this point, the three vampire elders have been extending their reign through the centuries by alternating hibernations — two asleep, one awake. Upon learning of Kraven's deceit, Selene awakens Viktor a full century ahead of schedule in an attempt to halt an incoming Lycan onslaught. The ancient dictator assembles what scrambled memories he can from the dose of Selene's blood that woke him and sets out to remedy the situation, starting with bashing in the skull of a Lycan in the middle of their hibernation chambers. He's too late, though: The Lycans ambush a coven gathering and kill the elder Amelia (David's mother), bleeding her dry to use her blood in the creation of a super hybrid.

Visions of Lucian's past are transferred through his bite to Michael and, combined with knowledge Selene gathered, reveal Viktor's evil machinations. In an attempt to save Michael as silver nitrate from bullets courses through his veins, Selene bites him — creating the first hybrid in the Underworld universe. While the newly empowered Michael possesses strengths from both species, he's no match for Viktor in battle.

2003: A dynasty falls

The vampires raid the Lycan lair in the sewers and unleash a stream of silver bullets. Through the mayhem, Kraven slinks over to Lucian and brings their alliance to an end by shooting him in the back. Viktor displays his battle prowess and overwhelms Michael, but in the final moments Selene grabs his sword and decapitates the elder. At the end of the first Underworld, the two fugitives set out to distance themselves from the war, aware that the coven will now be on the hunt for whoever dismembered their leader.

Underworld: Evolution steps in right where the story left off, centering on Selene and Michael as they attempt to escape the never-ending war. Unfortunately, blood from the Lycan that Viktor killed in the sleeping chamber trickled down into Marcus' hibernation coffin and awakened the first vampire. When he learns of Viktor's death, he sets out to liberate his brother, William, using a key that is now in Selene's possession.

2003: Origins are revealed

Seeking out answers, Selene and Michael meet with Tanis and unravel the complicated history of their species. Marcus is not far behind, and shortly after, he also meets up with Tanis and bleeds the vampire dry, soaking up his knowledge. Selene and Michael set out to meet Alexander Corvinus, who has been quietly covering up the existence of vampires and Lycans. The Corvinus patriarch willingly shares what he knows and expresses remorse for the havoc his sons have unleashed on the world. In drinking some of his blood, Selene gains a vast amount of knowledge.

Marcus ambushes the meeting and kills Alexander, claiming "a god has no father." All the primary characters converge on William's tomb in an epic showdown. Marcus releases his brother William from his imprisonment and Selene and Michael are forced to face the first vampire and the first werewolf in combat. Underworld: Evolution doesn't hold back the carnage as the immortal species clash. 

Michael displays an incredible amount of raw strength and rips William's skull in half. Meanwhile, Selene has her hands full fighting a powerful Marcus but manages to overcome him. The death dealer impales him with a piece of his own wing and shoves him into spinning helicopter blades, dismembering the ancient vampire beyond the point of regeneration. In the final moments of the film, Selene steps into the sunlight unscathed — a parting gift from the blood of Alexander Corvinus.

2015: Humanity joins the fray

Shortly after the events of Underworld: Evolution, the world at large learns of the existence of vampires and Lycans. Humans set out to harness their powers, and the result is near genocide of both species. Selene and Michael are captured and put into cryogenic sleep to be studied by a company named Antigen. Underworld: Awakening begins 12 years after Selene is put to sleep. The haunted death dealer escapes the facility and follows a series of visions, believing them to be messages from Michael, only to be led to a young girl named Eve.

With the assistance of a vampire named David (Theo James), the two barely escape while fending off a pack of Lycans. The violent engagement reveals Eve to be a hybrid — as well as Michael and Selene's daughter. David takes them to his coven to heal, only to have the group fall prey to another Lycan attack. This time around, the beasts are accompanied by an abnormal Lycan, larger than the others, with an immunity to silver and accelerated healing — dubbed the Super-Lycan. In the mayhem, David is fatally wounded and Selene is knocked unconscious. David's father, Thomas, surrenders Eve to the Lycan in exchange for them leaving his coven.

Despite the loss of her daughter, Selene uses her unique blood to revive David. All involved discover the power in her blood and that her immunity to sunlight can be transferred, which naturally becomes highly sought after. Selene discovers that her daughter has been taken to the Antigen lab — and that the company is run by Lycans.

2015 - 2016: Antigen falls

With the help of a sympathetic detective named Sebastian, Selene raids the Antigen lab, seeking to save her daughter and stop the creation of more Super-Lycans. A short while later, a fully healed David joins the fray and helps put an end to the experiments at Antigen. The lead scientist falls prey to an angry Eve, who rips his throat out. Meanwhile, Selene faces down the hybrid monstrosity and overcomes him by tricking him into a narrow doorway, forcing the Super-Lycan to transform back into human form. Selene punches into his stomach, plants a silver grenade, and pulls her fist back out to let his regeneration seal the explosive inside. The plume of gore that erupts signifies the success of their mission.

They attempt to find Michael back in the lab but only discover a broken cryo-tank. The truth of Michael's demise is later revealed in Underworld: Blood Wars, by the Lycan leader Marius. Shortly after their takedown of Antigen labs, Selene sends her daughter into hiding in parts unknown, refusing to know where Eve is headed in order to thwart any potential attempts to get the information out of her. Lycan and vampire leaders continue to hunt down Selene in attempts to find her daughter and harness her blood for their own nefarious means.

2016: Blood Wars

The final installment in the Underworld series starts up with Selene fending off waves of Lycans with the help from the vampiric David. The new leader of the Eastern Coven, Semira, convinces the death dealer to train her new recruits in exchange for safe haven within her walls. Blood Wars holds true to its name when Semira betrays Selene and begins harvesting her blood. The group of new recruits is slain with a stream of ultraviolet bullets by Semira's right-hand man and their fate is pinned on Selene, who is already in hot water having killed Viktor.

David and Selene escape and in order to avoid retaliation they travel north to the Nordic Coven for refuge. It is in the stark cold of the north that David learns he is the son of the elder Amelia and the last of the purebloods, as well as the rightful leader of the Eastern Coven. Marius, a new cunning leader of the Lycans, leads an assault on the winter haven and reveals a unique ability to shapeshift while retaining his human intelligence. Turns out Marius is responsible for the death of Michael and has been taking doses of the blood he drained from him.

The end of the line

After returning to the Eastern Coven, David and Selene face off against their evil counterparts. While hordes of Lycans clash against vampires in the foyeur, complete with heavy artillery punching holes in the building to let in sunlight, Marius relentlessly pursues Selene. In a state of emotional grief, Selene reaches into Marius' transformed body and rips out his spine. Meanwhile, David impales Semira through the skull while she is distracted by her newfound immunity to sunlight. The ordeal leaves David as the new leader of the coven and gives Selene a seat on the high council, as well as some semblance of peace.

Given that Kate Beckinsale has displayed little interest in reprising her role, it's unlikely audiences will ever get to see more of Selene's journey. Seems we'll have to be satisfied with our final images of the steely death dealer in Underworld: Blood Wars — peacefully perched on a lake of ice outside the Nordic Coven, reuniting with her daughter.