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The Entire Sons Of Anarchy Timeline Explained

The Shakespearian morality play that is "Sons of Anarchy" had its audience glued to its every twist and turn. Jax Teller (Charlie Hunnam) took a very rocky road from acting vice president of SAMCRO (Sons of Anarchy Motorcycle Club Redwood Original Charter) to enacting revenge upon his stepfather Clay Morrow (Ron Perlman) and his own mother, Gemma (Katey Sagal), for his biological father's murder. (If you were paying attention in high school English, you probably could have guessed how things would end for Jax, though.)

Jax's father — John Teller — is the show's own ghost. An idealist and Vietnam vet who hoped that the Sons would have a positive influence on the world even though they were running guns and smuggling Canadian contraband. After John's young son Thomas died of a heart defect, he fell into a deep depression and began putting the history of the club down on paper in his memoir "The Life and Death of Sam Crow."

Then John's own Queen Gertrude, Gemma, set her eyes on Clay. Alone because John was constantly running to Belfast to be with his mistress, Maureen Ashby (Paula Malcomson), and embittered because she was forced to deal with the weight of Thomas' illness and death alone, she agreed to help Clay put an end to John. John was murdered in a staged road accident thanks to the participation of John's favorite mechanic, who sabotaged his motorcycle. Clay quickly became club president and they began running guns and muling harder drugs, entangling themselves deeper with other organized criminal elements. 

This is all backstory, of course. The story of "Sons of Anarchy" doesn't even begin until long after John Teller is cold and buried. Enter: Jax Teller, stage right. This is his entire journey explained.

SAMCRO vs. the White Supremacists

Jax is in a turmoil when the show opens. The club's warehouse — where the guns they run are assembled and stored — is mysteriously burned down. On the same day, his pregnant ex-wife, Wendy Case (Drea de Matteo) overdoses on heroin. Wendy is rushed to the hospital, where Jax discovers his high school sweetheart, Tara Knowles (Maggie Siff), will be one of his child's surgeons. 

Tara left Charming at 19 to explore life outside of the town, and Jax continues to carry a major torch for her. Abel Teller is delivered via c-section and, thanks to Tara's surgical intervention, beats the two-to-one odds against his survival thanks to an inherited heart defect, residual drugs in his system, and his premature birth. Tara and Jax begin to fall into a relationship in spite of themselves, and when Jax finds his father's writings in a storage crate while looking for baby clothing for Abel, he's inspired by the old man's vision for SAMCRO — which the club is decidedly not living up to under Clay.

The Sons ultimately find themselves divided when Donna Winston (Sprague Grayden), wife of Jax's best friend and trusted lieutenant, Opie (Ryan Hurst), is accidentally killed by Tig Trager (Kim Coates), Clay's Sargent at Arms. The bullet was intended for Opie, whom Clay falsely believes is informing on the Sons to the FBI thanks to  information planted by June Stahl (Ally Walker), an ATF agent trying to take down the Sons.

SAMCRO tussles with Nazis and Irish terrorists, and Jax's son gets kidnapped

SAMCRO soon find themselves in a turf war with the League of American Nationalists, a militant white supremacism group. Clay and Jax begin to vie for control of the club, with Jax outvoting Clay's choices at every turn. Things come to a head when Gemma is kidnapped by A.J. Weston, one of the LOAN's heads. She's raped and beaten. United by a desire for vengeance, Clay and Jax combine forces to remove the Nazis from Charming for good.

Just as the coast seems clear, Jax learns that Abel has been kidnapped by Cameron Hayes (Jamie McShane), head of the True Irish Republican Army. Hayes believes that Gemma is involved with the death of his son, and plans on keeping Abel as revenge. Jax soon figures out that Abel has been spirited off to Ireland, and the Sons team up to head to Belfast to recover the boy. While there, Jax learns of his half-sister, Trinity (Zoe Boyle), and meets with Maureen, who gives him his father's love letters to add to his collection of John Teller scribblings.

Jax and club nemesis Agent Stahl enter into negotiations in which Stahl tries to get Jax to turn on the club, offering him legal immunity for Gemma and lighter sentences for the Sons if he does. Torn between his loyalty to the Sons and mother and his desire to be free of the club lifestyle, Jax ultimately takes the deal, but only after learning that Tara is pregnant. Nothing like a second kid to get your priorities sorted. Stahl informs the club of their secret negotiations, but instead of turning on Jax, Opie achieves catharsis by shooting Stahl to death in the same way Tig killed Donna.

Jax soon learns that Stahl has set them up, and the club ends up in prison.

Jax tries and fails to escape the club

After doing a 14-month prison sentence, Jax and the arrested members of SAMCRO are released. Jax plans on making a life for himself, Tara, and his children (Tara had given birth to his son, Thomas, while he was in prison), and though Jax extracts a promise from Clay that he not stand in the way of Jax's exit, Jax soon finds himself drawn even deeper into club business.

Gemma discovers Maureen's letters to John among Jax's possessions and panics that he'll read them and figure out that John suspected Gemma and Clay conspired to kill him. Clay kills multiple people to suppress the truth — including Piney, Opie's father, and one of the nine founding members of SAMCRO. After that, he and Gemma begin to come apart at the seams, their relationship exploding after Clay strikes Gemma during a particularly ugly fight. Gemma has Wayne Unser (Dayton Callie), Chief of the Charming police department, alter the letters to remove proof of her involvement in John's death, then informs Jax that Clay arranged was the one who arranged his father's murder. Clay is then voted out of the club presidency, with Jax assuming control of the Sons.

The club soon runs afoul of The Niners, a gang seeking revenge on the Sons because Tig accidentally killed the daughter of their leader, Damon Pope (Harold Perrineau). Though Tara and Jax finally marry, the Sons find themselves imprisoned once again. To pay off their debt to the Niners, they are forced to trade the life of one of their imprisoned members for the others' freedom. Opie volunteers, and is brutally beaten to death in one of the gruesome series most gruesome scenes. Jax later kills Pope and pins the murder on Clay, resulting in Bobby Elvis (Mark Boone Junior) abandoning the wayward club.

Exit Clay ... and Tara

Tara has been arrested for conspiracy to commit murder. While Tara serves some time, Jax struggles to raise his kids and deal with a gun attached to the Sons illegal operations that ended up used in a school shooting. This inspires Jax to get out of their IRA-related illegal gun trade, but Clay — imprisoned for the murder of Pope — relies on the IRA, as well as Juice (Theo Rossi) and a patched-out Bobby (Mark Boone Jr), to break him out of prison. The resulting mess concludes with Jax finally shooting Clay to death and pinning it on the IRA. Juice, meanwhile, is pushed out of the Sons for helping Clay.

Tara is given the chance to turn state's evidence against the Sons, and Gemma — who has been involved in a two-season-long conflict with Tara over Tara's refusal to allow Gemma to see her grandsons — believes she's already turned on them. Though Jax and Tara have reconciled, Gemma takes it upon herself to protect her son. She stabs Tara to death by jabbing her in the head with a barbecue fork. Gemma absconds before she's discovered, leaving Jax alone to find his wife and mourn.

Hamlet doesn't get a happy ending, and neither does Jax

With nothing left to lose and the love of his life now dead, Jax goes a bit off the rails, expending his energy on a roaring rampage of revenge. After tangling with the Chinese drug-runners making the club's life miserable — an incident that results in Bobby's death — Jax concentrates on finding Gemma. She's at her father's house, and Unser's there to arrest her in a last-ditch attempt at protecting her from Jax's vengeance. He offers Jax a way out, which the outlaw biker refuses. Jax shoots Unser dead, then kills his mother in her garden, crossing a moral rubicon, and entering a dark place from which he can't return.

Jax says goodbye to his sons, who are in Wendy's custody, and gives Chibbs Telford (Tommy Flanagan) his president's patch. Chibbs, in turn, gives Tig his VP patch. Jax explains that Wendy's been given legal custody of his possessions, including his mother's house, and has been instructed to sell everything and take Abel and Thomas and leave Charming, ensuring they won't grow up in the Club. He leaves his club ring at Opie's grave, and kisses Tara's headstone before visiting the place where his father died, and announcing his forgiveness.

Leading the police on a chase down the same highway where his father died, Jax then proceeds to drive his motorcycle into the back of a semi truck, ending his life in the same place and in the same way his father died years ago. Just like the ending of "Hamlet," it's a blood bath. Unlike the ending of "Hamlet," however, two small boys get a chance at a peaceful life.