Cookies help us deliver our Services. By using our Services, you agree to our use of cookies. Learn More.

The Entire Timeline Of The Jason Bourne Franchise Explained

The brilliance of the "Jason Bourne" franchise is its simplicity. If you're unaware, the premise is this: a man with amnesia learns that he used to be an elite assassin for the Central Intelligence Agency. He just wants answers and to be left alone. Each film sees the character of Jason Bourne thrown into a situation where he is being hunted in order to cover up some important detail about his past. 

Despite the formulaic nature of the franchise, it doesn't get old. With every new installment we get to see Bourne outsmart the CIA in new and creative ways while being drip-fed details about his life, slowly unraveling the mystery of his involvement with the super secret black ops project Treadstone. This allows the films to move his character forward and build the mythology while essentially remaking the same movie with each new entry.

That being said, the timeline of his life does get a little complicated. There are a lot of secrets, plot twists and reveals that retroactively alter our understanding of the narrative. To make things simpler, we will detail the timeline of this character's life, based on what is revealed in the five feature films and the television series set within this universe. Instead of unraveling this timeline in a dramatic way, like the films and series, we'll just examine these events in chronological order — and explain the entire Jason Bourne timeline.

The Webb identity

It is revealed in "The Bourne Supremacy" that Jason Bourne's real name is David Webb. In the following film, "The Bourne Ultimatum," we learn he was born on September 13, 1970, in Nixa, Missouri. We don't know a ton about his father, Richard Webb, but we do know that he will be responsible for the development of Treadstone, the CIA program that will one day turn David Webb into Jason Bourne.

Three years after David Webb's birth (as seen in the television series "Treadstone"), a CIA operative working in Russia named John Randolph Bentley is captured by the KGB. A woman named Petra experiments with behavioral control methods to turn him into an unstoppable killer for Russia. For months, he carries out the KGB's tasks, murdering and torturing anyone they order him to, including Americans.

The behavioral control isn't permanent and Bentley basically becomes the prototype for Jason Bourne as he battles both Russia and the CIA for his freedom. The techniques pioneered by Petra would later be used in the development of Treadstone.

Secret origin

The exact date when Treadstone goes live isn't totally clear, but it's safe to assume it's sometime in the mid-to-late '90s, as this is when David Webb joins the Army and Treadstone begins following him to make sure he would be a good fit for the program. David's father, Richard, does not want them to recruit his son. Of course, they approach him about recruitment anyway.

David goes to see his father in Beirut, where he is stationed, in order to tell him he'd been approached. Over lunch, Richard tells his son that he had done something that came at a cost. It's fairly cryptic, but it's obvious that he wants to tell him about his involvement with Treadstone. Before he's able to tell him, Richard gets in a car to leave. The car blows up, killing David's father before he can know the truth.

The official cause of the explosion is a lie. David is told it was terrorists, but we learn in the 2016 film "Jason Bourne" that Richard was murdered by the CIA. The order came from CIA director Robert Dewey and was carried out by a nameless operative who is only referred to as The Asset. The death of his father is what pushes David to join Treadstone.

Bourne begins

When David arrives at the Treadstone training facility, he meets a man named Neil Daniels. Neil will go on to have a major role in a future version of Treadstone, but we'll get to that shortly. Back in 1999, Daniels takes Webb to meet with Dr. Albert Hirsch. The doctor tells David that his mission will save American lives and that by the time they're done with him, he will no longer be David Webb. David hands over his identification tags and says he will be whoever they need him to be. 

Although David wants to be useful and save lives, the recruitment process and training are difficult for him. He has trouble giving himself to it completely. He is tortured both physically and mentally until he is finally about to break. At this point, Hirsch tells him it's time to decide if he is going to commit to this program or not. To prove himself, he is told to kill a man with a bag over his head. 

When David asks what the man did, he's told it doesn't matter. Hirsch berates him, accuses him of being a liar and too weak. He asks David one last time if he will give himself to the program. David's response is to put three bullets into the unidentified man with the bag over his head. At that moment, he becomes Jason Bourne.

The Neski murders

Bourne's first mission is to take out a Russian politician named Vladimir Neski, who claims to have information on 20 million dollars' worth of CIA funds that went missing during a wire transfer through Moscow. In "The Bourne Supremacy," we learn that a CIA section chief named Ward Abbott (played by Brian Cox) was involved with the theft. He split the money with a man named Yuri Gretkov. While we don't know what Abbott used his funds for, it is explained that Gretkov used his to control oil supplies.

Two years after the theft, Neski informs the CIA that they have a leak on the inside and he knows what happened to the funds. Hoping to keep this information covered up, Jason Bourne is dispatched to kill Neski. When he arrives, he discovers that Vladimir has his wife with him. Adapting to the situation, Bourne kills them both, staging the bodies to appear as though Vladimir's wife shot him before killing herself.

While this act solidifies his status as a premier operative, it leaves Neski's daughter orphaned. She spends the next several years believing her mother murdered her father. That weighs very heavily on Bourne and might factor into what happens in our next section.

The Wombosi failure

By its nature, Treadstone needs to operate in secret. It can't have public figures going on the news and exposing them as the murderers that they are. So when a former Nigerian dictator named Nykwanna Wombosi threatens to tell the world what Treadstone has been doing in Africa, the head of the black ops organization, Alexander Conklin, orders Jason Bourne to kill him.

The object is to make the assassination appear as though one of Wombosi's own employees killed him. To do this, Bourne devises a plan that will see him secretly hiding aboard one of Wombosi's private yachts. He will then sneak out during the night, kill Wombosi, and flee. Everything goes according to plan until Bourne puts the gun against Wombosi's head and discovers that his children are with him.

Seeing them look up at him causes something within Bourne to snap. Perhaps it's the memory of the Neski murder, but he's no longer able to carry out his orders. Disoriented, Bourne stumbles through the yacht. He's shot by Wombosi's guards and plummets into the ocean, where he is left adrift until the start of "The Bourne Identity."

The Bourne Identity

We've finally reached the start of the Jason Bourne film franchise. "The Bourne Identity" begins with a mysterious man discovered floating in the sea by some fishermen. He's got bullet holes in his back, a device which displays a bank account number, and no memory of who he is or how he got there. After being brought back to health by the fishermen, Bourne heads off in search of answers.

In a safety deposit box, Bourne discovers he has several aliases, a ton of cash, and a gun. While defending himself against authorities, he also discovers that he is an efficient fighter capable of taking down any attacker. He recruits the help of a woman named Marie to drive him to France where one of his aliases has an apartment. 

Treadstone learns that Bourne is still alive and enlists their other agents to take him down, leading to multiple brutal fight scenes that continue to display just how intuitive these skills are to Bourne. When Bourne tracks down Alexander Conklin, he's reminded of what happened with Wombosi. He doesn't understand all the details around his training, but he's horrified by his past and wants out.

He threatens Conklin that if he doesn't let him live in peace, he'll take down Treadstone. Conklin is murdered in the street by another agent and the ending of the film sees Treadstone being shut down, to be replaced by something called Blackbriar, while Bourne travels to Greece to be with Marie.

Blackbriar is born

During the final moments of "The Bourne Identity," we see Ward Abbott at a hearing in Washington explaining that Treadstone is no more. Apparently having one of their agents go rogue and kill several of their operatives proves that the project is problematic and needs to be shut down. He then mentions something called Blackbriar. We don't hear anything more about it until the third film, "The Bourne Ultimatum."

In the years between "The Bourne Identity" and "The Bourne Supremacy," Blackbriar goes live. The director of the program is a man named Noah Vosen. The program is designed to be the next evolution of Treadstone, but without any of the red tape. It gives absolute control to those running the program to make decisions — like when it's okay to kill someone — without waiting for approval. It eventually becomes the umbrella program for all of the United States government's black ops missions.

The Bourne Supremacy

Two years after getting amnesia and learning of his past as an assassin, Jason Bourne is living with Marie in Goa India. He is making progress with his memories but still struggling. In Berlin, the CIA is trying to purchase files related to the Russian politician Vladimir Neski, who was Bourne's first mission. But the deal doesn't go through because the Russian oil magnate Yuri Gretkov has an assassin named Kirill (played by Karl Urban) kill the CIA's contact. He leaves behind Bourne's fingerprints, framing him.

Kirill then travels to Goa intent on murdering Bourne, but accidentally kills Marie instead. Fueled by vengeance, Bourne makes his way back to the States. At the same time, CIA Deputy Director Pamela Landy is investigating the sabotage and the history of Jason Bourne and Treadstone. As they hunt Bourne, thinking he's trying to take them down, he hunts them, figuring out who was really behind the death of Marie.

By the end of the film, Bourne learns that Ward Abbott set it all up with Gretkov. The plan was to frame and kill Bourne so the CIA would spend the next 10 years hunting a ghost, without becoming aware of Abbott's involvement with Neski's murder and the $20 million in missing CIA funds. Bourne records Abbott's confession, sends it to the CIA, and takes down Kirill during a car chase. Abbott kills himself before he can be arrested.

The Bourne Ultimatum

The concluding chapter of the initial Bourne trilogy, "The Bourne Ultimatum," has a lot going on in its story. This could be why star Matt Damon was so unhappy with the script. Since we've covered many of the big reveals earlier in this piece, simplifying the plot shouldn't be as difficult as getting it on film apparently was.

The film is set six weeks after the events of "Supremacy." After an English reporter who is investigating Blackbriar publishes a story about Jason Bourne, he becomes a Blackbriar target. Bourne tries to protect him so he can meet his contact and find out more about his own past, but a Blackbriar assassin takes him out. Thinking Bourne was the source, Blackbriar directory Noah Vosen wants him put down.

Again, it's a cat and mouse game with Bourne and Blackbriar. Pam Landy becomes an unexpected ally once she learns the truth about Blackbriar and conspires with Bourne to expose the truth to the world after Bourne steals documents from Vosen's office. As Landy faxes those documents to the proper parties, Jason meets and confronts Dr. Albert Hirsch and finally has most of his backstory explained. It all ends with members of Blackbriar going on trial and Jason Bourne escaping yet again, finally knowing the truth.

The Bourne Legacy

Much of "The Bourne Legacy" actually takes place during the events of "The Bourne Ultimatum." It doesn't progress that storyline a great deal, so we won't linger on it, but since it does provide some updates on the events following the previous film, it does need to be mentioned.

The film is about another super-secret program similar to Treadstone called Outcome. This time, however, they are augmenting their agents with drugs. When it becomes clear that Jason Bourne is going to reveal the truth behind the various Black Ops programs, Outcome panics and kills all of its agents. One agent named Aaron Cross (Jeremy Renner) survives, however. While Outcome hunts him, he and a doctor from Outcome try to cure him of his reliance on the drugs.

We also see Pam Landy and Vosen testifying about Blackbriar. Vosen lies, stating the program was designed for the sole purpose of taking down Jason Bourne. This throws a wrench into Landy's plan to bring down the organization, allowing Outcome and other Black Ops programs to continue running. We have no idea where Jason Bourne is during this section of the film.

Jason Bourne

We jump ahead 12 years for the next and (at the time of writing) final film in the chronicles of Jason Bourne. The fifth film, simply titled "Jason Bourne," shows us the next evolution of Treadstone and provides even more details regarding Bourne's origin. 

Nicky Parsons (Julia Stiles) is working with someone named Christian Dassault to expose the CIA. She steals Black Ops documents with the intention of putting them online. Of course, the CIA notices and launches a mission to take her down. They enlist the Asset — the same killer who murdered Bourne's father. Nicky tracks down Bourne, who is living as a fighter in Greece. She's killed by the Asset, and Jason decides to visit with Dassault.

While this is going on, Heather Lee, head of Cyber Ops, is trying to position herself to be the new director of the CIA by getting on the good side of current director Robert Dewey (the man who ordered the death of Bourne's father), while secretly planning to bring Bourne back into the fold. She believes Bourne's life is meaningless without the CIA and he will come back willingly. This, of course, is not the case.

He learns the truth about his father, as well as Dewey's plan to use social media for global surveillance, and confronts the CIA director in Las Vegas. Dewey is killed, Lee becomes the new director and Bourne lets her know he will not be returning anytime soon before disappearing again...this time possibly for good.