How many of the Friday the 13th movies actually take place on Friday the 13th? The original 1980 slasher classic helped make the infamous date even more terrifying in pop culture and launched a franchise that would cement itself as one of cinema’s definitive ongoing horror stories. However, with each new film, the series increasingly focused on its titular killer, Jason Voorhees, more than the Friday the 13th date itself.
The title for the original Friday the 13th was chosen due to the date’s longstanding association with misfortune and death. The film famously features Jason’s mother, Pamela Voorhees, as the killer rather than Jason himself, and the story was more about bad luck befalling a group of teenagers on a supposedly cursed day than focusing on a specific serial killer. But as each sequel continued to build up the mystique and appeal of Jason as a character, the franchise gradually began setting its stories on dates other than the one implied by each film’s title. Eventually, films like Jason Goes to Hell: The Final Friday and Jason X dropped the “Friday the 13th” moniker altogether, finally placing all of the attention on the series’ most significant aspect: the ever-evolving Jason Voorhees.
As the series began to move away from its focus on the actual Friday the 13th date, some of the films also began setting their stories on different dates. This became especially common in films that immediately followed up on the events of previous films, setting their stories in the days following a prior Jason attack. It can be difficult to determine the dates in some of the films, but with a little detective work and a bit of math, it’s possible to figure out which Friday the 13th movies are actually set on Friday the 13th, and which ones aren’t.
The easiest film in the franchise to determine the date for is the original Friday the 13th, which clearly states that its events are taking place on the supposedly unlucky day. The film also mentions that Friday the 13 was the date of Jason’s death in September of 1957, and the date of Pamela’s first murders in June of 1958. Friday the 13th Part II is also largely set on the actual date, as is Friday the 13th Part V: A New Beginning. Despite beginning on Thursday, October 12, the main story in Friday the 13th Part VI: Jason Lives takes place a day later on a Friday. Both Friday the 13th Part VII: The New Blood and Jason Goes to Hell take place on both the 13th and the 14th, Jason X makes references to being set on Friday the 13th, and most of the story of the 2009 remake takes place on the titular date.
When all the numbers are tallied up, there are eight Friday the 13th movies that actually take place on a Friday the 13th. That’s more than half of the franchise and leaves four films with either different or unknown dates. Friday the 13th Part III takes place two days after Part II, setting it on Sunday the 15th, and The Final Chapter is set the following week on Tuesday and Wednesday. Jason Takes Manhattan never provides a concrete timeline or date for its events, and the final non-remake installment of the Friday the 13th franchise, Freddy vs. Jason, takes place several days after the date has passed.