The Full Timeline of Han's 'Fast and Furious' Appearances

Here's how the Fast Fam's expert drifter is still alive in 'F9.'

fast and furious han
Universal Pictures
Universal Pictures

Way back in 2020, when whispers of a global pandemic were just headlines from far away and movie release dates still existed, the very first trailer for F9: The Fast Saga snuck a huge revelation into its final moments: Han is back. Fan-favorite character Han Lue, played by Sung Kang, appeared in four Fast & Furious movies before his untimely death at the start of Furious 7, and was by far the coolest member of the Fast Fam.

Introduced in 2006's The Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift, Han is a master at "drifting," the quick gear shifting up and down that allows racers to slide around tight curves, keeping the car facing in one direction. He has flowing hair, deadpan asides, a way with the ladies, and snacks hidden in every pocket—in other words, an instant favorite. Which is why his death at the hands of a villain-turned-honorary family member felt like such a cheat. Finally, our #JusticeforHan prayers have been answered. But how is this possible?

To understand how Han is back, you also have to understand how the continuity of the Fast & Furious movies is a little convoluted. In Tokyo Drift, during a massive chase through the busy streets of Tokyo, Han's car is T-boned by a seemingly random driver, and it explodes in the street, killing him. The movie then ends with its main character Sean Boswell (Lucas Black) agreeing to race against a driver who claims he was a friend of Han's. When we see the driver, it happens to be none other than Vin Diesel in an uncredited cameo as Dom Toretto. The next movie in the series, 2009's Fast & Furious (the fourth one), reintroduces Han as a new member of Dom's family, essentially going back in time to before Tokyo Drift to integrate Han into the series' continuity.

Han appears twice more, driving with Dom's crew in both Fast Five and Furious 6 and having a whirlwind romance with motorcycle enthusiast Gisele (Gal Gadot), cut tragically short by her death on the endless airport runway at the end of the sixth movie. At that movie's conclusion, Han tells Dom he's leaving the crew to go to Tokyo, where he hears there's a burgeoning street racing community. From there, we assume that Tokyo Drift is what comes immediately after that. If we say that these movies take place roughly in the years they're released, then Furious 6 takes place in 2013, and Furious 7 in 2015, making Tokyo Drift set in 2014/2015. Now we're all caught up.

Furious 6 also ends with a tease for the next movie, Furious 7, showing Han's fatal car crash and also revealing that the explosion was no accident, engineered as it was by Deckard Shaw (Jason Statham) as revenge for what the Fast Fam did to his brother, Furious 6 villain Owen Shaw (Luke Evans). (In F9's mid-credits scene, Deckard is going at it on a punching bag with a live man stuffed inside when there's a little knock on the door—surprise, it's Han.) When Deckard was made an honorary member of the Fast Fam just one movie later in The Fate of the Furious, fan outcry for #JusticeforHan began in earnest.

"He passes away and the guy who kills him gets called into the fold—that makes no sense? Is it because he’s Asian that it doesn’t matter?” Sung Kang told GQ, recalling his own reaction to the #JusticeforHan movement, and echoing the reasoning behind the fans' feelings of betrayal.

Luckily, the fans were heard, and those behind the series realized they'd made a mistake in killing off one of its most beloved characters (even though we knew his death was coming since 2006). Because nobody in these giant franchises ever stays dead for long—remember how Letty Ortiz (Michelle Rodriguez) came back in Furious 6 as an amnesiac villain sidekick after getting fridged in the fourth movie?—F9 came up with a way to bring Han back into la familia. Mr. Nobody, a mysterious secret agent and leader of an equally mysterious covert ops organization played by Kurt Russell, reveals that he and Han had faked Han's death as a way for Han to escape his yakuza enemies by working in secret for Mr. Nobody's forces.

We don't see exactly how it was done (in the movie, Han merely congratulates Mr. Nobody on his "magic trick" while watching from a rooftop as the tragedy plays out on the streets below) but, look, we'll take it. Han is back, and there's a little more justice in the world.

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Emma Stefansky is a staff entertainment writer at Thrillist. Follow her on Twitter @stefabsky.