Fate/Stay Night Timeline Explained

FateStay Night Timeline Explained

The sheer amount of content available in the Fate series is nothing short of astronomical. This makes the ordeal of even attempting to enter this franchise to be very intimidating. However, most veterans consider the Fate/stay night series to be the best starting point to enter into the franchise.

Still, the Fate/stay night timeline isn’t exactly linear. Among all the timeline and watch order confusion, here is the proper way to understand and enter the Fate franchise.

The Overall Timeline


The Fate universe itself is a part of a larger universe called the “Nasuverse”, which comprises all the works of Kinoko Nasu, the founder of TYPE-MOON and the creator of the Fate series, the Tsukihime series, Kara no Kyoukai series and the Mahoyo visual novel, all of which are considered to be a part of the Nasuverse.

Within the Fate universe, it is almost impossible to establish a proper timeline. The very nature of this entire series is extremely convoluted, comprising multiple characters, alternative versions, events, time periods, and alternate realities.

The general consensus among veterans of the franchise is to consider independent timelines within the series and one such is the Fate/stay night timeline, which is often considered as the best entry point for the franchise.


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Artoria, Courtesy of Studio Ufotable

Fate/Zero acts as the prequel to the Stay Night series, and this comes first in chronological order. While some fans argue that it’s best to watch it as intended, that is as a prequel, that approach only works if you read the visual novel and then the novel of Fate/Zero.

For fans of the anime, the best order would be to watch Fate/Zero first, before entering the Stay Night series, as it gives the proper insight required to understand the concept of Holy Grail wars, Servants, and how magic works in the Fate franchise.

From a story perspective, Fate delves into the life of Emiya Kiritsugu, set around the period of the Fourth Holy Grail War in 1994. It also provides the backstory of Shirou Emiya, Stay Night’s protagonist.

The Three Routes


Here is where things begin to get complicated. In the original Visual Novel, the player can choose between three routes, based on their choices over the course of the story. These three routes tell three different versions of the same story, with different conclusions.

  • Fate Route: In this timeline, Shirou falls in love with his Servant, Saber. The core antagonist of this route happens to be the Archer class Servant, Gilgamesh.
  • Unlimited Blade Works Route: Shirou’s romantic interest in the Unlimited Blade Works route is Rin Tohsaka. This route follows his relationship with Rin and Archer, as he tackles an existential crisis against his own future self.
  • Heaven’s Feel Route: The heroine for the Heaven’s Feel route is Sakura Matou, and this one happens to be the ‘Darkest’ and lore-heavy route of the three. This route delves deep into the actual reason behind the Fifth Holy Grail War.

In order to fully understand the story through the visual novels, the best-recommended way to consume the series is to play through the Fate Route first, then the UBW route, and then the Heaven’s Feel route

Anime Watch Order

Shiro Emiya and Archer from Fate/stay night: Unlimited Blade Works
Shiro Emiya and Archer from Fate/stay night: Unlimited Blade Works (Image via Studio Ufotable)

The anime onlies would have to do this a little bit differently though. While the order remains the same, there is no proper adaptation for the Fate route. The Fate Route was adapted into an anime by Studio Deen back in 2006.

However, instead of staying true to the route, this anime ended up being an unrecognizable mess that tried to cram all three routes into one, creating one epic disastrous show.

So, the best possible way to consume the franchise is:

  • Watch Fate/Zero
  • Read a synopsis of t or play the Fate Route Visual Novel (Optional, but highly recommended)
  • Watch Unlimited Blade Works, the Ufotable version.
  • Watch the Heaven’s Feel Movies.

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