Freddy Krueger is one of those incomparable horror icons. He’s what you think of when you picture the most terrifying movies of all time, with his instantly recognizable bladed glove, his striped sweater and his fedora hat. (He’s tailor-made for a scary Halloween costume.) And he’s one of those characters who you know is the villain, but he’s also kind of the hero; he’s the reason you keep coming back to see film after film in the Nightmare on Elm Street franchise — to see his kills and his quips — and not really any of his opponents.
But Freddy Krueger has been around for almost four decades now, chopping his way through countless sequels, re-imaginings, reboots and crossovers. There was even an anthology TV series, A Nightmare on Elm Street: Freddy’s Nightmares, which ran for two seasons in syndication (and is sadly not really available to stream, though you can find videos of it online). With all of that floating around, it’s easy to lose track of just how many movies Freddy’s been in and when they all came out.How to Watch the 'Nightmare on Elm Street' Movies in the Right Order Click To Tweet
Here’s how to watch all of the Nightmare on Elm Street movies in order. The original six films are pretty straightforward, but after The Final Nightmare — which was in no way the actual, final nightmare — the timeline starts to get confusing. So bookmark this list, brew some coffee and try not to let Freddy haunt your dreams.
1. A Nightmare on Elm Street (1984)
This is the OG, the original introduction to iconic bad-guy Freddy Krueger and his horrifying glove of blades. In this one, he goes up against teens like Nancy (Heather Langenkamp) and Glen (a very young Johnny Depp), attacking them in their dreams and hurting them in real life. It’s also one of only two Elm Street movies directed by horror master Wes Craven, though he was involved in writing some of the others.
2. A Nightmare on Elm Street 2: Freddy’s Revenge (1985)
After the events of A Nightmare on Elm Street, Jesse Walsh and his family movie into Nancy’s home — and Jesse starts having dreams about a killer with a razor glove. It only gets worse from there. While this one was treated like a regular sequel at the time, it has since earned a cult following because of its LGBTQ themes.
3. A Nightmare on Elm Street 3: Dream Warriors (1987)
After skipping A Nightmare on Elm Street 2, Wes Craven returned for the third film in the franchise — and he brought the character of Nancy Thompson back with him. By this time, Nancy is an intern therapist at a psychiatric hospital when a patient, Kristen (Patricia Arquette), is admitted after it looks like she’s slashed herself in her sleep. But that’s not really what was going on.
4. A Nightmare on Elm Street 4: The Dream Master (1988)
In this one, Kristen has been released from the psychiatric hospital, but she’s still certain that Freddy will return to her dreams as she tries to return to her normal life. And … of course he does! This installment was directed by Renny Harlin, who went on to do big action movies like Die Hard 2, Cliffhanger, The Long Kiss Goodnight and Deep Blue Sea.
5. A Nightmare on Elm Street 5: The Dream Child (1989)
Five movies in, Freddy shows no signs of slowing down. He spends the movie menacing survivors from the previous film — only to have them uncover more information about his origins. (Warning: This isn’t the best one to watch if you’re expecting a baby.)
6. Freddy’s Dead: The Final Nightmare (1991)
Not ready to say goodbye? Don’t worry about the title: Freddy comes back three more times after this movie. Freddy’s Dead starts off after Freddy has already killed all of the youths of Springwood, Ohio — except one, who has no memory of who he is. A therapist brings this John Doe back to Springwood to try and jog his memory, and three (unlucky) stowaways hitch a ride with them. Guess who’s waiting for them?
7. Wes Craven’s New Nightmare (1994)
Wes Craven returns again to direct and write this one, which has an entirely different feel to it. Robert Englund, Heather Langenkamp and Wes Craven play themselves, and in the movie, they discuss making a new Nightmare on Elm Street film. Little by little, a more sinister version of Freddy Krueger starts to bleed over into “real life.” This movie’s mix of horor, satire and meta-commentary make it feel like it’s a practice run for Craven’s next film series: Scream.
8. Freddy vs. Jason (2003)
It’s hard to believe it took 19 years for Freddy to go up against an opponent as iconic as Jason Voorhees of the Friday the 13th series. (And yes, it’s the real Jason — not Mrs. Voorhees — behind the mask.) Who wins? Horror fans!
9. A Nightmare on Elm Street (2010)
Just like The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, The Amityville Horror and Friday the 13th before it, A Nightmare on Elm Street got a remake treatment from Michael Bay’s Platinum Dunes production company. This time, Rooney Mara plays Nancy and Jackie Earle Haley does a pretty good Freddy Krueger (though nothing can compare to the original). This version of the film, however, never got a sequel.