Gundam Timelines, Explained

Gundam Timelines, Explained

With the new show Witch From Mercury on the way, there's never been a better time to try Gundam—but its myriad timelines can be a little intimidating.

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A large robot and a small person.
Image: Sunrise

Mobile Suit Gundam, like all huge franchises, can be a little intimidating to get into—especially since, chronologically speaking, the mecha anime series is about as wibbly wobbly, timey-wimey as you can get for something that doesn’t actually involve time travel.

Next month’s The Witch From Mercury, the latest series in the franchise, brings the 11th official mainline timeline in Gundam continuity. To help you sort your Correct Centuries from your Regilds, your After Colonys from your After Wars, here’s our guide to each Gundam timeline, as well as a few shows in each for you to check out.

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Universal Century

Universal Century

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The be-all and end-all for many Gundam fans, this is the continuity of the original Mobile Suit Gundam and its follow-ups. The most popular and most dominant of the Gundam timelines, it’s where the bulk of the franchise is set, from the original show all the way to last year’s movie Hathaway.

The Universal Century is defined by the rise of the Earth Federation—the unified governmental power on a post-space-expansion Earth being ravaged by climate change, wealth disparity, and population crises—and its conflicts with various factions of interstellar colonial secessionists. The most notable, of course, is the “One Year War” in U.C. 0079 between Earth and the Principality of Zeon—a group of the farthest-flung space colonies rebelling against Earth’s control, usurped by the rise of the fascist Zabi family. This is the conflict in the original Mobile Suit Gundam that sees mechanized infantry, Mobile Suits, begin to dominate warfare, and a brutal event that sees half of all humanity made extinct in the opening months of the war that virtually every other story set here will deal with the lingering generational ramifications of.

Series and Films Set Here:

  • Mobile Suit Gundam
  • Mobile Suit Zeta Gundam
  • Mobile Suit Gundam ZZ
  • Mobile Suit Gundam: Char’s Counterattack
  • Mobile Suit Gundam: The 08th MS Team
  • Mobile Suit Gundam 0080: War in the Pocket
  • Mobile Suit Gundam 0083: Stardust Memory
  • Mobile Suit Gundam F91
  • Mobile Suit Victory Gundam
  • G-Saviour
  • Mobile Suit Gundam Thunderbolt, Thunderbolt: December Sky, and Thunderbolt: Bandit Flower
  • Mobile Suit Gundam Unicorn
  • Mobile Suit Gundam: Twilight Axis
  • Mobile Suit Gundam Narrative
  • Mobile Suit Gundam Hathaway
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Future Century

Future Century

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Gundam’s first official alternate timeline is perhaps one of its weirdest: this is home to just one series, Mobile Fighter G Gundam, set in a future where most of humanity has abandoned a ravaged Earth for life in space colonies—divided by their Earth nations rather than as a united people. Conflict has been replaced with the “Gundam Fight,” an inter-colonial Mobile Suit combat tournament that decides the ruler of Earth’s remnants.

Series and Films Set Here:

  • Mobile Fighter G Gundam
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After Colony

After Colony

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This is home to the series that gave Gundam its western break: the iconic, if rather messy, Gundam Wing. There’s many similarities here in premise to the Universal Century, in that the After Colony era is set in an ongoing period of struggle for independence between the space colonies and the United Earth Sphere Alliance. This time around however, it’s the colonies that develop the Gundams—superior Mobile Suits crafted out of powerful alloys, developed by a team of crack scientists for use by five young men tasked with infiltrating Earth and using the Gundams to win freedom for the colonies, at any cost.

Series and Films Set Here:

  • New Mobile Report Gundam Wing
  • New Mobile Report Gundam Wing: Endless Waltz
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After War

After War

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Gundam really went alternate timeline crazy in the ‘90s. This is the setting of Wings successor After War Gundam X, and like it, has even more parallels to the conflicts of the Universal Century, just without being explicitly tied to it. It’s also the only non-Universal Century Gundam timeline to deal with an idea that is usually specific to stories set in the Universal Century: the concept of the Newtype, the natural evolution of space-living humans that sees them develop latent psychic abilities.

Series and Films Set Here:

  • After War Gundam X
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Correct Century

Correct Century

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Another “alternate” timeline, this one is actually even more explicitly tied to the Universal Century than the parallels we saw in the After Colony and After War continuities. Created for the 20th anniversary series Turn A Gundam, the Correct Century is set thousands of years after a period of “Dark History,” where an Earth ravaged by conflict between Mobile Suits was abandoned by much of humanity, who develop a new civilization on the moon. As the surviving humans on Earth begin to rebuild society up to an early 20th-century level of technology, the “Moonrace” from above plans to return to its repaired home, and live alongside its distant cousins—peacefully or otherwise.

By the conclusion of Turn A, it’s revealed that the Correct Century is actually in the same continuity as the Universal Century, and is just set in an undetermined future long after its events.

Series and Films Set Here:

  • Turn A Gundam
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Cosmic Era

Cosmic Era

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Gundam’s first true 21st century series, this is the first timeline since the Universal Century to have multiple TV series set in it. On its version of Earth, economic and environmental disasters brought on a nuclear conflict that concludes with all the nations radically realigned and rebuilt into different economic blocks. The earliest days of humanity’s attempts to colonize the stars are home to another interstellar conflict between Earth and its colonies, and there’s a growing divide between humans and their genetically enhanced counterparts, known as “Coordinators.”

Series and Films Set Here:

  • Mobile Suit Gundam SEED
  • Mobile Suit Gundam SEED Astray
  • Mobile Suit Gundam SEED Destiny
  • Mobile Suit Gundam SEED C.E. 73: STARGAZER
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Anno Domini

Anno Domini

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The only Gundam timeline to use the Gregorian Calendar, this is home to Gundam 00, a 24th-century-set series where a post-fossil-fuel society has given rise to three major power blocs formed around near-unlimited solar power systems. As smaller countries abandoned by the blocs find themselves flung into resource wars and poverty, a paramilitary group known as Celestial Being uses four powerful Gundams to enact a righteous campaign attempting to eradicate all conflict.

Series and Films Set Here:

  • Mobile Suit Gundam 00
  • Mobile Suit Gundam 00 - Awakening of the Trailblazer -
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Advanced Generation

Advanced Generation

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Move over, One Year War, because now we have the One Hundred Years War. Set in a far future where humans have long since migrated to space colonies, centuries of peace are shattered when a rogue faction of abandoned colonists attacks Earth and its other colonies, sparking a new war that sees the development of the Gundam as humanity’s last hope for survival.

Series and Films Set Here:

  • Mobile Suit Gundam AGE
  • Mobile Suit Gundam Age: Memory of Eden
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Regild Century

Regild Century

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Although technically once again its own alternate timeline, the Regild Century is actually directly tied to the Universal Century and Correct Century settings—with its sole TV series, Reconguista in G, being set roughly 500 years after the events of Turn A Gundam. A new era of peace after the conflicts of the Universal and Correct Centuries sees Earth prosper, with society rebuilding itself around a Universal Century-era space elevator used to carry energy resources from space to Earth, leading to the rise of a dominant religious belief known as SU-Cordism—a religion strictly controlling technological advancement on Earth itself in an attempt to avoid past wars happening again.

Series and Films Set Here:

  • Gundam Reconguista in G
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Post Disaster

Post Disaster

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The most recent Gundam timeline before Witch From Mercury, this is the setting of Iron-Blood Orphans. Set three centuries after a devastating conflict known as the Calamity War comes to an end and a reformed Earth has begun to colonize Mars, an emergent independence movement on the Red Planet leads to a new conflict between a PMC of child soldiers and Earth’s militaries.

Series and Films Set Here:

  • Mobile Suit Gundam Iron-Blooded Orphans
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Ad Stella

Ad Stella

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The latest Gundam timeline is the setting of the newest series in the franchise, The Witch From Mercury, set to begin in earnest in October 2022. In a future where humankind’s ascent into the stars is driven by vast megacorporations, Spacian citizens have learned to adapt to the rigors of Zero-G existence with the use of cybernetic enhancements and prosthetics known as the GUND Format. But when the technology is put to use to help develop new Mobile Suits directly linking pilot and machine known as the Gundams, Earth’s Mobile Suit developers create a new military taskforce in an attempt to subdue their creation.

Series and Films Set Here:

  • Mobile Suit Gundam: The Witch From Mercury Prologue
  • Mobile Suit Gundam: The Witch From Mercury
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