Movies, News

No, Mad Max Didn’t Take Place in 2021

Mad Max

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You may have noticed a few memes making the rounds on social media recently claiming that Mad Max took place in 2021. Usually, these memes have something to do with how we should start dressing like Max or the Lord Humungus. While I welcome the idea of living my life like I’m always at Wasteland Weekend, I felt the need to set the record straight on the Mad Max timeline.

The Road Warrior Meme

Mad Max (1979)

The original Mad Max film was made in 1979 and features the opening tagline “A few years from now” which leads us to assume that the story takes place some time in the mid 1980s. We can see right away that the date “December 6th, 1984” is written on a highway sign, so we know it’s not before that. Plus, the Main Force Patrol HQ (the Halls of Justice) have the words “est. 1983” on the broken front gate. So popular fan opinion pegs this first film to take place around 1985 or 1986.

Lord Humungus Meme

Mad Max 2: The Road Warrior (1981)
After the surprise success of that little Australian indie film in 1979, George Miller hired Terry Hayes to create an entire backstory for the Mad Max universe that included a Persian Gulf war that led to society’s demise. We see much more about this backstory in the comic books and novels, but production documents provide further evidence that the second film takes place three years after the end of the original Mad Max. So this puts us right around 1988 or 1989.


Mad Max: Beyond Thunderdome (1985)
Now is where things get really interesting (and more complicated) because the big nuclear war is said to have happened within the 15 year gap between The Road Warrior and Beyond Thunderdome. You might think that 15 years is not nearly enough time to recover from a nuclear war, but remember that the trilogy takes place in Australia where direct bomb strikes are not likely.

This war caused an airline pilot to gather up folks to escape Sydney, but the plane crashed due to turbulence. The pilot, Captain Walker, stayed for a while, but eventually left to find help in 1990-something, as shown in the film. While that last number is obscured, and speculation ranges from 1990 to 1999, it doesn’t really matter as we know from Miller himself that there’s a 15 year span between The Road Warrior (1988/89) and Beyond Thunderdome (2004/05). None of the dates are even close to 2021.

Mad Max: Fury Road (2015)
Now if you want to get really crazy with the timeline, let’s look at Fury Road. The comics say that Fury Road happened after Thunderdome, but some fans speculate that it couldn’t have happened then because we still see Max with his black-on-black Interceptor, which he lost in The Road Warrior. That, added with the fact that Tom Hardy is clearly not as old as Max would have been post-Thunderdome, leads many to believe that Fury Road is a prequel to The Road Warrior. That’s a tough sell, though, considering the changes that Interceptor went through in Fury Road. Don’t even get me started on the theories that Tom Hardy and Mel Gibson play completely different Maxes, and there are multiple Interceptors.

Anyway, the fact is, the Mad Max timeline may be as fractured and broken as its world, but it’s not broken enough to be extended all the way up to 2021. So accept the facts, kids: your meme is wrong.

And next time you see one of these memes claiming that Mad Max took place this year, throw down your “Aaaacccttuuuuuaaaaallllyy” card and link them to this article. We have your back on this one.

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    Shawn has been infatuated with the post-apocalyptic genre since he wore out his horribly American-dubbed VHS of the original Mad Max as a child. Shawn is the former Editor-in-Chief at, creator of the Aftermath post-apocalyptic immersion event, and author of "AI For All," a guide to navigating this strange new world of artificial intelligence.
    He currently resides on top of a mountain in the middle of nowhere with his wife and four children.

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