Westworld began as a film in 1973, and three decades later, in 2016, HBO released a show based on the same concept. Three seasons have come out so far, and a fourth is slated to release in 2022. This article will give you a quick and straightforward walkthrough of the storyline and timeline across three seasons in chronological order.
So if you’re fans of the show and have come here, you’re welcome! I’ve just made your life much easier.
Westworld is spread across three timelines that include 2015 – 2018 (Before Westworld began), 2022 – 2051 (During Westworld), and 2052 (The Present Day).
Before we start, here’s a suggestion. First, watch all three seasons before you read this since it contains spoilers for all three seasons. Moreover, only if you’ve watched the complete show will you be able to fully understand how the different pieces fall in one chronological timeline!
So I’ve broken down the timeline into three broad sections, and I’ll explain the events of each of those sections quite briefly without going into too many details so that you’re not overwhelmed!
Alright, It’s time to put away all your distractions, switch off that TV set, get away from people because this is going to be wild!
Before The Westworld (2015 – 2018)
Arnold Weber and Robert Ford are two geniuses creating an R-rated Disneyland called the Westworld. The idea is to create life-like robots known as hosts in a setting like the Wild Wild West where people can come, interact with these hosts, and live their fantasies (Quite literally!)
Arnold and Robert organize a small demo with these hosts at an event for potential investor Logan Delo and his friend William, who is dating Logan’s sister – Juliet.
These hosts can be programmed any way Arnold and Robert want, and their systems are fed individual narratives such as being a devoted daughter, a doomed lover, etc., and they each are given a sense of purpose in the Westworld.
Arnold creates the first host called Dolores, forms a sort of emotional bond, and identifies her like his own son, who was ill and later died.
Call it bias or humanity, Arnold slowly realizes that these hosts are more like humans than they can imagine. Their feelings, emotions, and reaction to events, trauma, etc., are pretty close to being real.
As a result, Arnold starts having these one-on-one sessions with Dolores to understand her more deeply and wants to see if he can make her realize who she really is and what her place in the Westworld is.
So Arnold gets the idea from a toy maze that his son used to play with. He incorporates the maze concept into Dolores’ narrative such that each experience she has or choice she makes will take her closer to the center of the maze. In season 1, Dolores finds the toy maze buried under her tombstone.
This means that she is capable of self-awareness and has a consciousness of her own which means that the things she now feels are as real as what any other human would feel.
Arnold, due to this, believes that putting these hosts in the Westworld and opening the park to the real world would be inhuman because they will be creating real suffering.
So Arnold takes a violent character Wyatt, uploads his characteristics into Dolores, and instructs her along with Teddy, her lover, to kill all the hosts, then themselves, and then Arnold. This way, the park will never open to the public.
Akecheta is another host who reaches the Escalante after the massacre and finds the toy maze. He starts trying to decipher what it means, but before he could get any further, his memory is erased, and he’s reprogrammed to become the leader of a violent group called the Ghost Nation.
And with this, we’ve completed our first block of the timeline. Congratulations to you too! Take a breather because the next block of the timeline will be a long one, and there’s a lot that happens there!
During The Westworld (2022 – 2051)
1. 2022 – 2032
Even after Arnold’s death, Robert Ford still manages to open the park. He buries Escalante, where the entire massacre happened, under the sand, and Westworld is open for business! This happens a little after 2018, say around 2019 or 2020.
Three primary storylines take place during and after 2022. William’s, Akecheta’s, and Dolores’.
Ford and Dolores create a replica of Arnold Weber and names it Bernard Lowe, an anagram for his actual name. Ford takes her help because only she knew him as much as Ford. Once thoroughly tested by Dolores in the cradle, Bernard starts creating more hosts and is much better than the rest. His hosts resemble humans and their innate abilities more than the others’ hosts.
Sometime later, Dolores goes through her usual narrative to go through a traumatic, violent setup. Teddy, who is usually there, is hung up with another quest with a few guests. This sort of triggers Dolores and starts to bring back memories.
Meanwhile, Logan, who has come to the park a few times, brings William with him for the first time, who is now engaged to Juliet. Here’s where Dolores bumps into the two men. They take her along in the quest, and midway William and Dolores fall for each other and split from Logan to help Dolores find Escalante.
Logan, who catches up to them, kills Dolores to show William that she is not real, and this affects him so much that he starts killing off any and every host he sees. Eventually, he bumps into Dolores again, but she doesn’t remember any of the things that happened between them.
This was pretty much the last straw that turned William into The Man In Black. He seems to have this moment of higher understanding of the self and the place.
He then punishes Logan by stripping him naked, tying him to a horse and setting it off. Finally, Logan reaches a tree, and while he’s there, Akecheta finds him. Logan keeps saying that this world is wrong and that once again triggers Akecheta.
This is where Akecheta’s storyline comes to the forefront. Sometime later, he rides to the park’s boundaries and sees that something is being constructed. It dawns upon him that there’s a whole new world out there, and this is almost like a false or artificial one. So he goes back for his wife, and when they try to escape, his wife is captured by the guards, and she is then taken to the storage.
Meanwhile, William keeps coming back into the park, and on one occasion, he speaks to James Delos, his future father-in-law, and tells him that this place is priceless because it can be more than just an R-rated fantasyland. This can be a place that can show who people truly are.
Thus William becomes the principal investor trying to make something out of the park and, in the process, find himself. Furthermore, in the next few years, William marries Juliet and even has a child called Emily.
As the circumstances unfold and years pass, William’s father-in-law, James, falls sick, and William gets the idea of building a replica host that can store the consciousness of James. He then starts visiting the Jim-bot to observe and test the progress, but it’s not ready yet, and there are glitches to be fixed. This stage happens somewhere around 2026.
2. 2032 – 2042
After a few more years in 2032 (approximately), William’s path once again crosses with Dolores, and he shows him some mining equipment. More on that later.
Meanwhile, for ten years, Akecheta roams the Westworld, trying to find his wife. Only after a decade, he realizes that the only way to find his wife is to get out of here, and so he gets himself shot. When he’s taken to the Mesa hub and left to be updated, he finds his wife, and he tries to talk to her and wake her up. But she doesn’t cause she’s in sleep mode.
Here’s where he realizes what a sham it has all been and how all of this is merely a false world created by men. So, going back to the park, he decides to alert all hosts of Ghost Nation who form this secret movement by having the maze symbol under their scalp.
We see a new character named Serac, and it is established that to build a new project, William had sold some data to Serac about 20 years ago. So this could be the project William was showing Dolores.
In about 2040, William once again visits the Jim-bot, and this time he is in a much better state than previously, but there’s still time for him to go out into the so-called ‘real’ world.
3. 2042 – 2051
Caleb served in the military during the Russian military war from 2042 to 2048, where he fractured his skull and lost his friend Francis. During this time, Caleb was in the park because it was one of the places where the US military trained, and this where Caleb’s and Dolores’ paths cross for a brief period.
In 2051 we see William, who is now become the Man In Black. His wife came to know of his deeds thanks to Logan and some of the video files she got, and with increasingly bad mental health, alcoholism, and constantly living in fear of her husband, she kills herself.
Post this, the ties between William and his daughter Emily are strained too! However, before killing herself, Juliet keeps William’s park card in Emily’s music box, hoping she’d find it.
After Juliet’s death, William goes to the park to see if he can feel anything and kills a host named Maeve’s daughter, but can still feel nothing but is astounded at how deeply she feels the sorrow and pain.
William also visits Jim-bot, who wants to leave, and during this conversation, William realizes the mistake of keeping someone alive even consciousness-wise for eternity was a mistake.
He also informs him about how his daughter Juliet suicided by OD-ing and how his son Logan died because of OD-ing. James gets enraged, and so William, aka Man In Black, instructs the lab technicians to let Jim-bot degrade for a couple of days.
Ford also notices how Maeve reacts and reprograms her to become the Brothel Madame. He also meets Akecheta and realizes how much self-aware and cognizant he’s become without many triggers.
Ford has this masterplan, of getting the hosts to revolt against the creators of Westworld, and hence he sends Dolores on a self-discovering journey just like before. He also tells Akecheta that when Dolores comes for Ford, it’ll be a sign for Akecheta to enter the new world with his people.
Right, I think this would’ve exhausted you a tad bit more than the previous timeline. So take 2 seconds, but don’t get tired yet, cause shit’s about to go down in the present day!
The Present Day And After (2052 – Far Far Future)
Ford’s master plan involved the hosts’ uprising and controlling the Westworld even after he’s dead.
So he triggers the cognizance of the hosts, and a chain reaction starts once Dolores’ father finds a picture of Juliet. This was dropped decades ago when William was in the park. This triggers him, and he thus stirs Dolores, Maeve, who in turn, make the others cognizant as well.
In the events that lead up, Dolores kills Ford and other board members in the same style she killed Arnold.
Meanwhile, Maeve is becoming more conscious and, through a series of events, gets the failsafe explosive planted on her spine removed by tricking a couple of lab technicians and then sets off on her quest to find her daughter, who the Man In Black killed.
Now, while all of these things are happening, there’s another subplot of Theresa Cullen and Charlotte Hale working together to take away control of the park from Ford.
They both try to smuggle IP so that they have something when Ford is in ‘retirement.’ However, Ford’s best puppet, Bernard, kills Theresa, making it look like a theft activity under Ford’s commands.
Later, Bernard realizes who he really is, everything that has happened with Arnold and himself, and wants to free up the hosts. Ford plans on the same, but he says that they need to suffer more.
Here’s where there are four broad storylines that you need to focus on. They follow Dolores, Bernard, Maeve, and The Man In Black.
Along with their group of hosts, Dolores and Teddy try to reach The Valley Beyond, where they’ll find a weapon that can destroy humans. This could be the mining equipment that William showed her all those years ago. However, their plans take a detour when her father gets captured by Charlotte so that she can extract the IP in his head.
On the other hand, Bernard crosses paths with Charlotte for some time before she captures Dolores’ father, Peter, and then ends up meeting Elise whom he thought he’d killed on Ford’s orders after she came to know of Theresa’s plans of eliminating Ford.
He then finds out that he was responsible for several other host deaths and also that he had created another host with human consciousness but doesn’t remember which one it is.
By now, Maeve has gotten a group of hosts for her own mission to find her daughter. She ends up in the Shogun world, which has Shogun versions of herself and some of her crew members. As the story develops, she convinces them to join the group as well.
Finally, when she does meet her daughter, she sees that her daughter already has Maeve 2.0 as her mother and doesn’t remember her at all.
The Man In Black vows to rectify his past deeds and wants to search for the weapon too so that he can put an end to all of this and burn the Westworld. However, his daughter somehow finds him and wants to rekindle a relationship with him. Though he agrees to come home, he leaves with all his belongings the next day itself.
Now, Bernard goes back to the Cradle to find out about the consciousness host he had created and the code controlling the park system. As I already hinted earlier, we see the host of Ford there.
Ford still wants to relieve the hosts but wants to make the park for the wealthy who wish to stay here forever. So he takes control of Bernard’s mind before leaving. Bernard then shuts down all the park control under Ford’s orders.
However, Bernard is able to get Ford out of his head. He is now worried about Elsie, who confronts Charlotte at the Mesa hub about copying guests’ consciousness, and that’s when Charlotte shoots her. This breaks Bernard, and he decides to switch sides.
Meanwhile, Dolores has successfully removed the drive from her father’s head, held at the Mesa Hub. Then, she and her group destroy the cradle, thus destroying all the host backups and escaping from there.
While this is happening, Maeve ends up crossing paths with The Man In Black, and along with her crew, she tries to kill him, but he is saved just in time as the park’s security team shoots her. Maeve’s daughter is rescued by Ghost Nation and is in their refuge.
She is then taken to the Mesa Hub, where she is treated and crosses paths with Dolores. Dolores decides not to shoot her and let destiny find Maeve or the other way round. Dolores then goes on her way to The Valley Beyond.
While this chaos ensues, Emily once again finds her father and, this time blackmails him by telling him that she has all the video files of his Delo project. William, aka The Man In Black, thinking that she is a host, shoots her only to realize it was her real daughter.
On their way to The Valley beyond, Dolores crosses paths with Ghost Nation, and there’s an all-out battle since the latter don’t want Dolores to use the weapon. In the end, Dolores and Teddy remain, but even Teddy kills himself because he doesn’t like what he’s become.
Dolores then resumes her quests and encounters Bernard and The Man In Black, who tries to shoot her. However, the gun misfires and The Man In Black is left for dead by both Bernard and Dolores.
When the two reach The Valley Beyond, they see a facility with the forge that Dolores wants to destroy. However, Bernard doesn’t want her to and shoots her, but it’s too late by then. She has already activated the flood failsafe, which will flood the entire forge. The forge had all data about consciousness in the machines, which have now been destroyed because of the water.
She does so because she doesn’t think the hosts are prepared for the real world and hence will not survive it. However, according to Ford, there was a thing called The Door, which was essentially a virtual Eden where the hosts could rest in peace in their own heaven. However, only a few make it.
Meanwhile, Ford tells Maeve how she was her favorite and warns her about Charlotte having her host code which they’ve fed into another host called Clementine to destroy all hosts.
Maeve gets back with her crew and daughter, and as they reach the Valley Beyond, Maeve loses some people, and by the time they try to reach Eden, Maeve is killed. Finally, only Akecheta and Maeve’s daughter reach Eden, where Akecheta once again gets together with his wife.
After these events, let’s jump into the next significant ones, which take place two weeks after the Ford shooting incident.
Bernard wakes up on the beach, the security team catches hold of him, and they all try to figure what has happened. They find various drowned hosts in the flooded valley who seem to have unused brain drives, which is rather odd.
After finding Theresa’s blood DNA on the bunker’s wall, they try to find who killed Theresa. They also find a secret door that has several Bernard hosts, but nobody knows who created them. Bernard is then tortured for answers and recounts the events of Dolores flooding the valley.
Bernard tells how the drive is in The Valley Beyond, how he took the drive from Dolores and put it into Charlotte Hale’s host, who killed the real Hale. So now there is a Charlores or Halores, call her what you want, who kills off the security and takes a few pearls (essentially consciousness balls).
On the mainland, where it turns out Ford had built a machine to create more hosts for Dolores, Charlores first creates a host of Dolores in Dolores’ body and then creates Bernard’s host. What we don’t know is whose consciousness is inside the Charlotte Hale body.
Three months later, Dolores is in the real world where she wants to bring down the Incite company headed by Serac by destroying the facility called Rehoboam.
Also, while escaping, Charlores had smuggled 5 pearls, and now three remain. It turns out that all three were Dolores pearls, and she placed them in different hosts from Serac’s team so that they can infiltrate the system.
Dolores plans to relieve all hosts and humans alike so that everyone can live freely. For this, she summons Caleb. It is revealed that Caleb was made to murder his friends Francis and the lawyer for trying to know too much about Incite and Rehoboam. His memory is then modified to make him remember that the lawyer murdered his friend Francis.
When Caleb comes to know this, he is game when it comes to destroying Serac.
However, Serac has his weapons. He gets host Maeve to fight off Dolores, and she is forced to agree because otherwise, Serac will be able to kill her with a device that’s implanted in her body.
While Maeve and Dolores fight, out of nowhere, Charlores kills Dolores because Charlores intends to kill all humans.
Dolores’ data is now being uploaded in Rehoboam. Maeve connects with Dolores through the mind, and the two decide to fight off Serac. They kill all his men and almost kill him too. Finally, they erase all of Rehoboam, and thus their mission is complete.
Just when you think everything is done, The Man In Black, who is still alive, goes through his journey where he encounters Bernard and ends up escaping from him. His newfound mission is to save humanity by killing all hosts.
William, aka The Man In Black, then realizes that he has all park data in his mind tries to reach the Valley Beyond to know what happens when all time ends.
Unknown Timelines And Far Far Future
In the post-credit scene of season 2, we see The Man In Black talk to host Emily, and even The Man seems to be a host. We don’t know when this happens, though.
We see Bernard wake up in a hotel room covered entirely in dust in a far, far future, and he wears a VR headset. It is revealed that a critical event will occur in 2058. Is it that or not? I guess we’ll only have to wait and find out in the upcoming season.
And that’s it, guys! That’s the complete storyline and timeline. Congratulate yourself since you’ve come this far. I wonder what season 4 holds for us, but let’s hope you won’t need another entirely new timeline article!
Westworld is an American science fiction-thriller media franchise that began with the 1973 film Westworld, written and directed by Michael Crichton. The film depicts a technologically advanced Wild-West-themed amusement park populated by androids that malfunction and begin killing the human visitors; it was followed by the sequel film Futureworld (1976).
The franchise moved to television in 1980 with the short-lived series Beyond Westworld on CBS. In 2016 a new television series based on the original film debuted on HBO; the critically acclaimed series has broadcast three seasons, with a fourth in production.