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The Entire Dune Timeline Explained

Contains spoilers for "Dune: Part Two"

"Dune: Part Two" has finally arrived, concluding Denis Villeneuve's ambitious two-part adaptation of Frank Herbert's first "Dune" novel. The sprawling epic of Paul Atreides' (Timothée Chalamet) quest to free the people of Arrakis from the brutal rule of the Harkonnens, while avenging his slain father (Oscar Isaac), has taken audiences across time and space, reflecting a scope arguably not seen since Peter Jackson's original "The Lord of the Rings" trilogy.

These are BIG movies — so big that you might be wondering when the best time is to use the bathroom. As such, they can be a bit difficult to digest upon first viewing. As you attempt to decipher all the new names, places, mind-bending concepts, and other small details you missed, you might not be able to keep track of where — or when — you are. Fortunately, Xoop has you covered, as we've compiled a near-exhaustive list of everything that's happened so far in Villeneuve's version of the "Dune" universe. But be warned: we almost immediately have to spoil one of the biggest twists in the highly anticipated sequel. If you haven't yet made it back to Arrakis for the second film, you'd best click away now.

House Harkonnen is given the planet Arrakis (around or before 10,150)

Several decades before the first "Dune," Emperor Shaddam Corrino IV (Christopher Walken) charges the ruthless members of House Harkonnen — led by Baron Vladimir Harkonnen (Stellan Skarsgård) — with maintaining the production of the valuable resource known as spice that's found only on Arrakis, a vast desert planet inhabited primarily by large sandworms and a proud, rebellious people called the Fremen. Though this station makes them unimaginably rich and politically dominant, their brutal occupation of the planet puts them in conflict with the formidable Fremen military, resulting in years of costly asymmetrical guerilla warfare.

During the opening moments of "Dune: Part One," Chani (Zendaya) narrates that the Harkonnens arrived on Arrakis long before she was born (which, in the books, is somewhere between 10,174 and 10,177, depending on who's writing). Paul Atreides (Timothée Chalamet) reiterates this in "Dune: Part Two," though he states that the Fremen have only been fighting the Harkonnens "for decades." This likely means that their arrival on Arrakis took place after 10,100, with the books detailing instances of Harkonnen-Fremen violence as early as 10,150.

Baron Vladimir Harkonnen sires a daughter, Lady Jessica (c. 10,154)

"Dune: Part Two" boasts an "Empire Strikes Back"-like twist: Paul and Lady Jessica (Rebecca Ferguson) are actually part of the twisted Harkonnen bloodline. This is because more than 30 years before "Dune: Part One," Baron Harkonnen and an unknown mate gave birth to Jessica (in the appendices of the "Dune" novel, it is stated that Jessica was born in the year 10,154, which would make her 37 years old during the events of "Dune: Part One").

In the prequel series of "Dune" books (which were not written by Frank Herbert, but rather his son Brian and sci-fi novelist Kevin J. Anderson), it is revealed that Jessica's mother is none other than Gaius Helen Mohiam, the Reverend Mother of the Bene Gesserit, played by Charlotte Rampling in the films. It's a rather bleak and disturbing plotline that we won't get into here, partly because it may or may not be canon in the film universe (depending on whether the filmmakers are open to ideas coming from outside the original series). That said, Brian Herbert insists that his father outlined Jessica's parentage before his death in 1986.

Lady Jessica and Duke Leto fall in love and have Paul (c. 10,175)

As part of the Bene Gesserit's strict and highly calculated breeding plans, Jessica is tasked with conceiving a female child with Duke Leto Atreides (Oscar Isaac), future ruler of the planet Caladan and leader of the powerful House Atreides. The ultimate goal is for Jessica and Leto's prospective daughter to marry a son from House Harkonnen, ending the bitter feud between the houses for good. This couple would then sire a son who would become both the Padishah Emperor and the omniscient messianic figure known as the Kwisatz Haderach (he'd also be carefully groomed by the Bene Gesserit, promising unique advantages to the secretive order).

Because this union is strictly designed for the purposes of producing offspring for prophecies and/or politics, Leto opts not to marry Jessica so that he can still wed a more politically advantageous partner down the road. But Jessica and Leto fall in love and she ultimately becomes pregnant with a baby boy, much to the dismay of the Bene Gesserit. Leto, on the other hand, is overjoyed to sire an heir and continue his bloodline. Around the year 10,175, Paul Atreides is born — placing him in his mid-to-late teens by the start of "Dune: Part One." At this point, however, neither Leto nor Jessica are aware that their union has intertwined the Houses Harkonnen and Atreides, producing a child with a lineage as powerful as it is volatile.

Emperor Shaddam IV gives Arrakis from the Harkonnens to the Atreides (10,191)

In a not-so-subtle start to a callous political power play, Emperor Shaddam IV suddenly orders House Harkonnen to leave Arrakis, and subsequently transfers their power to House Atreides. Baron Harkonnen understands that this is only a temporary measure to instigate the swift defeat of the largest threat to his and the Emperor's power, while Leto himself is suspicious of the "gift" even as he accepts this ostensibly powerful position. The strongest motivation for the latter to accept this station (beyond the compulsory nature of an imperial command) is his desire to forge a lasting peace with the Fremen.

The first phase of this transfer of power is the dispatching of an advance military team meant to secure the planet for the arrival of House Atreides. Among the advance team is Duncan Idaho (Jason Momoa), a swashbuckling weapons master and close friend and mentor to Paul. Having experienced vivid dreams of Duncan being slain on Arrakis, Paul begs Duncan to bring him to the planet as well, but Duncan refuses.

Already on Arrakis is imperial planetologist Dr. Liet-Kynes (Sharon Duncan-Brewster), who has spent several years developing a relationship with the Fremen. Leto is told that Dr. Kynes will oversee the transition of power from House Harkonnen to House Atreides.

Paul Atreides takes the Gom Jabbar test

Despite their fury at his birth, the Bene Gesserit have all but resigned themselves to accept Paul as the potential Kwisatz Haderach. Before they can even entertain him as their savior-slash-ward, however, Reverend Mother Mohiam needs to perform the so-called "Test of Humanity," a sacred rite in which the outcome can only be life or certain death.

In a dark room, Paul is instructed to place his hand in a box, knowing that it will cause him immense and indescribable pain. Should he recoil and attempt to remove his hand from the box, Mohiam will prick his neck with a poisonous needle referred to as a Gom Jabbar. Paul manages to withstand the agony for the full duration of the test, instantly earning the attention of the Bene Gesserit. Around this time, he also begins having visions of a young, blue-eyed woman on Arrakis.

Unbeknownst to Paul and his mother, Mohiam is in league with the Harkonnens and is fully aware of their impending coup attempt. As a result of Paul's performance during the test, she asks Baron Harkonnen to spare him and Jessica in the coming assault. The Baron agrees, albeit dubiously — and with his own plan to leave them for dead anyway.

House Atreides arrives on Arrakis

With everything finally in order, the Atreides make their way to Arrakis. But Duke Leto's aspirations for progress and prosperity are quickly doused by the state of their gear, which has been sabotaged almost beyond repair by the Harkonnens.

Leto arranges for himself, Paul, and Paul's other mentor, Gurney Halleck (Josh Brolin), to meet with Dr. Kynes and Duncan's Fremen ally Stilgar (Javier Bardem). Stilgar is the Naib (or leader) of Sietch Tabr, a vibrant, rural Fremen community far from the Atreides' new home in the planet's capital, Arrakeen.

The group ventures out to a spice-mining operation, where they witness faulty equipment that is unable to extract workers before a sandworm attack. Though they narrowly escape, Leto starts to suspect that his team is being set up to fail. Tensions reach a new peak when Paul is nearly assassinated by a rogue Harkonnen agent not long afterward.

House Atreides is betrayed as the Harkonnens attack

Increasingly certain that Emperor Shaddam is plotting against him, Duke Leto begs Lady Jessica — and, by extension, the Bene Gesserit — to protect Paul if he dies. We should note here that, before or around this time, Leto has unknowingly impregnated Jessica with a second child.

Leto's worst fears about the Harkonnens are realized that night, when he is betrayed by Dr. Wellington Yueh (Chang Chen), the family physician whose wife is being held and tortured by the Harkonnens. Having immobilized Leto's body with a paralytic, Yueh plans to deliver him to Baron Harkonnen in exchange for his wife's safety — though he replaces one of Leto's teeth with a poisonous capsule, granting Leto the chance to enact vengeance against the Baron by way of murder-suicide.

Meanwhile, the Harkonnen's forces — led by the Baron's nephew, Count Glossu Rabban (Dave Bautista), and aided by the Emperor's personal troops (called Sardaukar) — descend upon Arrakeen, slaughtering most of the opposing guard and capturing Paul and Lady Jessica.

Duke Leto attempts to assassinate Baron Harkonnen

Dr. Yueh and Duke Leto are taken to see Baron Harkonnen, where Leto is stripped and positioned for slaughter in front of the Baron. Before any blood is spilt, Yueh demands that Baron Harkonnen fulfill his end of their agreement by reuniting him with his wife. In a predictably cruel twist, the Baron honors his word by killing Yueh on the spot, as he had also killed Yueh's wife sometime before.

Baron Harkonnen then leans in close to Leto, humiliating him as he prepares to execute his rival. Out of options, Leto bites down on the capsule, filling the room with a faint green gas that penetrates the personal shields worn by the Baron and his staff. Though he is able to survive the assassination attempt by floating himself to the ceiling, Harkonnen's lungs are permanently damaged, and he will require a complex breathing apparatus for the rest of his painful life. Sadly, Leto dies almost instantly after inhaling the gas, as does the Baron's closest advisors — including his personal Mentat, a hyper-intelligent, computer-like humanoid assistant named Piter De Vries (David Dastmalchian).

Paul and Jessica are left to die in the desert

Per his agreement with Reverend Mother Mohiam, Baron Harkonnen had instructed his forces not to outright kill Paul or Lady Jessica. However, he tries to find a loophole in the deal by having the mother and son cast into the desert and left for dead, jeopardizing the Atreides bloodline and the coming of the Kwisatz Haderach.

But during their captive flight above the dunes of Arrakis, Paul manages to use "the Voice" (a Bene Gesserit power that allows the user to give compulsory commands) to have their restraints undone. Jessica slays their captors before she escapes the craft with her son, as the two of them set out to survive the night in the dangerous environment. Fortunately, in addition to giving Leto the poison pill, Dr. Yueh sought to ease his conscience by sneaking supplies into Jessica and Paul's packs before they were taken out to the desert.

During their first night in the desert, Paul is awakened by a visceral, spice-induced vision of the future. Enraged, he claims to have seen a vengeful holy war fought in his name, and appears to be somewhat overcome by bloodlust.

Glossu Rabban is appointed Governor of Arrakis

With the coup successfully enacted, Baron Harkonnen begins re-establishing his grip on Arrakis. One of his decisions is bestowing the title of Planetary Governor of Arrakis upon his nephew Rabban. Essentially, this grants him near-full control of the planet's mining operations (under the supervision of his uncle, of course), and — most importantly — gives him the responsibility of stomping out any Fremen resistance to the Harkonnens' occupation.

Baron Harkonnen also needs Rabban to ensure that the totality of the Atreides' legions on Arrakis is exterminated, as the Emperor can't risk the other Great Houses learning that he personally aided the Harkonnens' massacre of them. While Rabban is largely successful in this goal, Paul, Jessica, Duncan, and Gurney have all managed to escape the fighting for now (as revealed later, Gurney is entirely on his own, and eventually unites with a group of roving smugglers to survive).

Paul and Jessica are rescued by Duncan and Dr. Kynes

In the desert, Paul and Jessica are rescued by Duncan and Dr. Kynes, both of them uniquely familiar with the dunes of Arrakis. The four of them regroup at a small shelter, where they evaluate the dire consequences of what the Emperor and the Harkonnens have started.

Ever the diplomat, Paul vows to survive so that he can bring this betrayal to light and avenge his father's death, but also states that he will marry the Emperor's daughter, Princess Irulan Corrino (Florence Pugh's character in "Dune: Part Two") as a means of ensuring peace between the two houses. He also figures that the Great Houses will be so outraged by the Emperor's brazen assassination of their family that a chaotic power struggle will ensue unless what remains of House Atreides unites with House Corrino for a decisive new regime.

Just as they catch their breath, the Sardaukar discover their hiding spot and attack. Desperate to help Paul escape, Duncan places himself between the fighters and his former ward — bringing to life the exact vision of his death Paul had before they left for Arrakis. Though he and his mother flee, Dr. Kynes is left behind — but before she can be assassinated as a witness, she calls a sandworm to swallow the entirety of the Sardaukar squad along with herself.

Stilgar and the Fremen take Paul and Jessica captive

While fleeing from the Sardaukar through the endless desert, Paul and his mother encounter Stilgar with a small group of Fremen fighters (called "Fedaykin"). Lady Jessica begs them for help escaping the planet, but Stilgar refuses.

Seeing as their family, power, and spice operation are all in shambles, Stilgar agrees to adopt Paul and teach him the ways of the Fremen, but decides Jessica is only useful as a source of water. Paul fights and kills a skilled Fedaykin named Jamis (Babs Olusanmokun) in ritual combat to earn his and his mother's life, unwittingly fueling Stilgar's growing belief that Paul is a prophetic religious figure known as the Lisan al Gaib. During this encounter, Paul meets the young woman from his visions — a cold Fedaykin named Chani. She shows little interest in him, but is impressed by his fighting abilities.

Stilgar takes Paul and Jessica to Sietch Tabr

Per the terms of his fight with Jamis, Paul and his mother are offered safe passage off Arrakis by Stilgar (the hope being that, once home in Caladan, they can rally their forces and reveal the Emperor's plot). However, Paul refuses this offer — much to Jessica's dismay — and insists that they be taken to Sietch Tabr to live among the Fremen. Seeing as Duke Leto, his father, believed in an everlasting alliance with the Fremen, Paul is determined to see this through and help the people of Arrakis liberate themselves from the grip of the Harkonnens.

This is where "Dune: Part One" begins to bleed into "Dune: Part Two," with one of the biggest timeline-related changes made from the novel. The events of the first book — from House Atreides landing on Arrakis to the climax of the Fremen's battle with the Harkonnens and the Imperium — take place over the course of three years. In Denis Villeneuve's films, all of this happens in the year 10,191, as confirmed in Princess Irulan's diary entry at the opening of "Part Two." Even though there are things that "Dune: Part Two" get totally wrong from the book, this change arguably helps streamline the story.

After a minor scrape with some wandering Harkonnen troops, Paul and Jessica finally arrive at Sietch Tabr. Here, Stilgar shares his suspicions about Paul's sacred destiny with Jessica and makes a weighty request of her.

Jessica becomes the new Reverend Mother of the Fremen

Stilgar informs Jessica that their Reverend Mother (not to be confused with the Bene Gesserit Reverend Mother, Gaius Mohiam) is almost ready to die. As a result, they are in need of a new Reverend Mother to inherit centuries worth of painful memories and guide the spiritual movements of the Fremen. Jessica is hesitant, both because of the agony she will be forced to endure and because she personally knows that the Fremen religion (including Paul's supposed destiny) was largely instilled by the Bene Gesserit. Some of the Fremen — such as Chani and her friend Shishakli (Souheila Yacoub) — sense this as well, renouncing Stilgar's faith as outdated.

Despite her hesitations, Stilgar forces Jessica to undergo the ritual under threat of death. She drinks "the Water of Life" (liquid extracted from a dead sandworm) and survives, which Stilgar believes confirms her and Paul's place in the prophecy. Paul dismisses this, and reveals that the Bene Gesserit have trained to survive such trials for centuries. He renounces the prophecy and asks to be trained in the ways of the Fremen — not as a leader, but as a fighter — so that he can be part of their liberation. This earns him Chani's respect.

As Jessica recovers, she begins to behave strangely. This is due in large part to the elixir awakening the consciousness of her unborn baby (voiced by Anya Taylor-Joy), who begins advising Jessica on how to help Paul rise as the Lisan al Gaib.

Paul earns his place among the Fremen

While Jessica embraces the messianic religion of the Lisan al Gaib (holding services for believers and beginning to convert non-believers gradually), Paul sincerely tries to become one with the Fremen. He risks his life to help them disrupt the Harkonnens' mining operations, survives on his own in the desert, learns their language and the ways of the Fedaykin, and even succeeds in riding a great, grandfather sandworm.

As a consequence of his genuine effort and skills, Paul is fully embraced by the Fremen — believers and non-believers alike. Stilgar grants him the Fremen name "Usul," which loosely translates to "strong" in the Fremen language (this is essentially a first name for the Fremen to use when referring to Paul). Paul is then asked to choose a Fedaykin warrior name to be used in combat — he chooses "Muad'Dib," the name of a mouse-like creature that scurries in the sand throughout the movie.

The Fremen embrace the newly christened Paul Usul Muad'Dib one by one, with Chani lingering longer than the rest. Not long after, they share a kiss and begin a romantic relationship.

Baron Harkonnen gives the governorship to Feyd-Rautha

Paul and the rest of the Fedaykin continue to devastate the Harkonnen spice-mining operation, leading Rabban to grow more erratic and less respected among his subordinates. This eventually leads Baron Harkonnen to lose faith in him, and he begins looking at another relative to be his successor — his other nephew, Feyd-Rautha Harkonnen (Austin Butler).

The Bene Gesserit are also watching Feyd very closely. As they presently believe Paul to be dead, they begin the process of vetting Feyd as the new Kwisatz Haderach. Reverend Mother Mohiam sends Lady Margot Fenring (Léa Seydoux) to the Harkonnen homeworld of Giedi Prime, where she personally witnesses Feyd viciously slay three large men on his own (as part of a celebratory gladiator contest in honor of his birthday).

The Baron grants Feyd the title of Planetary Governor of Arrakis, after which he encounters Margot. She brings Feyd into a secluded chamber where they perform the Gom Jabbar Test of Humanity and subsequently conceive a child (all according to the machinations of Mohiam).

Paul reunites with Gurney Halleck

During a raid of a spice-mining vehicle, Paul reunites with Gurney Halleck. Since the coup at Arrakeen, Gurney has been secretly living and working with a crew of spice smugglers unaffiliated with the Harkonnens, hoping to take revenge on the Baron, Rabban, and their minions. Paul welcomes Gurney into the Fremen tribe, though Chani is skeptical of how this old friend might affect her new lover.

Paul has been having dreams in which he voyages southward, toward the more religiously inclined Fremen fundamentalists. In these dreams, he sees himself leading a fanatical army of believers into a genocidal holy war, which ultimately results in the death of Chani. As a consequence, Paul refuses to venture to the south of Arrakis, even as his mother does so in an attempt to rally more believers behind the prophecy. Though Chani is unconvinced that the man she loves could be capable of what he sees in his dreams, she grows concerned that Gurney's vengeful ambitions could influence him.

This fear is exacerbated by the revelation that Duke Leto had the nuclear stockpile of House Atreides safely hidden on Arrakis. Gurney leads Paul and the Fremen there and urges him to use the firepower to liberate the Fremen and destroy the Harkonnens.

Feyd-Rautha destroys Sietch Tabr

Feyd-Rautha arrives on Arrakis and takes command of the Harkonnen counter-insurgency operation, overpowering Rabban and forcing him to kiss his boots. Feyd's strategy for conquest is even more brutal than that of his predecessor, and he almost immediately launches a full-scale fire-bombing attack on Sietch Tabr, slaughtering its inhabitants. Shishakli is taken captive but refuses to provide any information about the Fremen's movements. Feyd, relatively unbothered, sets her on fire.

Paul, Stilgar, Chani, and a majority of the Fedaykin are away at the time of the attack, and arrive home to find corpses and destruction. Enraged and distraught, the Fremen organize to travel southward and join forces with the rest of their people. Paul initially tries to stay behind on his own, still afraid that the journey will set his terrible visions in motion. Chani quells his fears and convinces him to join her in the south.

Paul drinks the Water of Life and embraces his destiny

In the south, Jessica (at the behest of her unborn daughter) plots to have Paul ingest the Water of Life. It is commonly known that the ritual is fatal to males, but Jessica believes Paul is destined to survive anyway. Once he arrives, Paul feels the responsibility to drink and does so, rendering him unconscious. A furious Chani finds him comatose, and lashes out at Stilgar and Jessica for using him as an instrument in their misguided faith.

Jessica, however, believes Chani to be an important part of the prophecy as well. She uses the Voice to command Chani to weep tears onto Paul — and when she does, Paul instantly recovers from his coma, effectively confirming the veracity of the prophecy for almost everyone who witnesses.

Paul experiences an influx of revelations, including that he and his mother are Harkonnens themselves. He now believes he must lead the Fremen against the Harkonnens and the Imperium, and presents himself to the Fremen as the Lisan al Gaib. They embrace him as their leader and prepare for war.

Paul baits Emperor Shaddam into conflict on Arrakis

After months of speculation over whether or not he's still alive, Paul sends a letter to the Emperor, confirming that he has survived the coup and challenging him to ritual combat on Arrakis. The Emperor agrees, traveling to the planet with a mighty force of Sardaukar troops. Upon arrival, he meets with the Harkonnens and chastises them for not dealing with Paul and his mother.

During their conversation on the Emperor's spacecraft, Paul ambushes their forces and launches a missile strike. The Harkonnens and the Sardaukar are overwhelmed by the Fremen's military might, which includes the Atreides' nukes and a fleet of trained sandworms. Paul has also strategically chosen to strike during a nasty sandstorm, which neither the Harkonnens nor the Emperor know how to properly deal with. In the midst of the ensuing military battle, Gurney corners Rabban and slays him in man-to-man combat.

Paul and Feyd-Rautha duel for the fate of the planet

Paul and his forces enter the Emperor's spacecraft, greatly outnumbering the remaining troops onboard. During the battle, Baron Harkonnen's breathing apparatus was damaged — and yet, he attempts to crawl his way up to the briefly vacant Golden Lion Throne of Emperor Shaddam. When Paul arrives and witnesses this, he easily ascends the steps and plunges a blade into the Baron, revealing to his defeated foe in his dying moments that he has been murdered by his own grandson.

Paul then challenges the Emperor for the throne, but the Emperor chooses a champion to fight in his place, as is his right. Of course, Shaddam enlists the help of Feyd-Rautha. During their duel, Paul and Feyd are relatively evenly matched, though Feyd often gains the upper hand through particularly vicious means. He taunts Paul by insinuating that he means to harm Chani after killing him, then successfully stabs Paul in the gut.

Before Feyd can land the killing blow, however, Paul intercepts Feyd's knife with his bare hands. While Feyd is momentarily distracted trying to force the knife into Paul, Paul removes the other knife from his gut and stabs Feyd with it, killing him.

The Great Houses refuse to acknowledge Paul as Emperor

Paul has killed the Emperor's champion and earned the right to ascend as his replacement. But before he can execute Shaddam, Princess Irulan asks that Paul spare her father. In return, she will be his willing bride, and the two can end the coming conflict before it begins. Paul agrees, upsetting Chani by both betraying her heart and giving in to his newfound desire for power. The room, Shaddam and Irulan included, bow to Paul — Chani, however, refuses to do so.

Meanwhile, ships from the other Great Houses have arrived in orbit above Arrakis, aware that an existential conflict is taking place. Gurney stops them from interrupting Paul and Feyd's duel by threatening to nuke Arrakis' spice fields if they do. However, even though Paul has successfully defeated the Emperor, the Great Houses refuse to acknowledge him as their ruler. As Chani flees the area and calls a sandworm, Paul commands his forces to launch an all-out attack on the other Houses, potentially starting the very holy war he once sought to avoid.

In the books, there is a 12-year time-jump from this moment at the end of "Dune" to its sequel, "Dune Messiah." As the follow-up confirms, Paul indeed leads a holy war against his enemies, becoming the most powerful Emperor in history and the commander of the most violent army the universe has ever known.