Devil May Cry timeline explained!! So, how does the story go?!

(The following are my theories and ideas of how the DMC storyline flows and do not reflect those ideas established by Capcom. ~ Brian M. aka “Devildriver1313”)

What’s up, gamers! We are just a few days away from the release of Devil May Cry 5, the fifth and (presumably) final installment in Capcom’s popular hack and slash action game about a Devil hunting half-demon hero battling the forces of darkness. Now we all know the story of Dante, the main protagonist of the series; however, the timeline can be counterintuitive. And Capcom didn’t help things any by changing the established storyline yet again. But, have no fear. Your old pal, Devildriver1313, is here to get you back on track. Using the newly revised timeline, I’ll be guiding you through each continuity of the Devil May Cry series and their supposed placement. This list not only includes the games but also the accompanying manga, light novels and anime series since they are canon and link to the games in some way.

So, let’s rock, baby!

First up is Devil May Cry 3. The third installment of the series is first in the timeline. It centers on a younger Dante starting out in his life as a Devil Hunter. The game introduces us to Lady (who will appear in later titles), Arkham and Vergil, before he becomes corrupted by Mundus. In the game, Dante had to stop his brother and Arkham from linking the Underworld with the Human World by destroying the seal placed by Sparda. Now here’s a little something you probably did not know about DMC 3. Vergil wasn’t supposed to be alive. Yeah, he was supposed to have died prior to the events of the game but series creator Hideki Kamiya gave DMC 3 director Bingo Morihashi the freedom to retcon this and make Vergil into a living teenager for the events of Devil May Cry 3. Also, two volumes of cancelled three-part companion manga were printed and released by Tokyopop that are set one year prior the game’s events. This is confirmed in the beginning of Devil May Cry 3 when the Temen-ni-gru tower appears in the middle of the city and Dante, sensing Vergil’s presence, remarks that it “has been a year since we last met.”

Dante battles Nelo Angelo, the corrupted version of his brother Vergil, in Devil May Cry

While the Devil May Cry 3 manga does give us more in sight into the game, it also makes an unintentional conflict with the second game in the timeline, Devil May Cry. This is the game that started it all and introduced players to Dante, the Devil Hunter. The game opens with Trish making a dynamic entry into Dante’s office and reveals how much she knows about him, stating the he is “the man who lost a brother and a mother to evil twenty years ago.” Keep in mind, Devil May Cry 3 takes place ten years prior to the first game’s events. This should make the statement made by Trish null and void unless Dante was unaware of Vergil’s fate following the attack on his home when he was a child in which his mother was killed, and he simply put those events behind him. Now, let’s get ready to complicate things a little further. Five years after the release of Devil May Cry, Capcom developed two light novels written by Shinya Goikeda, illustrated by Shiro Miwa and published by Kadokawa Shoten. Tokyopop released the English version of both novels. The novels serve as preludes to the first game and the follow up title, Devil May Cry 2. For now, let’s focus on the first novel.

The first Devil May Cry novel is set prior to events of the first game. Yeah, it just got weird, didn’t it? Wait for the explanation. Now I have explained the placement of the novel before. The first novel could be set after Devil May Cry 3 but there are some elements that place or even intertwine with that game’s story. In the story, Dante works as a mercenary for hire under the identity of Tony Redgrave, an identity he takes on to hide himself from the demons of the Underworld. Through the novel’s progression, he even meets a man wrapped in bandages named Gilver, who actually turns out to be Vergil. This sets the novel before even the Devil May Cry 3 manga. Dante and Vergil do meet in the DMC3 manga and neither is surprised about the encounter, addressing each other casually. They even remark about a prior meeting between them. But this isn’t the only clue. Early in the novel, Dante has yet to acquire his signature handguns Ebony and Ivory, which he eventually does. Furthermore, after Dante defeats Vergil in the light novel adaption, the story ends where the first Devil May Cry game begins. Now there is no timeframe given from the end of that climatic battle to the start of the game other than Dante starting a new life in a new city. So, it can be surmised that is when the events of Devil May Cry 3 – both the manga adaption and video game – occur.

With me so far because things are about to get just a little hazier. Some of you may recall the Devil May Cry anime series that came out in 2007. Where does that go one the time line? According to Capcom, the anime series is set after the first game and before the next chronological game. The Devil May Cry anime is a side story that shows Dante hunting demons in the city and surrounding areas. Trish and Lady appear, wearing their original outfits, in the series thus solidifying its place in the game mythos. Also, there is a specific element that confirms another piece of DMC history. In the anime series, Dante returns to a town he used to live in after his mother was killed by demons and the disappearance of his brother. There, he encounters the woman who took care of him at the orphanage and a childhood friend who called him by his alias Tony Redgrave, the very name he used in the Devil May Cry light novel. Dante, wanting to leave that life behind, insists that he is not the person the man thinks he is. The denial is likely due to the terrible memories of the events that occurred in the aforementioned novel. Now, here’s where the monkey wrench comes in. The fourth game, Devil May Cry 4, was listed next in line until the timeline was recently changed again. Capcom now lists Devil May Cry 2 as the next game, where before it was last in chronological order. The change could stem from what we already know about Devil May Cry 5. All the characters are back – Nero, Trish, Lady and Dante. The game is set a decade after the fall of the Order of the Sword and the destruction of the Hell Gates. In the announcement trailer that was revealed at the Game Awards in December, we see Dante return from Hell on his motorcycle. This shows its link to Devil May Cry 2 in which Dante rode a motorcycle into Hell. Given that, the second released game should be last in the timeline, right? Well, it is actually the reason for the change.

In the post-credits scene of Devil May Cry 2, we see Lucia patiently waiting in the Devil May Cry office for Dante to return. Soon, a motorcycle can be heard driving up outside and she rushes out to greet the rider before the scene cuts to black. It is not revealed who arrived outside. One can assume Dante; however, let’s not forget that both Lady and Trish are also biker riders. Trish explodes into the scene on her cycle in Devil May Cry’s opening cinematic and Lady is shown several times on her steel horse in Devil May Cry 3. But, thanks to the rewrite, the assumption shifts back to Dante since Devil May Cry 2 is now set before Devil May Cry 4 and he does appear in the game. It should be noted that as with the first Devil May Cry light novel, the second light novel also connects with Devil May Cry 2. Another reason for the change is the fact that Vergil appears in Devil May Cry 4 as a playable with the proposed story that he once visited Fortuna some time ago. If that is was the case, then how can his visit intertwine with the in-game events. The most likely (and now obvious) reason is the fact Capcom confirmed that Nero is Vergil’s son. Before then, Nero’s lineage to the Sparda bloodline was not made clear.

Think about it for a minute.
Vergil’s corrupted form was known as “Nero Angelo.”

So, what does this mean? It means that there is a lot that needs to be explained. The ten-year gap between the fourth and fifth games should take of that. While the reveal trailer does show Dante speeding into town on his motorcycle, his point of origin is not known so it cannot be assumed that he returned from the Underworld – at least not from his venture into the Underworld from DMC 2. Maybe he did go back after closing the Hell Gates in DMC 4 and had to deal with something that detained him for so long and that he had to leave the fate of his Devil May Cry agency in the hands of Nero. This makes sense considering that Dante entrusted Nero with his brother Vergil’s sword Yamato. So hopefully Devil May Cry 5 will shed more light on the timeline and where it is headed next.

I hope my explanation helped in getting you to better understand the Devil May Cry story and how it all comes together. These are my ideas and theories and in no way reflect those established by Capcom. Also, Ninja Theory’s reboot title DmC: Devil May Cry is not included due to the fact that that game takes place in an alternate timeline completely separate from the original.

So, here is my proposed Devil May Cry timeline:
Devil May Cry light novel (some events link to DMC 1)
Devil May Cry 3 (manga adaption set one year prior to game events)
Devil May Cry
Devil May Cry anime (confirms light novel’s place in timeline)
Devil May Cry 2 light novel (set one year prior to the game)
Devil May Cry 2 (formally final game in timeline)
Devil May Cry 4 (formally occurring before DMC 2)
Devil May Cry 5 (possible finale of series)

Until next time, I’ll see you “On the Next Level!!”

Want to known more or catch up on every game in the series, click the links below!!
Devil May Cry Anthology Pt.1
Devil May Cry Anthology Pt.2
Devil May Cry Anthology Pt.3
Devil May Cry Anthology Pt.4
Devil May Cry Anthology Pt.5
DmC: Devil May Cry Review
Devil May Cry 15th Anniversary

Devil May Cry 5 launches March 8 for PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch and Windows PC.