When Does Succession Take Place? Season 4 Timeline Explained

The Succession timeline doesn't make perfect sense but viewers have been left with some clues along the way.

Jeremy Strong, Sarah Snook, and Kieran Culkin in Succession season 4
Photo: Claudette Barius | HBO

This article contains spoilers through Succession season 4 episode 4.

As HBO’s Succession starts to round the corner and get to the finish line of its legendary four-season run, fans are wondering how everything is going to end for the Roy clan. Part of understanding the end of the story is to piece together the puzzle of how much time we’ve spent with the rich, yet dysfunctional misfits that run Waystar Royco. The show started in 2018, but that doesn’t mean five years have passed in the story’s universe. Often the in-universe timeline for our favorite shows is much more methodical than in real life, leading to some confusion over how long it takes for the events on-screen to coalesce. 

That’s where we come in. We’ll try to go season-by-season to draw some conclusions about the passage of time from the pilot episode of Succession all the way to the series finale!

Succession Season 1 Timeline

The show starts on Logan Roy’s (Brian Cox) 80th birthday. He has another birthday party in the fourth season, but we don’t know whether that means it’s only been one year or more since his last birthday. We don’t really have any other landmark moments that are clues within the first season to help us understand how long these initial 10 episodes have lasted in the Succession universe. The season ends with Kendall (Jeremy Strong) accidentally killing a waiter at Shiv (Sarah Snook) and Tom’s (Matthew Macfadyen) wedding. The writers don’t give us an indication of what month the wedding takes place, which would be a key instrument in deciphering the timeline after the first season. 

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Succession Season 2 and Season 3 Timeline

Unlike other shows where there are large gaps in the timeline between seasons of a show, Succession typically features small amounts of time pass between finales and the subsequent premieres. The second season of the show starts only two days after Tom and Shiv’s wedding. Much of the second season is taken up by Logan trying to acquire PGM (Pierce Global Media). There are no concrete moments that indicate how long this negotiating process took place throughout the 10 episodes. 

There’s an even shorter gap between the second season finale and the third season premiere than the one between season one and season two. Kendall has just completed his bombshell announcement blaming Logan for the sexual misconduct on Waystar’s cruise lines, and the third season shows the immediate reaction of Logan to the events of the press conference. Much of the third season covers the feud between Kendall and Logan and the introduction of tech billionaire Lukas Matsson (Alexander Skarsgård) into the fold of the family business. Kendall has a 40th birthday party in the seventh episode, but we don’t know his birth year and there are no other references to his age in the show, making this otherwise vital detail irrelevant in our quest for timeline accuracy. The season ends at Caroline Roy’s (Harriet Walter) wedding in Italy

Succession Season 4 Timeline

We don’t know for sure how long the break between the third season finale and the fourth season premiere is. The most accurate conclusion we can take is that it has been a few months since the trip to Italy for the Roy matriarch’s wedding. The biggest clue towards this estimate has to do with the revelation that Shiv is pregnant with Tom’s baby, something that was revealed in the fourth episode of the season, “Honeymoon States.” Since Shiv wasn’t pregnant at any time during the third season, it might be assumed that she conceived with Tom during the trip to Italy. 

Shiv schedules her 20 week appointment with her doctor to check on the baby, meaning we aren’t yet to five months since the third season finale, but we may be approaching it. Considering the rough patch the Roy kids were going through with their father in the meantime and the plan they put together for their own media conglomerate, it would seem a few months is accurate. 

Now this is where it becomes really easy to see how long the fourth season has been going on. Actors Brian Cox and Arian Moayed both have said that each episode of the fourth season has taken place in a single day. It may seem crazy to see the Roy children negotiate with Pierce, hear about their father’s death, go to his wake, and then travel to Europe all in the span of five days, but it seems all but officially confirmed that this is the case.

The Key to the Timeline: Connor Roy’s Interest in Politics From a Very Young Age

The final factor that gives us the clearest indicator of the timeline is Connor’s (Alan Ruck) run for the office of President of the United States. The Conheads are well aware that Connor has been on this election quest for almost the entirety of the show. He also alluded to the presidential election being imminent in the first episode of the season (10 days away). 

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If said election is referencing the 2020 election, and the show started in 2018, our estimate is that the show has taken place in less than three years of in-universe time. This would be similar to the way Breaking Bad only took place across two years, yet the show ran for five years in real life. It certainly looks like the Roys have led incredibly busy lives for the last two years! That’s the sign of a great show: quality over quantity is almost always the correct formula.

New episodes of Succession premiere at 9 p.m. ET on Sundays on HBO.