While it was the first story written, The Hard Goodbye was not the first story chronologically, with the first section of That Yellow Bastard as the first. The Dwight-related stories fall in between these, with the short stories fleshing out the time between the main stories. Here is a rough chronology of the "Yarns":
Relatively to Hard Goodbye
- The first section of That Yellow Bastard, wherein Detective John Hartigan rescues little Nancy Callahan from Roark Junior, resulting in Hartigan and Junior winding up in the hospital, occurs at least twelve years before the events of The Hard Goodbye. Hartigan is framed as a child molester and charged with raping Nancy Callahan. He is placed into solitary confinement for eight years. Interesting note, Liebowitz, of Hell and Back beats Hartigan, trying to gain a confession.
- Ava leaves Dwight and marries Damien Lord some time during this, referred to in A Dame To Kill For.
- It's possible that Silent Night occurs during the winter of a year before the Hard Goodbye.
- Hartigan finds the nineteen-year-old Nancy Callahan when he is out on parole. It is also on this night that Dwight goes home with Shellie, and sleeps with her (he is seen whining to Shellie when Hartigan enters ‘Kadie’s’).
- Marv witnesses the reunion of Nancy and Hartigan, as shown in the beginning of Just Another Saturday Night. He then proceeds to a rampage against a gang of bullies.
- The remaining events of That Yellow Bastard play out within the next few hours or so.
- About a year later, Dwight secretly saves Miho from Tong gangsters; revealing this saves him during A Dame to Kill For.
- Three years later, the twins, Goldie and Wendy, take over Old Town. A few weeks later, Ava Lord contacts Dwight and asks to meet him. Ava mentions that it has been about four years since they last saw each other and Dwight agrees. Manute interrupts their meeting. Fearing for her safety, Dwight goes to ‘Kadie’s’ and recruits the help of Marv. Shellie lectures Dwight at having not seen nor heard from him in six months.
- Marv and Dwight attack the home of Damien and Ava Lord. Marv fights Manute, and Manute loses his eye in the process. After Damien is killed, Dwight is taken to Old Town by Marv, badly wounded. Dwight begins to be rehabilitated at this point.
- Gail, Dwight, Miho and Shellie develop a plan to get revenge on Ava Lord. Gail and the others tell Shellie that Dwight is still alive, and brief her on what she should tell the cops. On this same night, Delia (A.K.A. Blue Eyes) is inducted into the service of Wallenquist, placing her in league with the Colonel. Marv is at the bar when Delia sweeps off with her prey, happily resuming his nocturnal drinking habits. Manute is also briefly seen interacting with the Colonel, sporting a neck-brace.
- The events of The Long Bad Night. In one night, Johnny, bastard son of Senator Roark, beats him twice at cards, costing the life of Marcie due to his carelessness and resulting in his own murder by the senator. However, he ensures that the most powerful men in Basin City, all at the card table, know that he was the one who beat the senator twice.
- The events of Nancy's Last Dance. Nancy, driven to alcoholism and near insanity with grief, begins training to kill Senator Roark, though she is begged by the ghost of John Hartigan to cease her vendetta before his sacrifice means nothing. After failing to shoot Roark during a performance at Kadie's, she enlists the help of Marv. Together, they storm the senator's mansion and, with help from the deceased Hartigan, Nancy succeeds in killing him, with Marv wounded when his Uzi backfires.
- One night, Marv meets Goldie at Kadie's. The Hard Goodbye begins with Marv waking and finding Goldie dead.
- In the beginning of Marv’s rampage, he goes to “Kadie’s” to try and draw attention to himself. On the same night, Mort and Bob arrive at 'Kadie’s' (mere seconds after Marv’s arrival) and interview Shellie about Dwight's location following the murder of Damien Lord. She tells them all that briefed her on in Blue Eyes and sends them on their way.
- A few days into Marv’s rampage, Bob (Hartigan's former partner in That Yellow Bastard) is shot dead by his partner Mort, who takes his own life (A Dame to Kill For).
- Less than three months later, Ava and Wallenquist unite their criminal empires. Dwight McCarthy (with a new face), Miho, and Gail raid Ava Lord’s estate, with Manute being gravely injured by both Miho and Dwight. Dwight kills Ava.
- The Babe Wore Red occurs, and in the story, Dwight states that Marv is currently on death row, framed for the deaths of Goldie and several others from The Hard Goodbye.
- Eighteen months after the beginning of The Hard Goodbye, Wendy visits Marv on death row. A day later, he is executed by electric chair, dying on the second attempt as those "pansies" (as he insults them) didn't have enough juice on the first go.
Relatively to Hell and Back
- Blue Eyes occurs during A Hard Goodbye (see above) and certainly before the following.
- Wrong Turn occurs after Blue Eyes, which means after or during A Hard Goodbye (eg. during Marv's rampage, or during his 18-months imprisonment, or even after his death). In the story Delia kills the wrong target. Delia, the Colonel and Gordo dispose of the dead men. Wrong Turn features the first mention of Mariah, who makes her first appearance in Hell and Back.
- Wrong Track occurs shortly after, as Delia tries to kill the real target (on his way back from a delivery).
- Hell and Back occurs after A Dame to Kill For but before The Big Fat Kill, because Manute is sporting a fake eye and is still alive. Wallace saves Esther, but she is captured by the Colonel’s men. During Wallace’s search, he comes in contact with Manute and Delia. Manute, now an enforcer for Wallenquist, helps Delia to manipulate Wallace (ala A Dame to Kill For). Wallace kills Delia and Gordo. Commissioner Liebowitz kills the Colonel. Mariah is inducted into the service of Wallenquist. Wallace and Esther leave Sin City.
- The Big Fat Kill occurs. Miho slaughters Jackie Boy and his friends. Dwight, in an attempt to prevent a mob war, tries to dispose of Jackie Boy. The Old Town girl Becky betrays them to the mob (Wallenquist, represented through Manute) in an attempt to make money and get out of the prostitution game. Manute, embittered by the death of Ava Lord, captures Gail and encourages a trade: Jackie Boy’s head for Gail. Dwight and Miho arrange the trade, but the Old Town girls kill Becky and all of the other mob men. Manute is finally killed during a shoot-out. Wendy is also notably absent from this story, implying she was either still in hiding or otherwise preoccupied at the time, forcing Gail to take command of the girls.
- Family Values takes place not long after, indicated by Dwight making reference to Miho’s previous killing of a cop (“The Big Fat Kill”), as well as his acknowledgement of Fat Man and Little Boy, who he says he shot in the legs last time he saw them (The Babe Wore Red).
Yarns with speculative chronology
The following stories can be determined only rougly.
- Silent Night is sometime before The Hard Goodbye during the winter, as Marv is still quite alive and seen lumbering through one of Basin City's rare snow-storms, but how much long before Goodbye is not determined. Possibly it happens not much earlier than a few years as Marv is not significantly younger; this would place it during the time Hartigan was imprisoned in That Yellow Bastard.
- And Behind Door Number Three... occurs at some point after Marv's capture, most likely after his execution; this is suggested by Wendy's crucifix neck-lace which is similar to Marv's, which perhaps gave to her when she visited him, a day before his execution.
- Fat Man and Little Boy makes a reference to a witness they failed to silence; if this witness is Mary, the story occurs after their appearance in The Babe Wore Red.
- Robert Rodriguez stated that The Customer is Always Right occurs in between "That Yellow Bastard" and "The Hard Goodbye" on the Sin City: Recut and Extended DVD. Edition. However it is unknown where it is placed relatively to "A Dame to Kill for".
Yarns impossible to determine
The short stories Rats and Daddy's Little Girl are impossible to place in the chronology, as they do not contain any of the series' regular characters, are not connected to the other stories, or do not give an idea of when the stories occur.
The Sin City (film) epilogue presents a paradox. It concludes Big Fat Kill and The Salesman of the prologue appears talking to Becky, obviously to assassinate her. Miller has confirmed that The Salesman is the same character as The Colonel, who was already dead by the time of the Big Fat Kill. It is possible that the movie presents a different continuity, where the Colonel is still alive, or The Colonel and The Salesman are different characters.