Spoilers ahead for Veronica Mars Season 4. Hardcore Marshmallows will likely have no problem easing back into the ins and outs of Neptune, California, but the Veronica Mars Season 4 timeline can be a little confusing. Throughout its three seasons, the 2014 movie, and the two books, Veronica Mars rarely mentions actual current events or a date. There are always signs, through the clothes, cell phone models, and pop culture references, that the universe exists in the real world, but if you're trying to figure out what year or month it is — good luck.
It's also hard to tell exactly how old Veronica is these days although we know that Keith is 56 years old, since he says so in Season 4. But the first three seasons occurred during her last years of high school and first year of college. Then, fans lost track of her. In the Veronica Mars 2014 movie, which takes place nine years after the end of Season 3, viewers learn that she eventually did go to Stanford University and live in New York City for a bit.
The books pick up a little after the movie ends. In The Thousand Dollar Tan Line and Mr. Kiss and Tell, fans follow Logan and Veronica in their new relationship, struggling with long distance, which is sort of just when Season 4 picks up, so it's likely that the final season is meant to take place at least a solid five years after the movie. That tracks — again, it came out in 2014 and it's now 2019. Five years.
Still, the timeline doesn't totally line up with the actual, in real life date. The first season premiered in 2004 and the third ended in 2007. The movie is supposed to take place nine years after that, for the crew's ten year reunion, which would make it 2016 in the fictional universe. Five years after that would be 2021, which means that Veronica Mars takes place in the future. That's not totally impossible — although the cell phones, fashions, and references are very 2019. Did you catch the offhand comment about a "crooked real estate" mogul making everyone pine for the good old days? Or Keith's "bye Felicia?"
Seriously, if everyone is still talking about Donald Trump and saying "bye, Felicia" in 2021, we're all in trouble.
The trick is to not think too hard about when the series takes place or how all the various timelines match up. Everything at least lines up — creator Rob Thomas and his writers' room do a good job at keeping track of the references and incorporating plot points from the original series, the movie, and the books in Season 4. For example, did you catch the tension between Veronica and Weevil? That's all because in The Ten Thousand Dollar Tan Line, we learn that Weevil took a deal with the sheriff's office and never went to trial for the shooting of Celeste Kane (which he was framed for). Because he fed into police corruption, Veronica is mad at him, which is why they aren't (sadly) besties in Season 4.
In any case, we know that Veronica Mars Season 4 happens sometime around right now. Which is all you need to know, really. There's a lot more to worry about in Season 4 than the correct year.