From the get-go, Fox wasn't shy about telling audiences that its new series, The Gifted, while set in the X-Men world, would not feature the famous team of super-powered mutants. The studio concentrated all of its energies on selling a show that could stand on its own, and yet co-exist with the X-Men audiences came to know through the films. In short, while the ads and marketing reminded you that The Gifted is related to your favorite mutant superhero team, it's really the story of a family just trying to survive in a world that now hates and fears them.
Despite that, it's probably a safe bet to guess that more than a few of the pilot's viewers tuned in curious to see if Fox would make good on its advertising, or if the X-Men would actually show up. In the end, however, we got exactly what was promised, as well as the mystery of what happened to the X-Men and the Brotherhood. The premiere of The Gifted was lite on answers, and very big on questions, first among them: With what we know of the series' premise, with what we know of the X-Men and the current state of The Gifted's world, where does the series fit, timeline-wise?
As those who have followed the multitude of interviews with the cast and show creator Matt Nix know, the short answer is, The Gifted doesn't fit into any established X-Men timelines at all. But that's no fun! Those, we've developed a few theories based on the series' premiere, which Nix and crew are more than welcome to crib from should they eventually decide that, hey - it'd be really cool to merge this timeline with an established one.
The Gifted takes place not exactly in the present, and yet, not quite in the future. The show doesn't put a precise date on its story. Instead, it seems to borrow a cue from the original X-Men movie, which opened with a caption that read “The Not Too Distant Future.” While The Gifted doesn't use that line, it appropriate. The series seems to take palce perhaps six months to, at most, a year from now. People drive to work, kids go to the school dance, the sky is bright and clear. But there's also the odd superpower mutant, as well as an almost Orwellian overwatch at work in the form of the government's Sentinel Services, a special department who tracks down and incarcerates mutants.
To help hunt mutants, Sentinel Services employs surveillance drones, as well as mechanical, robotic spiders whose purpose are to chase, ensnare and possibly even exterminate. These spiders may sound like a far cry from the mutant-hunting Sentinels from the X-Men universe, but they could certainly be seen as some sort of stepping stone towards the robot giants. A first model, or the basis of what the technology could be built on. And with a name like Sentinel Services, it definitely looks like we are witnessing the beginnings of the Sentinels, before they become an army of robots that rule the world with an iron fist, as seen in the famous X-Men story Days of Future Past.