At the beginning of the film, we learn that the story takes place in one of many alternate worlds, in which a person's soul is contained within an animal companion called a dæmon (pronounced demon). The Magisterium, represented as a unified religious power, exercises power in the secular world. Lyra Belacqua, an orphan that resides in Jordan College, in a city that resembles Oxford, with her dæmon Pantalaimon (Pan), accidentally witnesses a Magisterium member poison her uncle's bottle of Tokay. Lyra then warns her uncle, Lord Asriel, who instructs her to remain in hiding. Lyra watches Asriel give a presentation regarding Dust, a particle that the Magisterium has forbidden the mention of. The college gives Asriel a grant to fund a northern expedition.
In 1891, Irene Adler delivers a package to Herr Dr. Hoffmanstahl; payment for a letter he was to deliver. Hoffmanstahl opens the package, triggering a hidden bomb that is prevented from detonating by the intervention of Sherlock Holmes. Holmes takes the letter while Adler and Hoffmanstahl escape. Holmes finds Hoffmanstahl assassinated moments later. Adler meets with Professor Moriarty to explain the events, but Moriarty poisons and kills her — deeming her position compromised by her love for Holmes.
In 1887, Transylvanian Doctor Victor Frankenstein brings to life his Monster with the aid of his assistant Igor and Count Dracula. After Dracula betrays and kills Doctor Frankenstein, the Monster escapes to a windmill, which is burned down by a pursuing mob. The mob flees as Dracula and his three brides mourn the loss of the Monster.
Sophie, an eighteen-year-old hatter, is a responsible young woman who encounters a mysterious and powerful wizard named Howl on her way to visit her younger sister Lettie. The Witch of the Waste, who romantically pursues Howl, visits the hat shop only and insults Sophie, being refused service by her as a result. The Witch exacts revenge by cursing Sophie, transforming her into a ninety-year-old woman. Seeking a cure for the spell, Sophie travels into the Wastes and encounters a living scarecrow whom she names "Turnip Head," who leads her to Howl's castle. There, she meets Howl's young apprentice, Markl, and the fire-demon Calcifer, who is the source of the castle's energy and magic. Calcifer offers to break the witch's curse in exchange for Sophie's help in breaking the spell he's under, which keeps him bound to the house. When Howl appears, Sophie announces that Calcifer has hired her as a cleaning lady for the house.
Abandoned by their father deep in a forest, young Hansel and Gretel enter a gingerbread house and are captured by a cannibalistic witch. The witch forces Hansel to continuously eat candy to fatten him up, and enslaves Gretel, ordering her to prepare the oven, but the siblings outsmart her and incinerate her in the fire of the oven. In the fifteen years that follow, Hansel and Gretel become famed witch hunters, slaying hundreds of witches. The pair find that they are somehow immune to spells and curses, but the incident in the gingerbread house has left Hansel diabetic. He needs a shot of insulin every few hours or he will get sick and die.
Starting in a small section of the near South, both U.S. Army Captain James West and U.S. Marshal Artemus Gordon hunt for Confederate General "Bloodbath" McGrath, who is wanted for mass murder. It points back to when McGrath ordered a massacre in a settlement called New Liberty, where many of the freed slaves were murdered, including West's biological parents. The search leads to a brothel where the two try (unsuccessfully) to arrest him. It leads to a huge brawl and a cart of nytroglycerin crashing into the building that starts a fire. Both West and Gordon, the latter dressed as a woman, escape.
Sans famille, Elisa Esposito (Sally Hawkins) a été trouvée, enfant, dans une rivière. Elle porte au cou des cicatrices semblant témoigner de violences exercées sur son larynx, qui expliqueraient qu'elle soit muette. Elle vit dans une grande solitude, tout comme son voisin de palier Giles (Richard Jenkins), un vieil homosexuel, illustrateur publicitaire sans emploi.
In 1899, men dressed as German soldiers, using a large armored vehicle and wielding machine guns, attacked the Bank of England and stole Leonardo da Vinci’s layouts of Venice’s foundations. Shortly after, led by their leader the “Fantom”, men dressed as British officers, again using highly advanced technology for the time, kidnapped German scientists and destroyed a factory, causing tension between the United Kingdom and Germany, which could lead to an international war. Sanderson Reed (Tom Goodman-Hill) of the British Empire ventures to Kenya, visiting a Gentleman's club to recruit world-renowned hunter and adventurer Allan Quatermain (Sean Connery). Quatermain, retired and mourning the loss of his son after his last adventure, has no interest in serving the British Empire further. After armed men attempt to assassinate Quatermain, he is left with no-other choice but to agree to go with Reed to London and meet with Reed's superior officer to help keep the threat of a war from spilling into Africa.
A village lies near a gap in a stone wall bordering the magical kingdom of Stormhold. The gap is guarded constantly but Dunstan Thorn manages to go through and meets an enslaved princess, Una. She offers him a glass snowdrop in exchange for a kiss. Nine months later, the Wall Guard delivers a baby to Dunstan, saying his name is Tristan.
In Venice at the beginning of the 17th century, the Three Musketeers, Athos (Matthew Macfadyen), Porthos (Ray Stevenson), and Aramis (Luke Evans), with the help of Athos' longtime lover, Milady de Winter (Milla Jovovich), steal airship blueprints made by Leonardo da Vinci. However, they are betrayed by Milady, who gives the blueprints to the Duke of Buckingham (Orlando Bloom). Upon returning to France, the Musketeers are forced to disband by Cardinal Richelieu (Christoph Waltz) for their failure, and they end up on the streets of Paris.
In the year 1899, Dr. Alexander Hartdegen (Guy Pearce) is a moderately young inventor teaching at Columbia University in New York City. Unlike his conservative friend David Philby (Mark Addy), Alexander would rather do pure research than work in the world of business. After a mugger kills his fiancée, Emma, he devotes himself to building a time machine that will allow him to travel back in time and save her. When he completes the machine four years later, he travels back to 1899 and prevents her murder, only to see her killed by a horse and buggy.
In 1944, the Nazis build a dimensional portal off the coast of Scotland. With the help of Russian mystic Grigori Rasputin, they intend to free the Ogdru Jahad—monstrous entities imprisoned in deep space—to aid them in defeating the Allies. Rasputin knows this will be an apocalyptic event that he believes will create a paradise. He opens the portal with the aid of his disciples, Ilsa von Haupstein and Obersturmbannführer Karl Ruprecht Kroenen, member of the Thule Society and Adolf Hitler's top assassin. An Allied team is sent to destroy the portal, guided by young Trevor Bruttenholm, who is well-versed in the occult. The German team is killed and the portal is destroyed—in the process absorbing Rasputin—while Haupstein and Kroenen escape. The Allied team discovers that an infant demon with a right hand of stone came through the portal; they dub him "Hellboy" and Bruttenholm adopts him.
In the futuristic city of Metropolis humans and robots coexist. Robots are discriminated against and segregated to the city's lower levels. A lot of Metropolis' human population are unemployed and deprived, and many people blame the robots for taking their jobs.
In a technologically advanced 1939, the zeppelin Hindenburg III arrives in New York City, mooring atop the Empire State Building. Aboard the airship is Dr. Jorge Vargas (Julian Curry), a scientist who arranges for a package containing two vials to be delivered to Dr. Walter Jennings (Trevor Baxter). Moments later, as the courier looks back while leaving with the vials, Dr. Vargas is nowhere to be seen.